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.

Welcome to True Interactive!

Welcome to True Interactive!

Marketing

By Kurt Anagnostopoulos and Mark Smith

Welcome to a new era!

Today we officially changed the KeywordFirst name to True Interactive.

True Interactive reflects how we have evolved to become a trusted digital marketing partner that improves the performance of our clients. The KeywordFirst name served us well for many years and reflects our search roots. At the same time, over the past few years, we’ve been helping clients solve problems that extend beyond search, such as:

  • Managing digital advertising campaigns, including mobile.
  • Developing paid social strategies.
  • Managing analytics programs.

Analysts such as Clutch have noticed our evolution. In 2017, Clutch named KeywordFirst a leader in both pay-per-click advertising and all-around digital marketing — and then in 2018 as a leader for Chicago-based internet marketing services agencies. We received especially high marks from clients for the quality of our work and partnering style, as noted here.

Search is as strong as ever and remains one of our core skills. In fact, our broader experience with digital marketing has made us better at search. And now the True Interactive name reflects our present and future.

Our people and our culture remain the same. We’re as dedicated as ever to delivering results with complete transparency. True Interactive will continue to build our brand through the strength of our talent, client relationships,  and ideas for shaping the future of performance-based digital marketing.

We are excited for what the future holds!

— Kurt and Mark

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.

Google Delivers an October Surprise to Advertisers

Google Delivers an October Surprise to Advertisers

Marketing

Managing your AdWords budget has gotten a lot more complicated.

Recently, Google announced that AdWords campaigns can spend as much as twice their average daily budget – a steep increase from when Google allotted itself only a 20-percent leeway to increase a campaign’s budget.

As a result, as Google noted, “On days with lots of high quality traffic, your costs could be up to 2 times your daily budget. This spending is balanced by days when your spend is below your daily budget.”

That’s right: Google has empowered itself to exceed your allotted AdWords budget by twice the amount you had planned. So, let’s say your campaign budget is $300 a day for the month. Conceivably, during spikes in search volume, Google could lift the ceiling on your spend to $600.

Google assured its customers that “you won’t be charged more than your monthly charging limit: the average number of days in a month (30.4) multiplied by your average daily budget.”

But even with Google’s assurance that monthly charging limits would not be exceeded, customers were angry.  Here are three reasons why:

  • Large advertisers running hundreds or thousands of campaigns rely on the ability to constantly adjust their keyword spends daily depending on spikes or drops in demand. They might lower their budgets when spikes in demand occur to protect themselves from their budgets skyrocketing. Now along comes Google disrupting their finely calibrated campaigns and potentially doing the exact opposite of what they intend.
  • Businesses running shorter (less than 30 day) campaigns, such as event-based campaigns, could have their budgets blown within the first few days of their spend. To be sure, Google would cap their budgets, but a spike in demand could cause these customers to essentially end their campaigns sooner than planned if Google were to increase their spend by as much as twice the amount budgeted.
  • The wide budget variance could also hamper anyone performing campaign, keyword or ad copy tests by disrupting their allotted spend levels.

On the other hand, smaller businesses that do not change their budgets often are likely unaffected. In fact, having Google recalibrate its budget could make the business’s spend more consistent throughout the month.

So, what should you do? I suggest three course of action:

  • Pay more attention to the results of your spend on a daily basis (which we do already for our clients). Be ready to adjust spend sooner than you might have planned.
  • For shorter-term campaigns, set your spend levels lower to have some level of protection, especially if you know you’re going to get high volume traffic within that time period. You might want to pull back from the get-go.
  • For existing campaigns, study your performance data carefully to set your budgets more carefully. Many companies that have been actively involved with paid search for years have a lot of data to draw upon in order to calibrate their budgets.

In any case, this change is permanent. It’s not going away. If you are not doing so already, watch your AdWords campaigns more closely and be ready to change them. True Interactive can help you. Contact us – managing your online advertising is our business and passion.