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Is It Still Worth Getting A Digital Marketing Degree?

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Is It Still Worth Getting A Digital Marketing Degree?

So you want to be a digital marketer.

Whether you have aspirations to start a career in digital marketing or want to switch up your current career trajectory, your new career path requires education and experience.

What level of education is necessary to get a leg up in the marketing industry?

And is it worth investing in a digital marketing degree to catapult your career forward?

Understanding what employers are looking for now and how to plot the best path from where you’re starting out are key.

In this column, we’ll explore the pros and cons of getting a formal digital marketing degree.

The Case For A Digital Marketing Degree

Since 1960, the college enrollment rate among high school graduates has increased by a substantial 46.8%.

Additionally, 19.1% of Bachelor’s degrees and 11.6% of Associate’s degrees are in business (the field digital marketing degrees tend to be associated with).

It’s clear undergraduate degrees are continuing to grow in popularity, and business degrees are one of the most sought after by college students.

Increases Your Career Opportunities

An undergraduate degree in marketing remains the traditional approach to launching a college student’s career.

It serves as the groundwork for building a strong educational foundation while having the credentials to back it up.

Your degree also serves as a notable addition to your resume to back up your previous work experience.

In fact, in today’s job market and job interviews, some employers require you have a degree to even apply for a role.

Expands Your Skillset

Having a four-year digital marketing degree opens the door to more potential job opportunities for those employers that require a formal degree.

Employers also recognize that although your degree may be specialized in digital marketing, you likely also have a breadth of business knowledge in different functional areas such as finance, accounting, search engine optimization, social media, and public relations.

Whereas having only a digital marketing certificate shows that you’re specialized in one area.

Develops Communication And Analytical Skills

Your digital marketing educational experience will lead you to develop skills for understanding consumer behavior and tools to attract, convert, and retain customers.

It will also teach you to think critically about what motivates and drives customers to take action.

These demonstratable skills will be attractive to employers and can substitute equivalent formal marketing work experience.

Boosts Your Earning Potential

A bachelor’s degree holder earns a median income of $2.8 million – 75% more than if they had only a high school diploma.

A master’s degree gives you even more of a competitive edge, earning a median of $3.2 million over their lifetimes, while those with doctoral degrees earn $4 million and professional degree holders earn $4.7 million.

Additionally, according to Bureau for Labor Statistics, the average expected weekly earnings for an employee with a bachelor’s degree on their resume are $1,173, significantly improving the average earnings of associate degree holders.

Their unemployment rate is also significantly lower, at 2.5%.

Based on these findings, the correlation between education and average salary earning potential is evident.

The Case Against A Digital Marketing Degree

The pandemic shifted many economic and operational factors for many business verticals, including education.

Accelerated digital adoption and required virtual learning taught students that they could and would have to learn online.

A recent survey of high school students found that the likelihood of attending a four-year college dropped nearly 20% in less than a year – down to 53%, from 71%.

One-third of the same survey’s respondents said the pandemic’s financial impact made them less likely to attend a four-year college, and they are focusing more on career training and post-college employment.

Access To Online Education Has Increased

While degrees were once a requirement for aspiring digital marketers, the pandemic derailed this way of thinking.

Digital marketing courses and receiving a digital marketing certification are quite literally within our fingertips.

Additionally, certificate courses offer a convenient learning program option for students who don’t have the time to attend in-person classes.

Digital marketing professionals in the making are now seeking out online options to reduce costs and save time while still receiving an education.

Four-Year Degrees Aren’t Required For Entrepreneurs

When considering whether a university degree is worthwhile, think about your long-term plan.

Breaking into the digital marketing industry as an entrepreneur wouldn’t require a college degree.

Instead, self-taught digital marketing training, mentorship, or other online digital marketing programs could be enough to build your own business.

Running your own digital marketing business can be lucrative, too.

In search, for example, founders are most likely to make over $200,000 per year, according to Search Engine Journal’s most recent State of SEO report.

However, if your dreams are to work 9-5 for a larger company, many require a formal marketing degree.

Without a degree, digital marketing talent recruiters at larger companies may not even look at your resume.

Whether you’d rather go the online digital marketing certificate route or the college degree route, neither is wrong.

It’s More Affordable

Compared with attending graduate school, learning digital marketing with unaccredited digital marketing courses and starting a website is 10 times more profitable, with a return on investment of 521% three years after starting your digital marketing career compared to a return of 53% from a digital marketing degree.

Additionally, programs such as the Google Digital Marketing Certification are free of charge.

