Will Increased Scrutiny Make Google More Transparent?

Will Increased Scrutiny Make Google More Transparent?

Advertising Google

It’s been a tough week for Google from a PR standpoint.

On November 11, The Wall Street Journal published a story about how Google has been collecting Americans’ personal health data as part of an ambitious foray into healthcare. Although Google was not accused of any wrongdoing, the examination of its data collection practices resulted in the announcement of a federal probe. And then to cap off the week, on November 15, The Wall Street Journal published a lengthy article, “How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results.”

Let’s just say the title of that second article captured plenty of interest in the advertising world.

Do Google’s Actions Match Its Message?

The November 15 article, like the article about Project Nightingale, did not accuse Google of doing anything illegal. But The Wall Street Journal painted a picture of a company whose actions are not always aligned with its statements. For instance, The Wall Street Journal pointed out examples of Google intervening to manage search results contrary to what Google says on its blog, “We do not use human curation to collect or arrange the results on a page.” According to The Wall Street Journal, Google:

  • Weeds out more-incendiary suggestions in the search auto-complete function.
  • Has made algorithmic changes to search results that favor big companies over smaller ones and “in at least one case made changes on behalf of a major advertiser,eBay, contrary to its public position that it never takes that type of action. The company also boosts some major websites, such as Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc.  . . . .” (The comment about Facebook and Amazon is especially interesting given how Amazon and Facebook compete with Google for advertising revenue.)
  • Employs thousands of contractors whose job is to assess the quality of the algorithms’ rankings. “Even so,” says The Wall Street Journal, “contractors said Google gave feedback to these workers to convey what it considered to be the correct ranking of results, and they revised their assessments accordingly, according to contractors interviewed by the Journal. The contractors’ collective evaluations are then used to adjust algorithms.”

For me one of the most fascinating details in the article is the inference that Google’s advertising growth has influenced how the company treats businesses on Google. According to the article:

Some very big advertisers received direct advice on how to improve their organic search results, a perk not available to businesses with no contacts at Google, according to people familiar with the matter. In some cases, that help included sending in search engineers to explain a problem, they said.

One former executive at a Fortune 500 company that received such advice said Google frequently adjusts how it crawls the web and ranks pages to deal with specific big websites.

Google updates its index of some sites such as Facebook and Amazon more frequently, a move that helps them appear more often in search results, according to a person familiar with the matter.

For its part, Google said it does not provide specialized guidance to website owners. Google said that faster indexing of a site isn’t a guarantee that it will rank higher. “We prioritize issues based on impact, not any commercial relationships,” a Google spokeswoman said.

I would urge any business to take the time to read the article. Here again, this is not an exposé of wrongdoing but rather an in-depth examination of how well Google’s practices align with its words.

The Core Issue: Transparency

Google is certainly not alone in facing increased scrutiny for its management of data and its relationship with advertisers, and the heat Google is experiencing right now is nothing compared to the firestorm that Facebook is enduring.

To me, the core issue of the November 15 article is this: transparency. Google’s practice of holding its cards close to the vest has created an impression of a business that has something to hide – perhaps not a fair impression, but as they say, perception is reality. As Google manages the fallout from the November 15 story, I do think we may see some interesting outcomes for advertisers:

  • Smaller businesses — which the article characterizes as second-class citizens groveling for fair consideration — may receive more responsiveness than they typically get from the advertising giant when issues arise that demand attention.
  • All businesses may see more transparency from Google, such as how the algorithm works and the explicit impact of the many algorithm changes that Google enacts through the year. A message of “Trust us – we know what we’re doing” just isn’t going over very well. At the same time, Google needs to protect its intellectual property, and the company says that revealing too much of how the algorithm works will make it easier for parties with bad intentions to game the system. It will be fascinating to see how Google reconciles these factors amid increased scrutiny.

