How is Google Site Retargeting is Like Santa?

Nothing on Santa, but the big guy can't possibly track this kid like Google "Site Retargeting" ads

He knows when you’ve been sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve filled a shopping cart, so don’t abandon it for goodness sakes. Those banner ads you’ve been seeing on random web pages are quite smart, are they not? Perhaps too smart? Almost like they know who you are? Maybe watching you while YOU sleep? Maybe the ad contains some items you left behind, and might otherwise be sent to the Island of Misfit Purchases?
In the case of “Santa vs. Site Retargeting” let’s examine Exhibit A. To my right is a wonderfully simple and precise example of a non-intrusive (compared to e-mail spam or telemarketing) but highly sophisticated online-ad campaign by CafePress, the company that sells and markets my customized Nalts merchandise despite the fact that few hard-working Americans have yet purchased dingle.

CafePress pays Google a tiny amount of money, and Google shared a tiny portion with the site that served this ad.

Hang in there, folks. We’re building toward the moment you’ll see how it’s not for a lack of smart marketing on CafePress’ side (I had nothing to do with this ad except as a consumer). Now I’ve not yet created clever merchandise for my little CafePress Nalts store, or a significant “call to action” of my audience for this loot because, well, I’m lazy and even I don’t want to appear too pushy. That said, I certainly notice my fellow YouTubers going mental pushing t-shirts, hoodies and custom shoes).

While researching site retargeting (I mean “remarketing) I literallly came across the ad that I’ve copied into the right column. Go ahead and click it. No really, click it. It won’t bite…. It took you to the CafePress Nalts store (which I’m trying to diversify with some products that aren’t so, well, “Nalts”). If you go so far as to select and item and put it into your basket, it’s not the last you’ll see of those luxurious items.

Skip this paragraph if you’re a digital marketing dude familiar with Adwords and Adsense. For the rest? The quickest summary on Google’s Adwords vs. Adsense. Google Adwords is a tool that allows marketers/sellers to “target” ads to individual audiences. Google Adsense is a money maker for publishers or audience generates, hence how YouTube creators receive income based on their portion of the ads we viewers endure. More commonly Adsense is the marketplace vehicle for website publishers or bloggers to to receive income by inviting Google to place these ads in whatever units they prefer (horizontal, squares, banners). It’s mostly an auction model where advertisers pay small amounts by how many ads appear (CPM, cost per thousand) or are clicked (CPC, cost per click).

Google AdWords quietly launched “site remarketing” this year, and avoided the term “retargeting,” perhaps to distinguish itself from the somewhat creepier origin of this practice (which involved cookies and sometimes some breaches on personal data). In fact it shows off some very smart strategies that would normally be available to agencies or media buyers.

Here’s the key paragraph from this post that will be on the test. This CafePress ad unit to your above right is dynamically generated to EXACTLY resemble my abandoned shopping cart on Cafepress! That’s not a dumb banner ad that says “click here” or “ignore me.” It’s the friggin ghost of my abandoned shopping basket! It’s a polite reminder saying “yes, pardon me, sir… we hate to bother you, but did you want us to put these things back on the shelf or would you care to take them home? Most importantly, the ad does not know who you are. It just knows that the person using your browser at one point shopped at a store or visited a website.

Abandoned shopping carts use site-remarketing to tell you they're sad, scared and lonely.

Why is this important? Remember, folks, I’m not just a blogger and video fart guy. I’m also consulting with big brands, and trust me when I say this… site retargeting (remarketing) kicks the ass of about any other form of advertising. It’s insanely targeted, efficient, and drives a measurable ROI that is almost unsurpassed.

Let’s put this in physical terms for the few of you who haven’t dozed off. My wife and I load a shopping cart at a Marshalls stores ever few weeks, and about 30% of the time we actually buy the loot. The other 70% of the time we decide the crap’s not quite good enough for the chaotic line. Given the Marshall’s operations team’s inability staff appropriately, what if a bright Marshalls marketing executive later posted a sign on Route 611 that said, (without mentioning our names): “50% off off-season beach towels, a size 49.5 men’s belt, $35 Bostonian shoes.” I’d say to my lady, “Yeah we almost bought them there goods, honey. What say we go back for them, and pick up them kids who’ve been missing since last time we was at Marshalls?”

