Online Audio – What is it and is it HEAR to stay?

So many listeners out there, but how much are we listening? Personally, I would say I spend 2-3 hours a day listening to some type of online audio. In our household alone we account for 7 hours a day, at least!

The average user of online audio spends about 16 hours and 43 minutes a week! So, to answer the above question we are listening A LOT!

How can you use this to your advantage in this space? It is projected that ad dollars spent on streaming audio will rise 17% this year. We can take an audio commercial and target these listeners with Online Audio Ads. Online audio ads will target online listeners who are consuming online audio across devices. Devices include smartphones, smart speakers, laptops, desktops, tablets and even connected TVs streaming through apps. There are many targeting options available. First, we select the geographic are you are trying to reach and then we can target certain demographics or behaviors, like “small business decision-makers”, “gym-goers” or even “Major Appliance shoppers” to name a few. We also pair Artificial Intelligence targeting to help zero in on the core customer. AI optimizes when users are online and engaging. AI also takes into account, audience behaviors/characteristics, how frequently the user has been served impressions from this advertiser and how recently the user has been served impressions from this advertiser.

Where the ads will run is across major apps like Spotify, TuneIn, Triton, SoundCloud, iHeart and Dozens of online audio platforms.  Spotify is quickly becoming a leader in audio listening and is projected to take the lead over Pandora in 2020.

By June 2017, Spotify had 144 million monthly active users (MAU). It almost doubled that by the second quarter of 2019, tapping into 232 million MAUs. Of these, total premium Spotify subscribers amount to 100 million or more. Spotify has a 36% share of the global music streaming industry and this continues to grow. Smart speakers and mobile have been huge drivers of this growth.

According to Edison research and Triton Digital, 23% of the US population owns at least one smart speaker and over half of the people that do have more than one.  By the end of 2020 it is projected that 75% of all US households will have a smart speaker.

When streaming audio from a laptop, desktop, tablet or mobile device a companion banner ad can appear that is clickable. Below is an example of an ad on Mobile using Spotify.

Online Audio as a marketing tool is great for branding and awareness. It is also great at building loyalty with listeners. As consumers, we can be brand loyal and more than half of the people listening to podcasts said that they are somewhat more likely or much more likely to consider the brand they hear advertised. As an avid podcast listener, I would 100% agree with this statement. Whenever I hear a commercial during an episode of Dax Shepard Arm Chair Expert, my brow immediately raises and I pay attention to this brand more and have even sought out the product or service later on my own time to find out what it is all about. The inner voice in my head says, “If Dax endorses this product, then I must check this out!”

Now, what should your online audio ad include?

  1. The ask. Determine what the ask is in your ad and how hard you are going to sell it. How are you going to approach your listeners? Just like radio you need to command your audience in the right way. If it is a soft sell, it is suggestive but does not directly scream the call to action. If it is a medium sell you want to ask for their business but not in a forceful manner. If it is a hard sell, demand that listeners’ attention and create a sense of urgency.
  2. Script & Tone Your script should not exceed 30 seconds. Choose either a 15 second or 30 second or a script for both. The script should be a good representation of your brand in a conversational way. This will resonate with those listeners much better and will leave a great impression of the brand. Keep in mind you don’t have a lot of time to hook your listener. Decide one key takeaway in your script and make sure the message is concise and clear and you lead with this information.  Audio listeners are generally multitasking, so you want a message to cut through the clutter and is easy to follow along. Don’t cram 50 words in 30 seconds. Keep it simple.
  3. Voice
    Make sure the voice you use for your commercial is appealing and will connect with your audience. Have you ever listened to an audiobook with a horrible voice? This is a key component of your commercial so your audience will stay tuned in.
  4. Sounds
    Create a nice transition for your listener. Ads are inserted between songs, interviews or podcast content, so you need a nice clean start and finish to your ad. Music and sounds can be included but consider the volume of these and don’t start on a loud note.

Online Audio is also a great way to reach a more affluent audience. Monthly podcast consumers are typically in upper household incomes.

Streaming the Serial podcast or Armchair Expert by Dax Shepard or listening to the Amos Lee music channel on Spotify are common actions done on my iPhone and smart speakers; many times, up to several hours a day. Am I alone? Heck no. Even my kids have jumped on board; my 6-year-old with “Alexa play the new Frozen 2 songs” or my teenager with “Play the top 5 or make a new playlist.”

