Weekly Digital Breakdown

Snapchat Adds Dynamic Targeting

As Instagram has proven to be an effective way to reach audiences, advertising on the platform has seen steady increases. However, as brands rush to utilize the platform, saturation and demand are driving up costs for the coveted inventory. Seeing a need to reach this market, today Snapchat announced dynamic ad beta testing in the U.S.

Geared toward retail, ecommerce, and direct-to-customer (DTC) brands, the dynamic ads will work similarly to those on other platforms. Users will get a customized experience as Snapchat connects to a brand’s product feed to automatically create personalized ads based on the interests and online behaviors. Direct access to product information will increase relevancy, eliminating the need for advertisers to continuously update ads based on product or price changes. For ease of use, Snapchat has created five mobile templates in which the product can be placed.


The additional option comes as Snapchat has been working to carefully add to its arsenal of capabilities to attract more ad dollars. The dynamic offering is particularly appealing to those wishing to reach younger audiences this holiday season as ad costs on Instagram are as much as 8x higher than those on Snapchat. The cost-effective, high converting ad units are just what DTC brands have been looking for.


Amazon Searches For More Market Share

Google has been the primary search engine in the US for years. Companies such as Microsoft have done their best to try to impede its success without much luck. However, based on an eMarketer report released earlier this week, Amazon is positioned to increase its search market share in the coming years gradually shifting ad dollars away from the search giant.  Amazon is experiencing a surge of growth as the company is projected to increase ad revenue by nearly 30% this year over 2018, eating into Google’s long standing hold on the market. 

Amazon’s distinct advantage of being a shopping platform where consumers are poised to purchase have helped accelerate its search engine success. The company’s continued focus on refining its search strategy for advertisers by improving performance metrics and ad targeting capabilities appeal to advertisers, capturing an increasing amount of ad dollars. Amazon is making a clear stance that it’s focused on encroaching on the Google market and doing so quickly.

The eMarketer report also noted that Amazon is the only company in the space that is currently experiencing growth, surpassing Microsoft which had previously held the spot as the second-largest search advertising platform. 

While Google continues to dominate the search space, the company is investing in more engaging shopping experiences to retain audiences. The recent overhaul of its online shopping experience comes as a direct response to key retail categories diverting ad dollars away from Google to Amazon. 

While Amazon still has a long way to go before truly challenging Google, the competition will be a welcome change for marketers.


Instagram Helps Users Better Control Their Data

If you have an Instagram account, you’ve likely given permission to third-party apps to access your account in some way. Options such as “Import photos from Instagram,” or “Connect/Link to Instagram,” are often quickly clicked through in order to finish whatever task you may be doing. However, users may not realize that once they authorize permission to data such as profile info, username, photos, etc. that information can continue to be accessed. Due to the amount of requests for this information, it can be hard to remember what services have this permission.

In the ongoing effort to protect data privacy online, Instagram users will soon be able to easily manage which third-party apps are using their data. By going to “Settings” > “Security” > “Apps and Websites,” users will be able to view a list of who has access and remove any previous authorizations. 

Following this feature, Instagram will also update the authorization screen which explicitly outlines what the third-party app wishes to access before you consent. The changes will be rolled out over the next 6 months as the company works to give users more control over their data.


Engage Younger Shoppers With These Digital Advertising Techniques

What can advertisers today learn about Generation Z, the group of consumers born from 1997 onward, according to Pew Research? By next year, Gen Z consumers age 10 to 22 will make up about 40 percent of all consumers. It will eventually increase to some 82 million consumers by 2026, Business Insider notes. 

We know that Gen Zers are digital savants, with their early lives shaped by social media, mobile devices, and an on-demand lifestyle. As such, they are extremely adept at integrating offline and online experiences, and have very definite ideas on how they want to be marketed to and receive advertising. While generally seen as being skeptical of brands (and brand promises), 44 percent of Gen Z shoppers will provide personal data in exchange for a priority marketing experience.  

In order to reach this demographic, some major advertisers, including Starbucks, MasterCard, and Doritos have removed logos and brand names from ad efforts in a bid to be more accommodating to Gen Z ad preferences. Will it work? How do you effectively advertise to a generation that's grown up on advertising's pervasiveness on the Internet and digital devices, but also prefers to exist in ad-free worlds like Netflix?

Let's look at some key digital advertising techniques that well-meaning marketers and advertisers can use to reach this group of young consumers.

Be supportive of Gen Z causes and values. Recent studies point toward Gen Zers' deep convictions on social issues, and less-extravagant views of consumption. McKinsey Consulting notes that Gen Zers are re-exploring the entire idea of product consumption, and what value, if any, it represents in their lives. They are more apt to seek out services rather than goods to satisfy their lifestyle needs. Instead of trying to sell products to these consumers, advertisers should look to providing value with access to these products. Overall, Gen Zers are more apt to trust companies (and their brands) when they believe these companies are concerned about consumers and society. 

Be honest about brand characteristics. Brands need to be authentic and market themselves with value rather than false promises. Advertisers can focus more on the value they provide to a Gen Zer's life by being honest about a product's features. Speak clearly to this demographic about your brand's key qualities, tough challenges, and future benefits.

Provide an authentic consumer experience. Members of Generation Z want to help shape conversations with brands. Through social media, Gen Zers can offer their individual experiences to brands. This engagement and participation invites examples of an authentic journey. Brands that capitalize on these interactions will likely find themselves gaining trust and buyer interaction.

Social media will play a key role. Gen Z users prefer brands to interact with them on Instagram and Snapchat, two of today's hottest platforms for engagement and interactivity. A 2019 Piper Jaffray report found Instagram and Snapchat to be far ahead in interactions through advertising and engagement with Gen Zers. A standout example is eyeglass brand Warby Parker, which offers a pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair that is sold. That plays straight to the heart of Gen Zers. Brands can also learn new Instagram hacks to connect with Gen Z audiences and bring authentic experiences to them.

Don't forget YouTube. Teens watch a ton of video. Nearly 90 percent are watching YouTube content at least once a week, and often far more frequently. Advertisers can appeal to teens' short attention spans by employing 6-second bumper videos on YouTube.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Twitter Login Not So Secure

Twitter users are familiar with its two-factor authentication requirement for account set-up, implemented for security purposes. However, the company has recently indicated this confidential information has been used beyond its intended purposes, and has instead allowed advertisers to access these details for targeting purposes. 

On October 8th, Twitter admitted they recently discovered the data may have “inadvertently” been accessed by advertisers to target users. The company specifically cited it’s Tailored Audiences and Partner Audiences options, primarily used for remarketing. Both require the use of customer lists, either from the advertiser’s own marketing or a similar third-party partner list that include email addresses and phone numbers. It’s believed Twitter users may have been matched to the list based on the confidential credentials. 

Twitter positioned the announcement as an act of transparency, but some have their doubts user information was shared inadvertently. One noticeable absent piece of information in the release was exactly how long the data had been compromised. With big tech companies, specifically social media platforms, under such scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the improper handling of user data, this information leak could gain the company unwanted attention. 


TripAdvisor Connects With Social

With the help of TripAdvisor, marketers now have a new way to tap into travelers, one of the largest and most captive industry audiences. The company released the launch of TripAdvisor Connect, which will allow brands, hospitality related or otherwise, to gain access to the company’s 10 million social followers across Facebook and Instagram. 

TripAdvisor Connect has plans to expand its capabilities to other media channels in the near future. The company believes that their unique access to deep travel consumer insights can help advertisers engage with high-intent audiences. Users coming to TripAdvisor very specifically have destination travel of some sort in mind. Allowing this audience to be accessible on social media, could be invaluable for brands promoting travel accommodations at every stage of the travel decision journey.