When looking for credible marketing and SEO certification programs, look for:

  • Industry-recognized digital marketing certification (ex: HubSpot Content Marketing Certification).
  • Help with placement with potential employers after the course.
  • Well-rounded courses (ex: courses that cover inbound marketing, email marketing, search engine marketing, mobile marketing, online advertising, and more).
  • Hands-on experience with platforms and technology you’d use in a marketing role.

Sets You Apart From Other Non-Degree Holders

When competing for a job in the marketing field, having a certification enables you to stand out against others applying for the same job.

This designation will appear prominently on your resume and shows you’ve gone an extra step toward achieving your career aspirations.

In fact, according to Robert Half Technologies’ 2021 Salary Guide, an entry-level Marketing Manager with no certifications can expect to earn $67,000 per year.

On the other hand, a certified Marketing Manager earns approximately $116,500. The difference in earnings between the two is $43,000 per year.

So, What Is Better? Marketing Degree Or No Marketing Degree?

There are cases to be made for pursuing a formal education at a college instead of exploring certification options.

It boils down to your own preferences, the learning format that works best for you, cost, and goals.

If you excel with in-person learning and a more structured academic environment, pursuing a marketing bachelor’s degree may be your best option.

Alternately, if you prefer to go at your own pace and have more hands-on experience in marketing, pursuing a certificate may be in your best interest.

You can then build your portfolio with this hands-on experience to prove yourself a strong candidate.

Whether you prefer to sharpen your digital marketing skills through a four-year university or want to begin your career in marketing without a formal education, it is contingent on your personality and what works best for you personally.

There is no right or wrong way to approach getting a digital marketing job and what works best for one person may not work for another.

Stay true to the education style you prefer and gain the necessary skills. You’ll be on your way to becoming a successful marketer on your own time.

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Featured Image: fizkes/Shutterstock




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Google’s AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

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Google's AI Overviews Shake Up Ecommerce Search Visibility

An analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries by Bartosz Góralewicz, founder of Onely, reveals the impact of Google’s AI overviews on search visibility for online retailers.

The study found that 16% of eCommerce queries now return an AI overview in search results, accounting for 13% of total search volume in this sector.

Notably, 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.

“Ranking #1-3 gives you only an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews,” Góralewicz stated.

Shift Toward “Accelerated” Product Experiences

International SEO consultant Aleyda Solis analyzed the disconnect between traditional organic ranking and inclusion in AI overviews.

According to Solis, for product-related queries, Google is prioritizing an “accelerated” approach over summarizing currently ranking pages.

She commented Góralewicz’ findings, stating:

“… rather than providing high level summaries of what’s already ranked organically below, what Google does with e-commerce is “accelerate” the experience by already showcasing what the user would get next.”

Solis explains that for queries where Google previously ranked category pages, reviews, and buying guides, it’s now bypassing this level of results with AI overviews.

Assessing AI Overview Traffic Impact

To help retailers evaluate their exposure, Solis has shared a spreadsheet that analyzes the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.

As Góralewicz notes, this could be an initial rollout, speculating that “Google will expand AI overviews for high-cost queries when enabling ads” based on data showing they are currently excluded for high cost-per-click keywords.

An in-depth report across ecommerce and publishing is expected soon from Góralewicz and Onely, with additional insights into this search trend.

Why SEJ Cares

AI overviews represent a shift in how search visibility is achieved for ecommerce websites.

With most overviews currently pulling product data from non-ranking sources, the traditional connection between organic rankings and search traffic is being disrupted.

Retailers may need to adapt their SEO strategies for this new search environment.

How This Can Benefit You

While unsettling for established brands, AI overviews create new opportunities for retailers to gain visibility without competing for the most commercially valuable keywords.

Ecommerce sites can potentially circumvent traditional ranking barriers by optimizing product data and detail pages for Google’s “accelerated” product displays.

The detailed assessment framework provided by Solis enables merchants to audit their exposure and prioritize optimization needs accordingly.


FAQ

What are the key findings from the analysis of AI overviews & ecommerce queries?

Góralewicz’s analysis of 25,000 ecommerce queries found:

  • 16% of ecommerce queries now return an AI overview in the search results.
  • 80% of the sources listed in these AI overviews do not rank organically for the original query.
  • Ranking positions #1-3 only provides an 8% chance of being a source in AI overviews.

These insights reveal significant shifts in how ecommerce sites need to approach search visibility.

Why are AI overviews pulling product data from non-ranking sources, and what does this mean for retailers?

Google’s AI overviews prioritize “accelerated” experiences over summarizing currently ranked pages for product-related queries.

