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What Is A Content Marketing Matrix & Do We Need One?

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What Is A Content Marketing Matrix & Do We Need One?

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s Video & Visual Storytelling Survey, 83% of marketers say video has become more important in the last two years.

Videos were always a powerful tool in the storytelling arsenal. But maybe it’s time to re-examine our content marketing matrix.

What is a content marketing matrix and do we need one in 2022?

Well, a content marketing matrix is a planning tool to help marketers generate ideas for the most engaging content types for their audiences.

A number of them have been created over the past decade, including one that I contributed to Guy Kawasaki’s book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, which was published in 2011. Here’s what it looks like:

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Image by author, January 2022

As you can see, my Content Marketing Matrix has two dimensions:

  • Awareness through to action on the horizontal axis
  • Rational through emotional on the vertical axis.

And content marketers are supposed to use the four quadrants – entertain, inspire, educate, and enlighten – “as a starting point” to review how their content can support the goals of their B2B, B2C, or not-for-profit organizations.

Do We Need A Content Marketing Matrix In 2022?

A decade later, I don’t have a problem with using a 2×2 matrix “as a starting point.”

But it reminds me of the scene in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (1982) when Captain Spock (Leonard Nimoy) analyzes the tactics of Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalbán) and observes, “He is intelligent, but not experienced. His pattern indicates two-dimensional thinking.”

That’s why I believe experienced content marketers need a three-dimensional matrix to compete successfully in a world where:

  • YouTube has more than 2 billion monthly logged-in users.
  • 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
  • Video content is playing a starring role in all four quadrants.

I don’t have a problem with putting “Branded Stories” (e.g., short films, series, documentaries, inspirational videos) in the upper left quadrant of the matrix above, either. I’ve seen some entertaining branded stories go viral.

I’ve also seen some inspiring, educational, and enlightening branded stories go viral, too.

And last month, we looked at how several major brands in the U.K. use nostalgic Christmas ads to build brand awareness and connect with customers on a deeper level.

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Viral Marketing: The Science Of Sharing

So, maybe it’s time to share the secret of how to create branded video content that is more likely to go viral.

Actually, it isn’t a secret. It is the subject of Karen Nelson-Field’s book, Viral Marketing: The Science of Sharing, which was published in October 2013.

Back then, Dr. Nelson-Field was a Senior Research Associate at the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

Today, she’s the founder and CEO at Amplified Intelligence.

Her book used original research from more than two years of work, five different data sets, around 1,000 videos, nine individual studies, and a large team of researchers from Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science.

Her research found that “an emotional response is important in driving further cognitive or behavioral responses. Reactions to advertising – or anything for that matter – are rarely purely rational.”

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And the data she shared shows the most engaging content types for your audiences are branded videos that can elicit intense, positive, emotional responses, using:

  • Exhilaration.
  • Inspiration.
  • Astonishment.
  • Hilarity.

If you read Dr. Nelson-Field’s book, then you’ll also learn that:

  • On average, videos that elicit intense emotions are shared twice as much as those that evoke moderate emotions, yet more than 70% of all branded videos evoke moderate emotions.
  • Branded videos that evoke feelings of exhilaration are shared more than any other intense positive emotion.
  • While professional video creators may be aiming to create hilarious branded content, most are falling well short of the amateurs.

The most engaging holiday ads of 2021 indicate that Dr. Nelson-Field’s findings are still valid today.

Unruly Reveals Top Emotionally Engaging Holiday Ads Of 2021

Each year, Unruly tests holiday ads and measures them based upon emotional intensity, brand favorability, happiness, and an overall “EQ Score.”

Unruly is a global video and Connected TV (CTV) advertising platform. But, content marketers can learn some important lessons from them about how to generate ideas for the most engaging content types for their audiences.

And it’s worth noting that Dr. Nelson-Field worked with Unruly a decade ago to develop an earlier version of their methodology.

This year, Unruly analyzed the emotional responses of approximately 9,700 consumers around the world to more than 50 holiday ads using its content measurement tool, UnrulyEQ.

This tool helps advertisers maximize the impact of their video content across multiple screens, lift brand metrics more effectively, and target receptive audiences at scale.

