5 ways for publishers to get retargeting right

Please note, any blog content before February 3, 2014 came before the Federated Media acquisition of Lijit Networks in October 2011. sovrn (formerly Lijit Networks/Federated Media) became an independent entity again on January 28, 2014.

As a relatively new technology, Site Retargeting–the practice of serving targeted display ads to people who have previously visited your site—is often misunderstood and misused.

At first, the misconceptions are usually positive. Unlike content or social media marketing, where initial results can be underwhelming, the early results from Site Retargeting often look quite incredible and far outpace other display techniques on the media plan. This makes sense: you have all these users who have visited your site and indicated intent to buy things, and you’re finally serving them display ads that compel them to return.

But beware. If you don’t have a complete understanding of Site Retargeting, the early results can paint a false picture of what’s happening and mislead you into making errors that waste time and money. Remembering these 5 things will help you get retargeting right:

1) You’ve got to know which ads to credit for conversion results

Imagine a scenario. A user gets served a display ad for your site, which compels him to visit your site. He browses around, but leaves without buying anything. Later, he gets retargeted and converts.

This is a productive conversion cycle, but if you use an ad server [like DoubleClick or Atlas], you won’t understand what happened correctly.

DoubleClick or Atlas will misguidedly give the Site Retargeting ad all the credit for the customer acquisition, ignoring the display ad that generated the customer’s interest in the first place. (Site Retargeting, by definition, isn’t a customer acquisition tool, since the users have already visited the given site.)

As a result, you’ll think that your Site Retargeting ads are killing it while your other ads are failing, and you’ll invest your marketing budget in the wrong places.

2) Using Multiple Site Retargeting Vendors Wastes Money

There are many different vendors that offer Site Retargeting solutions, and it can be tempting to use multiple vendors to achieve scale, as you would with more traditional display techniques.

That’s not a good idea, however. If you hire multiple vendors, they’ll end up competing with each other to serve retargeted ads to the same users who visited your site. This competition will drive up the cost of serving the ad impression and waste media dollars. Stick with one vendor.

3) Stalking your customers is suicidal

Consumers are savvy, and they notice when brands are relentlessly stalking them with display ads across the Web for weeks. Not only can this damage their perception of the brand, but it’s also a waste of money.

Start by examining the buying cycle of your product or service—the amount of time it takes them to make a purchase after first being engaged with an ad—and then set a maximum length of time for retargeting. When in doubt, remember that retargeting a user for more than 7 days is rarely justified.

In addition, set a cap for the number of ads that can be served to a user each day. These measures will ensure that your brand doesn’t go from “cool” to “creepy.”

4) Only retarget visitors to relevant sections of your site

It’s only worth tagging sections of a site for retargeting that demonstrate a user’s intent to convert: shopping cart, product pages, download pages, and so on. If you retarget visitors of every page on your site, you’re going to end up wasting media dollars targeting users who are unlikely to convert, such as those who only visited the careers page or those who have already converted.

5) The biggest name doesn’t mean the biggest reach

Brands, understandably, want a big media reach, but that doesn’t necessarily mean going with a big name. For instance, Google Display Network (GDN) is extensive, but a Search Retargeting company will have access to all the GDN inventory, plus additional inventory equal to or greater than the size of GDN.

Why is a bigger reach important? The more opportunities you have to retarget a user with an impression, the less you have to bid in ad exchanges to ensure that you serve that impression. A bigger media reach means bigger returns.

Bryan Bartlett is the Online Marketing Manager for Chango Inc. Advertising for the real-time world.

Lijit Publisher Insight-Survey Round up


Lijit recently conducted a survey of our publishers to determine the kind of information and education that helps them better engage their audience and monetize their website. We received almost 400 survey responses – 50% of respondents said they wrote as their full-time job, and 50% said they wrote for fun. A special thanks to all of the publishers who participated!

Do you agree with the findings outlined below?

