How Accurate is your Geo-Fencing?

One of the most popular products that we offer is Mobile Conquesting, and it’s also one of the more advanced and sophisticated products we offer, because of all the shiny bells and whistles that it offers. With Mobile Conquesting, we can target people by online behaviors (people who have shown specific behaviors online or are in a certain demographic) and also by offline behaviors (targeting people by where they have been tracked with their phone recently, such as a location, business, or specific brand name stores).

That’s the first layer of Mobile Conquesting. With the second layer, we can add in all sorts of “geo” terms, like geo-fencing, geo-retargeting, and geo-retargeting lookalike, where we put a tight radius around an address to capture device IDs and serve ads to those mobile devices. While this is a really neat product, some people might question the validity of how a tight radius is determined. Is the advertiser going to have wasted impressions because the radius is cutting into the neighboring business? Or they are counting people in the parking lot of the strip center that the business is located in? Is the radius actually around that business owner’s location?

IF YOU ARE DOING GEO-FENCING FOR YOUR BUSINESS YOU SHOULD ASK YOUR DIGITAL PROVIDER WHAT TECHNOLOGY METHOD THEY ARE USING!

I’m going to break down different methods mobile technology vendors use for geo-fencing businesses:

Radial Fence by Address – The most basic method of location-based geo-fencing is by placing a radius around a place’s address. Since addresses were built to provide directions to the location, many times the physical location is across the parking lot or on the street.  Research estimates that there can be up to 84% waste in targeting this way.

Radial Fence by Geo-Code – This method places a radius around the center of a business or location. Since most locations are not circular, there will inherently be waste. How much waste depends on the size of the radius.  Research estimates that there can be up to 75% waste in targeting this way.

Parcel Mapping -Also known as property mapping and tax mapping are maps typically built to identify property boundaries and is a popular data source for industries such as real-estate. Parcels can often contain many businesses in the same plot.  Research estimates that there can be up to 51% waste in targeting this way.

Polygon Mapping (This is the technology that we use with Mobile Conquesting) – Polygons are formed by tracing the store or place boundary based on satellite images and latitude/longitude and capture the precise boundaries of a location.  Percent waste = 0%

Now that we have taken a peek behind the curtain to see how geo-fencing is put into action, let’s talk about on-site visit tracking. Another one of the bells and whistles that business owners love about Mobile Conquesting is that they can see their return on investment because we can show how many people saw their ad, and then physically came to their location, but how do we track the actual business, and not surrounding areas?

In-Store mapping is the most granular polygon layer, serving to precisely map the outlines of the business or point or interest.

On Lot mapping is a polygon layer that separates a business from it’s parking lot.  In instances of a standalone business, this could be the entire parking lot.  For strip malls or adjacent storefronts, this will typically just be the area directly in front of the business.

Here is an example of an auto dealership polygon: 

How visits are verified:

Once the location signal is matched to a place, the final step is determining whether a visit has actually occurred.  The following data is evaluated to determine whether a visit is deemed to be verified:

  • Store hours – How frequently does the user visit and for how long? What are the store hours and when did the visit take place? Only visits that occur during open store hours are counted.
  • Employee status – Understanding employee status allows (when people work and how often) allows the system to exclude employees.
  • Dwell time – How long did the user spend in the store? Dwell time is used to filter for inaccurate visits.
  • Speed – How fast was the user moving when he/she was tracked as a visit? If they’re moving faster than then the system’s average speed threshold, the visit is not counted.
  • Horizontal accuracy – What is the percent accuracy of the lat/long the system received? If the horizontal accuracy that falls within the polygon that is being tracked is not higher than the system’s average percent threshold, the visit is not counted.

This verification process means that the system has a 94% accuracy rate!

Do You Think Digital Advertising is Creepy?

Even when we’re adults and out on our own, we still call our moms for everything, especially when we don’t feel well. Just last night I called my mom to tell her I had a sore throat and a headache. She gave the typical mom answer and said “gargle with warm salt water and go to bed early and get some rest.” The next morning I woke up and was browsing the internet catching up on what was going on in “Bachelor Nation”, and I kept seeing ads for Dayquil. Coincidence?

