T.P.R. Episode 10 - Why we love self Ad platforms and why you should too

Sam: This is episode 10, and we're stoked today that we're going to be talking about self-service ad platforms and how Amazon is jumping into the self-service ad platform game. Trying to break up the duopoly that Facebook and Google are currently owning right now in the ad revenue/ad platform game. So, in June, Amazon launched their Amazon marketing services, which again is a self-service platform and it allows advertisers to purchase ad space for their products and to target consumers through keyword searches. So it's a big play on the Google search, actually Amazon spends about 5 billion dollars last year, in 2016 on search engine ads. They're actually one of the biggest purchasers of ads from Google, and they're really trying to shake things up and take some ad dollars away from Google by offering search ads on their platform. So, what exactly is self-service advertising? For our viewers, and how does it differ from traditional advertising strategies?

Mikhail: Self-service ad platforms are platforms in which a business owner or third-party or anything can buy their own ad inventory. So think of Google Adwords, Facebook, Snapchat actually released a self-service ad platform as well. It's essentially like you put together the parameters, you say how much you want to buy and then you can do it yourself.

Sam: Gotcha. Pat, you have anything to add to that?

Pat: No, I mean that's pretty much you know ... Mikhail hit the nail on the head with that one. It gives you the opportunity ...

Pat: It gives you the opportunity to build your own ads all the way down to the ad creative and what your messaging is saying and who you're targeting so, it puts more control in the user's hand as opposed to having to rely on people that previously were really knowledgeable at this. They have a chance now to do it themselves.

Sam: Well, we're an ad agency and does this pose a threat to us?

Mikhail: No, I think it's awesome. Cause it's just more stuff that we can offer.

Sam: So, with this new ad platform. Amazon is going to allow publishers and advertisers alike to buy ad space, they currently right now ... Amazon allows other ... beforehand Amazon allowed other publishers to publish ads on Amazon and now Amazon is doing a lot to really control that inventory and actually offer their own ad products in those spaces.

What is really does and at once it was something really interesting about this is that, what Facebook and Google have ... what they have that's proprietary to them for advertisers and for publishers is Google knows what people are searching. They have all of that search data, that's what makes them super valuable. Then there's Facebook, which knows really well what people are interested in and who they're connected to and Amazon has unique data points across commerce and what people are buying and how often and how frequently they're buying those products, which is ... that data is really kind of what is posing the biggest threat to Google and to Facebook.

 Google, 29% of people surveyed said that they actually start their product searches on Amazon as opposed to on search engines so, by offering advertisers the ability to purchase ad space instead of other advertisers owning that space, instead of the actual direct retailers on Amazon being able to purchase that space it really does threaten Google by kind of consuming those ad dollars. Now Amazon is going to be potentially taking a lot of those ad dollars away from Google and people are going to spend them on Amazon. How do you think that Amazon's new search ad technology will affect Google and Facebook?

Mikhail: I think it's essentially ... it comes down to what you said, they're going to have to share some of the ... Google and Facebook are going to end up sharing some of the ad dollars that are being spent, right. I don't think that it's detrimental to Google or Facebook's success, because it's essentially history repeating itself. Let's pretend that Facebook is like ESPN and Google is CNN. The ads that are being bought on either platform, they're still subject to what people are interested in and what interests other people. You're not going to see an ad for Nike running shoes on CNN.  We talked about this before and vice versa you might not see a Chase banking ad on ESPN. So, I think that there's ...

Sam:  Are you talking about the websites or on tv?

Mikhail: Well, it's more of the analogy of it happening, it's just history repeating itself. Where there's the big players- ABC, FOX and whoever, let's just say ESPN, that have all this ad revenue that's being spent. It depends on what people are searching for, because there are still products and there's still traffic that comes through to different websites, through Facebook and Google and I don't ever see that really stopping. There's still a lot of information that Amazon just can't essentially, not that they can't traffic, but it's not the end-all be-all. Amazon isn't the end-all be-all. In fact, only fifteen percent- around fifteen percent, last time I read, of all purchases in the United States, are made online. There's still people going to stores, there's still people going out and buying things. So, I don't think it's the end-all be-all, but I do think that obviously Google, I think is at the biggest risk for losing out on a lot of this market, because people have been less likely to click on ads for a long time.

