Navigating the Evolving Landscape of Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) stands as a pillar in the realm of digital advertising, elevating a brand’s visibility by securing premier advertisement placements on search engine results pages (SERPs). This channel has become irreplaceable for many marketers in driving qualified website traffic by engaging users with relevant ads that match their specific search queries.

It’s evident that there is a growing importance of mobile and local SEM in brands’ media mix – specifically as a performance-driven channel. However, the way consumers are using search is evolving, as they turn to voice and visual search technologies to add convenience to their experiences. 

The incorporation of AI and advanced data analytics into SEM is also dramatically changing the landscape, requiring businesses to consistently evolve their search strategies to stay at the forefront of digital marketing innovation and best meet the consumer’s needs. 

Major Trends and Changes in SEM

SEM is constantly in flux, shaped by the continual advancements and updates in search engine algorithms. Understanding these shifts is essential for marketers looking to maintain a competitive advantage in digital advertising.

Search Algorithms and Their Impact on SEM

Major search engines like Google continuously strive to enhance user experiences, resulting in frequent and significant algorithm changes. Over the past year, Google has implemented several important updates:

  • April 2023: Replaced first-click, linear, time decay, and position-based attribution models with data-driven attribution to better align with evolving consumer behaviors.
  • May 2023: Introduction of AI-driven innovations at Google Marketing Live, refining both Search and Performance Max campaigns.
  • August 2023: Implementation of the Limited Ads Serving policy to improve ad clarity and build trust.
  • September 2023: The Helpful Content Update launches, focusing on seamless transitions from ads to landing pages that directly answer user queries and enhance the search experience. This highlights the need for marketers to develop content that resonates with the audience’s expectations and addresses their primary concerns about brands and their offerings.
  • October 2023: Introduction of search themes in Performance Max to refine ad targeting.
  • November 2023: Google shifts towards privacy-focused ad strategies, moving away from third-party cookies and instead emphasizing the use of first-party data and contextual targeting.
  • February 2024: Enhancement of AI-powered Search ads as well as the introduction of AR & VR features for shopping, aimed at improving ad engagement and consumer insights.

Each update underscores a shift towards more personalized, efficient, and privacy-conscious marketing strategies, challenging marketers to innovate within the constraints of enhanced user privacy and advanced technological capabilities.

The Rise of Mobile and Local SEM

In today’s digital ecosystem, mobile optimization and local search strategies are paramount. Mobile-friendly websites should balance aesthetics and usability, aiming for fast loading and easy navigation for users. For local businesses, the integration of location-based keywords and localized ad targeting into their SEM strategy is indispensable. This focus enhances visibility on SERPs, especially for searches with local interest, thereby connecting businesses with their highest-intent target audiences more effectively.

Voice and Visual Search Innovations

Voice and visual search technologies are reshaping the SEM strategies. Voice searches, powered by digital assistants and smart speakers, tend to feature longer, more conversational queries. This change means we need to use different keywords that match the brand or campaign’s main focus, like questions and phrases. 

Visual search, leveraging AI to allow image-based searching, enhances web interaction, particularly in shopping and information discovery. Integrating visual search into SEM strategies can significantly boost user engagement, conversion rates, and brand recognition while providing insightful consumer behavior data, making it a pivotal element for more successful and efficient marketing campaigns.

Adapting to the growing trends of voice and visual search requires websites to be user-friendly and equipped to provide accurate, easily accessible information. SEM practitioners must continually update their strategies to align with the evolving preferences and behaviors of their audience, ensuring their campaigns remain effective and relevant.

Effective SEM Strategies in Today’s Digital Marketing

Today, effective SEM strategies have become pivotal for standing out amidst intense competition. These strategies have evolved significantly, transitioning from outdated techniques to sophisticated approaches that prioritize user experience and content quality.

  • Content and Keyword Strategy Adaptations: The move away from keyword stuffing to strategies that focus on user intent and content quality reflects a significant shift in SEO and SEM practices. Originally, keyword stuffing aimed to improve SERP rankings but often led to poor user experiences. Today, search engines favor high-quality content that delivers on its promises, aligns with user behavior and intent, and satisfies users’ needs. This change is important because voice and visual searches are on the rise. Content must be engaging and specifically designed for natural language queries.
  • Leveraging Data and Analytics: Data analytics, powered by AI and machine learning, plays a crucial role in refining SEM strategies. Platforms like Google Ads employ these technologies to analyze large datasets, considering factors like user behavior, demographics, and past performance. These insights allow marketers to optimize their campaigns more effectively, adjusting bidding strategies in real time based on dynamic user behavior patterns.
  • Integrating SEM with Overarching Digital Marketing: For maximum impact, avoid thinking of SEM as a separate initiative and instead incorporate it within a broader digital marketing strategy, considering the intertwining of SEO, social media, and email marketing. This cohesive approach ensures that all channels work together towards a common goal, enhancing the overall effectiveness of the marketing efforts. 

Future of SEM and Staying Ahead

Rapid advancements in technology, such as AI and data privacy, are not only influencing but also redefining the future of SEM, necessitating that marketers integrate these elements into their strategies for sustained success.

  • Continuous Learning: As the SEM industry evolves, marketers must also evolve, adapting to changes to maintain a competitive edge and bringing a spirit of experimentation. 
  • Leveraging Campaigns for Experimentation: View campaigns as opportunities for testing and learning, diving deep into analytics to gather actionable insights.
  • Holistic Data Tracking: The cross-platform tracking capabilities of GA4 allow for a comprehensive understanding of marketing efforts across channels, facilitating more efficient budget allocation through detailed data attribution.
  • Industry Insights: Staying informed through industry publications and resources is vital for learning about the latest SEM developments.

Adopting ethical practices is crucial not only for building trust with consumers but also for ensuring long-term success and compliance with regulatory standards. 

Here are some key considerations:

  • Clear and Ethical Communication: Deploy honest, transparent advertising with high-quality, relevant content, adhering to ethical guidelines and responding to feedback to enhance trust, improve user experience, and provide value.
  • Safeguard Privacy and Ensure User Consent: Adhere to privacy laws and respect user preferences, providing clear options for data tracking and personalization consent.
  • Promote Equity and Inclusion: Ensure ad targeting is free from discriminatory practices and embraces inclusivity, catering to a diverse audience without exploiting vulnerabilities.
  • Sustainability Consideration: Prioritize sustainable SEM practices by optimizing resource use and minimizing digital waste, reflecting environmental responsibility.

Emphasizing a blend of technological innovation, adaptability, and stringent ethical standards lays out a strategic blueprint for thriving in SEM’s dynamic future.

5 Ways to Maximize Programmatic Dollars Amidst Economic Uncertainty

As economic uncertainty looms, marketing dollars matter now more than ever. However, this challenge presents an opportunity for brands to re-evaluate their programmatic marketing strategy and discover innovative approaches to maximize media investment. While it’s critical to continue on with proven marketing strategies that consistently deliver against business goals, refinement and experimentation is the name of the game within the programmatic ecosystem to position the brand for success and drive growth well beyond the downturn. 

Here are five tips to ensure your investment in programmatic channels is efficiently driving brand goals and positive ROI:

#1 – Prioritize high-value audiences

Advertising to a broad and undefined audience often results in reaching users who are unlikely to convert. An important first step of media planning is gaining a deep understanding of the audience you are trying to reach and what motivates them. 

  • Conduct Audience Analysis: Utilize data-driven research tools, analyze existing customer data, and review past campaign performance. This approach helps identify users demonstrating interest and intent, setting the stage for a highly targeted audience strategy. 
  • Focus on Likely Converters: Prioritize your programmatic media spend toward audiences with a high propensity to convert. This strategy reduces ad waste and ensures your media budget is invested in segments most likely to generate significant impact.
  • Balance Your Retargeting Efforts: While retargeting can yield strong results, it’s crucial to balance your investment in this area. Over-relying on retargeting can lead to spending unnecessarily on users who would likely have converted anyway, and will be a recipe for disaster with third-party cookie deprecation. Diversify your approach to capture new potential customers without neglecting those close to conversion.

