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1.       Google is my favorite portal, but it didn’t have any ads so I went to Yahoo as a second choice. I visited it 10 times. There were 28 banner ads shown. There were eight ads relevant to me (29%), three that were sort of interesting (11%), and 17 (61%) that were not interesting. I did not click on any of the adds. I initially did not even hover over any of them out of habit. I noticed that nearly all of the ads in the early checks were irrelevant to me. Some ads were appearing repeatedly. Then I began to hover over ads I considered interesting and the rate of ads interesting to me began to climb. It was clear to me that online programmatic advertising was learning information from my pointer hovers. I did not see any traditional direct advertising at work on the site. I found it interesting to learn that as advertising online climbs at an astonishing rate that a growing percentage of it moving forward is direct advertising from large firms.

2.       There were two profiles mentioned in the case: Men and women age 24-34 in mountain biking popular zip codes, and men and women age 24-34 in mountain biking popular zip codes - who socialize online and email about it and make more than $70,000 per year and don’t own a bike. The difference between the two is very significant. The first one is patently too rudimentary. I doubt a firm seeking ad space online would even consider it adequate enough to pursue advertising with it that way.  The second demographic is fairly well shaped and is probably a suitable demographic for a firm to use for advertising purposes; it is very relevant.

3.       Display ads achieve search-engine-like results by collecting, analyzing, and building databases based on users’ behavior. It’s as simple as that. The art is in the analysis. I believe the next breakthroughs in this area will be in the realm of predictive analytics and/or super and multi-computing (to crunch big data).

4.       I do not believe clickstream activity is as effective as search engine marketing. There is too much specific information conveyed in search engines. It is way more in-depth. This is not to say I think clickstream marketing will go away. It won’t. It’s too easy to collect mountains of cookie information from users and the data is broader and cheaper to digest. I think search-engine marketing will be favored by direct marketers moving forward because the information is more amenable to their techniques and target audience profiling. 

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4.        I visited Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Both had numerous sale and clearance offers on their opening pages. Bass Pro’s tended to center on percent-off, while Cabela’s was anchored on dollars-off. I would say it is arguable as to which one is more effective. Also, both had comparable $20 reward credit card application offers. Cabela’s was slightly less desirable and effective with theirs being redeemed in member points instead of cash. Both had an offer for conditional free shipping, but Cabela’s was more effective as it was on the opening page and Bass Pro’s was hidden one-click away from the opening page. Both sites had a customer service number on their opening pages, but Cabela’s was somewhat hard to find, almost hidden, while Bass Pro’s was prominently displayed with an accompanying inviting picture of a nice customer service representative – very inviting.

Bass Pro Shops was the most effective of the two. I would say Cabela’s marketing was very good while Bass Pro’s was excellent. While both sites similarly used their opening pages to totally highlight their advertising efforts, Bass Pro did a better job. Their ads were more numerous and various without being onerous. Bass Pro also had a buy-one-get-one offer and Cabela’s didn’t. Bass Pro also had a beautiful, effective video ad running on their opening page and Cabela’s had no video displayed. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth ten thousand. Both sites are sophisticated marketing machines and admired in the outdoor industry, but I’m surprised Cabela’s missed the boat (bah-rump bah, pun intended) on the video aspect.

5.       I searched for a “pro-tech taurus pt709 holster” in Google, Yahoo, and Dogpile. This is a very specific company with a very specific product for one of my 9mm handguns. Google had three resulting search-related paid placement ads. They were identified at the bottom of my page of ordinary results identified with a  symbol preceding them. Yahoo and Dogpile each had five search-related paid placement ads. They were identified with an text string preceding them at the top of my ordinary results. The phrase and the font on the two was identical. Mm? Between Yahoo and Dogpile, three of the five ads were identical results in the same first three positions of the five ads on each. The other two remaining ads of five on each were completely different from each other’s results. As described, these paid placement ads were self-identified.


There were also clickstream generated ads on Google and Yahoo. Google had five picture-linked ads at the top of the page over the search results and Yahoo had eight on the right side of the search results; very similar in style and size. Dogpile had none of this type and seems to be missing out on this type of revenue stream opportunity for some reason; perhaps it just isn’t a popular enough search engine to attract this type of business. Incidentally, three of these adds that showed up from Google and Yahoo were identical; the balance of both were all unique (for a total of 10 unique ads of this type between the two of them). This type of clickstream paid placement ads is easy to identify. They are ubiquitous. We are all familiar with this now in today’s age of online searching.


Incidentally, every single search result hit that was listed on all of these sites was a link to a seller. This is not particularly surprising to me, given the nature of the search phrase, but I would have expected to have at least have a few hits that weren’t. 


In addition to what’s noted above, Dogpile had an additional ‘block’ of unique highlighted search results identified as “ads” farther down and tucked in the middle of the search results page. There is no resemblance to these on the other search engine results. I would say that in my opinion these ads are from lower quality suppliers, or second-tier advertisers. There were no other marketing communications that appeared on these pages; these results described here are all inclusive.