In many ways, Google is grappling with issues that social media platforms do all the time – providing an open forum for the exchange of ideas among people while at the same time making it possible for businesses to succeed through advertising and commerce. What exactly goes on behind the scenes to represent the interests of both people and businesses is not always clear. But that situation may change soon.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we live in the world of online advertising. We know how to help businesses succeed with Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many other advertising platforms. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

3 Ways to Gear up for Black Friday with Online Advertising

3 Ways to Gear up for Black Friday with Online Advertising

Advertising Google

Black Friday is coming in hot! We’re already seeing an explosion of deals. For instance, Walmart has gone live with a wave of reductions and early Black Friday deals. Amazon’s Black Friday “preview” features a smart home device bundle deal. And not to be outdone, on November 8, Target celebrated “HoliDeals” with a two-day Black Friday preview sale.

As we discussed in our recent blog post, “3 Ways That Retailers Can Win During the 2019 Holiday Shopping Season,” Black Friday is more than a day. It’s more like a season unto itself. And as the examples above illustrate, more retailers are responding by not only extending Black Friday hours, but actual deals, beyond the day. As a consequence, advertising begins early, too, and carries over into Cyber Monday.

Don’t want to get left behind? Here are some ways to stay competitive with your Black Friday offerings:

1 Put Google to Work for You

Maximize the value of Google’s many advertising tools to showcase your Black Friday sales and your merchandise. These tools include Black Friday promotion extensions, which allow advertisers to get granular with specifics in their text ad promotions, without cutting into established character counts. And note that Google’s Black Friday-specific ad units, as distinguished from the typical promotion extension, will drive your ad to prime placement so that it shows up at the top of the SERP under “Black Friday Deals.”

2 Be Visual

It should go without saying that Black Friday means turning it up a notch with visual storytelling. This is a time to make your merchandise pop. Fortunately tools exist to make it easier on platforms such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Instagram.

As we’ve noted, Google’s Showcase Shopping Ads take a common-sense approach to advertising. Using Showcase Shopping Ads, brands can visually group related products, and in the process merchandise them more effectively. Google recently blogged about how retailers such as Urban Outfitters are benefitting from Showcase Shopping Ads. According to Google:

Urban Outfitters is one example of a retailer using Showcase Shopping ads to get into the consideration set and inspire those new to their brand. Urban Outfitters expanded their Showcase Shopping ads to 50 key categories across apparel, home decor, and beauty. Overall, they saw a 241 percent CTR lift across campaigns running Showcase Shopping ads, with 52 percent of those customers being new. Moreover, Urban Outfitters saw a 186 percent increase in sales from new customers via Showcase Shopping ads (compared to reactivated customers).

In addition, Google recently announced it has improved Showcase Shopping Ads by expanding them into Google Images. Moreover, Google also announced it is making YouTube more shoppable. You get the idea: Google wants advertisers to rely on Google to reach customers.

Meanwhile, Instagram and Facebook Stories are a brilliant way for advertisers to draw potential customers with appealing content that incorporates a narrative and interactive elements. In a survey by research firm Ipsos, 62 percent of respondents reported becoming interested in a product after discovering it via Stories, and more than half indicated they make more purchases online due to Stories.

Finally, Amazon, now the third-largest online ad platform behind Google and Facebook, offers tools like Sponsored Products (which promotes products to shoppers who are using certain keywords, or viewing similar products on Amazon) and Sponsored Brands Display Ads (through which advertisers can upload a customized creative). Amazon provides more insight into these products here.

3 Go Mobile

As we recently blogged, the 2018 holiday season marked the first time smart phones accounted for more than half of all visits to websites during the holidays. Brands are wise to embrace mobile—and deliver a great experience on their site, regardless of where consumers are accessing it from. You don’t want to lose customers to an online experience that reliably delivers from a PC or laptop, but not a smart phone. A failed purchase from a smart phone may result in . . . no purchase at all.

Contact True Interactive

Need help making the most of the opportunities Black Friday affords? Contact us.

