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Responsive Display Ads: What Do You Need to Know?

If you use Google Ad’s to promote your business – or your marketing agency does – then you will recently have received an email from Google telling you that they are replacing legacy display ads with responsive display ads. But what are they and what impact will this change have on your business?

History of responsive display ads?

Responsive display ads aren’t new, they were actually introduced back in 2016 as an alternative to the existing text ads. They became so popular that in the summer of 2018 they actually became the default ad type for people using the Google Display Network (GDN).

What are responsive display ads?

Responsive display ads are just Google’s answer to customer complaints that text ads don’t show enough and banner ads don’t say enough. Responsive ad’s were designed to incorporate both textual and visual creative assets.

When it comes to responsive ad copy, it is important to remember:

  • A short headline of around 25 characters
  • A long headline of around 90 characters
  • A description of around 90 characters
  • Your business name – up to 25 characters

Saying this though, Google will never show both your long and short headline – it will choose between them depending on the location your ad ends up in – and it may not show your description either.

Why is location so important for responsive ads?

Location of your ad is key actually, as it plays a pivotal role in the ad type. Google recently revealed it is using machine learning to test thousands of different combinations of your textual and visual assets in order to:

  • Find the message that resonates the most with your customers
  • Fill as much inventory as they can on the GDN

The ‘inventory’ they are trying to fill includes Banner, Native and Text ad spaces which means that Google has to choose different text combinations, truncate the text and scale the images in real time in order to deliver customised ads across the whole network.

As responsive display ads are eligible for a higher percentage of their GDN inventory, many advertisers in the past have run them in conjunction with more traditional display ads which often result in them seeing higher delivery numbers, higher spend and higher click through rates through their responsive ads.

What are legacy display ads?

In this article we have mentioned traditional display ads a couple of times, but what are they? Are they the same as legacy display ads?

Not really. Traditional banner ads that most advertisers use are not going anywhere. This is good news for many marketers who love the fact that they come in many different shapes and sizes such as banner, inline rectangle, half-page, leader board, and square to name just a few.

When we talk about legacy display ads being replaced, we are talking about two specific types of ads:

  • Legacy dynamic responsive template (ID: 491)
  • Smart display ads

So, if you know that you are using either of these two types of ads in your ad campaign, you need to be prepared for the fact that Google is going to remove them.

Exactly what is changing then?

Google themselves says:

Starting November 2019, responsive display ads will replace legacy display ads in Google ads…With this change, any campaigns running legacy display ads may stop serving unless there is an alternate display ad available in the community.”

Clear enough then?

If you are running any ad campaigns that are relying solely on legacy dynamic responsive templates or smart display ads, then these campaigns are either going to seriously underperform in November, or stop altogether.

This will have an impact on your spend of course. However, Google are mindful of this and have taken some steps to help advertisers to easily make the switch from these old ad formats to the new ones.

In fact, Google has gone so far as to create brand new responsive display ads for you, and so if you have either of these two old ad types running in your account you should see new ones appearing shortly. However, the new ads won’t start running until you turn them on.

What do you need to do? This is a great opportunity for you to take a closer look at your ads and work out what is and what isn’t working as well as ensuring your textual and visual assets are up to date.  You may also want to think about adding extra images, and tweeking your headlines, descriptions and logos.  This will help Google test more ad combinations across the GDN and give them (and you) a better idea of what is working and what isn’t. 

Can immersive technology be monetized?

There has been a lot of talk around immersive technology in recent months, especially when it comes to Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality. Although the terms have been bandied about for a few years now, we haven’t seen it become mainstream as quickly as some may have imagined. But this could all be about to change.

The recent ‘2019 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey Report’ by  Perkins Coie LLP found that there is a belief amongst many immersive technology professionals that it will become mainstream and as widely adopted as mobile phones are by 2025. This could therefore be a great opportunity for businesses to enter the immersive technology market – but how easy will it be to monetize it?

Let’s take a closer look at some of the other findings in the report above, to see whether we can answer that question.

How is the future of immersive technology currently viewed?

In order to get a clear understanding of how current immersive technology is monetized, we need to understand two things:

  • What is the most developed content for immersive technology at the moment?
  • What are the barriers to market for immersive technology?

