Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Serious Marketer’s Guide To Getting Started With YouTube Advertising

YouTube ads are a fantastic overall deal right now. You aren’t charged for TrueView in-stream ads until the viewer passes 30 seconds or finishes the video plus the cheap cost per view and you have something with real potential. Of course, if you are in a regulated niche or an industry that doesn’t use YouTube much, you might not be as lucky. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least test it out.


Demographics or behaviour, which targeting option would you pick?

Netflix is a prime example of how any online marketeer should start thinking. They continuously imporve their product to make it more personalised, thus offering each individual a better performance. One thing which caught my eye in this article on Netflix’ personalisation is their complete lack of focus on demographics.

Netflix used to place an emphasis on collecting these types of biographical details about its users, but it eventually decided the data wasn’t particularly useful. “It really doesn’t matter if you are a 60-year-old woman or a 20-year-old man because a 20-year-old man can watch Say Yes To The Dress and a 60-year-old woman could watch Hellboy,” Todd Yellin, VP of product innovation at Netflix, told Mashable in an interview this week.

Intention, behaviour and momentum are all much better indicators of customers’ behaviours and needs. Think about that when you’re still buying ads in the 25-35 age bracket.

Business models: pipes vs platforms

A real online shift is happening. Business are more and more becoming platforms and shying away from the limiting pipe strategy. So what are these business models?


Pipes have been around us for as long as we’ve had industry. They’ve been the dominant model of business. Firms create stuff, push them out and sell them to customers. Value is produced upstream and consumed downstream. There is a linear flow, much like water flowing through a pipe.


Unlike pipes, platforms do not just create and push stuff out. They allow users to create and consume value. At the technology layer, external developers can extend platform functionality using APIs. At the business layer, users (producers) can create value on the platform for other users (consumers) to consume. This is a massive shift from any form of business we have ever known in our industrial hangover.

Definitions from, the complete guide to platforms

Traditional retailers such as Walmart are typically pipe models while Ebay is a perfect example of a platform. Oddly enough these retailers at the same time are moving in the direction of becoming a platform, with Amazon offering a program for third-party sellers as well as opening their fulfilment centers for these third parties. In the Benelux you can see a similar move with opening their shops towards third-party sellers. It’s easy to understand why: opening up to third-party sellers offers a risk-free (no stock) earnings model and supports these companies’ mission of offering the largest product selection available. Expect much more platform thinking in the online world soon!

Free SERP tracking


Google’s (not provided) is here to stay. As we marketeers thrive on data, we’re not very happy about this. Some have offered reverse engineering solutions from past data, someone even suggested simply asking your visitors which keyword they used and some have argued to move to a more holistic view based on landingpages. Puzzling a few of these together and you can still get a decent overview, but alas it will never be the same.

On the other hand this massively increased the need for people to track their positions in the search engines. There’s quite a few paid services available to track multiple keywords automatically, although this will often results in Google identifying your IP as a bot.

But thanks to some free tools we can now build a free SERP tracking tool ourselves. It works by using the importXML feature on Google’s spreadsheets to manually import the search engine results for each and every of your keywords. And since it’s a Google tool, no IP will ever get banned.

SERP results

You can download a copy of this spreadsheet for free here. Setting it up is as simple as going to the sheet “Data and importXML” and updating the queries on the first row. If you need to you can also change the Google domain and the language to track multiple local versions of Google. Then immediately it will import the search results and show them in the same column. For your convenience I’ve also added the sheet “Standardised Results” which removes the unnecessary data and only shows the URL.

The ImportXML feature runs about every hour or so, so you will only ever see the latest results. If you’re interested in tracking evolution, you can always link this spreadsheet to your own database. To do so: go to File; choose Publish on Internet; click Start Publishing and then select your source of preference RSS / Atom or CSV. This updates at the same time as your Google Spreadsheet, so make sure to set up a cron-job on your server to handle the data each hour (or every day, …).

Hat tip to Dries Bultynck for finding this solution.


Want detailed demographics of your competitors? Easy!

Oreo has more than 34 mio fans on Facebook

Oreo has more than 34 mio fans on Facebook

There can be a multitude of reasons why you would want to find out who are fans of your competitors. You might want to launch a competitive product and are looking for the right audience, you might want to benefit from the weaknesses of your competitor in an untapped market segment or maybe you’re even looking for a partnership with similar demographics. Either way, each day tons of money is spent on doing competitive analysis, and that in an age where lots of data has never been so easy to find for free. One such free source is Facebook pages and the ad planner.

