VidMob building ‘API for creativity’ that uses first-party data to fine tune video ad elements

VidMob has raised $25 million in its latest round of funding. The company said it will use the money to further develop its Agile Creative Studio, an API platform that curates first-party creative data to offer insights for optimizing video ad campaigns.

Why we should care

VidMob’s Agile Creative Studio employs, what the company defines as, first-party creative data to identify the creative assets within a video ad that yield the strongest performance. VidMob’s technology uses machine learning to analyze video ads and then uses that data to modify video ads in real-time so that they deliver more of an impact.

“The ad actually actually improves over time through this iterative process of creating and learning,” VidMob CEO Alex Collmer told TechCrunch. He said the company is trying to build what it thinks of as an API for creative, “Today, that friction point is frequently with our platform partners, with the Facebooks and Snaps, but we see it expanding to other areas where you see imagery as the central point of communication.”

The company’s video creation, analytics and optimization tools are designed for social video advertisers. VidMob is a certified creative partner with all of the major social networks, including Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. With more money to put toward its Agile Creative Studio technology, it will be able to offer advertisers a more comprehensive platform for their video advertising efforts.

More on the news

  • VidMob’s Agile Creative Studio platform is still in beta, but the company reports it has already analyzed more than 280,000 ad assets using the technology.
  • This Series B funding was led by BuildGroup, with additional investments from Acadia Woods, Herington LLC, Interlock Partners, Macanta Investments, LP’s of Manifest and You & Mr. Jones.
  • VidMob has now raised a total of $45 million since 2015 when it raised $2 million in seed funding to build out at marketplace for video editing professionals.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

Emmy winner Gregori J. Martin talks ‘A Place Called Hollywood’

On the idea for the concept of A Place Called Hollywood, Martin said, “I wanted to do something new. I was itching to create a story with new characters and a new backdrop and what better place than a place I know so well?” A Place Called Hollywood is a story that people, especially actors, need to know. So many people want to become a movie star but may not know in detail what types of trials an actor may face. I think this story helps shine a light on that. Plus, I knew I had the perfect actor to play the part. He inspired me,” he elaborated. When asked which scene or experience from A Place Called Hollywood stood out to him, as a writer and director, he responded, “I love everything but I particularly love the dynamic between Charlie and Jax. The chemistry between Kristos [Andrews] and Derrell [Whitt] is incredible. They shine on screen together.”

Actors Kristos Andrews and Derrell Whitt in A Place Called Hollywood

Actors Kristos Andrews and Derrell Whitt in ‘A Place Called Hollywood’

LANY Entertainment

Martin continued, “The scene where Jax expresses how being friends with Charlie is the closest thing he’s had to success and Charlie tells him the story of Charlie Chaplin gets me every time. It is so powerful and for me, it’s more than the writing, it’s what Kristos and Derrell brought to it. I am so proud of them and that scene and their performances in the entire series.” On being a writer, producer, and director in this digital age, Martin acknowledged that it “feels great.” “It is very much with the times. I am grateful to be doing what I love. To be up for a Primetime Emmy for short form is such a blessing. I have said this for years now but this is the television of the future,” he said. Martin shared that he wants A Place Called Hollywood to be “a fun ride.” “I want them to fall in love with Charlie and the other characters. I want them to feel for Jax and love to hate Josh and Paige. I want them to laugh with Rosie. I want them to have fun watching it and keep it in their memories,” he said. To learn more about A Place Called Hollywood, check out its official website and Facebook page and Instagram page. “Follow us on social media. Spread the word. Help us get a second season. And of course, thank you for watching and supporting the series,” he concluded. Read More: Digital Journal chatted with Gregori J. Martin about the multi-Emmy award-winning series The Bay.

Google Rolls Out a New Look for Desktop Search Results via @MattGSouthern

Google has widely rolled out a new design for desktop search results which features colorful icons in the top navigation bar.

Google was initially spotted testing the new look back in March. As of today, it appears that everyone has access to the new design.

Previously, the top navigation menu was just text, so this adds a little more character to the search results pages.

