Swoop's own Bill Powers, Executive Vice President - Corporate Development, presented at the IAB's Content Marketing Town Hall last week in the IAB AdLab. Click here
to read the full article about the event and the discussion around both the concerns and opportunities publishers have in the content marketing and syndication space.
There have been a number of studies recently looking at consumer engagement with various forms of digital advertising. By pulling together a number of these different studies, I’ll attempt to sort through the background noise and determine what is noise in the system and what is signal.
In this specific case, let’s look at the most obvious measurement of consumer engagement – did the consumer engage with the ad in whatever form it took – otherwise know as click through rate. Over the last decade, banner ad CTR has been so abysmal that most in the industry have abandoned it as a yardstick and have searched for new ways to attempt to support ad effectiveness. But just what is the real engagement driven by traditional banner ads?
The quoted average click through rate for banner ads is 0.09%. (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Top-Reason-Users-Dont-Click-iw-129671171.html?x=0&.v=1). For ads on Facebook, engagement is even worse, with an average click through rate of 0.051% (http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/05/15/ipo-facebook-vs-google-display-advertising)
On the surface this is dismal enough, but there remains some noise within this measurement and a recent study (http://adage.com/article/digital/incredible-click-rate/236233/) allows us to dig deeper to find the true signal. On average it appears that there is an inadvertent click rate of 0.04%. It is not hard to fathom, that for every 10,000 ads you see, as you move your mouse across the screen to take another action, you accidently activate 4 ads. I am sure you can even remember the last time that this happened to you. Clearly, these inadvertent clicks are noise in the system and this implies that the true CTR for banner ads is really 0.05% and for Facebook 0.011% (although to be fair it may be that the layout of the Facebook page results in fewer inadvertent clicks.)
In addition, this study ran a campaign of blank ad slots linked to a click tracker. The premise was that there exists some number of Natural Born Clickers, people who out of curiosity, boredom or some pathological desire to click will interact with anything, thus creating an additional underlying level of noise in the system. The fascinating result was a 0.08% click through rate – or only 0.01% less than the average banner engagement rate. So while it is possible that a blank ad drove more curiosity, it is clear that the true signal – the true engagement rate – for banner ads is somewhere between 0.01 and 0.05%. The most significant fact that we can take away from this is that when measuring banner ad CTR, there is more noise in the system than there is signal. The results can be seen graphically below.
One of the reasons that the noise to signal ratio is so high is that the overall interaction is so low. If we shift our focus and look at high intent digital advertising, namely search, we get a much stronger signal, and much less noise in our measurements. This comes from three distinct differences between search and display advertising. First, search takes place at the intersection of your current intent and your current interest (right now I’m interested in Paris and I intend to travel there), whereas, in the best case, display advertising takes into account your past interest and past intent (search retargeting) or your potential future interest and future intent (behavioral targeting). Second, since search is temporally relevant and self-directed, the user choice of interaction is relatively free of inadvertent interactions. And third, because user interaction is more than 20 times greater than with display advertising, any noise is overwhelmed by signal. The comparison to display can be seen graphically below.
So while there is more noise than signal in any measurement of display advertising, we get a far more accurate reading when measuring search like advertising. By stripping out the noise we can see that search drives not 20X higher engagement than display, but something more on the order of 40 to 200X.
Cambridge, MA, January 29, 2013 – Swoop, a service that brings Native Advertising into the content of food sites and blogs, today announced that their digital food network has exceeded 37 million monthly visitors, making it the largest food centric network in the US.
With over 500 unique sites, the Swoop Network spans the gamut of large recipe sites to specialty blogs, providing a passionate and involved audience for brands to communicate with. When combined with Swoop’s industry leading engagement, over 20 times that of standard display ads, the Swoop network provides leading food brands with a unique opportunity for deep invitation driven engagement.
“We are pleased to partner with Swoop,” said Tina Imm, General Manager Lifestyle Digital Group at Time Inc. “Being able to seamlessly integrate content that helps our readers with the task that they came to our properties to complete provides not just a chance for brands to create meaningful engagement, but can improve the overall experience for our users.”
“There have been two core issues with Native Advertising solutions;” said Beth Egan, Managing Partner and Account Director, MEC Global. “The cost of the custom content involved and the lack of reach and scale. Swoop has addressed both of these problems with a programmatic way to buy and place Native Ads across a network of over 500 sites and 37 million unique users with no incremental content or productions costs.”