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Unruly’s annual Christmas Ad Effectiveness Chart uses their combined metric, EQ Score, to rank the most popular festive ads based on their emotional, social, and business impact.

It also benchmarks them against the average level of emotional response to advertisements in each market. And the intensity of emotions, brand favorability, authenticity, and purchase intent that viewers felt while watching an ad all contribute to its final score.

Carol Gillard, the VP of Marketing & Communications at Unruly, observed several interesting trends:

  • “As December 2020 approached, brands went out of their way to relate to the uncertainty of holidays amidst a global pandemic. Messages last year reflected the change in storied traditions and adaptability of consumers as they still attempted to bring cheer into their holiday season.
  • “By comparison, many in the 2021 crop of holiday ads do not reference or allude to Covid-19, and instead seek to create nostalgia for Christmases past, and excite consumers about gathering and celebrating with their nearest and dearest.”

Gillard also spotted several other trends in this year’s top-rated ads:

  • Top-performing ads have high EQ scores (above 6 or 7), and demonstrate a combination of intense emotional response, brand favorability, and purchase intent by viewers.
  • Several top ads use animation, including Chick-fil-A’s “Whoopsery” ad, and Macy’s “Tiptoe and the Flying Machine,” which is reminiscent of the iconic stop motion animation holiday movies of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Nostalgic pop music, like repurposed hits by Queen and Hall & Oates, tested very well this year.
  • Top ads featured a lot of diversity (both in age and race, often together), particularly in the US as well as in the UK and the Philippines.

Let’s start with “Wegmans Holiday Commercial 2021,” which was ranked #1 in the US.

The video’s description says, “The holidays are about sharing, caring, and enjoying great food. Watch as a little boy shows us that you don’t have to be all grown up to be a big helper. Let’s get back to happy, together.”

The ad from Wegmans Food Markets scored 61% in Emotional Intensity, 53% in Brand Favorability, and 38% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 7.3.

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Wegmans Food Markets selected Optic Sky, an advertising and digital experience production company, to produce this ad.

I asked Aaron Gordon, the CEO of Optic Sky, “What was your thinking/strategy behind the Wegmans approach to holiday advertising at this particular time in history?”

Gordon said, “This holiday spot is part of the Wegmans ‘Back to Happy’ campaign, which comprises three ads in total. It’s the first ad campaign Wegmans has run since the start of the pandemic, so it was important to consider the state of Covid-19 at the time.

On one hand, it seemed as though we were making real progress; vaccines were finally available, the economy was rebounding, and schools and stadiums were opening back up. On the other hand, we knew that Covid was unpredictable.

He added, “The Wegmans internal creative agency decided to focus all three ads on the values they as a company share with their customers, who represent all walks of life.

The Optic Sky team worked closely with Wegmans to create ads that evoke a warm, human, and nostalgic tone, while touching upon our shared yearning to leave the pandemic behind (as the campaign name, ‘Back to Happy,’ implies).

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Together, we emphasized our common humanity, love of family, and hope for the future with scenes of joy, sincere caring, and family meals.”

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year | Frito-Lay” ranked #2 in the US.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_MqkvjNpFw

The video’s description says, “Share more joy this Holi-LAY’S season with Jimmy Fallon and your Frito-Lay favorites.”

Frito-Lay’s ad scored 55% in Emotional Intensity, 45% in Brand Favorability, and 36% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 7.3.

The Whoopsery | Stories of Evergreen Hills | Created by Chick-fil-A” ranked #3 in the US.

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This video’s description says, “Sam is back for another adventure this holiday season, and she brought a friend! After an unfortunate mishap, while decorating Cece’s family Christmas tree, Sam and Cece try to make it right and end up in a magical place called The Whoopsery.”

Chick-fil-A’s ad scored 56% in Emotional Intensity, 49% in Brand Favorability, and 36% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 7.1.

Macy’s Presents: Tiptoe and the Flying Machine” ranked #4 in the US.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwIUIrk56cQ

The video’s description says, “This is the story of Tiptoe. A little reindeer with a big problem. She’s absolutely terrified of flying. So her friends get together and teach her a very important lesson: if you believe in yourself, there’s no telling how high you can soar.”