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Facebook’s Growth Highlights Importance of Messenger

Facebook’s Growth Highlights Importance of Messenger

Advertising Facebook

Facebook is having a good year financially. In its recent third-quarter 2019 earnings announcement, the company bested analyst expectations for growth in not only revenue but also membership: monthly active users now number 2.45 billion. Facebook isn’t going anywhere even though its problems have brought upon itself the threat of government regulation and even break-up.

What is Facebook doing right? Well, here’s one answer: Messenger.

What Is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is an app that people and businesses use to communicate with each other. Users can send messages, react to messages from others, and exchange photos, videos, and audio files. Facebook operates Messenger as a separate app. And it’s an extremely useful tool for brands, which can share all sorts of things, including ads. Through Facebook Messenger Ads, companies and users enjoy real-time text conversations—with the click of a button.

Currently, Facebook offers a number of different types of Messenger Ads:

  • Destination ads, which employ a lighter touch to engage customers. Rather than the usual “Shop Now” call to action, a “Send Message” button allows users to “get their feet wet,” as it were, and grow acquainted with a brand.
  • Sponsored messages, which deliver specially created messages (a sale coupon, for example) directly to a consumer’s inbox.
  • Home section ads, which crop up in the home dashboard of the messaging application and allow users and brands to engage in organic conversations.

Brands embracing tools like Messenger Ads stand to benefit: according to Facebook, 53 percent of users are more likely to make a purchase if they can message you. And because Facebook Messenger Ads don’t target non-brand-aware users, companies connect with people who have already interacted with their ads previously—an audience that is likely to be receptive (brands also gain points for not invasively reaching out to . . . everyone). Finally, it’s worth noting that Messenger Ads offer local targeting options, allowing brands to touch base with a specific audience based on where the business is located.

What Does Facebook Have to Say About Messenger?

During a recent conference call with investors, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg returned to the topic of Messenger, and its importance, several times. Some key points stand out:

  • Businesses are already using Messenger to drive sales. According to Sheryl Sandberg: “Messaging is one of the fastest growing areas for online communication–especially between businesses and people. We’ve seen businesses use Messenger to reach customers, generate new leads and even sell cars. For example, French auto manufacturer Renault used a combination of Instagram Stories and Click-to Messenger ads to drive sales of a limited-edition vehicle, the Captur Tokyo. Facebook was their only advertising channel, and over the span of 30 days, they sold 100 cars—20 directly through Messenger. This quarter we added a Click-to-Messenger feature in Stories so businesses can grab someone’s attention in Stories and then continue the conversation.”
  • Messenger and Stories Deliver a 1-2 Punch. As noted above, Renault is using Messenger in conjunction with Stories. In the investor earnings call, Zuckerberg and Sandberg underline how businesses can maximize the value of features like Messenger through this type of imaginative pairing. To make it easier for more brands to create ads for the Stories format, Facebook has launched customizable templates for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Advertisers can upload existing photos and videos, then augment them with different layout, color, and text options. The end result? More engaging Stories. And the Click-to-Messenger feature Sandberg references makes it possible for businesses to capture a user’s attention on Stories and then continue the conversation via Messenger.

What You Should Do

 When using Messenger as part of outreach:

  • Consider how Messenger will serve your brand in the context of the entire customer journey. Messenger Ads can spark interest, for example, and the Messenger the app can be a brilliant customer service tool.
  • Combine Messenger with Stories for an engaging and ultimately personal customer experience.

Contact True Interactive

Want to learn more about Messenger and how it will elevate your outreach? Contact us.

 

How to Connect with U.S. Hispanics through Online Advertising

How to Connect with U.S. Hispanics through Online Advertising

Advertising

As the U.S. Hispanic population continues to gain spending clout, many brands are responding with multi-cultural advertising, specifically geared to the Hispanic population and including online advertising in Spanish. Reaching out to a Hispanic audience requires an understanding of both language and cultural nuances. Businesses need to do their homework carefully to connect with Hispanics in authentic ways. If you are one of those businesses, here are some tips to consider:

1 Make sure you understand nuances of language, such as idioms or vocabulary that vary by audience

The U.S. Hispanic population is diverse, as discussed in this article from the Pew Research Center. While in cities like Houston, more than two in three Hispanics are of Mexican descent, other origin groups predominate elsewhere. Puerto Ricans are the largest Hispanic group in the Orlando, Florida, metro area, for example. As in English, there are words and phrases that vary by region or country and can signal where a speaker is from. The Spanish spoken in Spain is different from that in Mexico, Puerto Rico, or Venezuela.

