The Evangelical Press Association recently hosted its 2013 conference, where they gave Awards of Excellence to whole publications and Higher Goals Awards for specific pieces.
Christianity Today took home a total of 38 awards. CEO Harold Smith said, “On receiving this wonderful news, I am again humbled by an extraordinary team whose pursuit of excellence is undimmed.”
Awards of Excellence or Merit were given to Christianity Today, Books & Culture, Leadership Journal, Church Law & Tax Report, Church Finance Today, SmallGroups.com, ManagingYourChurch.com, BuildingChurchLeaders.com, and Kyria.com (now TodaysChristianWoman.com). Additionally many pieces across different CT publications received Higher Goals Awards, such as “From Powerlifter to Powerless,” by Kathleen Anderson, which won first place in the General Article: Medium category.
Click to see the full list of Awards of Excellence and Higher Goals winners.
Posted in Advertising Tips
For our May advertising spotlight, we are featuring Grand Rapids Theological Seminary’s (GRTS) Talking Points Conference banner. This banner, which ran in February to advertise the March event, had a click-through rate nine times higher than the industry standard.
What makes this banner work:
1. Audience. This ad is a perfect example of successful audience targeting. Talking Points is an annual conference where speakers present biblical and theological lectures on a certain issue, so it naturally appeals to Christian thought leaders. This made it a perfect fit for our Influential Christian Leaders audience, appearing on sites in our Thought Leaders Website Bundle.
2. Aesthetics. The artwork for this ad is not only beautiful, but also perfectly tuned to the conference’s topic. Using a subtle background that alludes to Michaelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” and overlaying shapes that suggest the relationship between God and man, GRTS clearly communicates the theme of creation. This artistic aesthetic appeals to the intellectual audience being targeted. Finally, the ad’s pastel, subtle design makes it unique and eye-catching.
3. Simplicity. There are many more elements that GRTS could have included such as speakers’ photos, location, cost, or the seminary’s name. The basic information is there, but the banner doesn’t give everything away. This touch of mystery makes the call to action even more appealing. The audience is probably familiar with Cornerstone University (of which GRTS is part), which they see in the URL, and perhaps with Talking Points. Pairing the aesthetically-established theme with name recognition, they’ve given their target audience everything necessary to be interested. Based on what is provided, viewers will know if they want more information, and all it takes is a simple click to find out more.
Congratulations on a successful campaign, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary.
Posted in Advertiser Spotlight, Advertising Tips
Believe it or not, keyword advertising has been around since the mid-90’s. Internet lore has it that keyword advertising was born when Chip Royce of the online marketing firm InterZine suggested the idea to Yahoo! back in ‘96. It’s been going strong ever since with the likes of Google AdWords, Microsoft AdCenter, Looksmart, and the afore mentioned Yahoo!
Keyword advertising doesn’t refer to a single technique, but is a blanket term for any advertising that is linked to specific words or phrases searched for, or found on, the web. The goal is to deliver “targeted” advertising that increases the likelihood of user interaction.
Some of the more popular forms of keyword advertising include:
- Search-based. Exemplified by providers such as Google AdWords, this method displays targeted advertising as a result of words typed into a search box. If a user were to enter the phrase “Honda Accord” in a search window, ads for local car dealerships might be displayed along with the search results.
- Content-based. This method is based on page content rather than search results. Ads are displayed depending on keywords found in articles, blogs, emails, and other page-related content. For example, people exchanging email about coffee might see and ad for Starbucks displayed in their browsers.
- In-text placement. Utilizes hyper-links embedded within the text of an article. When a user clicks on these links, it launches a pop-up ad relevant to the topic.
CT has launched its own unique version of keyword advertising. An advertiser’s banner ad is tied to one of 14 contextual words or phrases found in online articles. This contextual keyword is then associated with a cluster of “secondary” words or phrases to maximize the context even further. If, for example, a client chooses the keyword “Bible” all CT articles containing the word Bible (and/or any of the other 14 secondary keywords such as “New Testament, Old Testament, life of Jesus, etc.) will display the advertiser’s banner ad on those pages. This insures that the reader is exposed to advertising specifically related to their topic of interest, and greatly increases the likelihood they will interact with the ad.
One of the common hurdles advertisers can face is the selection of effective keywords to trigger their ads. CT has taken the guesswork out of this process by providing potential advertisers with pertinent “clusters” of keywords specifically tailored to CT’s content. See a list of our keywords and find out more about what CT keyword advertising has to offer.
Sources: Wikepedia; wiseGeek
Posted in Online Advertising
Print ad from Lego’s “Imagine” campaign
As you’ve probable noticed, we here at CT are strong proponents of the relevancy and efficacy of the printed word. Especially when it comes to print advertising.
Seems we’re not the only ones.
In a recent article for USA Today entitled: “Don’t write off print ads just yet”, journalist and media-guru Michael Wolff explains why he still believes print advertising to be relevant and necessary in today’s marketplace, and why a “written world” is more effective than an “un-written” one…
“An unwritten world turns out to be a significantly less successful and less communicative place, where it is harder to make a message lasting and meaningful and, on top of that, harder to move merchandise.”
He points out that even in an agency environment where it is more lucrative to sell television and digital campaigns, heavy-hitters such as Apple, Lego, Google, and Harley Davidson still see the value of a strong print campaign and continue to invest heavily in them. What is it that these companies value about print that the rest of us seem to have forgotten? According to Wolff:
- An active reader is much more engaged with your message than a passive viewer.
- The effectiveness of a passive medium such as video, tends to become ever-less watched, fading into background noise (think “elevator music”).
