Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 4: 3rd Party Website Advertising

Many third party websites offer online advertising opportunities. These include professional organizations, online directories, blogs, newsletters, online magazines and journals, news sites, and a variety of informational sites. Online advertising programs for these types of websites are varied and may include banner only (i.e. graphics), text only, or a combination of media which may also allow for video.

In Part 4 of this series, Online Advertising and User Intent (see Part 1: Intro, Part 2: Social Media Advertising, and Part 3: Search Engine Advertising), I hope to show how to apply the concept of user intent to online advertising on third-party websites.

3rd-Party Website Advertising

Your understanding of the intent of your targeted audience groups, or the reason they visit these third-party sites in the first place, provides you with the information you need during your campaign selection, planning, and development process. With some programs, such as Google AdSense, the content network is so vast and diverse that your selection process for where your ads will appear is somewhat restricted. Nonetheless, it is imperative you evaluate each advertising option carefully to avoid wasting your budget and to ensure you meet your goals.

Just as you have profiled your targeted audience groups to identify the characteristics and interests that allow you to develop an impactful advertising message, you must also profile the third-party websites you are considering to ensure your message reaches your intended audiences.

During your evaluation process, here are a few questions to help you along:

  1. What does the website offer?
  2. Who would be interested in what it offers? (Look at the substance of the content presented.)
  3. What type, or types, of audiences are attracted to the content: consumers, business professionals, engineers, purchasing agents, etc?
  4. In what age range might visitors be?
  5. What may be the education level of visitors?
  6. Are they sophisticated readers, highly educated on the subjects offered, or new to the material?
  7. Does what you offer logically fit with the content on the site?
  8. Could the content detract from what you offer?
  9. What do visitors generally do at the site? (i.e. post comments, ask questions, research, relax, play games, etc.)
  10. Is there a particular page or type of content most likely to attract your targeted audiences?

By carefully evaluating these considerations you can make assumptions about the intent of site visitors who frequent the sites you want to place your ads on. With a profile of both the advertising venue and the intent of the visitors it attracts, you have the information you need to select the right sites and to develop your highly focused advertising message. Make sure you are clear about:

  • Whom you are addressing
  • What they will be doing while you are trying to attract their attention

To summarize, advertising on third-party websites follows the same logic as advertising on social media sites. In order to attract the attention of your targeted audience groups, you have to understand and respect why they came there in the first place. By making accurate assumptions, you can develop an effective ad that:

  • Addresses your target audience groups’ known interests
  • Addresses their assumed interests as they relate to their known interests (e.g. “You’re reading about kitchen and bathroom remodeling so you may be interested in the decorative glass I sell for cabinets.”)
  • Taps into their emotion as it relates to their known interests
  • Gets them to take the action you desire without having to abandon why they came to that site in the first place

Read posts in this Series:

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 1: Intro

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 2: Social Media Advertising

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 3: Search Engine Advertising

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 4: 3rd-Party Website Advertising


Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 3: Search Engine Advertising

Many of you are familiar with search engine ads, and may even have engaged in an online advertising campaign through one of Google’s ad programs or through Microsoft’s AdCenter. If so, many of you may have spent an awful lot of money without garnering the kind of results you were expecting.

In my series Online Advertising and User Intent (see Part 1: Intro and Part 2: Social Media Advertising) I have been discussing how to develop effective online advertising campaigns and messages through the understanding of user intent.  To recap, user intent refers to the reason the user went to that particular platform, such as a search engine, in the first place. So let’s take a look now at search engine advertising.

Search Engine Advertising

Unlike Facebook where users display their intent in their profile or in their posts, search engine users type their intent in the search query box by posing a search term that is in some way addresses a current need or “pain”.  Because it is not possible to witness a search as it is taking place, it is only through historical data that an advertiser learns of user intent. Through an analysis of this historical data you can learn the ways in which to tactically target your audience groups as they search for what you offer.