Other global brands that are taking advantage of Swoop’s industry leading engagement include General Mills, Smart Balance and DANONE.
The patent pending contextual relevance technology that powers the Swoop platform provides consumers the additional content they are searching for, provides publishers with a new and high value revenue source and provides advertisers the scalable, invitation driven engagement they desire.
Swoop is designed to discover billions of decision moments and create serendipitous engagement opportunities where publishers can enhance user experience and advertisers can deeply engage with their target consumers.
“Building the largest digital food network in just one year since launch is a great achievement and speaks to the effectiveness of our Contextual Relevance Engine, our Native Advertising Format, and the great content provided by our Brand partners, said Ron Elwell, CEO and Founder of Swoop. “In fact, our cohort studies show that once a user engages with Swoop, they are far more likely to engage in the future, so we are creating a virtuous cycle for the consumer, the publisher and the advertiser.”
Swoop is a Native Advertising service that seamlessly integrates relevant information about products and services – at times in the form of sponsored content or advertising – into the content that consumers are engaged with online. Through its patent pending technology Swoop has made a breakthrough that allows for Conceptual Advertising; the ability to understand not just the content, but the actual human concepts that are being expressed. This provides Advertisers with the Intent and Relevancy of Search, but at the Scale of the Web. Founded by a team with deep experience in web publishing, advertising technology and consumer marketing, Swoop is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Swoop is venture backed by US Venture Partners and Valhalla Partners. For more information, please visit www.swoop.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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It seems that suddenly everyone wants to talk about Native Advertising and lay claim to a “Native Advertising” solution. Six years ago as the CEO of one of the largest sport sites in the world, www.goal.com, I was an early proponent of Native Advertising. By integrating sponsored content from our advertisers into our editorial, we saw engagement that was off the charts, and advertisers and readers were enthusiastic about this new content. However, this was a very editorially intensive effort that had none of the scale of our programmatic placement of standard display ads. In the last several years, Native Advertising became the new monetization model for emerging Internet properties. Sponsored Posts, Promoted Tweets and Sponsored Stumbles are all examples of specific new advertising techniques being integrated into particular sites. Now, more traditional content sites are looking to cash in on the trend, and predictably the ad tech industry has responded with a flood of new “Native Advertising” solutions. Just as predictably, this has led to new levels of confusion. Claims and counter claims about Native Advertising’s effectiveness, scalability and format are rampant. Having spent the last 6 years deeply immersed in this space and searching for a scalable, programmatic alternative to traditional banner advertising, I’ve developed my own Seven Rules for Native Advertising. As you attempt to sort though the plethora of options it can serve as a useful guidebook.
Native Advertising should:
1. Live as part of the content stream.
It should seamlessly appear within the stream of content, offering to be consumed in the natural course of browsing.
2. Complement the content and assists the reader with the task in which they are engaged.
In order to earn the user’s engagement you have to make the advertising useful.
3. Invite the reader to engage to discover more content.
A browsing user is involved in content discovery. A good native Ad should provide them a snippet of content that can lead to deep and meaningful engagement IF the consumer deems it appropriate.
4. Incorporate real time engagement targeting.
User intent discovery happens in real time, providing relevant information for what the user is interested in now, not 5 minutes or 5 days ago.
5. Allow for programmatic placement of ads.
Billions of moments of intent must be identified in real time, the appropriate sponsored content matched, the highest value ones identified, and virtual ad slots created and injected. All automatically, all at web advertising scale.
6. Be scalable to the scope of the web
Thousands of sites, hundreds of millions of users and billions of ads. Any solution must work at web scale.
7. Have no need for custom creative
Native advertising shouldn’t be one of creative exercise. It will require new standards to drive innovative and better ways to connect with users, and deeper and more meaningful engagement.
As the late great Bill Bernback said, “It is not about the number of ads you serve, it is about the impressions you make.” Digital advertising has lost the ability to create a meaningful and lasting impression with the consumer, and focused for too long on sheer scale as the defacto unit of measure. If done correctly, Native Advertising offers the opportunity both to shift the focus to real, timely engagement and to build positive brand impressions, without losing the scale provided by the web.
Swoop, recently commissioned a study on the shopping habits of consumers. Some of the interesting findings from the survey were:
- Women are twice as likely as men to make a list before they go shopping
- Women are 42% more likely to agree with the statement that “saving money on groceries is important to me”
- Shoppers are evenly split between brand loyalty and the desire to save money, with 53% agreeing that they would buy a different brand ifsavings were available.