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Macy’s ad scored 53% in Emotional Intensity, 48% in Brand Favorability, and 33% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.9.

And, “OREO ‘A Holiday Twist’ :30” ranked #5 in the US.

This video’s description says, “The holidays’ favorite cookie #OREO #StayPlayful.”

And, Oreo’s ad scored 45% in Emotional Intensity, 41% in Brand Favorability, and 29% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.7.

Unruly also tested ads in the UK. But, their methodology is different than Kantar’s, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Unruly’s results differ from the ones that I wrote about last month.

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This Christmas, Nothing’s Stopping Us l Tesco #NothingsStoppingUs” ranked #1 in the UK.

This video’s description says, “After last year, we’re determined to make it a good one. This Christmas, #NothingsStoppingUs.”

Tesco’s ad scored 36% in Emotional Intensity, 40% in Brand Favorability, and 20% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.9.

Spread The Merry” ranked #1 in Australia.

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The description says, “The members of our letterbox choir are spreading the merry far and wide this year. Head to auspost.com.au/christmas to find out how you can #SpreadTheMerry.”

Australia Post’s ad scored 30% in Emotional Intensity, 37% in Brand Favorability, and 20% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.5.

THE STEPDAD | Disney Christmas Advert 2021 | Disney Channel UK” ranked #1 in the Philippines.

The video’s description says, “We are proud to reveal our Christmas advert, a heart-warming new story; #TheStepdad.

“This year’s story follows Nicole, the granddaughter from last year’s ad, who is now all grown up with a family to make Christmas traditions with. We follow her and her two adorable children, Max and Ella, as their new stepdad Mike moves into their family home.

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“At the heart of the story is a very special storybook – a precious item belonging to Max from his birth father.

The book celebrates the power of storytelling and how it can deepen family bonds; as the family are shown delighting in the magic of Disney storytelling, beautiful animation springs off the pages, igniting the true spirit of Christmas.

Follow their emotional journey as we see them combine existing festive traditions with wonderful new ones. We hope you enjoy this special Christmas ad, celebrating the joy that the stepdads of the world bring us.”

Disney UK’s video scored 88% in Emotional Intensity, 86% in Brand Favorability, and 73% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.9 in the Philippines.

FAMILIE IST DAS SCHÖNSTE GESCHENK | DISNEY WEIHNACHTS-SPOT 2021 – lange Version | Disney HD” ranked #1 in Germany.

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Disney Deutschland’s ad scored 40% in Emotional Intensity, 32% in Brand Favorability, and 23% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.3 in Germany.

Finally, “Smile. Your special table is set” ranked #1 in Singapore.

This video’s description says, “This holiday season, connect with loved ones both near and far away over the dinner table. Dress your party table with elegant dinnerware, handmade glass, candles and twinkling fairy lights.

Exchange baskets filled with gifts and enjoy quality time with friends and family, even if they are an internet connection away.”

IKEA Singapore’s ads scored 41% in Emotional Intensity, 55% in Brand Favorability, and 23% in Happiness to get an overall EQ Score of 6.7.

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“You can observe a lot by just watching”

Now, some content marketers are going to look at the top emotionally engaging holiday ads above, scratch their heads, and say, “But, those are YouTube ads!”

Yes, they are. And, according to the Content Marketing Video Survey mentioned above, re-purposed ads (long-form versions of TV ads) are one of the video types that produced the best content marketing results in the last 12 months.

And, as Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Besides, a content marketing matrix is supposed to help us generate ideas for the most engaging content types for our audiences.

So, if we mistakenly think that we can’t learn lessons from the top emotionally engaging holiday ads of 2021, then we’ve got to ask ourselves: “Does this pattern indicate two-dimensional thinking?”

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While we’re at it, we’ve also got to ask a couple of other related questions:

  • If our lawyers will approve the content of emotionally engaging ads, then why can’t we get them to approve emotionally engaging marketing content?
  • If executives will okay the budget for emotionally engaging ads, then why can’t we get them to okay the budget for emotionally engaging marketing content?

