Dynamic Remarketing Arrives On Instagram


New Ways for More Businesses to Drive Sales from Facebook and Instagram:

…today we’re announcing a variety of product updates to Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network to give advertisers new ways to drive sales of their products in more places across mobile and desktop. We’re expanding functionality for Dynamic Ads (formerly called Dynamic Product Ads) and adding new advanced capability to Custom Audiences from your website. These updates help advertisers identify and connect with their most valuable website visitors and mobile app users. They also reflect our commitment to make Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network the most effective platforms for driving sales on mobile.

No bones about it – Instagram is a great platform for folks to discover new products. The ability to serve dynamic remarketing ads on Instagram is a fantastic addition to this platform. It will also raise the bar for retailers’ product photography for ads to be effective.

Facebook also released new, advanced targeting options for ‘Custom Audiences’, including: website behavior frequency, website time spent, dynamic date ranges for specific behaviors, and device targeting.

Twitter Rolls Out Ad Groups


What You Need to Know About Twitter Ad Groups:

In the effort to make advertisers’ lives easier, Twitter recently announced the release of Ad Groups. The latest feature now puts the ad network at parity with Facebook Ad Sets and Google AdWords Ad Groups. Advertisers can now build an additional layer of segmentation for more flexibility in testing and more measurement visibility to track trends.

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As AdWords becomes increasingly crowded for some industry verticals, advertisers have loved having Facebook as a viable alternative. Additionally, seeing Twitter make large steps in their own maturation is equally welcomed.  In the image above, we see how the new organizational structure will be broken down. Advertisers should begin plotting their migration to the new format.

 

Why SEO Is Not Helping The Little Guys


In this post, we’ll examine recent changes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and what these changes mean for digital marketing strategy.

TL;DR: Current SEO prioritizes the most prominent brands, making it difficult for smaller brands to achieve high enough organic rankings to drive significant traffic to their sites. Paid search engine advertising is one of the most effective ways that smaller brands can continue to compete.

In 2016 Search Engine Optimization changed dramatically. During SEO’s early years, anyone could boost their site using white, gray, or even black hat tactics. Google’s recent changes replaces these onsite tactics with an army of algorithms equipped with machine learning. These algorithms determine a website’s organic ranking in search engine results pages. They place a higher priority on a website’s standing within the context of the greater internet versus the internal context of the site itself.

When someone searches for a term, Google’s goal is to produce the search result(s) that the user wants. Accordingly, users will continue to use Google for its superior results compared to other search engines. Search Engine Optimization was born to ensure that websites met the criteria that Google used to determine organic search results. SEO enabled a website owner to appropriately present their site to Google’s algorithms, so that these formulae would consider the site the optimal result for relevant searches. SEO was traditionally in the hands of the site owner, and optimizations that they made to their site could dramatically improve its position on search results pages.

As the internet and its users became more sophisticated, Google continued to refine its criteria for determining search results. Each iteration of Google’s algorithms forced SEO to adapt as practice. Changes to search algorithms in 2016 have eliminated many of the old SEO strategies that used to effectively vault websites to the top of relevant searches. The new criteria fall into two buckets: on-site and off-site quality. Although information architecture and other technical factors still play a role (we’ll post about these factors soon), on-site quality is largely determined by the site’s quality of content, i.e. copy and media. Nevertheless, off-site factors have eclipsed traditional on-site SEO. Google has shifted how it determines a site’s fitness for relevant searches from the site itself to its position within the greater internet. A website that is heavily trafficked with extensive backlinks from reputable sites indicates to Google’s algorithms that the site is one that users would likely want to appear in their relevant search results.

power-tools-searchFor example, if I search “power tools” on Google, the top search results can be seen to the right. Notice that only the most prominent brands and online stores occupy the top search results. Smaller brands or suppliers that might be relevant to me personally do not appear on the first page.

This strategy makes sense for most consumers: it’s likely that they would purchase power tools from a large online hardware store or Amazon versus a boutique site. This trend extends into all other searches. If you sell a product that Amazon does too, you’ll be competing with Amazon for the priority in relevant search results. Given Amazon’s prominence as a brand and website, even if your site is beautifully geared for SEO, it’s doubtful that you will beat out Amazon for the top organic results.

What does this mean for my digital marketing strategies? If you can’t build the next Amazon and dominate the top search results, you can buy your way there. At the top of all search results, Google lists ads from companies who bid on that search’s keywords. These ads are sneaky little buggers. Only a little yellow box lets users know that they are seeing an ad and not an organic search result. You might protest that everyone know that those are ads masquerading as search results. Regardless, those ads are effective. People tend to click one of the top three links in a search results, even when those links are ads.

