Category Archive Blog

ByApex Digital Media

Digital Audience Targeting at 2015 Network Upfronts

In another sign that digital marketing has officially achieved mainstream status, advanced audience target is going to have a seat at 2015 TV Upfronts. Media vendors are promising advertisers cross-platform reach – mainly out of necessity as viewer attention is beginning to fragment across devices. Brands want to be sure that when they commit to an upfront buy there are going to be “multiple points of execution” as ad exchanger puts it.

According to AdAge & Forrester – Digital ad spending is going to overtake traditional television by the end of 2016 so this intermingling of digital and television in upfronts has been going on for a while now but is really starting to take hold as more and more people move from traditional television viewing to tablets and handheld mobile devices.


Brands are beginning to target users across multiple devices.


NBC is one network who has been ahead of the curve with this trend. Their launch of Hulu in 2004 has proven to be a very wise move in the wake of success stories like Netflix and Apple TV. They recently launched a tool called “Social Sync” that allows advertisers to integrate paid and organic social campaigns with TV distribution efforts. About 1/3 of client business NBC transacted at upfronts last year included TV & Digital Extensions. They expect an even bigger number of marketers to bring converged budgets to the table this year. A+E Networks is another major player leaning heavily into the digital space. One challenge it faces is justifying advertiser spend for newer formats like in-app video. On average the network says it has 50%-60% of traffic moving from traditional desktop into mobile and other non-desktop environments.

In addition to advertisers shifting more budget from television to digital media agencies are beginning to meld their digital video and TV buying groups. The dynamics between television networks and agencies during Upfront negotiations is also starting to produce some interesting dynamics.

One is the urgency factor, booking ad placements at upfronts is likened to booking a flight during the holidays. If you book ahead you’re guaranteed to get a lower price and the seat you want. Another is the differential in network ratings and the prices that advertisers are willing to pay for premium content. The advertiser will use a drop in TV ratings to argue for reduced CPM’s and sellers will counter with data and new channels, proprietary audience targeting, apps, and other new opportunities.

The push back from the agencies remains on the loss of audience. They feel justified in offering lower CPM’s to networks for a drop in ratings, while the networks will argue that the audiences have just moved over to mobile, video on demand and other methods of viewing their content. At the end of the day TV Networks have the premium video content that the biggest and highest spending brand advertisers want to be associated with. Brands are going to pay for the audience one way or another, regardless of what type of device they are viewing the content on.

The process of TV upfronts will continue to merge with digital in the coming years as technology, viewing habits and platforms continue to evolve.

ByApex Digital Media

AdWords Management Pro-Tip #8 – Callout Extensions

So you’re probably asking yourself: “If this is the first post in your AdWords Management series; why I haven’t seen #’s 1 – 7?” The answer is not because I am a Tarantino-esque genius who created an intricate web of blog posts that starts at #8 and circles back to #1 for the climactic finish… It’s mainly because our first post in the series covers a topic that’s a little more of intermediate to advanced level practice for an effective AdWords campaign manager.

I could spend a lot of time gushing about how much I love Google, maybe even to the point that it would be considered virtual brown nosing – or “blog-nosing” to coin a term… (® Jan 26, 2015 – ie. “Please give me better rankings for “blog-nosing” Google!”), You have to respect the way that they strive to make a quality search engine that delivers the most relevant possible results to its users. This holds true not only from an organic SEO perspective but also from a paid advertising perspective.

Even in paid advertising Google’s methods reward not just the advertiser with the most money, who bids the highest but also the advertiser who takes time to create a worthwhile user experience. “Quality Score” is a real example of this practice. Even the smallest e-commerce shoe sales website can compete with a giant like Zappo’s for customers in AdWords as long as they keep their landing pages clean and their keywords relevant. In fact, Google rewards them with lower cost clicks for taking time to do things right.

To get to the point, AdWords is always evolving, and so AdWords management as a procedure has to evolve as well. One of the most recent evolutions in the AdWords is the “callouts” extension. Much like the “site links” extension it gives you the ability to add additional customization to your ad and thereby get a larger chunk of real estate, which will in turn increase your click through rates.

