Don’t Google Your Own Keywords and Other SEM Strategies

Every so often we get a call from a client asking why they aren’t seeing their search ads show up when they Google their brand’s main keywords. It’s only natural for an advertiser to want to check that their ad campaign is live and performing the way they hoped. But before you open that Google tab, know that searching for your own keywords is the last thing you want to do. Not only can Googling for your ad give you an inaccurate picture of what’s going on, but it can actually hurt your SEM campaign in the long run. Let’s look at why this happens and review a few additional SEM strategies you need to protect your campaign’s success. Don’t Google Your Own Keywords Searching for your own ads can impact auction bidding thresholds and drive up your cost-per-click rate. And chances are, your ad won’t serve on your computer anyway because search results are custom for every user and keyword combination. Plus, if you keep searching for your ad and don’t click on it too many times in a row, search engine algorithms will assume it’s not relevant and potentially lower your Quality Score (QS). Instead, our experts recommend using an ad preview tool. Many search engines provide a tool to simulate the search results page that would appear for your targeted keywords, location, device type, and language. Never Click On Your Own Ad Don’t click on your own ad, even if it appears organically. You might be curious if your ad is redirecting to the correct location, but clicking on your own ad will cost you money that could be spent on converting another user. A better SEM strategy is to simply make sure your website doesn’t have any broken pages or 404 errors. It’s also important to alert your advertising partners immediately if you experience issues or must change landing page URLs. Expand Your Targeting for Better Results Geotargeting a small area can limit the number of users who search for your keywords. Expand your targeting to include a larger radius around a location or include zip codes or cities close by to tap into a larger pool of users who are already searching for you. Also, remember search engines won’t show ads on every search if the keyword’s interest volume is low. So, make sure you aren’t targeting too specific, niche, or long-tail keywords that don’t drive high search volume. Our top SEM strategies also include adding in broader keywords or phrase match types to serve your ads in a wider range of searches and using consumer-friendly phrases rather than corporate jargon. Analyze Your Budget and Schedule to Capture More Search Volume Review the average cost per click of the keywords you’re working with, how often the keyword is searched, and external factors impacting the price, like seasonality or the competitive market, to make sure there are enough funds available to reach everyone searching. Then, decide how many clicks per day you want to achieve and adjust your budget accordingly based on your current average cost per click. This will ensure you don’t exhaust your SEM budget too early in the day. Don’t forget to also research the hours and days when your audience is searching most to ensure your ad schedule matches typical user behaviors. Finally, analyze your keywords, ads and landing pages to ensure they all naturally relate to each other. Making the user experience seamless will help increase your ad relevance and QS so that your ads show more often in the daily search volume. Don’t Overreact if Your Ad Isn’t Immediately Serving The ad approval process for most search engines can take a couple business days, and you won’t see your ads serve until that process is complete. You can check the status of your ad approvals within the search engine’s ad platform, and if your ad is rejected, you can check their policies to quickly determine why your ad didn’t meet their requirements. Ultimately, there are a variety of factors that can impact your search campaign. So, if your ad campaign isn’t generating the results that you want, reach out to us to uncover what’s happening and get real advice and SEM strategies that can help deliver the most value from your media dollars.

