Royle Media Partnership with Simpli.fi

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In 2013 Royle Media started running programmatic advertising campaigns for select clients. Our preferred platform, the Google Display Network, did not offer the advanced targeting capabilities we needed. We understood programmatic display’s potential, but few of our clients were ready to move significant budgets away from Google AdWords, radio and television.

Today I am proud to announce our partnership with Simpli.fi, the industry leader in localized programmatic ad buying. We selected Simpli.fi because their self-serve interface allows us to create and manage geo-fencing campaigns for our clients. These localized campaigns, which target specific neighborhoods, streets, and buildings, were not affordable for small retail businesses. With this agreement, we can now run geo-fencing campaigns with $2,500 minimum buys.

Simpli.fi is providing us with dedicated support, improved targeting and wholesale pricing. We are thrilled to have them as our official display advertising partner.

Cutting Out the Local Advertising Agency: Google Goes Direct

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google LSA

Google just debuted their new Local Service Ads (LSA) in 30 markets, and are calling plumbers, locksmiths, electricians and HVAC companies directly. Participating businesses must pass “Advanced Certification” guidelines to verify they are established and have safe employees.  When certified, they may purchase the GOOGLE GUARANTEED ads at the top of local search listings. A good article about LSA can be found at Street Fight.

Advanced Certification is really ad verification. Generally speaking, advertising verification is designed to decrease online fraud. For example, Facebook recently started verifying all political ads in wake of Russia’s tampering in US elections. From an advertising agency point of view, verification improves the industry. Digital ads have more trust with consumers. Verification should be a win for everyone – consumers, ad agencies and publishers alike.

However, in this verification case, we are talking about Google. Part of their business model is based on industry disruption. Paid search has disrupted the Yellow Pages.  Free Google Sheets and Docs continue to target Microsoft Office revenue.  Google Analytics eroded paid analytics services like HitsLink. With LSA, verification is a tool to disrupt the advertising agency model. Now companies like Royle Media are in their cross-hairs. Our active clients include electricians, plumbers, and HVAC contractors.

What’s Wrong with Google Going Direct?

  • For 18 straight years, we’ve been telling business owners that, “Google never calls you,” and telemarketers posing as Google are frauds and scammers. That all changes now as Google makes outbound sales calls. They have opened Pandora’s box and created more opportunities for bait-and-switch advertising criminals. Business owners beware.
  • Google AdWords was introduced Q4 2000. Since then, local digital agencies have been Google’s bread and butter, their biggest advocate, and sales force. Going direct means Google is cutting off the hand that feeds them. There is no loyalty in Mountain View. Will the direct sales model backfire as agencies shift more budget to Bing, Facebook, Pandora and programmatic ad networks? Why send business to Google when they are a competitor?
  • Now that Google will “guarantee” a company’s trustworthiness through LSA, does that mean their other paid and organic listings are full of unethical companies? Did Google create verified ads because AdWords and Google organic search results have always been full of predators?
  • Removing the agency reduces accountability. Google only cares about Google. Facebook ads often CRUSH Google AdWords when it comes to ROI. Pandora and Bing regularly provide better return than expensive Google AdWords. Digital agencies measure ROI, verify that ads were properly delivered, and recommend the best advertising options for the business owner.
  • Google’s new Local Service Ads push the organic listings further down the page, maybe even page two. For the businesses that have invested heavily in search engine optimization (SEO), they now need to pivot to Google paid advertising. That does not diminish the value of SEO with Bing and their partners.
  • For the last couple years radio, television and newspaper companies have moved to the “agency model”, where they build and optimize websites, sell Google AdWords, and programmatic banner campaigns. Now LSA will be competing directly with broadcasters and publisher-sold AdWords campaigns. These media companies will surely drop Google from their digital advertising toolboxes once they figure it out.

Ten years ago, I held a corporate position with Entercom Communication, and Google was courting our radio group to sell AdWords. I attended a conference in Mountain View where they wined and dined us broadcasters, as well as newspaper and phone book publishers. Google wanted us “partners” to sell their ads. We had the sales teams, and AdWords seemed complimentary to local radio spots.

The Stanford MBA’s at Google created complex formulas to determine commission rates. The commission tables were difficult to understand, much less explain to a commission sales rep in the field how they got paid.  A simple percentage of gross sales was unreasonable to Google. They needed to have leverage over their partners. When it comes to partnerships, win/win is not in Alphabet’s vocabulary. One decade later, and Google is still up to their same tricks. There is no loyalty or win/win in Mountain View.

Previously when we had problems with Google, we simply called them and were routed to Mountain View or Arizona. Now Google customer service calls are routed overseas. Unfortunately, the new customer service folks do not have the same depth of advertising knowledge as the North America-based client service professionals. This makes Google frustrating to work with. Will the Google Guaranteed customer service people be overseas also? I’m not sure the busy plumbers and electricians will have the patience for off-shored customer service.

