Monday, May 23, 2016

State of video advertising report: what are the most tolerable ad formats?

As video content increases, it’s time for brands to understand their consumers, in order to deliver the most relevant ads to them.

Wibbitz conducted a survey in March about video consumption and consumer sentiments regarding video advertising, hoping to help publishers and consumers reach a middle ground.

Every publisher looking to expand its services to video content needs to understand its audience first, hearing their needs, in order to deliver the best video experience to them.

Here are the most interesting findings from Wibbitz’s report and what we can learn from them:

The changing state of video consumption

Video consumption has been increased during the past years and 26% of people who participated in Wibbitz’s survey responded that they are watching at least one video per day.

Mobile devices have significantly contributed to the increased video consumption, as they make videos more accessible and this can be confirmed by the fact that 55% of the frequent video viewers prefer watching them on their smartphone.

As for the most popular social platform to watch videos, Facebook is a clear winner, as 54% of them picked it as their first social destination for video consumption, and this can also be justified by Facebook’s decision to highlight video content on the users’ news feed, while the launch of Canvas made video advertising even more appealing.

However, these stats may change during the next year, as I personally predict a rise of video consumption on Snapchat.


Strong preference on silent ads

No matter how often people are watching online videos, they still don’t like ads with sound, or irrelevant messages.

45% of people answered that muted ads are more tolerable, while 39% of them considered targeted ads a crucial factor for tolerable ads.

Brands start understanding how annoying the sound in advertising may be and that’s why they are trying to send their message through the video, even with the addition of captions, to make sure they don’t lose the viewers out of annoyance.


The power of targeted ads

It is very important nowadays for brands to focus on targeted video ads, as users grow more impatient and less receptive to irrelevant advertising.

In fact, frequent video viewers care even more about the relevance of the ads, which means that it’s important for brands to keep them happy.

Facebook and LinkedIn video viewers seem to be more demanding, with 41% and 47% of them respectively preferring targeted ads from any other ad type.

Short ads

The rise of the demanding video viewers, who also tend to have a short attention span, creates the need for shorter video ads to keep them engaged, as 70% of people won’t watch an ad longer than 10 seconds.

As the length of the video increases, only 51% of people will watch up to 10 seconds, but there is an increased chance they’ll watch up to 30 seconds in such cases.

Thus, the duration of the video along with its relevance, affect users’ watch time and the engagement can only be achieved with great content that will convince viewers to keep watching for more than 30 seconds.


Skipping ads

It is becoming common for consumers to seek for ways to skip an ad, especially if it’s annoying or irrelevant, with 61% of them admitting that they always skip video ads, if possible.

However, it has also been observed that not everyone takes a real action regarding ad skipping, while half of the respondents are more likely to appreciate a mute ad.

This is another reminder for brands to use the sound in advertising appropriately, only to enhance the viewing experience and not to make users skip the video faster.video5


Autoplay in video advertising can be annoying and 42% of the respondents share the same opinion, but mobile video consumption may change this soon.

It seems that mobile users are more receptive to autoplay ads and this could be related to the highly targeted content they’re exposed to. However, Snapchat users don’t seem to agree, as 55% of them find autoplay ads intrusive.

Apparently the opinions are still divided about autoplay in video advertising, which brings a great opportunity for brands to turn around the unhappy users with non-intrusive content that is highly relevant to their audience.


What brands can learn

All the above observations can help a brand understand what video consumers want,  in order to produce the right content for them.

Here are the key points to remember:

  • Relevance is key. Video consumers expect highly targeted advertising that fits their interests and their browsing habits. This increases the chances for them to keep watching a video. A personalised experience is always appreciated, so there’s no need to create video ads without knowing your audience first.
  • Silent ads can increase the engagement, as you can still send your message effectively without any disruptive sound. If there’s an indication that your audience hates the sound in your video ads, then it’s time to focus on the visual side of advertising.
  • Focus on mobile. Video consumers on mobile devices have been increased, which means that you should make sure that your content is optimised for mobile, making the viewing experience pleasant.
  • Keep it short. Even if you create a longer video, make sure that the first seconds are appealing to help users stay engaged.