#2 – Eliminate inventory inefficiencies 

One of the benefits of activating programmatically is accessing inventory across the entire open web, enabling efficient reach and scale. However, not all inventory is created equal and investing in poor quality placements may inhibit ROI goals. Platform algorithms use ad engagement metrics, such as clicks or video completions, to assess the quality of an inventory source. However, it lacks human logic by not considering the user’s intention with the engagement, such as accidentally clicking on an ad. Therefore, it’s critical to incorporate supply path optimization (SPO) into your media approach to have a granular understanding of where your ad dollars are being spent and how it contributes to the overall campaign’s success. SPO analysis highlights which inventory sources drive the most efficient conversions, informing optimizations of media spend toward the most valuable placements. This translates into a campaign that uses each ad dollar effectively to maximize ROI.

#3 – Leverage AI for operational efficiencies

In times of economic uncertainty, every resource counts. To maximize the impact of your media investments, AI can augment your team’s capabilities and streamline operations enabling you to do more with less. AI-powered solutions, like dynamic creative optimization (DCO), reduces the human hours needed to manually develop and assign each creative since DCO automatically generates and assigns the most effective creative variation in real-time. Delivering highly personalized and performance-driven creative can improve engagement and messaging resonance for each individual user, leading to overall stronger media results.

It’s critical to roll out AI to your teams with a focus on responsible usage and governance. The upfront investment of AI training and policy development will set your team up for success. 

#4 – Optimize user frequency 

Frequency metrics tend to be overlooked due to focusing on metrics that ladder up to business goals, like ROI. However, it’s important to actively monitor frequency to ensure media spend is not resulting in wasted impressions. Oversaturating users with brand messaging can lead to ad fatigue or a poor user experience potentially creating negative brand associations. High user frequency can also indicate media dollars are being spent on reaching users who have already performed the desired action.

Utilize frequency as an optimization lever to ensure your media dollars are efficiently invested in creating valuable brand engagement and driving results. Every brand’s customer journey is unique, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to optimal frequency. Consider the steps and length of the audience’s journey to set realistic goals. Then, continually monitor the frequency compared to performance and utilize conversion path analysis to hone in on the optimal level of brand interaction with your audience. 

#5 – Embrace omnichannel strategies

Users interact with brands across multiple touchpoints throughout their journey, including traditional and digital channels. To maximize the impact of your media investment, develop an omnichannel approach tailored to your audience that provides a holistic and streamlined brand experience. 

  • Research Your Audience’s Behaviors: Assess which channels highly index with your audience’s behaviors and preferences to align media with how users consume content. 
  • Optimize Channel Mix: Strategically select the channels that ladder up to the overall marketing and brand goals. For example, if your audience has an affinity for video and the goal is to increase brand awareness, leveraging a high reach channel, such as Connected TV (CTV), is an efficient way to capture attention. 
  • Develop an Integrated Strategy: Once the optimal channel mix has been identified, create a strategy that maximizes the strengths of each channel to amplify a consistent brand message.

As marketing leaders navigate economic challenges, leaning into innovative and data-driven approaches will ensure every media dollar invested efficiently contributes to brand and marketing goals. Through continuous campaign optimizations aimed at reducing impression waste to prioritize investment on the audiences that matter most, brands will be well positioned for continued growth.

The Green Influence: How Social Media Stars are Steering Sustainable Commerce

Sustainable commerce has grown to include more than just eco-friendly products on store shelves in the digital commerce world. It’s about creating a movement – a lifestyle that reduces environmental impact and promotes ethical practices, focusing on changing consumer habits and business models for a healthier planet. 

A significant force behind this movement? Social media influencers. Influencers have emerged as pivotal figures steering the movement towards a more sustainable world, leveraging their significant sway over public opinion and consumer behavior. 

Critics initially accused influencer marketing of promoting over-consumption during the 2010s, yet a notable shift has quickly followed. Brands and influencers are increasingly using their platform and follower relationships to promote eco-friendly commerce practices, proving themselves to be essential allies in the quest for environmental sustainability.

The Responsibility of Influencers in Promoting Sustainability

With 46% of consumers demanding brands to lead in sustainability efforts, there’s a clear call for brand accountability in environmental initiatives. But how can influencers help a brand succeed in reshaping their marketing efforts?

  • Visibility and Awareness: Influencers are a secret weapon in sustainability marketing, driving personalized awareness that goes beyond the impressions of traditional advertising. By showcasing sustainable lifestyle choices, influencers not only promote products but also inspire a shift in consumer behavior towards more environmentally responsible actions.
  • Authenticity and Trust: Consumers are more likely to trust and emulate the green practices of influencers they follow, especially when those influencers share their authentic experiences and the tangible benefits of their eco-friendly choices. This trust fosters a deeper connection between consumers and sustainable brands, bridging the gap between awareness and action.
  • Engagement and Community Building: Influencers excel in creating communities centered around shared interests and values. Their platforms become forums for discussing sustainability, exchanging tips, and encouraging eco-friendly practices. Shopify highlights how influencers can really connect with their audience, turning casual watchers into engaged supporters of the eco-friendly movement.

Navigating Challenges and Shaping the Future of Sustainable Commerce

Addressing the challenges in sustainable commerce and influencer marketing requires a multifaceted approach, requiring a shared responsibility from both consumers and the brands themselves:

  • Combat Greenwashing: Brands should ensure all claims are backed by credible certifications and clear, accessible evidence of their sustainability efforts. Transparency in marketing and product labeling will help build consumer trust.
  • Bridge the Digital Divide: Increase accessibility by offering diverse, inclusive content and solutions that cater to various demographics and technological access levels. This could involve optimizing content for low-bandwidth environments or leveraging different platforms to reach a broader audience.
  • Maintain Authenticity: Brands should prioritize partnerships with influencers that align with their values and are passionate about sustainability. Brands and influencers alike should maintain transparency regarding their sponsored content and openly share the criteria guiding their partnership selections.
  • Educate and Engage: Both brands and influencers can play a role in educating consumers about sustainability. This includes sharing information on the importance of sustainable practices and how individual choices can make a difference.

The role of marketers in harnessing the power of social media influencers for promoting sustainable commerce is more vital than ever. As consumers increasingly prioritize ethical and environmentally-friendly practices, marketers have the opportunity to steer their brands towards greater sustainability. By supporting and amplifying their message, we can all be part of the solution, driving forward the movement for a more sustainable and ethical world. This approach not only meets consumer demand but also builds lasting brand loyalty and trust. Dive deeper into the world of ethical marketing by exploring our white paper on Simple Strategies for Sustainable Marketing. Download now and take a step towards driving the movement for a more ethical and sustainable world.

CTV + Live Streaming – What You Need to Know

With the rise of cord-cutting and the 2023 Hollywood strikes delaying content creation, tapping into live-streaming CTV inventory has piqued marketers’ interest with its ability to reach a highly engaged audience. Live-streaming offers brands a valuable space to programmatically connect with consumers at scale to drive awareness goals with the added benefit of flexibility that is not found in traditional linear TV buys. If you’ve been on the fence about testing live streaming in your marketing initiative, you likely have many questions regarding how to efficiently and effectively leverage this inventory.

For this Live Streaming Q&A article, we met with two CTV experts – Stephen Eidelman, Director of Inventory Development at The Trade Desk, and Joel Schaffner, Manager of Programmatic Operations at Coegi. They answered key questions to help inform your planning and activation of live streaming inventory to achieve your brand goals.

Why should advertisers incorporate live-streaming CTV into their strategic plan?

Joel: Incorporating live streaming CTV into a strategic plan is a great way to reach a new set of users at a slightly different angle. The live-streaming viewer is typically more engaged since they’re watching content in real-time, instead of having something on in the background that they can go back and watch later.

