Game of Zones: display mutating again?

- November 27, 2013

Cost Per Mille (mille Lat.: thousand) was originally used in the newspaper industry. Comparing the relative cost of reaching readers in between a national newspaper with a circulation of 1.2m and a local one of 75,000 is impossible without calculating the CPM.

(Cost of insertion / Number of readers) / 1,000
This model was transposed to the Internet with the substitution of 'readers' with 'impressions'; the number of times a banner is shown to a user.

Can you see the one at the bottom?
Display banners principally do two things:
  1. Deliver an advertiser's brand and message
  2. Provoke an interaction, normally a click
Neither of these things happen (or can happen) if the user does not actually see the banner. When it comes to a web page, the 'impression' happens on the load and rendering of the page. If a site has very long (and not very interesting) pages, the fact that an 'impression' happens at the bottom of the page doesn't help.

This has led some marketers to obsess about 'above-the-fold' placements. This is another newspaper term co-opted to the Internet world; coming from the days of large papers which folded in half. A few years ago, there was some consensus as to where the 'fold' was on a webpage, but the addition of mobiles, tablets and other devices to the mix means this is a moving target now (which means advertising needs to adapt depending on the device). Smaller screens also means more impressions may be lost; for example, on an article-type page the most common behaviour is to zoom to the column width of the article, which hides the right-column which is a common place to run ads.

There is some sense to worrying about placement, but I think a focus on engagement measurement is a more useful approach in most cases. Clicks (2 above) can be tracked reasonably accurately, but how do we approach the 'branding effect'. There are various ways to follow users around and infer effectiveness from post-impression actions or use CTR on different channels as a proxy for the effectiveness, but no simple metric to follow. Things would be a lot easier if we knew that an ad had actually been seen... Looks like things are moving that way as Google just got certified by the MRC for its 'Active View' product. Short version is that this will now be an option for CPM bids on the Google Display Network and will probably force itself cross-industry as a standard for the future. Get a more detailed run down on this development here.

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The Total Expat Experience

- November 12, 2013

A fashionable concept at the moment is Total Customer Experience (TCE). It might sound like the kind of business jargon which will induce a coma within 2 minutes, but bear with me! TCE is linked in with the idea of running Customer Experience Management (CEM) programs. Sorry, that's the last of the acronyms.

The main idea is to extract a bunch of key metrics from as many customer interaction points as possible and then use this to experiment and innovate on tactics to keep customers happier, for longer. Sounds a little like common sense and traditional best practice?
The interesting bit is the focus on metrics and experimentation – there are frequently many useful insights sat lurking undiscovered in the data. Taking a more analytical approach is a helpful compliment to the anecdotal, story-based way we, as humans, typically try to understand things.

So, how could your current or future TCE efforts work with the segment of your customers which are expats? The good news is that they should help. The bad news is you will probably need to look at the data another way. Specific factors such as the following may skew the figures:

  • Language barriers may favor one channel over others
  • Attrition in online processes may differ massively from native populations
  • Customer retention strategies may have different effects on this segment
  • Customer churn is likely to be above average as expats are internationally more mobile
Don’t make the mistake of assuming the benchmarks will be the same as they can be very different. Correct interpretation of the figures will help better address this segment. Not sure we need Total Expat Experience (TEE) to enter the business lexicon, but companies do need to pay attention to how they look at figures as the % of non-natives in customer bases continues to rise and rise.

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