The Current State of GDPR Compliance

Despite dire predictions, the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May didn’t spell disaster for digital advertising. Reminiscent of Y2K, the news leading up to GDPR forecasted nothing short of an advertising apocalypse. Yet, May 25th and the months following came and went with few waves. This may be due to the fact that in the five months since taking effect, both GDPR compliance and enforcement have been slow to take off. According to recent research from TrustArc, only 20% of U.S., U.K. and EU companies are fully GDPR-compliant, and just over 50% say they are still in the implementation phase. That leaves nearly 30% who have yet to even kick off their GDPR initiatives. Despite the slow start, almost 75% of companies believe they will achieve GDPR compliance by the end of the year. And while thousands filed non-compliance complaints in the first month, the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office has not issued any fines yet. The lengthy review process and cross-border collaboration required for prosecution mean that true GDPR enforcement could be months away. GDPR’s Impact on Advertisers So Far While the buildup to prepare for GDPR may have felt like an unnecessary fire drill for some, the impacts on programmatic are still being realized as more and more marketers establish the most effective ways to reach their target audiences in a post-GDPR world. Primary implications seen thus far are threefold: 1.      GDPR compliance put heavy limitations on advertisers that historically utilized third-party data targeting. This forced many to shift their targeting strategy to first- and second-party data, where personalization and conversion are strong but scale is often limited. 2.      Contextual targeting received a resurgence as a result of GDPR. With a portion of consumers declining the capture and use of their personal data, retargeting efforts stalled for some brands. But contextual targeting filled the gap with the scalability and hyper-relevance marketers previously relied on from third-party data and retargeting efforts. 3.      Companies are preparing for similar data protection laws and regulations in the United States. Since GDPR’s launch, California passed the Consumer Privacy Act, giving residents of the state significantly more control over their personal data. Although the law will not go into effect until 2020, it’s set the stage for other states across the country to follow suit. It’s important to also note that the road to GDPR compliance has had positive impacts, too. The new regulation increases transparency and requires companies to review their data handling and processing procedures – which is just good business all around. And while GDPR is still in its infancy, there is good reason to celebrate and embrace the new level of cooperation it achieved among ad-tech stakeholders. If you are still wrangling with your GDPR compliance strategy, feel free to reach out to us for a few best practices and suggestions. And continue to keep on top of what’s happening in ad tech by subscribing to our blog today.

Your Expert Guide to Online to Offline Attribution

The holy grail for any advertiser is proof that your advertising resulted in sales. For e-commerce advertisers, such attribution is a fairly easy process. Tracking pixels monitor consumer behavior online and can tell you which of your customers saw your ads before purchasing, how many ads they saw, when they saw the ads, and so on. For advertisers in verticals where purchases largely occur offline, like QSR, auto, or CPG, online to offline attribution is more complicated. Here’s the key info you need to know to be an offline attribution pro. Key Attribution Terms to Know

  • Beacon – a small radio transmitter that connects to Bluetooth-enabled devices, like smartphones. It can be used to capture location data.
  • Device ID – a unique, anonymous ID assigned to each smartphone.
  • Hashing – a process to anonymize user data before using it in advertising so that no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) changes hands.
  • Lift – a measurement that compares consumers who saw your ad and performed an action (like entering a store or making a purchase) to consumers who didn’t see your ad and did the same thing, showing you the impact of your ad on consumer behavior.

Types of Online to Offline Attribution There are a few different types of online to offline attribution methods available. Foot Traffic – this method measures how many people who saw your ads went into one of your stores or a store where your product is sold. Your attribution partner will capture mobile device IDs through beacon technology and match these IDs back to your campaign. Point-of-Sale Data – the point-of-sale (POS) data attribution method measures credit card purchases made in one of your locations. The credit card company will usually partner with a data company to tie purchase information back to your campaign. Panel Data – this method captures user location data through an opt-in panel. Users are asked about their locations through an app on their phone, and this data is tied to a unique ID, which is then matched back to your campaign. Varied Data Source Matching – this method combines several types of data to create a proprietary attribution method. Goodway’s Auto Purchase Attribution is an example of this attribution type, as it combines Polk DMV purchase data with Oracle household ID data and our campaign data together to create an attribution report. Combining Online Metrics with Offline Attribution Just because offline attribution is possible, it doesn’t mean you should entirely abandon online metrics like an eCPA. Tracking key online activities is still useful as a proxy for advertising success and will help your media team to make sure that they are reaching the correct audience. Additionally, most of these online to offline attribution solutions can’t be tied back to specific tactics or placements, so you can’t use that data for optimization. Your best bet is to combine both your online metrics with your offline attribution to continue to refine your advertising strategy and measure the impact on your bottom line. To learn more about our automotive online to offline attribution solution, Auto Purchase Attribution, reach out to us at

