The big season is almost upon us. Is your small business ready?
It is harder and harder to compete with corporate websites with huge advertising budgets.
When just lots of consumers think the term “holiday sales” is synonymous with Amazon and Walmart, it is too challenging to get your products in front of buyers’ eyes.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday routinely transform the fate of otherwise struggling businesses from precarious to solidly profitable. Holidays are a time when people are looking to spend more than usual.
Millions will shore up their savings year to have the money for the purchases they want. Large brands spend months strategizing the holiday season promotions they’ll roll out to maximize their sales.
Unfortunately, small (ecommerce) stores are frequently caught flat-footed. They don’t invest resources or time into getting their business well-positioned for the looming flood of customers. If large businesses cannot afford to ignore the season, neither can small ones.
Here are three steps content and SEO can help your holiday promotion and marketing efforts:
1. Identify New Seasonal Landing Pages to Put Together and Promote
Holiday season when everyone is busy buying gifts for everyone, including friends, family and obviously themselves, is the season of new unexpected searching trends to emerge.
People start thinking about buying things differently: They buy not for a need of something, but to stand out and make the best gift.
SE Ranking keyword suggestion tool allows you to research those new buying decisions by allowing you to filter out words you cannot compete with and focus on your niche. You can also filter results by difficulty to find search queries with lower organic competition:
Once you have identified those search queries with big potential, create new landing pages of related products and link to those landing pages from across your site.
This trick can work for both service- and product-based businesses, because holiday sales are done by all types of businesses these days. For service-based businesses, researching holiday searching trends and bundling services with related products will help boost sales and create word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.
Setting up these seasonal landing pages is also a great idea because this gives you more pages to promote on social media. These could be “collections” of products that would serve a specific holiday searching pattern and all of these could be linked off from the main “Christmas gift ideas” section. You can set these up with plugins for WordPress or “Collections” feature for Shopify.
Depending on the nature of your business, it may be a good idea to set up a separate mini site to make sure your main site remains focused. This idea makes sense when your holiday promotions and lists do not align well with your current brand and product positioning.
Setting up a separate project is quite affordable these days, even for small businesses. All you need is a new domain. You can host it on your current server, and use free CMS (e.g. WordPress) and free themes.
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2. Create Seasonal Content to Target Semi-Transactional & Informational Queries
Many of those search queries you’ll come across will be purely informational. Think about all kinds of DIY ornaments, costumes, packaging, etc. that is being researched prior to the holiday season.
Informational search intent means a searcher is looking for answers to questions, tutorials and how-to videos without willing to buy anything.
Semi-transactional intent search intent refers to a searching journey that can actually result in a purchase, even though it was initially planned as a research rather than a buying process.
Both of these types of keywords are useful for boosting your holiday sales for a few reasons:
- People may buy even if they didn’t initially intend to buy (hello, holiday impulse shopping!)
- That traffic will enrich your data and grow your audience, so that you can re-engage those people with things like retargeting ads (i.e. ads targeting the past users of your site).
- This content brings brand awareness, especially if it attracts bloggers and journalists who can link to your site.
It all comes down to:
- How well your content engages your audience
- How well your content is optimized for conversions using contextual calls to action.
To give you just a quick of how content may turn readers into buyers, here’s two examples of contextual CTAs in action:
And here’s another example, only in SaaS industry:
Note how contextual CTAs in this example perfectly align with content on the page. That is exactly why you need to develop lead magnets for just about any content you put on your blog.
3. Identify Your Best Timing
Your own web analytics will give you lots of clues as to when your past-year’s holiday traffic started peaking.
Google Trends is another great tool to identify the best timing for your seasonal content and its promo to start. For example, based on that tool, it looks like the interest in “ornaments” starts growing consistently mid-October, year after year:
Another tool that is helpful for picking your timing is Visualping that offers a cool SEO monitoring feature allowing you to monitor your competitors’ landing pages to be the first to know when they put up their holiday promos.
With this trick, you’ll never be behind your competitors in starting your pre-holiday marketing.
Holiday season is overwhelming for small businesses trying to make the most of consumers’ hectic buying decisions. Discoverability becomes the most important marketing factor when urgent and impulse shopping drives consumers to buy the moment they see what they need (even if they didn’t know they needed it).
Holiday marketing starts with thinking about the products you want to be included in your promotion. Next, use your email list to reach out to existing customers with heads-up of what goodies are in store for them. By the time the big season arrives, you need to have all the assets and data ready to start marketing and remarketing your products to your current and future customers.
The impact of the holiday promotion could give your sales a momentum that lasts for months.
The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them
Ad fraud is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, the latest data indicates that it will cost businesses a colossal €120 billion by 2023. But even more worrying is that fraudsters’ tactics are becoming so sophisticated that even big-name companies such as Uber, Procter & Gamble, and Verizon have been victims of ad fraud in recent years.
So what does this mean for the rest of the industry? The answer is simple: every ad company, no matter their size or budget is just as at risk as the big guns – if not more.
In this article, I summarize some of the biggest and most shocking cases of ad fraud we’ve witnessed over recent years and notably, what vital lessons marketers and advertisers can learn from them to avoid wasting their own budgets.
The biggest ad fraud cases in recent years
Let’s take a look at some of the most high-profile and harmful ad fraud cases of recent years that have impacted some of the most well-known brands around the world.
