Digital Advertising Duopoly

If you’ve ever run a digital marketing campaign, chances are you used Google Ads or Facebook to promote your business. Collectively, Google Ads and Facebook made up 60% of the U.S. digital ads market in 2019 and in spite of reports of advertisers abandoning Facebook both platforms will likely maintain their continued dominance for the foreseeable future.

Where once digital advertisers were overrun with choices for allocating their ad budgets, in 2021 the duopoly’s lack of choice can feel stifling. What does its dominance mean for digital marketers? Can we avoid two of the industry’s key players, or will we spend more years looking for ways to make these commanding platforms work for us?

Why Do Google and Facebook Dominate Digital Advertising?

The short answer is reach.

By some estimates, 90% of internet sessions begin with Google.

Facebook, in spite of recent reports of user loss, still logs 2.74 billion monthly active users on its platform. By comparison, Twitter, another tech company name brand, only counts 353 million monthly visitors.

In addition, users are far more likely to make a purchase from Facebook (and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook) than any other social media site.

Is Google and Facebook’s Dominance Bad for Marketers?

Like anything, it’s a double-edged sword. Google’s search dominance makes it the ideal platform to introduce your brand to people who don’t know what they’re looking for. But that same dominance means that advertising costs will increase at Google’s mercy, and though cost-per-click appears to have rebounded since the start of the pandemic, we predict it will rise as the economy recovers. What’s more, as Google seeks to grow revenues the search quality is declining, meaning that those brands that can afford to reach the top of the ad heap are pushing down organic results and smaller advertisers.

Facebook is another story. There’s mounting evidence that Facebook’s targeting is much poorer than it has led advertisers to believe, and a recent lawsuit claims that Facebook has used false reach metrics to overcharge advertisers for years.

Beyond Google Ads & Facebook: The Online Marketing Landscape in 2021

Google and Facebook may be the top two by a landslide, but other advertising platforms are gaining some ground. Amazon, advancing as a minor threat to the duopoly, recorded $11.33 billion in advertising for 2019 and grew again in 2020 with 51% year-over-year growth in the “other revenue” bucket that includes advertising earnings. Other players also had strong showings in 2020, including:

  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • SnapChat
  • LinkedIn
  • Tik Tok

S&P revealed some interesting growth into 2019 with marketing platforms outside of the duopoly gaining more revenue.

Despite the global pandemic upsetting some digital platforms in 2020, there was a general sense of recovery and even improvement for many platforms by the end of last year. Pinterest, for instance, reported record engagement in early 2020 as people sought out ways to stay busy and productive at home.

Advertising on Google & Facebook: Do We HAVE To?

Though Google and Facebook are clear industry leaders in advertising revenue, marketers don’t have to advertise through their platforms. However, the current state of the market is such that avoiding the two key players means working harder to identify your audience and zero in on the right places to connect. Marketers who don’t want to play in the duopoly will need to carefully consider the following when planning their campaigns:

Where else is your audience? B2B companies are likely to find key decision-makers on LinkedIn, while retail products can expect some success with Amazon. Products aimed at younger generations can explore Tik Tok or SnapChat for a relevant reach.

What do you need to make your advertising work? Google Ads offers the opportunity to use straight-forward text to get your message across. Other platforms may necessitate developing video, beautiful imagery, and even quirky messaging that will catch the eye of a Generation Z audience.

Can you afford to step away? Google and Facebook have the audiences. They have easy-to-use marketing platforms that reach the majority of the U.S. population. You can expect a certain level of performance for your ads while other platforms are less predictable.

Lack of choice is frustrating for marketers, but we do see some light at the end of the tunnel. Check back next week for the second part of this series, where we explore digital privacy concerns and how they have the potential to upset the digital advertising duopoly for good.

Save Money on Google Ads

According to a 2016 report by Disruptive Advertising, the average Google Ads account is wasting 75.8% of its budget. That’s a huge amount of money, especially for businesses that are struggling to stay afloat through the enormous economic challenges of the past year. We’ve talked before about how important it is to keep advertising during lean times, but spending wisely is more important than ever.

What is Wasted Spend?

Spending money on irrelevant clicks and bidding on keywords that don’t convert will quickly cause your Google Ads campaign to spend more than it makes.