How do you gather your information? There is an abundance of information in the market to help online publishers learn how to do their job better.  When asked how they gather the most relevant information, Lijit publishers stated that blog posts were most beneficial, followed by social media outlets like Twitter and word of mouth (e.g. recommendations from a friend).

What information is most relevant to you? As an online publisher, there is always more to learn, as well as knowledge to be shared. When we asked Lijit Publishers what information is most relevant to them, learning how to create better, more engaging content was ranked number one, followed by information on how to best monetize their site.

What stats are most beneficial to you? Lijit’s free audience analytics tools provide publishers with an array of data to help them grow their site – everything from audience analytics, to reader engagement statistics to advertiser insights. Of all the statistics we have available, publishers are most interested in audience analytics, which provides them with a better understanding of the demographics of their readers, page views, referring sites, referring search terms, and sites that are linking to their website.

Do you attend any industry events? It turns out that Lijit publishers find most of their information online and rarely attend industry events.  While 78.5% of Lijit publishers stated that they do not attend industry events, for those that do BlogWorld and ad:tech are most highly attended with 16% and 7.1% attendance respectively.

Responsible SEO for Small Publishers


Perhaps you’ve already had this conversation before. Maybe you’ve had this conversation a million times. But the reason that revisiting SEO ethics is so interesting and so important is that what’s considered responsible and what’s considered shady are continuously evolving. Whether it’s blatant and unnatural keyword stuffing, producing fake 5 star reviews for products or services, or conducting a vicious negative SEO campaign against your competitors, there’s no dearth of unethical ways to get ahead online. And this is true even in the world of small online publishing. But where do we draw the line? Here are a few talking points to consider next time the conversation about SEO ethics comes up:

  • Is it worth it for small publishers to engage in unethical SEO strategies?

Google has obviously made huge strides in the past few years to make the Internet more user-friendly. Especially with the recent Panda and Penguin updates, Internet marketers of all stripes have a much greater incentive to actually produce and spread more quality content that actually serves the consumer well. But Google isn’t perfect. If Google doesn’t necessarily reward responsible SEO, then how far will you go to abide by squeaky clean SEO standards, even if it’s not necessarily in your company’s best interests regarding the bottom line?  For small publishers, whose focus often is on quality over quantity, you should be aware that the Panda and Penguin updates have reworked search engines such that consistent quality sites and user experiences will be rewarded. This is essentially the future trajectory of all algorithm updates. When you are going about your SEO strategy, always do so with the user’s ultimate needs in mind. This isn’t just about being ethical; it’s about forming a sound business strategy.

  • What are the risks of opting to embrace SEO tactics that fall into an ethical gray area?

Again, after Panda and Penguin, what was once considered “gray hat” is now considered closer to “black hat.” In an informative article posted by WebProNews, writer Chris Crum explains the Penguin update in greater detail. He notes how many sites were destroyed by Google after having practiced what’s not necessarily been considered traditional black hat tactics, like buying and selling links, or excessively exchanging links. Of course, these methods can be used for unethical purposes, but before Penguin, they were considered pretty standard in the industry. As such, it’s important to distance yourself as much as possible from any SEO tactic that can be associated with search rank manipulation, if only to stay ahead of the curve in the future.

For small publishers, who may not be completely privy to the latest in SEO, it’s important to stay informed, so you’ll know as soon as a particular marketing method is no longer considered kosher. Some great sites to read about such updates include SEO Moz and Search Engine Journal, which explain SEO developments in an easy-to-read, jargon-free format.

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Join the IAB and other online publishers for a special event in D.C. on June 4 and 5


In partnership with the IAB, Lijit would like to invite our publishers to represent independent publishers from across the country at the IAB Long Tail Alliance Washington Fly-In. This is the fourth year that independent publishers will meet in Washington D.C. to learn, network, and call on our legislators to tell them that adverse regulation will hurt our businesses and our industry. During this two-day event you will:

  • Meet with members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs to tell the story of your small business
  • Take deep dives into tactics and strategies necessary to grow your business in today’s digital environment
  • Network with small publishers from across the country, sharing tips and best practices
  • Be guests of honor at a special networking reception and dinner at the Google offices in Washington, D.C.

