Google Ruffles Feathers with Suggested Search

Google Ruffles Feathers with Suggested Search

Search

One of Google’s many useful search features is the “users also searched for” suggestion that appears in your search results. When you make a query for, say, car insurance or car loans, Google suggests similar phrases or words that people are also using. It’s a great feature, right? But not everyone thinks so.

Here’s why Google is ruffling some feathers with suggested search: businesses have begun to notice that Google has been dropping suggested searches amid advertising results. And those suggested searches can lead people to an advertiser’s competitor sites – potentially hijacking the ad. For instance, as depicted in Search Engine Land, if you search for car loans, Google may serve up ads for car loan offers, but then also tell you that people are also searching for car loan rates, new car loans, and other similar phrases:

The problem is that if you click on the eight suggested searches depicted in the above options, you may very well be taken to a site that competes with the advertisers such as Lending Tree and CarMax where the suggested searches appear – which is hardly good news for Lending Tree or CarMax.

Why Suggested Search Is Good for Advertisers

As Search Engine Land reported, advertisers are annoyed. But maybe they shouldn’t be. Here’s why:

  • If your ads are compelling with good creative and strong calls to action, you have nothing to worry about.
  • With the suggested searches, Google is providing ideas for you to test copy and to bid on keywords that might have escaped your notice.

By meeting the needs of users first, Google might actually be helping advertisers.

What do you think?

Amazon’s Advertising Business Explodes

Amazon’s Advertising Business Explodes

Marketing

 

Is there anything Amazon cannot do?

In its second quarter earnings announcement, Amazon reported another stellar performance, with earnings that far exceeded analysts’ projections. Its growth was uniformly strong across its businesses, ranging from its cloud computing operation, Amazon Web Services, to its core retail store.

The most intriguing aspect of Amazon’s growth is the way its advertising arm is faring.  As Reuters reported, “Highly profitable ad sales were a bright spot last quarter. The company said revenue from the category and some other items grew 132 percent to $2.2 billion. Analysts were expecting $2.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.”

The company has now been profitable for three straight years. And although online advertising is not the biggest reason for that profitability, it’s becoming crucial to the company’s future, as Amazon continues to look for ways to counterbalance eroding margins from retail. What’s more, advertising growth means Amazon threatens Google and Facebook, with Facebook’s stock being battered in recent days as its advertising business faces a downturn. The Wall Street Journal sums up Amazon’s advertising growth as follows:

Amazon’s advantage is that it can tell advertisers when a consumer bought a product, showing an ad’s effectiveness. Amazon also is attracting spending that would have traditionally taken place in brick-and-mortar stores to ensure good shelf placement.

“Stepping back, it’s now a multibillion-dollar business for us,” Mr. Olsavsky said.

The hundreds of thousands of customers buying up ads include merchants and brands selling on the site, as well as authors and other advertisers who want to reach Amazon customers. The company is going to keep working on automating more of the process and inventing new products, too.

As we have noted on our blog, Amazon is growing its advertising services the way Google has always done: by offering tools that make it easier to rely on Amazon as an advertiser. For instance, Amazon’s Marketing Services and Advertising Platform products offer options ranging from Sponsored Products (a keyword-based campaign promoting a single product) to Amazon Managed Service (Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf). These products make it possible to capitalize on Amazon’s increasing popularity as a search platform.

Amazon is building a strong advertising ecosystem that is now extending beyond its core website. As Amazon develops more advertising products, the company will continue to threaten Facebook and Google. Our advice to clients: pay attention to Amazon’s growth and begin to experiment with Amazon advertising if you have not done so already. Get smart on the platform. For more insight, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Mobile, Voice, Amazon, and Personalization: Four Big Themes from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Mobile, Voice, Amazon, and Personalization: Four Big Themes from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Marketing

The Internet Trends 2018 report from Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins is a must read for any advertiser. This sprawling report – a presentation, really – provides pithy insights into the state of digital and offers clues for how advertisers should invest their time and money. Mary Meeker released the report on May 30 and delivered its findings at the annual Code Conference. We reviewed all 300 pages and came up with the following key observations from just some of the content:

  • We’re increasingly online and mobile. U.S. adults are online 5.9 hours per day, and 3.3 of those hours – or more than half of our time — were spent on mobile. Both these numbers represent steady increases year over year. In 2010, adults were online a total of 3.2 hours per day, which doesn’t even match how many hours we’re on our mobile devices today. With more of consumers’ time going online, it follows that more brands need to be, as well.

  • Voice has reached a tipping point. The Amazon Echo now has more than 30 million users, which is astonishing for a product that launched only a few years ago. In addition, thanks to artificial intelligence, voice assistants are accurate enough to achieve widespread adoption. Businesses need to be thinking of how they express their brands through voice. And with the advent of tools such as Alexa Blueprints that make creating voice-based experiences easier, businesses need to start understanding how voice-first interfaces change the way their customers interact with them in industries such as retail.