The first place to look is at keywords. User intent can be identified to some extent by the terms they use to search for what you offer. Unfortunately it is difficult to know for sure what their intent is because users typically don’t specify ‘why’ they are looking for what you offer so you will have to make some assumptions. For example, if users typically type “mold removal long island” you can assume that a mold problem exists in homes in Long Island and users are looking for remediation. The point is to make an appropriate assumption that allows you to develop an ad that taps into:

  1. Users need or perceived interest
  2. What users are trying to accomplish ultimately
  3. What users may feel concerning their need or interest
  4. Their sense of urgency

Using the above example, it is easy to identify users’ ‘need or interest’ as ‘mold removal.’ Based on what you already know about your own business, you can also safely assume they are trying to accomplish getting rid of the mold, as well as the problem that is causing the mold. So the assumed scenario you are addressing is home owners in Long Island have a water problem that is causing their homes to develop mold. They are probably feeling pretty stressed about the situation so their sense of urgency is to find a way to get rid of it as quickly as possible without spending more than they can afford and to prevent it from ever happening again.

Now you have the information you need to develop a powerful text ad that speaks to the intent of the users who typed in ‘mold removal long island.’ It may look something like this:

Mold Removal Long Island
Stop wet basement problems now.
Free estimate. Call 1-800-000-0000.

If we analyze this ad you can see how it satisfies the assumed user intent, namely, to find a solution to their mold problem in Long Island.  The opening line addresses the problem by indicating the solution, mold removal, as well as the service location, Long Island. The second line addresses the assumed feeling and sense of urgency of users, which is to just get rid of the problem now and make sure it never comes back. The third line addresses the assumed need to manage costs. It also provides users with a quick way to get started on the solution: call the number. The fourth line is the link to your mold removal web page.

Effective search engine advertising requires you do some preliminary research to identify the search terms and phrases used to search for what you offer. Using these terms, you would then:

  1. Identify the intent of users, which may be to solve a problem, learn about something, find a course to take, buy a product online, or some other reason
  2. Make assumptions based on what you know about your own business that allow you to develop a scenario that enhances your understanding of the users’ intent
  3. Develop  highly focused ads that address the assumptions you made
  4. Tell users what they need to do to fulfill their intent

The users intent must be effectively addressed on the corresponding landing page that the ad is tied to.  A common mistake is to tie your ads to your company’s Home Page.  In my example above, the mold company may also offer other services such as basement renovations.  It is a waste of ad dollars, and time, to frustrate a user that clicks on an ad specifically speaking to their mold remediation need that dumps them on a home page forcing them to find the info they are looking for.

By creating a user path and tracking the conversions in your site analytics tools you can refine, A/B test and optimize your assumptions over time until you have a working formula you can count on.

In Part 4 of this series I will discuss how to apply the concept of user intent to online advertising on third party websites.

Read posts in this Series:

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 1: Intro

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 2: Social Media Advertising

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 3: Search Engine Advertising

Online Advertising and User Intent: Part 4: 3rd-Party Website Advertising

Local Marketing Benefits of Google Instant on Places

Recently Google announced the addition of Google Instant on Google Places. Google Instant is identified as a ‘search-as-you-type’ feature that delivers results automatically as you type, with no need to hit ‘Enter’ or click the ‘search’ button. As soon as you see what you need predicted in gray text you can stop typing and your search results will be listed below. The purpose of this search feature is to produce relevant search results in faster time. By understanding how the tool works and its goals, business owners can develop a local search engine optimization strategy that takes advantage of the types of search results offered to users.

To access the Places View local search tool, users simply click “Places” in the left-hand panel of Google. Once there, their searches will have place and map results that update as described above (i.e. search-as-you-type).  All results are clustered around the location specified, such as New York City. A red pin identifies the location of each business on a map, and is accompanied by relevant information and links from across the web. And results now include 30 or 40 relevant links per page as opposed to the former 10. With all this information conveniently grouped, it is much easier for users to make comparisons as they search.

With this new local search feature, website owners will benefit greatly from a comprehensive local search engine optimization strategy that connects their on-site content with content they present on social media sites, review site, news sites, and other third-party websites. A few things to consider:

  1. Keywords & Phrases: Strategically use your carefully researched and selected keywords and phrases for each type of highly focused content you represent so that more local search results are available. This also helps to develop your online ‘authority score.’
  2. Online Reviews: Provide your customers with links to the various review sites where you are listed and encourage them to share their experiences working with your company.
  3. Press Releases: Compose and post over the wire press releases optimized for the local search terms in your campaign.