- Only 11% of shoppers print out a coupon from the web on a weekly basis, and 75% have never electronically loaded a coupon to their frequent shopper card.
- Men and women are equally likely to go online to look for recipes with 52% of men going on line at least once a month, versus 54% of women. Women do go more frequently with 26% going online at least once a week versus only 12% of men.
By Nick Aquino
Marketing Analyst, Swoop
Last night, Chef Marc Forgione and Swoop hosted an exclusive dinner at Restaurant Marc Forgione in Manhattan. Food brands, publishers, bloggers, and enthusiasts alike joined us to socialize, enjoy gourmet cuisine and talk about one of our biggest passions: FOOD.
At the start of dinner, Chef Forgione announced that the theme was “Childhood Memories”. Reading the menu was enough to bring anyone back to their grade school days. Bagel and Cream Cheese, PB & J, Fish Sticks and Ketchup, Baked Potato, Steak and Cheese, and Apple Pie. Chef explained that all of the night’s courses were inspired by these childhood favorites.
The simple suggestion of Childhood memories was enough to spark nostalgic conversations throughout the night about childhood experiences and shared favorites. The dinner was scored by songs that guests listened to in their adolescent years, spanning from the ‘60’s to the 90’s. Instead of placemats, guests were given images from coloring books and crayons to draw with.
As each course of the meal was served, we marveled at how Chef and his team transformed kid’s cuisine into rich and complex dishes. The “PB and J” was made in-house and served with English Muffins, Duck Fat, and a variety of salts. The “Fish Sticks and Ketchup” was actually Hamachi, Ginger Ketchup, Daikon Radish, and Matsutake Mushrooms. The “Baked Potato” was sour cream ravioli, leek, bacon, and white truffle. “Steak and Cheese” took the form of Strip Steak, Potato Millefuille, Huckleberry, Pierre Poivre, and Blue Cheese. Even the “Apple Pie” had its own twist, the “crust” was literally an apple.
A dinner with a youthful theme, great conversation, and outstanding food was a formula for a great night. The Swoop Team was thrilled to share this intimate experience with our guests. Thanks to Chef Marc Forgione and all of our guests for making the night one to remember!
Click here to see the entire photo album from the night!
Swoop is happy to announce our Publisher Network has eclipsed 500 sites! By offering the intent and relevancy of search, along with the scale of the web, Swoop continues to attract high quality publishing partners to our network and continues to grow the largest food-centric marketplace on the web. It’s becoming THE place where the world’s premier brands can have meaningful conversations and interact with interested consumers at the exact moment they declare intent and interest in their food related products.
During the month we also launched our self-service publisher portal. This portal not only makes it simple for any blog or site to get up and running in minutes, but it also puts all the tools at your finger tips you need to control Swoop on your site. This includes the placement of Swoop icons as well as simple opt out of any advertising campaign. If you haven’t visited the portal please do so at https://portal.swoop.com, we’d love to hear what you think, especially any ideas of how to improve the experience.
Swoop is also pleased to announce we have launched our related content module. Appearing as a Swoop button below a recipe, it offers up related recipes similar to the one the user has searched for and is currently viewing. If a user has gone through your recipes and has not quite found a recipe that works, we’d rather intercept a secondary search to Google or Yahoo, offer the user related recipes from a non-competitive brand site, and have our partners get paid rather than the search engines.
Thanks to all of our partners for making Swoop the largest digital food-centric marketplace.
Check out what's new with the Swoop Network this month!
Swoop Surpasses 350 Publishers in August
Swoop continues its solid growth by ending August 2012 with 350 publishers who’ve integrated Swoop’s one-of-a-kind Content Monetization Platform. Swoop continues to attract top food publishers, bloggers and networks by helping them generate incremental revenue from relevant search and intent-based native advertising while also delivering unparalleled engagement for advertisers
Welcome Foodie BlogRoll!
Swoop is excited to announce a partnership with Foodie BlogRoll, a leading network of over 14,000 food-centric publishers and bloggers. Foodie will enable Swoop’s services through their existing publisher interface and offer them a simple integration, increased monetization and a great end-user experience that will differentiate their platform with potential publishers and further strengthen their existing Blogger relationships.