  • Large technology companies are converging around advertising and commerce. Amazon, traditionally a commerce platform, is expanding its advertising services as more and more people rely on Amazon as their primary search engine. Meanwhile, Google, which built a robust online advertising business, is expanding into commerce with services such as Google Home Ordering, which makes Google Home a vessel for doing business with Walmart. Amazon is an advertising destination even for businesses that don’t have any products on Amazon. Just capturing a share of eyeballs on Amazon is motivation enough to advertise on Amazon.

  • Despite concerns about user privacy, people are willing to give up personal data if they can get a personal experience. As Meeker pointed out at the Recode conference where she delivered the report, “With personalization, data improves engagement in experiences and drives growth and scrutiny. Personal collective data provides better experiences for consumers. They’re 2.2 billion Facebooks, 200 million Pinterests, 170 million Spotifies and 125 million Netflixes . . . People putting their data into these products to make their experiences better and then there’s the collective data of many other users that effect a lot of real time products, whether it’s Waze or SnapMap or NextDoor, or Uber Pool.” What this finding tells us is that despite all the bad press that Facebook has received for the way it manages our personal data, everyday consumers are going to remain receptive to businesses asking them to share personal data because the overall value delivered exceeds the occasional negative headline.

We believe that advertising will continue to become more mobile – and, as artificial intelligence adoption ramps up, even more personal. Meanwhile, Mary Meeker’s report offers a useful snapshot for what the near-term future holds. Contact us for more insight into how to grow your brand in the digital world.

Research Firm Clutch Ranks True Interactive a Leader for Internet Marketing

Research Firm Clutch Ranks True Interactive a Leader for Internet Marketing

Marketing

I am pleased to announce that True Interactive been ranked by research firm Clutch as a leader among Chicago-based internet marketing companies. The ranking marks the third time Clutch has evaluated True Interactive as a leader in 2017-18 – including the categories of Chicago-based digital marketing and pay-per-click agencies.

The ranking validates our evolution from search specialist to marketing partner. True Interactive is the independent alternative to large agencies.

The Clutch report is especially meaningful for two reasons:

1 The evaluation is rigorous and objective

Clutch is an independent a business-to-business research firm. The company evaluated and ranked Chicago-based internet marketing agencies using a proprietary research methodology that incorporated factors ranging from the agency’s market presence to client reviews.

2 The ranking is based largely on input from clients

True Interactive’s clients provided strong reviews of our capabilities and work style. Here is a sample of the input:

  • “They excel in attention to detail and are personally invested in our success” — a luxury resort provider.
  • “It’s been nice to know that we can have a partner that will adapt to us and not charge extra for every little item” – home improvement company.
  • “Their learning process has been continuous, and they’ve never taken the one-size-fits-all approach for us” – retail company.

Clutch’s research also noted the breadth of True Interactive’s skills in areas such as digital strategy, social media marketing, and pay-per-click advertising. The complete True Interactive profile, including client reviews, is available here. In addition, here are all the companies ranked.

True Interactive is proud to be a trusted partner that builds brands through digital. We are working hard to earn the kind of feedback that our clients have provided Clutch. Contact us to discuss how we can help you improve your digital performance.

Why 2018 Is the Year of Influencer Outreach

Why 2018 Is the Year of Influencer Outreach

Marketing

Influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous music festival. But influencer outreach is alive and well and will continue to thrive in 2018. Why? A few reasons stand out:

  • Businesses are feeling new pressure to rely on influencers. As reported recently, Facebook announced that the world’s largest social network is devaluing content from businesses in users’ news feeds and amplifying content from people. Brands that publish content on Facebook are looking for ways to rely on people to tell their stories, which, of course, includes influencers.
  • People still tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Time and time again, consumers, especially millennials, say they place higher levels of trust in other people than they do businesses, including word-of-mouth recommendations and online peer reviews.

In 2018, I expect to see more reliance on influencers, but not necessarily more spending. Instead, businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific, relying on tools that make the process more precise and measurable.

In addition, brands that do partner with high-profile influencers should invest more time and energy vetting them, giving them the same level of rigorous review that they would give a new hire. We’ve seen a number of instances of high-profile YouTube celebrities embarrassing themselves with reckless behavior and remarks. All it takes is one foolish incident for an influencer to destroy their credibility. Businesses are well advised to review influencers’ social media personal track record, including their personal content on their socials.

Finally, understand how to work with influencers. Know their rules of engagement and research how they can be most effective for you. Influencers who are big on Instagram might be the best choice for supporting, say, an event, whereas bloggers who write longer-form content might be more appropriate for product announcements or news events that require more thoughtful analysis.

For more insight into influencer outreach, read this True Interactive post. And contact us for more insight into building your digital brand.