Pat: I kind of feel that it would be ... I don't think that Google is going to lose a lot of its search traffic or its search volume, because of Amazon and we're not going to see that probably for a little while, because this platform is still fairly new. People are searching for strictly just products on Amazon. People look for information and things like that on Google, but those products and things like that will still show up on the Google platform and like you said, people still go out they buy stuff, they don't buy things online. Fifteen percent of the people that are purchasing things, are made online, but a lot of the traffic and research goes through Google still. So, I think regardless of the fact that people are less likely to click on ads, if they still show up, it's still going to be relevant to their searching for, so I don't know if we're really going to start seeing a big impact with Google until later on down the road.

Sam:  Okay, what are advertisers or brands, what should they focus on when it comes to assessing whether or not they should spend any time with Amazon ads?

Mikhail: I think the biggest thing is just understanding your market and what they're searching. If I'm doing nutritional supplements or something like that, obviously I wouldn't be on Amazon. If I'm a small business and I'm a service type of thing, and I'm a server region, I'm still going to want to do Facebook and Google.

Sam: Yeah. Of course.

Mikhail: I think that's the biggest thing. I think that there's so much power behind it, like you should be scared of Amazon, BUT there's still a market for each platform.

Pat: But, you know that going to Amazon is already product-based, You're getting physical things, so you know that there's a different context when people are on there searching for stuff, so when you place your ads you know that these people have that mindset that they want to buy something. So you want to put your product in front of those people that are already searching, so that platform may work the best for you. Depending on what you're selling, products versus services and so forth.

Sam: interesting. I mean, as far as the ... here's a couple things that I kind of want to touch on, or talk about on the self-service ad platform stuff. As an advertiser, when we start talking about things like Facebook ads or Google search ads, when and how should a marketer or should a company focus on ... how do they focus on using those two platforms to their benefit and what scenarios would they do that? So, Pat, let me ask you this question. Give me a scenario or walk me through your advice that you would give a company when they're considering Google to spend their ad dollars. A finite amount of ad dollars on search versus on social media, like on Facebook or Instagram.

Pat:  Are you asking me which platform would make more sense?

Sam:What are things that they should consider?

Pat: Well, again, I think it goes back to what they're trying to do, like what's their purpose. When it comes to these two platforms there's two different ... it goes back to mindset, when people are on Google they're searching for something, so there's a lot of intent. When they're on social media platforms, they're not really looking for anything. Maybe they're looking for ... wanting to connect with a friend or be entertained, but when they see something that makes sense to them they're going to click on an ad that's relevant or entertaining or informational, then you can kind of create that intent through the content that you generate. As a business, I guess my bit of advice would be- what's the purpose of what you're trying to do? Are you trying to go direct or are you trying to inform and then educate and nurture? Because I feel like Facebook and those social platforms would give you that type of nurturing culture with those ads and it'll bring people into that funnel, but if you're looking for more of a direct sale, then I would definitely go with the adword platform.

SamHow would that same company be able to use both platforms to generate a lead and nurture that lead from beginning to end, from top of the funnel through the bottom of the funnel to the decision?

Mikhail: I think that the first thing is understanding that both experiences for the consumer are completely different. As Pat was saying if somebody is going to actually click on your ad on Facebook, then you should essentially put together more of a nurturing funnel. Whether it's like a content exchange or even an offer works that they can get down the road type of thing, and then capturing their email addresses, that sort of thing.

 You have to just understand what that's used for. In fact, we've seen a lot of businesses kind of think that Facebook is the end-all be-all and social media ads are the end-all be-all, but really it's just the part of the marketing mix and again, as Patrick said, the direct buy is going to be on Google so you have a better chance there. The conversion rates are different and the KPIs are completely different. On Google, maybe it's a purchase immediately, but on Facebook maybe it's just more web traffic, more brand awareness, more social proof and then capturing an email address or something like that.

Pat: Yeah, totally. You'll get definitely much cheaper traffic on the social platforms than you would on Google, but again it's- how well are those ... how well is that traffic converting into what you want it to do? Right, I mean is it converting better on your Google platforms or your social platforms? And that's something that you need to measure when you're running both campaigns.

