Category Archives: Performance

OMMA Features Ionic Media Group at OMMA Global Conference

September 30th, 2011 by Janet Casamento

Ionic Media Group’s very own Jeff Bender participated as a speaker at this past week’s OMMA Global New York, the semi-annual gathering of all MediaPost insiders, where international experts in the hottest online sectors — mobile, social, direct, and display will come together to discuss the future of marketing, media, and advertising.

Mr. Bender joined three additional global experts in a panel entitled: “The Lead is Just the Beginning — Optimizing Conversion.” Specifically, the panel of leaders discussed the evolving role of the marketing organization, and the need to focus beyond just lead generation, and more on targeted customer engagement and conversion.

“Finding prospects is job one, but many SMB companies do not have the available resources to manage the prospects through to conversion”, says Bender. “Our turnkey platform pushes prospects through the purchase funnel by determining the expected future value of each prospect and assigning the appropriate capital resources to nurture them through to acquisition. Our performance-based platform provides clients with all the technology to acquire, track and optimize across the entire acquisition process – traditional or digital.”

OMMA Global invited Ionic Media Group to speak based on the company’s track record working for Fortune 1000 brands. Ionic Media Group has built a reputation for innovation, thought leadership, and quantifiable results in the digital and traditional direct sales and marketing space.
Bender, Ionic Media Group’s Founder and Managing Partner, is a recognized expert in traditional and digital direct marketing category with more than 25 years of experience. Before founding Ionic, Jeff was a partner at The McKenna Group, running the media and entertainment practice. Previously, Jeff was at The Walt Disney Company where he was SVP/GM of Ecommerce for their Internet division. During his 5-year tenure with Disney, Jeff was responsible for pioneering their online marketing, media and ecommerce strategies.
Prior to Disney, Jeff held positions at Time-Life where he was brand manager in charge of their video and television division, and TV Guide, where he was Director of Marketing. Jeff started his career working for several direct marketing agencies including Corinthian Direct and Western Media Direct.

The conference took place on September 26-27 at the New York Marriott Marquis.

So how am I doing?

July 1st, 2011 by Ted Huffman

One of the most common questions is for folks to ask “how do I compare with my competitors?”  Could be spend, traffic, conversions, whatever…with the trackability of the internet everyone believes that we have perfect information and competitive insight all the time.

Fact is, it can be incredibly hard to leverage various sources to know definitively how your website metrics might compare with another.  There are rough ways to estimate it, but frankly its all black magic voodoo.  And any of these estimates don’t pass the barest of sniff tests.

To answer the question of “how am I doing” just sent out some very broad Google Analytics comparative stats.  Sort of interesting reading as a rough guideline of how your metrics might measure up. But remember, these are numbers across hundreds of thousands of G.A. websites, across all sorts of industries and nationalities. Draw firm conclusions at your own peril!

  • Bounce Rates: US averages a 42% bounce rate, with paid search traffic at the lowest with 41.4% bounce rate (organic search had a 47.9% bounce rate).
  • Traffic from direct-to-site is still the largest source with 36.5%.  Search engines (blending organic and paid) accounted for 27% of all traffic.
  • Conversion rates in the US average around 1.0% (much lower than our internal averages of between 2% to 5% depending on page type). US did have among the worst-converting goal rates, with Italy, Iceland and even Russia ranking higher in conversion rates.



Google Instant Preview: How You Can Gain/Lose Customers Before They Click on Your Ad

June 28th, 2011 by Ali Lange

Paid Search on Google used to be a simple step-by-step process.

  1. Impression – A query was submitted to Google
  2. Click – The user reviewed the paid search ads and clicked on the one that seemed the most consistent with their needs
  3. Conversion – Based on the quality of the website, the product available, and the conversion path the user completed the sale

However, times have changed. With the introduction of Google Instant Preview on paid search ads users can view landing pages before they even decide to click on your ad. How? All they need to do is click on the little magnifying glass next to each paid search or organic listing and they see a snap shot of your landing page.

So what should you do to ensure that you are capturing qualified traffic?