Stephen: Similar to the reason they have been historically coveted properties in linear TV advertising, live sports are highly sought after because they draw large audiences that are attentive and emotionally engaged – up through the very last second.  Not only does streaming account for more than 30% of live sports viewership, but we’ve also seen advertisers reach audiences that are completely unique compared to audiences in linear live sports and non-live sports streaming, meaning the only way to connect with that audience is by buying on live streaming sports. 

What has been a key driver of the increase in interest and investment in live streaming?

Stephen: Viewership patterns have shifted, so much so that the majority of Americans are expected to be watching live sports via digital channels by next year. At the same time, top-tier broadcasters like NBC and Disney have continued to shift more of their highly valued properties to be distributed exclusively on streaming apps (i.e. Peacock & ESPN+). Some of the most sought-after content is only available on streaming, and you saw that this year with NFL games exclusively on ESPN+ or Peacock. Fans are a more passionate audience than regular viewers, and they can’t miss a game!

Joel: I think a couple of things have been key drivers in the growing interest of live streaming. For one, the pandemic accelerated the trend of people cord-cutting and shifting to streaming services, making live streaming an avenue to reach a larger, more highly engaged audience.  Another thing is that live streaming inventory is much more accessible now, so marketers can seamlessly integrate it into their plans to test and compare performance with other streaming inventory.

How can marketers measure the impact of live-streaming CTV on brand goals?

Joel: Reach is a primary KPI for CTV in general, but especially for live streaming inventory since it is often seen as a mass reach play. With our partner, The Trade Desk, we can measure the quality of reach by comparing the users the CTV campaign reached to the seed audience, such as site visitors, sales data, and CRM lists. This measures the quality of our reach and helps us optimize media spending toward users that drive brand goals. We can also track offline actions, enabling conversion attribution to a user exposed to our brands’ live-streaming ads. 

Stephen: This is the beauty of live sports in streaming, you can achieve the same goals, and measure the same impact in live sports as you do in the rest of streaming. Whether it’s awareness, incremental reach, or outcome impact, all the targeting and measurement available in streaming is available in CTV. 

What is the impact on user engagement running in live streaming compared to standard CTV?

Joel: Standard CTV user engagement is valuable since media is reaching an entire household on the biggest screen, but live streaming takes this engagement to another level. The real-time factor of live-streaming content means that the audience is more engaged as they set time aside from their day to watch this specific event. 

Stephen: Live sports engagement is highly concentrated because the viewership patterns are usually in a set period of time, either a few minutes or several hours if they’re binging sports all day. The spikes in traffic are larger, so live sports can generate a larger audience reach much faster compared to other genres.

What are some best practices marketers should know for live streaming?

Stephen: Start broader and build your campaigns across all sports and leagues since there are live sports with big audiences all year round. You can also gain flexibility by getting into live sports programmatically without being tied to larger commitments or spending thresholds that are often required of traditional TV advertising. The growth of streaming allows for more and more types of sports to be aired, meaning more opportunities for advertisers as more diehard fans watch live sports via streaming. 

Joel: Some best practices marketers should consider when planning and executing campaigns on live streaming are to: 

  • Plan in advance
  • Plan for higher CPMs than standard CTV due to the high demand of live-streaming content, and 
  • Invest in high-quality and meaningful creatives since these ads will be seen on a big screen with highly engaged viewers

Are there any potential challenges to be aware of when leveraging live streaming?

Stephen: Live sports are unpredictable, and no two campaigns in live sports will be the same. That’s dependent on the sport, the teams involved, the time of day and so much more, so don’t expect that you can replicate the same recipe every live game. Aaron Rodgers getting injured in the first few minutes of the Jets season is a prime example of that – and also why advertisers need flexibility rather than being locked into deals for games that became far less appealing without start power. One thing to be conscious of is league sponsorships and other agreed upon contracts that may limit access to inventory. However, we see so much scale in live sports that advertisers should not be deterred – in fact, we’ve seen over one billion impressions of football-related content in a given weekend. Imagine all of the opportunities just in one weekend alone.

Joel: Of course, there are potential challenges to be aware of when leveraging live streaming but challenges is what makes the programmatic team at Coegi thrive! One obvious challenge can be the seasonality of live-streaming events which causes a high demand for the inventory. You can mitigate the shifts in demand by continuously monitoring the campaign’s bidding parameters and adjusting as needed in order to win in the ad auction.

What criteria should marketers consider when selecting live-streaming inventory?

Stephen: It’s important to approach live streaming with a balance of the marketing initiative’s overall goals (e.g. reach, frequency, outcomes) since regional and national live-streaming content are both available. By sticking to an audience strategy and testing across all live sports, for example, there is an opportunity for unconventional wisdom (sports co-viewing) and to find audiences when they are highly engaged and leaned in.

Joel: When selecting live streaming inventory, marketers should consider what type of event their ad will be viewed during – college sports, professional sports, awards shows, etc. It’s important to consider because each live event draws a different audience with various interests and purchase intents.  

What audience targeting strategies should marketers utilize to effectively reach their core audience?

Joel: Always consider the geotargeting parameters as some regions may align more with the marketing goal. Demographics, such as age, are also important to broadly refine the core audience media intends to reach. When thinking of data-driven audience strategies, try to keep this fairly broad as live streaming inventory is competitive, and efficiently scaling can be a challenge if too many variables are layered on.

Stephen: Advertisers need to understand who their audience is in live sports if they want to provide the best ad experience and use a strategy rooted in precisely reaching the core audience when and where they are watching live sports. Building your strategy around strong, authenticated data so you can see that the avid baseball viewer is also a loyal grocery store shopper requires a cross-channel identifier like UID2. This is especially important since much of the rise in live sports viewership is also taking place on non-traditional TV devices, such as tablets and mobile phones, so you want to connect the dots across viewers and devices for the best ad experience.

And finally, what piece of advice would you give to markets to run a successful live-streaming CTV campaign?

Stephen: Getting in programmatically provides cost efficiency by offering flexibility, control, and access that otherwise would only be available from larger networks or league sponsorships. If a game is a blow out by halftime, you don’t risk wasting budget on the second half that likely had significantly less viewership. Consolidating live sports within your CTV planning will also give marketers better decisioning and frequency management with the line of sight into the rest of the marketing objectives.

Joel: As most live events are scheduled at least a year in advance, it’s never too early to start planning. However, I recommend planning at least one month in advance of the campaign’s intended launch date. One of the first things to consider during the planning period is what kind of live events to incorporate in the strategy in order to reach the right audience. 

To learn more about broader CTV strategies, check out our other Q&A with The Trade Desk or take a deep dive with Connected TV Advertising Guide.

 

Inside the World of Influencer Marketing with Tagger Media’s Peter Kennedy

This Q&A is an adaptation of a conversation between Coegi’s SVP of Marketing and Innovation, Ryan Green, and Peter Kennedy, the founder and president of influencer marketing company Tagger Media, which was recently acquired by Sprout Social. You can listen to the full episode of the podcast here

Read on to hear Peter’s insights on the startup journey, and how he was able to adapt and build a successful company by focusing on customer needs. ______________________________________________________________________________________________

Ryan: I’m happy to be joined by the founder and CEO of Tagger Media, Pete Kennedy. Thanks for joining us today. I know we have some big news to talk about but would love to hear a little bit about your background, a quick elevator pitch, and resume of how you got here today.

Pete Kennedy: Thanks for having me here. I’ve been doing stuff for a long time, but I’ve always kind of started companies. That’s always been my thing. So I’ve started companies in the independent travel space back in the.com era, I started a medical device company, I started a water sports recreational business, and then obviously most recently started Tagger Media about eight years ago.

