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Vanessa Branco is speaking at Affiliate Summit West, 2014

Nov 24

Vanessa Branco of Versa9 will be speaking on a panel at Affiliate Summit West, 2014 in Las Vegas.

The Top 5 Affiliate Management Myths Debunked, will be on Monday, January 13 at 2 PM in the Champagne Ballroom 4.

Moderator and Panelists:

Kim Rowley, CEO, Key Internet Marketing, Inc. (Twitter @kimarketing) (Moderator)
Vanessa Branco, Founder, Versa9 (Twitter @vanbranc)
Amy Ely, Ecommerce Acquisition Manager, Under Armour (Twitter @aely)
Karen McMahon, Affiliate Marketing Strategist, TheAffiliateWhisperer (Twitter @Aff_Whisperer)
Kim Salvino, Director of Publisher Development, Chateau 20 (Twitter @kim_Salvino)

Meet Us at Affiliate Summit

Affiliate Summit - Virtual Pass

Increase in Social Media Spend for 2011

Apr 19

Mashable announced today that marketers are considering social media as part of their strategies this year, and 70% want to increase their social media budgets for 2011. And according to a poll by Effie Worldwide and Mashable, they want to increase their social media budget by more than 10%. The main goal is the focus on getting more Facebook “Likes”.

Brands have a website, and that’s like the home for the brand. But then there’s the family room that they use for everyone to get together and hang out. They discuss what they like and dislike, new ideas, and watch things that interest them. That’s like the brand’s Facebook fan page. You can have a conversation with everyone in your room.

Marketers want people to know about the brand, hear about the brand, and like the brand. Facebook provides insight and feedback directly to the brand from consumers, conversation between consumers, and a popularity contest that is more cut-throat than most high-school teenagers.

Versa9 has also been working with brands (personal and corporate) on Twitter. Twitterers want to know how to increase followers, how to get people to talk about their brand, how to get others to retweet them. It is an exciting world, one full of connections, relationship building, and public opinion that can now have greater impact. Why wouldn’t you, as a marketer, allocate a social media budget?

Read the full article entitled “Most Marketers Plan to Increase Social Media Spend This Year” here.

Recap of ad:tech San Francisco

Apr 15

This year ad:tech was packed with industry veterans and new faces. It is the only time I can walk around the streets of San Francisco and bump into people I know. The first ad:tech we attended was close to ten years ago. It was in New York, filled with many ad networks, which, fortunately are still in existence today. Year after year we saw some trends, but it seemed to be pretty much the same type of media – online advertising in the sense that an advertiser creates some product/download/bundle and builds relationships with publishers or ad networks to promote the offer.

Some years the expo hall was filled with all of the same, and some clearly ahead of the game. The famous line from pretty much everyone at every booth (or so it seemed) was “We drive traffic.” A few years ago I was walking around the floor in San Fran and told someone “Please, tell me something other than ‘We drive traffic.'”

Does anyone still drive traffic anymore? Of course they do. But now, the guys who had nothing else to say were not at this ad-tech. I hardly just heard “We drive traffic.” Instead, I heard innovative ways to drive the traffic, place ads, and boy, was there a lot of mobile talk!

Here are 4 takeaways we received from this conference.

1. Mobile is here. They may not be able to monetize it in the way that online does, but it is here. If you are not equipped and mobile-friendly, I feel you will have a big issue catching up if you don’t start to get with the mobile-program now.
There were sms marketing companies in every row of the expo floor. Sooner or later someone is going to make their millions with it. As a matter of fact, right before the Ad:Tech keynote by Arianna Huffington on Wednesday morning, Brad Berens shared IAB’s Internet Advertising Report with the audience, a report that was announced that morning. Mobile was included for the first time in the report, and it stated that estimated US mobile ad revenue for 2010 was between $550 and $650 Million. You can view the full report below, which also shows a 24% increase in display-related advertising from 2009-2010. There is no doubt that display advertising is expanding.

2. Regulation keeps the publishers up at night. Well, maybe not everyone, but this was the most popular, agreed-upon response when asked “What keeps you up at night?”.

3. Monitoring where your ads are. Here is one where the presence was felt in ad:tech this year. I met with a company called AdComply on Monday – they monitor where your ads are being placed. There were others present at the show, but I mention adcomply because it seemed these guys really know what they are doing (and their pricing model sounded very fair).

4. Social Media. We all know what that is. Most of us who live outside of a cardboard box have either a twitter handle (mine is VanBranc), a facebook profile, and so-on. There were dozens of books and plenty of companies in attendance focused on social media. I met with MadeinSocial™ which is “the software that will assist you to keep you continuously updated on what people are saying about your brand.” There will be a growth of software platforms created to track who is clicking on your twitter urls, who is talking about your brand, as well as how to effectively spend ad dollars on facebook and other social media platforms.