To transform this situation, we need to go beyond producing more videos in 2022. We need to make videos worth watching and create content worth sharing.

And, there are plenty of examples of branded videos that are emotionally engaging even though they aren’t ads.

If you want to see one, just watch “Google — Year In Search 2021.

The description of Google’s branded video says, “In a year that continued to test many, the world searched “how to heal” more than ever.

Whether they’re taking care of mental health, honoring a loved one, or reuniting with family, people are finding ways to come back stronger than before.”

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Uploaded on Nov. 22, 2021, it currently has 223 million views and 167,000 engagements (e.g. likes, comments, shares).

And, if you mistakenly think that B2B videos have to be rational or boring, then check out “‘Zero Tolerance Machining’ with the Wire EDM – Part 1 | US Digital #Shorts.”

US Digital designs and manufactures motion control products for OEM manufacturers as well as end users.  The description of their branded video says, “Our machine shop can cut metal so precisely using our wire EDM that two parts fit together with virtually no gap between.”

Uploaded on Oct. 27, 2021, it currently has 31.1 million views and 1.4 million engagements.

We Need A Three-Dimensional Content Marketing Matrix

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Looking forward, the B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends: Insights for 2022 report produced by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs says, “The top content marketing-related area of investment for 2022 is expected to be video (69%).

This makes sense, as businesses have shifted online, and marketers look for new/more ways to tell compelling stories to capture and keep audience attention.”

And, during a webinar on “International digital marketing strategy for 2022 and beyond,” which was held Dec. 14, 2021, Gemma Houghton, the Director of Marketing at Webcertain, shared the following stats to illustrate why this may finally be “the year of video”:

  • “By 2022, 82% of global internet traffic will come from streaming videos and downloads” (Cisco Annual Internet Report).
  • “Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and image content” (Wordstream).
  • “50.9% of B2B decision-makers use YouTube to research purchases” (Hootsuite).

All of this is – potentially – good news. Hopefully, most content marketers won’t blow this opportunity by cranking out more branded videos that evoke moderate emotions.

Now, I realize that eliciting intense emotions sounds risky. So, let me close with an excerpt from an interview in WARC’s “Insights from the 2021 Creative Effectiveness Lions winners.”

WARC asked Ann Mukherjee, who is Chairman and CEO at Pernod Ricard North America and was President of the 2021 Creative Effectiveness Lions jury, “What stood out to you about the Grand Prix winner, Nike’s Dream Crazy?”

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Mukherjee said, “We felt that Dream Crazy was the next chapter in advertising, helping the industry think about what’s possible and redefining the roles brands can play in making a positive dent in the universe.”

She added, “It’s also important to remember that Nike was actually solving a business problem around its relevance to younger consumers.

This audience does not only want to buy brands, they want to buy into brands. Nike took a risk because it understood that’s what it took. With many of the award winners this year, we wanted to send a message to the industry that they should take a risk.

A lot of these campaigns start with a business objective but go on to change lives. It’s a virtuous cycle that we wish to see more brands embracing: touching lives is what makes people come to your brand.”

That’s why we need to use a three-dimensional content marketing matrix “as a starting point” to generate ideas for the most engaging content types for our audiences. Then, we’ve also got to think outside the box.

More resources:

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Featured image: Shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi




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Reddit Post Ranks On Google In 5 Minutes

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Google apparently ranks Reddit posts within minutes

Google’s Danny Sullivan disputed the assertions made in a Reddit discussion that Google is showing a preference for Reddit in the search results. But a Redditor’s example proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten of the search results within minutes and to actually improve rankings to position #2 a week later.

Discussion About Google Showing Preference To Reddit

A Redditor (gronetwork) complained that Google is sending so many visitors to Reddit that the server is struggling with the load and shared an example that proved that it can only take minutes for a Reddit post to rank in the top ten.

That post was part of a 79 post Reddit thread where many in the r/SEO subreddit were complaining about Google allegedly giving too much preference to Reddit over legit sites.