Methbot: $5 million a day lost through fake video views
In 2016, Aleksandr Zhukov, the self-proclaimed “King of Fraud”, and his group of fraudsters were discovered to have been making between $3 and $5 million a day by executing fake clicks on video advertisements.
Oft-cited as the biggest digital ad fraud operation ever uncovered, “Methbot” was a sophisticated botnet scheme that involved defrauding brands by enabling countless bots to watch 300 million video ads per day on over 6000 spoofed websites.
Due to the relatively high cost-per-mille (CPM) for video ads, Aleksandr and his group were able to steal millions of dollars a day by targeting high-value marketplaces. Some of the victims of the Methbot fraud ring include The New York Times, The New York Post, Comcast, and Nestle.
In late 2021, Aleksandr Zhukov was sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay over $3.8 million in restitution.
Uber: $100 million wasted in ad spend
In another high-profile case, transportation giant Uber filed a lawsuit against five ad networks in 2019 – Fetch, BidMotion, Taptica, YouAppi, and AdAction Interactive – and won.
Uber claimed that its ads were not converting, and ultimately discovered that roughly two-thirds of its ad budget ($100 million) wasn’t needed. This was on account of ad retargeting companies that were abusing the system by creating fraudulent traffic.
The extent of the ad fraud was discovered when the company cut $100 million in ad spend and saw no change in the number of rider app installs.
In 2020, Uber also won another lawsuit against Phunware Inc. when they discovered that the majority of Uber app installations that the company claimed to have delivered were produced by the act of click flooding.
Criteo: Claims sues competitor for allegedly running a damaging counterfeit click fraud scheme
In 2016, Criteo, a retargeting and display advertising network, claimed that competitor Steelhouse (now known as MNTM) ran a click fraud scheme against Criteo in a bid to damage the company’s reputation and to fraudulently take credit for user visits to retailers’ web pages.
Criteo filed a lawsuit claiming that due to Steelhouse’s alleged actions — the use of bots and other automated methods to generate fake clicks on shoe retailer TOMS’ ads — Criteo ultimately lost TOMS as a client. Criteo has accused Steelhouse of carrying out this type of ad fraud in a bid to prove that Steelhouse provided a more effective service than its own.
Twitter: Elon Musk claims that the platform hosts a high number of inauthentic accounts
In one of the biggest and most tangled tech deals in recent history, the Elon Musk and Twitter saga doesn’t end with Twitter taking Musk to court for backing out of an agreement to buy the social media giant for $44 billion.
In yet another twist, Musk has also claimed that Twitter hid the real number of bots and fake accounts on its platform. He has also accused the company of fraud by alleging that these accounts make up around 10% of Twitter’s daily active users who see ads, essentially meaning that 65 million of Twitter’s 229 million daily active users are not seeing them at all.
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6 Lessons marketers can learn from these high-profile ad fraud cases
All of these cases demonstrate that ad fraud is a pervasive and ubiquitous practice that has incredibly damaging and long-lasting effects on even the most well-known brands around the world.
The bottom line is this: Marketers and advertisers can no longer afford to ignore ad fraud if they’re serious about reaching their goals and objectives. Here are some of the most important lessons and takeaways from these high-profile cases.
- No one is safe from ad fraud
Everyone — from small businesses to large corporations like Uber — is affected by ad fraud. Plus, fraudsters have no qualms over location: no matter where in the world you operate, you are susceptible to the consequences of ad fraud.
- Ad fraud is incredibly hard to detect using manual methods
Fraudsters use a huge variety of sneaky techniques and channels to scam and defraud advertisers, which means ad fraud is incredibly difficult to detect manually. This is especially true if organizations don’t have the right suggestions and individuals dedicated to tracking and monitoring the presence of ad fraud.
Even worse, when organizations do have teams in place monitoring ad fraud, they are rarely experts, and cannot properly pore through the sheer amount of data that each campaign produces to accurately pinpoint it.
- Ad fraud wastes your budget, distorts your data, and prevents you from reaching your goals
Ad fraud drains your budget significantly, which is a huge burden for any company. However, there are also other ways it impacts your ability to deliver results.
For example, fake clicks and click bots lead to skewed analytics, which means that when you assess advertising channels and campaigns based on the traffic and engagement they receive, you’re actually relying on flawed data to make future strategic decisions.
Finally – and as a result of stolen budgets and a reliance on flawed data – your ability to reach your goals is highly compromised.
- You’re likely being affected by ad fraud already, even if you don’t know it yet
As seen in many of these cases, massive amounts of damage were caused because the brands weren’t aware that they were being targeted by fraudsters. Plus, due to the lack of awareness surrounding ad fraud in general, it’s highly likely that you’re being affected by ad fraud already.
- You have options to fight the effects of ad fraud
Luckily, as demonstrated by these cases, there are some options available to counteract the impact and losses caused by ad fraud, such as requesting a refund or even making a case to sue. In such cases, ad fraud detection solutions are extremely useful to uncover ad fraud and gather evidence.
- But the best option is to prevent ad fraud from the get-go
The best ad fraud protection is ad fraud prevention. The only surefire way to stop fraudsters from employing sophisticated fraud schemes and attacking your campaigns is by implementing equally sophisticated solutions. Anti-ad fraud software solutions that use machine learning and artificial intelligence help you keep fraud at bay, enabling you to focus on what matters: optimizing your campaigns and hitting your goals.
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The Biggest Ad Fraud Cases and What We Can Learn From Them
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