Let’s have a look at a typical love brand: Oreo. Oreo currently has more than 34 million likes on Facebook. Wouldn’t it be great if we could find out what type of people really like this brand?


To find out we visit . Enter a bogus ad target to move on to the Create Your Audience tab. Under Precise Interests add the name of the competitor’s Facebook page and add at least one target country. On the right you will immediately be updated with the number of fans from this specific country for that page. So from the 34.8 mio fans of Oreo 10.2 mio (or 30%) live in the USA. Next up are Mexico (8%), Argentina (5%), UK (5%), France (3%) and Venezuela (3%). Important to note is that we’re only talking about the main Oreo Facebook page when individual countries might have their own pages. Orea India for example in itself has over 3.6 mio fans. So please check for local pages in your analysis.

But we can dig much deeper than that. Let’s say we’re only interested in the American fans. Then we can do the exact same trick and start segmenting on all options Facebook gives us: gender, age, state/city, relationship status, education level and language. And if you like, you can even take a combination of any of this data.

Some examples for the American Oreo fans:

  • 61% are female, 39% are male
  • 47% are single, and 19% married
  • 4% are homosexual
  • 25% are college graduates
  • 25% are between the age of 13-18, 2% are above 60
  • 7% are from the state of New York, 7% from Texas and 10% from California

So what now? Go ahead and check some of your competitors on Facebook. Compare how their audiences match and differ with yours and see how you can take advantage of that. But also remember: what you can do to other, can happen to you as well.

Should you still own a Facebook brand page?

Disney on Facebook

Disney is the 42nd most liked page on Facebook

Today it’s hard to find a single brand which doesn’t have its own Facebook page. And the advantages are clear: with more than 1.2 billion active users each month, Facebook is a gigantic channel to build an audience. With the click of a single like button you can reach out to yet another prospect/customer.

But slowly things are changing. Only two days ago, Facebook blogged about yet another optimization on the timeline algorithm, which “for many pages, this includes a decline in organic reach“. Facebook explains this as being a logical step in offering the highest relevance for their users, meaning that the selfie from a friend is likely more relevant to me than yet another brand trying to engage me. And they’re probably right.

But it also means that your carefully built-up Likes are losing value for you as a brand. You can still reach your likes through highly engaging content or through advertising, but that will only become for difficult to do for free. As one commenter said:

So, let me get this straight: we promote our pages in order to get more fans. And, in order to promote our pages, we pay for Facebook. OK, after we pay for this, we need to pay again to REACH those fans. Is that only me, or is something wrong with that?

The free lunch is quickly disappearing. But there’s a bigger danger looming: data. By building up your audience on Facebook you are building an immense set of consumer data and insights. All of which you don’t own. This opens the door for Facebook to give/sell your data to others. Largely invisible, but incredibly powerful.

Any brand looking for a highly specific and easy to capture audience can do so on Facebook. A telecom operator with a special offer for people aged 18-25? Create ads to people who like any of the competitors and are in that age bracket. A clothing brand looking to expand its product line with shoes? Target anyone who’s a fan of a similar shoe brand…

To fully grasp the risks of this situation, let’s draw a comparison between building that Facebook page or a traditional email list. In both instances we trigger the customer to perform a small action and subscribe to our messages. Now imagine that a third party manages this email list for you for free. After a while they tell you they will start sending out fewer of your emails because they feel their users are already receiving too much information. Now also imagine that they start selling that email list to rival companies for which we receive absolutely nothing. No business in the world would ever accept such policies on their email list. So why should you with your Facebook page?

If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product.

There’s been much talk lately about consumers worrying that their privacy online. Instagram and LinkedIn using your pictures to build ads, Facebook using your personal data to serve ads, … So far there’s not a lot of action being taken by consumers as giving up their data can actually serve them in getting better (personalised) offers. Individuals are also not very interested in putting a value on their own data, so not a lot is being done.

What we as businesses are forgetting though is that our Facebook Page suffers from a very similar problem. We got the free meal from the third-party service (in this case Facebook), but it also meant that we are giving up complete control. And unlike individuals, data is extremely valuable to us businesses which means Facebook’s “free” is starting to get very expensive in direct cost (advertise to reach our own audience), lost revenue (partnership deals in exchanging emails) and in competitive value (data being sold to competitors).