Google Moves Forward With Fashion

Google has launched a shopping overhaul to make the process easier and more engaging for users. With product enhancements, Google Shopping is attempting to capture more of the market and compete in the ever-changing space.

Google Lens has been a shopper’s best friend when it comes to searching for home or apparel items across the web. If you need to complete a furnishing set or replace your favorite jeans, Lens can help. Google enhanced the lens’s capabilities with a “style ideas” feature to give style ideas to apparel shoppers and a little extra inspiration for the stylishly impaired. 

By simply taking a screenshot of an item you like online or taking a photo of one already owned, Google Lens will then show style images suggestions with others wearing the same item to help complete or update your look. Lens will also recommend complimentary pieces, all of which can then be purchased with a few clicks.

To continue to boost it’s ecommerce efforts, Google Shopping also underwent a homepage redesign. Users will now find a more customized experience based on their interests and shopping history as well as the ability to price track products and receive notifications when there’s a price drop.


Additionally, Google Shopping added a filter that lets users check nearby stores for items. The feature shows not only which stores carry the item but also if it’s in stock. For those that just can’t wait for shipping or are in a bind, this quick access could just save the day.

As shoppers continue to expect more from their online experience, Google is looking to lead the charge. Adding suggestions to help undecided buyers, particularly during the holidays, is sure to attract customers and businesses to change perception on its place in fashion.


Learn How Chatbots Improve Your Customer Experience

Chatbots are the automated assistants and conversation tools that pop up on various sites to lend potential customers a hand. In a fast-moving age where people require instant answers and demand ever-increasing levels of engagement with companies, these clever pieces of software are becoming increasingly useful. Research indicates 80 percent of companies intend to implement chatbots by 2020. If you're not sure how a chatbot could benefit your business, consider these five ways chatbots could improve your customer experience.

Improved Engagement

Chatbots simulate real conversations. It's even possible to tailor a chatbot's conversation style to reflect the personality of the business. This helps with customer engagement and makes them feel like they always have a way to speak directly with your company and get the kind of responses they expect. This inspires them to feel valued as a customer.

Instant Responses

Trying to contact a company is sometimes a frustrating experience. Maybe you want to call, but it's after business hours, or you send an email, only to get an automated response saying the answer could take several working days. Chatbots help minimize these frustrations by being available to answer common questions night or day, seven days a week.

Improved Human Response Times

Chatbots can't handle every query, but by providing the most common answers to frequently asked questions they reduce the workload for the live customer service team. Because more of your customers are in a position to find the answers to common questions themselves, fewer people contact support. The result is shorter wait times for phone calls and quicker responses via email.

Easier Sales

A chatbot is always available to help guide a customer through the purchasing process, popping up on a product page to provide additional information and advice or assisting during checkout. You even have the opportunity to instantly deliver a promo code to the user. This level of service makes the purchasing process easier and increases the chance of sales.

Efficient Data Collection

Customer data are incredibly important but not always easy to acquire. The average web form length in 2019 is only five fields, but customers would still rather avoid filling out forms at all, if possible. Chatbots let you acquire similar data without the boring forms and stores customer responses during interactions to build a better picture of who that customer is and what he or she needs. It's possible to use chatbots to:

•         Collect a customer's personal data

•         Collect an email address for a newsletter subscription

•         Gather preferences

•         Ask for a star rating or review for a particular product

•         Get customer feedback

Making data collection less of a chore improves the user experience and also increases the amount of data you collect. It's then possible to use the data to further enhance the user experience by identifying pain points and customizing interactions with specific customers.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Users Opt For Data Privacy

As online users are getting more details on how their personal information is being used for advertising purposes, data privacy has come under the spotlight. In January 2020, California is slated to become the first state to enact a bill, The California Consumer Privacy Act, which would require publishers to divulge how user data is being shared with third parties as well as offer an opt-out to California residents. Multiple notifications must be present offering the user the option of “Do Not Sell My Personal Information.” 

A recent survey was conducted regarding consumer concerns around data privacy with 87% of panel participants (not all of which were California residents) stating they would opt out of allowing their personal information to be used by third parties. Of the remainder, 8% would “just go to the website” and 6% were unsure.

With all the recent press coverage around this issue, these results weren’t terribly surprising. However, shortly after, a similar survey was done with an additional option for users to receive a reward for the use of their personal information by a third party. By offering an incentive, the percentage of those wanting to opt out completely dropped to 61% and 21% of participants said they would now be willing to allow the use of their information if being rewarded.

It’s hard to determine how Californians will react when given the option in a live setting starting in January. However, the rest of the country is looking to them as the trailblazer in protecting user data online. All will be watching how they handle the change as well as the overall impact to the way publishers operate.


Instagram Launches Sales

For many small businesses, social media is one of their biggest advertising resources. With the ability to grow interest and followers organically, brands know a social presence is necessary. In an effort to better accommodate ecommerce business, Instagram is implementing new ways to make the process easier. Following the release of “Checkout on Instagram,” the company announced Monday they are adding a feature that will allow businesses an easier way to launch products and users the convenience of receiving reminders when they are ready for purchase.

How does it work? Users can set reminders in posts for featured upcoming products they are interested in buying. Shoppers will get an update just ahead of the launch so they are able to return to purchase. In addition, a new sticker has been added to Stories that can be used to highlight new products set to be released where reminders can be utilized. 

Since the new feature is widely available, it’s inevitable that big brands will be leveraging for exclusive product releases. However, it may appeal just as much to smaller brands who rely so heavily on the platform to reach their dedicated followers to not only patronize their business but share their finds. https://marketingland.com/launching-a-new-product-new-instagram-tests-launch-day-buy-on-instagram-reminders-268350?

Google Goes Off The Grid

In keeping true to their commitment to aid users in digital data protection, this week Google unveiled additional tools to protect online privacy. The new controls span core products and can be immediately implemented. 

Google has extended the Chrome incognito feature, which allows users to hide browsing history to its Google Maps services. By enabling Incognito mode from the menu in Maps on the app, location searches will not be saved, tracked, nor used to provide dining or commuting suggestions based on the information. The option can be enabled or disabled at any time. Incognito for Google Maps will be rolled out to Android users in October and extended to iOS soon after.


An auto-delete history timer has been added to YouTube which has several time period options which can be selected by the user. Like location history and web and app activity options, users can select 3 months, 18 months or until they manually delete and YouTube will automatically purge the historic data. In addition to protecting data from outside sources, this may also be beneficial to those sharing devices and accounts within a household. 


In the wake of reports of Google employees using smart speakers to listen to users, there will now be an option to delete Assistant activity from your Google account with a voice command such as “Google, delete everything I said to you last week.” The added feature has been automatically activated. The timeframe for deletion is currently limited to only the prior week through the Assistant, but if asked for an extended timeframe, users will be directed to their Google account settings to complete the action. 


If you’re concerned with Google password’s ability to be hacked or have just used the same variation opening you to vulnerability, Google’s new password check-up tool can help. Users can automatically see any potential security issues detected with Google Account credentials or take additional safety steps such as removing old devices or unused apps that utilize a Google login. In addition, Password Checkup has been added to the password manager which houses login information across multiple sites. Users can view which passwords are overused, lacking strength or have been compromised.  Given the potential devastating effects of online data breaches, the option is sure to provide users perspective on the danger of habits they may not have realized.


As users continue to spend more time online, expectations for additional security measures is only likely to increase. Providing these types of tools will be vital to gain and keep user’s trust. 


6 Ways Facebook's Recent Targeting Changes Impact Advertisers

Facebook has announced that large-scale changes will be forthcoming for certain Facebook advertisers as a result of a settlement in March of this year with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others about Facebook's discriminatory ad-targeting options.

