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AdWords Expanded Text Ads: Post-Deadline Update

7 Mar

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CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy

With the deadline now passed for migration to expanded text ads in Google AdWords, we can look back at the big push to get to the new format and what it’s impact has been. (Want background? Check out my previous post on what they are and the transition) The ad format update was a big change for advertisers who managed large campaigns, and even more daunting for marketing agencies (like us) who manage thousands of ad groups across all our clients. This was just one of the big updates Google made as it officially went “mobile-first” in how it approaches the web. Expanded text ads didn’t change the world, but they did have an impact on advertisers through pushing us to adopt a new standard and to get hands on within our campaigns at a granular level.

 The new standard isn’t really that surprising. While it was big news at the time, the deadline for converting ads passed with little fanfare. We are continuing to see performance trends more closely linked to the early 2016 update Google made removing ads from the right rail putting all of the focus on a single column of ad and organic search results content. In cases where we have ads in the first through third ad slots on the page when they appear at the top of the page, we’re seeing increased click through rates and lead generation performance; however, when ads fall to the fourth slot (and sometimes even the second) that appears at the bottom of the page after the organic search results, engagement drops off dramatically.

 A benefit for marketers who are mostly focus on both PPC and SEO is that we saw organic traffic increase. The increases ranged from 30-80% on average, and some of that can be attributed to there being less noise above the fold on the search results page. In the long run, organic traffic is often cheaper (but don’t always assume so).

 Our conclusion is that expanded text ads are a good thing. They offer the opportunity to take up more real estate [and when ads are in the top few slots at the top of the page, can really attract attention]. Couple that with the ad extensions available and it sometimes isn’t fair to the long-entrenched top organic search results below the ads; however, advertisers pay a premium to be on those top slots and that is something that won’t change any time soon. We must work harder and smarter to try to find the right mix of terms that fit our ROI equation for being in those top slots. The big takeaway is that more is better when it comes to exposure on the search results page and the expanded text ads update allows us to have it if we’re willing to invest.

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Fifteen Million Dollars or Fifteen Cents – What is the Cost of Web Traffic?

31 Jan

 

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CoreyMorris

 

Guest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy

 

I recently saw in Ad Age that estimated the cost for a 90-second TV ad slot in the Super Bowl to be fifteen million dollars. While a Super Bowl ad goes out to a massive audience on what many consider an unofficial national holiday, it can be hard to measure the full actual impact the spot has on a business. While sitting here with my mind blown about how much work I would put into finding ways to make web traffic from the spot measurable and able to be attributed properly, I started thinking about the differing cost of traffic through specific website traffic channel sources. That led me down an interesting and variable path. In my recent [2016 benchmarking review of the building materials industry] I found some connections that make sense and others that provide for strong predictions of what we’ll see in web traffic at the end of 2017.

The most predictable was that direct traffic (third highest source) and organic traffic (highest source) are both in the top three as traffic drivers. These are two “free” sources of traffic to a website; however, they aren’t really free. There are costs associated with building a brand, sales efforts, and other drivers that cause a website visitor to directly type in a domain name and go to a website. Additionally, while the organic traffic from search engines is free, there are often costs associated with search engine optimization, content development, and website maintenance in external expense or overhead.

The second highest traffic source is paid search traffic. This traffic source is strictly for paid ad traffic to the website from search engines. By default, it is often written off as a more expensive source of traffic by many companies and is not considered. Yet, the evidence continues to suggest that this is an important source of traffic, right after organic search engine traffic. It fills gaps and ensures that as many visitors as possible are captured from search engines. With the removal of the right column of ads in early 2016, it is as important as ever because the ad slots at the top of the search results pages look more like organic results. The beauty about this source is that it has much more visible and self-contained costs than other channels. We know what we are paying in media, what our external or overhead costs are for managing it, and the more small-scale content investment needed for PPC compared to content marketing.

Social media traffic is a small segment, yet it is the most rapidly growing and surpassed email marketing in 2016. Both social media and email marketing fall under the content marketing umbrella in terms of external costs on overhead for internal management plus the need to generate content.

So, where does this all lead us? After running through a lot of different scenarios, looking at different industries, and diving deep into analytics of specific companies, I realized there’s not really a set, objective benchmark target to report or target. The key is to first find out what the true costs of your traffic are by channel. Once you have those numbers and expose all potential hidden costs, then you can calculate the true cost per acquisition for each channel. That will show you how much return you’re getting on your investment in each area so you can make wise decisions when that next budget season comes around or when that new campaign idea comes up.

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Damn you B2C Advertisers

13 Oct

You Make Our Life a Living Hell

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No offense, I love being tricked into thinking a Twinkie will make my day better, or that breakfast at Taco Bell really is a good decision, but you still get to live in a carefree life of old school advertising.  Simply tell enough people and somebody will respond. It’s media math. Get that cost per thousand down and hope that some of us zombies will follow. Easy (assuming the company has enough media budget) and no one is getting fired because someone ordered a pizza and didn’t like the cheese-stuffed-crust. The customer will move on or try another option. Easy.

In the B2B world, our decisions have to be a bit more calculated.

For example, we have a client who is a large multi-national manufacturer.  They sell into several industries. Our task: launch a product that cost around $10 million dollars and is an optional product to the buyer. Bonus points – there’s only about 100 people who could actually buy the product (heavily regulated industry) and we already know who they are. Now that’s a challenge. And one where your margin for error is pretty small.