Let’s take a look at content. At the moment a lot of immersive technology content is centred around gaming driven by supply and demand. Findings within the ‘Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey Report’ show that 48% of those surveyed stated that the content they were currently creating for immersive technology was ‘video game’ related. Investment in ‘gaming’ was also where the majority of respondents (54%) felt would be the focus for the next 12 months as well.

Despite many respondents indicating that they were optimistic about immersive technology, they also identified certain barriers to market as well, with the most important one being those to do with customer experience. Cumbersome hardware and technical glitches are quite common in immersive technology at the moment.

The other main barrier to market identified was the lack of quality content and the amount of content available. This leads to another area of concern which is a reluctance of both businesses and consumers to embrace immersive technology. This shows that there is a commonly held belief that not enough people care about immersive technology enough to actually invest in it.

On the flip side though, more than half of those surveyed felt that the biggest investment in immersive technology in the future would be in gaming which raises another concern. If investors are worried about audience adoption of such technology doesn’t this show that the developed uses for such technology should be aiming to be more diversified to attract more interest?

Can immersive technology be monetized?

So, we come back to the original question, how can immersive technology be monetized?

Usually when content is monetised it is through either ads or subscriptions. Can immersive technology be monetized in the same way? The Perkins Coie LLP survey shows that this seems to be the current model of monetization with things such as in-app ads, product placement and subscription sales being cited.

So, where does the monetization of technology go from here?

69% of the respondents in the aforementioned survey stated that they currently monetized or planned to monetize via some form of advertising. This is interesting to note because many within the marketing industry still believe that VR ads are still a long way off. However, there is the possibility that AR ads might be worth investing in. The adaptability of AR seems to have been quicker than either MR or VR possibly due to the fact that it can be experienced on a smartphone, which most people already have, rather than having to pay out for an expensive and often cumbersome VR headset.

This ties in with the fact that 70% of the survey respondents stated they expected the AR market to surpass the VR one, with 49% expecting this to happen in the next 3 to 5 years.

Now, the question we asked at the start of this article was, can immersive technology be monetized? The answer seems to be yes although it won’t be easy. There needs to be a lot of experimentation and trial and error which could be difficult and expensive, but the opportunities are massive and there is a lot of room to grow.

How to use Video to solve your Marketing Challenges

Video marketing is the ideal platform to use if you want to communicate with your customers, but how exactly can you use it to solve your marketing challenges?

Build Trust and Develop a Relationship

Building a loyal customer base for your business is all about building trust through personal interaction – which is something that can be difficult to achieve in todays’ digital world – but it is essential for driving sales. The even trickier part of this is generating enough interest from the potential customer to gain an initial interaction with them, so that you can then build on this with to develop an interpersonal relationship with them.

This is where video comes in. You can use video to mimic personal interaction with a customer which you can then back up with other digital tools such as emails, banner adverts and customer service centre’s. Obviously, nothing replaces actual face to face interaction, but using Video as part of your CRM approach can help build trust and relationships at scale.

Video is such a rich medium because it gives you the ability to make the viewer feel like the person in the video is actually talking directly to them. This allows you to build a relationship with both existing and new customers very quickly. This is why it has been quickly adopted as a tool by brand marketers, customer care teams, growth hackers and sales teams – and why you should be using it to.

Pro Tip: Make sure you feature either yourself or an employee in every video you send out. However, if you don’t have anyone in your organisation who is a natural in front of the camera, then use a photo of yourself or an employee instead, and use captions instead of dialogue.

Sell an Experience

Writing blogs and using images on your website to don’t allow you to convey emotion and energy in the same way as a video does – mainly because video allows you to sell the feeling of the experience you are trying to sell rather than just the features of it.

Video allows you to immerse your customers in the experience of your product or service by placing them directly in the story and providing them with a sense of dimension, motion and place – and this can trigger a powerful emotional response.

Pro Tip: One irony of video is that although it can be excellent at helping you to sell experiences – raw video footage tends to not contain the level of emotion that is needed to really wow customers.  It needs some element of production before it becomes the powerful medium we have seen it be.

  • Make a shot list. Use both wide-angle shots and close ups to show perspectives of experience and reveal cool details that you may otherwise lose.
  • Choose the right soundtrack to convey the energy of the experience you are trying to sell.

