Digisemestr #1 (2019-02-23) – Introduction

What is Digisemestr? And why am I writing about it? I’ve been feeling school sick lately. It’s just like homesick, but instead of missing your home you miss your school.

You say: Preposterous!

But is it, really?

See the Dictionary.


Almost exactly a year ago, I had my diploma defense and the final exam. Three hundred and sixty-five days without school. Imagine that! The horror!

This schoolsickness drove me to complete several online courses, such as:

  • 8 courses of Become an Agile Project Management Learning Path on Linkedin
  • Learning JIRA Software (LinkedIn)
  • JIRA Software: Basic Administration (LinkedIn)
  • ASD.1x: Agile Software Development (edX)

I was reading books about brain and exercise, networking, negotiation, game feel, design… you name it.

I’ve been watching movies in German dabbing to help me memorize German words and phrases. I’ve even played Witcher 3 for 100 hours with German audio and English subs.

But it wasn’t enough to satisfy my hunger.

I wanted more. More school. More learning.

But how? And as you might guess, Digisemestr is the cure. Digisemestr is the answer.

So, what exactly is this Digisemestr?

What is it and why attend?

Digisemestr is a Czech 13 Saturdays-long study program of Digital marketing. It’s organized by Jindra Fáborský and other people behind Marketing Festival and Reshoper.

But you might ask: Why digital marketing, Roman? Aren’t you like gamedev person, so programming and stuff? And yes, usually to make a game you need artists, programmers, but also you need to find people who will play the game. And this is where the marketing comes in.

I would also argue that personal branding, blogging, entrepreneurship, freelancing and other outside-focused activities related to both personal and professional life can benefit a lot from knowing a thing or two about marketing.

Is this all that there is to say about Digisemestr?

The short answer is no. The long answer is noooooooooooooooooooooo. The real reason why I post about Digisemestr is for me to reflect on what I learned each Saturday and then write about it. This will improve my understanding and force me to think about the subject. I was inspired by Thomas Frank and his video about the Feynman Technique. He is pretty awesome. Check out his other videos, especially the one about activation energy or 20-second rule.


One last thing, if you notice any mistakes, please get in touch with me (comment here, email, linkedin, etc) so I can fix ‘em. Don’t let me spread nonsense! Thanks!

And now, the POWER of KNOWLEDGE!

<insert awesome meme here>

What did I learn at the 1st Saturday of Digisemestr?

First, Jindrich Faborsky, event organizer, made an introduction talk about Digisemestr organization with one piece of crucial information – The Wi-Fi Password! I’m not going to reveal this secret though…

Less importantly, that there would be a test at the end (in May/June) with 40 questions. And that in the second half of April specializations will open. These are more in-depth online courses, materials and seminar work with a mentor focused on specific topic. There are 7 specializations to choose from:

  • E-commerce Marketing
  • SaaS / Start-ups / Growth
  • Analytics and making right decisions based on data
  • Creativity and Branding
  • Expanding to international markets
  • Marketing for non-profits
  • Marketing for local business

I’m still deciding which one I’ll choose.

Ondrej Slama – Introduction to Digital Marketing

The first speaker, Ondrej Slama, gave us an introduction to marketing. I already new about marketing mix 4P, so just to review: Price, Product, Place and Promotion. One of the important messages in his talk was the idea, that being highly specialized and knowing very well one specific aspect of marketing (eg. PPC or PR) is not enough. These are only small parts of a much larger picture. And the marketing strategy is at the top of it all.

We compared digital/online marketing with traditional marketing. Digital marketing is interactive, people can click on elements (eg. video thumbnail within a Youtube video), have a dialogue (in-app chat or on FB), social proofing is when a product is verified by users (imagine reviews on Amazon)… One interesting takeaway was that when selling through price comparison sites (Czech Heureka) people might forget about your particular e-shop. They remember buying through the comparison site, but not you or your e-shop. It takes a strong brand to stand out. Easier measuring and targeting is another advantage of digital vs traditional m. Basically, digital rocks, it’s faster and cheaper.

What’s the marketing strategy?

There are communication models, such as AIDA consumer funnel (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action), McKinsey consumer decision journey (feedback loop and easier conversion with 2nd purchase) and See Think Do Care framework. These models show at which stage customers are.

