Despite all of the buzz, Netflix’s stock fell 5 percent yesterday after the new season of Arrested Development garnered mediocre critical reviews, while the company also dealt with a backlash from removing specific children’s programming from their library.
So just how vested is Netflix on their new original content push? Is producing their own shows simply a phase or does this truly represent the future of Netflix? One indicator beyond the news and official statement is a peek at the Netflix robots.txt file.
A robots.txt file is utilized to instruct search engines robots (primarily Google) what to crawl and what to not include in their index. For example, if your website had a specific page that was under construction, you might consider ‘disallowing’ it via the robots.txt until it was finished.
A look at the Netflix robots.txt is very interesting: Netflix is preventing all non-original content from being indexed. The robots.txt file instructs web crawlers to only index pages for original series like Arrested Development, House of Cards, Lillyhammer, and Hemlock Grove, while blocking all other content.
For example, if you Google ‘New Girl Season 1′ the Netflix specific page cannot be found. If you search for ‘Netflix New Girl Season 1′ the link will pop up, however it will include a meta description reading: “A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt – learn more.” Hardly a positive message to push a potential customer to click the link.
Overall, this SEO strategy doesn’t seem to make much sense. Netflix still makes the majority of their revenue via their subscription service. They could very well gain new subscription customers who are Googling shows or episodes that they want to watch. The customer ends up on the corresponding Netflix link, and starts their free month to see the show – simple. How many new customers are they losing to companies like Hulu or Amazon who are doing everything they can to be found?
Although seemingly a minor adjustment to their site, the robots.txt file is entirely rewiring how people find Netflix content online via search, which is a major statement about the company’s intentions.
Many local businesses that provide professional services have a specific ‘market area.’ Whether it be a cleaning service, moving company or franchise business, each might only be able to serve a specific territory depending on how far they are willing to travel from their base of operations.
This is why the Google Adwords Zip Code Targeting feature is a great addition to the platform’s location specific tool set. Previously, Google only enabled geographic targeting via city / major metropolitan area, as well as via radius targeting. Zip Code targeting enables a local business to really hone in on their specific market area. With the ‘bulk upload’ feature, a small business can turn a massive list of zip codes into a tidy market area fairly easily.
This feature comes especially useful in the case of a franchise businesses that has been assigned a specific geographic territory by their franchisor. Often, these geographic areas break down by zip codes that prevent nearby franchises from competing with one another. With Adwords zip code targeting, multiple franchises that border the same geographic area can easily split their targeting based on their market area.
There are a few downsides to zip code targeting in the US for local businesses. One problem is not all zip codes are included yet- about 20% of zip codes are not yet in Google’s database as of August – hopefully these will be added to complete this coverage.
Another current issue is that zip code targeting is not always representative of the area / population you actually will end up serving ads to. Although the map display of your zips may look like complete coverage in a specific area, this isn’t always the case. For example, if you are targeting a zip code within a specific city, but aren’t targeting the city itself, your ad won’t necessarily be showing there. We tested this with Google’s Ad Preview Tool; there were a few instances where the map display looked like a zip code was covering a specific city/area, but a test search in that specific location did not trigger our ad. This problem was solved by adding a city or radius on top of the zip code.
Because the zip code feature is still relatively new, these types of bugs / problems should be somewhat expected. We would always suggest using zip code targeting in conjunction with another form of targeting to ensure that you’re getting the full search volume that you set out to obtain. Hopefully, Google’s improvements to the zip code targeting feature will make it far more reliable.
The data Adwords provides for auction insights is both informative and valuable for any Adwords marketer. The following columns are highlighted, with data from a list of competitor websites provided under each column:
Impression Share: Impression share percentage displays what each competitor (and yourself) has received as far as total impressions. Essentially, it equals the total number of impressions the site received for the keyword, divided by the estimated number of impressions the site was eligible for. This statistic is a great overview on how you are performing in your market – a low impression share means you aren’t bidding high enough, your budget is too low, or your keyword quality score isn’t up to par.