But it is not just me and my kids, across all ages online audio is HOT! The younger generation is eating it up, followed by 25-54 years old and even 55 and older are listening to their fair share. 74% of people 25-54 listened to online audio last month. For many advertisers, this is their marketing
sweet spot.

And the % of adults listening to online audio continues to rise. In the last month, 67% of the entire US population listened to online audio.

When it comes to streaming, Nielsen finds the average user with 41% of their weekly music listening time spent with streaming.

Nielsen says audio streaming reached 745.7 billion streams (up 23.8%). This growing demand for streaming music presents a new opportunity for online audio advertisers, as Comscore research indicates that free, ad-supported listening accounts for around three-quarters (77%) of music streaming app accounts. And that’s just the music apps.  There are so many ways to stream audio content as well from Podcasts, sporting events, news and more.

Podcasts have gone gaga! More than HALF of the US are listening to podcasts. And much like binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix, we are now binge listening as well. Research has shown that on average podcast listener listens to seven podcasts a week.

So online audio is like Radio transformed. We always need noise in our life, whether we are driving in the car, working out at the gym, flying for hours or just to break up the silence while working in your office. Personally, sometimes I welcome the quiet, after having rambunctious kids in the car or when I finally have some alone time at home, but those are rare occasions.

Borrell forecasts broadcast radio’s digital sales will grow 27% in 2020, hitting $1.25 billion. With radio on the rise, they attribute 12.8% of radio groups revenue coming from digital maybe even higher if you factor in online ad advertisements.

It is safe to say that online audio is booming like crazy and it is HEAR to stay. It is a great tool to target engaged listeners for branding and awareness, generate lift in purchase intent and to create brand loyalty.

What are OTT ads?

Are you down with OTT? You should be! Recent data shows more than half of all American adults are devouring over the top (OTT) content, and it is not a passing fad.

Ask friends for advice on a new show to watch or ask co-workers what movies they recently caught. You are not going to hear them talking about traditional TV, you are going to hear about an original series only found on Prime, or the latest Netflix movie. You might hear about a documentary or stand-up comedy show they are binging on through their Chromecast or Apple TV, and if you do hear about The Bachelorette or This is Us, they are likely watching it through their ABC or NBC app rather than through cable.

What does OTT even mean? It stands for Over The Top, initially named in reference to devices that bypass cable and instead go “over” a cable box to give the user access to streaming TV content. In OTT channels, content is delivered via an internet connection rather than through a traditional cable/broadcast provider.  

People are cutting their cable cords and are watching what they want, when they want. Many don’t even have to cut the cord, they never had it, their official term is “cord-nevers”. In fact, it is estimated that 67 million Americans do not pay for a traditional TV service and 1.3 million Americans cancelled their pay-TV service in the 1st quarter of 2019.

Streaming options continue to rise and there are a lot of players in the game and from Apple TV+ to Disney + the options seem endless. With so many options to choose from, people are likely pondering just how many of these streaming options we need AND how many can be supported? A new survey of 2000 plus verified adult users of OTT services is attempting to answer some if these burning questions by digging a little deeper. The survey, conducted by the Harris Poll and AdTech platform Open X , has revealed many interesting facts:

  • 52% of all US Adults over 18 use at least one OTT service
  • The average OTT user streams more than 2 hours of content every day
  • The average OTT user streams content across three devices and uses three different OTT services.
  • Usage also varies by age with Millennials spending more time on their phones than they do sleeping and 1 in 3 OTT users stating that screen size has no impact on the type of content or how long they watch.

What does this all mean? That OTT is rapidly becoming the norm. People are not just testing the waters anymore, they have cannon-balled into it and are swimming freely.

The next question in my mind then is just how many streaming services does one really need? And, how many is too many for the market? How many monthly fees are we willing to pay when new streaming services are coming at us all fast and furiously?  Survey says, “Up to $100 per month for about 15 channels/outlets.”

Are you overwhelmed? Most of us are. Managing our streaming subscriptions does not spark joy. We want it to be easy. Easy to choose, easy to manage and easy to navigate, however, there is no perfect way to cut the cord and no perfect magical combination of streaming that will give you everything you want.

Take sports for example. We have a Roku in our house, and I live with some massive soccer fans. In the last four weeks we have downloaded at least four different services in order to watch specific games that were not being broadcast on a service we already have. Keep in mind, in the last four weeks we have also decided to cancel two subscriptions. One as soon as the free trial was complete and the other as soon as the super special unicorn game we could only find on that app was over. We decided to keep one as it has a more massive variety and sports package and as for the fourth service, we are still in the trial period and we are still mulling over how necessary it is and if we want to keep it.

