July 7, 2015

#DigitalDarwinism (Part 2)

Hello and welcome back to the second installment of #DigitalDarwinism. For those who did not catch the first installment, you can find it here. We are talking about keeping up with not just your competition, but the overall digital consumer landscape.

As advertisers and publishers continue to push the envelope, consumers get more and more sophisticated. You don’t believe me? Then believe the Harvard Business Review. That’s a good article, but read it after you read my blog post. Here is a summary of that article:
*Digital ads have been evolving for 20+ years (recent college grads entering the online marketing space are damn near the same age!)
*There are 100 billion impressions of digital ads every single day. Expressed in long form it looks something like this: 100,000,000,000. That is an insane number, and it’s growing everyday. Get excited and get your share!
*25% of advertising dollars are spent on digital.
*Digital advertising is ever-changing.

Here are more examples of how advertisers are staying in front of consumers and are making insane returns on their digital marketing investments.

1. Knowledge Graph (SEO)

What if I told you that you could take up almost the whole search engine results page (SERP), above the fold, and it would not cost you a penny every time a user clicked on your asset?

a) Here is the definition
b) And here it is in practice

how to soak raw denim SERPThe Google search return gives a very quick summary of this page, and it even pulled in the infographic! That is a ton of real estate that no user can overlook. Google is trying to optimize the user experience, and you should take advantage of it. This is an organic listing and is not pay per click. Google wants to answer user questions quickly and efficiently. What’s more efficient than trying to keep them on the SERP? Users will still definitely click out to the source page for further research or to buy products you are selling. Search engines helping people FTW!

2. New Paid Ad Offerings (PPC)

a) Enhanced Ads

Google will not be letting go of PPC ads anytime soon. Paid ads have their place and provide great returns when executed correctly. Check out the below ad and how complex it is:

Neato Robotics Enhanced Ad

This enhanced ad format, courtesy of Google, allows for all of the below functions and makes it that much easier for users to click this huge ad, and to charge the advertiser a few cents:

*Callout extensions: Featured highlights about the product. Tell users what they need to get excited about!
*Review extension: Are you getting awesome write-ups from trusted sources? Why not advertise that fact and soak up a few more pixels on the SERP?
*Sitelinks: Tell users what helpful areas exist on your site and get them there while they are interested in your offering. Take their money! They want to give it to you!
*G+ Followers: Sure, G+ is not impressive, but why not enable the feature in this enhanced ad and take up one more line of text?

b) PLAs

Product Listing Ads have been growing in popularity. Imagine a world where you could serve ads to users without writing copy. What if you could just show them a picture and price? You can! Now, switch to the user’s perspective. Let’s say you are shopping for an iPhone case. The below is what I got on the SERP:

Product Listing Ads

I get 5 PLA’s that take up half of my screen and show me a lot of info very quickly and fluidly. I can quickly see what the product looks like, who is selling it, the price, and even reviews. Can we really trust that users will engage with something so basic? And if they happen to click on a pretty picture, will they actually buy? Yes! This is why PLA’s are taking more than half of advertisers’ budgets. And when it’s Black Friday through Christmas, it’s even more bonkers. Like pro poker player Phil Hellmuth preaches, you have to get your chips in the pot when you are holding good cards. Online retail during Q4 is a major poker game. Big bets and bigger stakes are to be had. (*Author’s note- Phil lives in Palo Alto, CA, which is minutes from Google’s HQ.)

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