Are you wasting money on Google Ads? Following these five tips can help you avoid waste and improve performance this year.

1. Improve Your Quality Score

Not unlike search engine optimization, Google Ads optimization too requires understanding a somewhat mysterious algorithm: the factors that shape your ad quality score. The quality score assigned to your ads will determine several important things for any campaign you run, including ad position, cost per click, and cost per conversion. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle since your ad position can then influence your click through rate and “tell” the algorithm that your ads aren’t as relevant as a competitor’s, so it’s important to improve your quality score as part of your efforts to spend more efficiently on Google Ads.

What factors influence your quality score?

While we don’t know the exact weight given to each factor, your quality score is calculated based on the following items:

  • Click-through-rate (CTR)
  • Relevance of your ad text to your keywords
  • Landing page quality & relevance to your keywords
  • Keyword relevance to each ad group
  • Google Ads account performance history

Pro-Tip: Since relevance of all kinds is so valuable, the best way to improve your quality score is to focus tightly on specific sets of target keywords that your audience would use to search for your products and services. Once you zero in on those keywords, make sure they have a strong (but not unnatural) presence on your landing pages and in your ads.

2. Pay Attention to Your Impression Share

Google describes your impression share as “the percentage of impressions your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions your ads could get.” Often, impression share used as an indication of how your ads can reach more people if you adjust your bids or budget. However, in our experience, impression share is also a good indication of whether or not your ads will lead to the number of conversions you need to achieve positive ROI.

For most of our clients, we’ve found that an impression share above 30% will generate the needed conversions to keep costs low and stay “in the black.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to increasing your impression share. Rather, there are different approaches to try depending on your goals, budget, and target audience. All of the following tactics can work, but they might not apply to you:

  • Narrow your location targeting. If your business is somewhere customers visit in person, consider narrowing your location targets in order to increase your impression share. Sure, some customers might come from 20 miles away, but reducing your scope to 10 miles should increase your impression share and get you in front of the most relevant audience.
  • Limit your ad schedule. Think about your target audience and your business; when do you think most people are likely to search for what you offer? Set your ad schedule to only show ads during that time. You’ll increase your impression share and people will find you at the most critical time.
  • Increase your bids. Find your most successful keywords (the ones that most often lead to conversions) and increase your bids for those terms. Higher bidding will make your ads more competitive and increase your impression share for the terms that matter most.
  • Increase your budget. This isn’t always a reasonable approach, but increasing your budget will generally increase your impression share. As long as you track your ROI closely, raising your budget can be a quick and efficient way to improve your campaign performance.

3. Make Sure Your Conversions are Tracking

According to a study of over 2,000 Google Ads accounts, only 29% were tracking conversions effectively enough to know if their ads were working. Without effective tracking, you have no way to see whether or not your ads are generating meaningful revenue for your business.

What Makes Tracking Effective?

If your tracking is working properly, it will give you insight into your sales from the time someone clicks on your ad until they become a paying customer. In most cases, this means tracking lead form submissions or phone calls and using an automated or manual approach to match those Google Ads leads to immediate or future sales.

Your tracking should be in place before your ads ever begin running, but it’s never too late to set things up. Google Analytics works well with Google Ads to track form submissions, and call tracking software like CallRail can help monitor phone calls that come in as a result of your ads.

4. Monitor Google Ads Campaign Metrics Regularly

If you aren’t regularly monitoring the performance of your Google Ads, chances are good that you’re wasting money on ads that are underperforming. Even worse, because of the way quality score works, your neglect could be hurting all your ads.

We monitor our clients’ accounts weekly and do thorough performance reviews twice a month to make sure our ads are performing as expected. These regular check-ins are the best way to make sure you notice small problems before they become big ones. Typically, the metrics to look at include:

  • Click-Through-Rate: How many people click on your link after seeing your ad? CTR offers a good indication of whether or not your ads are relevant for your users. As we mentioned earlier, higher click-through-rates will also help increase your quality score.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC): How much are you paying for each click? A reasonable CPC will depend on your industry, area, and competition, but it’s important to keep an eye on whether your costs are going up or down. If your cost per click keeps increasing, it will limit how many clicks (and thus, conversions) your ad can receive.
  • Conversions: How many people took action on your ads? Often, this means filling out a web form to express interest or calling your business for more information. The more conversions, the better!
  • Cost Per Conversion: How much are you paying for each conversion? To determine a good cost per conversion, you’ll need to consider what percentage of your conversions turn into customers and how much those customers spend with your business. When your cost per conversion gets too high, Google Ads revenue can turn from positive to negative very quickly.
  • ROI: What is the return on your Google Ads investment? You won’t find this information in your Google Ads dashboard, so you’ll need to calculate it yourself by comparing your ad spend to the revenue generated by your ads. Keep in mind that most campaigns won’t see positive ROI right away; it can take a few months or more depending on the average sales cycle for your business.