This shift focuses on showcasing directly what users seek instead of traditional organic results.

For retailers, this means:

  • A need to optimize product pages beyond traditional SEO practices, catering to the data requirements of AI overviews.
  • Opportunities to gain visibility without necessarily holding top organic rankings.
  • Potential to bypass traditional ranking barriers by focusing on enhanced product data integration.

Retailers must adapt quickly to remain competitive in this evolving search environment.

What practical steps can retailers take to evaluate and improve their search visibility in light of AI overview disruptions?

Retailers can take several practical steps to evaluate and improve their search visibility:

  • Utilize the spreadsheet provided by Aleyda Solis to assess the potential traffic impact of AI overviews.
  • Optimize product and detail pages to align with the data and presentation style preferred by AI overviews.
  • Continuously monitor changes and updates to AI overviews, adapting strategies based on new data and trends.

These steps can help retailers navigate the impact of AI overviews and maintain or improve their search visibility.


Featured Image: Marco Lazzarini/Shutterstock



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Google’s AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

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Google's AI Overviews Go Viral, Draw Mainstream Media Scrutiny

Google’s rollout of AI-generated overviews in US search results is taking a disastrous turn, with mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, BBC, and CNBC reporting on numerous inaccuracies and bizarre responses.

On social media, users are sharing endless examples of the feature’s nonsensical and sometimes dangerous output.

From recommending non-toxic glue on pizza to suggesting that eating rocks provides nutritional benefits, the blunders would be amusing if they weren’t so alarming.

Mainstream Media Coverage

As reported by The New York Times, Google’s AI overviews struggle with basic facts, claiming that Barack Obama was the first Muslim president of the United States and stating that Andrew Jackson graduated from college in 2005.

These errors undermine trust in Google’s search engine, which more than two billion people rely on for authoritative information worldwide.

Manual Removal & System Refinements

As reported by The Verge, Google is now scrambling to remove the bizarre AI-generated responses and improve its systems manually.

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the company is taking “swift action” to remove problematic responses and using the examples to refine its AI overview feature.

Google’s Rush To AI Integration

The flawed rollout of AI overviews isn’t an isolated incident for Google.

As CNBC notes in its report, Google made several missteps in a rush to integrate AI into its products.

In February, Google was forced to pause its Gemini chatbot after it generated inaccurate images of historical figures and refused to depict white people in most instances.

Before that, the company’s Bard chatbot faced ridicule for sharing incorrect information about outer space, leading to a $100 billion drop in Google’s market value.

Despite these setbacks, industry experts cited by The New York Times suggest that Google has little choice but to continue advancing AI integration to remain competitive.

However, the challenges of taming large language models, which ingest false information and satirical posts, are now more apparent.

The Debate Over AI In Search

The controversy surrounding AI overviews adds fuel to the debate over the risks and limitations of AI.

While the technology holds potential, these missteps remind everyone that more testing is needed before unleashing it on the public.

The BBC notes that Google’s rivals face similar backlash over their attempts to cram more AI tools into their consumer-facing products.

The UK’s data watchdog is investigating Microsoft after it announced a feature that would take continuous screenshots of users’ online activity.

At the same time, actress Scarlett Johansson criticized OpenAI for using a voice likened to her own without permission.

What This Means For Websites & SEO Professionals

Mainstream media coverage of Google’s erroneous AI overviews brings the issue of declining search quality to public attention.

As the company works to address inaccuracies, the incident serves as a cautionary tale for the entire industry.

Important takeaway: Prioritize responsible use of AI technology to ensure the benefits outweigh its risks.



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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

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New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

A keynote at Google’s Marketing Live event showed a new AI-powered visual search results that feature advertisements that engage users within the context of an AI-Assisted search, blurring the line between AI-generated search results and advertisements.

Google Lens is a truly helpful app but it becomes unconventional where it blurs the line between an assistant helping users and being led to a shopping cart. This new way of engaging potential customers with AI is so far out there that the presenter doesn’t even call it advertising, he doesn’t even use the word.

Visual Search Traffic Opportunity?

Google’s Group Product Manager Sylvanus Bent, begins the presentation with an overview of the next version of Google Lens visual search that will be useful for surfacing information and for help finding where to buy them.

Sylvanus explained how it will be an opportunity for websites to receive traffic from this new way to search.

“…whether you’re snapping a photo with lens or circling to search something on your social feed, visual search unlocks new ways to explore whatever catches your eye, and we recently announced a newly redesigned results page for Visual search.

Soon, instead of just visual matches, you’ll see a wide range of results, from images to video, web links, and facts about the knowledge graph. It gets people the helpful information they need and creates new opportunities for sites to be discovered.”