Swoop Partners with Coupons.com
Coupons.com digital coupons network is far and away the largest provider of digital coupons on the Web. With this partnership, Swoop’s publishers are now able to offer end users tens of thousands of additional digital coupons, at the exact moment of interest on specific ingredients and recipes.
Recently one of Swoop’s publishers ran an experiment where they featured recipes in their daily emails that had an ingredient for which Swoop was running a campaign. They made no mention of Swoop, they just wanted to see if featuring such a recipe would have any effect on overall Click Through Rate or on the revenue they could make from the campaign. The results are below:
Analysis of a Publisher’s Recipe of the Day Email Campaign - August 2012
- Publisher sends out a daily email highlighting one recipe
- Once a week in August they featured a recipe with Peanut Butter, an ingredient for which Swoop is running a campaign.
- Prior to including Peanut Butter in the emails they averaged 161 Clicks/Day on the Peanut Butter campaign
- It is important to note that this was not a new initiative, it simply involved picking a recipe that included a Swoop featured ingredient as part of their current email activity
- Each email generated an incremental 950 clicks on the day it was sent and 255 the following day
- These emails increased clicks on the day they were sent by 691%
- After revenue share, each email generated $301.25 in net incremental revenue
- Click Through Rate on days without a featured peanut butter email averaged 3.62%. Click Through Rates on the day and day after the featured emails averaged 8.2%
So you can see it is easy to dramatically positively affect the amount of revenue you can realize from Swoop campaigns. Another simple way to achieve similar results would be to focus several new blog posts around recipes that feature these ingredients.
The old real estate maxim of location, location, location describes why identical houses can cost vastly different amounts based on their premium locations. In the digital world the value of premium locations is quickly becoming devalued. Publishers are faced with competition from an infinite amount of undifferentiated real estate. Retargeting has created an easement across your waterfront property that allows everyone access to the beach. Your audience is no longer your audience, it is something that can be accessed in countless ways around the web and the value of all property is trending to zero. In fact a recent article shows a 58% increase in the number of display ads that has led to a 23% decrease in CPM.
The fundamental problem across the industry is that all digital advertising has been about monetizing real estate. The publisher generates as many page views as possible, and on each one of those pages they run a number of ads. In order to generate more revenue you generate more pages, more pages equals more impressions, more impressions equals more revenue. However, as we have seen, we are now in a vicious cycle where the value of this real estate continues to fall, falling real estate value means falling revenue which means we need to generate more page views, which devalues the existing real estate which means prices fall further, which means we need to generate more real estate, which means….
You get the picture.
So, if the numbers are right and the trends continue what’s the way out? At Swoop we believe the future is clear. Native Advertising. Stop trying to monetize your real estate and start finding ways to monetize your content. Your content is what brought the reader to you in the first place, and it is what keeps them coming back. Your content is what differentiates you from other similar sites or applications. Your content is where all your unique value resides. However, if we replicate the current real estate based ad experience inside of content, you will alienate your readers and lose your audience. Placing Native Ads inside content has to be done completely differently. You cannot interrupt a user’s consumption of the content. You need to be respectful of the user at all times. You need to be incredibly contextually relevant so that whatever you do matches a consumer’s current mindset. Last but not least, you need to give consumers the choice of whether or not they wish to engage.
In fact the ads must look nothing like ads as we know them today. Instead they need to be much more akin to sponsored content. Content that is relevant to the consumer’s interest or task at that exact moment in time. Content that enhances the users experience. Content that can keep them engaged and on your site. And it all needs to be done in a way that is as scalable and as automated as the current real estate monetization tools.
When done correctly this can be the Holy Grail of advertising – relevant content that an advertiser pays you to provide, that the user asks to engage with, that keeps the user on your site longer and drives greater satisfaction.
At Swoop we believe it is all about location, location, location. But the location is not on your pages, it is in your content. We are committed to leading this revolution to fundamentally remake online advertising into a helpful and relevant source of information for your readers, and a source of revenue that can ultimately foreclose on this broken ecosystem.
In just 5 months since our launch we are thrilled that already over 350 publishers have agreed with us and are now partners in this effort. While it is still early, the results have been incredibly positive and the support from publishers, advertisers and consumers has been inspiring. Our commitment remains to bring more content and better experiences that will enhance your content and your revenue in the months and years ahead.
If you would like to learn more please contact us at email@example.com.