  • Incorporate your top keywords onto their respective landing pages – Google pulls out and highlights regions of your landing page that incorporate the search query. Therefore, you want to make sure that the text on your landing uses those terms. This will increase the relevancy  of the landing page to the user.
  • Choose targeted landing pages – Send your paid search traffic to the most applicable landing pages available. For instance, for a product specific keyword do not use your main site as the landing page. Send the user directly to the product page. If a user previews the site and knows they are going to have to do extensive navigation on the site to find the product of interest they will click on an ad requiring less effort on their part. 
  • Avoid flash landing pages – Google Instant Preview does NOT recognize flash. Therefore, landing pages built in flash look blank. This does not make a very good first impression.

Conclusion? That little magnifying glass makes a big impact on the paid search competitive space. Make sure that when you are choosing and designing landing pages you think about not only your post-click but also your pre-click impression (no pun intended).

Tags: Google, paid search, PPC

Economics of the Ad Exchange: Why You’re Probably Getting More Premium Inventory than You Thought

May 2nd, 2011 by Sheilin Herrick

There are three main ways an online media buyer can effectively buy media: 1) direct to publisher 2) through a network or 3) through an exchange. Each offer its own drawbacks and benefits.

For example, buying direct to publisher has a higher cost, while previously agreed to placements are guaranteed. Doing a media buy through an ad network offers flexibility and audience targeting, but sometimes lacks transparency. Finally, buying through an exchange offers a low cost, demographic and behavioral targeting, but the threat of appearing in “below the fold” or “remnant” inventory.

The increased availability of behavioral data from data exchanges allows ad exchanges to target much more accurately and compete with  direct publishers on quality of media. We often wonder whether buying from exchanges and networks is lower quality, due to the lower price. When you consider the sheer volume of inventory that needs to be liquidated by “premium” sites, it simple isn’t possible that some of it doesn’t find its way onto the exchanges. Selling inventory on an exchange is almost a guarantee that it will be purchased. That’s much better than letting it go to waste. So perhaps the notion of “you get what you pay for” really doesn’t apply to exchanges after all. It seems the odds of getting quality, premium site inventory should be higher when you consider that premium sites must liquidate it on the exchanges.

In other words, you may be buying a Toyota instead of a lexus, but it still has all the same parts and performs all the same functions.

When I meet with representatives of networks and exchanges, I always ask how much inventory they think publishers sell on exchanges. I’ve heard guesstimates that range from 30 to 50%  of publisher inventory being sold directly, leaving the rest to be sold on exchanges.

Google has dome research that corroborates the guesstimates of my reps. In 2010, Google asked online media buyers: “what percent of your online advertising was purchased direct from a publisher rather than via an intermediary (network, exchange, DSP or other)?”

The highest number reported was 18%, meaning that online media buyers purchase 56% or more of their online media through networks and exchanges.

It’s also been reported to me by a vendor partner that display inventory on ad exchanges is up 300% from one year ago. On the other hand, total display inventory is only growing by 20-25% per year. The difference must be made up somewhere, and its likely from publishers liquidating inventory on exchanges.

The data shows that the media buying industry is rapidly increasingly its reliance on exchanges. At ionic, my team fervently believes there is a “right brand and right goal” for exchanges, networks, and direct to publisher buys. We keep this in mind when choosing our media partners, and create media plans with a prudent and appropriate blend of networks, exchanges, and direct to publisher placements.


Tags: behavioral data, Digiday, digital, exchange inventory, online media buyer

Broad Match – A Love/Hate Relationship for PPC

April 25th, 2011 by Eythor Westman

Here at Ionic Media, the paid search team takes great pride in our industry leading methodology. Among the myriad of factors that make up that methodology includes our approach to keyword match type settings. Broad match is that one which can bring ruin, but at the same time be a key component for a successful campaign. Thus, it goes without question that we are obsessive in honing our strategy for a factor that yields the power of such strikingly polar results.

The Power of Ruin

The downside of broad match is that it can lead to a lot of irrelevant clicks and wasted spend. In fact, irrelevant clicks could eat up the majority of a budget cap before ads even have the opportunity to serve for your most valuable search queries. Hate is a strong word, but the possibility of wasting money is something everyone likes much less than a lot.