Now, what I didn’t tell you before, was that that afternoon I went to Walgreens to buy some Dayquil, cough drops, and tissues, and when I purchased them, I did so with my Walgreens card. Before I went to Walgreens, I also looked up symptoms of strep throat and symptoms of the common cold. Just by doing these simple things, I was targeted because of what online behaviors I showed (behavioral targeting and/or keyword targeting) and where I had recently been (mobile conquesting). Digital advertising allows us to get so targeted, that some people might think it is “creepy”.

It is safe to say that in today’s digital world, ads aren’t going anywhere, so wouldn’t you rather be served ads that are relevant to what you like or enjoy, or are interested in? Personalized ads have a higher click through rate (CTR) than their counterparts ,and they reduce wasted ads spend. Advertisers can get super targeted with their messaging to consumers based on what they look for online, what they search for, what they buy, what they click on, where they frequently visit, where they’ve recently been, and so many other factors. A study done by Epsilion found that four-fifths of consumers are more likely to make purchases when a brand gives them a personalized experience.

As customers, we expect to be treated the way customers should be treated; we all want a personalized experience. If you are out to dinner and the waiter or waitress remembers your name at the end of the meal, you feel special because it was a customized experience. If you check into a hotel and the front desk says to “enjoy your stay Ms. Jones”, you feel special because it is now a personalized experience. Why wouldn’t digital advertisers want to send customized ads to potential customers as well? Seventy five percent of consumers said they prefer a world with fewer, but more personalized ads, with 71% preferring ads that are tailored to their interests and shopping habits.

When you hear about the different ways that we can target people with digital advertising, you might start to feel a bit uneasy, but you are feeling that way as a consumer. Flip that around, it is a way to reach highly qualified potential customers! Your competitors are taking advantage of the advanced technology when it comes to serving ads to a targeted audience, don’t have the “fear of missing out”.

See, digital advertising isn’t creepy; it’s hyper targeted based on individual behaviors to create a customized experience, so go ahead and embrace the ads for those gadgets, gizmos, and trinkets.

8 Things to Know About Digital Advertising

There’s a lot to know about Digital.  In fact, there’s a TON of information out there.   However, it doesn’t need to be complicated.

What is Digital Advertising?  This is when you buy advertising space across websites, mobile apps, and even social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, where audiences are targeted with the help of specific information about their online behaviors, interests, and purchasing habits.  What you might not know, is that digital advertising doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

If you’re looking into adding digital advertising into your media mix, here are 8 things you should know before getting started (in no particular order):

  1. Your competitors are already doing it.  You are not alone when it comes to digital advertising.  Take Facebook for example.  There are over 5 million businesses on Facebook that are spending money each month on advertising to their specific users.  Most of these are small to medium sized businesses.  Facebook is a monster (in a good way) tool to use for your business.  There are thousands of ways you can target your specific audience.   How do you do that? That’s just Facebook!  2019 is going to hit a milestone.  It’s going to be the first year that advertisers are spending more money on digital than on traditional advertising.  We expect digital ad spending to reach over $129 billion dollars this year.

2. Make your advertising mobile.  According to emarketer, time spent with smartphones and tablets increasingly skews towards mobile apps, rather than mobile website.   In fact, app usage accounted for almost 90% of smartphone time, and over 75% of tablet time in 2017.   That’s a lot of time for the 81% of adults in the US that own a mobile device and the 52% that own a tablet.  In addition to that, businesses have spent, in total, more than $58 billion on mobile.  We know people are spending money on mobile, and we know that people spend a lot of time on mobile.  What exactly is it?  Mobile Advertising, what we refer to as Mobile Conquesting is using location based, demographic, and behavioral targeting to reach consumers with digital ads (display and video) on their mobile devices (smartphones and tablets).  There is so much versatility with Mobile Conquesting, one of the major reasons a lot of local advertisers turn to this product to advertise.  From specifically targeting competitors and events to promoting your business only during the time it rains are just some of the capabilities of Mobile Conquesting.   ROI is important to everyone, and one way to do that with mobile is to track in-store visits, for those of you with brick and mortar locations.  Wouldn’t it be nice to know how many people are walking into your store because of your digital campaign?