Average Position: Average position is pretty much what is says – the average ad position of each competitor for a specific keyword.
Overlap Rate: The percentage of overlap rate displays how often a competitor’s ad received an impression while your ad was also displaying during an auction. This is a great statistic to determine who you are really competing with most often; the competitor with the highest overlap rate is the site whose ads are going head-to-head with yours most often. It would be a good idea to take a look at what kind of ad copy, site links, and discount deals this competitor is utilizing to determine how to get the better of them.
Position Above Rate: The position above percentage is closely related to overlap rate; it shows those same competitors whose ads were shown during the same auctions as yours. This time though, the percentage is based on how often the competitor’s ad was shown at a higher position than your ad in an auction.
Top of Page Rate: The top of page percentage displays how often your ads and competitor ads were shown in the top 2-3 ad positions.
Overall, the auction insights tool can be utilized in conjunction with standard keyword statistics (CTR, CPC, Quality Score, Cost per Conversion, Avg. Position, etc.) to further help determine where you stand in your competitive market. For campaigns that are having some trouble – perhaps not getting enough clicks, or with very low CTRs, this tool is a great way to help diagnose the problem and make some corrections.
This is a huge step for Google, despite the story being more of a publicity stunt via Google and the State of Nevada than any sort of actual technological breakthrough. However, the fact that Nevada is willing to back such a controversial initiative is telling. There has always been quite a bit of backlash to the thought of humans legally getting driven by a ‘hands free’ vehicle within the next ten years. Questions about safety, legality, and feasibility have all been thrown into the mix by detractors. However, these types of questions have never deterred Google (or Nevada) in terms of pushing a controversial project that can potentially become a cash cow.
In fact, Google and Nevada are perfect partners. For Nevada, and more specifically, Las Vegas, the revenue generation options for autonomous vehicles are appealing. Picture slot machines in your rental car so you can get an early jump on the gambling even prior to arriving at the casino. Perhaps even some complimentary libations to loosen a patron’s wallet strings prior to arrival.
For Google, everything often circles back to their primary source of revenue: advertising. Currently, Google faces some legal / ethical boundaries in regards to serving ‘full fledged’ advertising to drivers. How would it look if a driver crashed their car because eye captivating ad imagery suddenly flashed across their windshield? However, take away the primary problem in that advertising equation – the driver – and you have yourself a magnificent form of marketing.
Businesses will literally gain the ability to pull cars into their premises as if they had a tractor beam. Imagine this: an ad splays across a autonomous vehicle’s windshield, perhaps touting the best burger in San Francisco, as the car whizzes down 101. The human ‘operator’ decides it looks appetizing, and simply clicks the display, which immediately re-routes the car directly to the restaurant parking lot.
Of course, there are quite a few hurdles to be crossed – legal, political, and technological – in order for this scenario to become a reality. However, Google has been known to work the ‘long tail’ strategy in order to achieve their goals; building an entire platform from the ground up to indirectly create an advertising eco-system doesn’t seem so unfamiliar. Perhaps Google is telling us that, for them, there really is no difference between the internet highway and the real highway.
Many franchise companies as well as most businesses have proprietary names and brands that are trademarked. This tool can be utilized very effectively through Google Adwords and any other pay per click marketing platform that includes ad titles and copy.
Including a ‘TM’ or ‘®’ symbol within your ad title or copy can visibly improve the click through rate of your advertisement. From a customer’s perspective, this adds credibility to your advertisement and lets you stand out from your competitors. Especially given the fact that you have very limited space to convey a message in your ppc ad, this simple symbol can convey a world of meaning in only one character.