The person who did the test (gronetwork) wrote:

“…The website is already cracking (server down, double posts, comments not showing) because there are too many visitors.

…It only takes few minutes (you can test it) for a post on Reddit to appear in the top ten results of Google with keywords related to the post’s title… (while I have to wait months for an article on my site to be referenced). Do the math, the whole world is going to spam here. The loop is completed.”

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Reddit Post Ranked Within Minutes

Another Redditor asked if they had tested if it takes “a few minutes” to rank in the top ten and gronetwork answered that they had tested it with a post titled, Google SGE Review.

gronetwork posted:

“Yes, I have created for example a post named “Google SGE Review” previously. After less than 5 minutes it was ranked 8th for Google SGE Review (no quotes). Just after Washingtonpost.com, 6 authoritative SEO websites and Google.com’s overview page for SGE (Search Generative Experience). It is ranked third for SGE Review.”

It’s true, not only does that specific post (Google SGE Review) rank in the top 10, the post started out in position 8 and it actually improved ranking, currently listed beneath the number one result for the search query “SGE Review”.

Screenshot Of Reddit Post That Ranked Within Minutes

Anecdotes Versus Anecdotes

Okay, the above is just one anecdote. But it’s a heck of an anecdote because it proves that it’s possible for a Reddit post to rank within minutes and get stuck in the top of the search results over other possibly more authoritative websites.

hankschrader79 shared that Reddit posts outrank Toyota Tacoma forums for a phrase related to mods for that truck.

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Google’s Danny Sullivan responded to that post and the entire discussion to dispute that Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums.

Danny wrote:

“Reddit is not always prioritized over other forums. [super vhs to mac adapter] I did this week, it goes Apple Support Community, MacRumors Forum and further down, there’s Reddit. I also did [kumo cloud not working setup 5ghz] recently (it’s a nightmare) and it was the Netgear community, the SmartThings Community, GreenBuildingAdvisor before Reddit. Related to that was [disable 5g airport] which has Apple Support Community above Reddit. [how to open an 8 track tape] — really, it was the YouTube videos that helped me most, but it’s the Tapeheads community that comes before Reddit.

In your example for [toyota tacoma], I don’t even get Reddit in the top results. I get Toyota, Car & Driver, Wikipedia, Toyota again, three YouTube videos from different creators (not Toyota), Edmunds, a Top Stories unit. No Reddit, which doesn’t really support the notion of always wanting to drive traffic just to Reddit.

If I guess at the more specific query you might have done, maybe [overland mods for toyota tacoma], I get a YouTube video first, then Reddit, then Tacoma World at third — not near the bottom. So yes, Reddit is higher for that query — but it’s not first. It’s also not always first. And sometimes, it’s not even showing at all.”

hankschrader79 conceded that they were generalizing when they wrote that Google always prioritized Reddit. But they also insisted that that didn’t diminish what they said is a fact that Google’s “prioritization” forum content has benefitted Reddit more than actual forums.

Why Is The Reddit Post Ranked So High?

It’s possible that Google “tested” that Reddit post in position 8 within minutes and that user interaction signals indicated to Google’s algorithms that users prefer to see that Reddit post. If that’s the case then it’s not a matter of Google showing preference to Reddit post but rather it’s users that are showing the preference and the algorithm is responding to those preferences.

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Nevertheless, an argument can be made that user preferences for Reddit can be a manifestation of Familiarity Bias. Familiarity Bias is when people show a preference for things that are familiar to them. If a person is familiar with a brand because of all the advertising they were exposed to then they may show a bias for the brand products over unfamiliar brands.

Users who are familiar with Reddit may choose Reddit because they don’t know the other sites in the search results or because they have a bias that Google ranks spammy and optimized websites and feel safer reading Reddit.

Google may be picking up on those user interaction signals that indicate a preference and satisfaction with the Reddit results but those results may simply be biases and not an indication that Reddit is trustworthy and authoritative.

Is Reddit Benefiting From A Self-Reinforcing Feedback Loop?