Since late 2016, Facebook has faced legal pressure from the ACLU, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and other civil rights groups and fair housing organizations. According to the ACLU, advertisers were able to exclude Facebook users from receiving job, housing, or credit ads based on race, sex, age, or other protected classes, in violation of federal and state civil rights laws.

Settlement Agreement

As a result of the lawsuit settlement, Facebook is restructuring its advertising API requirements for Facebook advertising campaigns. Under the agreement, Facebook has committed to taking internal steps to adjust its targeting policies in order to avoid any kind of discriminatory practices against users for all advertising campaigns that deliver job, housing, or credit ads.

Through this process, Facebook is overhauling several categories of ads that could unfairly target selected audiences.

Specifically, Facebook has set up a special advertising category to deal with any ads that fall under the housing, employment, or credit category. Under those categories, Facebook will get rid of any targeting that is age-based and gender-based, along with other options targeted for certain Facebook groups for advertisers trying to gain similar audiences. Further, in this category, targeting a specific zip code under a 15-mile area is no longer available to advertisers.

What's Ahead for Advertisers?

The new rules are currently being rolled out. Here are six key areas that advertisers working in these categories need to be aware of in the coming months:

●       Starting in September, advertisers have to declare if their ads fall under this umbrella special advertising category. If so, they will have far fewer user targeting options available.

●       Facebook has set a December 4 deadline for developers and advertisers to comply with the new ad category designation. Ads in housing, employment, and credit areas that have not yet started with the new ad category will be paused by Facebook for non-compliance.

●       Advertisers running certain types of ads (relating to credit, housing, and employment) can no longer target consumers based on ZIP code, age, or gender.

●       Advertisers running these specific types of ads will have access to a much narrower set of targeting categories overall.

●       Organic targeted posts are now available for targeting users with "top fan" classification.

●       Custom audience reach estimates are coming back.

At the bottom of its announcement, Facebook encourages advertisers to reach for broader ad targeting rather than restrictive or biased targeting, saying that this will help them to find new audiences. As Facebook continues to encounter ongoing scrutiny, they will likely continue to adjust their policies to meet upcoming regulation changes.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

YouTube Adds Options For Advertisers

This week, YouTube improved video ad capabilities with the announcement of Video reach campaigns, helping marketers create a more efficient way to push brand awareness goals on the platform. Advertisers can now upload multiple video creatives consisting of 6-second bumper ads, skippable in-stream ads, and non-skippable in-stream ads into a single campaign rather than running each ad type independently. Google’s machine learning will then optimize the campaign showing the most efficient combination of creatives to reach audiences. 

The strategy was first tested with Ford and the automaker saw impressive results with campaign costs lowered over 20% compared to previous YouTube benchmarks. The overwhelming success of the test was the driving factor for rolling out the feature to all marketers.

The campaign redesign comes with consumers often switching channels on YouTube, making the consumer journey more complex. For advertisers, this has made optimization more challenging. The company hopes the simpler setup will not only help advertisers streamline the process, but all see improved results and a decrease in campaign costs for optimum efficiency.


Comscore Pays Fraud Settlement

Comscore, the industry leader in audience data measurement and analytics, and its former CEO, Serge Matta, have been charged with misleading investors, accountants, and auditors by inflating revenue numbers by almost $50 million between 2014 to 2016, giving a false report on the overall financial health and stability of the company. 

According to the SEC report, Comscore inflated the value of data-swapping contracts with other companies and exchanged data with a third party without cash payment. They also overreported customer growth numbers, portraying revenue that exceeded quarterly goals, creating a false sense of growth.

To settle the charges brought by the SEC, Comscore agreed to pay a $5.7 million fine but did not confirm or deny the wrongdoing accusations. Matta paid a separate $700,000 penalty and agreed to repay Comscore $2.1 million for the sale of his Comscore stock as well as other compensation he received while working for the company. He will also be unable to serve as an officer or director of any public company for 10 years. However, he was named president and CEO of ICX Media, a digital media and video intelligence company, in April.

Comscore is hoping to leave the controversy behind them with the settlement complete. With a new CEO at the helm, they remain focused on company growth and maintaining their presence in the industry.


McDonald’s Is Lovin Voice-Initiated Job Applicants

McDonald’s wants to reach more potential employees and is leading the market in its efforts by embracing technology. The company is turning to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant to find job applicants with a new voice recruitment skill, McDonald’s Apply Thru. 

Those interested in job opportunities at the company can use voice commands to start the application process by simply prompting either device with “Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s” or “OK Google, talk to McDonald’s Apply Thru” with both expected to expand language skills to meet variations of the request.

Once the smart speaker is prompted, applicants are asked their name and location which allows the skill to relay roles that may be available in their area. Finally, the device asks for a mobile number to send the user a text for access to the job board.

Apply Thru is accessible throughout several countries globally with plans to expand. In addition to the job application technology, McDonald’s plans to follow up with a career navigation app in the U.S. to dispel misconceptions about working in the fast food industry and highlight its restaurants as places workers can gain skills that can be useful for future career opportunities.

McDonald’s has been increasing their tech investment recently in a major way to refine their business. From utilizing dynamic drive-thru menus that change based on the current weather to expanding delivery options on their app, to plans to include more initiatives around both recruiting and developing employees. The company sees great value in embracing technological advances to maintain their place in the market.


Facial Recognition - Stephanie Cogliati


Adtaxi has some amazing employees in its ranks, but with workers scattered throughout the country, we don’t often get to know one another. Putting a face to name improves working relationships and helps us build stronger connections. Each month, we will feature someone within the company to highlight not only what they do in the office, but who they are when they’re off the not contributing to Adtaxi success.

For our inaugural edition of #Radtaxi Rag, we spoke with Stephanie Cogliati in Human Resources. Stephanie relocated to Denver, CO from Long Island, NY in March. After working in NYC for four years, she ventured west for a better work/life balance and joins a strong foundation of friends in the area. She quickly moved from a Corporate Recruiter role to Recruitment Supervisor upon joining MNG and is now focused on growing the Adtaxi team. Her favorite part about working for the company is the focus on creating an employee first environment that fosters empowering employee voices and creating flexibility to be truly creative and grow within the company. She enjoys helping others find jobs they love at Adtaxi as much as she loves hers.

In her free time, Stephanie enjoys concerts, with the latest being STS9 at Red Rocks Amphitheater for an unforgettable show with amazing views. When not out enjoying all Colorado has to offer, she also likes working out or spending time with her kitten, Bubz. In the future, Stephanie hopes to plan her dream vacation to Greece to soak up the history and amazing cuisine.

6 Tips and Tricks for Marketing to Sports Enthusiasts

No matter the sport, one thing is certain — fans are passionate, emotional, and not afraid to be heard.

Sports marketing has undergone a transformation in recent years as more fans use social media while watching sports at home and at the stadium. To be effective, you need refined techniques that resonate with sports enthusiasts by bringing them closer to the action and part of the discussion, and tapping into that vast pool of emotion and enthusiasm. Here are some plays to gain loyal fans.

Don't Treat Them Like Regular Consumers

Fans don't want to feel they're being treated like standard consumers. They're fans, first and foremost. Brands need insight into their audiences' interests, attitudes, and behaviors to most effectively target them. Tap into the emotional investment and run contests and promotions that tie in with big games.

Go to the Fans

Sporting events are a prime opportunity to capture a relevant and engaged audience. Fans constantly have their phones in hand checking scores and sharing photos and videos of their experience on social media. Use this to your advantage by geo-targeting in and around stadiums and arenas or other popular viewing places like bars to reach like minded consumers. Tailor your messaging by celebrating the winning team to add a more personalized touch.