Market to Millennials

Research shows that 74% of internet traffic is driven by video, a statistic that is driven by Millennials, who have grown up in a mobile and social world. This coming of age has led them to have a dramatically different perspective on advertising, entertainment and relationships than other audience niches.

The reason why video works so well for this generation is that it adheres to the new rules of how customers engage with businesses and the goods they sell through the content they create. Millennials want brands to speak to them where they live online (social media) and have an authentic voice.

Video dominates social media because it is easy to view on mobile devices and it is highly visual – which makes it ideal for Millennials. So, in order for your video to really speak to all of your customers you need to ensure it is optimised for every social platform you want to use it on. For example, a video that is optimised for YouTube won’t work on Instagram.  However, you can get around this by repurposing the key video creative and just optimising the message and format by platform.

Pro Tip: Video marketing for millennials should be less feature film like and more like a one-to-one conversation with your customer. Try putting your call to action at the end of the video or even just in the copy underneath the video post itself. Create value for the viewer by ensuring the narrative is more story and less hard sell.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

As we mentioned above, over 74% of internet traffic this year has been driven by video, and so you need to start using it if you want to get a slice of this action. Many brands are put off using video marketing as they think it is going to be as difficult to achieve as a television ad. However, it is important to remember that perfection is the enemy of good video marketing – the keys to success are actually frequency of posting and speed to market. Just get started, with a low budget and you will be amazed at the highly authentic videos you can produce.

If the thought of video marketing gives you the chills, then get in touch with us. Our videos will not only help to catch your customers attention but also keep it as well. Let’s work together.

The Voice Search Revolution

So, we guess that title grabbed your attention! The voice search revolution no less. But is this true? Is it a revolution? Well, let’s take a look at some statistics to start with:

  • Google recently released some research which showed that 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis
  • Google also revealed that 20% of mobile queries these days are voice searches
  • Kleiner Perkins also released some research relating to voice search which claimed that according to Google Trends, voice search has grown 35 times since 2008

Now, if you are skeptical you might say that it is not surprising that Google’s statistics show that voice search is already here. What may surprise you is that other statistics back this claim up:

  • Branded3 has completed some research that shows that 25% of all Windows desktop searches are done via voice search
  • 6 out of 10 voice-activated device owners say they can’t imagine going back to life without a smart speaker, according to Geomarketing

Why is voice search so popular?

I guess what these stat’s show us is that voice search is already here, and already being used – but why is it so popular?

Well, for one it is fast. Bing released some research recently that showed that most people can type 38 to 40 words a minute, but speak 110 to 150 words a minute. The faster you can search, the faster you get your answer. Secondly, voice search is made for mobile searching – again as it is so much quicker to speak into your phone than spend time typing on a small screen. Finally, voice search is much more convenient for people who are time poor – and they like the fact that the answer is read back to them.

Voice Search and SEO

But what does all this mean for you, the business owner? Well what it means is when you are considering SEO now, you need to make sure you site is not only optimized for search engines online but also for voice search as well.

Searching with your voice is vastly different than searching by typing something into a search engine. It not only changes how and when people search, but also what they are searching for. Let’s take a closer look at these differences:

  • How people search – When people use their voice to search rather than typing into a search engine, their searches are more likely to be conversational and therefore longer. For example, if you wanted to look up how to make a latte at home you might type ‘make a latte’ into Google whereas to your smart speaker you will probably say ‘Hey Google, how do I make a latte at home?’ Naturally, this difference is going to have an impact on both keyword research and on-page SEO
  • Where people search – As we have identified above, voice search is much more convenient for people and so it is being used more often and in more places every day. Research by Stone Temple shows that in fact people are much more likely to use voice search in public places, such as on public transport, in a restaurant with friends, or even in a public restroom! Let’s say you are in Manchester for a meeting, you go to the bathroom and spill water on your silk shirt. A few years ago, you would have had to go to the nearest place with wi-fi and type ‘clothing store for men Manchester’ into Google. Nowadays however, you can whip out your phone and say ‘where is there a men’s clothing store open near me?’  – very different searches as you can see.
  • How people get search results – Interestingly, Google is now starting to position itself as an ‘answer engine’ rather than a ‘search engine’ by introducing new features such as featured snippets and the knowledge graph. This means that when you type your search into Google, many people are now not clicking through to websites to get the answer, as Google is providing them the answer on the SERPs. Let’s say you wanted the answer to the question ‘how tall is the biggest tree in the world?’ if you typed it into Google a few years ago you would have been presented with 10 different results. But with voice search the answer is read back to you within seconds

All of this means that it is getting harder and harder for business owners to get their content in front of people unless their content gives searchers direct answers to their questions.

