Sep. 18, 2014 | by Danny Chadburn Scottish Referendum: Can we use social media to predict the outcome?

With the future of Scotland balancing like a pre-tossed caber, I’ve done a little digging into the social profiles of each campaign to see what they’ve been up to.

A couple of quick disclaimers. Firstly, despite my penchant for Tunnock’s Teacakes and being related loosely to snooker legend Stephen Hendry, I’m not Scottish – these views are purely analytical and in no way demonstrate the political leanings of myself or iCrossing.

Secondly, without access to the social accounts of each side of the debate, we’re reliant on publicly available data. It’s good, but it’s not perfect.

With that said, on with the stats:

Yes Scotland has the new fan momentum (source: Facebook Insights)
While they’ve clearly won the fan volume chase (312,954 Page Likes against 212,450 for Better Together), this election could be won or lost by gathering up the undecided voters in the final straight. In the past week, Yes has increased it’s following by 12.6%, just edging out No who gained 11.7% new fans.

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Sep. 15, 2014 | by Kirsten Shaw Making sense of Google Analytics audience data

When working in digital analytics, it’s easy to talk about CTRs, CRO, CPAs and CPC, but one of the most important features of any marketing strategy is your audience. Understanding who is coming to your website, and whether that matches your target audience is vital in understanding how best to optimise your off and onsite marketing efforts.

Earlier this year, Google added Demographics and Interest reports to the Audience section of Google Analytics (GA). Now not only can you see how many people are visiting your site, but how old they are, whether they’re male or female, what their interests are, and what they’re in the market for.


Demographics data on GA is divided into age and gender. You are able to see what proportion of your visitors are male or female, and which age range they fit into. Google will only use top level data to reduce the risk of individuals being identified.

The age data is very colourful (if not a bit vulgar), but very useful. It breaks down the visitors into ages, which you can then see over a time range. This is good to use for things like discovering if a particular campaign has appealed to the certain age of audience.
For example, your latest campaign may be targeting females aged 25-34. For the first time you can now use Google Analytics see if this is driving the right people to your site.

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Sep. 12, 2014 | by Sam Fenton-Elstone The four hot topics from Display Day 2014

This summer we ran our second Display Day at Google’s Central St Giles HQ, highlighting the latest trends and developments in the world of paid media.  We welcomed many of our clients to the event, where they enjoyed presentations from Hearst,, Google and members of the paid media team at iCrossing.

But what was it that got everyone excited?  Well, there were a number of hot topics that really caused a stir, all of which are highlighted in our video:

Don’t have time to watch the video?  OK, here’s a sneaky summary….but you miss out on hearing what brands like Visit Wales, Barclays, and Eventa say about paid media in 2014:
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Sep. 03, 2014 | by Nick Rhodes The truth behind campaign traffic in Google Analytics

A quick search for “Google Analytics campaign tracking” reveals just how well documented the feature is. The web is awash with posts detailing how to use URL parameters to ensure that all marketing activity falls into neatly defined channels, and with good reason: any untagged traffic is bundled into the “direct” bucket and the true value of your hard-earned campaign traffic is obscured. In fact, the importance of campaign tracking even prompted Google to create a tool to aid marketers in creating properly tagged URLs.

GoogleAnalyticsFor the purpose of this article, let us assume that we have a website that is accurately tracked by Google Analytics and all traffic sources are correctly tagged with URL query parameters. In this case we would expect that any user reaching the site from a campaign would register a session from that campaign, whereas users navigating directly to the site (via bookmarks, saved sessions or direct entry) would be recorded as direct traffic.

What is direct traffic?

Google provide the following definition for direct traffic:

Visits from people who typed your URL directly into their browser, or who had bookmarked your site.

The truth, however, is not so clear and lies somewhere within the grey area of marketing attribution.
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Aug. 15, 2014 | by Lauretta Wood The viewable impression

Viewability is widely becoming a hot topic within display advertising. ComScore released figures from their 2013 real-world digital campaign, stating that, ‘on average 54% of display ads are not seen’, suggesting that display advertising is not having the desired effect on users that it should, consequently wasting media spend on impressions that have actually not even been seen. However viewability provides marketers with a mean of buying ads in a much more efficient and reliable way, optimising ad spend and maximising campaign performance.

The IAB defines a viewable impression as, ‘50 per cent of pixels in view for a minimum of 1 second’ for a standard display ad. As a result, viewability standards have been launched to provide guidance on greater accountability for brands, giving marketers the ability to start bidding and optimising against viewability metrics such as vCPM, to evaluate and compare the viewability of impressions across the web.

As previously mentioned, one of the biggest advantages this brings to the industry is the potential for better campaign measurement, whether being based on improved engagement, reach, frequency or sales uplift. The move to a world where marketers only pay for display ad impressions that are actually seen by users promises a dramatic and positive change within the industry for 2 main reasons:
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Aug. 07, 2014 | by Mike Fawcett Yet another list of really useful SEO plugins and bookmarklets

So, like an impatient teenager shivering in the queue outside a full club, iCrossing sees an opportunity and quietly slips past the bouncer to join the heaving mass of sweat-sodden socialites gyrating on the dance floor. “I’m finally in the club” it thinks to itself, a club restricted to those who’ve published a “top seo-plugins” article. That’s right, we’re finally doing it!

Anyway, tenuous metaphors aside, here’s a brief list of my most used SEO plug-ins and bookmarklets, along with a couple of productivity tools I find useful. As a Chrome user, it’s admittedly a little biased, but I’ve tried to make it as concise and useful as possible. Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed anything.