Sam: Interesting. So when some of our clients, Pat, walk us through using social media to re-target someone who maybe found you through your post or on search organic, Google search or through a paper-click ad.

Pat:  Yeah, absolutely. So we target ... we basically pixel a landing page or the website, whatever we're driving the traffic to and then when we re-market them. Re-marketing them on social channels, Facebook or Instagram just for example. You know you'll get in front of those eyes again, but at that point they've already seen your business, they've already seen your brand, they've engaged with it at one point, so the re-marketing side of things is ... I'm a big believer in it. I think the re-marketing side is huge. I mean, I've seen a lot of good things happen on the re-marketing end. You get a lot more conversions, you get more engagement and so forth under your re-marketing ads and that's where you really start to see the magic happen. I feel like you run the brand awareness campaigns at the top of the funnel for ... you know from Facebook, but when you re-market on these things that's when you start to see things clicking. It's where you start to see the needle moving and so forth.

Sam: Do you see your experience with our clients lower cost-per-click, cost-per-leads on re-targeting campaigns as opposed to running cold traffic?

Pat: I think, well they work hand-in-hand. You know what I mean, it comes down to the frequency as well. You'll get more frequency from the cold traffic, but again you know, with the re-marketing you'll definitely see a higher conversion on the re-marketing, but the cost-per-click and the cost-per-impressions will be more expensive because the pool is a lot smaller. So when you go to the cold traffic and once you find the target audience the messaging is right, the clicks are cheaper, the impressions are cheaper, your frequency is more; however the conversions don't typically happen on the first encounter. That's very rare that they'll see one ad and then take the next step. You have to hit them a couple different times, especially if you're marketing on social media platforms.

Sam: Gotcha. Okay. so for some of these people or some of our viewers and our listeners who are right now trying to figure out whether or not they are ... maybe they are stuck or plateauing on their Facebook ad campaign doing, running re-targeting . What are some things that we can do as far as sending them ... do you send them the same ad? Do you send them a variation of the same ad that they've seen before? What are some strategies that you can use there to have a higher conversion rate?

Pat: Well, you know the first ad is always your first impression, like you consider that as the first thing these people see and if they don't really engage with that. Let's say they click, but they don't take the next step, you want to give them something that's tangible, like a different offer, a different message. I mean, you're essentially trying to get them to take the same step, you want them to go to the same place, but maybe if they'll approach it from a different angle. Maybe you have to give them a different creative, maybe you have to tell them something a little bit different, maybe they need a lead magnet or something that's a little less barriered entry,

Sam: A smaller ask.

Pat: A smaller ask, exactly. Sorry, that was really weird, but a smaller ask definitely to help them take that next step. You know what I mean, so there can be different offers, but you don't really know that. These are things you got to set up in tests and see which funnels works best, you know what I mean.

Sam: Yeah, is it worth building ... would you rather see someone re-target on social media versus a Google display network on another site?

Mikhail: Yes.

Pat: Yes.

Sam: Okay.

Pat: Absolutely.

Mikhail: Let's just leave it at that.

Pat: Yes, lets just ... that's it.

Mikhail: Stop re-marketing on Google display.

Sam: Is Google Display dead or?

Mikhail: I think all those clicks are accidental. 100% Because if you're on the internet, if you're on ESPN.com. You can probably relate, if you're on ESPN.com looking up the Dodgers who are the best team in MLB right now.

Sam: They're the best team in baseball.

Pat: Ever. The best team ever.

Mikhail: Do you really want an ad from like Toyota coming up, just because you accidentally looked them up one time.

Sam: Here's the thing, when land on an article that I want to read, I want to read that article, right? And my brain, my vision, my whole train of thought and focus. I've trained myself to completely block out the ads. They call that an ad focus or there's such thing as ad fatigue, where you're seeing the same ads over and over again, then their performance dwindles, but I go onto a page and I know where the ads are and I know where they're going to be and my focus goes to where I know where the content is that I'm looking to engage with. I get angry at that. If I see Toyota there, I'm like why I'm trying to read this article.Do you guys ... Is that something that ...

Mikhail: Heaven forbid you do a YouTube pre-roll. Okay. Dude. That is just the worst.