It may very well be that Google’s decision to prioritize user generated content may have started a self-reinforcing pattern that draws users in to Reddit through the search results and because the answers seem plausible those users start to prefer Reddit results. When they’re exposed to more Reddit posts their familiarity bias kicks in and they start to show a preference for Reddit. So what could be happening is that the users and Google’s algorithm are creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

Is it possible that Google’s decision to show more user generated content has kicked off a cycle where more users are exposed to Reddit which then feeds back into Google’s algorithm which in turn increases Reddit visibility, regardless of lack of expertise and authoritativeness?

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Kues

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WordPress Releases A Performance Plugin For “Near-Instant Load Times”

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WordPress speculative loading plugin

WordPress released an official plugin that adds support for a cutting edge technology called speculative loading that can help boost site performance and improve the user experience for site visitors.

Speculative Loading

Rendering means constructing the entire webpage so that it instantly displays (rendering). When your browser downloads the HTML, images, and other resources and puts it together into a webpage, that’s rendering. Prerendering is putting that webpage together (rendering it) in the background.

What this plugin does is to enable the browser to prerender the entire webpage that a user might navigate to next. The plugin does that by anticipating which webpage the user might navigate to based on where they are hovering.

Chrome lists a preference for only prerendering when there is an at least 80% probability of a user navigating to another webpage. The official Chrome support page for prerendering explains:

“Pages should only be prerendered when there is a high probability the page will be loaded by the user. This is why the Chrome address bar prerendering options only happen when there is such a high probability (greater than 80% of the time).

There is also a caveat in that same developer page that prerendering may not happen based on user settings, memory usage and other scenarios (more details below about how analytics handles prerendering).

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The Speculative Loading API solves a problem that previous solutions could not because in the past they were simply prefetching resources like JavaScript and CSS but not actually prerendering the entire webpage.

The official WordPress announcement explains it like this:

Introducing the Speculation Rules API
The Speculation Rules API is a new web API that solves the above problems. It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation. This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them.”

The official WordPress page about this new functionality describes it:

“The Speculation Rules API is a new web API… It allows defining rules to dynamically prefetch and/or prerender URLs of certain structure based on user interaction, in JSON syntax—or in other words, speculatively preload those URLs before the navigation.

This API can be used, for example, to prerender any links on a page whenever the user hovers over them. Also, with the Speculation Rules API, “prerender” actually means to prerender the entire page, including running JavaScript. This can lead to near-instant load times once the user clicks on the link as the page would have most likely already been loaded in its entirety. However that is only one of the possible configurations.”

The new WordPress plugin adds support for the Speculation Rules API. The Mozilla developer pages, a great resource for HTML technical understanding describes it like this:

“The Speculation Rules API is designed to improve performance for future navigations. It targets document URLs rather than specific resource files, and so makes sense for multi-page applications (MPAs) rather than single-page applications (SPAs).

The Speculation Rules API provides an alternative to the widely-available <link rel=”prefetch”> feature and is designed to supersede the Chrome-only deprecated <link rel=”prerender”> feature. It provides many improvements over these technologies, along with a more expressive, configurable syntax for specifying which documents should be prefetched or prerendered.”

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See also: Are Websites Getting Faster? New Data Reveals Mixed Results

Performance Lab Plugin

The new plugin was developed by the official WordPress performance team which occasionally rolls out new plugins for users to test ahead of possible inclusion into the actual WordPress core. So it’s a good opportunity to be first to try out new performance technologies.

The new WordPress plugin is by default set to prerender “WordPress frontend URLs” which are pages, posts, and archive pages. How it works can be fine-tuned under the settings:

Settings > Reading > Speculative Loading

Browser Compatibility

The Speculative API is supported by Chrome 108 however the specific rules used by the new plugin require Chrome 121 or higher. Chrome 121 was released in early 2024.

Browsers that do not support will simply ignore the plugin and will have no effect on the user experience.

Check out the new Speculative Loading WordPress plugin developed by the official core WordPress performance team.

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How Analytics Handles Prerendering

A WordPress developer commented with a question asking how Analytics would handle prerendering and someone else answered that it’s up to the Analytics provider to detect a prerender and not count it as a page load or site visit.

