Saturday, May 16, 2015

Verizon, AOL, Online Ads, and the Importance of Relevancy

If the name AOL conjures the screech of a dial-up connection or the 90s-era catchphrase, "you've got mail!", you might've been scratching your head about the recent news that Verizon has purchased AOL for $4.4 billion.

A still from the film You've got Mail, 90's to the core.

In fact, the merger makes sense for Verizon, and not simply because AOL's cache of popular web content, including The Huffington Post.

As The New York Times reported on the day of the deal:

"AOL may be known for its dot-com rise and fall and for current web content like The Huffington Post, but Verizon is looking to gain the company’s powerful but little-known mobile video and advertising technology."

Well, there it is. Mobile. As Tim Armstrong, AOL's chief executive, said in a memo to his employees about the purchase:

"If there is one key to our journey to building the largest digital media platform in the world, it is mobile. Mobile will represent 80% of consumers' media consumption in the coming years and if we are going to lead, we need to lead in mobile."

Armstrong's goal to build "the largest digital media platform in the world" is certainly ambitious, and perhaps delusional.

Right now, the two web powerhouses, Google and Facebook, control 55% of the mobile ad market--a market that Verizon hopes to crack with the help of AOL.

What makes this seem possible is, as the Times reports, is the marriage of AOL's ads with Verizon's knowledge about its customers--a knowledge rivaled only by Google and Facebook:

"People in the ad-tech industry said that in buying AOL, Verizon's immediate goal may be to marry its data about customers to AOL's capacity to serve ads to increase this sort of relevancy."

Right now the success of both Facebook and Google is largely contingent on their ability to collect data about their customers. With Facebook, the availability of this data is quite obvious: you share your life on the site. With Google, the date is more nuanced, and perhaps even more available. Google knows what you like to shop for. As Business Insider reported last November:

"When you use Google, you are making a deal. You get to use Gmail and search and YouTube and Google Maps for free and in exchange, you agree to share information about yourself. Google gets to sell that information to advertisers."

The key to both Facebook and Google's success, as noted above, is relevancy--a word (along with mobile) that we bandy about quite often at the Organic SEO Blog.

Relevancy describes one of the goals of a good organic SEO campaign: How do you connect with your ideal customer?

After all, in the new marketing world, it no longer makes sense to market to a great swath of people--not when you at your disposal the ability to pinpoint customers.

If you’re a website owner, you are likely confronted with a multitude of techniques to promote your website online. Before you choose any single approach, you might want to answer for yourself a simple question: What does online marketing really mean?

Just think about two available marketing techniques,Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google AdWords. Without getting into a detailed description of both, we can see, quite simply, that both work on the principle of relevance.

As such, an effective website campaign should address several important questions:

Who are your targeted customers?

What product or service you are trying to promote?

Where is the best place on the Internet to promote your website?

As our blog's sponsor Alex Stepman says, "All websites face the same online marketing challenges, so it is important to remember: your product or service is less important than how actually you present your product or service."

This same to be the case for Verizon and AOL now. Will the combination challenge the mobile ad supremacy of Facebook and Google? More to the point, for our readers: What can we learn from the moves of these major companies?

Got an idea? Let us know in the comments.

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