I would imagine a lot of households work this way. We are all constantly patching together different combinations of services to get just the right fit, yet like your favorite jeans, that perfect fit can be really hard to come by.  

The average consumer subscribes to at least three services, and we will continue to see several more debuts in the next year or less. Now instead of just turning the TV on, we actually need to compile a strategy and game plan to watch TV.

What makes us decide which services to use? Content is huge. For us, it was about where can we watch this game and who has it? Often there is only one place to watch so the choice is simple. The survey agrees to a point and determined that while specialized content is a good way to attract new viewers, it is not enough the keep them long term. 

As we are all working on patching together our own personal quilts of streaming, advertisers are busy keeping up with it all.

It is estimated that $76.1 billion was spent on advertising to television audiences in 2019, down from $79.3 billion in 2018. For 2020 it is predicted to rise 4% thanks to all the political ads we can expect in an election year.

What about Video ads and what do those budgets look like? According the IAB, marketers report we will see an increase for digital video budgets by 25%.

Some key areas are driving this spend increase:

Original Digital Video content— ODV now averages $9.3M (up 31% y/y); although advertisers consider ODV “essential”, the spend on this content type is still challenged by “quality of content”

• Advanced TV— Nearly 60% of advertisers report that they will increase their budgets for ATV this year, primarily because they find OTT to be beneficial in delivering tough to reach audiences

• Mobile and Desktop have reached parity in spending, with nearly two-thirds of the total digital video spend allocated evenly across the two devices

• Programmatic— Growth in digital video programmatic spending is expected to rise +4% year/year, now reaching 53% overall

With more video ads coming at them, how are OTT audiences responding to ads, especially when they are consuming content on their mobile devices? Going back to our Harris Poll and AdTech platform Open X survey, 40 percent of all OTT users will pause a commercial on their phone, search for info on the product, and display intent to purchase. That is a HUGE opportunity for brands as OTT adverting could generate incredible results. The key is to determine the best approach, the creative needs to be strong and there must be a call to action.   

Another challenge for advertisers is the diversity of the OTT universe. Not all providers allow advertising and not all in the same way. Some platforms are ad supported and others are not which makes it difficult to achieve a tactic that encompasses the whole scene.

The survey found:

• 72% of OTT users understand there is a trade off between watching free content and having advertisers use their data to serve ads, and most do not find ads bothersome if they are relevant
• 46% of OTT customers are willing to pay $10/month for a service with no ads
• 25% prefer a free service with ads
• 29% want a hybrid model with a few ads and a lower monthly cost
• Consumers are willing to pay up to $24/month for a premium package on a single service

These findings hint that OTT providers will most likely arrive at some kind of tiered pricing model with at least one of the tiers being ad supported to include the different customer segments.

As for ad targeting and personalization, there is immense potential to grow as we narrow in on the exact users. Lawrence suggests, “Advertisers will require a much richer inventory of creative to appeal to individual audiences and subsegments.” The concern here is the survey also found a approximately one third of consumers share passwords for OTT services. So he also cautions, “if the account holder is a 55 year-old married couple, but actual primary user is a 21 year-old college student, there might still be a disconnect.”

Although we don’t have all the answers yet, this new survey does help us to quantify some of the changes and gives us a bit of a baseline. I personally have lived through antenna only TV with no remote control, to FINALLY getting cable and the ever so important MTV in high school, to not being able to live without HBO, to all the on demand cartoons my boys watched to the now teens in my family downloading and deleting streaming services at a blinding speed. I’m not certain what exactly is next but I’m down with OTT and excited for the ride!

Top Digital Advertising Trends for 2020

Anywhere you look, you’re going to see trends for the new year, trends for the new decade, and all sorts of news about the “visionary” year of 2020.  Looking ahead, here are a few key things to watch out for as you plan and finalize your marketing budgets.

Instagram Ads –

We all know Instagram as Facebook’s little brother.  But, Facebook’s trusty sidekick has seen some impressive growth since it’s inception in 2010, and even more so since Facebook took control in 2012.

According to this article, there are “More than 500 million people using Instagram Stories every day.”  Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users.  That means there is plenty of opportunity for businesses to utilize this platform to expand their customer base. 