Fortunately both Google Analytics and Google Publisher Tags (GPT) both are able to handle prerenders. The Chrome developers support page has a note about how analytics handles prerendering:

“Google Analytics handles prerender by delaying until activation by default as of September 2023, and Google Publisher Tag (GPT) made a similar change to delay triggering advertisements until activation as of November 2023.”

Possible Conflict With Ad Blocker Extensions

There are a couple things to be aware of about this plugin, aside from the fact that it’s an experimental feature that requires Chrome 121 or higher.

A comment by a WordPress plugin developer that this feature may not work with browsers that are using the uBlock Origin ad blocking browser extension.

Download the plugin:
Speculative Loading Plugin by the WordPress Performance Team

Read the announcement at WordPress
Speculative Loading in WordPress

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See also: WordPress, Wix & Squarespace Show Best CWV Rate Of Improvement

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

Whether you are new to paid media or reevaluating your efforts, it’s critical to review your performance and best practices for your overall PPC marketing program, accounts, and campaigns.

Revisiting your paid media plan is an opportunity to ensure your strategy aligns with your current goals.

Reviewing best practices for pay-per-click is also a great way to keep up with trends and improve performance with newly released ad technologies.

As you review, you’ll find new strategies and features to incorporate into your paid search program, too.

Here are 10 PPC best practices to help you adjust and plan for the months ahead.

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1. Goals

When planning, it is best practice to define goals for the overall marketing program, ad platforms, and at the campaign level.

Defining primary and secondary goals guides the entire PPC program. For example, your primary conversion may be to generate leads from your ads.

You’ll also want to look at secondary goals, such as brand awareness that is higher in the sales funnel and can drive interest to ultimately get the sales lead-in.

2. Budget Review & Optimization

Some advertisers get stuck in a rut and forget to review and reevaluate the distribution of their paid media budgets.

To best utilize budgets, consider the following:

  • Reconcile your planned vs. spend for each account or campaign on a regular basis. Depending on the budget size, monthly, quarterly, or semiannually will work as long as you can hit budget numbers.
  • Determine if there are any campaigns that should be eliminated at this time to free up the budget for other campaigns.
  • Is there additional traffic available to capture and grow results for successful campaigns? The ad platforms often include a tool that will provide an estimated daily budget with clicks and costs. This is just an estimate to show more click potential if you are interested.
  • If other paid media channels perform mediocrely, does it make sense to shift those budgets to another?
  • For the overall paid search and paid social budget, can your company invest more in the positive campaign results?

3. Consider New Ad Platforms

If you can shift or increase your budgets, why not test out a new ad platform? Knowing your audience and where they spend time online will help inform your decision when choosing ad platforms.

Go beyond your comfort zone in Google, Microsoft, and Meta Ads.

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Here are a few other advertising platforms to consider testing:

  • LinkedIn: Most appropriate for professional and business targeting. LinkedIn audiences can also be reached through Microsoft Ads.
  • TikTok: Younger Gen Z audience (16 to 24), video.
  • Pinterest: Products, services, and consumer goods with a female-focused target.
  • Snapchat: Younger demographic (13 to 35), video ads, app installs, filters, lenses.

Need more detailed information and even more ideas? Read more about the 5 Best Google Ads Alternatives.

4. Top Topics in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

Recently, trends in search and social ad platforms have presented opportunities to connect with prospects more precisely, creatively, and effectively.

Don’t overlook newer targeting and campaign types you may not have tried yet.

  • Video: Incorporating video into your PPC accounts takes some planning for the goals, ad creative, targeting, and ad types. There is a lot of opportunity here as you can simply include video in responsive display ads or get in-depth in YouTube targeting.
  • Performance Max: This automated campaign type serves across all of Google’s ad inventory. Microsoft Ads recently released PMAX so you can plan for consistency in campaign types across platforms. Do you want to allocate budget to PMax campaigns? Learn more about how PMax compares to search.
  • Automation: While AI can’t replace human strategy and creativity, it can help manage your campaigns more easily. During planning, identify which elements you want to automate, such as automatically created assets and/or how to successfully guide the AI in the Performance Max campaigns.