This reflects in our daily activity, as more and more clients are asking for us to handle not only display and search, but also social media and mobile. The digital world has changed a lot in the last 10 years and we are really excited to see what the future has in store for us.

ad:tech comes to NY November 8-10th at the Javitz Center. For more information you can go to http://www.ad-tech.com/ny.

You can view the full IAB press release here

Ad:Tech San Francisco is next week!

Apr 07

Versa9 will be attending ad:tech San Francisco. With thousands of online media professionals, and a keynote to look forward to by Arianna Huffington on Wednesday morning, this is the place to be next week.

More information and a list of exhibitors can be found on the ad:tech website, here.

Mobile-friendly websites are a must for 2011

Apr 01

According to the latest release from comScore, 69.5 million people in the US have a smartphone. Android is the most popular platform with 33% of the market share in the month of February, and 38.4 percent used a browser from their phone. With 234 million Americans age 13 and older using mobile devices, that’s close to 89 million people who accessed a browser. Believe it or not, there are still a very large amount of websites that are only clearly accessible via the web, ie. when you go to the website on a mobile device such as the blackberry or iPhone, the navigation is off, images are shifted, you can’t make a purchase, and the list goes on and on.

Is your website mobile-friendly? Can you access it using the Android, iPhone, or Blackberry? If someone visits your website via their mobile device, is it easy to navigate and read from the mobile device? If your website is all flash, do you have a mobile-friendly version for those on the iPhone or iPod Touch, and other devices that cannot view flash?

If you answered no to any of the questions above, the time to fix this is now.

Email Marketing Tips – Ways to Avoid the Spam Filter

Feb 10

I like this article written by Marijo Tinlin on 10 Phrases to (Almost) Guarantee Your Email Won’t Get Delivered. Versa9’s clients frequently ask for hints or groundbreaking ways to get their emails read. While it always comes down to our “golden rule” of testing, there are certain phrases to avoid. According to the Institute of Social Internet Public Policy (ISIPP), in Boulder, here are the 10 phrases they say to avoid in your subject line:

1. “Additional income”
2. “All natural”
3. “Apply online”
4. “Avoid bankruptcy”
5. “Click here”
6. “Congratulations”
7. “Consolidate debt and credit”
8. “Dear friend”
9. “Don’t delete”
10. “Home employment”

For more phrases to avoid, you can read the full article on Family First.

SES New York is almost here – March 21-25, 2011

Jan 24

We’ll be attending the Search Engine Strategies conference this year. (SES NY) It’s a really great place to network, with about 5,000 online marketing professionals and search professionals under one roof. Held at the Hilton New York, 1335 Avenue of the Americas.

There are over 70 sessions to attend, and an expo hall as well. There is something for everyone to take away, whether you are learning about SEO and/or SEM or have been doing it for years. The expo hall is held on March 22 and March 23rd. The expo is filled with booths from SEO consulting firms to major search players, like…Google.

If you’d like to meet a member of Versa9’s team, email us at media@versa9.com.

For more information or to register for SES, you can visit SES Conference & Expo’s website here.

The Buzz on Full-Funnel Attribution

Jan 14

One of the buzz terms you hear in the online media world today is “attribution”. If you are working with several publishers, how do you determine who gets proper credit for your sale? Does the “last ad seen” get the credit? What about the first ad?

Display advertising can be tricky if one doesn’t understand the correlation between certain media channels (display, organic, search, etc).  Attribution models help to pinpoint exactly who is responsible for each piece of the sales funnel, or other desirable action. But, at the same time, some attribution tools only cover search, or only cover display. What about tracking email, search, display, and even organic?

Let’s say a user clicks an ad for a laptop sale, goes to the website, doesn’t make the purchase just yet, but then a few days later searches for that laptop. The listing shows up in the organic search results. The user then makes the purchase but guess what? If the consumer didn’t see that first ad, would the sale ever happen? How effective is it to only optimize based on the last ad seen or the “last click”?

Read more about full-funnel attribution in this Adotas article.

Evolution of E-commerce Tracking & Analytics

Jan 07

Our day today opened with a hearkening back to the days when the internet was young and we were all trying to figure out how to complete transactions on the new vehicle. Websites were a new idea and almost exclusively “brochure” style sites that existed only to serve the purpose of delivering a static piece of information to the user. Organizations had begun to adopt the idea that you could tell people about your products, services, and business on the “world wide web”. Something like 80% of the US population thought that the Internet was AOL, even static codes like HTML were still in their infancy, and the foremost thought on our minds was, “How can we actually generate a sale on the Internet?”.