Five SEM trends ecommerce retailers should expect for the rest of 2016

With the advertising industry becoming more and more competitive each year, many online advertisers are now using search marketing to supplement their organic search results as a way to stand out from the crowd.

Although it comes at a price, this form of marketing can provide relevant, high-quality traffic and help with brand exposure, two qualities of many which can be highly beneficial for online retailers.

Despite paid search marketing becoming an increasingly popular choice amongst retailers for increasing customer acquisition rates, it can be very profitable. Just earlier this year, Adobe announced the results from its latest Digital Advertising Report, stating that while CPCs in North America were stable with a 0% increase, costs actually decreased in Europe and Asia Pacific with a 4% decline YoY in 2015.

CPCs in North America

What’s more, click-through rates are also improving for paid search, with CTRs increasing by 14% in Europe in 2015. Not only does this show that advertisers are significantly improving the quality of their campaigns, but also that consumers are responding to the ads that they are seeing.

This goes to show that this is the right time for online retailers to invest in SEM if they have not done so already. However, the web changing constantly and new developments arriving daily, what will retailers need to keep their eye on if they are to stay in the game for the rest of the year?

1. Mobile to become increasingly important

The increase in mobile use is changing paid search drastically. In 2015, Google announced that in 10 countries more than half of all searches are now on mobile devices than on computers. What’s more, Adobe went even further stating that mobile search spend (smartphone + tablet) is approaching 38% of total ad spend (up 22% YoY), and phone-based CPCs cost 24% less than on desktop.

If ecommerce retailers are to respond to consumers’ expectations and offer them an excellent buying experience on mobile devices, it is necessary for them to have a mobile optimised version of their site, or risk losing impatient and frustrated users.

2. Adapting strategies to voice recognition

The increasing importance of mobile is also set to have an impact on technologies such as voice search. As terms entered through voice search can be very different to those entered through a keyboard, it is possible that all websites will have to review their content strategy and ensure that it reflects these new “natural language” searches.

3. More importance placed on Google Shopping

In February 2016, Google announced its decision to favour paid shopping ads over AdWords text ads in the right-hand side of SERPs. With this move, the search engine is placing an increasing amount of importance on Google Shopping, which is rapidly pushing PLAs to be the ad format of choice for online retailers.

4. The power of targeting: from keywords to audiences

The way advertisers used data changed drastically last year. While Facebook and Twitter perfected their custom and tailored audience features, Google announced its Customer Match targeting. Such technology is confirming a significant trend for PPC: users are becoming so accustomed to personalisation that they are now expecting it. For advertisers, this means that creating truly targeted campaigns should be a priority to engage customers.

5.    Campaign automation

With consumer behaviour changing constantly and variable factors such as the weather influencing how users shop, campaign automation is a trend that many ecommerce advertisers should be adopting in the coming year to maximise the profitability of their ads.

Automated solutions will allow campaign managers to adapt their advertising to individual platforms (AdWords, Google Shopping, Facebook etc), which will save them a considerable amount of time that can be spent working on campaign objectives or perfecting their multi-channel strategy, for example.

Mark Haupt is UK Sales Director at Twenga Solutions and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

Why companies create content – part three: to answer customer questions

Part one of our series on Why Companies Create Content we looked at changing customer perception and part two focused on making use of public opinion.

This next instalment explores how companies can best construct content to respond to the frequent (and not so frequent) queries that come from their audience.

Part three: To answer customer questions

As consumers we’re a demanding bunch – we don’t just expect excellent customer service, we insist on it and shout from the rooftops when companies aren’t doing what we ask of them.

With the ability to browse shops or do our banking 24/7, it’s only natural that you imagine there’d be someone there to answer your queries during the same time period.

With our favourite social apps at our fingertips, it’s only natural that instead of listening to Greensleeves on never-ending repeat with a call centre or sending an email into a virtual black hole, we target our questions (or ire) at companies directly, and publicly.

Studies vary in the actual specific figures, but it’s suggested that around 20-40% of people opt to use social media to direct questions at a business rather than to go trawling through their website or calling up an actual human being.

customers using social media

source: Zendesk

Let’s put this to the test – before you crack on with reading the rest of this article, I want you to take part in a little experiment – open up Twitter (or your preferred social network) and send a simple question to a company.