A Component of Success

Customers cease to find new and interesting ways to describe their intent for products and services. Excluding broad match keywords will inevitably result in the loss of that long tail of qualified customers over time. The proper implementation of broad match will ensure that these users continue to find you; not your competitors. And who doesn’t love more customers?

A Results Oriented Strategy

Negative Keywords –

  • An advantage of many years of client work is the first hand knowledge of those universal and industry specific terms that indicate a user is not likely to convert. Implementing these proprietary lists is the first step toward more refined broad match ad serving prior to campaign launch.

  • Keyword lists from the search engine databases and competitive intelligence tools provide a glimpse into the actual search queries people use to navigate to existing competitive websites. Mining theses lists for terms which identify users who don’t qualify for your offering is the next step in pre-launch strategy.

  • Once a campaign is live, the actual search queries leading to ad clicks are mined to find those unexpected terms which are irrelevant or prove to show poor return on ad spend. Adding these terms to the negative keyword list is an integral part of successful ongoing management.

Modified Broad Match

  • Modified broad match is a relatively new keyword setting that was released by Google in July of 2010. The key difference from broad match is that it enables further control by restricting ad serving to search queries that are very similar to the actual terms in the keyword. It’s a match setting that’s not quite as constrained as phrase match but not as general as broad match.
  • Keywords set to modified broad match should be added to new accounts to test the performance relative to other match types. Established accounts can benefit from modified broad match if analysis of the search query reports shows that Google’s expanded matching is serving ads to terms that aren’t in your keywords list and are performing poorly. By modifying the term(s) within the keyword that must exist in the search query you will tighten up the ad serving. Serving ads to a more controlled audience should improve performance.

Term Count Rules –

The number of terms in a keyword is an important factor for determining match type; especially in the early stages before all negative keyword variations are known.

  • In nearly all cases (especially for direct response campaigns) keywords with one or two terms are too encompassing for a broad match setting.
  • Keywords with three terms are generally safe for a broad match setting with caution.
  • Keywords with four terms or greater should be added as broad match.

Broad Group Structure –

Placing broad keywords into separate ad groups provides more visibility and control. These ad groups serve as a testing ground with lower performance expectation relative to the rest of the account. Over time, the analysis of the search query reports from these groups will identify new profitable keywords that should be added to the account and new poor performers that should be added to the negatives list.

*Note that the broad group structure should only be used in Google, not Bing. Separating different keyword match type variations into different ad groups or campaigns could result inter-account competitive bidding within Bing.

Bid Settings –

In general, broad match keywords should be set at a lower bid amount than more specific keywords in the account. A nice advantage of using the broad group structure outlined above is that it provides a simple control for differentiating bids at the match type level. There are a couple clear reasons for this strategy:

  • Broad keywords have a lower performance expectation and require a lower bid to compensate.
  • Broad match keywords will overlap with more specific long tail keywords in the account. It’s important that the broad match variation is set to a lower bid to ensure that the more specific keyword serves for all instances of the search query.

What it all Means

There is more to effective match type strategy than first meets the eye. Broad match can be deadly if used irresponsibly, but in concert with strategic use of additional features and methods is an important setting to capture new customers.


Tags: advertising, Broad Match, Modified Broad Match, Negative Keywords, paid search, Paid Search Advertising, Pay Per Click, PPC, search

The Power of Online Video

April 20th, 2011 by Sheilin Herrick

Online video used to be a very simple thing: it was YouTube, or maybe newscasts that you watched because you wanted to see a local car chase. As broadband increased every user’s bandwidth, computers themselves became more powerful, consumers started creating their own video content, it became clear to us, media professionals, that sets of eyeballs were moving to online video. Therefore, we had to be there. What we didn’t realize at the time were how many types of online video there would ultimately be for us to utilize in campaigns. This will, without a doubt, continue to change. As for this very moment in April of 2011, here are the most prevalent types of online video:

Probably the most ubiquitous type of online video. Pre-roll is often referred to as “in stream”, because it appears before video content or at its mid-point. Pre-roll is the most expensive type of online video. This is because of its length (15, 30 or 60 seconds, generally) and level of engagement of the audience member. It’s basically a commercial on an online video. This is why Hulu is so popular with advertisers; it has also created a niche of providing premium video content.