Ryan: So, I don’t wanna bury the lead here. Tagger just got acquired by Sprout Social, so congratulations. I’m sure that was quite the process. I’d love to hear, and I’m sure our audience would love to hear a little bit about what happens during an acquisition – how do you know that the company that’s acquiring you is the right fit? What was that process like?

Pete: I think selling a company is harder than actually starting a company. Crazy enough. When they say that the deal changes a hundred times a day, it really does. We talked to Sprout probably in December of 2022 for the first time. They reached out and said, hey, we’re kind of looking at this space. The real conversation happened [in the late spring of 2023], and they came out and we met with their CEO, their president, head of business development, and what we were looking for is an opportunity to win in this space. 

Sprout has 30,000 customers and they’re all doing influencer marketing, ’cause it’s such a major part of the media mix and it’s obviously such an important part of the social space as well. What we were looking for is not only a company that we could scale with in a major way, but also the right cultural fit. This team is absolutely amazing. A lot of people are coming from Salesforce at that company, which is interesting. So they have this growth mentality and we have like maybe 10 sellers around the world. They have like 600. So it’s just this machine that we can jump into which is great, and that the entire team is so excited about Tagger and the ability to sell influencer to all their customers. 

Ryan: Let’s step back a little bit to when you first were kind of coming up with the concept of Tagger. Most businesses, and you’ve started a number of them in various industries, we’re trying to find a problem to solve, right? So what was the problem that you were really looking at and where did you see your ability and your team’s ability to find a unique solution with Tagger?

Pete: It’s so interesting, that ideation stage. There’s like five stages of a startup, right? There’s ideation, there’s launch, there’s validation, there’s growth, and then there’s maturity or exit. Ideation stage is so much fun and there’s two ways that you can really do this: One is, which is the smart way to do it, identify a need, and then create solutions based on that need. Or you can create an idea that you think is interesting that might pertain to a market and then you build that. We actually did both of those things when we started Tagger. 

We first started with this idea, and the idea was we wanted to disrupt the music industry. The music industry spends billions of dollars every year trying to find new artists and then promoting those artists. They do that by having boots on the ground all over the world. They have music bookers, they have doormen at venues who are seeing artists that they think are interesting, sound producers, all these different people. A lot of times they’re able to find these people very early on, but what we did is we said, well, let’s listen to everyone who matters in the music space, primarily on Twitter at the time. If everyone’s talking about “Ryan”, we could predict that “Ryan”’s gonna go somewhere. Not surprising. The most popular people early on are gonna go somewhere and it really had nothing to do with listening, likes, or views, which that market had been somewhat gamified. 

So we created this platform where we just tracked all these people, but we had to create databases of all these musicians. We had to create databases of all these people who were talking about musicians. When we turned on the platform, we found, like Dua Lipa eight years ago, we found Billie Eilish eight years ago. I mean, we found all these amazing artists and go to the music industry, right? To validate this concept and they all said, what do you idiots know about music? I was like, nothing, but listen, we’re doing what you’re doing, but we’re doing a million times a day and they said, we’re not interested. (Now, fast forward, most of those music companies are clients, not to find artists, but to find influencers.) 

Then I went to New York and I took 40 meetings in like a two week time period. And every time I was just pitching a new thing because we had this really interesting platform where we could understand audiences and their propensity, and we could find artists and all these things, but we didn’t know what we had and how it might apply to someone else’s business. Gary Vaynerchuk over at VaynerMedia, “Gary V”, his team heard what we were up to. We got a meeting and they heard about these crazy people running around New York meeting with everyone. Gary and his team were like, listen, we love your data, we love how you can understand audiences, but you need workflow around influencer marketing. 

I asked the most important question: what is influencer marketing? Because I had absolutely no idea. And he said we have 30 people running campaigns for these big brands around the world and we’re really doing it on Excel spreadsheets. So if you can take our workflow, and by the way, they were hiring like a thousand influencers per campaign. Absolutely crazy and they said, if you can take our workflow and put it into a platform, we’ll be your first customer. 

So I moved to New York for a month, and I lived with them to really understand what they actually needed. Instead of just making a spreadsheet on a platform, we wanted to take that workflow to figure out how we can make it easier. My development team’s in Poland, so I was going back and forth during that month. But by the end of the month, we were able to deliver them a product that worked for them. 

Then it was really interesting. We then brought on a couple more clients. So we could have gone big and just raised money and hired all these people, but we didn’t, we slowly got another client and then another client. We focused on agencies because they had the biggest pain points. Just like I did with Vayner, we would get a new client and then I would go sit with them for weeks and just go in their office and I’d watch the bouncing ball: Like, you discover influencers, but why are you discovering those influencers? Is there a strategy? Who’s the strategy person saying we need to go do that? I’d go meet with that person and then we would have to go pay these people. I’m like, well, who pays these people? They’re like, oh, that’s, accounts payable. I go talk to them. I’m like, well, what are your pain points? So it was interesting, within like a year, I would walk into every agency or any brand, and I would know more about their business because I lived with all these different people to really understand what their needs were. That’s really how we did it. So I was able to identify a need based off of them telling us “this is what we need,” then really just going in and understanding everyone else’s needs so that you can build a unified platform that works for both brands and agencies.

Ryan: So, continuing on that, what are some of the ways that influencer and content marketing has changed and how have those changes evolved the way your platform has changed? You talked about having a modular concept for different workflows with different agencies in house brands, et cetera. But the marketplace has changed quite a bit too externally, so what things have you seen change over the years and how has your company reacted to those changes?

Pete: Yeah, definitely. There are multiple different ways it’s changed. First of all, what you get from influencer marketing has changed dramatically, right? 

Back when I started this, it was very much a PR focus where it’s just like, let’s get these mentions out there. It kind of was replacing newspapers, magazines, and traditional PR because that had kind of died off and was really being replaced by influencer marketing. So it was very much awareness building KPIs. But that shift, that allowed money to flow into this space, is when agencies and brands started to look at this more as a paid media execution versus a PR execution, right? So we would go into agencies, especially PR agencies and train them about paid media. 

Really, Vayner was the one who kind of got me on this. I mean, the Chris Aldi who was running their influencer business, he works for us now, but he started Gary’s paid media business. He’s like, no, this is paid media. This is what it is. So, even if you’re paying someone or you’re giving them a free product, you’re giving them something that costs you money, it’s paid, right? So I think that was a big change. 

Then the platforms made it easier to report on these campaigns and measure an influencer campaign the same way we measure your other media mix. That was massive. For Procter and Gamble to put $200 million into this business, they need to be able to measure this the same way we measure their other media mix and that was vital. 

Then a big shift that we’ve seen, especially over the last two years, is we’re not selling our platform to the influencer marketing team. We are now selling to the strategy team, the analytics team, the growth team, the new business teams at agencies, the technology team. All these different teams are using our platform really to get a holistic view of what’s happening socially, right? Social listening is important. Sprout has this amazing social listening platform and they’re listening to everyone in the world. What we do is we fine tune that down to the people who actually matter in terms of moving culture and those are influencers or creators. So having that view is helpful when you create that strategy. 

Then I think the last thing that’s changed dramatically is just, AI and, well, I’m sure we’ll talk about this, but AI has just allowed us to really get a better understanding of what’s happening, being able to ingest billions of bits of data, consolidate that down to really specific things so you can be like, okay, yeah, It’s raining, but how do I make it rain harder? Or how do I make it stop raining? You need a platform like ours to do that.

Ryan: When we think about who, what, when, where, why and we’re talking about AI, I think AI has a lot of potential in the first four, and it’s that fifth one that seems to still be the human element of it. I think that’s almost true in your platform to some degree as well. I know you have why definitely covered there but that’s where the humans are spending most attention. Thinking about the, why the marketers behind the screen are interacting in that area, probably the most, if I were to summarize.