I don’t mean to diminish those Twinkies ads – given my waistline, they must work, along with running to the border. But as a longtime B2B marketer (and converted CPG advertiser), I think it’s time we stand up and be proud of the incredibly challenging and rewarding work of B2B.

In B2B, we work to educate and inform businesses about solutions to problems that our clients’ products or services could solve for them. Real solutions to real business problems.

I challenge us as an industry to remember those business buyers with real problems are also real people. The same people buying Twinkies, tacos and pizzas.

They order a $50 item off Amazon and in most cases they can have it tomorrow. And they can track the process at every step on their phone. They bring that experience to work with them, so let’s talk to them as real people who don’t want to hear why you can’t deliver on time or with a quality customer experience for that $50,000 purchase.

I call this the consumerization of B2B and its rapidly changing the expectations of clients and customers alike. Are you ready for this? Just remember that B2B can’t be boring to boring and it has to be people to people. And remember, it’s all the B2C advertisers’ fault.

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The Agency Meet Market

22 Sep

Get to Know Your Creatives

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hillman Guest Contributor: 
Matt Hillman, Creative Director

When you think about your agency relationship, it’s likely your account exec is who comes to mind—and rightfully so. Day in and day out that’s who services your business; it’s who you call when you have a need, an issue or a compliment. They solve your problems. For many companies, the account service person is the agency.

But behind your normal point of contact lies an arsenal of agency talent you may rarely meet. Sure, they’re a name you hear, an addressee on an email, a hand you shake during an agency tour, but their contributions may be hidden behind phrases like “the team” or “work their magic” or “back at the shop,” and as a result, you don’t actually know what they do for you.

So here’s a primer on the core roles of the creative department and what they bring to the table for you and your business:

Message – Knowing what to say, how to say it, and to whom is the function of the copywriter. These are people who use words much like a chef uses ingredients—continually sniffing out the right one, routinely trying new combinations, and never resting until the flavor is just right. Most have trained in English, journalism or communications and language is their hobby. With a sometimes fanatical appreciation for nuance, changing a word is no small matter. Trust them to understand your audience and what motivates them to notice, to care, and to buy.

Design – Regardless of the title—graphic designer or art director—those who compose visuals are all artists at heart. They are deliberate with the interplay of space, form, and color, using the elements to create visual messages. Behind the sometimes eccentric veneer is someone who has studied serious concepts like alignment, proximity, repetition, and white space. While they may style themselves strangely, their designs always value order and are thoughtful and measured. Trust them to understand the latest trends and how the eye moves through a layout.

Direction – Beyond simply making sure that message and design are working in tandem, the creative director is ultimately responsible for the vision that the writer and designer deliver to. Relying on inputs from the client (via account service) and the creative brief, the creative director is like a conductor of an orchestra; they ensure that all the musicians work in harmony. They interpret, shift, and adjust individual elements to delight (and sometimes surprise!) the audience. Trust them to contextualize every project from a higher “campaign” perspective to build the brand.

When working as they should, these three creative roles produce magic. Every brand campaign, print ad, 30-second spot, billboard or promotion you remember…all of them came from this triad of talent working together to deliver for their clients.

Sure, creative types are “different.” But that’s exactly what you want. They don’t see the world like most people, don’t arrive at the same conclusions, and rarely enjoy being on the bandwagon—and it’s a good thing they don’t. Because getting noticed and getting sales requires standing out, and that’s what your creative team lives for.

 

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links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewhillman

https://www.aaaa.org/home-page/agency-stuff/human-resources/agency-job-descriptions/

http://creativeskillset.org/job_roles

http://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/the-7-characteristics-of-highly-creative-people.html

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Our Take From Cleveland: #CMWorld Day One

8 Sep

 

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Our #CMWorld day one is done. And, these two first-timers are energized by the networking, excited to leverage what we’ve learned, and, okay, maybe just a little tired.

Here’s what’s caught Corey and Kate’s attention in Cleveland.

First, content marketers as a whole are working more from assumptions than fact.

Consider:

  • 57 percent of B2B marketers say they use audience personas
  • However, a mere 20 percent of audiences being reached have the info and means to purchase

Eighty percent of those receiving marketing messages don’t have the interest or resources to make a buying decision. The takeaway is clear: Relying on assumptions is wasting time and our clients’ money. The importance of research can’t be overstated.

Next, a consistent theme heard across the show is marketers are great at providing clients with solutions … but maybe not-so-great at listening to clients’ problems.

Ian Altman summed it up in his session on how content can accelerate sales: If your product or service doesn’t solve the client’s problem, they don’t care about your features and benefits.

Ardath Albee stressed the importance of understanding client challenges. She said our solutions must meet audiences and their problems along every step of the buyer’s journey.

Seems like a good time to step back and ask: Are we truly addressing clients’ needs or are we just telling them what we think they want to hear?

Additionally, Jeff Julian and Andrea Fryrear delivered a strong message about not thinking about content as campaigns. They stressed failing and winning fast, and using learnings to guide strategy, instead of spending time and money on one-time campaigns.

Finally, Rick Wion shared lessons on transparency and trust from his time at Kellogg’s and McDonald’s. Wion referenced Al Golin’s Trust or Consequences book and reminded us that building trust is like insurance for future issues. Because we all know at some point, there will be an issue.

We’ll close this blog with a fun fact learned today: DYK there’s a McDonald’s employee responsible for tasting eight hamburgers an hour, for eight hours a day, five days a week? That’s a quality control job we’d like to have! And, no, his name is not “Big Mac.”

Bring it on, day two.

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