Know Your Audience

Sports fans span age, gender, and income providing for endless customization opportunities based on your marketing goals. While different, this massive audience has one thing in common, their favorite team  This can be used to your advantage to promote camaraderie and excitement tied to a brand or product initiative. One good example is Bud Light's 2016 "Down South Tailgate Tour." This multi-city event catered specifically to SEC football fans, known as being some of the most die-hard in all of college sports.  The events provided food, spirits, games, and live entertainment to re-create the ultimate tailgate experience. For its effort, Bud Light left a lasting impression on fans and continued its reign as the king of college football.

Create Emotional Connections

Fans are already emotionally invested, so your job is to tap into that passion by telling the story of the sport or team using striking photography, setting videos to music that stokes the flames of fans' emotional fires, and, above all, connecting with fans' values.

For example, before the 2015 London Marathon, Betfair launched a campaign encouraging marathon participants to sign up and bet on themselves with a complimentary bet. If they beat their target time, that money plus the winnings would be donated to whatever charity they chose. If they lost, Betfair pledged to donate the money to Cancer Research UK. It was a win-win that generated money for charity, and even more buzz for the website.

Tap Into the Second Screen Experience

 With as many as 75 percent of sports fans utilizing a second screen during events, savvy marketers have learned that integrating a strategy to leverage both can be beneficial. Encouraging social media engagement on brand pages by holding giveaways for the best live tweets or the most spirited photo with a specific on-brand hashtag can keep sports enthusiasts active during the event, creating a memorable experience.

Bring Fans Into the Action

Showcase players on and off the field, highlight up-and-comers, share an insider look at pre-season training, and poll your audience for a better feel for what people want. Develop a content strategy that immerses fans in the action to create pre-game momentum and rally their team spirit. Other ideas include running contests, giveaways, and deals leading up to a big game day to increase engagement while rewarding fans for their love. 

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Alexa Gets Into Politics

If you’re looking for an easy way to contribute to the 2020 presidential election, Alexa can help. As of today, principle candidates can register to receive donations through voice commands on Amazon’s Alexa. Starting in October,users can contribute up to $200 to participating candidate’s campaign funds through Amazon Pay. 

In addition to making a financial contribution, Alexa users will also have access to advanced functionality which includes support for new questions and features to keep voters informed. Some examples include, “Alexa, how is [candidate’s name] polling?”, “Alexa, who endorses [candidate’s name]?” or “Alexa, when is the next debate?” The enhanced technology is an effort to build off previous election experiences and helping voters become more involved in the electoral process. 

As Alexa learns more about the information voters seek, Amazon will continue to add and refine its functionality in the process.  Aside from asking questions directly to the device, the company also allows users to choose their preferred news providers for electoral updates as the country is about to enter what many considered a very contentious race. 

Steps to sign up for Alexa Political Contributions detail the necessary criteria required to be considered. As stated on the site, only principle candidates are eligible but no additional information on what qualifies someone for that distinction is included. 

While the improved technology could be a huge win for candidates, it comes as big tech is under immense scrutiny for data privacy. Amazon did not make any comments with the release concerning if or how they will use users questions or presidential candidate preferences for targeting purposes. Following the 2016 presidential race, election integrity in terms of data and ad targeting remains a huge concern and with this updated feature, users will be willingly providing detailed information into what previous generations have viewed as very personal information.  

As of today, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the first to express interest and has contacted Amazon about the process. The company expects others to follow suit prior to giving the public access next month. 

Alexa is ready and willing to be a resource for users during the election process, they just won’t tell you who to vote for on election day.  


Amazon Searches Turn A Profit

Amazon is facing new claims in a recently published Wall Street Journal article that product results populating from shopping searches are being skewed to show the company’s most profitable items first. Engineers who worked on the project report the tech giant optimized its algorithm last year in favor of Amazon’s own branded products. 

If true, the news is particularly concerning for Amazon sellers who rely on the results for product promotion. With the majority of sales coming from the first page of results, losing rank could significantly impact profits, particularly for smaller businesses. Other indications of the potential shift come with default search rankings now being listed as “featured” rather than previously listed by “relevance”. The adjusted criteria could be giving other companies no way to overcome what appears to be a hardwired disadvantage. Amazon denied changes to its process and said it does not factor in profitability into search rankings. 

The accusations could be a serious concern as big tech brands continue to find themselves the target of federal focus. Regulators are monitoring the industry particularly closely for fear companies are using their stronghold on the market to  discourage and even eliminate competition. As the company continues its massive success, it’s unlikely it will escape the growing spotlight.


The Peacock Network Struts Into Focus

The streaming market is about to welcome a new player next spring. NBC plans to release the Peacock network packed with over 15,000 hours of content with a heavy focus on their original comedies. NBC chose the name of the service in a nod to the iconic brand’s logo, which has been  viewed in living rooms since it first debuted in living rooms in 1956. The announcement comes on the heels of the launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, both slated to be open to subscriptions starting in November 2019.

Like others, the new service will offer both an ad supported and subscription supported options. The company is hoping to boost viewer excitement with reboots of loved 80’s classics such as Punky Brewster and Saved by the Bell, combined with original programming with stars such as Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater. Peacock also boasts a catalog of exclusive streaming rights to coveted comedies such as The Office, Parks and Recreation, and many more.

The service will first be offered to Comcast subscribers, at least in ad-supported format, and then rolled out to the public. NBC anticipates the service will offer content that can connect to all household members, continuing their reign as a leading household name for entertainment.


Maximize Your Ad Dollars and Minimize Your Vacancy

Vacant properties are a stress on time and money and the quicker they are filled, the sooner they become profitable. In order to reduce the gap between qualified tenants, you must have a strategic marketing plan in place. However, navigating digital marketing can seem complicated and overwhelming without the proper tools. With so many available options, how do you evaluate and implement a strategy to hit budgeted occupancy efficiently?

It starts by taking a proactive approach to get in front of prospective renters before their search begins and helping them through the journey.

Watch our webinar to learn the steps to maximize your property ad dollars and attract quality traffic.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Google, Too Big To Go Unnoticed

A major announcement came this week with the opening of an antitrust investigation into Google. The tech monopoly is being scrutinized for their stronghold on the market which is stifling competition and industry innovation due to their overwhelming control of the market. The probe specifically targets Google’s advertising structure and search technology which have made it difficult for other businesses to compete in the space, harming availability and pricing for consumers.

Big tech companies have experienced this level of criticism from European countries but this is the first it has come within the US. The multi-state bipartisan investigation has been prompted by filings from 50 US Attorneys Generals in what they see as a lack of Google’s desire to leverage the free market for success and undermining consumers to gain an overwhelming share of the digital space. 

The investigation is still very much in the preliminary stages but is expected to expand to data privacy and usage, as has been the focus for other large tech companies. The banning together of the state attorneys generals should not be taken lightly as they have had significant impact on the structure of other industries such as payment from Big Tobacco for related health issues and anti-smoking campaigns to the reform of mortgage lending practices that were harming consumers. The spotlight on Google could intensify the digging into big tech practices depending on their findings.

While it would be premature to speculate where this will lead, it’s clear that the tech giants are under the microscope. It’s also important to note the timing of the investigation as it pertains to the political arena. With so much concern around fake news and bias by big tech, it could be another push for clean and fair election practices.


Some Good News For Facebook

The Facebook News Tab is becoming more of a reality and details are emerging about how the platform will integrate with publishers to curate news content. The move to include a news tab has been carefully planned as the company has faced ongoing scrutiny whether they have previously harbored political bias when choosing stories to highlight. In the new launch, Facebook plans to partner with ‘high quality” news outlets that lend credibility to ensure information shared is accurate and dependable.  