5. Take Good Care of Your Keywords

It’s not only important to monitor your target keywords and prune your list regularly when you see keywords that just aren’t getting enough clicks, impressions, or conversions, but it’s also important to curate a list of negative keywords – the search terms you don’t want to trigger your ads. For instance, if you’re advertising for your local music school, you don’t want to be found when someone searches “learn to play piano for free.”

Creating a list of negative keywords and adding to it when you see irrelevant search terms pop up in your Google Ads dashboard can create a positive cycle for your campaigns that leads to better overall performance.

Do you need help reviewing and revising your Google Ads campaign to avoid waste and increase ROI? We’re here for you! Email us to talk more about our PPC management services.

Google AdWords

Regardless of industry and size, almost every business can find value and see positive returns using Google AdWords. If you haven’t advertised using AdWords before, these eight reasons may convince you to start.

 

  1. You can increase your leads, customers, and revenue

Although this may be obvious, if your campaigns are set up properly, Google AdWords has the potential to generate significant numbers of qualified leads and greatly increase your revenue. It is estimated that, on average, businesses make $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords. We’ve seen clients reach 400 to 700% ROI on their spend in just a couple months of advertising with AdWords.

 

  1. AdWords is measurable

Unlike an SEO campaign, where it’s not always clear what caused your rankings to increase or decrease, AdWords is extremely measurable. In its easy-to-use interface, AdWords provides clicks, impressions, average cost-per-clicks, average ad position, conversions, cost-per-conversions, conversion rates, and much more. This data granularity gives you the ability to continually improve your efforts. For example:

  • If your click-through-rate is low, perhaps your keywords are too broad or your copy isn’t compelling
  • If your conversion rate is low, there’s a good chance your landing page isn’t user friendly or isn’t totally relevant to the messaging in your ad copy.

 

  1. AdWords is flexible

AdWords provides a plethora of options that allow you to customize your campaigns depending on the needs of your business. AdWords lets you:

  • Narrow your targeting: You have the option to choose what times and/or what days of the week you want your ads to show. You can also choose if you want your ads to show on mobile, desktop, and/or tablets. AdWords also lets you target by location. Whether you want to show your ads to people who are located within 6 miles of your brick and mortar store, or you want to target all French-speaking countries, AdWords lets you choose.
  • Choose from various bidding strategies: To help you reach specific marketing goals, such as building brand awareness or generating leads, AdWords offers several different bidding strategies to choose from.
  • Use ad extensions: Ad extensions allow you to include a phone number in your ad, an interactive store address, links to your site, and more.
  • Leverage the Display Network: Not only will display ads expand your reach, but they are visual and contain rich media instead of just basic text ads.
  • Choose specific keyword match types: By using keyword match types, you are able to dictate exactly what search queries your ad will show for.

 

  1. You control your advertising costs

AdWords lets you set a maximum daily budget and maximum cost-per-clicks for your campaigns and keywords, so you’ll never go over budget. You can also set start and end dates for your campaigns, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to turn off a campaign and wasting money. Keep in mind that AdWords itself is free, it’s a pay-per-click (PPC) tool meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

 

  1. Your competitors are probably using it

If your competitors are using AdWords (and there’s a good chance they are), you may lose potential customers who are searching for your products and services on Google. And if your competitors aren’t using AdWords, that’s all the more reason to easily outrank their organic search result.

 

  1. It’s faster than SEO

Unlike SEO, which can take months of work to see results, AdWords provides instantaneous results. If your campaigns are set up well, the second you turn them on, your ad has the chance of showing above all organic results on a search engine results page.

 

  1. You get to utilize retargeting

By using a special tracking code that places cookies in the user’s browser, AdWords will show your ad as the user browses the internet. This tactic helps keep your business top of mind so that you’re in front of your audience when they’re ready to purchase.

