Clicks Are Dead

This is not news. Or at least, it shouldn’t be. Clicks have been dead for quite some time. Many of the clicks are fraudulent, and studies have shown that clicks are not a reliable source of performance. And yet, some advertisers persist in looking at CTR for digital advertising campaigns as a key performance metric. The realm of performance indicators has moved forward, and we can now track several other types of metrics to measure advertising success. Before we look forward, let’s look back for a minute. Where did the intense focus on clicks come from? There are two main reasons clicks were a proxy for display advertising success. First, clicks were and still are the prominent metric for search ads, and this was carried over to display and all other digital channels. We now also have other ways of measuring the effectiveness of search ads, like phone calls, in-store visits and purchases among other KPIs, but given that we purchase search ads on a cost-per-click basis, clicks will always be important to search. Secondly, while there are several differences between web analytics and ad servers, both initially focused on clicks as the main form of website or advertising engagement. These days, web analytics programs also use time on site and visual heat maps in addition to clicks to measure website engagement and are meant to track website activities. Ad servers now focus more on activities, particularly post-impression activities. Website activities track from ad servers and can be used as KPIs on their own, but they also can be tied to purchases and in-store visits to calculate your true advertising campaign ROI. You can use this information to create a buy-through rate or visit rate and compare the number of total exposed customers to exposed customers who visited a store or purchased a product. It’s now possible to know the real impact your advertising has on your bottom line. Regardless of the metrics you use to track success on your campaigns, you should always focus on using data from your ad server to measure your advertising campaigns, whether you serve your ads directly from a DSP, like AppNexus or The Trade Desk, or use an ad server like Google Campaign Manager (formerly DoubleClick Campaign Manager) or AdRoll. You should combine this data with website activity data from your web analytics programs to get a full picture of your customers’ engagement with your brand.

Facebook Fallout: What Smart Marketers Are Doing Now

Unsafe content. Fake news. Russian meddling. Privacy breaches. With the flurry of recent Facebook scandals and changes, is it business as usual for Facebook marketers? In the eMarketer report, Changes to Facebook Advertising After Cambridge Analytica, researchers decided to find out and discovered four things smart marketers are doing now:

  1. Reducing reliance on third-party data

Though Facebook directly handled third-party data and relationships, it won’t any longer, and now this responsibility will fall directly on marketers’ shoulders. For instance, marketers who used Facebook’s Partner Categories third-party data still can, but it’s going to be much harder. Since the data won’t be available through Facebook anymore, they will have to work out deals of their own with third-party data vendors.

Our paid social director Christy Clarke, one of the industry leaders featured in eMarketer’s report, said due to Facebook’s third-party data changes, “we will have to pay third-party partners and create custom audiences for the same segments that today we’re getting for free. That’s a little frustrating.”

More responsibility, more work and more expenses may be a little frustrating to marketers but even more so is having to vet and assume the risks that come with negotiating and managing their own third-party partners and data, especially since they haven’t had to before. Naturally, to avoid all these potential pitfalls, marketers want to use less third-party data, if they can.

  1.  Expanding first-party data

One way to use less third-party data is to gather richer and more comprehensive first-party data, especially since it has many advantages. It’s cost-effective and less risky for marketers regarding privacy concerns, and owning it comes with peace of mind: You get to control it, keep more customer data and insights in-house and don’t have to worry about it suddenly becoming restricted or having less of it.

At Goodway, growing our first-party data is a big focus. Christy told eMarketer we’re “getting smarter with our first-party data and prioritizing the segmentation of that data.” She also said we’re “using our first-party segments for look-alike targeting for prospecting so that we’re not relying heavily on third-party data.”

  1. Closely monitoring Facebook user activity

When the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, marketers became nervous. They feared Facebook users would scale back their activity or delete their profiles altogether. And according to the latest eMarketer research, that fear is understandable:

But Christy said she doesn’t see that happening now, “Users have maintained how they use the platform and how frequently they [access] it. What’s most important to us as marketers is the targeted reach conversation, and that those [capabilities] have not been impacted by any data misuse.”

Since usage and Facebook’s targeted reach capabilities don’t appear to be impacted for now and users are still actively seeking out brands and interacting with them on the platform, marketers’ spending levels will likely hold firm.

But that doesn’t mean marketers aren’t keeping a careful eye on Facebook metrics. If they must re-evaluate their Facebook budget and consider scaling it back, they will.

Facebook changes, like the scandals, are particularly a concern to marketers because they can suddenly put their paid social media efforts in peril. Take this example: Facebook just made changes to its ad targeting program by giving users the ability to delete their browsing history and have more control over their privacy settings.

If all users took advantage, it could negatively affect marketers and their ability to measure traffic to and from Facebook. But, in the report, Christy said she doesn’t think this particular change will have much impact, “The misuse of data is going to drive some users to lock down their privacy, but I think the majority will likely only clear their history once when the features roll out, if at all.”

  1. Diversifying paid social media strategy

Marketers are confident Facebook is still an efficient platform to connect and interact with their audiences, but they will be closely monitoring the second half of 2018 and preparing a fallback plan just in case, one that incorporates a mix of other social and non-social platforms. Though these platforms don’t offer the reach Facebook does, they are currently more well-regarded, so diversifying the plan and adding a mix of Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, Instagram or Amazon could be beneficial.

It is difficult to keep up with social media when it is continually changing. But we can expertly guide you, help you reduce your third-party data and expand your first-party data, help you monitor your social media and diversify, all with the right recommendations and smart solutions to put your paid social media strategy ahead.