You can see in the examples below how the new icons light up with color when they’re selected.

Google Rolls Out a New Look for Desktop Search Results

Google Rolls Out a New Look for Desktop Search Results

Google Rolls Out a New Look for Desktop Search Results

Google Rolls Out a New Look for Desktop Search Results

Today’s changes to desktop search results are purely cosmetic, as everything still functions the same way.

There are no noticeable changes to how search results are presented underneath the top navigation bar.

Five things to do on a small digital marketing budget

Five things to do on a small digital marketing budget

When you have a smaller digital marketing budget, every dollar counts, and you often need to get creative to make sure your ads show where you want.

In this post, I’ll walk through a few important tactics to utilize if you are launching a new program or if you have an established program with a smaller budget.

  1. Retargeting site visitors and purchasers
  2. Mid-funnel remarketing
  3. Bid adjustments: Geo-targeting and ad scheduling
  4. Search terms reports: Exact keywords and negative keywords
  5. InMarket and Similar Audiences for competitive terms

1. Retargeting site visitors and purchasers

We all know that it takes more money to acquire a brand-new customer than it does a customer who has already purchased or otherwise engaged with the brand. Paid search and paid social can be a very competitive space, so it’s crucial to use audience targeting to the best of your abilities. One easy way to get the biggest bang for your buck, with lower CPAs (Cost per acquisitions) and higher ROAS (return on advertising spend), is to retarget site visitors and purchasers. These users have already shown intent and interest in your brand, making it easier for them to engage.

It is important within your search campaigns to either segment these users into their own campaign or bid-up on them within your current campaigns. For GDN (Google Display Network) and paid social, try to get in front of these users with a special message to bring them back to the site, and keep these campaigns separate from your acquisition campaigns. For both paid search and paid social, consider special messaging or discounts for these users to help them convert.

2. Mid-funnel remarketing

Many B2B or lead gen businesses will focus their paid search and paid social campaigns on just getting that upper-funnel lead and will then let their sales team and email convert that lead down-funnel. Another way to ramp up the success of your paid social campaigns is to create mid-funnel remarketing campaigns to target upper-funnel leads who have not converted down the funnel. Paid social can also help push users to convert and helps complement the efforts of your sales team and email. One tactic is to stay in front of leads with a case study or white paper that talks about some of your brand’s biggest value propositions and how they help the current problems of your target audience.

3. Bid adjustments: Geo-targeting and ad scheduling

When you have limited advertising funds, it is important to allocate those funds to the areas that are performing the most efficiently, just as you would for keywords. I recommend analyzing these segments and adjusting bids accordingly:

  • Geographical
  • Device
  • Time of day and day of the week
  • Audience
  • HHI (Household Income)
  • Demographics (Age and gender)

For example: If you are a B2B company, you might see that CPA rises during the weekend. To take advantage of this observation, pull back on Saturday and Sunday to save more money for more efficient days of the week. Our AdWords history has shown that clients lower CPA by up to 30% by smarter bidding according to performance in these segments.

4. Search query reports: Exact keywords and negative keywords

Search query reports should be your best friend. Review the search query reports specifically for your broad terms to monitor poor matches and new top performers. Long tail keywords can add value to the account and provide reductions in CPA, so it is important to build them out if they are performing well in matching to your broad keywords. These broad keywords can also lead to poor matching, though, so it is important to review the search queries and add irrelevant or poor matching search queries as negative keywords.  For example, let’s say you are a skincare company that sells facial oil and are bidding on the keyword “facial oil.” You begin seeing your click-through rate start to decrease. You look into search queries and start to see that you are matching to “olive oil,” which is not a relevant search. You would add that as a negative to the account to cut back on wasted spend for irrelevant queries.

5. InMarket and Similar Audiences for competitive terms

Broad keywords can lead to high competition, high CPAs, and lower impression share, especially if bigger brands are part of the mix. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them; bid on potentially valuable broad terms, but restrict bidding to InMarket and Similar Audiences so your ads only serve to audiences you’re confident are interested in your product or service.