When I'm done dropping these prices, I suppose I'll be returning Nalts' abandoned shopping cart to the shelves

To sum it up:

  1. Santa knows you’ve been bad or good, but site retargeting (er, remarketing) knows where, when, and how. It’s like a sad and lonely shopping cart that knows the “sun will come out tomorrow… bet your bottom dollar.”
  2. Santa brings you the loot… or not. But site retargeting politely follows you around until you finally say — okay, you’re right. I wanted those goodies, and I’ll just have to swallow the shipping price (I think free shipping would be more effective than the code for 15% off, which doesn’t even appear to work).
  3. It’s time to expand the old marketing truism that “it’s easier to sell more things to an existing customer than a new one.” Let’s treat site visitors — whether to the homepage or to an abandoned cart — as customers not prospects. We can serve their needs (whether they need them or not) with the efficient tools at even a small business’ disposal.

And hell, compared to elves, they’re cheaper, less likely to unionize, and slightly less creepy.

"All I ever wanted to be was a dentist... or marketer."
creepy elves

How Much Money Do They Make on YouTube: Exposed

Renetto: The roundest face since Karl Pilkington

Renetto. Paul Robinette. Remember him? He makes about $55 a day from YouTube, and I once stalked him and shaved my head to assume his persona. He’s one of the guys behind one of the most interesting video website stats and mobile applications you’re bound to love and forget. It’s called MyU2B. See– I had to look at the website just to get that stupid name right.

The good news? If you’re an OCD creator or media buyer, than this is (and you can quote the guy who wrote the book on YouTube) “the crack cocaine of video statistics.” The bad news? The name is so damned forgettable I want to punch Paul Robinett in his branding boob. Half the reason I’m writing this post is so I can find his website searching the many alternative names my brain has given MyU2B: u2be, myu2be, ub40, u2b4, my2be u2be u2bme, and finally “renetto, youtube, stats, website, with, stupid, name.”

MyU2B iPhone App kicks the ass of YouTube's default mobile viewer.

MyU2B is my indispensable iPhone YouTube viewing app because it’s incredibly easy to sort by my favorite creator’s (people, channels, accounts, profiles) most recent videos. This is a common but impossible task via the caveman-like primitive search functions on YouTube’s own mobile app, and I call that a “deal breaker” or “functional obsolescence” for any regular viewer. MyU2B tells me exactly how many videos my favorite person or channel has posted since I last checked them. It solved a problem most don’t yet know we have.

The app (free and $1.99) also allows me to “super subscribe” to select people (although I haven’t figured out how to delete people like the incorrect jaaaaaa). There are about 2-3 dozen people I don’t want to ever miss, and for that I prefer this app to using YouTube on a computer. On YouTube I’ve “oversubscribed” like many people, so I miss some fresh videos by my favorite peeps. It really sucks to not be current on some of my favorite creators or friends.

The MyU2B stats site, although new and somewhat buggy, is entirely different (yet shares the horrible name). It gives you some pretty decent estimates of how much money each channel/person makes on could make (per comments below) on YouTube, and even sorts estimated revenue by individual video. That’s badass, even if it’s assuming CPMs (revenue per view) that are impossibly inconsistent and volatile. It’s a cool tool just to track who’s getting views and comments… instead of the somewhat archaic method of tracking subscribers… like on VidStatsx. Vidstatsx is an equally crappy named but remarkably useful website, though the latter is a bit too focused on subscriptions (which is not nearly driver of daily views it once was). And tip from Zipster08, who I never miss (despite the mocked screen shot): allow MyU2B to load completely before searching for someone. (Zipster checks hourly). MyU2B doesn’t yet allow you to bookmark or link to a specific search string, but it does index more than 11,000 individual channels.

See below for an example… are they the potential estimates accurate? I don’t know. YouTube doesn’t give me reporting this precise, but I know for a fact that CPMs by individual videos for the same creator can vary from pennies to dollars — by individual video.