Pete: Well, I think that that is actually where AI comes in the most, to be honest with you. Let’s say that your client manufactures pickup trucks. Well, why are people buying your pickup truck versus someone else? How did those customers — marketers always say the customers actually position your brand. Marketers don’t position the brand, right? The consumer positions the brand, not marketers. So if we can take all the content from influencers about pickup trucks over the last eight months, it’s probably a million pieces of content. I can’t actually go through all that content to pull out nuggets, but I can put that through AI.

What AI will do is they will look at all of that content and they will pick out themes like within two seconds: Towing capabilities, technology, interior comfort, all these different benefits. Then you can then stack rank how your brand fits within each one of those based off of mentions. So if your pickup truck is mentioned the fewest times in terms of towing capability and the few times you were mentioned, you have the worst sentiment. Everyone’s saying your towing capabilities are horrible. You as a marketer was like, I think our towing capability’s amazing. Well, the market doesn’t and the people who move culture are actually saying the opposite of what you think. 

So as a marketer, my strategy now on the why could be, oh, towing capabilities important for this industry because it’s the most talked about benefit with all the benefits of the pickup truck and we’re the worst. We probably need to create a campaign around our towing capabilities. Maybe we need to go back to the product team and say, listen, our towing capability sucks. We need to make it better. But I think AI allows you to filter all this data to understand what are the benefits and where do you stack up along those benefits?

Ryan: There’s obviously positive use that Tagger has with AI. Another thing that is a benefit to us is being able to sniff out fake followers and bots and things of that nature too. As AI becomes more sophisticated, as there are deeper fakes, things like that, is there a roadmap that Tagger has to help marketers at scale, identify where there’s nefarious content? Where we’re to avoid certain areas so that when we are looking at a plan with 2000 content creators on it, that we’re able to get the 200 out that may be coming from a negative place to make sure that we’re focusing our spend on what’s gonna move the needle and what matters?

Pete: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think that fake followers is definitely something that is important but there’s two things that I think are even more important. 

One, it’s content, right? That’s what we’re also seeing. Like I said, we’re selling into all these different departments, but that influencer content is being used across the entire customer journey. So for example, yeah, you’re gonna run a campaign and it’s gonna be an awareness building campaign, or maybe you’re trying to get conversion. But that customer journey, okay, they’re gonna see that influencer content and then they’re gonna start to see other social media ads about that brand. As you know, you have to see something multiple times before you go buy it. Well, what we know is that influencer content performs 300% better than branded content — on TikTok It’s like 3000% better. Why? Because it’s user generated content and does better than branded content. So now we’re seeing all this influencer content being used in paid media ads and then when you go onto these product pages on an e-commerce site, we’re seeing influencer content because again, it does better than branded content. 

Then when we look at like cart abandonment emails, they’re AB testing that with influencer content, it’s actually converting better. So all the way along this customer journey, what you’re seeing is the influencer content. So yes, if your sole purpose is I just want to go out and buy an influencer, hire their audience essentially, and use that as my conversion, yes, fake followers is super important – but to me it’s like, let’s go find creators who make amazing content. Who creates content that’s authentic to themselves and authentic to their audiences because we, through our affinity data, we can really understand, like, do these audiences care about these things? Then let’s go take that content and use it across our entire e-commerce, our entire customer journey so that we’re getting the most outta that content. So fake followers are becoming a little less. 

Then we’re also looking at more in terms of first party data and saying, well, do certain influencers convert better than other influencers do? When you start to be able to get more and more of that data, then it’s like, Ryan, you might have a hundred thousand followers and maybe 50% of them are fake, but you convert better in healthcare than anyone else. I don’t really care. Now, maybe what that means is instead of paying you based off of your a hundred thousand followers, yeah, I’m gonna pay you based off of you having 50,000 followers, but if I know that your conversion is so high, your followers don’t really matter because I’m paying you based off of what you’re gonna convert from me anyways. Again, not always. There’s multiple ways to think about that and I think fake followers are getting less and less relevant and more about, well, what can we do with this data and what’s our ROI on this campaign as a whole?

Ryan: Switching gears a little bit. Thinking about brands that really do well in the content marketing space, there’s obviously some brands that have built the almost entirety of their marketing function around influencers. I have some brands that don’t spend a dime on influencers and that are performing very well for themselves. 

What are a couple examples that you see of brands that are using creators and influencers appropriately, making it part of their bigger ecosystem, but using that to really drive their brand growth, their conversion growth, their sales, all of it? 

Pete: Companies that do it well are finding influencers that are authentic to their brand category, but whose audiences also care about those things. I think Lululemon’s done a really interesting job of this, because yes, they’re out there promoting all of their clothing, which is great. But they’re also partnering with mental health influencers as well because they know that that’s an important part. So when brands are partnering with influencers to, yes, talk about their products, but more importantly they’re talking about things that matter to their audience. Mental health is something that matters to their audience and they realize that. 

So, back in the day, influencer content used to be polished and beautiful and just everything. And now it’s real because people are looking for social connection and they’re kind of rejecting this social comparison, you know? I think that companies like Lululemon have realized that. You’re gonna see every size model in their content, you’re gonna see them talking about issues, not about working out, but about mental health, things that matter to their consumer. 

Then another company that I think did some interesting stuff was Behr Paint. They create paints and they have a bunch of different colors and they partnered with Emily Zugay and she’s this hilarious influencer that basically takes all of her paints and then she destroys the paint colors and renames them. So she might take like, green or something and call it like, cute green or way more clever than what I’m gonna come up with. But again, it’s kind of rejecting this high gloss social comparison and being real and hilarious. Brands are able now to kind of take the polish off of themselves, I think which is kind of interesting as well. Letting an influencer who, this is what she does, and that’s why she has a big audience, literally kind of like destroy the brand in a way because, you know, that that’s what people are looking for. So I think those are two pretty interesting examples. But, there’s hundreds of brands that are doing a great job of promoting their companies, but really bringing in social issues that matter to their audience, which is gonna be different from a brand next door whose audience is completely different.

Ryan: Very brave of Behr to strip off the gloss, so to speak. I think that leads into my next question: what changes do you predict will come in influencer marketing over the next couple of years? You’ve talked about the change from that curated content to a lot of more unfiltered content brands that are looking to partner with longer term ambassadors. Then just one-off activations with individual influencers as I’m sure you’re looking at how your company’s going to grow with the recent acquisition. Where do you see the marketplace going?

Pete: Yeah, again, I think that you’re gonna see more and more influencer content being used across the entire customer journey. I think that’s gonna be a big shift. Honestly, though, I think AI is gonna be a major addition to the influencer marketing process. Again, it’s not gonna replace anyone’s job, it’s just gonna allow them to be better at what they do. 

So a couple examples would be, just sending out communications with creators, being able to analyze that creator’s content and their voice, and then writing emails to these creators. You have to ask these people to work with your brand and not every creator wants to work with your brand. So being able to create a voice that’s gonna resonate with the creator using AI and be able to do this across a hundred influencers at the same time, is gonna make you way more efficient in your job. So that’s one quick example. 

Another example is just to take all of your content as a brand and look across all these creators instantaneously to find that perfect match of tone and thought and content in order to find those right creators. I also love this idea. AI does a great job of summarizing content. What it doesn’t do a good job of yet is to say, hey, here’s what’s happening in my industry. I have a hundred thousand dollars. How should I spend that? It can’t do that yet. I think in the future it might be able to, because again, it can just summarize data pretty well, but it can’t tell you how to spend your money. 

Ryan: So can I surmise that there may be some changes or enhancements to your platform that artificial intelligence is gonna be able to fuel?

Pete: Oh, we’re already doing it right now. So, I’ve already seen a lot of this. Like I’ve seen all this stuff already on our platform. We’re still developing it and we’ll be launching it over the next month or two, but yeah, it’s just gonna make your life so much easier.

Ryan: Coegi’s going to be a beta tester for that.