I tried this out this a couple of years ago during a lecture to 30 students at Brighton University taking a Digital Media degree. During the 90 minute session, only two responses were received. Not the most scientifically valid survey that’s ever been conducted, but nevertheless that’s a pretty poor hit rate.

This could be something like asking @pret which of their menu items are suitable for vegans, or enquiring about bank holiday opening hours to @chesterzoo. Anything you like to any business you choose, as long as it’s a reasonable question they should be able to answer with relative ease.

Post any interesting findings – good, bad or ugly – in the comments section below. Did they get back to you? Did they direct you to email their customer support team? Did they point you to a piece of content on their site? If so, did it do the job of answering your query?

Every which way but loose

With all the talk of chatbots being the future of brand communication, businesses are set to put a lot of resource into AI, attempting to second-guess customer queries and build complex response frameworks that will provide an adequate replacement for traditional customer service.

It’s a natural progression from social media based communication, and for those businesses that get it right, the investment will be worthwhile. The danger for some businesses however is that the shiny interface will just be another segway into a crappy, unloved FAQ section of their website.

Even one of the most beautiful and user-friendly apps on the web can’t get this type of interaction right. Typeform’s Help Center looks great, but ask it a question and it misses the mark by quite a long way.

typeform help

And NatWest don’t seem to want to answer one of the more basic of questions they’re likely to face.

natwest help page

Sky’s Virtual Assistant clearly isn’t ready for anything resembling a conversation, telling me to go and find what I was looking for myself.

sky help page

If this is the future then count me out.

Boiled down to their barest of bytes, messenger bots are simply a navigational aid, directing people to information. Even those that are able to pass the Turing test are only ever going to be as valuable as the content that powers them, and based on the use of social media for customer questions, at least 60% of audiences are still likely to prefer other methods.

The way that people access information is important, but not as important as how the actual information itself is presented.

Help is at hand

If chatbots are to be successful from a customer query perspective, as well as being tagged appropriately, content needs to be presented in formats that are appropriate for the mediums they’re being communicated through.

Some companies seem to be veering towards that approach already, however some are lagging.

While it doesn’t seem to have hampered their growth, Uber has fallen into the trap of bog-standard text based info on their Help section, where a few images (or even better, an animation of someone completing the task) would have offered an immensely more useful explanation.

uber help page

Showing someone how to do something is generally far better than telling them. You’d think that the How to upload GIFs to Giphy page would be a prime opportunity for a visual explanation but alas, it’s just text.

giphy help

Putting visuals to good use, Google supplements its help section with GIFs helping you get to grips with the finer points of the products.

Short but effective, the humble Gif features heavily in Slack’s feature announcements, leaving no ambiguity in how to access and use the latest upgrade.

And taking customer support to extreme personalisation levels, Intercom responds to queries with GIFs showing exactly how to accomplish certain tasks.

Don’t FAQ it up

FAQs and help pages have traditionally been made up by the questions companies wanted to answer, but if conversing via social media has taught brands anything, it should be that the frequently asked questions are actually very different from those they thought their customers had.

Whatever future methods of customer support prove most popular with consumers, close communication between helpdesk and content teams is paramount.

You can have the fanciest technology combined with the most knowledgeable support-staff, but this all needs to feed into superb content that provides excellent answers.

To answer customer questions effectively, business should be aiming to build an ever-expanding bank of well presented, easily accessible information that covers things people actually want to know.

If this is in a format that’s simple to understand and can be served up in seconds the vast majority of your customers will walk away happy whether they’ve tweeted you, messaged a chatbot, visited your help section or called up Diana in your call centre.

As an aside to this seven part series, check out Ayima’s free DIY Content Marketing Strategy ecourse, designed to help you improve the ROI of your content.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Searching for Video, Images, Audio, Gifs, Podcasts, Memes & Radio: a directory of search engines, finders & generators

Here’s an up-to-date list of all the available video or video file search engines, audio and sound search engines, podcast directories, meme generators & Gif finders at your disposal.