3. Hyperlocal advertising is the new black.  Local advertisers have the ability to determine the geographical area where your ads are served.  We refer to this as geo-targeting.  This can be done in many ways.  You could start with targeting a specific mile radius around your business.  You could target your ads to be displayed only in certain zip codes.  You can also target the city in which your business is located.  There are ways to scale larger too, but for small and medium size businesses, those are the best ways to start.  Focus on your local area, one of the biggest benefits of digital marketing.  Then, as you grow, you can expand your targeting area.  Being able to focus on your community, on your neighborhood, and in only the areas that matter for your business is one of the reasons advertisers love digital.  You can zero in on what’s most important to you.

4. You can track metrics with digital.  With digital advertising, you have access to so much data.  It just depends on what you want to see.  For starters, Google Analytics is a great, free, tool that Google has that can be installed on your website.  It’s easy to learn as they have free classes.  It’s straight forward and you can go at your own pace.  

We provide monthly reports that include impressions, clicks, conversions, and view throughs on all reports.  In addition, for certain products we are also able to provide website/app breakout, creative performance, device performance, and top keywords. View-throughs are when someone sees your ad online, they don’t click on it, but venture to your site at a later time.  Those are important because not everyone clicks on ads.  They may see the ad and come to your site later, or they may just open up a new tab on their browser so they don’t lose their spot.  Either way, we track those.  Conversions, mentioned above, are key.  This is what you want someone to do when they come to your website.  Do you want them to fill out a contact form?  Apply for financing? Start a live chat with one of our agents?  Tracking conversions tells you what people are doing when they come to your website after being served your ad.

5. Use video when you can   Not every business has video they can use as part of their creative.  However, you can create video easily.  With apps like Ripl and Legend, making video ads has become a lot easier, especially for the small to medium size business that can’t pay outrageous production fees.  Some of the best performing video ads we have run were actually “homemade” video ads shot by clients on their smartphones. 

Why should you use video in your marketing when possible?  80% of internet users can remember a video ad they have seen in the last 30 days. Also, 90% of consumers claim that video will help them make a purchasing decision.  Video can be King, as long as it’s a good video.

6. Diversify. One of the best abilities that digital advertising has is the ability to utilize many digital platforms/products at the same time. One of the newest forms of digital advertising out there is OTT or “Over The Top” video advertising. With the ability to target the “cord cutters”, this new platform can serve ads on Roku, Slingbox and even TV apps like Fox and CBS. There are 168.1 million people watching content through services like these. That’s a lot of people that you can be advertising to and send in your direction that you might not be able to reach if you are only doing broadcast TV and cable.

7. Ad spending is affordable.  We all have marketing budgets.  With Digital Advertising, though, it is so streamlined.  With services starting as low as a penny per impression, digital can be purchased by any company.  Here’s the kicker… you get to target a much more specific audience of users: Those most likely to be interested in your product or service.  There is so much data out there that allows us access to it so businesses like yours can target effectively.  Some companies will have a Digital Buyer or hire a company to do the ad buying for them.  This accomplishes a few things.  One, it cuts down the amount of time you need to spend researching how to accomplish everything we’ve talked about above.  It allows you to focus on running the business that you own.  Lastly, it allows you to be provided with reporting on how well your campaign is performing. 

8. It can be easy to understand. The key here is to find yourself an expert.  That may be your local radio station, TV station, newspaper publishing company or ad agency.  We’ve all learned the information inside and out, and can break it down in a very simple, clear manner that allows you to understand it.  Just because you don’t know the world of digital advertising doesn’t mean it’s complicated.  It’s not.  Find yourself the right partner that can explain it to you, one that you trust, and that is truly interested in helping your company grow.

Digital advertising is growing.  More and more businesses are spending more and more money because it works.  We are all spending more time online, which means you have more opportunity to reach your targeting  audience while they browse on their favorite device.  Invest in yourself. Invest in your company. Invest in Digital Advertising.  It has become a must have as part of your marketing mix.