It’s hard to say whether or not this will bring search traffic to websites and what the quality of that traffic will be. Will they stick around to read an article? Will they engage with a product review?

Visual Search Results

Sylvanus shares a hypothetical example of someone at an airport baggage claim who falls in like with someone else’s bag. He explains that all the person needs to do is snap a photo of the luggage bag and Google Lens will take them directly to shopping options.

He explains:

“No words, no problem. Just open Lens, take a quick picture and immediately you’ll see options to purchase.

And for the first time, shopping ads will appear at the very top of the results on linked searches, where a business can offer what a consumer is looking for.

This will help them easily purchase something that catches their eye.”

These are image-heavy shopping ads at the top of the search results and as annoying as that may be it’s nowhere near the “next level” advertising that is coming to Google’s search ads where Google presents a paid promotion within the context of an AI Assistant.

Interactive Search Shopping

Sylvanus next describes an AI-powered form advertising that happens directly within search. But he doesn’t call it advertising. He doesn’t even use the word advertising. He suggests this new form of AI search experience is more than offer, saying that, “it’s an experience.”

He’s right to not use the word advertisement because what he describes goes far beyond advertising and blurs the boundaries between search and advertising within the context of AI-powered suggestions, paid suggestions.

Sylvanus explains how this new form of shopping experience works:

“And next, imagine a world where every search ad is more than an offer. It’s an experience. It’s a new way for you to engage more directly with your customers. And we’re exploring search ads with AI powered recommendations across different verticals. So I want to show you an example that’s going live soon and you’ll see even more when we get to shopping.”

He uses the example of someone who needs to store their furniture for a few months and who turns to Google to find short term storage. What he describes is a query for local short term storage that turns into a “dynamic ad experience” that leads the searcher into throwing packing supplies into their shopping cart.

He narrated how it works:

“You search for short term storage and you see an ad for extra space storage. Now you can click into a new dynamic ad experience.

You can select and upload photos of the different rooms in your house, showing how much furniture you have, and then extra space storage with help from Google, AI generates a description of all your belongings for you to verify. You get a recommendation for the right size and type of storage unit and even how much packing supplies you need to get the job done. Then you just go to the website to complete the transaction.

And this is taking the definition of a helpful ad to the next level. It does everything but physically pick up your stuff and move it, and that is cool.”

Step 1: Search For Short Term Storage

1716722762 15 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows an advertisement that when clicked takes the user to what looks like an AI-assisted search but is really an interactive advertisement.

Step 2: Upload Photos For “AI Assistance”

1716722762 242 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above image is a screenshot of an advertisement that is presented in the context of AI-assisted search.  Masking an advertisement within a different context is the same principal behind an advertorial where an advertisement is hidden in the form of an article. The phrases “Let AI do the heavy lifting” and “AI-powered recommendations” create the context of AI-search that masks the true context of an advertisement.

Step 3: Images Chosen For Uploading

1716722762 187 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows how a user uploads an image to the AI-powered advertisement within the context of an AI-powered search app.

The Word “App” Masks That This Is An Ad

Screenshot of interactive advertisement for that identifies itself as an app with the words

Above is a screenshot of how a user uploads a photo to the AI-powered interactive advertisement within the context of a visual search engine, using the word “app” to further the illusion that the user is interacting with an app and not an advertisement.

Upload Process Masks The Advertising Context

Screenshot of interactive advertisement that uses the context of an AI Assistant to mask that this is an advertisement

The phrase “Generative AI is experimental” contributes to the illusion that this is an AI-assisted search.

Step 4: Upload Confirmation

1716722762 395 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

In step 4 the “app” advertisement is for confirming that the AI correctly identified the furniture that needs to be put into storage.

Step 5: AI “Recommendations”

1716722762 588 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

The above screenshot shows “AI recommendations” that look like search results.

The Recommendations Are Ad Units

1716722762 751 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Those recommendations are actually ad units that when clicked takes the user to the “Extra Space Storage” shopping website.

Step 6: Searcher Visits Advertiser Website

1716722762 929 New Google Search Ads Resemble AI Assistant App

Blurring The Boundaries

What the Google keynote speaker describes is the integration of paid product suggestions into an AI assisted search. This kind of advertising is so far out there that the Googler doesn’t even call it advertising and rightfully so because what this does is blur the line between AI assisted search and advertising. At what point does a helpful AI search become just a platform for using AI to offer paid suggestions?

Watch The Keynote At The 32 Minute Mark

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Ljupco Smokovski

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