There are so many ways that you can utilize Instagram as part of your digital strategy.  Here are a few reasons that might clear up your thoughts on whether you should use Instagram for your business:

  • 72% of users have bought a product they saw on Instagram.  This stat alone should be a driving force for you.
  • Instagram has access to Facebook’s targeting options.  This is HUGE!  Facebook is an advertising beast, and known for having one of the most advanced social media advertising platforms, and Instagram has that same capability.
  • Instagram is a visual platform.  Because this app is photo-centric, people are expecting to see photos and videos of your products/services.  You can add text if you’d like, but it’s not mandatory.  Having a photo or video centric platform allows your followers to remember your brand better.

There are many industries using Instagram to their benefit.  For example, if you’re an auto dealer, check out this blog on how you could use social media, including Instagram, to promote your dealership.  Also, casinos utilize the popular carousel ad to highlight different entertainment and food options, along with their gaming opportunities.

Voice Search –

It’s here. Are you ready for it?  Voice search is growing every day.  How many times have you talked to Siri or Alexa today looking for the nearest restaurant or the latest show times of the movie you want to watch?

When it comes to Voice Search, it’s imperative that your SEO is being optimized for it.  With 41% of adults using this tool daily, being optimized for voice search is so important.  When people use voice search, they are usually looking for deals and sales, personalized tips, information about upcoming events, and customer service… ALL of which should be aspects of your business info that is optimized for voice search!

Here are a few ways your business can get found in Voice Search:

  • Get to “position zero” (first organic listing on Google)
  • Optimize your Google My Business listing
  • Long tail keywords and questions on your website
  • Lightening fast page speed
  • Accurate online directory listings

Be sure to consult an SEO professional and have the discussion about ensuring your business is being optimized for Voice Search.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ads–

What is AI? Simply put, it’s showing your display or video ads to people across all devices, using machine learning to target consumers based on who is engaging with the ad.

The advancement in technology is unbelievable and being up to date on the latest and greatest is a huge advantage your company can have over the competition.

Think about it this way, AI excels at analyzing data in large scale.  Then, this AI learns from the data and can improve its analysis, predictions, and recommendations very quickly. Being able to find people, similar to the people that are interacting with your ads, and showing your ad to them is exactly what you want.  AI is basically creating the ideal customer profile you want.

Video Ads –

According to our own Kiri Tamte-Horan, Digital Video Is King

Simply put, the amount of ad dollars spent on video alone will eclipse even social media.   The main reason…Content.  With video, you have the opportunity to include more content into a smaller amount of time.

From 2015-2020, Video ad spend is projected to have increased 21.9%.  That being said, my only question to you, is where will you place your video advertising?

Mobile Conquesting Ads–

By 2020, over ¾ of all online display advertising revenue will come from mobile, nearing $84.5 billion.

Add in the diversified capabilities of Mobile Conquesting, and you’ve got so many different opportunities to target your potential customers, this should be at the top of your list for digital strategy moving into 2020.  Here are a few ways to get started with Mobile:

Let’s be real…almost everyone has a smart phone these days. Also, most of us live busy lives between our careers, families, and anything else that sets our souls on fire.  We are generations of people on the go.  So, what better way to market to this extremely busy world, then to target them on the device that they always have with them…their smart phone?

As you can see, there are many trends that are taking flight as a new decade approaches.  These are just a few that will help you in your quest for a successful digital campaign.

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.

AI Blog Post

What is Artificial Intelligence Targeting?

To some AI sounds superficial or in many ways impossible. AI technology is super sophisticated and therefore can be very hard to comprehend. Therefore, many do not realize how powerful this strategy can be for businesses online.

In its simplest form, AI is showing your display or video ads to people across all devices, using machine learning to target consumers based on who is engaging with the ad.

So, what is machine learning and how does it work? There are a zillion factors that go into the algorithms and methods and how this technology was developed. It is important to understand the sole purpose behind this technology is to make marketing meaningful by predicting the potential of every moment, so that marketers can deliver amazing experiences that get real results. Sounds like a dream right?

When a moment presents itself like when a digital consumer visits a website, AI usually has less than 100 milliseconds to leverage all available data about the visitor to make the best decision and execute the ideal delivery of the advertiser’s message.  Success is achieved when we delight the visitors into taking an action or a conversion like a phone call, click or even a store visit.

One of the AI modeling techniques developed helps classify a marketing moment or event. For example, in marketing terms will the person respond favorably to the ad or not? The models use a wide array of data, including patterns of user behavior across the web, first-party data (online visit data) and data made available with permission by the brand websites and segment data from 3rd party providers (offline visits and even purchase behavior).