Small budgets might seem to lead to initial challenges, especially if the market is highly competitive or efficiency targets are not currently being met. Make sure to incorporate these steps into your marketing to drive greater efficiency.

If you have other tactics or strategies that have worked for your SMB, leave a comment.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

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Daily Search Forum Recap: June 13, 2019

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

  • Search Engine Roundtable Vlog – Searching The Roundtable Files – Need Your Help
    I am attempting to start a new vlog series on the topic of SEO and SEM where I interview you – the SEO/SEM community about topics on SEO/SEM. I think I am going to call it Searching The Roundtable Files Vlog or something like that (if you like it or dislike it, let me know in the comments).
  • Google: Using Tag Manager For SEO Is Fine?
    In December 2017, Google told us to avoid using Google Tag Manager for SEO experiments or SEO solutions. In fact…
  • Signs Some Googlers Care When Sites Get Hurt In Google Rankings
    One of the things I see a lot from the SEO community is that they think Google employees, Googlers, do not care when a site has to cut staff or go out of business because of a Google update. While that may be true for some Googlers, most Googlers I’ve met do deeply care and it impacts them emotionally when they see this happens.
  • Bing Adds Batch URL Submissions To Webmaster Tools API
    Bing announced yesterday that you can now batch submit up to 500 URLs per API request, so do 500 URLs in a single API request – instead of an API request per URL. The 10,000 URL limit per day still applies but now you can submit more URLs in a single API request, which makes things more efficient for some sites.
  • Google SEO Myth Busting Video On Web Performance
    Google’s next SEO mythbusting video is on the topic of web performance. The video is with Google’s Martin Splitt and Samsung’s Ada Rose Cannon. They talk about web performance and usability topics around mobile, rankings and much more.
  • Google NYC Also Updates Sign For Pride Month
    Just like the main headquarters in Mountain View, California, Google’s massive NYC office updated the sign on the outside of the building for pride month. They replaced the Os with rainbow colors.

Other Great Search Forum Threads:

Search Engine Land Stories:

Other Great Search Stories:


Industry & Business

Links & Promotion Building

Local & Maps

Mobile & Voice



Search Features

Forrester: Over-reliance on big data, siloed teams impede customer insights

As marketers, we strive to design customer experiences that leave lasting impressions, drive conversions and keep our customers coming back for more. But do we rely too heavily on big data instead of honing in on the specific actions that drive customer engagements?

A recent report from Forrester commissioned by customer insights software firm FocusVision surveyed over 500 U.S. consumers to describe what they thought and felt was a truly memorable customer experience and the specific elements of the component that made it memorable. Forrester also surveyed over 200 B2C marketing decision-makers, including 54 CMOs, to gain insight into what methodologies they use to understand their customers.

The report defines big data as a “combination of structured and unstructured data, including log files, transaction information, internet of things, social media metrics, etc.” It defines small data as “a combination of VOC data, customer journey data, user focus groups, surveys, behavioral user experience data, etc.”

Small data unlocks the “why” behind customers’ actions

Over-reliance on big data is a common trend, according to the report findings. When asked if their customer experience strategy and execution was informed more by big data or by small data, nearly a third (29%) of the respondents said they rely “completely” on big data when making decisions.

Looking only at big data often leads digital marketers to convoluted customer insights and challenges in terms of understanding the drivers behind customer actions. More than half of the brands surveyed agreed or agreed strongly that small data is critical to unlocking the thoughts and emotions behind the actions customers take.

Forty-one percent of brands using small data strongly agreed they know why a customer chooses to purchase from them versus those who don’t. For brands not using small data, this number drops ten points to only 31%.

Digital marketing and business intelligence teams operate in silos

Additionally, the report found that marketing and business intelligence teams are communicating, but not effectively. The two groups are often siloed despite their heavy reliance on one another for day-to-day operations. These disparities in communication can lead to a breakdown across marketing strategies — when marketing is not adequately equipped with detailed insights, optimizing campaigns to meet customer needs will continue to be challenging.

