Reflections from a Site Optimization Veteran

As we welcome our newest developer, Cristian Ferencz, I figure it’s a good time to reflect on the road traveled, from 2008, the early days of what we now call Site Optimization.

Back in 2008, I was hired to help the four developers with our 20-or-so clients in Benelux. At that time we were offering simple site metrics and lead generation through pop-ins, testing and refining our now-ubiquitous scoring algorithm. We already had had great success with automotive companies such as Fiat, whose web marketing conversions grew 30% in two years.

By 2009, the company’s portfolio had already grown significantly and had become more versatile, expanding out of Benelux into Europe and beyond the automotive business. We also started to roll out new solutions that required full-time developers (Live Marketer, for instance), which meant we needed to hire, and further structure our team. That’s when I was asked: “How do you feel about working full-time on Client Implementations?”

From 2010 on, we never stopped hiring and the Client Implementations team grew to reach our current headcount of 18, spread between Brussels and Atlanta, handling more than 200 client implementations. I trained each of the developers that joined the Brussels team and even my own manager, Nico Callandt. The result? A diverse team of developers with professional backgrounds not only in computer programming, but also graphic design, psychology and baking, who share a unique brand of unbridled humor (some would even say it’s often politically incorrect), a Minecraft server and a goldfish.

Our Site Optimization team consists of Kurt Briers (head of software development), Nico Callandt (production manager), Adrian Price (US team leader), Cliff Kilby, Greg Smith, Greg Flynn, Daniel Labrador, Dominique Rolin (EU team leader), Joris Brauns, Ryan Megidov, Arslan Megidov, Arthur Laurent, Matthieu Fradcourt, Mathieu Bernimont, Sebastien Le Touze, Cristian Ferencz, Adam Abramovicz (reporting), Andras Szerdahelyi (R&D), Andi Chirita, and Popi (the goldfish).

At the dawn of 2013, our team has now grown to match the size of our portfolio. As we’re finding our cruising speed for day-to-day business, we are able to commit a share of our efforts to research and development of internal tools. The future of this department holds attention to more automation for faster client implementations, better monitoring, new insight in visitor metrics for improved behavioral targeting, and much more.

Four Things for Digital Marketers to be Thankful for

With Thanksgiving a couple of days away from us in the US, I thought it was timely to think back on all that I am grateful for as a digital marketer. This is just a small list, but maybe it will get you thinking about what you have to be grateful for in your job.

1. Innovation – Things keep moving and changing. I love this because it keeps us challenged and striving for the next best thing. But innovation is also lifting our whole industry up. Even if it causes some fracturing and confusion at first, when new ideas are inserted into the landscape, if they prove to be helpful, it only will add to our capabilities and help us reach our goals.

2. Smart people – Our CEO recently shared his thoughts on the importance of high-quality service, and behind that service is processes, methodology and most importantly really really smart people. I am grateful for the smart people I work with because they help simplfy complex concepts, can cut through huge piles of data like butter, and have deep knowledge and experience with every digital marketing channel. My coworkers make me smarter everyday

3. Mobile Devices – Not only do I love my smart phone and use it every day in job, but I am also thankful for their place in digital marketing. It is an amazing world we live in where users can access all the information in the world from their pocket – and we as marketers can also use these devices to communicate our message. And because of advanced targeting – we can reach these users only when they actually want to hear from us.

4. Actionable Data – More data is not good. In fact, more data is usually bad. Data by itself is just noise, but if you can centralize that data and organize it in a way that insights rise to the surface, you have something powerful and actionable. I am grateful that there are systems like our Digital Marketing Suite that approach data intelligently, so that I am able to use data to do my job better.

Infographic: Holiday Shopping Goes Digital

Digital marketing for retailers has never been more important. IgnitionOne looks at how e-commerce has taken over holiday shopping in a fun infographic. Click through to get the full image:

Learn more about how IgnitionOne can help you with your digital marketing here.