AI targeting dissects data every minute of a campaign by evaluating historical info about that campaign.  One of the data points looked at is who is converting on the advertiser’s website after seeing the ad.  The machine learning sets boundaries and limits on the converters from the non-converters with minimal error.  Behind this line is an equation that weights all of the features – that is, the data descriptors – that we know about each user and each moment. Then the technology seeks to find more people like these converters based on their behaviors and patterns all in real-time. Each minute it is constantly learning, refining and then delivering at a much more astute way that any human could fabricate on their own.

So while AI is narrowing in on the ideal audience, it also assists in creating that personal experience that consumers want. People want to see ads that relate to them and this is all being led by these AI models and algorithms.  It is predicted that by 2020, 85% of customer relationships will be managed without human interaction.

So why is this useful?

With the influx of web activity every minute of the day and so much exposure to messages and advertising, many advertisers have a hard time finding their core audience online or they are having difficulty getting their audience to respond.

This machine learning assists in doing some of that heavy lifting and helping advertisers refine who they are talking to in a way people never thought it could be possible.

Spending on artificial intelligence globally is forecasted to reach $35.8 billion this year, an increase of 44% from last year, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC).

So, don’t be scared. Trust that the engineering is powered to have the advertiser in mind to reach their consumers.

Digital Marketing Blog Post

Top Three Digital Trends of 2019

Digital opportunities continue to boom and explode. It was forecasted in 2019 digital ad spending will rise by 17.6% to $333.25 billion. That means for the first time, digital will account for roughly half of the ad market.

Some of the top digital trends on the rise are video marketing, artificial intelligence and chat boxes.

Video Marketing is anticipated to climb and climb. Video has always been an important marketing tactic, but it is changing. By 2020, 85% of all consumer internet traffic will be made up of video. And gone are the days of fancy overproduced videos. Consumers want genuine and good content that is entertaining and informative and put a lower a priority on dazzling special effects and fancy edits of high-end footage. They want it to be real.

There are many video options when reaching your target audience. OTT is the HOT new way to reach the cord cutters of the world. Who is watching TV live anymore? In the world of streaming and binge watching of movies and shows, OTT is where it is at. 71% of internet users also use OTT services and 47% of US wi-fi households own a streaming device.

OTT can be targeted to certain demos and behaviors like Moms and Sports nuts or even isolated to certain areas or neighborhoods with a geo-fence. AdWeek notes, “While watching a program, two out of every three people use a second screen to look up information about a product they saw during that program.” Talk about the power of advertising!

OTT is not the only place video can be consumed. Pre-roll video on YouTube and other publisher websites that allow video is another great way to capture people on their phones, laptops and other devices.

A pre-roll ad is a video advertisement that automatically plays directly before a featured video, on both mobile and desktop. These ads are commonly :15 or :30 seconds in length. It has proven to be a great format for brand awareness, brand engagement, brand favorability, and purchase intent.

Video ads also can be included on Facebook. Facebook touts video posts have increased by 94% with 8 billion views a day and 100 million hours of Facebook videos watched daily.

Mobile Conquesting is one of our most popular products. As consumers spend more of their online time on smartphones and tablets, it’s important to include a mobile strategy in your digital marketing. Mobile Conquesting allows advertisers to use both location-based targeting combined with demographic and behavioral targeting to reach desired consumers on their mobile devices with video ads.

Video is changing and so is digital targeting, by leaps and bounds now with machine learning, AKA Artificial Intelligence (AI). Machine learning gets to the heart of your target consumers based on who is engaging with the ad, and showing your ad to more people like those. Utilizing this tool really helps advertisers get their campaigns in front of the most receptive audience. As digital consumers, we want a more personalized experience and are more likely to purchase if ads are customized to us.

All of this activity will yield in more traction on your website whether it be from OTT, mobile ads or AI targeting to capture that potential lead. This is where Live Chat can play a huge role. When advertisers have placed Live Chat on their website, they have seen a 30% increase in leads. 42% of end users prefer a live chat as a major means of communication.

These live chat conversations are not with Chatbots, but with real humans, trained live agents to be precise. These chats can play a critical role in improving the customer experience and allow marketers to better engage with their website visitors, without really doing a whole lot. They offer real-time assistance to the user, and proactive interaction where they ask questions to understand the real problem and provide lead data to advertisers.

Video, mobile, machine learning and chat agents are a small taste of some of the top digital trends this year. Stay on top of these new trends and work to incorporate them in your next marketing plan before the next wave of trends is upon us. Be relevant.

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.