More information plus photos and highlights from last year’s Fly-In can be found here. Or click here to watch a short video from last year’s event.

There is no charge to attend but you must pay for your own travel and lodging. The IAB has secured a special, sponsored nightly rate of $150 at the Washington Marriott.

This is a great opportunity to network, learn, and advocate for your small business. If you would like to be part of this special event, visit www.iab.net/flyin to register and book your hotel. Or if you want more information, please reach out to Chris Glushko, Director of Marketing, IAB, at chris@iab.net or 212-380-4722.

We hope to see some of you there!

Increase site traffic and monetization with FindTheBest’s interactive widgets


We want to let our publisher community know about a new Lijit partner, FindTheBest. They can help grow your audience and monetize your site with its product, service and reference widgets.

About FindTheBest

FindTheBest is an objective, data-driven comparison engine that helps users find and compare their options so that they can make the most informed decisions.  FindTheBest, which is organized into 9 broad categories, covers hundreds of comparisons from smartphones and investment advisors to colleges and dog breeds—it has been described as an online Consumer Reports for all the big decisions in life. Each comparison is made up of anywhere from dozens to thousands of detailed listings and paired with smart filters, to help users narrow down and compare their options based on the factors important to them.

Drive Traffic, Monetize Site with FindTheBest’s Widgets

FindTheBest’s newly launched customizable widgets (and WordPress plugin for WP bloggers) are easy to embed into blogs and other sites, and help drive web traffic, increase page views, extend the time users are engaged on a publisher site and also help users monetize their site. Many of FindTheBest’s product widgets include “Buy Now” buttons that allow publishers to easily monetize their site at no cost to them.

Getting Started With FindTheBest’s Widgets

FindTheBest’s widgets are free to download and simple to install. To get started, register on FindTheBest and then visit FindTheBest’s Widgets and WordPress plugin page to install and find out how to customize and embed widgets into your site.

Single-listing widget

Multiple-listing widget

New opportunities for Lijit publishers to leverage FMP’s DailyBuzz community


As some of you may know, Lijit’s parent company, Federated Media Publishing, owns a group of media properties called DailyBuzz. DailyBuzz surfaces and curates the best content from the Independent Web and promotes it in five main hubs covering the following topics: Parenting, Style/Design, Healthy Living, Tech and Women’s & Men’s Lifestyle. Lijit publishers who develop content in any of these categories should take a look at how DailyBuzz can help you grow your audience, increase pageviews and generate revenue.

There are five main DailyBuzz media properties, including DailyBuzz Healthy Living, DailyBuzz Luxe, DailyBuzz Moms, DailyBuzz Style and DailyBuzz Tech. Each hub features daily content in its respective category from across the Independent Web as well as a newsletter with article highlights that is distributed to the DailyBuzz community.

DailyBuzz features publisher’s content in a unique way, making itself a one-stop-shop for growing your audience and exposing your content to new readers. Because DailyBuzz gives brand advertisers a new way to reach influencers and their communities, it provides you with a source of high–quality advertisements at premium rates.

If your content aligns to the categories mentioned above, click here for additional information and sign-up today!

Publisher website monetization 101


You’ve done it! You’ve made a blog, your content is witty, your friends all like what you post, you’re engaging social media to increase your traffic, and someone asks you, why not make a buck or two while you’re at it? I am going to dig into some of the key things you should know about advertising on your site.

There are a variety of ways to show ads on your website or blog, even more companies vying for your hard earned internet real estate (ad inventory), and even more companies still trying to make a quick buck as the display advertising dollars shift from more traditional media to new media sources. One thing to understand, the method of advertising I am speaking to is not in the vein of traditional advertising like in a newspaper where you solicit your favorite local shop to pay you a flat rate to show an ad for a finite amount of time. New advertising is dynamic and will show different ads on your site every time a page loads, this works to your advantage. Direct advertising, media buying/selling, and spot buys are all terms associated with more traditional ad sales. These types of relationships require the most effort on your part to solicit and maintain but can also be the most lucrative if you can set them up.