Since we YouTube Partners are all contractually obliged to conceal our revenue, it’s hard to know if it’s over or understating revenue/earnings. But feel free to comment (anonymously) if you want to share feedback on its precision! I’m glad it’s not accurate, because I don’t want people thinking about the money I earn from YouTube (it’s equally embarrassing whether it’s high, low or accurate).

MyU2Be (or whatever it's called) can easily track estimated earnings by creator and by video

Finally, let’s help these useful resources with their branding. Anything, including the word “pizzle,” would be better.

How to Find Videos Worth Watching

Just discovered Vidque.com via Steve Garfield, and it’s another example of a site built to solve the fundamental problem for those of us that don’t live in online-video.

What the hell do we watch?

Since I just spent more than a couple hours navigating Vidque, creating a profile and critiquing it… you’d better f’ing read this. Vidque allows you to bookmark, share and find good videos, and operates fairly seamlessly with Twitter and YouTube. At first it looks like a curator site (or another video-sharing site) because the homepage boasts some good videos. But you need to look deeper to find the cooler functions or see the potential it might have.

I’ve set up my own Vidque.com Nalts page (featuring, of course, only my own videos). I’ve got one follower and his name is Lukas. I’m following him now. We’re instant BFFs.

vidque

Here’s my critique… first, what I like:

  • I like the idea of a tool that easily integrates with Twitter and YouTube, and allows communities to help each other sift through videos. YouTube is working toward solving that, but it doesn’t appear to be Google’s priority.
  • Vidque got a smooth API with YouTube and it functions fairly well. Although this was not immediately apparent, there’s an easy bookmark tool so you can favorite videos (moving them into your Vidque favorites) right from YouTube. Click here for a video about how that’s done.
  • Very Web 2.0 design. Not too crowded looking.
  • The homepage had some great videos selected, and current/fresh ones. Someone’s picking them, or there is some intelligence behind it.
  • I am inclined to send people to my page because it was easy to customize, looks clean and allows me to sort out my best videos. I would expect the site gives us additional options for sorting (beyond stupid “category,” which is almost unnecessary). The networks will take care of that… I have business friends and humor friends and I’m damned sure not going to follow the eyeballs of by business friends. I’ll know if it comes from Jan it’s going to be awesome, funny or sometimes representing some weird political agenda that’s way over my head. Zack may “favorite” a few shitty Weezer videos, but hopefully he leads me to the last unboring Coffin video. I’m not touching the entertainment section because an entire screen full of Buckley‘s recent videos will frighten me. Mabye Marquis will tip me off to something totally wacked (as we await Beth’s return). If only he knew that my sister, Mathilde, and I speak of him more often than our siblings.

What I don’t like, and hope Vidque will evolve:

  • Biggest mistake is the homepage design. Because it focuses on a collection of videos and a category-style primary navigation it first feels like another video-sharing site. The site should put the people (now buried as “recently active users” in the bottom-left corner) at the center. Encourage people to curate, and reward them in non-monetary ways for finding stuff people like. Designate “editors” and “super editors” (by category if you must) and allow us to subscribe once we realize their favorites are consistently good.
  • It took me too long to understand it’s not just another video-sharing site or simply curated video, but crowd-sourced, community sharing. The cute but slow overview video helped.
  • I’d like the ability to search people, and find out what they’ve identified as good video. But beyond the “recently active users” I couldn’t search or sort curators unless we had done that via e-mail or the antiquated “invite your friends” option we all skip anymore. Basically I want to “follow” some people, but don’t know where to start. Twitter made that easy because as soon as I found one friend, I could quickly find a flock. Nutcheese invited me to Twitter, and I just followed all of her peeps. Then I found CharlesTrippy and followed his followers or followees.
  • I hope Vidque will give us what Twitter and YouTube don’t provide: allow me to “follow” people in different ways: some as “I like you and I’ll check your page now and then” and others as “I know what videos you identify will consistently amuse or interest me… I want them pushed to me via Twitter, Vidque, or even e-mail.”
  • I was disappointed to find very old videos on the humor section (puleez- that Dave Blaine parody again? Really?) because the homepage made me think I was getting fresh content. I would strongly suggest having an intuitive navigation separating fresh or newly popular content from old classics.
  • Until the site automates it, the homepage and “categories” should rotate more… right now it doesn’t feel dynamic.
  • Bit buggy (logging in, and some error messages when feeding it YouTube URLs manually. Feels like a beta.
  • I like how it grabs YouTube content and embeds it via API. It even grabs the thumbnail I chose, which isn’t even true with AppleTV (which is still using defaults). But it’s still too “stand alone” because I can’t import my YouTube favorites or a playlist… so only as worthwhile as we make it from now on. Populating favorites is very cumbersome and counter intuitive until you realize you can do this via a bookmark tool. For instance, when I’m done with one, there’s no “post another.”