Facebook Marketing Blog

Is Facebook Listening In On Me Through My Phone?

How many of us have felt like Facebook is listening to our phone conversations? I swear I just mentioned these new Kendra Scott earrings to my friend and now I’m seeing them in my news feed? Disturbing! Right? Or is it just effective?

It is absolutely unnerving. You feel like you just mentioned to a friend, or even just thought about an item and then you go on Facebook and there it is right in your News Feed. You are not alone in this feeling, almost everyone who uses Facebook has some variation of this happening and has had the same feeling of being spied on. So, Facebook must be listening in on us in some way, right?  If not, how is this happening, and for so many people?

Let’s begin with the facts. Facebook clearly says that they are not listening. In fact, they have outright denied this claim and have said they are not using your phone’s microphone to show you relevant ads. They say they only access your microphone if you have given the app permission AND if you are actively using a specific feature requiring that audio.

There are other sources that say it isn’t so as well. CNET did a study specifically trying to prove Facebook is listening in and came up short on any conclusive evidence. The test wasn’t overly scientific, but they did settle on the fact that it was data points and not listened to conversations that led to the ads they received.

Are you convinced? Although the test doesn’t 100% disprove the idea, there have been more tests and security experts trying to prove Facebook listens in on our phone but they too come up short in finding any evidence.

What does Mark Zuckerburg have to say about all of this? Well, when he was directly asked this question by Congress last year he gave an emphatic “No.” He said, “No. Let me be clear on this: You’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on through your microphone and use that for ads,” Zuckerberg replied. “We don’t do that.” He said no, yet the conspiracy theory continues to thrive on social media with many still unsure of the truth.

One of the main reasons the conspiracy theory is so believable is because the ads truly do appear to be THAT accurate and targeted. So, if they are not listening in, how are they getting the targeting so right?

The answer is complex. There are in fact a tremendous amount of other ways for Facebook to come up with targeting options. For example, have you taken a quiz on Facebook? Have you posted anything on Facebook? Have you checked in somewhere? Have you “liked” something? Do you have “friends” on Facebook? Have you shared any information online? Have you opted into apps and websites and just clicked “I agree” to terms and conditions? Likely you have, and the digital eye in the sky is watching our every move. It doesn’t even have to be on Facebook, you just have to go online and or have a phone.

Tracking pixels are constantly in motion in the background, raining down with every click and measuring our activity. What sites are we looking at? What are we clicking on? What sites are we lingering on longer? What sites do we bounce off immediately? Millions of data points are consistently and constantly being tracked and connected behind the scenes to determine our online behavior.  This technology allows us to be put into targeting categories that define our demographics, interests and behaviors so advertisers can easily and sometimes eerily market ads to the right person. Ads can be hyper-targeted because tech companies know what websites we are visiting.  Online activity is constantly tracked which allows not only Facebook to track our likes and dislikes, but Google and many others as well.

It is not just online.  The technology also knows were we go, places we frequent often, maybe even the brand of coffee we drink. How? Through our geolocation data. Consider this example, most days of the week I leave my house around 7:50 am and drive my two kids to school, oftentimes, I stop and grab a coffee at my local Starbucks. I don’t check in anywhere or report to anyone where I am going, but my phone does, and it is always with me. I pull through the carpool line at the high school. My phone is pinging my latitude and longitude location and bouncing off cell towers. My Bluetooth is on, of course, how else would I take a call but through my car connection? I repeat this activity a few times in the morning and I’ve now put myself into a category of “parent of high school aged child.” Why? Simply because I am near the school most weekday mornings at a certain time.  I move along, I hit Starbucks on my way to elementary school, my phone is still reporting my location and I also paid with my app, so not only my location is recorded but also my exact purchase. I move onto elementary drop off and put myself into the “mom of elementary age child” category, and the saga continues.

Technology can report what we have recently purchased. Stew on this for a moment.  It has also been reported that Google knows about 70 percent of all payment card purchases in the US. 70%! That is a huge number. So that dress I purchased online yesterday? I’m going to see ads for dresses online today.