Marketing goals are usually in sync with business goals. For example, every dollar invested in marketing should earn us X dollars in sales. It’s important not to track vanity metrics ie. useless metrics. CFOs hate those xD.

We mentioned the Golden circle (What, How, Why), the mindset of different companies (HBO GO vs Netflix (releasing episodes each week vs whole season at once), we watched Dollar Shave Club commercial and talked about the brand.

Did you know you can check what Google thinks about You? Head over to Ad Settings to check it out!

Always check your assumptions (eg. about target audience)! We were asked a couple of questions about random statistics. I was wrong 100% of the time.

Personal Information

We talked about DMP and PII. I already forgot what these abbreviations mean…

So to sound clever I needed to google it. DMP stands for Data Management Platform. Knew it! This is where you collect all the information about your audience. PII, funny as it is when pronounced, it stands for Personally Identifiable Information. You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking otherwise. Anyway, this is the GDPR stuff folks!

There is a difference between marketing analytics and web analytics. Marketing analytics report every time someone has been shown the ad. They say “It is because of me you got this customer!”. Web analytics can only report when users visit your website. You might get larger numbers with marketing analytics. It’s really hard to track why and how did the user actually learned about you.

SimilarWeb and other similar websites (see what I just did?!) for comparing websites are a great competitive intelligence tool. The first step to calibrate the numbers. Punch in your website, look at your own tools and the numbers they report, adjust and only then start comparing with competition.

There is a problem with online ads. And that’s visibility. People are lazy. They don’t scroll. Your ad might never be shown even though it was on the website they visited. It was just too far below the fold.

Always check your assumptions! They A/B tested chewing gum commercial. It was the same video, however in one version, the guy put the gum in his mouth and then started chewing. In the other version, he was already chewing. Can you guess which had better ad recall?

I guessed wrong.

The better version was the one with him already chewing. Weird. Perhaps the mystery? Why is he chewing? And for how long? I really don’t know.

Brand Lift

Google Brand Lift. It’s an amazing tool for measuring the impact of your ads. It shows an ad to a bunch of people. The other bunch is a control group. Then it asks these people about brand recognition. Now you know how effective is your marketing campaign.

Don’t be a clickhead. The campaign against vanity metrics.

What counts as a view of a video on Youtube? It’s not only watching the video for more than 30 seconds. Total watch time when skipping also has to be at least 30s. Clicks on interactive elements within the video frame also count!

Due to the nature of Facebook feed (scrolling…), there is also a 2s view metrics. Crazy!

Types of conversions:

  • Makro – key action performed that earned us profit
  • Micro – an action was performed

Finding out which source brought us conversion? Hard to find out. This is called conversion attribution.

The point with metrics is to use common sense. Measure relevant stuff, folks! Have fun, be creative don’t just tweak numbers! Mad Men to Math Men.

We looked at the history of advertising, its market and price. Google wanted to monetize not only the search (which is roughly 10% of browsing) but also the websites. So it came up with AdSense.

Real Time Bidding (RTB) and Pay-per-click (PPC) enable programmatic advertising. Basically, you can set rules to who, where and how ads are supposed to be shown.

PPC ecosystem is more closed but optimized. RTB is more open but chaotic.

There are a bunch of different pricing models for ads (crazy abbreviations incoming…):

  • CPM – Cost Per Mille
  • CPV – Cost Per View
  • CPC – Cost Per Click
  • eCPC – enhanced CPC
  • CPE – Cost Per Engagement
  • CPA – Cost Per Action / CPL – Cost Per Lead
  • ROAS – Return on Ad Spending
  • CPD – Cost Per Day

We talked about how ranking works. It was pretty straightforward in the past and there were ways to cheat. Nowadays, it’s pretty complex. The maximum price for click, quality and other factors are involved.

When planning which digital channels to use, it’s worth thinking about POE. Yes, that’s another abbreviation. We aren’t talking Edgar here. There are Paid, Owned and Earned channels.

Owned are our own (like a website), earned when someone else shares your content and we need to pay for paid ones. These are the direct purchase, RTB or PPCs. Different channels are available through different purchasing model and there are overlaps. For example, ads on video servers can be purchased with all 3 models whereas search engines with just PPC.

So which channels do you use? It depends where is your target audience. For example, in the Czech Republic, there are only about 0.6 million people on Twitter, but 4.9 on Facebook.