I wouldn’t have spent the time reviewing this site (with an unfortunately forgettable name) if I didn’t think this is opening up a new door to video content identification and sharing. I’ve oversubscribed on YouTube and we know the “most popular” and “most watched” aren’t necessarily serving us.

If a few of my friends (or people whose taste I share in video) start using it, we’ll be able to swap videos without the intrusion of “StumbleUpon” or cluttering our Facebook, Twitter or other social-media tools overwhelming us all. I’ll give it a shot, and start saving some videos that aren’t mine. But Vidque better allow me to give my own videos top billing. 🙂

Hey WVFF back row: Jan? Marquis? Nutcheese? Zack? Reubnick? Coffin? Who’s in?

Hey, Idiot. Missing “View Through” Data on Your Online PR? Don’t Even Read This.

  • 5 extra points to Tealium for remembering I downloaded a white paper, and shooting me a follow-up video (using campaign management tool). Just checked the “earls” and it’s Concentric). Hidden codes in URLs can be so informative.
  • Negative 7 points for making the videos so damned boring… like a a cross between a dull conference presentation and a phone call using Powerpoint.
  • Plus 3 points for actually using video to sell its product. I would never have looked at this closely without this video demo.
  • Plus 8 points for teaching me that there’s a way to capture “view through” data.
  • You’re not keeping track of the score, are you? This is like “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” Points mean nothing.

Oh sorry. You didn’t know the phrase “view though” data? That’s because I’m exactly one hour ahead of you on learning about social media, and I’ll be two hours ahead if I wake up at 5 again tomorrow.

Until now, I was under the naive belief (much like your stupid self) that Webtrends or Google Analytics (or whatever tool your tools use) could not see “upstream” past the referring site. But this horribly boring video claims Tealium (which integrates with the web hosting software) can help a brand track “conversions” or web visits based not just on a direct URL… but based on whether a visitor had been to one or more other sites or unique URL (like a video) that you track.

Wait- you fell asleep on me, didn’t you. Let me put it another way… Nike.com might know you saw that YouTube viral video promoting Nike 2 days before you visited its website… even if the video HAD no URL to click, or if you went clubbing in the interim, or whether you tried to cover your tracks by visiting Nike via a search engine. Now the video gets credit for behavior that isn’t immediate or direct (which is typically 2 percent or less). In the example, 70% of the people who saw the “viral video” were not captured by direct URL visits… but if we know the video to correlate against, we can track percentage of viewers that saw that video… according to the browser’s history that we presumably peeked at, like a young boy sneaking a peek under a skirt. Not that I ever did that.

Tealium boasts that it can provide insights based on “historical browsing behavior,” so that empty-headed dope in PR can actually prove to the brand team that the stupid social-media and video-marketing campaign drove measurable action… even if it’s not immediate and direct.

Okay- are you awake now? That’s some serious shit.  I don’t know about this company, whether Webtrends and Google Anaytics are cooking up their own version of this, or whether they’ll snatch these guys up. And I don’t know how I feel about my website knowing my browser history… it’s creepier than cookies and “recontact” banners that follow you around like that awkward guy at work. You know? The guy you try to shake by going to the bathroom whenever he descends upon your desk with his bad breath.

I lost you again? Okay- you’re searching itchy nuts on WebMD and Yahoo start pimping “yeast infection” banner ads? Oh you thought that was coincidence? You MUST work in public relations. If I blow in your ear, I’ll bet this is the sound I hear. I used to make that sound with my boss whenever PR people were done talking. You had to be there.