An internal memo was obtained this week detailing Facebook’s news content selection process which included the assistance of human editors who will play an integral role in choosing which news headlines are displayed on the tab. What was not clear was how the company will create clearly defined policies for those employees as to avoid personal bias playing a factor.  

As outlined, the editors will focus on promoting news based with the outlet that first broke the story and also prioritize those done by local media. While this sounds good on paper, the execution could prove to be a bit tricky, especially in the case of major news events where it’s critical to get the information out quickly and accurately. 

The most critical of the editor duties noted in the memo may be working to avoid content that’s “constructed to provoke, divide, and polarize” and focusing stories with “on-the-record sources.” Many news outlets choose more riveting headlines to evoke an immediate response to read and share the news. Using less descriptive headlines may decrease engagement for both Facebook and the publisher. 

Reports on publisher licensing were also included and are said to involve three-year contracts between the news organizations and Facebook that also include up to $3 million in payments from the social media giant. The large payout is believed to show Facebook’s commitment to building a reliable news platform. However, it also poses questions about the details included in the arrangement and the accountability required by entering the partnership.

As the electoral season is about to head into full swing with candidate and social topics taking up much of the news cycle, it will be interesting to watch this story develop. The addition could open an opportunity for news redemption for Facebook or it could plant additional seeds of doubt as to the company’s motives.


Uncle Ben’s Brings Dinner To Life

If you’ve ever wandered the grocery aisle hoping for some dinner recipe inspiration, Uncle Ben’s is serving up just what you’ve been looking for this month. In a partnership with the visual search technology of Google Lens and Innit, a personalized food shopping solution, shoppers will be able to scan the company’s products as well as some in-store displays for an enhanced shopping experience during “Family Meals Month.” The scan will connect with Innit for recipes and how-to videos incorporating the selected product. Customers who are registered Innit users will have access to additional recommendations based on their app profiles where they’ve provided food preferences or dietary limitations.

Accessing personalized, real-time content offers the company a competitive edge for shoppers struggling to plan a quick meal. By offering meal suggestions that include other Uncle Ben’s products, it could also boost sales and boost brand loyalty.

The partnership could be the first of many as visual search continues to gain popularity. The additional customization that comes from using Innit brings added ability to remove the stress of family meal planning, providing additional convenience to shoppers and more family time around the dinner table. 


Marketing Your Way To Social Success

Most marketers know including social media is a necessity but when it comes down to crafting a strategy, many don’t know where to start. Simply being present on the various platforms isn’t enough. It’s important to understand the intricacies such as creating proper ad units, which platforms engage with the right users at the right place in the journey and most importantly, how to track and measure success. 

While all of this can seem overwhelming, breaking down the social media platforms and aligning their capabilities with your campaign goals can make the process more digestible.  Thinking outside the box to develop a strategic and creative approach can help your brand achieve social success.

Learn how to how to implement strategies that work and turn online interest into conversions.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Facebook Considers Removing Likes

After more than a decade of building its business around likes, Facebook will begin testing removing the count from public view in user feeds. Much like Instagram, the parent company intends to shift focus to content quality to better foster a sense of online community and keeping people connected. The like or reaction count would be visible to the post creator but would be hidden from view from others and could be permanently implemented across the platform. 

While the potential change would likely not have much impact on brand advertising, it could dramatically affect their relationships with influencers. Brands currently review influencer follower and like counts when choosing partnerships. Without this information, evaluation would require other aspects of an influencer account, such as content creativity and follower interaction, when determining which partners would be the best fit for the brand. This could create an additional hurdle for content creators when seeking brand sponsorship opportunities.

The company currently has no projected timeline for if or when they plan to implement the change to all users but, it does appear the shift could be on the horizon with testing now taking place on both major platforms. This combined with other recent changes by Facebook, imply a refined focus by the company on creating quality content and rebuilding user trust in the wake of ongoing privacy concerns. The process of rebuilding may also come renewed faith by marketers, driving engagement and advertising dollars. 

With social platforms being a relatively new industry, there is still much that’s unknown on creating maximum effectiveness and peak usability without the invasion of user privacy.  As people continue to evolve their use of social media, the platforms themselves will need to be prepared to adapt in order to stay relevant.


Binge-watch With The Help of Google 

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by all of your streaming options, you’re not alone. Looking for the right program can sometimes take longer than the actual show or movie itself. To help those undecided viewers, Google announced the release of a recommendation feature connected to searches to make binge watching that much easier. 

The added feature will customize suggested titles by considering entered search terms, selected providers, and historical reviews of movies or shows previously viewed. Prior to the update, Google supplied program details such as ratings,critic and user reviews, and the cast list but search criteria had to be specific. Now, users can look for suggestions more broadly with terms like “80s movies,” “romantic comedies,” or “good shows to watch” and a list of top picks will populate.Once suggestions appear, users can further customize by creating a profile of likes and dislikes under “Top picks for you.” The feature will display 5-10 show and movie titles with the option to like, dislike, or skip which helps the algorithm understand the user future search suggestions. Users can also opt to indicate which streaming services and cable options they use which will allow for direct links from programs to services available.   

The basis of the addition is all about customization users crave and expect online. Google confirms that the information is strictly used to help viewers and is not leveraged for advertising opportunities. Based on the wealth of entertainment data available if you can’t find something with Google’s assistance, you may be better off going to bed.



It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year...Already

The calendar may only say September, but holiday shopping is already on the minds of marketers. For the rest of the year, it remains the primary strategy focus and will only continue to gain momentum.  Understanding the shifts in shopping behavior is essential to brands for messaging and utilizing the proper channels to reach consumers during this peak shopping time. While shoppers remain divided on their approach, a recently released Coresight Research Holiday 2019: US Shopper Survey,noted the increasing shift to online shopping continues.  However, an overwhelming number of shoppers, 55% of Gen Z shoppers and 54% of Boomers will continue to go in-store to check off their holiday shopping list. While this is good news for retail locations, it leaves much uncertainty as to whether shoppers continue to come in-store simply to browse and price compare and then complete their final purchases online.

Shopping behavior continues to be mixed as many survey respondents indicated they will use a combination of online shopping and visiting brick-and-mortar locations while others are happy to never stepping foot in a store. Reasons for continuing to go into retail locations ranged from the need to browse for the perfect gift idea, tangibly seeing and testing items before purchase, and simply enjoying holiday shopping time and being part of the festivities. Although many plan to continue to shop in-store, over 44% of survey respondents felt just the opposite and liked the convenience of online shopping to avoid crowds followed by those who liked the ease and time saving elements of digital shopping. Consumers planning to do at least some holiday shopping online, are largely choosing Amazon over Walmart and Target, which were popular stops in previous years.

A somewhat surprising finding from the survey was the impact of recent economic changes on behavior.  Nearly 60% of the 1,784 shoppers surveyed reported concern of product price increases this season due to newly imposed tariffs on items coming from China. This uncertainty may have a larger effect on brands as it could require an adjustment in strategy to overcome shopper hesitation. 

The overall consensus from the survey data and behavioral trends illustrated primary concerns for shopping decisions come down to four common themes; price, product availability, promotional opportunities, and finding the best product quality across brands. Overall, consumers are not committed to one way of holiday shopping and will continue dividing their efforts online and in retailer locations. While the behaviors continue to evolve, there are still a large percentage of people who simply enjoy the energy and magic of the in-store experience during the holidays. 


Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

Using Ad Customizers to Personalize Your Google Search Ads

What are ad customizers?