Since Google Search awards top organic placements to the most prominent sites and brands, advertising is one of the only ways for smaller sites to insert themselves within the top search results. Accordingly, search advertising ought be a central strategy of any company’s digital marketing.

That’s where agencies like Delegator can help. If you’re interested in learning about beginning or improving your digital advertising, let’s talk. We will conduct a free account review and help you determine the best path forward.

Thanks for reading.

A Marketer’s Greatest Tool


Despite All This Data, Empathy Is Still the Greatest Tool in a Marketer’s Toolbox:

Imagine having to watch an hour’s worth of commercials before a two-hour movie. Or being tapped on the shoulder before each page of a novel with an “exclusive offer.” It sounds ludicrous, but this is essentially the way we experience ad-supported content today. It’s no wonder ad blockers are proliferating.

This is because something strange happens to ad execs when we walk through the doors of our corporate offices:  We somehow forget that, just before stepping over that threshold, we were a part of the population we’re trying to reach with ads. With this perspective mysteriously erased from our minds, we begin describing people as “users” that “consume” content in a “cross-screen” environment. When was the last time you thought to yourself, “I’m done watching short-form, snackable content on my mobile screen and now I’m going to watch long-form, premium content on my OTT device?”

This collective amnesia can be cured by simply reminding ourselves that we, too, are the viewers. People don’t think in silos. They just want to watch their stuff where and when they want — and so do we. This is indicative of what I see as the major problem in our industry: We need to balance our top-down approach with consumer-centric, bottom-up thinking.

As we have talked about previously, lazy digital marketing is giving our industry a bad name. Akin to the 1990’s radio commercials (remember them being 2x louder than the music they interrupted), our industry is not leveraging the technology to its fullest and proper potential. That is a challenge the Delegator team gladly accepts. As much as we want to deliver value to our clients, we also want to be a good citizen of the digital economy – not jeopardizing reputations (our clients or our own) for the sake of a few extra clicks. It’s not a strategy that works well now and it will predictably worsen in the future, as it turns away more visitors than it is bringing in.

The State of Video On Facebook


Video Ads: Testing What Works for Mobile Feed:

Each day on average 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook.1 And it’s estimated that mobile video will account for 75% of total mobile data traffic by 2020.2 As people watch more video on mobile devices, advertisers have a huge opportunity to use video to connect with their audience where they are spending their time: on mobile and in feed. But while advertisers consider investing more of their video advertising dollars into mobile, many are curious about the right way to build video creative for the small screen.

With more demand than ever for people’s attention across screens, the opportunity for short-form creative is growing, and not just on mobile. Between 2010 and 2015, 15-second television ads grew 3.4% year over year, while 60- and 120-second spots declined.3 So advertisers want to understand the right way to build short-form stories that resonate.

The best way to ensure video creative works in the mobile-feed environment is to build with mobile in mind from the start. When you don’t have the opportunity to start from scratch on mobile video assets, cutting, editing and reworking long-form video ads can be a fast and effective way to create video ads for the mobile-feed.

As the web continues to skew towards mobile, so does online video. Advertisers have less and less attention to convey their messaging. Subsequently, your messaging must be clearer and simpler. Any type of clutter is so counterproductive. If you have video content in the works, consider a primary goal of writing for mobile. Short, clear 15 second clips will provide much more flexibility in getting your message out.

US Digital Ad Revenues For 2015 Top $59.6 Billion


US digital ad revenues top $59.6 billion in 2015, up 20 percent to hit another high:

Another year, another record and double-digit growth for digital advertising in the US. Digital ad spend topped $59.6 billion in 2015, a gain of 20.4 percent over 2014’s $49.5 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s annual report conducted by PwC.

The chart below illustrates the 10-year growth in US digital advertising revenues from 2005 to 2015 in which the industry has seen a 17 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR). 2010 was the year mobile began to play role in US digital ad spend totals. Since then, mobile has seen 100 percent CAGR compared to just 9 percent growth from non-mobile revenue over the past five years.

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In the fourth quarter of 2015, digital ad revenues shot up past $17 billion for the first time, up from $14.5 billion in the fourth quarter of 2014. Revenues for the second half of 2015 were $32.1 billion, representing 54 percent of the annual total for the year, which is in line with the revenue split seen in past years.

Despite Google’s consistent pushing towards mobile advertising, I was surprised to see the relative role of mobile in these numbers. It is growing significantly, but is only approaching relevance for many advertisers and still seems very ‘early funnel’.