Web Developer

Firefox and ChromeWebDeveloper

A toolbar containing loads of web developer focussed features, a few of which are really helpful for seo, such as the ‘disable javascript’ functionality and the various other CSS, image, cookie and informational tools. You can use the ‘outline’ feature to easily display problem elements, such as images with empty alt tags, external links or whatever you want. This is the go-to extension for any curious SEO wanting to fiddle with a page.

User-Agent Switcher for Chrome


Spoofs and mimics user-agent strings so you can view a web page, for example, how a Google-bot views it. Note – you’ll have to manually add crawler user-agent strings yourself. Just go to the extension options and use the interface for adding new user-agents: it’s really easy e.g. just add Googlebot 2.1 into the “new user-agent name” field, then insert Googlebot/2.1 (+ into the “new user-agent string” field, select “replace” from the “Append?” field and give it a nice little abbreviated indicator such as “GB2″ so you’ll know which user-agent you’re currently spoofing.
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Jul. 31, 2014 | by Joe Webster Keeping paid social advertising social

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter provide a wealth of targeting options and ad formats for advertisers, with a captive and highly engaged audience. However, beyond the targeting what can be done to ensure maximum engagement? The simple answer; keep it social!

Too many brands fall into the trap of viewing these outlets as simply another platform for posting their ads, often re-purposing creative imagery from display and print advertising to serve as images in their audience’s newsfeeds. There’s nothing wrong with this, and if the aim of your campaign is purely brand exposure, then with the right budget, bids and targeting to secure an effective number of impressions, you’re sure to make an impact.

But what if you want more than that? It’s not always enough to expose yourself to an audience, what if your aim is for brand engagement, or even conversions?

Social media is a prime platform to involve and engage your audience; it’s not purely a message board, it’s not even a two way conversation, it’s an open discussion with unlimited participants. We all do this regularly on our personal accounts, so why isn’t this at the forefront of the thought process for paid social advertising?
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Jul. 17, 2014 | by Alex Shilton ‘Subscribe is the new shop.’ – Are subscription business models taking over?

There was once a time when subscriptions and magazines were an established and monogamous pair. But now, the subscription plague is quickly spreading between industries. The modern day consumer wants on-going, easy access to their everyday products and commodities. As such, the one-time purchase may not be as appealing anymore, but instead, a flexible service that can last a lifetime may be.

A subscription service could be anything from the perks of your Amazon Prime, to a monthly visit from your window cleaner. A subscription is a type of billing option, which charges an account on an annual, monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. With this model, companies instantly look to gain a subscribed consumer who offers the business a possible lifetime loyalty. This can therefore improve their revenue on a long-term basis. For consumers, they may find that a subscription saves them money on a product they buy regularly and could avoid that daunting trip to the shops. The most significant factor for the success of a subscription model is outstanding value – if the consumer does not believe they’ll receive this, then there will be no subscription in the first place.

Subscription businesses are nothing new. We have seen them bravely enter the Dragons Den, pitching for investment in a company that constructs a quarterly bill for ‘members’ who sign up for having their olive oil delivered to them. Yes…olive oil. Although that may not have worked out, you’ll be more familiar with companies such as Netflix and Graze. Who’d have thought healthy snacks being put through the letterbox could be the next big thing? Jamie Oliver missed out on that one. A common submodel of subscription is ‘Freemium’ – a term that sounds galactic! Spotify embraces this model, as they provide users free music content but restrict access to their premium features to paying subscribers. Last year, Spotify reached over 24 million users, including 6 million paying the subscription fee. Their philosophy is that once they get you hooked on their service, you’ll be crying out for more.
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Jul. 09, 2014 | by Sharna Waid Personal development at iCrossing – aiming to be a learning organisation

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the digital skills gap in marketing.  Econsultancy released a report in May 2014 (skills of the modern marketer) about how marketers need to be more technically adept and data focused, but most importantly it reveals how traditional soft skills like empathy, collaboration and lateral thinking are as important as ever – if not more so.

In light of this, Rachel Collier, Chief Talent Officer at iCrossing discusses why personal development is such a vital ingredient of a digital marketing agency and how iCrossing has encouraged people to continuously learn and develop across both technical and soft skills…

Why is personal development important?

Maya Angelou, author, poet and civil rights activist, and personally, a long-time role model and inspiration for me, answers this question; “When you know better, you do better.”

Personal development is what you consciously do to grow as a person.  Being motivated to develop your skills in a way that embraces change without fear of failure is what Carol Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset.’ Not everyone is wired that way, but everyone wants to be valued – by their peers, communities and contexts. The ability to adapt and develop your skills is a valuable one to maintain throughout your career. 
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Jul. 03, 2014 | by James Mortimer Twitter app promotion

Earlier this week Twitter introduced its latest new advertising products for mobile app promotion and we’re quite excited about them here in the paid social team at iCrossing.

The new product will allow advertisers to target users with a card that they can use to download their app from directly in their timeline. In the past advertisers have been able to include links in tweets that would take users straight to the app store of their choice but this new product should make the process more efficient and improve download rates.

To ensure that advertisers are meeting their cost per install goals Twitter has put analytics tools in place that will allow advertisers to optimise download costs to match their specific requirements and goals. Before this product was introduced this is something that advertisers weren’t able to do directly in Twitter so this should make the process a lot more efficient.

These new app promotion tools combined with Twitter’s existing targeting options open new opportunities for advertisers to reach very specific audiences with their apps. Moving forward we’re really looking forward to trialing this new product to improve our client’s campaigns.