This blog post may seem overly critical of Google, but sorry Silicon Valley, you can’t always have your cake and eat it too.  Maybe we’ll lose our Google Partner status for slamming them. If that’s the case, then so be it. We can buy around Google with Facebook and programmatic display ads and hot beholden to Alphabet’s cold soup.

New Digital Ad Units

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New Digital Ad Units

Last summer the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released new guidelines for digital advertising creative. The new standard units are for mobile, display, video and native ad formats.  Previously the standard ad unit sizes were static: 300×250, 728×90, 160×600, etc.  Now that mobile devices are the norm for cruising the internet, the need for “responsive” ad units have become necessary.

Moving to “aspect ratio” ad sizes allows digital ads to scale for each device and screen resolution. The same banner or video creative will work well on small mobile phones, tablets, and large desktop monitors.

For clients providing digital advertising artwork, we are now requesting the following sizes:

  • 1×1 = 450×450 (replacing 300×250 medium rectangle)
  • 1×2 = 450×900 (replacing 300×600 portrait)
  • 1×4 = 240×960 (replacing 728×90 skyscraper)
  • 6×1 = 450×75 (replacing 300×50 and 320×50 smartphone banner)

The new IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio incorporates the LEAN Principles: lightweight, encrypted, AdChoices supported, and non-invasive formats. The LEAN Principles are designed to improve the consumer experience when reading articles or watching video content online. The ads will not be disruptive and have faster load speeds.

The IAB is an industry trade group that sets the standards for interactive advertising. The big online publishers, ad networks and advertising agencies work together to create these industry standards.

Advertising in Radio: Internet vs Traditional Platforms

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With the rise of internet radio services, advertisers are being given another way to reach possible customers, one that directly rivals traditional radio advertising. As a traditional form of media far predating the internet, radio has been an outlet used by advertisers for decades and generates billions in ad revenue a year.

However, in the last couple of decades as the internet has advanced, there has been a shift in the way advertisers approach customers and internet radio services have become a popular way for businesses to reach consumers. To most effectively use these advertising platforms, it’s important to know the differences and similarities between them.

Ad Targeting

The Internet and traditional radio platforms both use ad targeting to make their advertising more effective.  Radio providers try to personalize ads for the people they think are listening to a certain station and what would appeal to them the most. For example, a station that plays teen music would have ads targeted to teen audiences, such as mall stores, while a station that plays alternative music may have ads directed towards more alternative or hipster audiences, such as craft beer brands or outdoor stores.

With traditional radio formats, there is a little more guess work on who a station’s audience is compared to internet radio formats. Traditional radio makes assumptions on their demographics based on the type of music they play, audience engagement, and where the station broadcasts. Using these audience assumptions, ads are customized to be effective with that audience.

With internet radio platforms, they know these facts. Many providers will ask for data about the listener when they register for the service, information such as zip code, gender, and birth year. Service providers will then use that information to personalize ads for the listener, and targeting ads they think will be most effective on that listener. This information can be useful when trying to reach a specific target audience and generally, advertising is a lot more precise on internet platforms over traditional radio.

Delivery

Ad clusters are a tool used by radio stations to help advertisements most effectively reach listeners. Ad clusters are the blocks of time that advertisements are played in-between the station content. Different spots in the cluster will cost more or less, depending on the spot. The length of the spot, what time during the cluster the ad is played, and what time during the day or even the year the ad is played also plays into the price of the ad. More expensive ad spots reach more listeners and are more effective.

Internet radio places their ads in a way that’s a little bit different than traditional radio. In traditional radio, ad clusters are often several ads that span several minutes, with longer blocks of music in-between. Internet radio services usually only have one or two ads between songs, using much smaller blocks of time, however, they are more frequent between songs. These differences in how ads run can be important to advertisers. Many internet radio providers also have the option of display ads, which can be a step up over traditional platforms that are restricted to only audio advertisements.

Humans vs Computers

One of the main differences between traditional and internet radio is the human connection. Talk radio is the second highest listened to radio content, and talk radio is unique to traditional radio. This can be very important to advertising, as someone who listens to a certain radio station frequently may become attached to the personality or host, and come to trust them. This is useful as an event or company endorsed on air by a host may cause listeners to want to buy tickets to the event or buy from the company the person is endorsing.

With internet radio services, all the songs are coming through a screen and there is no interaction with another person. There isn’t the same attachment or loyalty to a station, and that can be a big drawback from an advertiser’s perspective.  “Live reads” or advertisements read by a DJ, endorsing a good or service are only available on traditional platforms. They are an effective advertising tool, especially if the listener trusts the DJ making the endorsement. Listener loyalty can be used very effectively by advertisers. Internet radio lacks that component of traditional radio.

