My take on the Cambridge Analytica story

There’s a big controversy right now about Cambridge Analytica and how they influenced the US presidential election and the Brexit referendum. Some even claiming they “hijacked” or “stole” the result.

Me? I’m not buying it.

While it looks like they broke Facebook’s data rules,

(A)   Many of the things they’ve been accused of didn’t happen. They couldn’t have happened. They’re literally not possible within Facebook.

(B)   And everything else they’ve been accused of, you could do without breaking Facebook’s rules. All you need is a big enough budget, big enough data set, and smart enough marketers.

(C)   I’m not sure Continue reading

The dirty secret about PPC qualifications

Let me tell you a story…

A prospect contacted me recently. He was using a PPC agency, but his ads weren’t profitable.

At one point during our conversation, he said to me, “The agency has all the relevant qualifications…”

I let him into a secret. And, today, I’m going to let you into the same secret: PPC “qualifications” are worthless.

I’ll explain … Continue reading

Posted in PPC

The one thing your business needs to survive in 2018

Last week, I was watching a speech by Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet’s right hand man.

In it, Munger said:

“One idea [investors] use is one Benjamin Graham borrowed from engineering, which is the concept of a margin of safety.

In other words, factoring all the probabilities, you want a margin of safety in what you’re doing.  And that’s a very good concept when you’re Continue reading

“My sales are down, what should I do?”

Years ago, I was a member of an online business forum. And I’d see some pretty strange questions. One popular one was, “My sales are down, what should I do?”

What was even stranger was the advice they’d get. Just bizarre.

What you shouldn’t do

Most of the advice would be along the lines of, “Learn SEO so you can get more traffic.”

There are three problems with this: Continue reading

My first ever “SEO is dead” prediction

I’ve been doing PPC management for 11 years (since 2006) without ever claiming “SEO is dead.” So what’s changed?

Last month, I was at Turing Fest and listened to Rand Fishkin and Wil Reynolds talking about voice search.

Rand told the audience,

Voice search that shows text results – great! That’s just more things to SEO and PPC for.

Voice answers? That scares the crap out of me. It should scare the crap out of everybody in here.”

Why should it “scare the crap” out of us?

It comes down to one thing … Continue reading

Posted in SEO

What I learned behind enemy lines

Earlier this month, I was at Turing Fest – a two-day marketing/tech conference in Edinburgh.

Whenever I go – this is my third year in a row – I feel like I’m behind enemy lines. For three reasons…

#1: I’m much older than most of the attendees. That sucks. Get off my lawn.

#2: I work with “real businesses,” while most attendees work for start-ups. You know, the sort of tech company that creates Continue reading

Organic v Paid – why everyone’s asking the wrong question

Perhaps the dumbest question in internet marketing is, “Does anyone click on the Google ads?”

Now, if I were sarcastic, I might answer, “No, that’s why Google doesn’t make any money…”

Seriously, folks, it’s not hard to answer this question. After all, Google’s a publicly traded company, which means they report their profits.

For example, in 2015, Google’s revenue was roughly $75bn. Of that, $52bn came from ads on Google’s own websites.

So, let me ask you, Continue reading

“Have you ever seen a monkey examine a watch?”

I’m going to give you some advice on how to work with marketers.

But, before I get to the advice, I have to set it up with a story.

The story is about Wilhelm Steinitz, the first ever world chess champion, and it goes like this…

Steinitz was playing a game against another top player. After the game, the players went over the game. They discussed different ideas, and alternative moves that weren’t played.

While they were doing this, an unskilled amateur – in chess parlance, a “patzer” – kept interrupting and telling the masters what moves they should have played.

Steinitz, put up with this for as long as he could. But, finally, he snapped. He turned to the patzer and asked, “Sir, have you ever seen a monkey examine a watch?”

OK, what’s my point?

I was recently hired by a company to improve their PPC results. They were paying around £60 per lead, which was roughly breakeven. We set a target to get that down to £45.

So, I reworked their AdWords account and, straight off the bat, we were down to under £45 per lead. Continue reading