Though we are constantly testing ad copy, it’s not feasible to manually create hundreds of variants to ensure we are showing the most relevant ad to each and every searcher. Fortunately, Google offers tools that allow us to create text ads that update dynamically based on the terms someone is searching, his location, day of the week, device & more at a large scale. When using customizers, be mindful that your ad copy allows for the additional characters the customizer generates and stays within Google’s character limits

When and how to use ad customizers

Countdown ads allow you to include a real-time event countdown in your ads. The counter will count down by days, hours, then minutes to the event and can appear in any headline or description. Countdown ads are useful for creating a sense of urgency around sales, holidays, and deadlines, which can improve conversion rate and conversion volume. To create a countdown ad, type “{“ where you want the countdown to appear & select “Countdown” from the dropdown menu. Fill in the start & end dates, time zone, and language, then save. The countdown customizer will appear in your ad as {=COUNTDOWN(“YYYY/MM/DD HH:MM:SS”,”language”,daysBefore)}. GLOBAL_COUNTDOWN displays the same count across time zones. A florist might include the countdown “Order Now, Only {=COUNTDOWN(“2019/5/12 00:00:00”,”en-US”,10)} Until Mother’s Day!” in her ad copy, which will appear to a searcher as “Order Now, Only 10 Days Until Mother’s Day!” Countdown ads automatically end when the countdown is over, so make sure you have at least one static ad in each ad group.

Keyword insertion makes ads more relevant by inserting the keyword that matched to a searcher’s query into your ad copy. For example, if your ad group includes the keywords plumber, best plumber, commercial plumber, and emergency plumber, your ad copy will show best plumber to people who search “best plumber” and emergency plumber to people who search for “emergency plumber”, etc. To use dynamic keyword insertion in your ads, type “{“ where you want your keyword to appear and select Keyword insertion from the dropdown menu. Fill in the default text field and select your capitalization. A title case keyword will show as “{KeyWord:Default Text}” in your ad copy. When a keyword is too long to be inserted, your default text will show instead. You can also enter create ads with dynamic keyword insertion manually by typing {KeyWord:Default Text} directly in your ad copy. Capitalize “keyword” based on the case you want to use. Make sure this capitalization is consistent with the rest of your ad copy. Now, when a customer uses one of your keywords in their search, Google Ads automatically replaces the code with the keyword that triggered your ad.

Be careful not to use dynamic keyword insertion on competitor ad groups & make sure that your keywords are short enough to be inserted. Otherwise, your ads will serve with your generic default text, instead of the relevant keyword.

IF functions insert text based on audience or device and are useful for remarketing and device specific offers or CTAs. To use an IF function, type “{“ where you want your message to appear and select IF function from the dropdown menu. Then, select your condition. Choose Device to customize your ad copy for mobile devices or Audience to customize your message based on the audience the searcher belongs to. In the THEN box, type a customized message for your mobile users or chosen audience. In the OTHERWISE box, enter your default ad text. The IF function will appear in your ad as {=IF(Condition,insert text):default text}.

A college enrollment campaign might use a device IF function to drive calls from mobile users, while directing desktop users to an online registration form: “Visit State College {=IF(device=mobile,Call Today to Schedule a Tour.):Register for a Campus Tour Online.}.” Mobile users will see “Visit State College. Call Today to Schedule A Tour” while desktop users will see “Visit State College. Register for a Campus Tour Online.

eCommerce advertisers can use audience IF functions to drive revenue through remarketing by showing a special discount to cart abandoners and standard ad copy to everyone else. For example “Save {=IF(audience IN(cart abandoners),25%):10%} Sitewide.” Cart abandoners will see an ad that says “Save 25% Sitewide” while all other audiences will be given a reduced discount with “Save 10% Sitewide.”

Ad customizers allow you to tailor your ad copy to the context of a searcher’s query by any attribute of your choosing based on a feed of your business data, including geo, keyword, ad group, product type and more. You can upload feeds in Google Ads under Settings > Business Data. You can schedule regular feed uploads to make sure your business data is up to date. Google Ads even offers an ad customizer data template to help you get started. As with dynamic keyword insertion and IF functions, ad customizers allow you to set default text for your attributes in case the data from the feed pushes your copy beyond Google’s character limits. Once the feed is uploaded, you can insert customizers into your ad by typing where feedName is the name of your feed and colName is the column in the feed you are pulling data from.

One attribute you can use an ad customizer for, target location, is especially useful for advertisers who have multiple store locations. Target location customizers update your ad based on the location of a searcher or the location a searcher is interested in. A paint store with over 50 locations across multiple states can easily create ad copy that is relevant to local searchers without manually writing the store location into multiple ads with “Find the Perfect Latex Paint at Your Interior Paint Store.” They also allow the campaign to scale with ease as new locations open.

Experiment with different ad customizers as part of your ad copy testing to see what performs best. You can also apply learnings from your customizers to your static ads. Ad customizers are a powerful tool for managing ad copy at scale and can help you show the most relevant ads to searchers.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Facebook Increases Political Ad Security

Political advertising got more intense this week as Facebook announced increased security measures to ensure advertising validity. Paid ads by political candidates or groups must adhere to more stringent requirements and approval process before going live in a move to increase transparency and gain user trust.

Moving forward, US political advertisers must submit a valid US address, phone number, business email and corresponding website along with either a tax-registered identification number (EIN), a government website with matching email which must end in .gov or .mil, or a Federal Election Commission (FEC) identification number. Any political advertisers currently running must provide or update this information in order to avoid being paused in October. Once the organization is confirmed by the platform, ads will display the “i” icon where users can learn more about the Political Ads policy and signifies a “Confirmed Organization.” 

Local politicians or smaller businesses wishing to advertise election focused ads have the option to conform to the original requirements or provide the page admin’s legal name on their personal information document. In these instances, the “i” icon will read “About this ad” for users to gain additional information.

Facebook has also decided to narrow its social issues list with a broader focus to encompass more pertinent topics. The shift will not change the authorization process and the company will continue to keep the list fluid, making changes and updates as needed.

With previous demonstrations highlighting necessary advertiser vetting to avoid fake ads and in turn, false information, Facebook wants users and advertisers to be assured what they see is legitimate during critical campaign times as well as prohibit parties that aim to discourage voting. Facebook hopes the additional steps will disbar ongoing questions about their 2016 election involvement and create documented transparency as the country enters a new election cycle that is sure to be eventful.


The Cleveland Browns Have A Win With Budweiser

As Cleveland Browns’ fans gear up for football season, this year’s new roster brings renewed hope for a team that’s in need of a big win. While it may not sound like much, the team has had a dismal showing the past few years. Despite the outcome, loyal fans tirelessly cheer on their home team, hoping their luck will change. In recognition of city’s unwavering dedication, last season Budweiser partnered with the Cleveland Browns on their “Victory Fridge” campaign. Due to the overwhelming success, the two have teamed up for a repeat season, only better. 

The 2018 campaign was simple, Budweiser sold fridges to Cleveland-area bars with the message, “When the Browns Win, Cleveland Wins.” Each fridge came stocked with Bud Light and would automatically unlock via smart technology with the first regular-season win. With a 0-16 season in the rearview mirror, fans were anxious for the long awaited victory. When the team won in the third week of the season, the city partied into the morning hours, along with Budweiser marketers, with the overwhelming viral coverage. 

Like the hopes for the team’s season, Budweiser decided to make 2019 bigger and better. In collaboration with WWE star and Cleveland, Ohio native, The Miz, the brand will be selling the coveted beer fridges to devoted fans in a limited-time pop-up store located in the heart of the city. The nostalgic appliance store will only be open for sales this weekend and all proceeds will benefit the local Browns Give Back community partners program. In addition, buyers will receive a redemption code to stock the fridge with discounted Bud Light. 

