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Despite the fact that social ad spend is expected to double by 2016 and analysts are increasingly bullish on native social ads, search continues to be the go-to channel for advertisers looking to drive ROI.
The record-breaking holiday shopping season is making that abundantly apparent. While sales driven by social referrals have thus far been miniscule, early analysis of Black Friday sales data by search and analytics consulting firm NetElixer finds that search ads are killing it.
How much does it cost to send a text message?
It's often less than a cent if you're a marketer sending in bulk, but U.S. pizza chain Papa John's could be forced to pay $1,500 a pop for 500,000 text messages its franchisees sent in 2010.
Companies have more opportunities than ever to reach consumers thanks in large part to the proliferation of digital channels, but taking advantage of those opportunities can be difficult.
From display and mobile to social and video, figuring out the best way to use digital channels is no small undertaking.
So it's no surprise that many companies turn to agencies for answers.
With consumers posting countless pieces of content each and every day on popular social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it's no surprise that much of the attention of the social media ecosystem has been focused on 'real-time.'
But for brands trying to reach consumers on these platforms, is there room for a back-to-the-future approach?
For businesses trying to reach customers and potential customers online, Facebook, with its more than 1bn users, has become a platform that can't be ignored.
And what's better than a platform with 1bn users? A platform that, up until now, has been largely 'free' to market on.
Mobile is everywhere, and while it might not be everything, one need look no further than Facebook to recognize that for many companies, figuring mobile out is crucial.
But despite the obvious opportunities being created by the mobile explosion, many questions remain. One of the biggest: just how big is the mobile ad market going to be?
The famed economist Milton Friedman once explained that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But for brand marketers using social media to reach consumers, it seemed like Friedman's rule was a thing of the past.
That's because many of the world's most popular social platforms offered a plethora of marketing tools for the princely sum of, well, nothing.
To join or not to join. When it comes to new social sites, that is the question brands must ask themselves.
While social networks like Facebook and Twitter continue to be dominant, services like Pinterest and Instagram are attracting more and more individuals. Even Google's social network, Google+, which many were skeptical about, has managed to grow into a respectable channel with more than 100m active monthly users.
The Beatles once sang, "All you need is love" and thanks to the rise of social media, it's not just humans looking for it. Brands, once largely relegated to communicating with consumers through one-way mediums like television and radio, have flocked to services like Facebook and Twitter in search of long-term relationships.
If the millions of 'Likes' and followers some of them have attracted are any indication, social media could be the foundation of a happy marriage between brands and consumers. But under the surface, this relationship may not be as solid as it appears.
According to Gartner, brands are increasingly turning to paying for positive reviews, 'Likes' and followers on popular social networking sites and by 2014, the research firm estimates that over one in ten of these will be fake.
While men in the U.K. may have a special place in their hearts for Pinterest, the third most popular social network in the United States is widely considered to be a hangout for women.
Brands seem to be on board with this notion. The US Army, for instance, turned to Pinterest when it wanted to reach a female audience online.
For many companies, a significant amount of marketing spend is dedicated to new customer acquisition, and for good reason: most businesses wouldn't be able to sustain themselves and grow without new customers.
But what about existing customers? How valuable are they, and what type of ROI can marketers realize by tapping their existing customer bases?
Last week we released the latest Econsultancy/Adobe Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing, looking in detail at the current state of social media measurement.
While 69% of marketers surveyed reported that social has a measurable impact on PR and analytics, and many felt that it gave huge boosts to brand recognition, it is also clear that a large number of companies are still struggling to identify clear social attribution.
The truth is, measuring a direct return from social activities is often fairly straightforward, but focusing on this may be clouding your ability to measure what's really important.
Let's take a closer look at Econsultancy's social channels and I'll explain what I mean.