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Succeed in an automated world: Let AI do your dirty work

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As I write this in winter, the weather is cold and miserable. Trees are without leaves, and grass isn’t growing like it was six months ago. There can’t be a summer without a winter. The cycle of life involves death, and often in nature, without death new life can’t come forth.

Why am I telling you this? The same is true of digital agencies. If an agency refuses to adapt old processes that are no longer necessary, it will eventually die. It will become the dodo of the digital agency world.

Within the last 12 months alone, there have been huge shifts in technology changing how tasks are tackled in paid search. More often that not, this is good I’m excited by how automation can do our ‘dirty work’ – the tasks we humans no longer need to do.

Every end has a beginning

2020 has the potential to be the beginning of the end for many things within PPC, but this needn’t be feared. Old habits do sometimes die hard, but it’s better for old habits to die hard, than for the source of the habit to die itself.

Rule number one: don’t settle.

Think about BlackBerry; their end started when Apple launched the iPhone, and companies realised you didn’t need a physical keypad on a phone. Touchscreen phones, and Blackberry’s lack of innovation on this front, was the beginning of their decline.

A similar issue is arising in PPC, one that’s both great and terrifying for agencies.

You might have built who you are on fairly solid foundations, and success may even have come quickly and with ease, but resting on laurels could be the worst thing you ever do where emerging technologies are concerned.

Future-proof your workflow

First things first, a confident prediction: paid search agencies who don’t get on-board with Smart Bidding won’t be around in five years.

You’re probably often looking for the most efficient ways of completing tasks, and getting the best results. This does not, I should stress, involve cutting corners. What it does involve is looking for ways of making inefficient practices efficient.

There are many ways you can achieve efficiency within Google Ads, as well as using external software. Firstly, here are the Google Ads wins you should be aware of:

Automating rule changes for ads/campaigns

This is one of the oldest and simplest tricks in the Google Ads book – using rules to enable or pause ads for sales, or to ensure a particular campaign goes live at an exact hour.

Using these rules means all you have to do is set them up and let Google do the rest. If that means you save a good chunk of time enabling and pausing hundreds of sale ads, why wouldn’t you do it?

Optimising Smart Bidding

Your daily task management may have changed so you now spend only half the time you previously did changing bids and tweaking adjustments across location, schedule, device and audience datasets. And so it should if you’re using Google’s Smart Bidding.

However, smart bidding still needs optimising. The captain of an aeroplane doesn’t just put the plane on auto-pilot and have a nap; they ensure it reaches its destination safely and adjusts the flight path accordingly, should there be changes needed.

The exact same has to be done with Smart Bidding. Two of the most common pitfalls are people setting up Smart Bidding and expecting it to work instantaneously, and users not optimising Smart Bidding.

The latter is especially problematic as it means you’re just leaving Google to run the Smart Bidding for you. The best way to achieve the performance you need is to manipulate and optimise individual ad group targets.

If, for example, you have a campaign using Target ROAS Smart Bidding working towards 1,000%, there will likely be ad groups within there that are both surpassing target and not hitting it. Optimising the targets of these individual ad groups is essential to rounding out the campaign’s performance.

Utilising external tech

You’re good at what you do. That’s great. But you probably have limited brain capacity. Eventually, we all hit a level where we consistently flatline our ability to do tasks that don’t require too much specialisation.

If this is the case, why not consider using external software to help efficiency? This could be something like Optmyzr, which can severely aid productivity. Where both external software and Smart Bidding are concerned, the chance to alleviate potential human error is one that shouldn’t be sniffed at and offers huge peace of mind.

Reinvesting time saved Into creative endeavours

One of the best things you can do with any time saved from utilising a smarter way of working, is using it to do the tasks you maybe didn’t get round to as often as you wanted, or even visiting new areas.

This could come in many forms: setting up dynamic remarketing for the first time, creating more innovative audiences, checking and updating your ad extensions. The time saved thanks to AI-completed tasks can mean an account gets more attention and better optimisation and results than ever before. This is a huge win-win.

A challenge to agencies

Any agency refusing to use smart bidding will lose clients clicks, revenue and return by not being able to compete with those utilising it. They’ll do too much manual work in the account, ultimately not spending their time wisely and achieving the same results, or worse, than what smart bidding could – all without being as productive as they could be.

Don’t try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to practices and patterns of work, but be mindful that previous success could in fact be your downfall if you fail to keep up with where your industry is going. This applies to a wider field than just PPC.

Ensuring you still offer value is the most important thing you can do as an agency – or freelancer – especially with more and more of the tasks you made your name for previously now being completed by AI. Building and maintaining client relationships, being at the forefront of new types of ads and campaigns, and ensuring you know how to get the best out of the AI you’re using in accounts will go some way to making sure you’re still valuable, in whatever capacity you operate.

Finally, embrace new methodology. Try new things. Experiment. If you work in Paid Search, use Smart Bidding to help shape a more efficient working day. Whatever you do, don’t relent and think that the way you’ve always done things will be the way things will always be done.