The campaign comes in response from numerous fan requests who want their own Victory Fridge to show their undying support. While Bud Light continues to battle dwindling sales, the focus on an area of the country that loves Bud Light almost as much as Cleveland sports, is sure to be an early season win.


Instagram Helps Friends Find Common Threads

Facebook’s Instagram is internally testing a new app for sharing messaging and photos called Threads, poised to be a companion app to Instagram and potentially a direct competitor with Snapchat. Using the close friends list feature, which was unveiled last November, Threads lets users automatically share their status with those on the list. Messages can include those entered by the user, photos, videos, general location, or that they are “on the move” by using GPS tracking. 

The communication allows those friend groups to be constantly connected, with the intention of  growing interest and engagement. By opting for automatic sharing, the app would regularly update your daily activity for more authentic daily highlights. Messages from friends would appear in a central feed which would also indicate which friends are currently active with a green dot. The feed would also show recent story activity by friends as well as a camera to capture photos and videos to share within the group.

The company is keeping details quiet but it appears Initial plans are to launch Thread as an independent app with an ultimate goal of integrating with all of Facebook’s messaging services. The announcement comes as Mark Zuckerberg has made it known that Facebook plans to put a heightened focus on private messaging in order to foster online community and the connection of close friends rather than sharing to the masses. 


Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

What In-Market Audiences Are And How To Use Them

Search advertisers have an array of audience targeting options at their disposal. They can remarket with RLSA, reach current customers with Customer Match, prospect with Similar Audiences, or narrow their reach with demographic targeting. Google Ads also offers a newer targeting tool, In-Market Audiences for Search, that allows advertisers to reach users at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Google classifies searchers as in-market for a variety of products and services ranging from “Motor Vehicles By Brand” to “Gyms & Athletic Clubs” to “Strollers & Baby Carriages” to “Moving & Relocation” - over 170 audiences overall. In-Market audiences allow you to target users whose search & browsing behavior indicate they are actively researching & considering buying, or “in-market” for, your products or services. Targeting audiences with a high purchase intent can drive conversions & help reduce wasted spend. In-Market audiences, which are also available in Microsoft Ads, can be added at the campaign or ad group level.

If you’re unsure which In-Market audiences are most valuable to your business, use Google Ad’s Audience Insights or Google Analytics to find valuable, data-based information on who your customers are and how they compare to the average searcher. Insights are available in Google Ads when at least one of your audience lists includes 1000+ people. An auto dealer client, for example, can reach an audience of 25 to 30 million searchers in-market for “Vans & Minivans”  who are 18.6x more likely to convert than the average searcher. This makes sense, however some highly indexed audiences for the same account are less straightforward: those In-Market for “Camping & Hiking Equipment” are 11.6x more likely & those In-Market for “Fireplaces” are 14.2x more likely to convert than the average user.

After deciding which In-Market audiences to test, apply them across your campaigns or ad groups on Observation (Bid-Only) mode. Applying your audiences on Observation mode ensures you can gather data on the In-Market audiences you’ve applied without restricting your campaign targeting. Once your In-Market audiences have gathered enough data in Observation mode, you should have a good idea of which In-Market audiences are driving conversions relative to your account’s overall audience, and can adjust bids up or down based on performance. You can leverage your findings across the Google Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, and Search. Bid these audiences up on search, or create a video or display campaign targeting only the users in your top In-Market audiences. Continue to monitor & analyze audience performance, as it may vary across campaigns & channels. In-Market audiences are a powerful targeting tool that every search marketer should be testing.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

YouTube Alters Ad Policy

As big tech continues to find itself under a microscope in terms of the privacy of user’s personal data, YouTube announced plans to discontinue ad targeting to videos geared toward younger audiences or those more likely to be viewed by children. While the company has created a separate, ad-free YouTube Kids app, children’s content can still be found on YouTube and receives billions of views. 

Currently, ad targeting on YouTube relies on the collection of user data and includes information such as demographics, interests, topics, or keywords to reach viewers. While this practice has been largely accepted for adults, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prevents the company from using data collection and targeting for minors. Critics of the recent policy change are concerned the additional layer of ad safety, while good intentioned, may be difficult to accurately regulate due to the categorization of videos and the subjectiveness of which content is “directed toward children,” making it difficult to know precisely which videos should exclude advertising. 

While it’s unknown if the recent decision is a direct result of YouTube’s potential breach of the COPPA policies and the involvement of the Federal Trade Commission, it’s likely part of the agreement or an act of goodwill. The only certainty from the situation is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult for ad serving platforms to adhere to strict guidelines being put in place as they constantly find themselves unable to keep up. 


Voice Assistants Are Commanding Attention

If there was ever any doubt about the ability for voice-controlled technology to make an impact on the market, recent reports by eMarketer show just how impactful voice search technology is for users and brands with nowhere to go but up. Currently, over 111 million people in the US, 33.8% of the total population, are using voice assistant monthly at minimum and are projected to exceed 122 million people by 2021. In addition, voice commanded searches are projected to account for 30% of all website sessions within the next 18 months.  

Accessibility to voice technology is now incorporated in the daily lives of most with the adoption of smart phones and smart home devices, creating more familiarity with the capabilities and increased trust in accuracy. Reasons users state for accessing voice assistance ranges from getting directions, listening to music, or finding nearby dining which allow users to easily multi-task while getting information. When it comes to device preference for voice assistance, mobile continues to be the clear front runner over home devices based on time in the market.

In evaluating the breakdown of usage by assistant type, Google Assistant remains the clear winner with 93% accuracy based on recent reports when compared to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. When testing, the biggest discrepancy in scores occurred during commerce-related questions (such as those requesting online ordering), with Google Assistant correctly answering 92% of requests, Alexa 71% and Siri 68%. 

With the data showing a clear trend in the use of voice assistance, the big question for marketers is how to best address the change and what does this mean for digital marketing.  Voice searches are unlike those typed into a search bar with requests done in more natural language and reaching these audiences requires adjustments to PPC campaign structure. Advancements in technology also allows for the devices to take searches the additional step by actioning items such as completing an online order. Addressing these audiences requires additional optimization for increased voice search traffic and it’s uniqueness in order to maximize brand exposure. Marketers need to be focused on implementing design changes to meet the demand and gain valuable market share.


Los Angeles Has A Maisel Makeover

Marvelous Mrs Maisel fans in LA enjoyed a true 1950’s California experience last Thursday with Amazon’s coined #MaiselDay. The promotion of the upcoming season for the streaming hit included nearly 30 businesses in the Los Angeles area with throw-back pricing, reminiscent of times gone by. Patrons experienced everything from 51¢ movies, $2 manicures or hairstyling, a 75¢ shoe shine, and 85¢ reuben sandwiches, as seen in many of the comedy’s episodes featuring main characters Midge and Susie.

While Amazon encouraged the 1950’s pricing for participating partners, many went for a full Maisel makeover with period inspired decor, such as working payphones and jukeboxes while others showed the award-winning series on loop on lobby screens for customers to be fully immersed in the experience.   

The promotional campaign garnered so much attention with the record low 30¢ gas prices that local law enforcement had to unfurl the unexpected traffic. While most were understanding of the tie-up, it did cause a temporary shut down in pricing until police could get assistance with traffic direction. 

The overwhelming success of Amazon’s promotion had fans raving and those unfamiliar questioning what they were missing, which is just the publicity Amazon was seeking with Masiel Day. The added hashtag allowed fans not in the area to join in on the fun, further invoking curiosity and enthusiasm for the much anticipated season three release.


Using Google Tools to Understand Audience & Drive Performance

Using Google Tools To Understand Your Audience

As digital advertisers, we are constantly trying to determine the optimal targeting for our SEM efforts. Understanding your customer personas, the profiles that represent your ideal customers, will help you tailor your digital marketing efforts and set your campaign targeting effectively.

