There is a simple rule that seems so hard to follow in this digital age: Your digital ad must align with where the ad takes you–on the first click. Simple? Not exactly.

The rise of the landing page’s importance is directly because websites have become so complicated and offer too much information. The landing page provides a clear connection between the message of the ad and where you subsequently “land.”

The effect is like seeing a sports coat on a manikin in a store window. You then open the door to go in and find a sea of cologne, perfumes, make-up and jewelry (an experience I had at a Macy’s). Where do you go?  For some, you may just walk out the door.

On the internet the experience is the same. Google has developed a quality score to measure the alignment between the ad and the landing page. It is based on the relevancy of your ad, keywords and landing page.  But you really don’t need a score, you just need common sense.  I see a chair I like so I click on the ad.  If you take me to your website and make me do multiple clicks to find the chair, eventually I’ll “bounce out.”

That’s the experience I had with Office Max. I saw a chair I liked in an ad on LinkedIn. So I clicked, then I clicked again, then I clicked again. I still had not seen any chair like the one in the ad. So I then bounced out. It’s hard to measure my difficulties because I would be measured as a “click” from the ad and then a person who “clicked” in again (a conversion).  Some might assume I didn’t like the price. Some may assume I had a second thought. But the real problem is I never saw the chair, so I had no chance of purchasing.  That’s bad for Google quality scores and bad for business.

When we do in-depth questioning research, one question that stumps people again and again is this: “What is your organization’s brand promise?”

Man with a Notepaper with Brand Concept

Research by Gallup indicates that “the more consumers can accurately verbalize the principal characteristics of the brand promise…the greater the share of their business they give those brands.” As part of Gallup’s research, people were asked, “How would you describe what Brand X represents, and what makes it different from its competitors?”

That is a powerful question. Imagine asking your employees that question. Imagine asking your organization’s board of directors. Imagine asking your contributors that question. Gallup asked the question and compared the responses to a list of core identity elements. The alignment from the people questioned to the list of core identity elements determined the rankings.

Gallup came away with an important recommendation: Make sure “your workforce is aligned with and empowered to deliver the core elements of your brand identity.” It’s important to ask your employees if they know your promise and, even more importantly, do they believe in your brand promise? No alignment with employees probably means your stakeholders are not aligned as well.

You’ve heard people talk about brand awareness. But it is not awareness you need to be successful, it is alignment.

Signs must communicate quickly and efficiently. Imagine if all your communications had to communicate visually all the time. A sign of the times is that new media is changing how we write, design and think about communications. No Dog Poop

You might say that new media is not changing us for the better.  Regardless, we are all changing. The biggest change that I see is the tendency for smaller blocks of copy. Texting is changing and shortening our spelling: “idrc” or “idk.” Twitter only allows you 140 characters of copy. People will only spend a few minutes on a website and then they are gone.

However our scanning, 24-hour Twitter, smartphone, herky-jerky, Facebook lifestyles are really changing in ways we can never anticipate. What I do know is that new media is changing our patience with copy. Our copy blocks need to get shorter — and in my opinion, harder to write. So take a look at that long mission statement, that long letter, that verbose brochure, that 50-slide PowerPoint: New media is giving us Media Attention Deficit Disorder.  20150116_182448_resized (2)


  • Cut down copy.
  • Bullet when you can.
  • Use short little lines.
  • One thought per paragraph.
  • Bold or highlight key words.
  • Underline what I need to know.

October 10 is Columbus Day. Do we care? Well, if you are a retailer it helps because it gives a reason to have a sale. But why do we need to have a reason?columbus-day

Camping World had a “Back to School” sale. Not sure how that fits a company that is “a leader in all things RV.” A local grocery store had a “Tent Sale.” Yet, when I went to the store there was no tent, it was only in their newspaper and TV ads. A local car dealer was still running a “Labor Day” sale ad 7 days after Labor Day.