Now that we have convinced you of the need to optimize your site and content for voice search, how do you go about doing that? Well, that is where we come in. Next month’s blog will show you some of the ways in which we have changed our keyword research and on page optimization work to reflect this new revolution of voice search – but in the meantime if you want to hear more about how we can help your business take advantage of the voice search revolution, please get in touch with our expert team today. 

Is Social Media Really Worth Investing In For Businesses?

Our sister company SEO MCR published a post back in 2017 asking ‘is social media really worth investing in for businesses‘ and we thought it would be interesting to look back and see whether our opinion has changed since the original piece.

It’s no secret that social media has grown massively over the years and is at present pretty much everywhere we go. Not only is it now a crucial part of any business who wants to  expand its customer base from local, to national to international (although we do still have clients coming to us having never had any form of social media or web presence prior to their meeting with us), we have now entered an era where people have even created, moulded and sustained themselves jobs for life (or at least the foreseeable future) from the content they post on their social media channels and how they fashion themselves.

These people go by the name (and job title) of influencers. These people are equally, if not more, powerful than the stand-alone social media channels in generating brand awareness for your business, due to their trusting and loyal following-base. By utilising like-minded influencers, you can almost personify your brand or create a present and vocal example of your target audience.

An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect the purchase decisions of other people, because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with the audience. Influencers in social media are people who have built up a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular topic. They make regular posts about their preferred topics, such as outfit posts, and they generate large followings of enthusiastic and engaged people who pay close attention to their posts and their views.

Social media is a powerful tool in pushing out the perception you want of yourself and your business. Although there will always be areas in which your brand could be exposed to negativity, as people are more likely to post about negative experiences than positive, there are ways to manage this by having a great team who is on the ball in tracking the ‘noise’ around your brand, where it be negative or positive. Moreover, there are many scheduling programmes, software’s and social listening tools out there that can help you do this.

So, in conclusion, our answer remains the same. Yes, social media  really is worth investing in for your business and the most successful businesses are the ones who keep up with the latest trends and functionality of these platforms, whilst always protecting their customers’ data

How Do Millennials Search – And Why Do We Care?

Millennials have been described as the generation who want it all, and want it all now as they are ambitious and confident with high expectations. They are, after all, the first generation of digital natives with access to all of the information they could ever desire at the touch of a button – or swipe of a screen. They are now entering the job market for the first time, having an impact on the economy, and influencing the way brands interact with and market to their customers. Their impact on the global economy is huge, and so it is vital that we take some time to understand them.

Let’s take a closer look at some statistics relating to Millennials, from CBRE Residential:

  • They make up 25% of the UK work population
  • They feel entitled to rapid work progression and frequent rises in salary
  • They expect to be always digitally connected, blurring work/life distinctions
  • They are digitally native and use their smartphone for selection, purchase and fulfillment
  • They expect the ecommerce revolution to continue and think that all retail activity in the future will take place online

As you can see business who aren’t targeting their products and services at Millennials are probably doing themselves a disservice – they are an important part of the population and a sector that is continually growing. It is vital, therefore, that we have a better idea of how they are interacting with brands online – whether this be on search or social – as this will have an impact on both user engagement and marketing campaigns. Knowing this will help brands to interact with this sector of society better.

How do we define Millennials?

Before we even start thinking about how Millennials interact online, we need to be sure about what the definition of Millennials is. They are generally defined as people who were born between 1980 and 2000 – however, there will be some technological adaption differences between someone born in 1981 and someone born in 1999 though. Millennials can now all be described as adults, as even someone born in 2000 will be 18 now.

Anyone born since 2000 then is known as being part of Generation Z. There are a lot of similarities between these two sectors of society but the way they use social media is subtly different. Millennials will tend to use social media for social reasons – to update their statuses and check in with their friends. Generation Z on the other hand, tend to use social media to find content and to entertain themselves.