Pete: A hundred percent. I mean, there are certain agencies that are thought leaders and you guys are ahead of the curve with most of this stuff. So obviously we always look for partnerships with you guys to help us drive that product development. That’s really where our product development happens, is with you guys, it’s like, what do you guys need? What are you guys thinking about how the market’s going and how can we build based on those needs?

Ryan: Well, we’re excited to see what that looks like both, with the quick wins and those longer ones that’s fresh off the press. I’m really excited to continue to partner with you. 

Pete: Amazing. Thanks, Ryan.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Click here to follow The Loop Marketing Podcast for more marketing insights. 

3 Ways AI is Shifting the Search Marketing Landscape

With the rise of AI-powered technology, user search behavior is in a constant state of change. Voice assistants, such as Siri and Alexa, have transformed search queries into colloquial conversations. Google Lens has made visual searches a reality. ChatGPT has emerged as a new prompt-based search engine. All of these developments create new ways of searching and present a challenge to marketers to determine how to navigate the search landscape as user needs and preferences evolve.

The Continuous Evolution of Search Behavior

Voice Search

Speaking to technology as if we are conversing with a friend has become a natural instinct in this new tech age. Picture it. You’re driving to your parents’ house for dinner and notice you’re low on gas. What do you do? *raises phone to speak* “Hey Google, can you tell me where the nearest gas station is?” Voice assistants have created an easier, frictionless, and in this case, safer option for getting the information you’re seeking in lieu of physically typing your query into a search bar. More than 1 billion voice searches occur each month globally, which is predicted to continue to grow. 

How should marketers adapt?

In response to the longer, question-based queries that voice assistants have introduced, search teams must modify their approach to keep pace with changing search behavior. Since 27% of voice searches take place on mobile devices, it’s critical that marketers either maintain the mobile-friendliness of their brand’s site or create a microsite that is optimized for mobile devices. A mobile-optimized site will create a more seamless search experience for users who start their quest for information using a voice assistant. It’s also important to develop a content strategy on your brand’s site based on keywords related to your product and/or service offerings in order to rank higher on search results pages. Quality content increases the likelihood of being the trusted source selected to answer a user’s voice question.

The gas station example also alludes to the fact that voice searches are used frequently in a local context. Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) teams need to collaborate together to develop a local search strategy to ensure your brand is at the fingertips of a user’s inquiries regarding surrounding businesses and services. If applicable to your brand, maintaining a local-friendly site as well, including store locations and hours of operation, will help place your brand at the forefront of a local-based search. 

Visual Search

Advances in technology have made visual search another avenue for information seekers. Google Lens, which launched in 2017, is the predominant platform leading the way for visual search. To visually search, a user can either upload an image directly from their camera roll or capture a new picture in the Google app, and Google will analyze the image to provide relevant image and content results. For example, if you come across a plant on your morning walk that you want to know more about, you can take a photo and Google will provide relevant search results, such as the plant’s name, care instructions, or a shopping ad of a local nursery where you can purchase said plant.

Google shared that people use Lens for 12 billion visual searches per month, which is a 4x increase in just two years. With this kind of YoY growth, visual search most certainly needs to be a consideration when planning a brand’s search strategy.

How should marketers adapt?

Visual search makes product images the hero of the ad, so it’s key for marketers to focus on creative. Maintain your brand’s product catalogs, ensuring all offerings are up-to-date and highlighted with high-quality imagery. For example, if you’re promoting travel coffee mugs, having all color options available in the product catalog will provide a seamless search experience. If a user visually searches for a pink mug, the product ad will provide a link to purchase the pink mug that best fits their interests.

It’s also imperative to understand which visuals drive your audience to make that all important click to navigate to your brand’s website. Creative A/B tests should be a core component of your search strategy in order to nimbly optimize toward the highest performing images.

Generative AI

Let’s not forget about the elephant in the room – Generative AI. AI chatbots, such as ChatGPT, have emerged as a supplementary search engine. Currently, ChatGPT generates responses for 10 million searches per day compared to Google at 8.5 billion searches. While Google firmly maintains first position in the search volume leaderboard, ChatGPT search volume continues to grow, and therefore, must be proactively accounted for.

How should marketers adapt?

Generative AI chatbots are creating a rise in colloquial, prompt-based search queries which will flow over into conventional search engines. As a result, marketers should deploy new long-tail keywords to keep pace with these new search queries. In addition, these longer phrases will require a marketer to distill intent and provide relevant, concise information within the ad or evergreen website content to help keep engagement high. 

Generative AI can also be utilized as a research tool to inform your brand’s content strategy. Monitoring chat bot inquiries can help you understand what consumers are frequently searching for before purchasing a product or selecting a service. As general themes are identified, create content that proactively answers those questions and update it regularly based on changing inquiries.

AI is igniting rapid changes in the search landscape. The key to navigating these uncharted waters will be understanding the impacts to search behavior and the changes in consumers needs and preferences. Maintaining a nimble, test-and-learn approach will help marketers find the secret sauce to their ever-evolving search strategy.

The Ultimate TikTok Advertising Strategy Guide

Interested in TikTok advertising campaigns? That’s no surprise to us. When you consider the massive influence it has on purchasing decisions and behaviors or the incredible time spent on the platform each day, most brands should at least consider having some presence on TikTok.

After reigning as the most downloaded app globally for multiple years, TikTok’s global ad revenue is expected to reach $15 billion in 2023, per a WARC Media report – despite the legal privacy battles and active bans taking place. 

So, What Type of Brands Should Advertise on TikTok?

Beauty, clothing, and food and beverage brands are natural fits for TikTok. Users are able to directly see these products in use, in real time. This reduces the risk of physically investing in and trying out a new product, and builds consumer excitement around new offerings. 

Other industries – from healthcare to travel to sports to finance and technology – can also thrive on TikTok. Why? Because short-form video allows the user to go on a journey. They can visually see travel destinations first hand, view highlights from a sporting event, or hear directly how a product or service changed someone’s life for the better. That can be very persuasive.

At Coegi, we’ve also seen unprecedented success with higher education brands using TikTok to reach college students. You can view one of our case studies here.

Ultimately, TikTok advertising should be considered for nearly every brand. But be sure to check platform guidelines and restrictions, especially for regulated industries and sensitive audience groups.

The 8 Most Important Elements for a Successful TikTok Advertising Strategy

TikTok advertising provides a unique opportunity to engage with potential customers in a highly authentic way. However, strategies that have proven successful on other social platforms won’t necessarily shine on TikTok. It’s important to understand how to adapt your approach to messaging and content to cater to the platform. 

Use these eight key elements to craft a successful TikTok advertising strategy:

#1 – Define your purpose for advertising on TikTok

Enter TikTok with a clear understanding of why your brand is there. 

  • Know what you want to tell consumers
  • Understand what they value and are interested in
  • Learn what kind of messaging they are receptive to 

Without these things in mind, your message may be miscommunicated or lost (the TikTok algorithm can be unforgiving). 

#2 – Partner with relevant creators to build trust

Creators are a priceless resource when it comes to reaching your audience authentically on TikTok. Also, contrary to popular belief, influencer marketing can also drive lower-funnel results, be accessible for all budgets, and be useful for any industry vertical. Micro and nano influencers are especially important on TikTok to boost your brand affinity within niche sub-cultures. 

Some of the core benefits of partnering with TikTok creators include: 

  • Finding engaged followers in specific interest groups
  • Extending organic reach 
  • Learning from their individual platform expertise and trend knowledge
  • Highlighting native-appearing content creation

Check out Coegi’s influencer marketing guide for tips on finding the best creator partners for your brand. 

#3 – Keep creative content casual

Nothing turns users away from a TikTok ad quicker than disruptive ads that feel out of place and display a blatant lack of understanding of trends. The brands driving positive engagement on TikTok are creating sponsored content that looks and feels organic. This is why, per Statista, “Almost 15% of TikTok users struggle to distinguish between advertising and other content.” 