Sam:That is just the worst.

Pat: Could potentially have wasted

Sam: 5, 4, 3, 2, skip.

Mikhail: Skip. Skip. Skip. Yeah, it's really true. The targeting is important, but ... you know. That's a whole different conversation of who's controlling that stuff, because I don't think you see a whole lot of small businesses that are really looking for good conversions doing something like that. Where you're seeing bigger companies, the Toyotas, the Pepsis of the world.

Pat: Right. The bigger companies you'll see those ...

Sam: You'll see that ad spin and they have ... they need to buy inventory.

Pat: They have money that they can throw at it. For sure.

Mikhail: Still quantify ,who measure their success by their impressions, it makes no sense.

Pat: It's old school, it's an old school way of thinking. The one thing that does that actually makes sense to me, is when they look for, like say, hotel rooms. You want to go traveling or something like that. You land on a website, let's just say you know you go to MGM  . You book a room there, you don't book the room and literally for the next 30 days they show up on everything.

Display networks everywhere, right? I don't mind that, because I'm still on that mindset of I want to look for something and it's something that's kind of cool so they want to make sure that they're there. There was literally one time that I was on the page and it was the banner, the skyscrapers and then there was the footer and it just surrounded, literally the one thing I was reading. It was just the same ad, and I was like, that's kind of crazy, but I clicked on it because I was like, I kinda need to get a room. You know what I mean?

So, I don't know if it's completely dead, but it's definitely the bigger budgets, it's if you have it it could work.

Sam: In some of those intent purchases that was the urgency, like booking a flight or booking a hotel room where it's like you're clearly looking to do that. I mean if you're on there and you're looking for availability for flights for the next few days then obviously you're looking to make that purchase right then and there. So that, that re-targeting, because that urgency and that intent is there ... that's when it makes a lot of sense.

 These audience networks, use expanded networks that we're seeing on LinkedIn and Facebook. Let's say for Facebook, where basically it's another network of web plot forms that Facebook will distribute your ad onto to help expand the reach. When do you use that feature? When do you turn it off?

Mikhail: I personally never use them. I actually only use ... sometimes I'll use the right hand column, but as far as the audience network where it comes up on apps. Nobody f* likes those.

Sam: Kinda the same axe that we're talking about.

Mikhail: Yeah, so I don't use those and then I'll just use desktop, sidebar and then mobile and the Instagram, sometimes.

Sam: I know for some of our clients for our re-targeting, Pat, I know that you turn on the audience network for re-targeting ads and you turn it off for cold traffic.

Pat: So I've seen success when I run the cold traffic, it's in the feed. You want it to be in the feed. There are sometimes instant articles, right-hand column, but everything else will just turn off, because its, you know, wasted ad space. A lot of the budget, if you turn it on to the cold traffic will go to audience network and you don't get a lot of impressions and it looks all cool, but literally nothings happening. However, on the re-targeting side of things, because it's a smaller pool. I've found that if you are able to put the ad in more places, including the audience network, I've seen good conversions with that. It has lowered my cost-per-click and the conversions actually have gone up at a lower rate for those conversions.

 So, in theory it's you have a lower pool, but you put your ads everywhere, right? So people see it and the frequency of that happening, I think helps with those conversions.

Sam: Gotcha. So it's like once they've seen you for that first time and they engage with a specific offer or piece of content, it makes sense to sort of follow-up with them, nurture, be top of it, so that they're seeing you, because a lot of these things like in the B to B world or with the bigger transaction stuff there's more of a research period where the buyer's journey lasts over a period of time where it's not like the high-intensity urgency like booking a hotel room or booking a flight. So staying the top of mind and being, over the course of time is really going to help you to have an opportunity to be there when they need you most.

Pat: Yeah, absolutely.

Sam: Right on guys. Well, this has been another excellent episode of, The Production Room, brought to you by Replay The Collective Agency.

         I'm Sam, I'm your host and that's it. See you later.

There’s 3 things companies should consider when advertising on Facebook:
1) saturation of content, 2) video transcriptions, and 3) targeting.
Audience building can be done in 3 steps:
1) Create custom audiences, 2) Create lookalike audiences, and 3) Look at your competitors.
Be clear about your messaging.