Expert Interview: What Recent Changes Mean for Pandora Advertising

Will 2019 be the year for programmatic audio? If you’ve been watching the headlines, it just might be. From Pandora’s acquisition of AdsWizz to SiriusXM’s play to buy Pandora, recent signals have many in the industry believing that programmatic audio is finally reaching marketplace maturity. We talked with Sarah Scherer, Media Product Manager at Goodway Group, about how these changes will impact Pandora advertising and the digital audio landscape. Earlier this year, Pandora purchased the programmatic audio platform AdsWizz. What has this acquisition meant for Pandora advertising? AdsWizz is a supply-side platform specializing in programmatic audio inventory, like iHeartRadio, podcasts and other audio sources. By purchasing AdsWizz, Pandora gained access to the pipes needed to sell their own audio inventory programmatically. Being full stack means Pandora doesn’t have to rely on third-party SSP tech anymore, like most other publishers. What are the benefits of Pandora going programmatic for advertisers? Of all the recent changes at Pandora, going programmatic brings the most significant benefits for advertisers: 1.      Enhanced targeting. The targeting capabilities through a DSP are typically much more robust than what’s available through a publisher direct buy. Now, Pandora’s advertisers have the ability to layer on sophisticated geotargeting, to seamlessly integrate first-party data, to access thousands of third-party audience segments, to apply enhanced optimization, and more to customize their campaigns. 2.      Expanded reach. Typically, each household only uses one audio platform, be it Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, or something else. It’s similar to selecting a cable provider. You choose one and then access the account across all of your devices. Advertisers who purchased audio exclusively through programmatic pipes in the past weren’t reaching the majority of Pandora households. Now, they can tap into Pandora households through the same programmatic platforms that they use to buy their other audio inventory. 3.      Holistic reporting. Previously, advertisers buying Pandora inventory had to get it direct from Pandora. This meant that after the campaign, advertises needed to pull any reports from Pandora and manually integrate them with other media reports to compare how each channel performed. Being able to buy Pandora advertising on programmatic pipes gives advertisers all their reporting in one place. Compared to other ad formats, audio has been slow to catch on programmatically. What is holding audio back? A variety of factors have held back programmatic audio, but none more than the creative assets required. Most brands have messaging and images they can pull together with limited effort for a display campaign. And some even have video that they can quickly edit for a 15- or 30-second online ad. But audio creatives are a totally different beast. Advertisers must tailor their audio ads to a channel where the audience almost always has eyes elsewhere. I don’t think that most advertisers have historically had high-quality audio assets readily available to activate campaigns. However, I do think more money will flow into programmatic audio in the coming years as advertisers recognize the cost efficiencies and optimization benefits compared to linear radio. These benefits will drive the creation and execution of programmatic audio ads well beyond what we’ve seen in recent years. Last month, Liberty Media, the parent company of SiriusXM, made moves to acquire Pandora. How does this impact the digital audio landscape? The potential combination of SiriusXM with Pandora is game-changing. SiriusXM’s business model was built on leveraging automobiles to sell their subscription service. Joining with Pandora would allow SiriusXM to expand their footprint across devices, making their exclusive sports, radio and celebrity content available on phones, tablets, in-home assistants and more. What does all this change mean for advertisers already in digital audio or those looking to get in? There aren’t any immediate changes for advertisers already running digital audio. But remember that Pandora advertising still requires certain minimums, even if you run programmatically. While it is important to ensure you have a presence across all audio inventory that aligns with your target audience, make sure you can meet the requirements to run on Pandora inventory. And for those looking to get into programmatic audio, the future has never looked brighter. Heading into 2019, advertisers can plan their media buys – inclusive of digital audio – to achieve a holistic, omnichannel approach for maximum impact. Plus, the audio space is one of the safest environments, with most buys transacted via low-fraud private marketplace deals. If you are looking for a high-quality, proven upper-funnel or brand-awareness tactic, programmatic audio might be right for you. To learn more about where programmatic audio is headed in 2019 and beyond, talk to us. We’re listening.