AdWords Management - Callouts


If Sitelinks are like the different departments of your business, Callouts are like the signs you would place in the window of your business. Things like “20% off all purchases over $100” or “Free Shipping with All Orders!” are the types of phrases you can use in a call out. It gives you an opportunity to better showcase the nature of your business and your offers to prospective customers – at a glance. As I hinted at earlier it also gives you a larger piece of real estate which usually results in a higher click through rate.

Yet another way that Google helps the little guy compete online and keeps the market fair for all.

ByApex Digital Media

Google Announces "Mobile-Friendly" Labels for Mobile SERP is Mobile Friendly.Today the Apex team was enjoying Pizza at an undisclosed location in Agoura Hills.  As we were waiting for them to heat up our slices we all began to flip through our phones for some temporary amusement. One of our brighter team members decided to check how we are currently ranking in organic search for our business name… “Apex Digital Media.”

We were shocked and surprised to notice a small but new demarcation on Google’s Mobile SERP next to our listing that read “Mobile-Friendly.” It was something we’d never seen before and a quick search produced the recent announcement that indeed… Google has updated mobile SERP’s to let users know whether or not a site is mobile friendly. Fear not webmasters, they have clearly defined the criteria for what will earn you this tag. It is as follows:

GOOGLE: This change will be rolling out globally over the next few weeks. A page is eligible for the “mobile-friendly” label if it meets the following criteria as detected by Googlebot:
  • Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  • Uses text that is readable without zooming
  • Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  • Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

This also fits with Google’s core mission which is providing relevant results and a great user experience. They even created a test site to help you with mobile optimization.

ByApex Digital Media

Selling Effectively is Communicating Effectively

Chances are if you have been around marketing on any level, you’ve heard of the acronym “K-I-S-S” – “Keep It Simple Stupid.” It’s one of those cliche’d phrases that’s been around for a long time… because it holds a lot of truth.

People have always had short attention spans and even more so today where they have access to everything at the touch of a screen / push of a button. This is why it baffles us how many of our clients don’t understand the simple correlation between great advertising and a great landing page or website.  Time and time again we will hear this line:

“I don’t want to spend too much on advertising because I get results, but it’s not the results we really want” 

I could write a book of short stories around that theme. The guys with the software development business who were getting customer inquiries for languages they didn’t code in. The auto dealership getting inquiries for Toyota Corolla’s when they are a high end Lexus franchise. There’s the Karate instructor getting continual calls about Krav Maga / Gracie Jiu Jitsu and it goes on. All of these businesses have one thing in common – they are not properly qualifying their prospects with a great website / landing page.

Landing Page Confusion

If you are a Karate instructor who only teaches Karate, that should be clear on your website. If you run a development firm and only code in PHP, that’s important to let people know before they pick up the phone and call you! If you don’t let people know exactly what you do chances are good you’re going to have a lot of people contacting you about products or services you don’t provide.

There are some really simple things you can do to improve the quality of the leads you get for your line of business online, regardless of what it is. Coincidentally, these are things that also make the internet a better place for everyone.

We compiled a quick list of what we feel are the top 5 most important things to consider when developing your website or landing page. For the full list of 21, visit the kind folks at

5) Be as Transparent as Possible: Have a physical address that isn’t a PO Box, have pictures and video of your employees, have your phone number, actually answer your phone, etc. In todays world it’s easy to hind behind email & text and forget that personal touch. Even something as simple as having pictures of your office, testimonials from customers, links to your socials and clear and easy ways to contact you can help separate you from competitors. This seems like basic common sense, but again… you’d be surprised how many people don’t even give it a single thought.

4) Simplify Ad Copy, Use Bullets: Even though I’m sure it’s aweosme, most people aren’t going to want to read your 10 page epic about how you created your latest product in your garage while living off cat food and donating your body to science. If what you sell or do is useful though, they want to buy it… so get to the point and let them know quickly why they need what you have to offer. If your brand is complex try to simplify your pitch by creating  a bulleted list of the positives – “Keep It Simple Stupid.” (seeing a theme here?)

3) Have a Clear and Present Call to Action: When people get to your site or page, what do you want them to do? Tell them! Make it clear! If you’re collecting leads for real estate, for example, make sure there’s a quick and simple form someone can shoot you their contact info through. Very simple stuff, but also something not a lot of people take into consideration when creating an online presence for their business.