I’m all for themes for sales, but it seems like we’ve become lazy. The theme should relate to a consumer benefit, not a date on a calendar or an overused sale cliché. The “Half-Off sale” made more sense to me on end-of-season lawn and garden sale than the “Columbus Day Extravaganza Sale.”

When you name something it should meet a base-line criteria:

  • You name should be trademarkable
  • You should be able to secure the URL
  • It should be memorable
  • It should sound cool
  • It should be unique
  • It should have meaning and move people emotionally when they understand the meaning

A Presidents’ Day Sale is just an attempt of naming a sale in the least thought-provoking way. It doesn’t tell anyone even when it is (most of the sales are all week long, “Presidents’s Week Sale?). And, it doesn’t provide any real, tangible benefit to the consumer (who is not likely to search “Columbus Day Sale”).  And in this highly personalized age, the “It’s Mark’s Birthday Sale” would really speak to me–like Starbucks does every January.

story synch 2 JPGAccording to a Google Consumer Survey (May 2015), “two-thirds of smartphone owners used their phones to learn more about something they saw in a TV commercial.”

Nielsen estimates that adults watch more than five hours of TV per day. Of that number, Google reports, 84% use their smartphones or tablets as a second screen (12% of them are reading discussions about the TV show and 29% are searching for show-related information).

This means that you can simply measure your search traffic against television airings and determine which TV ad placements provide the most search lift.

According to Google, here are three “best practices” to consider reaching multi-screen viewers:

  1. You must have a mobile presence to support your TV ads.
  2. Category terms are critical to success. They may not remember your name, but they will remember the categories. Don’t let your competitor dominate the SEO world for your words.
  3. Make it easy. Align copy and landing page copy to your television creative. This makes producers cringe, but consumers very happy.

Google says that TV viewers want more while “they watch TV—the who, what, why and how much.” You have an opportunity to connect the dots for consumers, but the connection must be easy to find and use.

According to eMarketer, companies such as Wal-Mart, Target and Amazon are “flocking to YouTube.” For healthcare, CVS and Walgreens are among the top ad spenders on the digital channel.iStock_000016809654_Medium

YouTube is owned by Google, which means that search will continue to be video-oriented in the future. The only thing stopping YouTube may be its own success: New video competition from Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo will dilute future ad revenues and steal a few viewers.

YouTube’s shoppable ad platform that was rolled out last year is just beginning to attract advertisers with its ability to seamlessly blend video and advertising content. For example: if you’re watching a video about a new Nikon camera, a simple slide-across function allows you to see the new camera and prices, and you can click on the image to buy it.

YouTube is more than a place to post your videos, it is a strong advertising platform – especially for pre-roll and shoppable advertising ideas. For many, YouTube is just a place to populate with organizational videos. But the most important component to being found [through search] is not the video itself, but the title and description. It should take nearly as long to optimize the title and descriptions as it does to record the video.

Video is starting to become an ubiquitous advertising platform, but the YouTube channel is where most are turning to watch.


Just when you thought you had mobile search down, there is a new voice in the marketing game. It’s called voice search.Glossy square speaker toggle icon

According to comScore, voice search will account for half of all searches by the year 2020. More than 20% of all Google searches are now conducted via voice query. Google’s research shows that 45% of teens want the ability to order pizza via voice search (which is not possible as of yet).

It might surprise you to learn that  you use different words when you do a voice search than you do when you write out a keyword or a long-tail keyword string. So you must optimize for voice and written searches.

According to Social Media Today, here are 3 ways to optimize for voice search:

  • Prominence—This is how well-known your business or organization is in terms of reviews and star ratings
  • Distance—More than 40% of voice searches are looking for directions, so make sure citation info is synched across all directories
  • Relevance—You have to match what people are saying in their long-tail search queries. You must make sure your website writing is truly relevant to searches

Your language must be more conversational in tone (“find me a pizza restaurant nearby”). The language will need to look and sound natural on your website. So, how does that sound?