In Banner Video:
Generally a 300×250 banner placement that will show a 15 second video clip within it. Most publishers have restrictions on how long a video can be, some may allow it to be longer than 15 seconds. The cost for this placement is the same as typical banner placements. The video is not flash, but real video, just like the pre-roll. It can start involuntarily, or voluntarily. This is subject to publisher regulations.

Branded entertainment:
Branded entertainment is relatively new to the marketplace. Its primary purpose is to create an arena for product placement, built into a story with which the consumer will engage. It’s secondary purpose is to go viral. Branded entertainment is a major help to any social media campaign.

Ex: The T-Mobile Royal Wedding

Now that you know what online video is, why would you use it? Mostly for brand engagement and brand awareness. 40.6% of advertisers use online video for brand awareness, 26.5% use it for brand engagement. Many media professionals, myself included, believe that online video is the ideal way to extend TV content to the online world. As an advertiser, this is in your interest in order to extend reach. In a sample media plan given at DigidayLA, targeting females age 18-54 (a universe of 59.6 million), 1.7 million individuals in that target were only reachable online.

Nearly every demographic is watching online video for one reason or another. In fact, 83% of individuals aged 65+ have watched online video. This makes me think that online video isn’t generational, but rather is a part of an evolution of internet usage. Eventually, everyone will use online video content for news and entertainment, and sometimes communication. Many of us already have televisions that can utilize online content, the blend will continue.

What are the next big things in online video?

1) YouTube is set to soon be part of a global video ad exchange. This will vastly increase the amount of pre-roll inventory available to media buyers. It will probably make the inventory more affordable as well.
2) Opt-in as a tool to measure engagement. Right now, mobile video only charges the advertiser if a consumer clicks on the video. An opt-in feature, which would allow advertisers to count engagements with a video when a user opts-in. This would quantitatively prove that online video is good for brand engagement and brand awareness.
3) Mobile video. Our phones and networks aren’t quite robust and fast enough to handle mobile video well, but they will be there in the next 1 – 2 years.

Online video is a very exciting place to be. My team at Ionic Media has executed several online video campaigns with unique creative executions that drove traffic and actions on our advertiser’s site. We now recommend incorporating at least 15% of most budgets into online video; whether it be in banner video or pre-roll.


Tags: Branded Entertainement, digital, digital media, in stream, In-banner Video, mobile video, Online Video, online video campaign, Pre-Roll, Pre-roll video, product placement, social, Social Media, social media campaign, video ad, viral, viral video

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls…

February 18th, 2011 by Lisa Henry

For the first time ever, The Greatest Show on Earth® integrated its many media channels under one big top: Ionic Media. The ‘Super Family Value Package,’ an exclusive offer for the NY / NJ markets, was promoted via DRTV, PPC, Display, Pre-Roll, Social Media and Email, driving consumers to an exclusive webpage designed by Ionic Media.

This was a focused balancing act of conversions and ROI and proved to be one of the greatest shows on earth: an amazing collaborative success prepared in just a 30 day window including multiple sales, marketing and brand departments at Ringling Bros. We moved the arc of ticket sales substantially forward by building a platform to make sales prior to the traditional “box office” sales period. How’s that for a breathtaking, super-human stunt and never-before-seen performance to energize ticket sales?

Tags: conversions, display, DRTV, Email, Integrated, Ionic Media, PPC, Pre-Roll, Ringling, Ringling Brothers, ROI, Social Media

Meet The Martians

February 3rd, 2011 by Ted Huffman

Here at Ionic we do things a bit differently from most agencies: hallway debates over Google Analytics tagging methods, discussions on iframe implementations, and the occasional ruby versus python rant.  As an example, for the past several years we’ve been using Marin Software’s excellent paid search management software. It was robust, provided exceptional slicing & dicing capabilities, and performed great on larger accounts.

Problem was Marin wasn’t the best solution for *all* accounts – just certain ones. Never satisfied with partial solutions, we decided to create our own! Meet MARS.