Retargeting is particularly effective because you can target people who have shown interest in your product or service, instead of someone who has never visited your website or indicated any interest. In fact, according to a study from DataXu, retargeting has the potential to increase conversion rates by almost 150%. Many marketers believe retargeting is the most underused online marketing technology – don’t ignore the potential that retargeting campaigns offer.

 

  1. You can generate brand awareness

AdWords is a great tool for generating brand awareness in addition to driving traffic to your site. Display advertising and display remarketing are known to increase brand awareness because your audience will start to recognize and remember your brand after being exposed to the logo and other visual elements over and over again.

 

With over 1 million advertisers using Google AdWords, it’s clear that the tool works. Feeling overwhelmed by AdWords? Let us help! Contact Young Marketing Consulting today for a free marketing consultation.

What’s new with Google AdWords lately? They’ve gone mobile.

As mentioned in Google’s Performance Summit earlier this year, marketers are no longer asking if they should invest in mobile, rather, they are asking how they should invest in mobile. More than half of all web traffic comes from smartphones and tablets. In response to the consumer shift toward mobile, Google has been busy launching new tools and features to its AdWords platform.

Let’s take a look at what Google AdWords changes have occurred in 2016 so far:

Responsive Ads

In the past, marketers have experienced difficulty when creating ads with proper formatting across different channels (mobile sites, apps, video, etc.). Google AdWords’ new feature, responsive ads, automatically adjusts its size, appearance, and format for any ad space. The best part? Google does all of the work for you. You simply enter basic features regarding your ad such as headlines, images, a landing page, and once approved, Google will automatically generate the ads people see. This new feature will likely increase engagement rates by presenting ads that match the look and feel of content that consumers are browsing.

Google AdWords: Recent Changes and Best Practices

One of AdWords’ new features: responsive ads

Universal App Campaigns

Universal app campaigns promote your app across Google’s top properties including Search, Play, YouTube, and the Google Display Network. Depending on your customer objective, the ads are optimized for either installs or in-app conversions. Similar to responsive ads, you don’t need to design individual ads. You only need to provide some text, a starting bid and budget, languages and locations for your ads. Google also saves you some work by testing different combinations and will show ads that are performing the best more often.

Google AdWords: Recent Changes and Best Practices

Another new feature: universal app campaigns

 

Expanded Text Ads in AdWords

Expanded text ads give advertisers more space to explain their products and/or services before the consumer clicks on the ad. The expanded ads have almost 50% more ad text available as well as an additional headline. Additionally, you no longer need to enter a display URL that matches your final URL domain. For example, if your final URL is example.com/dog/leashes, your ad’s display URL will be example.com. Google’s early testing of the expanded text ads feature indicated increases in click-through rates of up to 20% compared to standard text ads. Not only does this feature communicate more of what you are offering, it also drives more qualified clicks.

Note: Beginning January 31, 2017, AdWords users will no longer be able to create or edit standard text ads, only expanded ones.

Google AdWords: Recent Changes and Best Practices

Standard text ad vs. expanded text ad

Google AdWords Bid Adjustments for Device Types

Adjusted bids are another new feature AdWords introduced in response to the shift to mobile. These individual bid adjustments give advertisers more flexibility with how they bid on various devices – mobile, desktop, and tablet. You can now anchor your base keyword bid to the device most valuable to your business and then set bid adjustments for the other devices. These adjustments will show your ad more or less frequently in searches depending on what device is most effective in reaching your business’ goals.

Note that in order to achieve optimal ad performance, you’ll need to factor in other data in addition to using device bid management. It’s important to pay attention to other metrics and signals such as how your ads perform by location, time of day, and audience.

The Number of Location-Related Searches is Exploding

With all of this being said, you may be wondering if online, mobile ads will physically bring people into your store. In fact, location-related mobile searches are growing 50% quicker than other mobile searches. Nissan UK discovered that 6% of mobile ad clicks result in a trip to a dealership, an estimated 25x return on investment. This is especially relevant for marketers who have a brick-and-mortar business and want to increase foot traffic.

It’s more important than ever to optimize your Google AdWords strategy for mobile. And with these new features in place, you’ll have everything you need to get started!