Jump to a section:

Images – GifsMemesVideoRadio StationsSoundsPodcasts



Bing offers an image search engine that uses trending searches from across the web to create this stream of image results. It even allows you to personalise your stream when signing in.


This is a search engine for free photos, indicating the license for each one, helping users find the exact image they’re looking for and the license it’s associated with.

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr is an awesome resource for photos, and you can use any that are labelled with a Creative Commons licence.


Browse 388,444 photos and illustrations and find the one you’re looking for.

Getty Images  

If you’re looking for creative and editorial photography of high quality, then Getty Images is the right resource for you. You can buy any image either with credits, or a subscription plan.

Google Images

Find images from across the web, as discovered by Google’s crawler-technology.


The most popular images on the web, ranked by popularity.


Startpage by Ixquick blends Google search results with privacy, promising more convenience and maximum privacy protection.


Large database of free photos for personal and commercial use.


An image search service with more than 3,000,000,000 pictures.


Pinterest may not be your first choice when looking for an image, but it turned out into a powerful search engine for images.


Over 640,000 free stock photos, vectors and art illustrations.


Free high-resolution photos focusing mostly on nature and lifestyle photography, only requiring a credit and link to the photographer.

Wikimedia Commons

An database of 31,590,351 freely usable media files.

Yahoo Image Search

Search or browse to find pictures on the web. Flickr users can now find their own images through Yahoo’s image search.


Yippy, previously known as Clusty, queries several top search engines to  combine the results  and generates them in an ordered list based on comparative ranking.



GifMe search is powered by users collecting and tagging over 804,886 Gifs.


Giphy is the largest online database and search engine for Gifs and it’s the most popular choice for many users when looking for a Gif to support their content.


Find the best Gifs ranked by popularity.

Memebase – Cheeseburger

Find the Gif you’re looking for or browse the feed to discover new ones.


Twitter collaborated with Giphy to embed its search engine when creating new tweets and this helped users have access to a huge Gif library with just one click.


Tumblr allows its users to search for all the available Gifs when creating a post, making their use even more convenient.


Animal Advisor

A meme search engine containing “947,359 dank memes.”


3 million screencaps taken from The Simpsons to help you find the right meme for every occasion.


Find the most popular memes of the web and customise them accordingly by changing the text.


Find every meme you’ve ever wanted.



AOL On is a video search platform that provides reports of all the latest news in the form of short videos, helping you to catch up with the trending topics.


Bing allows you to find the videos you’re looking for across the web and it displays the results in thumbnails. What’s more, it also offers search suggestions and relative results to help your searching.


Blinkx is offering high-quality, personalised, curated video content and it numbers more than 35 million hours of online video.


Find trending videos in a large video search engine index with an easy interface.


A popular choice for video searching, attracting 300 million users from around the world who watch 3.5 billion videos monthly.

Google videos

Google’s video search may be an alternative to Youtube, as they don’t seem to provide the same results for each query, helping users find what they’re looking for without leaving the search platform.


A large video database that specialises in short-form video entertainment.

Moving Image Archive

A large collection of free movies, films and videos.


Vevo is a music video search engine that hopes to help you find exactly what you’re looking for and it numbers more than 12 billion monthly views.


Yahoo’s video search allows you to search for videos across the web, with its interface being familiar and functional.


Yandex is another video search engine that helps you find the video you’re looking for by organising the most popular videos depending on their category.


The most popular video search engine is probably your first choice when looking for any kind of video, and that’s why it ranks as the second most visited site on the web.

Radio Stations


Internet-Radio offers more than 46,462 radio stations to discover the one that suits your music tastes.


A customizable web site that provides one-click access to public radio programming from around the world.


A searchable database of over 15,000 radio station web pages and 10,000 audio streams.

Radio Tuna

Radio Tuna is considered the first real-time search engine for online radio and it profiles radio stations by the actual music they’re playing, organising the best music from every genre.


Shoutcast is an online directory of radio stations with over 50,000 music, talk, sports and community radio stations from all over the world.


Discover new radio stations in a database of more than 100,000 stations all over the world.