Following these tips from TikTok on  creating authentic branded content

  • Go lo-fi (avoid glossiness)
  • Shoot vertical and hi-res
  • Feature real people 
  • Use sound
  • Use TikTok-specific editing techniques
  • Have a narrative
  • Adopt category and vertical norms

In summary, design creatives to seamlessly fit into the ‘For You’ page – don’t be afraid to embrace trends, use humor, or insert your brand into the latest trending sounds or challenges

#4 – Encourage audience participation to build community

Authentic community participation is mandatory on TikTok. Brands that only post ads and are not effectively engaging with their audience are missing out on a key benefit of the platform. 

TikTok actively promotes the use of user-generated content (UGC) for brand/creator collaborations. In 2023, they added the ‘Branded Mission’ crowdsourcing platform which enables brands to request UGC submissions from creators to then select and use for TikTok ad campaigns. 

Lean into community-building on TikTok by: 

  • Devoting time to stay in touch with the platform and observe patterns and trends
  • Crafting genuine, on-brand replies to user comments, even looking to these comments to inspire future content 
  • Being approachable as possible to establish a brand rapport 

#5 – Test and learn to refine your TikTok advertising strategy

Dive into TikTok Business Analytics to track which type of content performs best. This is especially useful when trying new tactics or A/B testing messaging to determine what works and what doesn’t. Play around with the style, format, and timing of posts to see which combinations gain the most engagement. 

You should also use audience analytics to understand who your content is reaching. TikTok’s targeting parameters are relatively broad, so this data can provide a better view of who is actually seeing and engaging with your brand. 

#6 – Find your TikTok niche

TikTok’s algorithm is an infamous and mysterious formula that serves content to a user based on their interests and previous engagements. If an individual likes, shares and comments on videos about parenting and gardening, for instance, they’ll continue to see content around those topics of interest. 

TikTok suggests, “Embrace communities and their subcultures—that’s where true inspiration lives. 76% of users say they like it when brands are a part of special interest groups on TikTok.” There are endless sub-cultures such as “book tok”, “mom tok” and “gym tok” which brands can tap into. 

Tailor your content to the niche interests of your target audience, down to the captions, sounds and hashtags.

#7 – Optimize for TikTok search

The ability to find quick, useful information through video, paired with TikTok’s algorithmic power to keep users in-app creates, makes TikTok the perfect search engine for the next generation. 

40% of Gen-Z uses TikTok as a visual search engine.”

Leaning into the social search trend, TikTok expanded the description field to 2,000 characters to allow more in-depth, keyword-rich content. They are also linking keywords from user comments to search results for greater relevance. 

To find relevant keywords and in-app trends, explore the TikTok Keyword Insights Tool. Then, optimize your video descriptions, brand page, and hashtags around key search terms and queries.

Lean into TikTok Shops

E-commerce is booming on TikTok (just look at the top keywords from the insights tool). The #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt trend sold out countless products through over 21B video views. 92% of global users take action after watching a video on the platform. Plus, users are 1.5x more likely to immediately buy a product after discovering it on TikTok versus other platforms.  

Explore three of TikTok’s primary ecommerce capabilities: 

  • Product Showcase – Shop directly from a brand or creator account and get access to products within the app
    • Collection Ads: Create a carousel of product cards for your In-Feed Ads featuring your top items. When a user taps, they’ll be brought to a more expansive shopping gallery to browse.
    • Product Links: Make organic videos shoppable with a link driving users to a checkout page of the featured product.
  • Shoppable Videos  – Shop directly from a shoppable in-feed video by tapping the product link & basket icon
    • Dynamic Showcase Ads: Tap into your audience’s interests based on their TikTok activity with dynamically generated video ads.
  • Live Shopping: Show off products in real-time during a TikTok Live and highlight the path to purchase.

Time to Create Your TikTok Advertising Strategy

Successful TikTok advertising can mean different things to each brand. Whether the goal is increased engagement, social buzz, or sales, following these tips will help you move in the right direction. Embrace creativity and innovation to reach your audience in a way that makes a lasting positive impression on the fastest growing social platform. 

Lastly, keep in mind that TikTok is continuously evolving and creating new revenue building opportunities for creators and brands. So, it is vital to keep up with new developments and tools as they are released.  

Looking for a social media agency partner to help set up your next TikTok campaign? Contact Coegi today for a discovery call. 

Understanding Audio Advertising

Audio advertising – through podcasts, streaming platforms, and various radio formats – is in vogue. It’s essentially the mom jeans of digital media. But this time, it’s less about catchy jingles and more about authentic, engaging content. 

Coegi is enthusiastically leaning into this space, adding new programmatic audio capabilities and publisher-direct relationships to our repository of digital solutions., We connected Coegi’s Director of Innovation, Savannah Westbrock, to answer some key questions about the latest trends and technologies within audio advertising. 

What are the primary benefits of audio advertising?

The biggest advantage I see with audio advertising is the ability to meaningfully reach engaged audiences anywhere. Consumers spend an astonishing one-third of their media time with audio content. Over 424M individuals tune into podcasts worldwide – that’s over 20% of all internet users! And with 85% of audio listening being done on mobile devices, it’s a great way to reach users on the go and feed into a mobile-first marketing strategy. 

Podcast advertising becomes increasingly relevant for brands aiming to reach Gen Z. A 2023 report found that Gen Z listens to podcasts nearly as much as they watch streaming TV. Yet, audio advertising is still a largely untapped white space in the market for many brands. 

No matter your industry, marketing goals, or budget, explore how your brand can leverage the influencer status of podcasters to gain brand awareness and build authentic audience connections. Even if you are opting for programmatic audio, aligning your branded content with contextually relevant and interactive audio advertising content will increase authority and brand affinity. 

How has the world of audio advertising changed over the last 5 years? Did the pandemic impact audiences’ listening behaviors?

Despite expectations that audio would decline with the rise of hybrid office work and fewer commutes, time spent with audio during the lockdown stage of the pandemic seems to have grown at-home streaming audio listenership to levels not seen previously. 

In 2021, at-home audio streaming grew to surpass 90 minutes per day, with expectations to continue rising. Podcasts have been a major factor driving this growth, which could be related to the increase in individuals creating new podcasts from home.  

Podcasts are a unique audio advertising opportunity. How can brands do podcast advertising “right?”

This advice is going to be true of all media, but especially with podcasts: know your audience. Heavy podcast listeners usually have tight bonds with their favorites, especially those who subscribe to support their favorite creators. Ensure your audience matches the show, and then ensure the inventory itself is a strong fit for your strategy. 

What is the value of doing host-read audio advertising versus dynamic ad insertions (DAI)? Are there noticeable differences in use-case or performance expectations?

Host-read podcast ads have been the mainstay for many years due to historically limited programmatic audio ad formats as well as the benefits of a more organic ad experience. Programmatically inserting audio ads may turn listeners off of your brand if they feel irrelevant and disruptive. 

Collaborating with creators may be a better choice if your product or service has a very specific audience. In this case, the process will work much like influencer marketing. (For a full step-by-step process, view our Influencer Marketing Guide.)

However, if your product has broad enough audience appeal that the content of the show itself is less of a strategic concern, dynamic ad insertion remains a doable tactic. With programmatic audio and DAI, you also gain greater flexibility. You can swap out outdated ads with new ones, versus host-read ads which live in the podcast archives forever. Take timeliness into consideration as you weigh the pros and cons of these options. 

In what ways are host-read podcast ads similar to or different from influencer marketing?

The relationship between podcast marketing and influencer marketing is quickly becoming a squares-and-rectangles situation. Generally speaking, you can expect a strong recommendation from a podcaster to carry a perception of greater authenticity for your brand. 

The core difference is the content itself. With influencers, influencing purchases is the content, whereas podcasts cover every topic under the sun. A relevant recommendation from a trusted host is more akin to a testimonial than an influencer’s #sponsored post. 

How do you measure the impact of audio advertising?