Changes Coming To Facebook News Feed


Facebook Adds “Time on Page”, Diversity To News Feed Algo:

Facebook has added some new signals to the news feed algo… and while they say it will have little affect on Facebook Pages and marketers, it actually will – especially those who write pretty short articles and those who are very prolific with content that is shared a lot.

“Time on Page”

Facebook is now bringing the time a Facebook user spends on an article or page into their news feed algo. So if someone doesn’t spend much time on the page, it will show up less frequently to others.

While this might not seem like a big deal, if you are a content publisher that frequently shares articles that might only be a few paragraphs in length, Facebook could take the short amount of time it takes to read that content as a signal that people are leaving the page quickly. They do say that they will use a threshold so longer articles are not treated preferentially, but nothing about shorter articles being treated similarly.

Facebook is not taking load time into account… yet. This is smart since some web developer would surely think about using load time to game this part of the news feed algo.

Diversity of Page Posts

We have all seen it happen in our Facebook feeds where one site ends up getting a lot of shares for a variety of articles in a day, and all those articles tend to show up in a row in our news stream. Well the new Facebook news feed algo changes will reduce the likelihood of this happening.

This means, if you tend to post a lot of your site’s articles on your Facebook page each day, that the likelihood all of those will be seen now will be greatly reduced. If your site only posts a handful of articles per day, this likely doesn’t happen very frequently, but if you are more prolific and post many articles per day, and around the same topic area, you could see the number of posts getting free news feed exposure reduced.

Facebook’s news feed algorithm has struggled from some time – providing poor user experience and implicitly handcuffing advertisers. Any improvement is welcome and thankfully this update seems to be more about usability than monetization.

Just How Frustrating Is Web Advertising?


Majority of users frustrated by disruptive ads, aware of ad blocking [Survey]:

A new global consumer survey from Accenture shows growing consumer frustration with ads and a desire of some to opt out of ads entirely.

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When thinking about stats like this, two immediate responses come to mind:

  • Online ads are still done relatively poorly. They are largely irrelevant and largely based on interruption – like radio commercials in the early nineties (remember when the commercials were 2x louder than the content you were listening to?). The technology is there to do them well. But many low-level marketers are sloppy in their implementation.
  • Outside of SEM, ad placements on mobile devices comes at a significant disadvantage from a usability standpoint. It seems that advertising has far outpaced either the technology or screen size of those devices, making for a slow and cumbersome surfing experience.

Do SEM Ads Result In Organic Drop?


New Google Test: AdWords Ads Can Result In 15 Point Drop In Organic Click Through Rates:

There haven’t been any big studies on the impact of PPC, AdWords ads, on organic click through rates since Google dropped ads from the right rail in February. But a new small test has one advertiser saying their click through rates on their number one listings drop 15 points when their ads show, that is a CTR of 35% dropping to 20% when their ads show. […]

He wrote:

We’ve done some tests where we have toned down on PPC, but for the most part this test has been brought around because we’re spending 3x as much on PPC for certain commercial keywords. This has impacted the traffic we get through organic significantly. The most extreme case is where we spend a lot more money on PPC and our SEO CTR for keyword goes from 35% CTR to 20% CTR. It’s almost like dropping from position 1 for a term to position 2.

Although this study is very interesting, it does raise a few concerns. First, we are talking about brands that rank #1 for the studied search terms. That is certainly the minority of advertisers. Second, what does it mean for organic listings when competitors advertise above them? There would definitely be some lost traffic in that situation. So the question should revolve around the total net impact of the two scenarios, instead of one ad vs one organic listing.

Visual Appeal vs Usability


First Impressions Matter: The Importance of Great Visual Design:

A study examined the effects of visual appeal and usability on user performance and satisfaction with a website.

Users completed different tasks on websites which varied in visual appeal (high and low) and usability (high and low). Results show that first impressions are most influenced by the visual appeal of the site. Users gave high usability and interest ratings to sites with high appeal and low usability and interest ratings to sites with low appeal. User perceptions of a low appeal website were not significantly influenced by the site’s usability even after a successful experience with the site.

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Key takeaway: Invest in design – it’s what matters the most for pulling users in. Funny enough, great visual design will lead to higher usability ratings even. And actual usability will matter much less if the overall visual appeal is low.

There are a lot of folks in our industry that fly the usability flag high. The arguments they make are sound, but this study pours cold water on some of them. Perhaps a good first impression, via good design, sets the table for better performance – even if usability is lacking. At the end of the day, the real question remains:

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