Having a contextual background for your customer data — big or small — is a crucial success factor for digital marketers leveraging data to drive business decisions and further invest in martech. The context of your customers’ actions that is provided by the business intelligence group will tell you more about a customer’s decision-making process than merely looking at the big picture of whether or not a customer made a purchase.

Deeper insights deliver improved customer engagement

To eliminate the silo-factor between teams, marketers should meet regularly with their business intelligence team to review data findings and gain a deeper understand behind the insights they are given. Understanding these insights on the engagement level will help digital marketers better understand how to engage with customers effectively and drive bigger returns.

Big data will continue to be important, and business leaders and organizational stakeholders will continue to depend on it for broad-level insights into business outcomes and trends. But, marketers need to prioritize small data for day-to-day marketing decisions. By working closely with customer insights or business intelligence teams, digital marketers can gain a holistic, detailed view of their customers that delivers increased customer engagement and, ultimately, more conversions.

About The Author

Jennifer Videtta Cannon serves as Third Door Media’s Senior Editor, covering topics from email marketing and analytics to CRM and project management. With over a decade of organizational digital marketing experience, she has overseen digital marketing operations for NHL franchises and held roles at tech companies including Salesforce, advising enterprise marketers on maximizing their martech capabilities. Jennifer formerly organized the Inbound Marketing Summit and holds a certificate in Digital Marketing Analytics from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Italy’s Salvini cracks down on Sea Watch migrant rescue boat

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini on Thursday launched a crackdown on the German charity Sea Watch whose ship on Wednesday rescued 52 migrants off the coast of Libya.

Salvini, who is also interior minister and leads the powerful right-wing League party in the coalition, issued a decree ordering law enforcement authorities to take all necessary measures to prevent the entry into or transit through Italian waters of the Sea Watch 3 ship.

Reacting on Twitter, Sea Watch said: “Sea Watch won’t disembark survivors in Libya — Tripoli is not a port of safety.

“It is a crime to forcibly return rescued people to a country at war, where they face unlawful imprisonment and torture. Italy promoting these atrocities and the EU being complicit is outrageous.”

On Tuesday, Salvini said the 18-article decree would bring fines of up to 50,000 euros ($57,000) for the captain, owner and operator of a vessel “entering Italian territorial waters without authorisation”.

Salvini has seen his popularity soar in the last year with a hard line against migrants which has included closing ports to rescue vessels.

The League head, who has attributed a decline in the number of deaths at sea to a deal made with the Libyan coastguard to prevent people from heading to European shores, has repeatedly insisted Italy’s ports are closed to migrants.

Salvini says those setting sail from Libya to seek safety in Europe should be returned to the crisis-hit country — an order that is contentious under international law, and which charity-run migrant rescue vessels have repeatedly refused to follow.

More than 12,000 people have died since 2014 trying to flee Libya to Europe by what the UN refugee agency calls the “world’s deadliest sea crossing”.

The decree still has to go before Italy’s parliament where the coalition government holds a comfortable majority.

Google: We Don’t Evaluate a Site’s Authority via @MattGSouthern

Google doesn’t specifically measure the authority of a website, according to webmaster trends analyst John Mueller.

This was stated in the most recent Google Webmaster Central hangout when Mueller was asked how a site can increase its authority.

The webmaster who asked the question says their site lost a significant amount of organic traffic following the June core algorithm update.

Somehow, the webmaster came to the conclusion that their site’s authority dropped by 50 percent as a result of the core update.

However, that would be impossible to determine, as Mueller says Google doesn’t have any kind of ‘authority’ metric.

“In general, Google doesn’t evaluate a site’s authority. So it’s not something where we would give you a score on authority and say this is the general score for authority on your website. That’s not something we would be applying here.”

Google’s quality rater guidelines have a section on evaluating authority, but earlier in the hangout Mueller mentioned quality raters do not evaluate sites on an individual basis.

In other words, quality raters are not looking at sites and assigning scores based on how authoritative the sites appear to be.

The people who site owners should get to evaluate their sites are actual users, Mueller says. He recommends seeking feedback from current or potential users with regards to their perception of a site’s authority.