Agencies can still have a future, provided they remain client-focused and latch on to the industry’s creative shift.

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

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Is Twitter Still a Thing for Content Marketers in 2023?

The world survived the first three months of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

But what are marketers doing now? Did your brand follow the shift Dennis Shiao made for his personal brand? As he recently shared, he switched his primary platform from Twitter to LinkedIn after the 2022 ownership change. (He still uses Twitter but posts less frequently.)

Are those brands that altered their strategy after the new ownership maintaining that plan? What impact do Twitter’s service changes (think Twitter Blue subscriptions) have?

We took those questions to the marketing community. No big surprise? Most still use Twitter. But from there, their responses vary from doing nothing to moving away from the platform.

Lowest points

At the beginning of the Elon era, more than 500 big-name advertisers stopped buying from the platform. Some (like Amazon and Apple) resumed their buys before the end of 2022. Brand accounts’ organic activity seems similar.

In November, Emplifi research found a 26% dip in organic posting behavior by U.S. and Canadian brands the week following a significant spike in the negative sentiment of an Elon tweet. But that drop in posting wasn’t a one-time thing.

Kyle Wong, chief strategy officer at Emplifi, shares a longer analysis of well-known fast-food brands. When comparing December 2021 to December 2022 activity, the brands posted 74% less, and December was the least active month of 2022.

Fast-food brands posted 74% less on @Twitter in December 2022 than they did in December 2021, according to @emplifi_io analysis via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

When Emplifi analyzed brand accounts across industries (2,330 from U.S. and Canada and 6,991 elsewhere in the world), their weekly Twitter activity also fell to low points in November and December. But by the end of the year, their activity was inching up.

“While the percentage of brands posting weekly is on the rise once again, the number is still lower than the consistent posting seen in earlier months,” Kyle says.

Quiet-quitting Twitter

Lacey Reichwald, marketing manager at Aha Media Group, says the company has been quiet-quitting Twitter for two months, simply monitoring and posting the occasional link. “It seems like the turmoil has settled down, but the overall impact of Twitter for brands has not recovered,” she says.

@ahamediagroup quietly quit @Twitter for two months and saw their follower count go up, says Lacey Reichwald via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

She points to their firm’s experience as a potential explanation. Though they haven’t been posting, their follower count has gone up, and many of those new follower accounts don’t seem relevant to their topic or botty. At the same time, Aha Media saw engagement and follows from active accounts in the customer segment drop.

Blue bonus

One change at Twitter has piqued some brands’ interest in the platform, says Dan Gray, CEO of Vendry, a platform for helping companies find agency partners to help them scale.

“Now that getting a blue checkmark is as easy as paying a monthly fee, brands are seeing this as an opportunity to build thought leadership quickly,” he says.

Though it remains to be seen if that strategy is viable in the long term, some companies, particularly those in the SaaS and tech space, are reallocating resources to energize their previously dormant accounts.

Automatic verification for @TwitterBlue subscribers led some brands to renew their interest in the platform, says Dan Gray of Vendry via @AnnGynn @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

These reenergized accounts also are seeing an increase in followers, though Dan says it’s difficult to tell if it’s an effect of the blue checkmark or their renewed emphasis on content. “Engagement is definitely up, and clients and agencies have both noted the algorithm seems to be favoring their content more,” he says.

New horizon

Faizan Fahim, marketing manager at Breeze, is focused on the future. They’re producing videos for small screens as part of their Twitter strategy. “We are guessing soon Elon Musk is going to turn Twitter into TikTok/YouTube to create more buzz,” he says. “We would get the first moving advantage in our niche.”

He’s not the only one who thinks video is Twitter’s next bet. Bradley Thompson, director of marketing at DigiHype Media and marketing professor at Conestoga College, thinks video content will be the next big thing. Until then, text remains king.

“The approach is the same, which is a focus on creating and sharing high-quality content relevant to the industry,” Bradley says. “Until Twitter comes out with drastically new features, then marketing and managing brands on Twitter will remain the same.

James Coulter, digital marketing director at Sole Strategies, says, “Twitter definitely still has a space in the game. The question is can they keep it, or will they be phased out in favor of a more reliable platform.”

Interestingly given the thoughts of Faizan and Bradley, James sees businesses turning to video as they limit their reliance on Twitter and diversify their social media platforms. They are now willing to invest in the resource-intensive format given the exploding popularity of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and other short-form video content.

“We’ve seen a really big push on getting vendors to help curate video content with the help of staff. Requesting so much media requires building a new (social media) infrastructure, but once the expectations and deliverables are in place, it quickly becomes engrained in the weekly workflow,” James says.

What now

“We are waiting to see what happens before making any strong decisions,” says Baruch Labunski, CEO at Rank Secure. But they aren’t sitting idly by. “We’ve moved a lot of our social media efforts to other platforms while some of these things iron themselves out.”

What is your brand doing with Twitter? Are you stepping up, stepping out, or standing still? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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