For example, “glasses” in Mexico are “lentes”; in Spain they are “gafas.” And while some Mexican Spanish is similar to the English—e.g., “computadora” means “computer”—the Spanish words can be very different in other countries. In Spain, “ordenador” is the Spanish word for “computer.” Brands looking to create video/aural content to reach Hispanic audiences should also be aware of pronunciation differences. When a z or appears before an i or e in a word, the sounds translates to an s in Mexican Spanish. But it’s a th in Spain.

Idioms and slang also differ. “Camión” means “truck” in much of Latin America, but in Mexico it’s also slang for formal and informal route buses. And while “padre” means “father,” in Mexican slang it can also mean “cool.” Perhaps most important, some Spanish words have taken on awkward alternate meanings that could prove embarrassing if used by advertisers. Know the slang.

Bottom line: knowing Spanish is one thing, but knowing how to tailor an ad to accommodate cultural difference is another challenge. To successfully localize your ads and ensure your message is clear, make sure you’re using the same language as the speakers in your target market.

2 Consider the entire journey

Creating a seamless user experience is the key to effective advertising. An ad in Spanish doesn’t help much if the audience clicks through to a landing page that fails to accommodate Spanish, or a customer service rep who does not speak Spanish. Just as imagery needs to remain consistent across all consumer touchpoints, language needs to remain constant in a user experience. If your audience has a positive experience with your brand—one that makes them feel more at ease and able to find clear information—your brand will benefit.

How does a brand create this experience? Look no further than McDonald’s, which provides a good example of how to manage the customer journey in Spanish. People searching for a “McDonald’s near me” in Spanish might get an ad from McDonald’s that shows up in Spanish, as shown below:

If you click on one of the products featured in the ad — say “Ensalada de Pollo & Tocino”—you are taken to a McDonald’s landing page that allows you to change the language to Spanish.

McDonald’s understands that an advertisement is part of a connected experience, and each element of the experience needs to work in lockstep with the other. They also understand this: if the audience has a positive experience with a brand—one that makes them feel more at ease and able to find clear information—the brand will benefit.

3 Be culturally relevant

Find things that connect culturally with your Hispanic audience. According to a 2018 Monitor Study conducted by Kantar Consulting, which analyzed the state of the U.S. consumer marketplace, Hispanic cultural and community identity is at an all-time high. In a Forbes discussion of the study, Isaac Mizrahi notes, “Hispanics lead and over-index all other ethnic segments in cultural connection elements such as family, history, food, language, recipes and music.” That’s huge, as is the revelation that 59 percent of Hispanics think their cultural background strongly influences their buying decisions.

Fifty-nine percent of Hispanics also indicate that they seek brands that recognize and celebrate their culture’s unique traditions. The emphasis here should be on unique: just as language can vary by Hispanic region or country of origin (point 1, above), so can, for example, holidays. Carnival is celebrated in Brazil. Independence Day and Day of the Dead are important to Mexicans. Informed advertisers understand this.

And as Maria Amor, VP of Havas Formulatin, points out in PRWeek, family is a key aspect of Hispanic culture. Hispanic millennials have stronger family ties than many of their non-Hispanic peers, for example, and brands that want to connect in a meaningful way with a Hispanic audience need to understand this.

In short, know your audience and reach out in a way that is relevant to them.