We were all chomping at the bit when the online payment gateways started appearing that allowed us to virtually connect a merchant account to a means of processing a transaction on the internet.  Now we could gather credit card information in an encrypted HTML form and process the transaction manually using a virtual terminal. We could facilitate a sale and make real money without waiting for the checks to come in the mail, waiting for the checks to clear, and then finally handling fulfillment. Amazing!

So now we’re cooking! We are no longer using 3rd party platforms (Lycos Auctions, Yahoo Auctions, eBay, etc.) to drive sales and generate exposure, we were now thinking about things like online advertising and search engine optimization. We were literally sitting around contemplating this huge new idea, “How do we get people to our sites to buy now that we do not need 3rd party platforms?” It seems so silly to look back at what has become massive industry and know that we were really contemplating that question.

As we began down the path of negotiating advertising buys and optimizing our websites to procure search engine traffic, the natural result of such efforts was to be able to understand which of these efforts was working. I can still remember the day that I sat down at my computer and read about the idea of recording how many times an image on a particular page was called by a web browser to understand how many times that page had been viewed. We still thought about everything in terms of hits at that point. At some point in the near future, as HTML advanced with browser capabilities, we came to learn about the idea of calling a piece of code disguised as an image. We just unknowingly witnessed the birth of the tracking pixel which spawned the arms race of web analytics.

We were then able to track how many times a resource on the Internet is called, and realized that traffic does not equal performance in terms of revenue. We could get a ton of traffic from one site that had no desire to buy the products and services we offered, conversely we could get a very small amount of traffic from a source that had a very high affinity to our offerings, and thus a very high percentage of those people purchased. Houston, we have a problem!

A smart guy somewhere understood that the page after a transaction was completed could be used to track how many people had been through the purchase process, and the foundation for tracking online sales began to take shape. As dynamic languages (first ASP, then PHP) came into play we now had the ability to track many different data points and apply intelligence to that data in order to optimize our marketing efforts using methods like variables, cookies, and database communication.  As is the way of the world, advances always create the need for new solutions.

Now that we can track sales and traffic data dynamically, new ideas about what and how to track web activity appear rapidly. You have an industry testing, testing, testing, and then testing some more. Every time they want to test something they have to update code that exists, in some cases, on thousands of web pages. Some of these web pages can be accessed directly but in extreme cases there could be thousands of pages, across many different servers, owned by many different organizations, that have to have their code updated every time you wish to test any new idea or gather any new information. There is a serious problem facing the teams and individuals responsible for driving revenue.

The advancement that finally overcame this new problem facing online advertisers and marketers has it’s roots in a new object oriented programming logic. Object oriented development works within the idea that you call an object, that many different functional pieces of code can use to perform the task, rather than perform the task internally in every functional piece of code you write. We now have modular applications built to easily interface with any new methods that you might development as you move through the development life cycle of an individual application. New code written can use any of the functionality already in place to accomplish the functional goal elegantly and easily. Web browsers became more robust and the object oriented mindset created an environment that allowed the same remote tracking script to be called to collect the data, rather than collecting the data remotely on every page.

A single tracking script (generally a java script) can be edited and updated to collect any new piece of data or interface with any outside system, without ever touching any of the actual websites. We have the ability to collect any piece of data we want with almost no implementation barrier, and do almost anything we can think of with that data internally or externally.  There are some very complex attribution models and tracking/analytics models that owe their existence to this new environment.

So here we are. There is a new, unknown object on the horizon that can revolutionize e-commerce as it exists today. It can overcome the barriers and risks that every agency and network hears repeated again and again. Through a simple, yet very profound shift in mindset, we can utilize the new technologies available to add yet another piece to the puzzle and lure that ever illusive new enigma to the distant, outside reaches of our field of vision so that it may in-turn be conquered.

Affiliate Summit West 2011 in Las Vegas

Jan 07

Affiliate Summit West, the premier affiliate marketing conference, also referred to as ASW, will take place this coming week from January 9th – January 11th. Always a great conference, and in Las Vegas, there is never a dull moment. For the last couple of years it was held at the Rio, and this year it will be at the Wynn. If you are looking to attend a conference where affiliates and advertisers (thousands of them) are networking and sessions are filled with actual information you can learn from, then this is a conference you should attend. Here’s a list of speakers: (Affiliate Summit West 2011 Speakers). If you didn’t get a chance to register for this one, the next Affiliate Summit will be held in New York City, August 21-23rd. You can sign up for the Affiliate Summit newsletter to stay informed on the upcoming event and will be emailed when it is time to register. Details for Affiliate Summit East (ASE) can be found here.