Global Web Index recently published some research on how Generation Z and Millennials use social media, and they discovered the following:

  • To fill up their spare time (48%)
  • To find funny or entertaining content (45%)
  • To stay in touch with what my friends are doing (41%)
  • To stay up-to-date with news and current events (38%)
  • To share photos or videos with others (35%)
  • Because a lot of my friends are on there (34%)
  • To meet new people (34%)
  • General networking with other people (34%)
  • To share my opinion (31%)
  • To research / find products to buy (29%)

How do Millennials use social media and search?

One other interesting thing about Millennials is the way they gather information when they are looking for recommendations about things. Despite many people believing they would turn to social media first, only 5% of them did with the rest heading to the search engines like most other people. They tend to view social media as a place to gather the opinions of many people at once, but when they really wanted a more concrete answer they turn to Google.

It is also interesting to take a look at social media usage vs search amongst Millennials with 97% reporting that they searched online at least once a day compared with just 69% saying they logged into their social media accounts.

Looking deeper at the statistics on search in the Millennial generation, 62% reported that they searched online 5 times or more per day, and 68% reported that they did their searching on their phones.

What all this means is that search is still important in a marketing strategy that is aimed at Millennials as despite the fact they are more prolific on social media than other sectors of society, they still turn to search engines when they need find out information.  

Conclusion

Social media is important as a way of sharing content, however search is important from a practical point of view. Understanding how Millennials interact online is vital if you want to come up with marketing strategies which engage them and help you to drive your business growth.

Machine Learning is Changing SEO – How You Should Adapt?

The words ‘machine learning’ have started appearing in conversations more and more over the past few years – especially in the world of SEO. Machine learning is not a new concept, it has actually been around since the 1950s, it is changing and developing so rapidly at the moment that we must learn how to adapt quickly if we wish to take advantage of this new technology.

What is machine learning?

In Toby Segaran’s book ‘Programming Collective Intelligence’ book he defines machine learning as a subfield of artificial intelligence concerned with the algorithms that allow computers to learn. He further goes on to define artificial intelligence as the science of making computers perform task that require humans to use intelligence to do.

How is machine learning affecting SEO?

Google, the largest search engine, has shifted its concentration to focus on understanding users intent when they search for things – something we have seen in the past few algorithm updates. They want to know how to look better at things and provide searchers with the answers that satisfy their intent.

This means that if the websites that will rank highly on SERPs in the future will be websites packed full of content which adds value to users, and gives them a positive experience when they are on your website.

 How does this affect us as SEO’s?

Content has always been important for SEO, and it is only going to get more so in the future. With the introduction of ‘RankBrain’ Google is sending a clear message that their focus is now on content more than it has ever been. They are telling us that they want to provide searchers with relevant and useful content across every channel they choose to search on – be that mobile, tablet or laptop.

Content should therefore be optimised around intent, ensuring it provides a high-quality experience for searchers wherever they are on the customer journey. Writing content can be difficult with many people struggling with questions such as:

  • What to write about
  • What topics are trending?

This is where having a strong content strategy and keeping on top of content development is key to finding the topics that people are talking about, and developing content that helps people with a particular problem they have at the moment.

Will technical SEO still be relevant?

Technical SEO is still important but more and more technology is being developed that means it will need less and less interaction. It is highly likely that Google Search Console (GSC) will soon be run completely on machine learning technology with little to no human interaction at all. This can be seen in the crawl error messages that GSC sends out at the moment, and we don’t think it will be long before Google fixes the issues for you as the machines involved get smarter and smarter. This almost removes the need for any human interaction at all, so what is left for us as human SEOs to do?

Structured data can help

We can’t stress how important structured data is enough – it is vital for allowing the search engines to better understand the content you are sharing, and allowing them to return a more informative result to searchers.

Using structured data to give the search engines what they want in a way they can understand it will not only increase your websites visibility and slot on the SERPs, but should also have a positive impact on click through rates as well. This can also help rankings as well, as having high click through rates is a signal to Google that your content is popular and that readers are engaged with it.

Are On-Page Optimisation and Links still important?