4 Don’t set it and forget it

You might be tempted to use tools such as Google Ads to create campaigns that automatically translate English to Spanish. These tools can help you, but they should not replace people. The flaw in many auto-translate programs is that they use a direct word translation, without considering the context or regional variations of the translated words. There’s no nuance. This can lead to confusion at best, and be seriously off-putting at worst, ultimately preventing an audience from connecting with your brand. Human judgment is key to navigating nuances in culture and regional idioms.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to learn more about digitally connecting with a Hispanic audience? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by Ana Rojas on Unsplash

Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Why Sneakerheads Matter to Advertising

Advertising

Like gamers, sneakerheads constitute a passionate fan base. Much more than a passive audience, sneakerheads—who collect, trade, and/or develop an exhaustive knowledge of sneakers as a hobby—represent a culture that dates back decades. Sneakerhead culture can in fact be traced back to the 1980s, when the popularity of Michael Jordan and his line of Air Jordan shoes, as well as the explosion of hip hop music, made the idea of collecting shoes not only possible, but cool.

Sneakerhead culture overlaps with other cultures such as hip hop and fashion, making sneakerheads as an audience especially culturally relevant. Even if they are not your audience, understanding how brands court sneakerheads can be instructive to you. That’s because understanding the innovative ways brands have reached out to this group can inspire you as you reach out to your own market—and tap into a culture to make your brand more relevant.

Here are a few interesting and effective ways in which brands have recently reached out to sneakerhead culture:

Empowering Consumers to Be Retailers

In August 2019, Adidas announced a partnership with the social commerce app Storr. Storr, which allows consumers to open a store from their phone in three clicks, is now part of a campaign in which individuals who are part of the Adidas Creators Club can literally become “social sellers” of Adidas goods. The Creators Club membership program was launched in 2018 as a way for the most passionate Adidas fan base to enjoy early access to products and special events.

Now about 10,000 Creators Club members will have an opportunity to become sellers and share their love of Adidas product. Sellers will receive a six percent commission from each sale, with an option to donate to Girls on the Run, an Adidas partner organization dedicated to helping young women reach their full potential. Chris Murphy, Adidas’ senior director of digital activation, said to Fast Company, “If you think about where our consumers go to get advice or ideas, it’s their friends, it’s sneakerheads, it’s people in their social sphere already, so why not let those people sell on our behalf?”

Celebrating the Culture

Also in August, Foot Locker announced a “We Live Sneakers” digital campaign in conjunction with the launch of Nike’s “Evolution of the Swoosh” shoe and apparel collection. Content for “We Live Sneakers,” which rolled out online and on Foot Locker social platforms, is meant to resonate with die-hard sneaker fans of all ages. As Patrick Walsh, Foot Locker’s vice president of marketing, North America, explained to Total Retail, “We want to authentically connect with those who have made Foot Locker a part of their sneaker-obsessed journey. ‘We Live Sneakers’ is a glimpse at what it means to be a sneakerhead, and the ways in which it impacts the most meaningful moments of everyday life.”

The campaign underlines the fundamental respect Foot Locker holds for its sneaker fans. As Walsh notes, “Sneakerheads are . . . very well-informed consumers and have a variety of interests, including art, music, photography, sports, etc. . . . Foot Locker strives to be that intersection between sneakers and all of their other passion points, as well as serve and empower sneaker culture and all of its members.” By partnering with Nike, Foot Locker hopes to create a win/win scenario in which both brands attract attention and engagement.

Providing an Experience

This isn’t the first time Foot Locker and Nike have teamed up. In 2018, sneakerheads joined Foot Locker’s first “The Hunt” augmented reality (AR) scavenger hunt. Players ranged across Los Angeles, smartphones in hand, unlocking geo-targeted AR clues in a bid to be among the first to acquire Nike’s limited-edition LeBron 16 King “Court Purple” sneakers. The game, which involved the “collection” of objects in AR, and completion of three game levels, began at 11:00 p.m. local time after the end of the Los Angeles Lakers’s first home game of the NBA season. Completing all three game levels unlocked an access card to acquire the shoes. The treasure hunt, which imparted a fresh, fun vibe to the sneaker release, underscored a key role that an experience can play in the consumer process. As Ron Faris, GM of Nike’s NYC digital studio and the SNKRS app, shared with Highsnobiety, “For many of the most fanatical sneakerheads, how they cop the shoe is almost as important as the shoe itself.”