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5 Secrets to Building a Scalable Guest Post Campaign


Following is a guest post by Lijit publisher Nadia Jones outlining a number of tips and tricks for building a guest post campaign. Check out all of her great recommendations — they do in fact work because after all, she was able to convince us to post them to the Lijit blog!

For Internet marketers who’ve been in the business for awhile, guest posting may seem just a little bit passé. It used to be a fairly rare form of marketing, since it was usually a method used by individual bloggers to get the word out there about their blog. Once Internet marketers discovered it could be used as an incredibly effective marketing tool, guest posting took off. Now, however, the ubiquity of guest posting, and its general resistance to being scaled up, means that you’ll have to find other, less traditional ways for building a solid guest post campaign. Having done guest posting for years, here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Identify and reach out to different types of blogs.
    If you want to build a guest post campaign that produces results, you’ll have to identify and appeal to different types of blogs that you reach out to. Many guest bloggers will say that you should tailor your outreach to be very specific to each blogger you want to write a guest post for. While this may be true to a certain extent, many blogs have made it such a standard practice to accept guest posts that you don’t have to take this coy in your approach. You can be much more upfront. On the other end of the spectrum are blogs that have never accepted guest posts before, and may not even know precisely what a guest post is and how it works. These bloggers will take more time and effort in courting them. The bottom line is this—understand who the blogger is and approach him accordingly. Don’t waste your time tailoring a very specific email to a blogger who essential runs a guest post clearinghouse.
  2. Expand the breadth of your outreach by using social media.
    Especially for the super-picky, super-high quality blogs, you’ll have to think beyond email when it comes to your outreach. In fact, email alone hardly ever works. Tweeting at different bloggers, sharing information that is relevant to their respective niches, and commenting on different articles on their blog are all different ways that you can get on the blogger’s radar. Then, once you approach the blogger about a possible guest post opportunity, the blogger already knows and trusts you.
  3. Don’t ever go into guest posting with the attitude that it’s all about the link.
    While “getting the link” may have been the holy grail when guest posting was in its infancy, now, links don’t matter as much anymore. The quality of the blog where your link is posted matters, but even more than that, the content itself matters. For your guest post campaign to be effective, the content that you publish on different blogs must spread far and wide for your brand to get the recognition that will pull more new customers, curious about your brilliant guest posts, in to your sites and services.
  4. Focus on relationship-building with bloggers.
    I’ve touched on the importance of building relationships with bloggers to get a guest post opportunity in the first place. But once your first guest post is published, the relationship should never stop there. Especially when you get published on an A-list blog, maintaining the relationship through Twitter, Facebook, commenting, etc., will give you continued guest post opportunities in the future. It’s much more effective to get several guest posts published on a really good blog than to have one guest post published on millions of blogs that will take anything. Why is this? Simply because better blogs have more cohesive audiences that will be much more likely to share your material, especially once you’ve built that trust.
  5. Keep data on everything to understand what works and what doesn’t.
    This recent blog post from SEO MOZ got me to thinking how important analyzing data is in determining what works and what doesn’t. This article conclusively proved or disproved many of the theories that are floating around about how best to approach a guest post campaign. For example, did you know that females who approach bloggers for guest post opportunities are much more successful in response rate than males? Keeping this type of data and analyzing it carefully will help you figure out how to develop your guest post campaign in the future.

In the realm of Internet marketing, guest posting has always been my favorite strategy, simply because it’s much more personable and requires much more thinking than some of the other strategies out there. As long as you are systematic, persistent, and, above all, genuine, you’ll create a successful guest post campaign, too. Good luck!

Author Bio:

This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at nadia.jones5 @ gmail.com.

