After a decade optimizing landing page after landing page and tons of websites there are two things that I can always count on to improve conversion rates. One is giving users more control to refine their intent in contextually relevant ways. The other is bringing the products or services closer to users in their experience. Sometimes these strategies are not mutually exclusive. As technology has progressed so too have my landing pages and the ability to employ these strategies. First with testing and targeting and then with APIs.
APIs easily facilitate the delivery of content in highly intelligent ways based on a sets of rules (eg keyword “restaurants” + DMA=San Francisco). As importantly, the API provides the crucial ability for users to define how they want to refine the content, or in other words, define their experience.
If you follow my blog (and thank you if you do) you may recall I wrote last year about mashups and the need for marketers to embrace them. I also wrote an article last Fall for MediaPost on the use of APIs and widgets to improve performance of generic keywords on landing pages. These mashup landing pages (or what I now call MashLandings) have had great performance (over 200% improvements).
Since starting RAMP my progress with these ideas has accelerated quite a bit. What really intrigued me was that since content delivery is done through the API you can skin the presentation of the content anyway you want — including creating an IAB approved ad unit to deliver it.
The API powered ads RAMP has done so far are seeing three-digit lifts in performance and over eight actions per user. Some of this may be due to the fact that these are not ads that people are used to seeing. They are helpful and useful applications that use APIs to deliver site functionality (sometimes even improved functionality) on a publisher’s page through an ad server. Imagine taking a category section of your website and paying to serve it 50mm times a month to a highly targeted audience through Atlas or DART instead of paying people per click to come to it? The results are game changing for both the advertisers and publishers.
By tagging the swf in interesting ways new ad metrics are being created to help optimize and determine their value. The most recent ad we did for a client had an interaction/impression rate of 1.7%! These kinds of metrics are a result of incorporating feature sets, tools and content that could previously only exist site site-side.
It gets even better. In the same manner the API can optimize landing page content dynamically based on a rule (kw=) in an ad the same thing can be done based on rules for individual publishers sites. Example: ESPN= default:Men’s Sneakers, iVillage=default:Women’s Shoes.
The next steps in API revolution are also quickly approaching. Because the data is being fed through an XML feed a whole new set of possibilities emerge with what is possible. I’m not going to give too many away right now but needless to say if you understand the concepts behind the distributed web you can imagine where this is going. I’m also working on getting the to API work across the ad and landing page and having semantic awareness to dynamically match page content to ad content on the server side. More on these ideas in a future post.
On Monday I will be speaking at WidgetWebExpo. My presentation is “Can Widgets Save Display Advertising.”