While exploring new features, check out some hidden PPC features you probably don’t know about.

5. Revisit Keywords

The role of keywords has evolved over the past several years with match types being less precise and loosening up to consider searcher intent.

For example, [exact match] keywords previously would literally match with the exact keyword search query. Now, ads can be triggered by search queries with the same meaning or intent.

A great planning exercise is to lay out keyword groups and evaluate if they are still accurately representing your brand and product/service.

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Review search term queries triggering ads to discover trends and behavior you may not have considered. It’s possible this has impacted performance and conversions over time.

Critical to your strategy:

  • Review the current keyword rules and determine if this may impact your account in terms of close variants or shifts in traffic volume.
  • Brush up on how keywords work in each platform because the differences really matter!
  • Review search term reports more frequently for irrelevant keywords that may pop up from match type changes. Incorporate these into match type changes or negative keywords lists as appropriate.

6. Revisit Your Audiences

Review the audiences you selected in the past, especially given so many campaign types that are intent-driven.

Automated features that expand your audience could be helpful, but keep an eye out for performance metrics and behavior on-site post-click.

Remember, an audience is simply a list of users who are grouped together by interests or behavior online.

Therefore, there are unlimited ways to mix and match those audiences and target per the sales funnel.

Here are a few opportunities to explore and test:

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  • LinkedIn user targeting: Besides LinkedIn, this can be found exclusively in Microsoft Ads.
  • Detailed Demographics: Marital status, parental status, home ownership, education, household income.
  • In-market and custom intent: Searches and online behavior signaling buying cues.
  • Remarketing: Advertisers website visitors, interactions with ads, and video/ YouTube.

Note: This varies per the campaign type and seems to be updated frequently, so make this a regular check-point in your campaign management for all platforms.

7. Organize Data Sources

You will likely be running campaigns on different platforms with combinations of search, display, video, etc.

Looking back at your goals, what is the important data, and which platforms will you use to review and report? Can you get the majority of data in one analytics platform to compare and share?

Millions of companies use Google Analytics, which is a good option for centralized viewing of advertising performance, website behavior, and conversions.

8. Reevaluate How You Report

Have you been using the same performance report for years?

It’s time to reevaluate your essential PPC key metrics and replace or add that data to your reports.

There are two great resources to kick off this exercise:

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Your objectives in reevaluating the reporting are:

  • Are we still using this data? Is it still relevant?
  • Is the data we are viewing actionable?
  • What new metrics should we consider adding we haven’t thought about?
  • How often do we need to see this data?
  • Do the stakeholders receiving the report understand what they are looking at (aka data visualization)?

Adding new data should be purposeful, actionable, and helpful in making decisions for the marketing plan. It’s also helpful to decide what type of data is good to see as “deep dives” as needed.

9. Consider Using Scripts

The current ad platforms have plenty of AI recommendations and automated rules, and there is no shortage of third-party tools that can help with optimizations.

Scripts is another method for advertisers with large accounts or some scripting skills to automate report generation and repetitive tasks in their Google Ads accounts.

Navigating the world of scripts can seem overwhelming, but a good place to start is a post here on Search Engine Journal that provides use cases and resources to get started with scripts.

Luckily, you don’t need a Ph.D. in computer science — there are plenty of resources online with free or templated scripts.

10. Seek Collaboration

Another effective planning tactic is to seek out friendly resources and second opinions.

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Much of the skill and science of PPC management is unique to the individual or agency, so there is no shortage of ideas to share between you.

You can visit the Paid Search Association, a resource for paid ad managers worldwide, to make new connections and find industry events.

Preparing For Paid Media Success

Strategies should be based on clear and measurable business goals. Then, you can evaluate the current status of your campaigns based on those new targets.

Your paid media strategy should also be built with an eye for both past performance and future opportunities. Look backward and reevaluate your existing assumptions and systems while investigating new platforms, topics, audiences, and technologies.

Also, stay current with trends and keep learning. Check out ebooks, social media experts, and industry publications for resources and motivational tips.

More resources: 

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Featured Image: Vanatchanan/Shutterstock

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