Embed “Holiday Shopping Goes Digital” on Your Site. Copy/Paste the Code Below:

Thanksgiving Day Weekend

  • Grew 16% YoY
  • 226 million consumers visited stores and shopped online, up from 212 million in 2010
  • The average shopper spent $398.62

Black Friday

  • Online sales up 24.3% YoY at $816 million
  • Online and offline sales grew 39.3% YoY at $11.4 billion
  • 17.37% of shoppers visited retailers’ sites
  • 128% increase YoY in paid search, making Black Friday 2011 the most ever spent on paid search
  • Mobile traffic increased to 14.3% in 2011 compared to 5.6% in 2010
  • Shoppers made 9.8% of their online purchases from mobile devices, up from 3.2% in 2010

Cyber Monday

  • Cyber Monday sales up 33% from 2010
  • 10.8% used a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site on Cyber Monday, up from 3.9% in 2010
  • Mobile sales were up, reaching 6.6% on Cyber Monday vs. 2.3% in 2010
  • Social discussions leading up to Cyber Monday increased 115% YoY
  • Cyber Monday 2011 was the heaviest online shopping day in history at $1.25 billion
  • Half of the dollars spent online at U.S. Web sites originated from work computers

Looking toward 2012

  • 16% of consumers will shop on mobile devices this year, up from 13% in 2011
  • Web shoppers who plan to visit stores dropped from 48% to 46%
  • The average consumer who shops online will make 6% of their holiday purchases from a mobile phone, 62% online and 32% in stores


  • Cyber Monday – 2008: $834M; 2009: $887M; 2010: $1.02B; 2011: 1.25B
  • Black Friday total sales – 2008: $41B; 2009: $41.2B; 2010: $45B; 2011: 52.5B

IgnitionOne November Digest

This is the most recent issue of the IgnitionOne Industry Digest, created to keep you up-to-date on the latest industry insights and company news.

Media and Conversion Optimization – A Holistic Approach
October 2, 2012

Stephan van den Bremer, Managing Director, IgnitionOne, Europe discusses the advantages associated with coupling media and conversion optimization in order to bolster ROI in his blog post.

IgnitionOne Continues Global Growth and Opens Warsaw
October 4, 2012

In early October, IgnitionOne announced the opening of an office in Warsaw, Poland in order to accommodate advertisers across Central and Eastern Europe.

It’s a Small Mobile World, After All
October 9, 2012

Lisa Arsenault, Director of Client Solutions, reflects on the innovative nature of smartphones, including their origination and the way we use them.

Conversion Optimization: Your Own Online Sales Associate
October 11, 2012

Stewart Holt, Director of Sales in the UK, compares conversion optimization to a suit salesman that understands when and how to approach a shopper in order to maximize the chances of conversion.

Five Ways to Maximize your Digital Marketing Team
October 17, 2012

Jani Rayner, an Account Manager from IgnitionOne, suggests five tips for getting the best from your digital team. This post was also mentioned in MediaPost here.

Planning the Holiday Season with an Unexpected Change in Consumer Behavior
October 23, 2012

Shayna Stewart, Algorithmic Media Analyst, elaborates on three key factors that will help marketers leverage consumer behavior this holiday season.

Tablets: Disrupting the Way we Consume Media Since 2010
October 25, 2012

Vanessa Ralls, US Marketing Coordinator, discusses three areas that marketers should address in order to stay relevant in the wake of the rise of tablets.

Case Studies: The Secret Weapon
October 31, 2012

Lucy Cleary, UK Marketing Coordinator, illustrates the importance of case studies and how they aid companies in the sales process by providing solid evidence, eliminating guesswork through real-life examples and results.


Marketing to Mobile Users: Proof is in the Numbers
October16, 2012

In his byline, Roger Barnette, President of IgnitionOne, covers some key points that were revealed in our Q3 Report regarding marketing to mobile users.

Search Marketing Horror Tales
Search Engine Watch
October 25, 2012

Dave Ragals, SVP of Client Solutions at IgnitionOne, terrifies us in his Halloween-inspired byline with search marketing mistakes to avoid.