This model — Tealium aside — is really good for the accountability of online-video and social media. We know that to judge a viral campaign on the immediate impact on web visits is like expecting the phone to ring off the hook because you placed one ad in the newspaper… there’s this thing called frequency that kinda works, dumb ass.

With someone’s “historical browsing behavior” we can presumably look at our leads by source, and see what correlated with longer time on site, and actual purchase.

You’re not excited by any of this are you? Damnit. What was I writing again? I’m so tired. Did I tell you I got up at 5?

Park Your Own Subdomain Free at OfNalts.com (who needs TinyURL?)

ofnalts usernamesI don’t recall if I’ve ever announced that you can park your own free subdomain (username) at ofnalts.com, which you can “point” at any website or URL. It makes that complex YouTube video URL (or other long URLs) short, simple, memorable and pretty.

I use it in lieu of TinyURL because I can link to my YouTube videos easily inside a Twitter post… and it’s fun to create my own name instead of using a random code on TinyURL. BTW- you can now park a vanity TinyURL name, but most of the good ones are gone. Alan (fallofautumndistro) already snatched tinyurl.com/youtube! And I parked a few YouTube celebrity names, but had them point to other people’s channel pages. Moo haa haaa. Try tinyurl.com/renetto. Or tinyurl.com/spricket24.

This free little OfNalts application was created by Tim Breslin (of Xlntads). Tim saw a lot of YouTube usernames starting with a word and followed by “ofnalts.” This was prompted because I needed an account for Jo and naltswife didn’t look right. So we went with wifeofnalts. Tim Breslin, while we’re on the subject, is the guy I tried to convince to create a multi-site upload tool before there was TubeMogul. But he blew me off.

Insert footage from “It’s a Wonderful LIfe”: Sam Wainright to Jane Bailey: Still got the nose to the old grindstone, eh? Jane, I offered to let George in on the ground floor in plastics, and he turned me down cold!

Where was I? Oh- Here’s how ofnalts works…

  1. You simply go to www.ofnalts.com, and click “register” (ignore the username/password prompt).
  2. Then you put in your username (whatever you want), password twice, and e-mail address. But no worries- you won’t have to wait for a confirmation e-mail.
  3. Next you enter your long URL and hit confirm. Now you own http://yourname.ofnalts.com.
  4. Now your personalized [insert name].ofnalts.com is listed on the bottom of the ofnalts page, and you can use it anywhere to redirect people to the complex URL. Note you don’t use www.

Sounds more complicated than it is. Once you use it once, you’re hooked.

And a subdomain on ofnalts is a lot more charming than the overused tinyurl.

Top YouTube Creator Spinning Off New Video-Community Site (working title RenettoTube.com)

Renetto’s new YouTube siteOne of the most popular YouTube creators, “Renetto,” has been discussing a revolution, and aspirations to create a new website for unmet online-video community. The new site, a homage to Paul Robinette’s self absorption, is aptly titled “RenettoTube.” I announced the new site in this video from last weekend (see launch video). Oh- and I created the fake site as a joke that was lost on many.

Renetto recently created a video where he’s reacting to the more than 180 comments appearing on RenettoTube. For the record, my only fake entry was from MrSafety.

So it’s a joke, but based on reality. If Renetto does get a bunch of creators to participate in an online video site “by the people and for the people,” what are the opportunities and risks? I’d like to hear from you, dear reader. I’ll start the process, though…

Opportunities

  • Smaller entity can better meet needs of the smaller subset of YouTube that is primarily participating because of the joy of community.
  • If he attracts a lot of big creators, it will be hard to ignore.
  • The new site could, in theory, keep lean and more focused.

Risks

  • It’s very hard to monetize user-generated content. Renetto will need strong partnerships with online-media buyers, who are still struggling to get their clients to post ads around what they perceive as a risky collection of content.
  • Will viewers migrate? It’s a big challenge to get YouTubers to another site. We saw the mess of LiveVideo’s attempt to develop a YouTube clone, and maybe a little more reluctant to migrate.
  • The battle against YouTube (with air cover from Google) is not trivial. Renetto and his companions will need to differentiate, focus and outsmart the 100 pound gorilla.

Renetto, many know, is an entrepreneur and inventor with good relationships with other creators. So it’s worth watching closely. Stay tuned as more news develops.