Frustrated with privacy breaches and ever-more-intrusive digital advertising, consumers are taking control over their ad experience like never before, changing their privacy settings, using ad blockers, and welcoming changes like iPhone’s iOS 14 rollout that will require apps to get permission before tracking users’ searches and other data. What does this shift in both mindset and technology mean for businesses that rely on an effective digital advertising strategy to reach their customers?

How Many Consumers Are Opting Out of Digital Advertising?

How many iPhone users will opt-in to data collection?

There are an estimated 110.3 million iPhone users in the United States in 2021. Of these, how many will offer up their information when the iOS 14 update requires apps to obtain permission before collecting data?

While it’s possible that some users will agree to share information some of the time, it seems that most people will simply say no once it’s easy to decline. Facebook expects a more than 50% decline in Audience Network revenue, and the company has expressed concerns about its own revenue when advertising becomes less effective.

“We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14, and … may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS14 in the future.”

Facebook blog post

How Many Users are Employing Ad Blockers?

In 2019, almost 30% of internet users enabled ad blocking software at least some of the time. They cited reasons that include:

Ad blocker adoption is expected to continue a slow but steady rise.

Are Users Abandoning Social Platforms Like Facebook?

Facebook lost 2 million daily active users in the 3rd quarter of 2020, and its role in ongoing political and privacy controversies has since caused further erosion. Alternative platforms like (which promises no ads, no spyware, and no newsfeed manipulation) and (which is user-funded) have seen tremendous growth in 2021. 2.5 million users flocked to MeWe in just one week in January and Gab has been offline occasionally as it works to accommodate a continuous influx of traffic.

How Are Search Preferences Changing?

Although Google continues to dominate the search market, alternatives have grown in popularity as the tech giant has moved away from its “don’t be evil” code of contact and into far more revenue-driven territory. However, like Facebook, Google will need to make adjustments to its privacy practices in order to comply with Apple’s next update, and those changes are likely to impact advertisers in a negative way.

How Can Advertisers Counteract Ad Blocking?

Where do users of ad-blocking software find out about brands?

With less-targeted advertising poised to decline in effectiveness, marketers can turn to the above options to reach their target audience. While some options are costly and others will require a bigger time investment to succeed, they offer more organic ways to connect with users – without annoying them the way many digital ads do.

What About Paying Users for their Data?

Specific information freely provided by users is highly valuable to advertisers. Have we reached a tipping point at which platforms will begin to compensate users for their data? Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang and lawmakers like Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) support granting people property rights to their data and requiring companies to pay for access. The Data Dividend Project, primarily based in California, is one such effort to pay people when companies use or sell their information.

In 2012, data buyers were purchasing in bulk at less than $0.01 per profile, but the Internet Advertising Bureau said the advertising ecosystem supported $300 billion in economic activity, making user data worth $1,200 per profile.

Similarly, Brave offers a browser that blocks ads while claiming to speed up load times and use less battery, going one step further and allowing users to earn rewards by viewing occasional ads that have been deemed safe by the site. The privacy aspects are similar to many other privacy-minded browsers, but when the rewards system is rolled out in full, it will be a unique difference.

Are you struggling to keep up with changing trends in data, privacy, and advertising? We can help you find an effective strategy to reach your audience – without making enemies along the way! Contact us today.

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.

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, your ad’s display URL will be 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!

Search engine marketing (SEM) dominates today’s marketing landscape, and with good reason. According to Search Engine Land, Google alone processes at least 2 trillion searches per year, a massive increase from the roughly 365 billion searches Google processed in 2009. As more people are relying on the internet for more and more answers, marketers have a greater incentive to improve their search engine marketing tactics in order to improve their brand’s visibility.

As opposed to search engine optimization (SEO), which relies on increasing your site’s organic search rankings over time by publishing and sharing content, search engine marketing allows you to pay to cut straight to the first search result page. But while the tactic is simple in concept, marketers have a number of ways in which they can execute a search engine marketing campaign.

Let’s take a look at the latest search engine marketing trends of 2016: 

1. Search Engine Marketing Goes Mobile

Based on 2015 data from Global Web Index, smartphones are the second most popular device used to search the internet, just after PCs and laptops. It’s also important to note that other devices such as smart TVs and smart watches are emerging as a popular search method as well. With this in mind, marketers should make sure their search engine marketing campaigns shift toward mobile users, by using a service such as mobile AdWords campaigns.

2016 search engine marketing trends

2. Use of Video Ads in Search Engine Marketing Grows

According to a 2015 study from Searchmetrics, videos appear in 14% of universal searches, with 82% of those results being YouTube videos. Bing and Yahoo were the first search engines to test promoted video ads in their search results pages. More recently, Google has been experimenting with video advertising in search results through AdWords. The campaign, called TrueView, engages your audience on YouTube and across the web. As a marketer, you may want to consider taking advantage of video-based search engine marketing campaigns, and a good place to start is with Google’s tips for creating effective video ads using TrueView.

3. Optimizing Search Engine Marketing for “Digital Assistants”

Digital assistants like Siri, Google Now, and Cortana may soon replace typed searches altogether. As consumers move toward more mobile search, more people are using their digital assistants for answers. In May of this year, Google announced that 20 percent of mobile queries were voice searches. Digital assistants provide information quickly by browsing the web for the most relevant and simple answer, and they usually find these answers from Google’s Knowledge Panels. Knowledge Panels are the boxes that appear when a user searches for a particular business. In order for your business to appear in the Knowledge Panel, and thus, have better luck when people use voice search, take steps to improve your local search rankings. This includes entering complete data with your Google account, verifying your location, managing reviews, and adding photos.

2016 Search Engine Marketing Trends

Google’s Knowledge Panel for a Chocolatier

Does your business need help with their SEM or SEO strategy? Feel free to contact Young Marketing Consulting for assistance on all of your marketing needs.