For the past four months our hearty dev team Art, Tim & Raffy have been cranking python code to create what we believe is a better solution: MARS.  MARS provides our clients with unique capabilities:

·         The same level of slicing, dicing and control as Marin,

·         With a bidding algorithm that we have complete transparency and control over,

·         And the ability to factor and model historical performance trends

I’ll write more about some of the features we’ve built into MARS, but I wanted to highlight one of the most unique patent-pending approaches to bidding we’ve encountered: time windows.

The idea behind time windows is that performance over 75 clicks may be a good indicator of performance, or it may not (depending on the number of clicks per day). So we wanted to not just look at performance over n clicks, or y days…we wanted to be able to do any timeframe, and compare that performance with another timeframe. So for any account, our paid search team can set multiple windows to view and measure performance:

·         a 3 day window that catches current trends and can rapidly respond to current market conditions

·         a 14 day window that measures a wider segment of performance and allows more data to be factored into trends

·         and a 28 day window that gives us a wide view of how a keyword or campaign has trended over an entire month

Each of the windows can be completely customized (highly volatile accounts can have shorter windows, while more slow-building accounts can take a wider view). And each window can be weighted in the final recommendation, so we can weight short-term performance higher for one client, and weight longer-term performance for another. For even more control, we can have multiple rules working within the same account, so high volume core brand keywords can get rapid response, while long-tail slow building keywords can take a very long view to performance.

This gives us an ability to create a bidding algorithm that custom fits every account situation, from a low spending long-decision-cycle client like a boating company, to a high spend quick-fire account in precious metals. Here at Ionic we never believe in one-size-fits-all approaches, and by creating MARS we now have a robust scalable solution that fits every client’s needs, regardless of spend levels, phase of growth, or volatility.

Now we are all Martians here at Ionic!

Tags: Art Messal, Google, google analytics, Ionic Media, Marin, MARS, performance marketing, tagging, Tim Brown

Web 2.0 101, and the 411 on Web 3.0

January 5th, 2011 by Nancy Martinez

Seo has been around for years and years. There are a number of elements that help an SEO campaign become successful, but for the most part it consists of 3 main factors: meta data optimization, content and link building.

Over the years, link building has evolved from emailing industry peers, to link exchange programs and finally blog commenting.  Along with the new millennium came a new era of link building – enter “Web 2.0”.

What exactly is Web 2.0?

Wiktionary defines “Web 2.0” as The second generation of the World Wide Web, especially the movement away from static webpages to dynamic and shareable content and social networking. It basically uses social sites, wikis, podcasts and community sites as marketing tools.

Some Web 2.0 and Seo techniques include:

  1. Social Interaction
  2. Video optimization
  3. Image optimization
  4. Social optimization
  5. Social Bookmarking sites
  6. Social Media Marketing

Get Ready For A New Digital Era: Web 3.0

Web 3.0, sometimes called Semantic Web, is basically when machines can read web pages the way humans do – natural language processing. Search engines will be able to analyze all of the data on the web with Web 3.0 resources.  Although Web 3.0 is still in its infancy, one thing is certain – it is more efficient for the user as semantic web is designed to accommodate humans first and machines second. The semantic environment understands the meaning of the content being discussed without having to repeat a certain keyword over and over again. Web 3.0 can recognize people, places, events, products, companies etc by finding the relationship and the correlation between them.   It has other types of applications and solutions for faster and “real time” usage and convenience. The applications will essentially be smaller; and they will be able to run in any device, PC’s and Mobile. Web 3.0 applications will also be fast and customizable, and more user friendly than Web 1.0 and Web 2.0.

Web 3.0 Includes:

  1. Mobile marketing
  2. GPS
  3. Four Square
  4. Real Time Reviews
  5. Twitter
  6. “On The Go” everything – Ipods, IPhone, Ipads, even Food trucks thanks to twitter

How Web 2.0 and Social Media Marketing Beneficial for SEO?

SEO will always need link building, content and link popularity for ranking, visibility and traffic. SEOs are always looking for new tools and solutions on how to go about getting the newest and best links.  Social Media also helps businesses connect with consumers and clients and learn what the consumer demand is.