- One image is more effective/memorable than many images.
- Strong print ads have a positive effect on the media they run in, and vice-versa.
- The explanatory effect of the written word is a much more effective sales technique than the passive stimulation of video.
So, while print may no longer be the most glamorous or most popular of the media sisters, she still remains the most literate and the most persuasive, greatly increasing the effectiveness of any media campaign.
Read Michael Wolff’s article.
Posted in Print Advertising
Online consumer research illustrates why digital marketing is more important than ever.
I don’t know if your experience is anything like mine, but as a digital analyst, I often find myself trying to explain the focus we at Christianity Today put on our online presence. The problem is that it’s hard to know what people are actually doing with all of our digital marketing. Of course, we can track online sales and visits to our sites, but we don’t know how the online experience impacts users once they switch off the computer. At least, we didn’t know until recently. A few days ago I ran across the Consumer Barometer, hosted by IAB/TNS/Google, which provides research on consumer behavior online that can lead to both online and offline purchases.
Avinash Kaushik, on his blog Occam’s Razor, has helped to analyze this new tool and lay out four basic questions Consumer Barometer’s research can help to answer. I’m going to focus on two of Kaushik’s points that were immediately applicable to us at CT, and that have helped me to illustrate the importance of our overall online presence.
1. How do consumers access the Internet?
Using the Consumer Barometer, you can select multiple countries and compare their consumer experiences. Here is some interesting data from the Consumer Barometer showing internet use by consumers in both the United States and Canada: http://www.consumerbarometer.com/#?app=discover&storyId=4&countryId=25,34&pageId=1
For our purposes, let’s just look at the United States. Focusing on the left side of this image, we can see some fantastic data on Total Internet Access in the USA. Eighty-one percent of USA consumers have internet access and 60% have high-speed broadband connections. Mobile device use is also high: 44% smartphone and 13% tablet penetration, with another 3% of people intending to buy a smartphone and 12% to buy a tablet.
This is great macro information that tells me most of my customers in the USA are online, and it confirms the importance of mobile in reaching my audience. (Good thing Christianity Today just increased their mobile accessibility with new smartphone friendly websites.) I also see that our recent launch of a new iPad app was a good move, to reach that 12% of consumers who plan to purchase a new tablet in the near future.
The Consumer Barometer doesn’t just provide countrywide usage data, but also psychographic data on the types of consumers using the web and what their percentage is in a given country. Look at the Internet User Segments on the right of the graph. In the USA, the two highest categories are “Functionals” at 27% and “Knowledge seekers” at 22%.
If you view the chart online, you can click the user segment names to understand what they mean. For your convenience, here’s the description for Functionals: “The internet is a functional tool, I don’t want to express myself online. I like emailing, checking the news, sports & weather but also online shopping. I’m really not interested in running my social life online and I am worried about data privacy and security. I am older and have been using the internet for a long time.”
And Knowledge Seekers: “I use the Internet to gain knowledge, information and to educate myself about the world. I’m not a big user of social networks but I do want to hear from like-minded people especially to help me make purchase decisions. I’m very interested in the latest thing.”
Check out the user descriptions in full and take a minute to think about how your marketing campaigns reach these types of users. Neither Functionals nor Knowledge Seekers are very interested in social interaction, but they are likely to be drawn by something that offers information or ways of saving time and labor. How can your online marketing target those specific audiences?
2. How do consumers research and purchase products?
All of this demographic data is very interesting and definitely helpful in gaining a better understanding of online consumers. However, the part that most peaks my interest is the research and purchase behavior of customers.
Using Consumer Barometer, we can focus on one type of product and visually display consumers’ research and purchasing behavior. We’ll use USA book customers as an example. (In the charts below, I’ve removed Canada so we can focus on consumers in the USA.) : http://www.consumerbarometer.com/#?app=discover&storyId=1&countryId=25,34&productId=3&pageId=2
There is a lot of useful information in the purchase charts, starting with the fact that 43% of book purchases are made online and 30% of consumers researched their purchases online only.
The second set of data is even more illuminating, as it attempts to lay out the research methods consumers used and what was most influential in their decision making process. You can use the dropdown menu in this section to choose from three lists: I’ve included images for “Started Research With” and “Most Important in Driving Final Purchase Decision,” but you could also choose “Generally Used” to see which sources people use the most. For books, word of mouth caused the most people to begin researching a purchase, but visiting retailers, online websites, search engines, and advertising were all near the top of the list. When it came time to actually make a purchase decision, physical stores were at the top of the list, but if you add all types of websites together (manufacturer/retailer, search engines, blogs, price comparison sites, etc.), they easily displace physical stores at the top.
Finally, this graph splits out individuals who purchased online vs. those who purchased offline and visualizes how both groups researched before making purchases.
For books, we can see that 25% of users who purchased online researched only online.
Eleven percent of offline purchasers either researched online only or both online and offline. So, even when buying books in a physical store, the online experience impacted customers’ decisions 11% of the time.
If you have a specific audience in mind, it’s easy to isolate just that group and evaluate what sort of advertising you should focus on. In most cases, you’ll find that online research played a significant role in a customer’s purchase decision. For example, you can find that 46% of female book buyers researched online compared to 40% of male buyers.
This post has barely scratched the surface of the data that is available. I recommend taking a few minutes and playing around with the Consumer Barometer. I think you’ll find some surprising and valuable information about your audience and their online behavior. Also make sure you read Avinash Kaushik’s blog on the topic, which goes into much more detail and provides a helpful guide to understanding what all these numbers can mean.
Posted in Advertising Tips, Online Advertising