Depending on your strategy, measurement will look very different. Programmatically-bought audio spots allow for most standard digital metrics like clicks (via companion banners) and inferred view-through conversions. 

But increasingly, strategists are viewing podcasts as a similar opportunity to influencer marketing. With this approach, pairing awareness KPIs, such as reach and lift, with referral codes or unique landing pages can be a stronger play.

For more benefits and tips, check out our 3 Reasons to Use Podcast Advertising blog

If you’re interested in running audio advertising campaigns with Coegi, contact us for a discovery call

Paid Search Strategy: Fundamentals Before AI

In 2023, paid search strategy conversations are being peppered with never-ending buzz around GPT and advanced automation. With the possibility of Google losing its lion’s share of the search market, along with rapid tech evolution taking center stage and reshaping SERPs, search marketers need to be diving in to understand and apply these trends headfirst. 

Right?

Well…yes and no. Being at the forefront of digital transformation is a must. However, this cannot be at the expense of abandoning tried and true best practices. 

We must embrace AI and emerging technology, while maintaining fundamental marketing tactics, in order to create a sophisticated, yet flexible paid search strategy that supports the business goals.

The Value of Going Back to Basics

Truth: AI algorithms will drive efficiency and conversions for your goals.

False: AI algorithm will drive the RIGHT efficiencies and conversions for your goals. 

If your efficiency is producing lower cost per clicks but lower quality website traffic, it’s no longer efficiency at all. Without proper inputs and guardrails, AI can begin optimizing to a keyword that is not driving results or the wrong conversion metric for your key business objective. This is why I encourage all performance media practitioners to be cautious about over relying on automation in your paid search strategy. 

So before you begin exploring the latest tech advances, make sure you master the three key fundamentals of paid search advertising:

  1. Measurement
  2. Research
  3. Optimization 

Paid Search Advertising Fundamentals

#1 – Measurement: What’s Working and Why?

Testing new paid search strategies and ad formats is all well and good, but those tests need to be strategically set up and measured to ensure they are feeding into your broader marketing strategy and business goals. Identify the leading indicators of success for your search campaign using both front-end and back-end tracking.  

The prevalence of zero-click search makes tracking front-end metrics more complicated, but also more important than ever. Find creative ways to monitor if your content is adding value and optimized to show up in featured snippets or other rich results? Complementing paid search efforts with organic SEO is key to success here. 

On the back-end, look at meaningful signals, such as time on site, path to purchase, and exposure-to-conversion frequency requirements. These insights will help you improve campaign effectiveness and refine the customer journey. 

Lastly, use search volume tools and in-platform forecasting to identify the budget required to reach your share of voice, impression and reach targets. 

Client Application: We consulted a large swimwear brand on their search strategy. With a list of over 46K target keywords, they faced a nearly impossible task to understand share of voice and make smart optimizations. We made these recommendations to streamline their search strategy: 

  • Consolidate spend to hours when people are most likely to be searching for swimwear
  • Group themed keywords together to better understand intentionality and select the best keyword + ad option to serve 
  • Create larger ad groups to allow machine-learning to learn faster and deliver better performance 

#2 – Research: Aligning the brand and the user

Now, with a strong foundation of measurement beneath our feet, we can craft a sound strategy by knowing the business inside and out. 

First, analyze the brand’s position in the marketplace. 

  • How much share of voice do you have for branded vs non-branded terms? 
  • How intensely is the competition spending in your core markets? 
  • What pricing/brand power exists for the category? 

Tip: If you already own the category, don’t waste money by overinvesting in branded search. 

Second, evaluate opportunities and highlight the unique value proposition for the brand’s products or services. Keyword research, competitive analysis and audience understanding should all play a role in the search ad copy and creative content. 

Tip: Incorporate your audience’s language in your search copy – use their lingo, not your own.

Third, support conversion-based ads with more educational content. Highlight thought leadership articles, how-to videos, landing pages and downloadables to prime your audience. Even within the shortened conversion window of performance media, relevant, high-authority content can play a large role in the user decision-making process (and your SERP ranking). 

Tip: Create your organic and paid search strategy in tandem to make this process seamless.

#3 – Optimization: Fueling the improvement loop

Searching for a surefire way to continually improve your paid search strategy? Look no further than an iterative test and lean process. There are numerous things you can test, just be sure to manipulate one variable at a time so you can understand which actions are impacting your outcomes. 

Here are a few common things we regularly test in our paid search strategies: 

  • Broad vs exact vs phrase match keyword targeting (in-market audiences vs new users) 
  • Google vs Bing
  • Various audience groups and layered targeting
  • Ad group and keyword variations 
  • Copy and creative pairings using dynamic ad insertion

Start by testing the most basic elements of your campaign. Make sure you’ve established statistical relevance, then adjust and refine as you go. This will establish a sound SEO taxonomy to expand upon. 

Timing also comes into play with paid search optimization. Consider the following tactics to stretch your search budget: 

  • Dayparting: Create a time window to run paid search campaigns based on when users are most likely to be searching. For example, your local Starbucks may only run search ads in the morning. Google Ad Scheduling offers insights into peak search hours. 
  • Day of Week: Select particular days to serve search ads based on audience behavior.  For instance, B2B brands commonly only run search on weekdays. 
  • Seasonality: If your business is impacted by seasons, holidays or major events, ebb and flow your budget accordingly to maximize efficiency. Read how Coegi leveraged seasonal search to drive year-end giving for a cryptocurrency brand

Next Steps: Amplify Your Performance With Technology

Technological advances will only continue to enhance the discovery experience. Creating a fundamentally sound search strategy with flexible options will allow for opportunities to scale and take advantage of these newer search trends and capabilities

Remember: AI won’t work for you unless you set it up for success with the right fundamentals of measurement (to the conversions that matter), research, and data-driven optimizations. 

For more best practices view our Paid Search 101 article.

The Practitioner’s Guide to Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing campaigns pair the power of word-of-mouth with the efficiency, scalability and data-driven mentality of digital advertising.

In this guide, we share Coegi’s best insights to running more strategic and accountable influencer marketing campaigns.

You’ll learn the ins and outs of results-driven influencer marketing so you can feel confident adopting this high impact, authentic channel into your brand strategy. 

What You’ll Learn: 

  • Criteria for effective influencer marketing campaigns
  • Reasons why influencers are critical for modern marketing plans
  • Key benefits and challenges of influencer marketing 
  • How to determine if influencer marketing is right for your brand 
  • Step-by-step guide of how to launch an effective influencer campaign
  • Expert tips for successful campaigns and creator relationships 

Why use influencer marketing? 

Influencers can be your fast track to content authenticity, brand credibility and business results. 90% of consumers view micro-influencers as credible, believable and knowledgeable. The power they have on consumer behavior and buying decisions can’t be overstated. 

Here are the top 4 benefits of influencer marketing campaigns: 

  1. Credibility Building: Influencer marketing puts a face and personality to your brand – a key component to building audience affinity. Trusted creators can connect with followers on your behalf to improve engagement, retention, and loyalty. 
  1. Content Creation: Rather than spending additional production dollars to create branded images and videos, your creator partners make that collateral for you. The end result – native-looking social media content which, more often than not, outperforms obvious ads. 
  1. Authentic Reach: People are becoming more privy to ingenuine advertising. They place greater trust in relatable creators with close-knit communities who only engage with brands that match their personal values and preferences. 
  1. Social Selling: Influencer marketing can be much more than a brand-building tactic. Sponsored creator posts can drive measurable, incremental sales impact. Use tactics such as UTM links, point-of-sale integrations, whitelisting, and brand boosted influencer posts to optimize attributable sales. 

Download the full guide to learn how to harness these benefits and build high-performing influencer marketing campaigns for your brand. 

Need an agency partner to help craft and execute your influencer marketing strategy? Contact Coegi today for a discovery call. 

Coegi Partners

/ Contact

Tell us about your project

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Coegi Partners
Skip to content