Real Advice for Advertisers From ATS London 2018

In September, I visited London for ExchangeWire’s 2018 ATS conference, an annual event for the online ad industry drawing in top-level executives from agencies, brands, publishers, and ad tech providers. With any event this large, the amount of information and discussion can be overwhelming. That’s why after listening to debates on some of the biggest developments in ad tech, attending macro-focused workshops to reimagine the future of programmatic, and networking with peers as well as new connections, I’ve returned from ATS London with a few key pieces of advice for advertisers. If you didn’t go, this is what you missed; and if you did go, this is what you shouldn’t have missed. STANDARDIZING DATA UNDER A UNIVERSAL ID In today’s data-driven world, advertisers are overwhelmed with complexity. New channels to explore. New metrics to follow. A new generation coming of age. The excitement around the industry getting that much closer to marketing nirvana is overshadowed by frustration and confusion. The primary pain for most advertisers centers on the inability to match individuals to devices across independent ecosystems. Without a universal user ID, brands are left to make sense of the data coming in from different platforms on their own. A panel of C-suite leaders from Beeswax, PubMatic, Captify, and TripleLift agreed with and amplified this concern. In their view, GDPR and ads.txt have brought independent providers together, but normalizing user data under a universal ID may prove to be a much bigger struggle. The reality is ad tech providers are going up against walled garden giants as well as their industry counterparts, so providers believe they need every advantage they can get to stay marketable. Being part of a shared universal ID goes against this dog-eat-dog mindset. My Advice for Advertisers: The old saying, “Money makes the world go round,” rings true here. The best way to put pressure on providers to band together behind a universal ID is to try to partner with those already working to make this happen. Know if your partners are part of the Advertising ID Consortium or involved in other initiatives to solve for a universal ID. And stay up to date on how their efforts translate to practical applications. TRANSITIONING TO A MORE TRANSPARENT MODEL It should come as no surprise that one of the overarching messages throughout ATS London was the need for increased transparency. Advertisers want more pricing transparency, inventory transparency, value-chain participation, and so on. At the conference, we saw an interesting panel discussion on in-housing, where key figures at Spark Foundry, Electronic Arts (EA), and Infinitive debated the hurdles and benefits of achieving complete transparency. While taking programmatic buying in-house might seem like an easy solution to get full transparency, unless you’re a powerhouse brand, it may not actually help control costs. Building out a team and tech to manage the entire process in-house can get expensive – surging well beyond the expense of working with a partner. For 90% of brands out there, reaching the tipping point where internal control saves long-term dollars isn’t realistic. Instead, pushing for a more transparent model is what advertisers need to rally behind if they want to really maximize media value. You can’t wait for the industry to define the standards of trust; you need to define them yourself and use them to guide who you choose to work with. My Advice for Advertisers: If you don’t know what you are paying for, then you shouldn’t be buying it. Advertisers need to dictate the rules of engagement up front and ask the right questions to understand what they are paying for. Then, let ad tech providers explain the value and expertise they bring to the table. If what you’re getting from a provider is worth it, then you shouldn’t have a problem paying for it. APPLYING BLOCKCHAIN PROCESSES TO AD TECH Aside from the usual suspects, there was one other topic that dominated conversations at ATS London: blockchain. We all crave simplicity. It’s why the Staples “Easy Button” campaign was such a success. But implementing blockchain in the ad tech ecosystem isn’t that simple. At the show, Ken Brook of MetaX, Shailley Singh from IAB Tech Lab, and Charles Manning with Kochava led an interesting debate on “The Application of Blockchain in a Digital Media Environment.” But overall, I was pleased to have the reality of the blockchain situation laid to bare candidly by so many leaders at the conference – there is no doubt that 2019 will be an incredibly important year for blockchain’s development, but a marketable product for our industry is still two to three years away. Everyone is eager to apply blockchain processes to the ad industry, but so many business practices need to get in line before blockchain has a chance of improving things for marketers. For example, all players in the supply chain have to agree to the same ledger (no easy sell) before blockchain can ever be a value creator in preventing fraud or ensuring transparency. My Advice for Advertisers: Don’t worry; you aren’t missing the boat on blockchain. Listen to leading voices from the industry and keep a pulse on how blockchain shapes up in 2019. And don’t get fooled into buying products promising practical blockchain applications – the tech isn’t there yet, so they’re either selling you an oversimplified solution or smoke and mirrors. Overall, the 2018 ATS London event lived up to its reputation. There were so many interesting sessions and insightful keynotes that I could go on and on. But in a world where distractions are at an all-time high and people are busier than ever, I’ll save those thoughts for another blog – or reach out to me anytime if you want to go down the rabbit hole together. What will happen next year, next month, or next week? In this industry, it’s anyone’s guess, but if you want to stay up to date on what’s happening at can’t-miss industry events – like Advertising Week New York happening this week – stay tuned to our blog.