Many SEOs believe that on-page optimisation doesn’t have the same impact on rankings as it used to. If you take a closer look at some of the pages that are ranking highly, they don’t have the keyword in their main body or any of the other important elements. Yet they are still ranking highly for competitive keywords without these once vital SEO elements.

 Links, on the other hand, are still important but we need to focus on the quality of these links rather than just going for quantity. If we want to rank highly on SERPs than not only do we need to be posting quality content but we also need quality links to this content from other highly ranked sites.

User Experience should be the Priority

As well as content, Google is also focusing on page speed – meaning it wants user experience on your site to be as painless as possible. Pages should load in two seconds or less, otherwise there will be a lack of user engagement which will have a negative effect on your rankings.

What Content Formats are Important

The answer box is a fairly new appearance on the SERPs and they seem to be something that is here to stay. Answer box optimisation is therefore important if you want to dominate the SERPs. Voice search results are also pulled from these answer boxes and so if you can get your site to appear in these boxes it is likely that your company will appear as answers to voice searches as well. This is important with the vast growth in voice search that we have seen in recent months. 

Conclusion

Machine learning is already having an impact on SEO and will continue to do so in the future. It is important for companies and SEOs to focus on helping to connect searchers with the right content at the right time, to deliver them the best content experience on the web.

What Does the Future of Data-Driven Development Hold for SEO?

There are lots of hot topics in the SEO industry at the moment, from voice search to machine-based learning – and these are all topics that we will cover in the coming months. However, we’d like to start by looking more closely at data driven development, and the impact it has had on SEO so far, and what the future may hold.

Data is everywhere these days, and some people may say we are almost at a point of complete information overload. As search marketers we can look on this huge amount of information as either a blessing or a curse – after all, how much data is too much? We could spend days and days sifting through all of the data available to us – but will add any benefit to our clients at the end of the day?

We take SEO seriously, it is our job after all, and so it is important for us to track our efforts to see what is working and what isn’t, but you have to draw a line somewhere. You can’t track everything just for the sake of it, as you will end up with more data than you know what to do with. Instead we should all focus on tracking the things that are important to our clients.

Is Information Knowledge?

There is a lot of confusion within the SEO world about the definitions of information and knowledge it seems, with many people believing they are one and the same – but they are not. Just because we are uncovering more and more information through what we are tracking, this does not mean that we are also uncovering more knowledge at the same time. We are encouraged every day to spend money on tools for analytics or tools for data discovery, but are these tools worth it – and will they increase our knowledge in the end? The answer is probably no for the majority of them.

At Dale Street Digital we break it down like this:

  • Knowledge is what we achieve when we have broken down the available data to give us a clear and thorough understanding as to what is happening on our client projects
  • Information, on the other hand, is just the data that we get from analysing these projects – the raw facts if you will.

What Information can data give us?

  • Target Demographic. The more information you can get on your target audience the better as this will allow you to tailor your products and services to them. You should look at things like device usage and peal traffic times.
  • Keyword Research. Data can also help with keyword and competitor research as well  

What impact has data development had on SEO?

As a team of search professionals, our main aim is to increase the visibility of our clients brand or website through the use of organic and paid search, and to therefore increase the number of customers that they have the opportunity to engage with. The actual nitty gritty of how we do this can be very complicated, after all Google itself takes over 200 things into account with its SERP algorithms. Add to this a ton of complex information in the form of data, and we could easily end up getting tangled up in ourselves and failing on our number one aim.

That is not to say that we are advocating that we ignore data. It is extremely useful to us, as long as we stay focused on the important pieces of information that we need to know and keep our client projects goal in mind. Every client campaign is as different as the businesses they involve, and so each campaign will have different metrics we need to track and different information created that we need to analyse. By focusing clearly on each projects goal, we will be able to manage the amount of data that we consume and keep on track with the work that we need to do to make the clients project a success.

Data development in this digital age is amazing, and has given us access to the sort of analytics that can really help us to streamline our campaigns and keep them right on track, but we need to be careful not to be overwhelmed by it all. We can do this by sticking to the old adage: ‘quality not quantity’ and by using data on a ‘need to know’ basis and not a ‘nice to know’ basis. At the end of the day, this is what is going to help us to drive results.