The Triple-A Approach to Succeeding at Digital Marketing in 2019

While it’s impossible to predict the new innovations advertising platforms will release in the year ahead, there are three trends and tactics marketers should be aware of that made a big enough impact in 2018 that are likely to be the cornerstones of digital marketing in 2019, and they all begin with “A.”

While it’s impossible to predict the new innovations advertising platforms will release in the year ahead, there are three trends and tactics marketers should be aware of that made a big enough impact in 2018 that are likely to be the cornerstones of digital marketing in 2019, and they all begin with “A.”

The triple A approach to succeeding at digital marketing in 2019: Amazon, Audiences and Automation.

Amazon Advertising Reaches the Big Time

Rumors circulated for years that the online retail giant could become one of the biggest media companies, yet advertisers just recently started taking these rumors seriously and jumping on the bandwagon. After an initial uproar when Amazon began showing up in Google Shopping results in Q4 of 2016 causing competing advertisers’ costs-per-click (CPCs) to spike, many retails shifted gears, choosing to partner with Amazon rather than compete against it, making Amazon’s growth inevitable. In fact, Amazon has already become the third largest digital ad publisher behind Google and Facebook, and according to a recent survey, 80% of advertisers plan to increase their budgets on Amazon in 2019.

For those advertisers who haven’t yet dipped their toes into Amazon advertising, it’s time to explore the self-service Amazon Marketing Services. Sponsored Products are usually a good place to start since the ads go live immediately, appear organic, and don’t require images or custom copy. Automatic targeting that adapts dynamically to trends and seasonality is available, eliminating the need to manually select keywords. Combined, these options make for a relatively simple process. Of course, an agency can help fine-tune an Amazon advertising program; especially if they completed Amazon’s power training which grants them assigned dedicated support.

Audiences Become the Priority

Having been a hot topic for some time now, in 2019 audiences will become unavoidable. While many advertisers already applied audiences to their advertising programs, not many have done so strategically. Imagine if step one of any digital program was building an audience to target with your program rather than building a list of keywords. Keywords would be supplanted as the most important aspect for paid search, replaced by audience targeting to positively impacting a client’s bottom line with a much more refined approach.

Refining an audience approach will be the single most effective tactic to win at customer-centric marketing; by focusing on the right person at the right time, with the right messaging, marketers set themselves up for victory. By focusing on audiences, marketers can move beyond the all-too-common channel-approach that limits cohesiveness in campaigns and limits effectiveness. The audience approach enables refined targeting, eliminating waste and delivering deeper, more meaningful insights.

Both Google and Bing have already made advancements in this area. Google expanded its audiences beyond website visitors and customer lists to in-market, custom intent and detailed demographics. Bing followed suit and introduced its new Audience Network which uses artificial intelligence to connect Microsoft data insights with LinkedIn’s to deliver the right message to the consumer. Advertisers can then target these audiences on Microsoft’s premium properties such as MSN, Outlook and Microsoft Edge.

Automation Enables Marketers to Get Strategic

Marketing automation tools maximize efficiency and increase revenues; they also eliminate tedious tasks, freeing up marketers to focus on strategic growth for their clients. While bidding automation has been adopted by most marketers at this point, Google has taken automation a step farther, introducing multiple fully-automated campaign types that require very little, if any, intervention during its Google Marketing Live in July 2018. The first campaign type was automated feeds for Shopping campaigns that get products online faster and simplifies maintenance; second was Hotel campaigns that simplify management and optimization; third was smart campaigns for small businesses, that are designed for local and small businesses that might not have the staff to focus on management and need an easy solution instead.

This continues a trend for Google, which already utilized automation in Universal App Campaigns and Universal Shopping Campaigns; these campaigns do not allow for marketer intervention beyond creative asset upload and budget changes. With the continued deployment of new fully-automated campaigns that rely on machine learning for optimization and management, Google has established a clear direction. It seems possible, if not likely, that Google will eliminate its manual offerings for Shopping campaigns and text-based campaigns the way it did with App campaigns. After all, Google is already testing responsive ads, which dynamically combine headlines and descriptions based on performance and the advertiser’s goal. There’s a possibility that completely automated campaigns will be the new normal for advertisers sooner than we think, once Google works out the kinks.

By understanding and adopting these trends and tactics, digital marketers should be able to deliver an A across the board on their campaigns, keeping clients happy and budgets flowing.

Keywords vs. Audience Targeting: Find Your Target in a Complex Landscape

Is audience targeting more effective than good-old-fashioned keyword targeting? This question is widely debated in marketing circles. A closer look reveals that each targeting method is profoundly different, and keywords arguably hold the edge for generating leads and sales.

Back in the day, keywords were the primary ammo in a digital marketer’s arsenal. Google AdWords, Bing Ads and other platforms were built on the simple premise of matching ads with interested consumers. Campaigns lived and died on their keyword lists.

Now, there’s audience targeting. Unlike keywords, audience targeting matches consumers with advertisements based on demographics, interests and behavioral data. Google and Facebook offer their advertisers hundreds of options for shaping their audiences. In AdWords, audience targeting was mainly a feature of Google’s Display Network, but recently Google introduced behavioral targeting options for Search Network advertisers.

In other words, audience targeting is on the rise.

But is audience targeting more effective than good-old-fashioned keyword targeting? This question is widely debated in marketing circles. A closer look reveals that each targeting method is profoundly different, and keywords arguably hold the edge for generating leads and sales. Read on, and we’ll review the differences between keywords and audience targeting and how to find your target in today’s ever-changing landscape.

The Depth of Audience Targeting

Imagine you own a shoe store, and you’re creating a Facebook ad campaign for a new model of men’s trail shoes. How can audience targeting help you meet your objectives?

Using Facebook’s custom audience settings, you can literally target a specific age group of men who share relevant interests such as running, trail running and hiking. You can target men who show interest in specific shoe brands. You can target men whose households meet certain income requirements. You can even target men whose online behavior indicates they’re on the verge of buying new running shoes.

You can tighten the screws even further by requiring audiences to meet multiple conditions. For example, you can set your ad to be shown only to people who’ve shown interest in running and hiking, or running shoes and trail shoes. Just like with keyword targeting, you can also exclude certain audiences from seeing your ads. A good example here would be excluding low-income buyers from seeing ads for your most expensive trail shoes – they’re probably less likely to convert.

Audience targeting makes it easy to get your ad in front of millions of interested eyeballs. And it’s effective on multiple ad platforms. That said, despite the obvious advancements in audience targeting, there’s still one thing that keywords do better.

And it’s a big thing.

Keywords Capture Intent

Once more, imagine that you’re marketing a new model of trail running shoes. Your biggest goal is to drive sales. That means you’re looking for people who are ready to buy. Preferably now.

In this case, keywords are king.