The Myth of “Self Service” in Ad Tech
October 25, 2012

Will Margiloff, CEO of IgnitionOne, discusses whether self-service in ad tech is as much of a fantasy as the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot in his AdAge byline.

IgnitionOne in the News

Study: Tablet Users Most Engaged with Websites
October 1, 2012

Coverage of IgnitionOne’s Q3 Report which discusses tablet engagement and an increase in mobile search spending.

Tablet Users are More Engaged on Websites than PC and Smartphone Users
DM Confidential
October 2, 2012

Discusses paid search spending and tablet engagement in the third quarter with data from IgnitionOne.

Facebook’s 1 Billion Users and What They Say about the Future of Computing
Mercury News
October 4, 2012

Mentions IgnitionOne’s Q3 report regarding tablet engagement.

IgnitionOne Opens Office in Poland
Biz Journals
October 4, 2012

The opening of an office in Warsaw, Poland marks the 11th IgnitionOne office in the world.

More Research Reveals Higher Engagement Levels of Tablet Users
Biz Report
October 8, 2012

Uses IgnitionOne data regarding tablet engagement in Q3.

Positive Growth: Paid Search, Market Spend Up
October 11, 2012

References paid search data from the IgnitionOne Q3 Report.

Chris Knoch Returns to IgnitionOne as US VP of Sales
October 8, 2012

Chris Knoch returns home to IgnitionOne after ten years of experience in the digital space.

Google’s Bad Day: Accidental Early Earnings Release Shows Falling CPCs
October 18, 2012

Roger Barnette, President of IgnitionOne, is quoted in this AdExchanger article discussing Google’s Q3 earnings.

Advertising Experts: Ignore Google’s Earnings, It’s Doing Just Fine
October 18, 2012

Roger Barnette is quoted regarding Google’s Q3 earnings, noting that the “stock drop is a reaction to a stock that had already risen to meet high expectations and doesn’t indicate a long-term problem.”

Paid Search Growth Continues to Slip, CPCs Down but ROI Improves in Q3 2012
Search Engine Watch
October 24, 2012

Mention of IgnitionOne’s Q3 Report regarding search spending.

Mobile Paid Search Gives Higher CTR than Desktop: Report
October 31, 2012

IgnitionOne’s Q3 Report is referenced regarding mobile search spend.

Industry Insights

Pew and Economist Group Panel Shows Mobile Ads Grab Users’ Attention
October 1, 2012

Although mobile users display strong loyalty to their preferred news outlets, generally returning to the same brands over and over, consumers display an ongoing resistance to actually paying for that content. About half of mobile users said that they’re likely to notice ads on a tablet or smartphone, allowing publishers to capitalize on this growing mobile news landscape.

Mobile Ads are Booming, with More Sales and More Investment
paid Content
October 9, 2012

According to new figures from PwC for Internet Advertising Bureau, half-year mobile ads revenue boomed by 132% YoY to 290 million, comprising 7% of all digital advertising outlay, leading to increased investment, meaning the rise in mobile advertising may suggest a slightly more free future for consumer mobile content.

Mobile Shoppers Will Increase 50 per cent in Two Years, Juniper says
Mobile Marketing Magazine
October 10, 2012

According to Juniper research, 580 million people worldwide will buy physical goods on mobile by 2014, which is a growth of 47% from 393 million shoppers this year. Total value from these purchases will hit $730 billion within five years.

Remarketing Campaign Success Factors
October 10, 2012

67% of online shoppers who do not convert during their first visit to a website make the purchase. They key to remarketing is broken down into how interested the visitor was and how much permission they gave the marketer to reengage them. The success rate of four remarketing efforts—ad retargeting, social marketing, abandoned shopping cart marketing, remind-me service—illustrates the effectiveness of a campaign based on these criteria.

To Expand Online Access, Brazil Goes Mobile
October 11, 2012

eMarketer estimates that 86.4 million internet users, or 42% of Brazil’s population, will be online in 2012. Much of that growth has been due to Brazil’s general economic expansion, but the increase has also been driven by a broadening menu of services, and price points, being offered by internet service providers. The effort to expand and improve online access has largely been spurred by two upcoming world events: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will put the country’s telecommunications infrastructure to the test.

