Advertising And User Experience: Hand In Hand?

Cardinal Path articleFive years ago, the mayor of Sao Paulo banned all billboards in the city. The rationale was that all advertising should give back to the community – i.e. TV ads pay for the shows; an ad on a bench provides the bench; news advertisement pay for the paper, and so on.

The idea of advertising interacting with its consumers is not new. But where does online advertising sit in this context? How does it add to the online community? I think it does, but not in the way you would expect.

Online, consumers want experiences, and the best experiences are produced when we know who we’re producing for. Measuring and segmenting groups of visitors with similar experiences is what gives advertisers the power to listen and act accordingly. Being able to understand visitors by what they do beyond clicks is the “next step” in measuring behavior – and to producing meaningful online experiences.

Let’s quickly explore a couple of segmentable experiences you can set up, measure, and act on.

Socially Active Visitors

Crowd of people interacting

Visitors who are socially active – those who came from social networks and share content on your site – should be your best friends, buddies, compadres, and favorite visitors.

Visitors who are able to build experiences with your site through social media become amazing ambassadors for your site, product or brand. The very nature of social media is sharing. Making it easy for your visitors to share, well, that just makes everyone happy.

Why do we care about it?

Try creating a segment for this group and comparing performance for the rest of the site. Within this segment, figure out what is the best social network working for you. Compare social networks to revenue and see which one is performing the best.

Google Analytics social source and action

Because you are tracking your campaigns (you are doing this, aren’t you?), you’re able to tie revenue to the type of campaign.

Now you have a grasp on what needs to continue, and what needs to change or start.

Subscribed Visitors

Visitors subscribed to your site are visitors craving more. If they subscribed, then you’re probably going to continue communication in some way: email, newsletters, regular mail. You owe it to these subscribers to understand what they like, what they’re not paying attention to, and where they leave your page.

To capitalize on users that participate in the subscriber experience:

  1. Allow visitors to subscribe. As simple as it is, for many websites there’s no option to subscribe! Equally frustrating are those sites that make it difficult to find the right page to subscribe to.
  2. Tag them! If you use Google Analytics, implement a custom variable, conversion variable or whatever means your analytics tool has for you to be able to segment these wonderful visitors.

Google Analytics segmentation

Why do we care about it?

Subscribers are great repeat customers. Keeping tabs on what’s working and what’s not will allow you to uncover ways to increase revenue by providing value to this group.

Generous Visitors

I’d bet that the reason why most sites don’t have the right data is because they don’t care to ask for it in the first place. I find most sites fall short of asking for information that visitors could willingly provide.

Let me show you an example that comes to mind while I write this post.

CBC Radio 2, like most online radios, has a pop-up player. I have that pop-up staring at me about a hour a day and sometimes more if I don’t have any other widows blocking it.

I like CBC Radio and if they asked a question, I probably wouldn’t mind answering.

Here’s what the player currently looks like:

Advertising segmentation opportunity

How much more effective would it be for advertisers if they knew a little more about their audience.

Would it help to know if online listeners are at work or at home? I think so.

Advertising Segmentation by location

Would it help to know if online listeners are above or below a certain age (or age groups)? Yep, I think so.

Advertising Segmentation by Age

Would it help to know if online listeners are happy? Well, I’m sure you could use that to better sell the space.

Advertising Segmentation by mood

Why do we care about it?

This data could allow custom content depending on what visitors click, raising advertisement ROI. It could also lead to other behavioral insights that affect online content choice.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully I don’t have to defend the argument that having more information about your users leads to more revenue, but it also leads us to create better content, better service and thus better experiences. Advertising sets the stage to take control and incentivize what experiences take place, analytics allows us to measure them. If we play it right and measure the right information, it grants us the ability to take action, and enables a better experience.

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