 

New Research Report Ranks True Interactive a Leader for Pay-Per-Click Advertising

New Research Report Ranks True Interactive a Leader for Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Marketing

Normally we don’t talk about ourselves on our blog. But today is an exception.

I am pleased to announce that an independent report from Clutch has named True Interactive a market leader for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – the second year in a row we have earned this distinction.

Clutch, a business-to-business research firm, evaluated and ranked global digital marketing agencies using a proprietary research methodology that incorporated factors ranging from the agency’s market presence to client reviews. The reviews covered agency attributes such as quality of work performed and project management skills. True Interactive was ranked one of 15 leaders in the Clutch digital agency matrix.

The year 2017 has been one of expansion for True Interactive. We’ve built upon our core offerings to provide services in areas such as content marketing and social media. Our evolution into broader forms of digital marketing was reflected in a June Clutch report that named us one of the leading all-around digital marketing agencies when compared to other Chicago-based firms.

The PPC report is special. It’s a ranking of agencies on a broader geographic scale, and it evaluates what has always been our bread-and-butter offering: performance media. I’m especially pleased that Clutch notes the enthusiasm of our clients. One client told Clutch, “It’s been nice to know that we can have a partner that will adapt to us and not charge extra for every little item” – which affirms our belief that the most effective client relationships are partnerships.

You can read more client input here. And here is a link to the entire report.

I’d like to give a shout-out to our clients and the hard-working True Interactive employees who partner with them. Happy holidays, and here’s to delivering more value in 2018!

Why You Might Be Wasting Money on Bid Modifiers

Why You Might Be Wasting Money on Bid Modifiers

Search

With the holiday shopping season here, it’s time to re-examine how you’re using bid modifiers in your paid search campaigns. You might be wasting your budget by using too many modifiers.

Google continues to introduce more refined targeting features such as gender, income level, audience targeting, and look-alike audiences. Soon you’ll have in-market audiences. Having more targeting options for your campaigns is good. When businesses serve up more relevant ads, everyone wins: the consumer, the advertiser, and Google.

But here’s the problem: it’s too easy for advertisers to pile on the bid modifiers to their campaigns. Just because you can target by device, location, gender, age, and time of day (to cite just a few modifiers) it doesn’t mean you should.

Let’s say you are a brick-and-mortar retailer advertising a personal care product to women of a certain age. Your research shows that your target age range is likely to respond favorably. You launch your campaign and start achieving results. Then you decide that maybe, just maybe, you’ll earn more if you target a higher income bracket at a certain time of day. Then you discover that your company is opening a new store in Orlando, and so you modify your bid to target the location. Well, the more you refine your bid, the more your campaign is going to cost.

Here’s what happens when you pile on too many modifiers:

  • You can waste money. Your costs per click increase with each modifier. The next thing you know, you’re overspending because you’re trying to reach a highly targeted audience when advertising to a more broadly defined set of consumers might have achieved as good or better a result for less money.
  • You dilute your ability to measure performance. You might see improvement in a campaign. But with 10 different bid modifiers in place, how do you know which one is moving the needle?

This issue has persisted for years. In 2013, Erin Sagin of Business2Community warned about using too many modifiers as part of Google’s Enhanced Campaign feature:

In reality, this feature can result in vast overbidding. Here’s the catch—if a search fits the criteria for multiple bid modifiers, all adjustments are “stacked” on the base bid. For example, imagine that a keyword’s base bid is $1 and you’ve set your device modifier to increase bids by 100% on smartphone searches, your geographic modifier to increase bids by 50% for searchers located in Florida, and your time of day modifier to raise bids by 100% from 9 p.m.-11 p.m. If someone in Florida searches this keyword on their phone at 9 p.m., the bid will automatically be bumped to $6.

But advertisers continue to struggle with overbidding, one reason being that they just aren’t aware of the problem or they cannot resist the lure of experimenting with more targeted advertising as AdWords introduces new features.

To guard against the temptation of piling on with too many modifiers, True Interactive suggests:

  • Define your marketing strategy and stick to it. A sound strategy encourages a disciplined spend. Your keyword bids should reflect your agreed-upon product development and rollout campaign. Don’t create keyword bids on the fly. But if your marketing strategy changes, then re-examine your keyword strategy and modify accordingly.
  • Limit your bid modifiers. Apply only a few at a time. If you want to experiment with another modifier, consider dropping one. Limiting your modifiers helps you isolate which ones are performing the best.
  • Use negative modifiers instead of positive modifiers. Instead of adding on to your bid to reach an audience, add negative bids to audiences you don’t want to reach. It sounds so simple, but not enough advertisers use this tactic. Doing so makes for a more efficient spend.

Bottom line: be disciplined and strategic about your bid modifiers. Remember the adage: just because you can doesn’t mean you should. For more insight into digital advertising, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.