Find out if real users feel like they can trust the content on a website. From there, you should be able to gather feedback on how to appear more authoritative.

Here is the full quote from Mueller:

“If you’re thinking about authority, if you’re thinking about the search quality raters, then that sounds like you’re kind of on the right track there. One of the other questions was also on expertise, authority, trustworthiness – that kind of goes in the same direction.

It’s something, from my point of view, where I would try to get more input from users and potential users. Really try to get the more hard feedback that’s sometimes hard to take where people can really tell you where they think – like comparing different sites in the same niche – where they see issues that you could be doing. Or where they look at your page and think I can’t really trust the content that’s on here.

It’s probably the case that you’ve already been doing a lot of these things really well, but maybe there are things you could be doing even better in that regard.”

Hear Mueller’s full response below, starting at the 23:47 mark:

It’s time we rethink how we measure influencers for SEO

Why we should stop using DA to measure influencers

Whether you’re an SEO, PR or a website owner, it’s highly likely you’ve come across DA (Domain Authority). The metric, created by industry-leading platform Moz, was designed to help search marketers understand the value of a domain, at a glance and compare it with others in the same industry or niche.

This was important for SEO, third party links have long been used to understand how “trustworthy” a website is and form part of Google’s “ranking criteria” (although their importance and how this works is a hot talking point in SEO).

Moz uses their index (or understanding of the web), to map out these links between sites and, alongside other factors, try to assign a “competition” score to each website they encounter. This can then be used as a proxy to determine the value of a said site.

Note: I have nothing against Moz. This piece isn’t in any way designed to be a slight on them or their work, but further insight and context into how to use the data they provide.

The eye-opener to follower deception

Last year, Social Chain opened marketers’ eyes to the murky world of follower deception. Many brands understand the importance of influencers to the digital ecosystem, but measuring the value that someone can bring prior to working with them is difficult and time-consuming. As such, often companies rely on metrics that symbolizes “reputation”, followers, engagement, and other similar indicators. However, as Social Chain asserted, the typical signposts do not always depict a true picture and if not completely understood or manipulated, can lead to large amounts of spend being wasted.

This is a common theme with SEO. Although it’s less a question of manipulation and more a question of understanding. In 2012, Penguin, Google’s “webspam” filter was rolled-out and assigned a positive or negative value to third party links. Prior to this, “trust” was judged on an arguably simpler set of volume-based criteria, but as the flaws in the system were exploited. It soon became clear that a more complex solution was required, to ensure the integrity of search results was maintained. Trust continued to be an important factor in success, but SEO’s had to start thinking more carefully about how they generated these. Here the connection between SEO and PR became more important as links could not be artificially built they had to be earned, naturally.

The two teams started to collaborate more closely, with SEOs providing PRs extra resource to contact a “lower”, but still valuable tier of influencer and PRs helping SEOs reach the higher, more widely trusted publications that they could not access before. Over time, the lines between SEO and other channels have started to blur – and as teams were pushed to operate across remits, PRs started to use SEO metrics, with DA taking precedence (as it was arguably the simplest to use), to understand more about the people they were contacting. With investment from brands increasing, more influencers started to appear, and from this grew an industry in its own right.

Fast forward to the present day

An influencer marketer will likely sit across content, Social, PR, and SEO, with the goal of engaging personalities to improve performance across all the channels they are connected to (based on the goals of the organization/campaign). For social and PR, engagement and reach can be more easily measured. But SEO has always been complicated. This is because “good SEO” has never been about links alone and the idea of a “link value” is entirely subjective, based on factors that change between industries, counties, and even search results. As such, the idea of using a single, links-based metric to determine the value a domain can provide for SEO is inherently floored – and yet, many marketers, influencers and PR teams still continue to use DA for this purpose.

To make matters more complex, the whole link-building ecosystem has been flooded with misinformation. I discussed this in a recent webinar with SEMRush, but it’s often been the case that the wider industry’s understanding of the link building practice has come through commentators on the practice and not the experts conducting the work themselves. This means, the influencers and PR teams, and not the SEO community themselves.