2) Use Online Video Content for Promotion: Thanks to the increased adoption of broadband and smartphones, everyone is watching video all over, all the time. Additionally, a video can more quickly familiarize a new customer with your brand and the nature of what you do than any other form of media. We always recommend that clients maintain a presence with online video however that might look. It doesn’t have to be a “salesy” infomercial type pitch video, it can be something as simple as a “video installation guide” or “video product manual.” You’d be surprised how putting out these useful little tidbits of information will bring new customers to you organically (in some cases incredibly well). In addition to the effect it has on prospects, placing useful and relevant content like this online will help you  generate better organic search listings in Google, Bing and Yahoo.

1) Have a singular focus, purpose and message: One final “K-I-S-S” reference for you…  The overarching point here is this: Don’t muddy the waters and complicate things for your prospects. If you have a great product or service let them know why as quickly and clearly as possible. Do your best to edit out any unnecessary details. Make sure that when that user gets to that page they know why they’re there and what they need to do. It’s shockingly simple how easy it is to improve the amount and quality of inbound leads that you are getting by keeping things as clear and simple as possible.

ByApex Digital Media

AdSense Ad Placement Tips

AdSense Ad Placement Tips

Having trouble deciding the best AdSense ad placement strategy?  Does your AdSense  scorecard look like this?

Adsense Ad Placement Tps




We talk to a lot of people that can’t strike the right balance between aesthetic integrity and ad placement. We’ve had many customers come to us wanting to optimize their AdSense yield, yet are unwilling to compromise on ad placement strategies.  This article highlights a few AdSense Ad Placement Tips based on actual client situations, our own experiences, and references from Google AdSense’s support pages. This article is intended for a beginner to intermediate AdSense user audience.

First and foremost, it is imperative you abide by Google AdSense’s program policy. If you know anything about Google, their slogan is “Don’t be evil”,  so you can expect they are very serious about their rules of engagement.  Abiding by AdSense’s rules will not only help you maximize your revenue yield but keep your account in good standing.  You can’t make money if your account is suspended or Google claws back your revenue.

Secondly, don’t be afraid to put ads on your site.  I come across a lot of clients that have great content and social followings but are afraid to destroy their “brand” or “aesthetics”  because of the types of ads displayed to their users.  If you want to make money with AdSense, you have to submit to this and become comfortable with the notion advertisers will pay you for the eyeballs on your site.  In my opinion, users have become accustom to seeing these ads over the years. Younger internet surfers don’t even know a universe without display ads. Users don’t stop going to or because there are a few ads on the site. I firmly believe in keeping your main website  or local business’ site ad-free .  But quite honestly, if you operate a blog; that’s what they’re for, syndicating and monetizing content.  If users are leaving  your site, it’s not because of a few ads. It’s because your content is not engaging enough or your site has a poor user experience or both.

We also have customers requesting to heavily restrict or block ad categories. in AdSense. Honestly, these days ads are so highly targeted based on a user’s search pattern that it will hurt you to manipulate or augment types of ads displayed via AdSense.  Keep in mind, this is a part of maximizing revenue yield.  Say for instance, you block the general apparel category. If a user was recently on J.C. Penny and Macy’s sites; then you also just blocked the chance for their ads to display to that “pre-qualified user”,  which will in my opinion lowers the potential for a banner click through if a “less” relevant ad creative is displayed. Ultimately, this affects your revenue yield as AdSense does factor in banner CTR when calculating payout.

Next, it’s imperative to think like a user! Google is all about user experience, so if you provide that typically you’ ll be in good shape. Also, put yourself in a consumers shoes to better understand how to garner better stats.  What ads have you clicked on recently? What compelled you to do so? Also, think of sites you’ve visited with poor user experience and header stuffed ads as examples of what not to do.  Google suggests implementing your AdSesne ads placements in a highly visible manner that does not get in the user’s way. Google also recommends placing your ads along slide your best content using both text and display ad formats for optimal fill and RPM (Revenue per thousand impressions).

Google’s Best Practices for Ad Placement. 2014. Retrieved from [Google Support].  ‹›.

Here’s a recent example that I came across that stuffed 3 skyscraper ads above the fold.