If you are bidding on your own brand name, this is the perfect place to utilize a trademark symbol to separate yourself from competitors that might also be trying to bid on your name and related keywords. Although in the past there was some debate over whether or not to bid on your own name, the general thought today is it’s probably a good practice in most industries and markets. Although there is the chance you could be cannibalizing clicks that would otherwise go your free organic listings, that in general is better than your competitor stealing clicks when high potential customers are specifically looking for your services. In addition, bidding on your brand name and utilizing a trademark symbol in your ad copy can bolster your overall ‘page presence’ which can have a huge effect on a customer’s ‘purchase psychology’ (and therefore improve click through rates and conversion rates overall)
For more information on Franchise PPC or SEO Marketing, feel free to contact us and we’d be glad to answer your questions.
Augmented reality isn’t new – there are already a plethora of Android and iPhone apps that enable a user to point their phone’s camera at storefronts and historical landmarks to pull up relevant facts and reviews. However, the glasses add an invaluable ingredient to the augmented reality stew – the option to completely ‘plug in’ to a different world. Although the difference between holding a phone up and wearing a heads up display seems logistical at most, the change is literally worlds apart. Imagine walking around downtown and seeing digital edits everywhere – notes from friends, city street soundtracks, construction notices, public transportation estimates, and advertising.
The last note is clearly why Google is moving to become the emperor of augmented reality. Adwords advertising already reaches users through search results, display network websites, YouTube videos and mobile sites – the next major foray is the real world. The effectiveness of placing customized ads into the real world – ala ‘Minority Report - would be unquestionable. Privacy and ethical concerns are obviously an issue, but then again they’ve always been an issue with the internet and that hasn’t stopped advertising from spreading to every corner of the web.
The real question is how Google will fuse augmented advertising and its Adwords platform. The company’s most successful and lucrative programs have always been Pay-Per-Click (PPC) driven. Will users be served ‘tidbits’ on their heads up display that entice them to ‘click’ to find out more? Or will augmented advertising be primarily impression driven; almost a step backwards to the old world style of billboards and paper pamphlets.
This new realm of advertising could actually become a bridge between the primarily data driven digital marketers who work with PPC and SEO and ‘old-school’ advertising agencies who create expansive visual brands. For a user that is ‘plugged in’ to augmented reality for a large portion of their day – simple text ads floating around probably won’t cut it. A user will require a more elegant advertising experience that seamlessly works into their line of sight.
Those advertising agencies that are at the cutting edge of both worlds and can also be open to new creative solutions, will likely be the next generation’s leaders.
Adwords is the perfect addition to a standard Hollywood marketing campaign: it enables an adept PPC management team to launch an effective online campaign in a matter of days while a film is in its pre / early stages of release. Whether a potential movie-goer is searching for movie times, trailers, reviews, actors or general information about the film, they will have the potential to getting exposed to the Google ad.
Another reason why a PPC campaign can be an effective release tool for movie-makers is due to it’s ability to provide control in an otherwise unstable search engine landscape. A movie release can be peppered with professional critiques, user reviews, mash up videos and other forms of bad press that could potentially deter people from going to see the film. Although none of these forms of content are ‘official,’ they could potentially reach a customer’s eyes prior to branded materials. An Adwords ad shows up on top of a search results page (SERP), and if created in an attractive manner, will direct a user to a film studio’s landing page of choice (official movie site, trailer page, fandango, etc.). Having this type of movie advertising control is essential to a successful release.
An Adwords campaign also allows a great deal of user targeting for a movie studio. Let’s take the upcoming film ‘The Hunger Games,’ made by Lionsgate. The studio might want to send specific users interested in different actors within the film to different web pages that are tailored to fans of those actors. Those typing ‘Jennifer Lawrence Hunger Games’ would get a different ad / landing page combination than those searching for ‘Elizabeth Banks Hunger Games.’ These ads would likely perform and convert much higher than standard ‘Hunger Games’ ads because of the specific fan demographic.
Insight Forge is experienced in marketing films through online distribution channels, specifically Adwords and Facebook PPC campaigns. For more information, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.