Why is this the case?

There’s really no simple answer, although, for a long time before the collaboration was mainstream, it would be a frequent occurrence for SEOs and PRs to clash over remit cross-over. In the agency world, this could have led to reduced budgets – why pay two agencies to do the work of one, although (from my experience), clients were very much open to creating a joined-up approach between both teams.

While conflict happened behind the scenes, uncertainty, and misinformation filtered out to the influencer market, with PRs and SEOs trying to show that they “knew enough” about the other to make a wider judgment on influencer selection for projects. This led to followers and domain authority becoming key metrics in this process which, although not unhelpful, rarely offered the truest picture of a website’s worth. In turn, this led to transactional relationships with websites, where links and shares were bought for a price that, once this became a commodity only ever increased. Instead of paying for the time and expertise of the people that were being engaged, their value became intrinsically tied to their reach or their link-equity (perceived through domain authority), two metrics that could be easily manipulated.

Now, the growing rumble of discontent within the influencer landscape has finally hit the headlines with a theatrical flourish. Unfortunately for many, this has come too late, with brands realizing the cost of investing in reach over expertise, most famously with the Fyre festival scandal. But, this doesn’t mean that influencer marketing isn’t valuable, as I wrote at the time, but that how and most importantly – the reasons as to why marketers engage with content creators need to change. We’ve seen publicly how using followers to measure reach can be folly. But there’s still time to take these learnings and apply them to domain authority too before something as equally damaging to the industry happens.

Latest developments

Recent legislation in the UK has started to pave the way for change in this field. It’s certainly made working with influencers harder, in large part to the ambiguity around the specifics of how the changes should be interpreted, I personally apply the principle of “better safe than sorry”, even from a search perspective. Every brand interaction should now be declared as an advert, including event invites and even in cases where the only “payment” has been a reimbursing of travel costs. With Google’s hardline view on manipulative link building, the practice of engaging “high authority” SEO influencers is slowly ending or at least, becoming incredibly risky.

Instead, we should look to engage influencers for their subject matter expertise and credibility they can lend to a story or campaign. In practice, this means killing the transactional “I give you X and you give me Y” type of relationships and seeing content creators as partners in getting your message out to the world. For SEO, this may mean using “no-follow” links (which, in basic terms, tell crawlers that they should not consider them for search benefit), but this shouldn’t be an issue. Sure, their direct value on search may be limited, but to think that the search algorithm considers the web in as simple terms as this would be myopic. There are some brilliant studies around the power of brand on search, which are worth noting in this context. Moreover, at its heart, a link is there to carry users from A to B. Adding a “no-follow” tag doesn’t stop this from happening and in this case, using domain authority as a metric often would lead to discounting a valuable traffic driving part of this ecosystem.

With this shift in the industry and better collaboration than ever between search and the wider marketing mix, the opportunity for content, search and marketing communication teams to unite is stronger than ever. So too, is the need for it, as achieving cut-through in the wall of digital noise is harder than it’s ever been. Campaigns, to be successful on all fronts, must genuinely inspire, engage or provide value to users and older-school tactics, such as product reviews and content seeding, have all but lost their ability to drive results. On this point, we simply must move away from using domain authority and followers as a metric in isolation, as neither is an effective gauge of how useful a site might be to its users.

Closing notes

I’d like to speak directly to influencers because without a universal change in mindset, we’ll continue to see the same practices continue and the channel will continue to be under-utilized. I’d impress upon them the need to keep an open mind and focus on becoming the best subject matter experts that they can. I’d encourage the end of any agonizing over “vanity metrics”, which are often taken out of context, and in place look to whether their users are genuinely engaging with their content, and how this impacts their value as creators. Importantly, I’d implore everyone, PRs and SEOs included, to have a little more fun, harness the incredible creativity that brand communications teams, content creators, and influencer marketers can yield and build something great together.

Ric Rodriguez is an SEO Director and winner of the 2018 Drum Search Award. He can be found on Twitter @RicRodriguez_UK.

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