What Advertisers Should Do

The lessons here are clear. When reaching out to your ideal demographic, don’t forget to:

  • Tap into a group’s passion and make it work for you—even as you empower individuals to benefit financially or, as in the case of the Girls on the Run donations, do good. It’s especially instructive that Adidas empowered sneakerheads to become social sellers. You don’t need to use a native app to do so; consider platforms such as Instagram depending on where your audience likes to hang out.
  • Respect and celebrate your audience. Tell their story and connect with their passion points in authentic ways. When you do those things, you turn customers into loyal tribes.
  • Leverage technology to provide an experience that will resonate along with your brand. The Foot Locker AR experience tapped into sneakerheads’ love of sports and play. Foot Locker did not apply AR just because it’s a cool technology; Foot Locker understood that AR when used as a game would engage sneakerheads specifically.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to make your brand more relevant with digital advertising? We can help.

Photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash

How Brands Are Making Sweet Music on Spotify

How Brands Are Making Sweet Music on Spotify

Advertising

Spotify is more than a popular, iconic streaming service. It’s a platform for businesses to reach an audience—specifically Millennials and Generation Z—through advertising. And there’s much to be learned from the brands that know how to do it right. Read on for some examples of companies who have advertised on Spotify in smart, creative ways that push the envelope and speak directly to their target audience:

Pepsi “Maxes” Summer Fun

Armed with the knowledge that customers are more likely to crave a cold drink in hot weather, PepsiCo turned up the heat by promoting Pepsi Max, a low-calorie, sugar-free cola. As part of their “Max Your Summer” campaign, which reached out to Australian consumers aged 18 to 49, the beverage giant used dynamic advertising on Spotify, including audio spots focusing on events co-sponsored by Pepsi. The campaign, which ran during the Australian summer, November 2017 to February 2018, was meant to keep listeners up to speed on summer fun in their area, with ads tailored to day of the week and consumer location. The localized approach yielded tangible benefits for Pepsi. According to Power Digital Marketing, “Users who saw the campaign were 34% more likely to agree that ‘Pepsi Max is the #1 tasting no-sugar cola.’”

Hungry? Have a Snickers

In 2018, Spotify ads for the Snickers candy bar operated under a unique premise: that consumers who listen to music outside their typical tastes or comfort zones are in fact . . . hungrier. In creating its campaign, Snickers drew from Spotify data suggesting that a consumer who makes an unexpected switch to a different musical genre or artist is in a different mood, and that mood changes can correlate with hunger. The resulting ad, which targeted listeners who changed things up, featured faux musician “Aneta Snickers” rapping about how when you are hungry, “you’re not you.” The answer for the presumably hungry listener? A Snickers bar, natch.

Jose Cuervo Wants Your Favorite Playlist

In a Spotify campaign targeting United Kingdom college students, Spotify and Jose Cuervo tequila partnered with 50 student radio stations in the UK to collect playlists curated by students from 50 universities. The lists were subjected to a public vote; student consumers could vote for their uni playlist and the chance to win a concert. The campaign was a success for Jose Cuervo and Spotify: votes far exceeded campaign predictions. And it was a success for students at the winning University of Portsmouth, who enjoyed a concert headlined by Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip) and Orlando Weeks (The Maccabees).

Chuze Fitness Reaches Out When You Work Out

Chuze Fitness has also made the most of the Spotify platform. The gym chain, which has been growing nationally, wanted to create brand awareness for their new locations. Of course, when people work out, they listen to music. So Chuze Fitness worked with Spotify to deliver their message. The resulting advertising campaign geo-targeted the city where the new Chuze Fitness gyms were located, even as it specifically targeted people listening to “fitness” playlists. The strategy proved profitable: according to Power Digital Marketing, Chuze Fitness “saw an uptick in their brand interest on Google through Google trends within the city [where] they were advertising.”