Radio has been a widely used form of media broadcasting for decades and has been used by advertisers for just as long to reach potential consumers and turn them into buyers. Many tools to make this process as effective as possible have been developed over the years. However, with the rise of the internet comes the rise of internet radio, a new player in the game of media advertising. Both internet radio and traditional radio have their benefits and drawbacks, and the way advertisements are presented to listeners also have their own strengths and limitations. As with all forms of advertising, it’s up to advertisers to decide which service will work best for them and most effectively reach their potential buyers.

 

Google AdWords Expanded Text Ads: Your Implementation Guide

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On January 31, 2017, Google AdWords will end the creation or editing of standard text ads to fully transition to the new expanded text ad format. To make the transition easier and to help you understand and optimize your expanded text ads, here are some recommendations for creating impactful expanded text ads.

How Expanded Texts Ads Are Different

To use them most effectively, you have to first understand how expanded text ads work and how they are different from the standard text ads we are all used to. First, instead of one headline, you now have two, allowing up to 30 characters each. The description fields have been condensed to a single expanded field that now allows up to 80 characters. Instead of using the landing page URL, display URLs will now use your final URL’s domain and provides two optional “path” fields, allowing up to 15 characters each. Lastly, the expandable text ad format is optimized for all devices.

Essentially, expanded ads are twice as long, giving you more space and characters in your text ad, the display URL domain is now your final URL domain, and your ads are now automatically mobile-optimized.

Rewrite Your Ads

                  The temptation of many will to be to just tack on some extra words to your existing standard ads and call it good. However, with the extra characters provided with the new expanded text ads, it would be a waste not to maximize the potential they have. Say something new with your extra space and attract those who may not have clicked on your ads before. More characters allow you to communicate with users in-depth and provides better insight to what you are offering.

While rewriting ads might seem like a chore, it also offers an opportunity to update and optimize your old ads. Expanded text ads give you the flexibility to improve the readability of your ads. Rewriting gives you an opportunity to add more keywords to your ad and replace older keywords with some that have become more relevant since the ad was originally written. In the digital world, everything is constantly changing and being optimized to improve efficiency.  Your ads should be too.

Optimize Your Headlines

Headlines are the first thing people read when they see your text ad, so make it enticing. With expanded ads, you have two headline fields that fit up to 30 characters each, separated by a hyphen. The key to this new headline format is creating two headlines that work well together and complement each other, while still making an impact on their own.  For example, the headlines “Refreshing Homemade Lemonade – Quench Your Thirst Today” work great together and give the reader a complete idea of what the ad is selling, but they are still enticing headlines on their own.

As it was with standard text ads, you still want to put the most relevant information in the beginning of your headline. This is the part of the ad users will read first and if they see text that doesn’t seem relevant to them, they will likely not continue reading the rest of the ad. This is especially important for expanded text ads because if the user is on a smaller screen like a mobile device, the second headline may be shortened with an ellipsis to make the ad more readable.

Use Keywords

                  This tip is an oldie, but goodie and should be a golden rule in all your digital marketing strategies. Having top keywords in your ad makes it more relevant in the eyes of Google and more relevant to the user. Additionally, in Google text ads, if the user has keywords in their search that are also in your ad, those keywords will be bolded in your ad. The user’s eye will automatically be drawn to the bolded words and they will read and, hopefully, click on your ad. For example, if someone is searching “budget airline” and an ad reads “An Airline For Any Budget.”, the terms airline and budget will be bolded in the ad, and the searcher’s eye will be drawn to the ad.

The expanded text ad format is fantastic for keyword insertion, allowing more space and location options to place keywords is the expanded headline fields. Headlines are the largest text in your ads and the most important in drawing in potential customers. The description continues to be a strong location for keyword insertion and the expanded field allows for a more natural flow of words for improved readability.

A new option for keyword placement is the “path” fields in the display URL. These “paths” don’t have to actually be in the final destination URL, so they are great for putting in extra keywords. For example, if you are selling snow tires and your display URL reads example.com/Tires/Winter, you just added two very relevant keywords to your ad, “tires” and “winter”, even if the final destination URL doesn’t have those exact words in them.

Take Advantage of New Character Limits

Expanded text ads allow for 45 more characters than standard text ads did, so use them! With more character space in all the text fields, not maximizing your character limits is only short-changing the potential success of your campaigns. Headlines are now 35 characters longer than they were with the standard text ad format. Longer headlines are not only more eye-catching and engaging, they also increase the clickable space of your ads. Expanded text ads also allow up to 10 more characters in the description and more flexibility with their placement. Creating an engaging and dynamic description is vital to improving CTR on your ads and bringing people to your website. With 80 characters, you now have the space to do so.

Expanded text ads are here and to keep up with the ever-changing world of digital marketing, you need to know how to use them effectively. Implementing these best practices will allow you to create engaging, compelling text ads that will help improve campaign performance and efficiency.