The key to benefiting from the local marketing opportunities offered is to look at Google Instant on Places to understanding how it works and what it is trying to achieve. Then do all the things you need to do to help Google fulfill its objective to offer its users a larger selection of qualified, relevant local search results in a faster amount of time. When developing your local optimization strategy, to get the best results take into consideration all of your content, both on-site and off-site, so that you align your efforts across all your indexable local content collateral.


Power of Google’s +1 for Business

Google just announced the release of its latest social media tool aimed at bringing users ever more relevant search results that take into consideration “relationships as well as words on webpages.” The new tool is called ‘+1’ because it is essentially a graphical ‘+1’ that allows users to click on it to express their view that they liked the web page in the search results listing it corresponds to.

Let’s say you click a +1 because you like a particular site you found when searching for ‘commercial draperies.” Now all the people you are connected to through Google (your chat buddies and gmail contacts) will see that a person in their social network made a +1 recommendation. It will appear next to the link in the search results for ‘commercial draperies’ corresponding to the web page you liked. It will look like this: “Joe +1’d this” and will be visible to all the people in your network to see. If you change your mind and want to remove the +1 recommendation, you can do so at any time through your Google Profile page.

This new social media tool is a clear demonstration of the direction Google and the internet is going. Users are no longer passive recipients but active participants, not only in their own search experience, but in the search experience of their trusted social network of friends, family, and business associates. Google regards it as a great asset to users who may be faced with a plethora or choices and are looking for a little advice from a trusted resource, i.e. a person within their social network with whom they already have an established relationship.

Adding a whole new dimension to the power of “word-of-mouth,” Google +1 offers business owners huge potential to reach limitless target audiences through the interconnectedness of social networking. If you are a business user who is taking advantage of Google Apps for Business you already have a significant network of contacts and chat users. +1 recommendations made by any member of your business network could effectively reach those not only within their network but within each of the individual networks of those with whom they are connected.  The reach potential is virtually limitless!

But that’s not all. As you monitor the +1 recommendations of those within your business network you begin to understand more about their interests and which webpages they like. You also begin to understand their intent behind the search: eat pizza, buy window coverings for the office, book a conference facility in Houston, and so forth.

In light of the recent admission that social networking criteria impacts a website’s relevance through its ‘authority score,’ it is safe to assume that Google will most likely start to factor +1 recommendations into the authority score as well.

I welcome comments and insights from readers about Google’s latest social networking tool +1 and how it may impact business websites.

Look for my upcoming posts on the concept of ‘intent’ and how it can be applied to successful online advertising.

Google Places: Personalization for Local Search

Over the past few months Google announced the addition of several new local and mobile search tools for Google Places that make it easier for users to find local businesses by personalizing their search results. Offering great opportunities for businesses, these features provide tools to customize their Google Places listings to attract their targeted local customers.

The most recent addition is ‘Open Now,’ which allows users to click the link to reveal only the establishments in their vicinity that are open at the hour they are searching. For businesses typically desired outside of the usual 8am to 6pm business hours, such as pizzerias, gas stations, and pharmacies, for example, this feature is particularly helpful. What the new Open Now feature really represents is the move toward making local search personal.

In addition to Open Now, Google Places also allows users to filter local search results by star ratings, a type of online review that indicates how others feel about a particular business, and by distance, indicating how far they are willing to travel to visit the type of business they are searching for. A mobile app already available on Android phones, Hotpot is the latest iPhone app from Google that allows iPhone users to rate a place using their phone to help them remember their experience for future reference.

The point to understand is the general direction local search is moving. The experience for users has to be personal. People want to be able to manage their online experience by specifying items that help to narrow and manage search results.


Get started ASAP in 3 simple steps:

  1. The first thing all business owners need to do is claim their Google Places account.
  2. Next you need understand what is important to your target audience groups as they search.
  3. And lastly, apply what you know about your customers as you use the Google Places tools to provide the right information to attract them.


Don’t underestimate how powerful Local Search has become to-date, or how important it will be to your businesses in the future.