US Online Ad Revenues Set Another Peak in H1, Up 14% YoY
Marketing Charts
October 12, 2012

Online ad revenues increased 14% YoY in the first half of this year, according to the latest revenue report from the Internet Advertising Bureau and PwC, bringing revenues to a record total of $17 billion, up from $14.9 billion one year ago.

Less than 2 in 10 Facebook Users Willing to Pay for Promoted Posts
Marketing Charts
October 16, 2012

According to Sterne Agee, 83.6% of users are unwilling to pay to use Facebook’s promote posts feature that guarantees that an important post is seen by friends.

Mobile Ad Tactics: What Works? What Doesn’t?
October 17, 2012

Smart mobile ad buyers have learned that the challenges of mobile can be overcome by targeting mobile users’ behaviors and preferences to encourage engagement and avoid annoying them. Creating useful mobile ads, search-based advertising and ad takeovers seem to be working best, while traditional banner ads seem to be driving users away.

Industry Predicts 4.1% Sales Gains for Holidays
October 17, 2012

The National Retail Federation is forecasting a 4.1% gain in holiday spending this year, with the average holiday shopper spending a total of $749.51. The trade group says it expects total spending to reach $586.1 billion. 60% of shoppers in this year’s survey also plan to splurge on themselves, spending an average of $139.92 on “self-gifting.”

Optimizing for Viewability? Know the Risks
October 18, 2012

Viewability, as a metric, captures one component of ad effectiveness, but when used in isolation, it can lead to a step back for marketers rather than a step forward. When aggregated across good and bad sites, viewability scores can be manipulated and misunderstood. In order to maintain the integrity of viewability as a metric, marketers must make sure they are buying space on quality pages as viewability of available impressions is often inversely related to page quality.

Tis the Season for Brand Safety
October 17, 2012

Family-driven online brands who are planning to conduct aggressive digital campaigns this holiday shopping season need to protect themselves from negative placements, recognize red flags, look at context and steer clear of poor retargeting in order to ensure brand safety.

Holiday Buyers Make it Mobile
October 22, 2012

A September 2012 survey of US online buyers, conducted by the e-tailing group and MarketLive, found that ecommerce will continue to siphon business away from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, with mobile playing a growing role in that evolution. The report also indicated that mobile has emerged as a channel that provides shoppers with a new level of convenience in both researching and making purchases, with online purchasers who plan to buy a gift on a mobile device up to 21% this year from 11% in 2011.

Consumers Spend More Time with Mobile as Online Growth Slows
October 23, 2012

This year, the amount of time US consumers spent using mobile devices, excluding talk time, will grow 51.9% to an average 82 minutes per day, up from just 34 minutes in 2010, eMarketer estimates. Time spent online will grow just 3.6% to an average 173 minutes per day, compared to 7.7% growth in 2011 to 167 minutes per day. Mobile advertising is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years: eMarketer estimates that overall US mobile advertising spending will reach $2.61 billion this year before rising to nearly $12 billion in 2016.

Forget Traditional TV Ads, Think Online Video Advertising!
October 22, 2012

Studies show that online media consumption has now surpassed TV viewing which is most true of teens and young adults, with time spent online now surpassing time spent watching TV or talking on the phone. According to Forrester, spending on online advertising is set to eclipse TV spends by 2016. A survey by BrightRoll found that 64% of advertisers said that online video advertising is equally or more effective than ads on television and 87% said that video was more effective than display advertising.

Ushering in the first Nonline Holiday Shopping Season
Google Retail
October 23, 2012

This year, online and offline shopping experiences are more seamless than ever before – across pricing, functionality, and promotions – making this the first Nonline holiday season. Shoppers plan to spend almost $50 more this year on holiday shopping and 46% plan to spend more time shopping around for gifts this year. Google found that 80% of shoppers will research online before making a purchase this season, and they will switch devices to suit their needs. For example, 51% of shoppers will research online and then visit the store to purchase, while 17% will visit a store first and then purchase online. Another 32% will research online, visit store to view a product, then return online to purchase

Looking Beyond the Click – Closing the Conversion Webinar

On Thursday, November 8, Dave Ragals, SVP of Client Solutions conducted a webinar that centered on how digital marketing does not end with the click-through of an ad.