Emailing channel is great because it’s directly addressing the user, it’s inexpensive and overall it’s a good channel for communication with customers (eg. state of their order from e-shop).

SEO. Search Engine Optimization. Brings organic traffic from search engines. It works with website content.

Influencers and product placement (PP). They should inform when doing PP, but nobody regulates this.

Targeting can be towards content or towards people.

Brand safety. This is to ensure that the advertisement is shown to the right people in the right context. We don’t want to advertise mineral water next to article about somebody dying from drinking too much water, right? Right?! Recently, companies started pulling ads from Youtube, because of an ad on terrorist video. Basically, a company was supporting terrorists by paying for the ad. Brand safety relates to programmatic advertising – settings aren’t 100% reliable. There are tools to check brand safety, but they are also imperfect.

An interesting campaign to promote a brand of mineral water – create a girl pop band and upload music videos to Youtube. The ratio between thumbs up and down was 2:1, which is comparable to other pop music videos. Only 30% of views were thanks to paid ads. Videos keep on getting views even after the campaign is over.

Retargeting. Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA). It’s not just about keywords, but what kind of people do we want. Reduce the frequency in order not to frustrate and bug people with the same ads over and over again. There is a difference between showing your ads once to 3 people and showing it 3 times to the same person. Ad recall is optimal at 6-7 times a week. Don’t go overboard.

“Studies show that, on average, media placements only account for about 30% of a brand campaign’s success while the creative drives 70%, according to Dynamic Logic.”

Source: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/marketing-resources/programmatic/inside-google-marketing-programmatic-buying/

There are plenty of ad formats. Check out Rich Media Gallery. Every format is suitable for a different stage of the funnel. Programmatic video can leverage that. In-stream is Youtube style of the video above the fold. Out-stream is Facebook or Twitter when the video is in the feed and below or above the fold. Pay attention to video formats. 16:9 will be really small on vertically held phones (take up the only small portion of the screen). ABCD attract brand connect direct – recommendation from Google.

We looked at Czech marketing industry, salaries, recommended books and news sites.

Frantisek Prochazka – Websites Fast

The second speaker was Frantisek Prochazka from Isobar. He talked about building websites. Interesting point was that often customers forget that they need to work on their website too. They need to deliver all the requirements and other material so others can build a website for them. Without these, it’s hard to make anything good. Frantisek showed us some of his work. For example, a beautiful and simple website about vases made out of glass. They made a really nice 3D effect.

Responsive design and mobile first. It’s not just the size of the screen, but also how do you interact (clicks vs touch) and internet connection speed.

Frantisek showed us an animated menu, which gradually covers up the are below so it’s clear to the user where are they. A similar example was a movement to catch the eye and then after clicking gradually covering up the page with a new one.

Testing is very important. The conversion rate can be improved when issues are discovered and fixed. Check your analytics. Old browser or some devices might have problems. Testing on real hardware is better. There are services like BrowserStack and Litmus.

The speed of a website has an impact on the conversion rate. Optimize.

Use available resources from different websites. For example, a travel agency website can pull weather data and exchange rates from elsewhere. These are relevant so the customer is delighted.

I was really impressed by the betting website and campaign Frantisek showed us. They were drawing numbers every day. Creating dynamic videos with different scenes and result data and posting these on social media. It shows the potential of digital marketing.

Vaclav Krejci – Creative Campaigns

Last speaker, Vaclav Krejci from Isobar showed us a couple of marketing campaigns. Lenovo and their unbreakable display campaign and cooperation with artists – RUPTURALISM.

We talked about the creative process and the idea of making experiences instead of ads. It’s important to make the target audience feel relevant and to find their passion points. It’s something they like, it’s something they feel like home.

ŠKODA, Czech car brand, and their campaign Backend stories targeting potential job candidates – IT guys. They made an online novel in cooperation with a great Czech writer and with skilled concept artist. It was all gamified – readers had to solve puzzles to unlock content. They even made a chatbot on Facebook. With these campaigns, it’s important to be both authentic and pay attention to details. Yeah, and they even had Spotify playlist for the novel. It even got its physical release as a printed book with ISBN and everything. Nuts!

And that’s all folks. It took me more than 3 hours just to write this down. Need to be more concise next time .)


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