Social Media helps SEO with:

  1. Link Building
  2. Content
  3. Visibility
  4. Conversions
  5. Website Authority

Another way Social Media helps SEO is by identifying and getting to know your client or customer. Once you know what the consumer demand is you can optimize according to what people are interested in resulting in targeted traffic and ultimately more conversions and sales.

How Social Media Works for SEO:

  1. Social Media is the new link building
    • Sites like Twitter can be useful because these are large, authoritative and widely used
    • Share articles for syndication as well as engagement. Sharing articles is equivalent to a adding your sites to directories sort of speak.
    • The more an article is shared and viewed the more authority the search engines will give it as the more relevant that link is.
    • Google will take authority profiles and figure out how important those profiles are and pass that “link juice” to the website it is pointing to.
  2. Surrounding content will help with visibility and long term Serp placement. The messages that go out with a certain link can be helpful and at times take the place “anchor text”
  3. Social Media can also help with visibility. Once someone starts to blog about your business or product and other users, followers and friends retweet it, share or like it and it becomes viral
    • These Retweeted articles will help drive a websites up in the Serps (much like links and articles do)
    • They will help drive traffic to your site
    • Will show how many people are sharing and reading an article. The more an article is shared and read, the more Google will give it authority.
  4. Optimizing videos and social media accounts will help get business visibility as well as get links
    • Real Time search optimization and visibility
    • Google and BING will eventually start to index results that come directly from people and their opinions from their social networking sites.
  5. Because people have heard your name and are directed to your site, they will most likely buy from you because they trust you, your site and its authority.
    • This will help with conversions and sales
    • Finding demographic by engaging through social media and optimize for a more targeted audience resulting in conversions and sales
    • Search engines pick up on social media sites and figure out if they are relevant and this will help organic listings by helping you site become and authority site and giving your site relevance.
    • Humans on the web represent authority
    • Just like link building, Google looks for authority in sites and profiles. With link building, Google looks for authority sites pointing to a given website and figures out the value of the site. Google is now using this same concept when it comes to social media.

Tags: internet marketing, marketing with social media, media, SEO, seo engine optimization, seo internet marketing, social, social media and marketing, web 2.0, web 3.0, what is web 2.0

Keeping It Simple: Push versus Pull

November 12th, 2010 by Ted Huffman

As consumers we typically don’t think in offline or online terms, as those are antiquated concepts when we are navigating between offline and online invisibly.  So instead here at Ionic Media we tend to look at advertising mediums as Push versus Pull.

PUSH CHANNELS –Push channels are traditional broadcast vehicles designed to push your message out to an audience who may (or may not) be ready to receive it. Obviously TV, radio and print fall into this category, but so does display and video.  Great for broad awareness and generating large demand, but poor for being an incredibly cost-effective method.  Push marketing is valuable not just for major brand marketers, but also for smaller mom & pops.  Only through tested into Push channels can you really expand your audience and maximize your growth potential. For clients looking for significant change to their sales, Push channels are really the first place to look.

PULL CHANNELS – If Push equals broadcast media, then Pull can be categorized more as demand-driven narrowcasting.  Typically Pull channels are the conversion engine used in direct response campaigns.  Search is an ideal Pull channel, because consumers are seeking you out, not the other way around.  But even in traditional advertising, coupon programs and affiliate marketing have strong Pull capabilities. Even the old standby of the yellow-pages are great Pull examples. Also, Social Media is an ideal Pull channel because these consumers have actually self-selected that they want to have a relationship with your brand.

By breaking advertising not into offline versus online, but instead Pull versus Push, it makes integrated campaigns much easier to articulate and to manage.  Here at Ionic Media we pride ourselves on our award winning ability to manage complex integrated campaigns that leverage complementary aspects of both offline and online – and we do this precisely because we don’t view the world through an offline versus online prism. By looking at the objectives of each channel, rather than how consumers may “use” the channel, you can see you it’s easy to build a truly integrated campaign..


Ted Huffman is a founding Partner and Managing Director at Ionic Media.  He likes Half Life 2, and he lists North by Northwest among his top film picks. Learn more about him here.

Tags: advertising mediums, audience, awareness, brand, broadcast media, campaigns, demand, growth, integration, marketing, offline, online, pull marketing, push marketing, relationship, Social Media