Adsense Ad Placement Tps

This example was even more frustrating to me as a user because it is a local directory listing site on which my local web design company is featured. These ads are distracting potential consumers from seeing my listing and calling me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m 100% for having a clean 728×90 leaderboard or a larger home page banner ad.  Sometimes, I even get frustrated when a client refuses to take advantage of this valuable online real estate due to aesthetics.  But theres a right way and a wrong way to accomplish this  (Also, pay attention mobile view  – Click here more on responsive header ad placement).

At the end of the day, ad placement is 100% up to you. But so is revenue maximization… if that’s your end goal. Your aesthetic preferences may be costing you money each time a user flips to next page of your site. On the other hand, don’t be greedy and stuff ads all over the place.

Honestly, I would go to your favorite news and entertainment websites and pay close attention to their monetization and ad placement tactics. Observe how they balance aesthetics, user experience, and ad placements for best revenue yield. They’ve spent years honing these strategies and they are typically up-to-date on best practices as they have teams devoted to these efforts. Please note however, not all sites use AdSense to monetize their content so there will be slight variations across platforms but the approach should remain relatively consistent.

Feel free to respectfully add to, comment on , or share this post.

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ByApex Digital Media

Responsive Web Design for Google AdSense

One of the biggest factors in web design in 2014 and beyond is making sure that your site is responsive. For those of you unaware of what this term means, here it is: Responsive web design makes sure that your site appears as clean and professional looking as possible across all types of hardware devices. From desktop computers to tablets and mobile devices, web users today can come from anywhere. With that in mind, you want to make sure your business is thinking about their experience across all devices.

As we put together this blog for Apex Digital Media we kept this in mind. Our site needs to look great on all devices but we also want to make sure that we’re running AdSense and learning in real time from our own implementation of the product. In installing the leaderboard ads (728×90) We noticed to our dismay that on mobile devices this ad format was not adjusting for the screen size. In fact, the 728×90 ad was forcing the page out and making our site look terrible and broken on iPhone and Android devices. We needed to consider responsive web design for Google AdSense.

To solve the problem, the first thing we tried was responsively resizing the ads via CSS based on the size of a users screen. This did not work, probably because due to best practices Google does not want this ad format resized for a mobile device because it subtracts value for their advertisers. With that in mind we really wanted to keep this format on desktop and tablet versions of the site because the implementation was clean and professional looking. So we were stuck at a crossroads…

"There's Always a Way if You're Committed" - Tony Robbins

We wanted the best of both worlds… a clean mobile experience but the ability to monetize the blog with the 728×90 leaderboard ad format. We decided it would be worthwhile to just remove this format altogether for the sake of our user experience. Sometimes when you want cake you have to compromise.

If you’re reading this post on a mobile device you can probably see that the 728×90 format is not there and the site template is clean and professional. It does still contain ads though. The 300×250 format tends to work well with mobile templates so we are still able to monetize mobile traffic while maintaining a user experience that is in line with our standards and with general best practices.

How did we do it you ask? This is one area where we’re happy to share our knowledge as it will make the mobile web a better place for all… (it’s also readily available to anyone with a black belt in Google-Fu).

Google Makes Responsive Web Design for Google AdSense Easy

To start, you need to generate a piece of AdSense code for your site.  (If you don’t know how to do that yet you may want to start here.) Once you have your personalized AdSense code on your website you’ll want to surf over to this link – and scroll down to the header “Hiding an ad unit” and expand it. It will show you some sample code, copy and paste everything between the “style” tags.

Google AdSense - Hide Ads on Mobile CSS

Here’s a screen shot of the code.

Next you will want to amend your AdSense code slightly by adding the class of the style inside the ins class: “adsbygoogle” so it looks like this “adsbygoogle adslot_1”.

Finally – and this is the hangup we ran into, you MUST be sure to remove the style declaration in your personalized code. (refer to the screen shot below where it is circled in red).

AdSense Responsive Remove Code

Remove the above line of code so it doesn’t override your adjustments.

Once you have set up the style, inserted the call and removed the original style declaration from your AdSense code you can save it and it should completely remove that ad slot from any devices with a screen width of less than 400 pixels. If you’re really advanced you can also tweak the code to make that width larger or smaller.

You’re welcome.