This type of data exists on all digital consumers and their friends. Even if you’ve never searched for a certain product online, if your friends have, you’re much more likely to see ads for that. The same goes for just being in the same location as someone else. Despite all of these facts, the conspiracy theory does still exist and it does make people nervous. If you fall into that category, consider the fact that it would be completely illegal for an app like Facebook to listen in without your permission. If they were in fact secretly recording people’s conversations and using that information for targeting ads, they would be breaking the Wiretap Act, and if caught violating its billions of users, they would be subject to trillions of dollars in liabilities.

Frankly, listening is not even needed for ad targeting, that’s so 2010!

Voice Search Blog

Voice Search is Here: Is Your Business Ready for It?

When Apple’s Siri first came out back in 2011 the technology was a novelty.  It was cool to test out and sometimes provided informative results, but often the results were laughable.  Not many people predicted voice search would become a major digital trend of the future.

Voice search is defined as a speech recognition technology that allows users to search by saying terms aloud rather than typing them into a search field. Some examples of programs that have voice search capabilities are Google Assistant, Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa.  The proliferation of smart phones and other small, web-enabled mobile devices has spurred interest in voice search.

Three years ago, Google said that 20% of all searches were initiated by voice.  While they haven’t updated that statistic yet, with more than a billion devices globally that feature the Google Assistant, it’s very likely that the percentage of searches initiated by voice has increased dramatically.

In fact, there’s so much interest that 41% of adults (and 55% of teens) use voice search daily. Also, by 2020, Comscoresays that 50% of all searches will be voice searches.  With the projected growth with this tool many businesses are questioning how to stay ahead.  A new study from Uberall, says 96% of businesses are not voice search ready.   Are you part of that group?  If you are, it’s time to make some changes.

The number one factor contributing to low voice search scores is inaccurate business information across online directories.  Here are some of the areas of error:

  • Hours of operation
  • Website links
  • Location name
  • Addresses

Understanding what consumers are searching for with voice search is important.  According to a Google survey people want to get information about deals and sales, personalized tips, information about upcoming events, customer support and more, all of which are important to any business:

How does Voice Search Impact SEO Rankings?

Since the point of SEO is to rank websites accurately so users can find the best information for their search as quickly as possible, user experience is ultimately, at the forefront of search engine optimization (SEO).  Because of that, search engines are placing a higher emphasis on voice search. Keep in mind that voice search SEO and traditional website SEO are different.  Therefore, some factors that affect one, may not affect the other.  For example, voice search SEO is more conversational resulting in long sentences showing up in search queries, such as “Where can I find a plumber in Phoenix” rather than typed Google searches, which tend to be shorter like “plumbers in Phoenix”.

Does Voice Search Drive Website Traffic to My Website?

The answer is yes.  Voice Search works the same way as traditional SEO.  Since that’s the case, you still want to ensure that your business shows up in the search results.

So now that you know all of this, how does your business get found in Voice Search?  Here’s a quick overview of areas of focus:

  1. Get to position zero AKA “featured snippets”
  2. Google My Business listing
  3. Long tail keywords & questions
  4. Page speed
  5. Directory Listings

Voice search is here and we’ve included it in all our SEO offerings for our partners, including search through Amazon.   For most local businesses, 90% of their traffic is from Google, and a very small percentage is from Amazon.  Our optimization is platform agnostic, which means we are doing good things for websites, regardless of the search engines.  Amazon does have an immediate impact on local business with voice search, and our SEO plans and recommendations account for that.

Considering that nearly all the steps you can take to optimize for voice search are beneficial to your Search Engine Marketing efforts overall, the decision to focus on voice optimization should be an easy one.  Incorporating this strategy has several benefits businesses are rewarded with, including:

  • Increase in website traffic
  • Increase in brand awareness and visibility
  • Connect better with consumers
  • Enhances customer engagement
  • Can provide a higher scope of conversions and sales

Voice search offers so many opportunities.  It can change the way that we connect with and communicate with our customers.  Having your business ready for it can prove to be an efficient method to improve customer relationship management.