Why Spotify?

Companies who work with Spotify can benefit from the platform’s strong brand. They also can maximize their reach thanks to Spotify’s exceptional targeting tools, such as:

  • Interest targeting, which helps brands understand consumers’ passions via their listening preferences, and subsequently connect with a specific audience in a meaningful—and effective—way.
  • Real-time context targeting, which allows brands to target people based on their habits—and tendencies—at specific times of day. Someone waking up is typically in a different frame of mind than someone studying, or to use the Snickers example, someone who is hungry. Understanding the psychology of users at different times, and when might be the best time to share a branded message with that user, is a powerful tool.

Of course, Spotify isn’t the only game in town. The platform faces stiff competition from Apple Music, Amazon, and other streaming services. But in a crowded market for music streaming, Spotify still stands out.

Contact Us

Want to find out how Spotify can enhance your digital outreach? Contact us.

Why Digital Ad Spend Is on the Rise

Why Digital Ad Spend Is on the Rise

Advertising

Digital advertising is not only growing, it’s becoming more mainstream. As noted in two recently published research reports, internet advertising spending is hitting record highs and is projected to soon exceed 50 percent of all advertising spend for the first time. Let’s unpack what this information means for your business.

Trends in Growth Reflect Value

According to a report issued by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) on August 6, “U.S. digital advertising revenues reached a landmark high of $28.4 billion in the first quarter of 2019. This is the industry’s strongest Q1 on record.” The 18 percent rise over Q1 2018 digital revenues are part of a trend, as David Silverman, Partner, PwC US, sees it: “These historic Q1 figures are in keeping with digital’s ongoing rise,” he notes. The leaps in growth are also telling, reflecting the value digital ad spend can yield. Sue Hogan, IAB’s Senior Vice President, Research and Measurement, says that “[t]he continued growth of digital ad spend is a reflection of its ability to help brands and publishers reach consumers and build meaningful one-to-one relationships.”

The Balance Is Tipping

Digital advertising isn’t just strong and growing, it’s also overtaking offline advertising. In a report released July 8 by Zenith, internet advertising is predicted to account for 52 percent of global advertising expenditure in 2021. This development would mark the first time digital advertising exceeded the 50 percent mark of all ad expenditures, overtaking analog advertising formats such as linear television, billboards, and print. According to Zenith, print in particular is on the decline, and traditional television ad revenues can be expected to dwindle every year from now to 2021.

Brands should note that internet advertising isn’t a monolithic spend. Ongoing technological improvements to smartphone technology and connection speeds, paired with strong content investment, have informed the growth of ad spend in online video and social media, in particular.

What Does It All Mean?

The reports suggest a few takeaways, including:

  • Digital ad spending is finally becoming mainstream. It’s no longer part of a company’s advertising, it’s central to a company’s strategy.
  • Businesses are getting more sophisticated about how they advertise. They are increasing and decreasing their digital spend in different types of digital advertising to suit the specific needs of a campaign, and to adapt to changes in consumer behavior. The fact that advertisers are upping their spend in video and social media reflects an understanding of the surge in consumer social media usage and, as we’ve noted on our blog, the demonstrated appetite for visual content.

What You Should Do

Taken together, these reports underline how important it is that advertisers constantly assess and respond to consumer behavior. By staying current, savvy advertisers can be leaders, not followers—and reap the benefits of being an informed early adopter. For example, businesses that reacted early to the rise of visual storytelling already have a leg up on those that waited too long. You want to be one of those businesses that monitor how consumers are acting and adjust advertising strategies accordingly — before your competitors do.

A really good example of a trend to watch? Voice search. Per Zenith, “A lot of innovation in search is taking place in voice, which is currently not monetised.” Voice-based advertising may not be paying off yet across the board—but it’s only a matter of time before it does. Smart brands will keep an eye on voice search and take action before it’s mainstream.

Contact True Interactive

How are you sensing and responding? Contact us. We can help you maximize ROI of your online advertising.