Media messaging through different channels directs the proverbial horse to water, but that does not influence them to drink, or in this case, convert. Much of this effort could be wasted if there is a bad on-site experience.

Our industry has worked so hard to personalize the media experience – so why not also tailor the most important part on the consumer’s path to conversion: the on-site experience?

By leveraging user-level data and understanding cross-channel touchpoints and behavior, marketers are better able to understand visitor interest and propensity to buy and apply that knowledge to the user’s experience on-site. This form of customer experience enhances the probability that the user will indeed convert.

Dave discusses a case study that illustrates on-site optimization in action. This marketer makes use of the visitor’s browsing history to personalize his on-site experience, resulting in outstanding growth. This real-life example expresses that there is more to closing a conversion than just optimizing for a click.

IgnitionOne Adds Facebook Exchange to Digital Marketing Suite

IgnitionOne announced the addition of Facebook Exchange within its Digital Marketing Suite (DMS). This new functionality expands the integrated cross-channel capabilities of the DMS, the industry-leading digital marketing solution that centralizes marketing efforts into a single platform.

Including Facebook Exchange in a marketing strategy is ideal for marketers looking to expand the reach of their remarketing and audience targeted advertising to Facebook’s huge user base. Access to real-time bidding through the Facebook Exchange enhances marketers’ ability to present relevant Facebook ads based on first-party intent data.

Key Features:

  • Real Time Bidding allows marketers to bid only on impressions that meet key campaign criteria
  • Smart bidding logic to adjust bids based on various inputs including IgnitionOne’s proprietary Engagement Score
  • Target users based on custom interest segments generated during a users visit to a marketer’s site
  • Additional capabilities, including: frequency caps, geo targeting, user recency targeting, day-part and day of week targeting

“Adding access to the Facebook Exchange into the Digital Marketing Suite, enhances our clients ability to leverage a wealth of intent data across a new inventory source ,” said Will Margiloff, CEO of IgnitionOne. “The corresponding result is an exceedingly efficient way for advertisers to expand their direct-response campaigns in conjunction with their existing Facebook advertising strategies.”

Facebook Exchange support is backed by IgnitionOne’s powerful best-in-class DSP capabilities, one aspect of the IgnitionOne’s integrated Digital Marketing Suite that helps marketers spend smarter, work easier and improve performance. These solutions help marketers manage and optimize paid and natural search, display and Facebook advertising, supported by cross-channel attribution alongside site optimization capabilities that present the right message at the right time to website visitors. IgnitionOne is part of Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) program for Ads.

Complimenting this announcement, IgnitionOne will also be offering a free webinar on November 28th at 2pm. Chris Knoch, VP Strategic Solutions and Benny Pang, Associate Director, Product, will discuss the opportunities that the Facebook Exchange offers marketers and how they can gain efficiencies by aligning with their existing buying methods. Attendees will learn how Facebook Exchange can best be used in conjunction with existing Facebook advertising strategy to achieve objectives from awareness to conversion. Click here to register now.

Bring Colour to your Campaigns

Colour can be so influential, and can have different effects on users. Whether colour is used on a website, pop-in, or banner, it is something that is often given little attention. Below are some tips when using colour:

  • Don’t go for obvious brand colours. While this enhances recognition of your company, it can sometimes mean that Internet surfers disregard your image quickly, and think to themselves, “Oh it’s clearly so and so” and move on, or their mind may register the brand association, but it doesn’t stand out anymore. On the other hand, when looking at pop-ins and banners, don’t be so extreme that visitors think it’s spam or a virus and not from the company.
  • When thinking about pop-ins, consider the website it will appear on. If this is a light color, the use of an image as a background can be eye-catching. If, on the other hand, the website is dark, it is best to use a white background in the pop-in.
  • The colour blue evokes a sense of trust. Look for examples of the colours that social media companies use, as well as banks. Therefore instead of using a screaming, attention-grabbing red as the ‘send’ or ‘buy’ button, try a calm blue. Tests show that this has better results.
  • Treat your website like a physical shop. Think about how visitors will feel as they look around. While people are attracted to warm colours like red and yellow, if this completely surrounds your shop it can provoke feelings of danger and unpleasantness.
  • Interior colour, be it in a physical or digital shop, affects feelings of joy, enthusiasm and excitement. These feelings mediate between approaching or avoidance behavior.
  • Consider cultural differences. Foreign audiences may receive your banner differently than a local audience. Black in Western cultures symbolizes mourning, while in China and Japan, white has this meaning and in Egypt, yellow.
  • Test! Don’t take anything for granted. Test different colours and creatives. You may be surprised what has the best results.

So whether you’re feeling blue, tickled pink, seeing red, or in a gray area, thinking about it once in a blue moon won’t help, consider colour every step of the way.

Personas: Give your campaign a face

What makes the success of a digital marketing campaign? It depends on several factors: originality, design, technical innovations, etc. Even when considering all of these, you might still be unsuccessful if you don’t respect the fundamental rule of satisfying your users’ needs. The Personas method provides you with a more precise and realistic vision of your typical users.

A product, a campaign, a new concept… you don’t create these things for your own pleasure. Consumers are waiting for you behind every website page. The challenge of advertising campaigns is immense: they must propose content that is relevant, personalized, intuitive, natural, and practical in order to make their target audience feel engaged.

Lately, special attention has been given to the user experience – his global feeling and behavior when facing a campaign – which has lead to the development of many methods that aim to ease the discussions and decision during the whole creation process life cycle such as creating and using Personas. Discovering the final users’ needs is then the ultimate objective.

Change your perspective, generate ideas

Concretely, a Persona is a personalized representation of a target audience. This character, fictive but realistic, allows you to understand the goals, values and needs of your typical visitors. He is used as a reference concerning the tone of a campaign’s offer, its design and interactions. Moreover, he allows you to change your perspective – and thus to avoid designing for yourself – which is essential! According to a University Paul Verlaine de Metz, France study, using Personas significantly improves the amount of ideas generated, the number of domains discussed, the level of detail and even the level of originality during the campaign conception phase.

But how is this done? The challenge is to come up with the greatest possible comprehension of your final users. All the tools you have on hand to build your Persona are useful, such as surveys, web analytics, interviews, statistical data, stories from forums, direct observations of the users in virtual and real life situations, etc. You can then give him a first and last name, an age, a life style. Everything that gives depth and multi-dimensionality to your Persona is added value.

Of course, this first step forces you to make some choices. It would indeed be hard to imagine dealing with thousands of Personas. Besides, the perfect design for everyone does not exist and doesn’t appeal to anyone. In the case of a rather large target audience, it is necessary to define the central users that you wish to understand, and only then the peripheral audience. On the contrary, if your target audience is rather small, you can focus on certain details in your design that will make a difference.

This being said, in all cases, it is definitely useful to create several Personas, but you should at least create three categories:

  1. The primary Persona: this is the main user. He is the one who needs to be moved by the offer and its design. The choices that are made for the other Personas should not conflict with this one.
  2. The secondary Persona: he has an interest in your product and uses it occasionally.
  3. The anti-Persona: this corresponds to the type of users you don’t want to reach. The design shouldn’t be modified for this one.

Give life to your Personas

After having designed a range of contrasting Personas who are built upon serious and realistic information, all you need to do is give them life. Call them by their first name, display their description on your walls, and make full-size models out of them. Essentially, these Personas must take part in the discussions and decisions of your campaign.

Bearing in mind these realistic representations of your target audience, your brand will be able to appropriately craft messages and deploy campaigns tailored to your consumers, bolstering ROI and heightening successful KPIs.