While there are a handful of methods you can use to understand your customer base, including market research, surveys, polls, and social listening, one of the best ways is to dive into your site & campaign analytics. Google offers two tools that can help you quickly understand your audience: Google Analytics & Google Ads Audience Insights.

Using Google Analytics for Audience Research

Google Analytics is a rich source of information about your customers. You can see where your site visitors came from, which terms they searched to find you, how much time they spent on the site & more. You can also find valuable information on your customers’ interests, age, gender, location and even which device & browser they used.

Audience Reports in GA

Google Analytics Audience Reports give detailed information about who visited your site. Audience Reports contains over 15 subsections, but we will focus on Demographics & Interests here.

The Demographics report gives you insight into the age and gender of your site visitors, and each demographic group’s behavior on the site. The overview gives you a high level demographic breakdown of users by age and gender, and you can toggle through other key metrics like sessions, bounce rate, and session duration as well. The Age & Gender reports give a more granular look at each age group’s or gender’s behavior on your site, including bounce rate, pages per session, duration, and goal completion.

The Interest report in turn gives you a psychographic view of your audience. Google Analytics segments interests into three categories: Affinity, In-Market, and Other. Affinity includes users with a more general interest in topics, such as “Cooking Enthusiasts” or “Travel Buffs.” In-Market includes those users at the bottom of the funnel who are ready to convert, with more specific segments like “Home Decor” and “Hotel & Accommodations.” Other categories is similar to Affinity, but provides a more granular view, for example “Home & Garden/Bed & Bath/Bedroom/Bedding & Bed Linens.” Like the Demographic overview above, the Interests overview breaks down key metrics by each of the top ten interests in each category, and you can drill down into each category’s report acquisition, behavior, and conversion metrics.

Understanding the demographic & psychographic composition of your customers will not only ensure your campaign settings target the users with the highest conversion or goal completion rates, but also inform the creative, ad copy, and overall messaging of your marketing efforts. These reports can also help you gauge whether your campaigns are, in fact, sending the right visitors to your site. You can even use age, gender, and interest segments to create remarketing audiences to use in Google Ads.

Using Google Ads Audience Insights for Audience Research

The Google Ads audience insights tool helps you learn about who your converters and website visitors are, as well as find new audiences to target. Audience Insights is housed in the Shared Library under the Audience Manager.

Google Ads Audience Insights report

The Audience Insights report is a valuable resource for determining where, when, and to whom you should be advertising your products or services to drive conversions for your Gmail, YouTube, & display campaigns, and can also help you choose more relevant keywords & messaging to implement in your search campaigns, set bids, and more. Audience Insights benchmarks your website visitors against the United States on demographics, location, devices and interests. For example, the traffic for one of our clients in home goods retail is 66% more likely to be female and between 35 to 54 years old, 42% more likely to be parents, and 76% more likely to be visiting from a computer than the general US population. We also know that our visitors are 10.3x more likely to be in-market for “Kitchen & Bathroom Counters” and 3.2x more likely to be “Beach Bound Travelers.” Armed with your customer persona, you can leverage your findings and refine your paid media strategy to drive high-value traffic to your site.

Once you’ve created your customer persona, continue to periodically review your data in Google Analytics & Google Ads. Buying habits & preferences can change over time, so it’s important to reevaluate and recreate your personas especially if you’ve gone through new product launches or industry changes.

Weekly Digital Breakdown

Kellogg’s Goes Back-To-School

As students begin to head back-to-school in the upcoming weeks, with it can come a mix of emotions. Excitement for a fresh start and seeing friends is often overpowered with feelings of anxiety for children on the autism spectrum. Changes in routine and overwhelming sensory overload can make heading back to class feel less than desirable for these students. Parents also feel the stress as they want to eliminate discomfort from their children. While for many students, a note from home can be just the trick to calm their nerves, many on the autism spectrum find solace with in texture.

Understanding this need, Kellogg’s is collaborating with Autism Speaks to create Love Notes, which are textured, heart-shaped sensory patch-like stickers that can be placed on Rice Krispy Treats as a subtle way for parents to send love and support to those who need the extra reminder.

Parents can visit the Rice Krispies Love Notes page to request a pack of the sensory stickers, free of charge. Each sticker includes multiple textures including: silk, faux fur, fleece, satin, and velour. Kellogg’s is also highlighting stories from kids and families who inspire the program with hashtag #SoMuchToLove.

Kellogg’s has made partnering with non-profit organizations a regular focus in their business. Last year, the company created Braille Love Notes and recording devices for blind children as they kicked off the school year. However, Kris Bahner, Senior VP of Global Corporate Affairs at Kellogg’s has an extra special connection to this year’s initiative. “This cause is very dear to me as a mom of a child with autism,” Bahner said in a press release. “I know firsthand that love and emotions aren’t always easy for children on the spectrum to express and receive –but they need to feel it and share it as much as any other child.”


Google Is Betting Big On Fantasy Sports

Google is making a big change to its advertising just in time to score this fantasy football season. After historically being the only big-tech network prohibiting DFS (daily fantasy sports) companies from advertising on its network, the ban will be lifted this month, opening up opportunity to reach a massive and captive audience. 

Previously, DFS giants were some of the biggest digital advertising spenders in the US, allowing for rapid growth of their customer base and increase in profits. However, regulations were put in place aimed at how they conduct business and appeal to users online, causing for a significant decline in advertising spend. As regulations have evolved, budgets are beginning to ramp back up, opening the need for additional network options.

Lifting of the ban also comes as companies anticipate more interest in DFS sites with the recent legalization of sports betting and online sports gambling. While DFS companies are still in debate if they fall into the online betting category, their audiences are likely to be similar, opening niche targeting capabilities that could boost media spending.

With the update in Google’s advertising policies comes strict requirements around creative state licensure for DFS companies. Criteria include holding a state license in at least one state regardless of their own location’s policy and those wishing to promote online gambing must also apply for certification through the company.

The play by Google to expand to DFS ads and meet monitoring requirements that can vary by state, presents increased regulation and responsibility by the company. The desire to take on this vertical demonstrates confidence in their ability to regulate ad delivery and further prove their digital targeting capabilities.


Twitter Unveils A List Of New Features

In their ongoing efforts to increase users, Twitter has released an array of features this week. The product team introduced the particulars at a press event, discussing the additional capabilities as they continue to roll out. The improvements are an aim for a better and more engaging user experience.

Topic Lists: Twitter has found users can often feel overwhelmed in choosing accounts to follow. Now, they can now opt to follow interests which encompass feeds from multiple accounts. Tweets related to select topics that have been identified by the company, such as sports teams, pop culture, etc. can be viewed within the user’s home feed. Monitoring and selection of related tweets will be done through machine learning in order to filter efficiently. To avoid spoilers, particularly for television programs or sporting events, users will be able to mute topics

Conversation Subscription: Users can cut through the clutter and opt to subscribe to specific or tweets and be notified of replies. While still in testing, this option is expected to be extended to all users in the near future. 

DM Search Bar: Reviewing DMs (direct messages) for a specific user or conversation can be frustrating. A new DM search bar has been added that allows users to easily filter.

Live Photos Support: Currently only available through iPhone, Live photos capture 1.5 seconds before and after a picture is taken resulting in a short clip of live action. Twitter users can now utilize the photos in Tweets. The enhanced content is likely to appeal to both users and advertisers for interesting and often humorous live action shots. 

The expansion of offerings exemplifies Twitter’s ongoing effort to tailor content and increase users on the platform. Overall, the company’s ability to listen to consumers and improve their platform experience shows a focus on growth and digital evolution.