Federated Media Publishing launches Tech Blog


We are excited to announce Federated Media Publishing’s new Tech Blog. With FMP’s recent acquisition of Lijit Networks, technology has come to the forefront of the company’s business strategy and the new blog will share details about current and future technology initiatives.

Employees across FMP will lift the curtain and talk about the high level technology behind FMP’s advertiser and publisher products and services.  As Tim Musgrove, Chief Scientist and FMP, states: “we’ll share some of the results, surprises and problems we’ve uncovered along the way, as well as our ideas on where things might go in the future.”

We already have a few posts up about current initiatives at FMP:

  • Our very own Todd Vernon, Founder and CEO of Lijit and now EVP of Technology at FMP, provides his thoughts on how FMP’s acquisitions of Lijit, TextDigger, FoodBuzz, and BigTent will help turn FMP into a top 5 media property.
  • FMP Chief Scientist Tim Musgrove provides a deep dive into Conversation Targeting (CT), a top technology priority for the company in early 2012.
  • Peter Ridge, Senior Director of Product Management at FMP, discusses security requirements for a wireless network.

Please take a moment to check out the new site, and let us know what you think!

Direct Sales vs. Programmatic Sales


Direct sales and programmatic sales are often discussed as competing functions within the publisher business model.  However, the two channels are distinct enough that they should not compete with each other.  In fact, the most successful publishers we work with from a revenue standpoint have a strong aptitude for managing direct and programmatic sales alongside one another.  In order to do so most effectively, it is important to understand the distinctions.  Specifically, the following five points cover some of the things that publishers can offer advertisers through direct sales that they cannot get through programmatic channels:

  1. The guarantee/sponsorship/future: Advertisers want the guarantee of being placed next to premium content, above the fold, in front of a guaranteed set of eyeballs, for a specific period of time, at a set rate.  Further, media buyers are tasked with spending 100% of their budgets for fear they are reduced next quarter because they didn’t spend enough.  Without a guarantee in place with publishers, their media spend is at risk of (a) not being spent or (b) being spent in less than ideal context at the end of a fiscal period.  Programmatic buying technology like real time bidding (RTB) provides advertisers/media buyers no guarantee on price, contextual placement, or impression volume.
  2. Site takeovers and other non-standard ad units: A site takeover or “skin” is very visible to a reader, generates high CTRs, and creates brand awareness.  Because of this, takeovers have very high CPM rates and cannot easily be bought or sold on an exchange due to the infinite ways for designing and architecting a site.  Likewise, ad units that are not standard IAB sizes (160×600, 300×250, 728×90) can and should be integrated into the unique design and architecture of a site, and sold for premium prices.
  3. Banners integrated with content: Below is a banner from Miller Light from my Fantasy Football league that has been creatively integrated with content.  This banner shows the score of the Fantasy game each week and allows Fantasy players to “Smack Talk.”  This must have been an expensive campaign due to the way it is integrated into the site. The more integrated the advertisement is into the content of the site, the less the chance that an algorithm can decide the price programmatically.
  4. The leading edge of media technology: While there are emerging exchanges for both video and mobile inventory, nothing yet exists that is as efficient as the market for standard IAB display banners.  Publishers can much more easily package and directly sell media like video, audio, mobile web, and applications than any exchange currently can.  Even as exchanges mature for some of these types of media, there will always be something that is a little newer or more innovative than that which can be quickly commoditized.
  5. Conversation: Publishers have their own brand.  And in the age of social media, brands need to be a part of the conversation.  Blog posts, comments, and tweets are where this conversation lives in a public forum.  The influence of a publisher’s brand within the conversation should not be underestimated—marketers are willing to pay a lot for it.  This is something that our sister company, Federated Media Publishing, is pioneering across the Independent Web.

So why in the world would advertisers ever buy programmatically?  It comes down to one thing: audience data.  I will delve deeper into this subject in my next post and explore some ways publishers can manage their programmatic channels more effectively.  Again, the better a publisher is at understanding the distinctions between programmatic and direct, the better the two channels can compliment each other, working together to maximize inventory value and revenue.