Search for sound effects in a database that processes more than 2,000,000 sound searches for more than 300,000 users monthly.


Search, discover and play music directly through your phone.

Internet Archive

A large audio archive with almost 3 million results of sounds and audio to choose from.

Freesound Project

A collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds.


Find any sound effect and use the filters to narrow down your results.

Find all kinds of free loops and audio clips.


Marketing Podcasts

Discover podcasts that can help you become a better marketer.

Miro Guide

Search for your favourite podcast in a functional search engine that also features many useful categories for further browsing.

Podcast Directory

Search and download from more than 10 million podcast episodes.

Find the podcast you’re looking for, or browse the categories to discover new ones.

Search and browse from a large collection of podcasts, and find what you’re looking for with quick results as you’re typing.

And finally, check out our post: 14 search engine alternatives to Google.

Six most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week we might as well rename the weekly round-up ‘a ton of new stuff from Google’, as there’s nothing but new products and announcements from the big G for as far as the eye can see.

Next week we’ll try and do an exclusive Ask Jeeves round-up.

Google I/O reveals the future of artificial intelligence

As Mike O’Brien reported this week, Google’s annual conference revealed plenty of product announcements and improvements, with artificial intelligence taking centre stage thanks to its new Google Assistant tool.

Google Assistant combines voice search with the rest of Google’s AI capabilities and integrates various other third party products including Uber, Fandango and OpenTable. “While Siri can tell you what time The Jungle Book is playing, you can’t actually purchase tickets through her.”


Other announcements from Google I/O

Mike already covered these in detail, but I’ll quickly run through the list again:

  • Google Home: an answer to Amazon Echo, which lets you control various aspects of your connected home.
  • Allo: a messaging app with Google’s AI built in. The suggested responses will be based on your past responses, in both text and image form.
  • Duo: a video-calling app that includes a live stream of the person calling, allowing you to potentially gauge their mood. Mostly furious probably.
  • Daydream: Google’s own virtual reality (VR) platform. Unlike Cardboard, which works with any smartphone, Daydream will only work on new phones with specially-built sensors and screens. It will contain VR versions of YouTube, StreetView and Netflix.
  • Android Wear: Google’s smart watch will be updated to include a tiny keyboard, the ability to show data from any application, and automatic activity activation.

Google launches a mobile analytics platform for apps: Firebase

In a very busy week, Google also announced a new analytics tool, which Sophie Loras has covered in detail here: Google launches Firebox.

The analytics platform is free and unlike Google Analytics, it’s designed specifically for mobile apps, so developers can see what users are doing inside the app, how paid advertising campaigns are performing with cross-network attribution and where users are coming from.

All viewed from a single dashboard:

Google_Firebase Analytics_Dashboard_600

BBC closed its Food website, controversy ensued

In one of the more sensitive, politically charged stories of the week, the BBC mothballed its 11,000 free to access recipes in order to save budget and to seemingly bow to government and commercial pressure.

bbc recipes

In Graham Charlton’s article (found in the above link) we debate the various SEO ramifications of de-indexing content and shutting down site-search.

However as an update, the BBC have ‘climbed down’ from the decision and moved the recipes to its ad-funded Good Food site.

Google updates Search Console’s ‘Search Analytics’ with AMP filter

Although you’ve been able to see how Google indexes your accelerated mobile pages in Search Console for a short while now, Google has just started rolling out an AMP filter in the ‘Search Analytics’ report.


Just had to the ‘Search Appearance’ option on the top filter selection and you’ll be able to see any queries that brought mobile searchers to your AMP content. Although my own Search Console has yet to be updated, so thanks to Search Engine Journal for the image.

Google introduces ‘Rich Cards’ markup

Google is rolling out a new search result format, based on its rich snippets, that use structured markup to display results in an “even more engaging and visual format.”
As you can see, the format is for mobile use…

Google will start to show rich cards for two content categories: recipes and movies, and will initially appear in mobile search results in English for

There is also already a Rich Card report set up in your Search Console…

rich cards

The cards are easy enough to implement, I’ve tried it out with a few webpages already, and I’ll let you know the results in due course.