Facebook Unrolls New Targeting Limitations For Special Categories
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Midwest Digital Marketing Day is an intentional event focused on creating a space for shared learnings and communication with our fellow PPC heroes in the heartland. We know that working in digital marketing in the Midwest means we’re spread out, and it’s harder to find meet-ups and swap ideas. This event is designed for connecting with fellow marketers and deepening your PPC skills.
Read more at PPCHero.com
Whenever I speak to Nonprofits (which is something I love to do), I always evangelize the importance of leveraging all of the online technology companies which offer “in-kind” services, especially Google Grants. However, for marketers in today’s world, Google Grants is simply not enough. Identifying with potential donors, volunteers and simple awareness has evolved way beyond the search engines and into our Facebook and Twitter feeds as we all crave instant news, gossip and basic information. In this post, I will discuss not only the steps that have already been taken by Facebook, but also how much more they need to do to fulfill their obligation to assist those organizations in need.
What Facebook needs to Learn from Google
In the early months of 2002, Google relaunched its AdWords platform with a new cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model that made it increasingly more popular and successful with both large and smaller companies. It was this achievement that opened the eyes of both the Google founders and other Google executives, to provide the same opportunity for Nonprofits by giving them free ads on Google.com. In essence, they believed that the Adwords platform would enable non-profits too reach a much larger audience and connect with the people who were searching for information about their specific cause or programs. As you will see below, it has grown by leaps and bounds….
Screenshot from the new Google Grants Blog:
Why Facebook Doesn’t Understand the Opportunity
After seeing the success of Google grants for the past 13 years, you would think Facebook would have a Nonprofit plan already in place to offer Free advertising to Nonprofits. However, it appears that even though they have made attempts to achieve this, it was simply not enough. According to the great article by AdWeek entitled: “Nonprofits Rely Heavily on Social Media to Raise Awareness“, author Kimberlee Morrison mentions that the social media presence is growing significantly for nonprofits. She goes on to say: “The report shows an increase of 29 percent in Facebook fans across all verticals and a 25 percent increase in Twitter followers. What’s more, there are big increases in sharing and likes from sources outside the follower base, so it would be wise for nonprofits to play to that strength on social sites if their aim is attracting a wider user base.”
How Facebook Failed in its First Attempt
Back on November 15, 2015, The Nonprofit Times published an interesting article entitled “$ 2 Million In Facebook Ads Going To Nonprofits” in which Facebook announced in partnership with ActionSprout, that they will distribute $ 2 million in Facebook Ads credits during the holiday season. These Facebook Ads credits (up to $ 1,500 each) will be given out to roughly two-thousand nonprofits. According to author Andy Segedin, he states that “…according Drew Bernard, CEO and co-founder. Organizations will receive credit allotments of $ 600, $ 900, $ 1,200 or $ 1,500 that will be granted from December through February. All applicants will be set up with a free ActionSprout account, Bernard said.“
The article goes on to say: “Bernard hopes that the credit giveaway will help organizations post more and better content on Facebook. The company plans to publish key findings based off of the distribution and use of the credits, but will not move forward with any follow-up efforts until information is gathered. “This is a test to see what we can learn, and with what we learn we’ll all go back to the drawing board and see if there’s something we should do next with this”.
If you are interested in hearing more about the “key findings” of this test, your going to have to wait a little while and also give them your email address. (Not very Philanthropic)
If you can tell by my tone, I am somewhat disappointed by Facebook’s lack of initiative with their efforts to help Nonprofits. In my opinion, they offer a much stronger platform than Google Adwords based on their “intense” targeting as well as their “ripe and persuasive audience”. I am also quite shocked that they could not follow in the footsteps of Google’s 13 years of supporting Nonprofits with their Google Grants Programs. To end insultr to injury, I am also dumbfounded that they not only had to partner with another company but also label their efforts as a test to limited number of Nonprofits for just a couple month. What’s the point of a test, when you know Nonprofits could only benefit from the Free Advertising.
You almost get the sense that this was for the benefit for everyone else, except for the Nonprofit which needs it the most.
In today’s world, there is rarely a PPC Marketing Strategy that does not include or even toy with the notion of creating either a Facebook Ads or Twitter Ads campaign(s) at some point in the strategy life-cycle. Because of this, marketers are developing and testing different audience segments based on interests, household income, marital status, exercise habits, etc… Frankly, it has changed the landscape of online marketing as we know it. In this post, I will talk about the importance of leveraging the targeting abilities within Facebook Ads and how it can benefit your next Google display campaign.
Facebook Ad’s Demographic Targeting Abilities
The targeting abilities in both Google Display and Facebook Ads are similar with regard to Demographics and Topics/Placement. However, truth be told, Facebook is just far more superior to marketers based on their the deeper targeting options and more precise segmentation abilities. So without further ado, lets talk about the similarities and how marketers can harness what they have learned from Facebook and apply to Google.
As you can see from the screenshot below ↓, Google Display provides similar demographic targeting options as compared to Facebook. They allow marketers to choose Genders, Ages and even Parental Status. However, there is one major “elephant in the room” here that skews all of this and that is the dreadful UNKNOWN that we see in all of our data reports. These unknowns are basically people that Google can not identify to be associated with any or all of the targeted options selected. (In Facebook, they have the same problem). The common issue is that not all people want to disclose their information to the platforms, hence making it more of a “ballpark” than a “hole in one”
The Fuzziness with Google Topics Targeting
In Google Display, we have the ability to select specific topics and/or placements where we want to advertise our display banners and text ads. In the screenshot below ↓, I have provided a small example of how we can target the topic(s) of Coffee & Tea. But here’s the catch. In Google, we have an INTENT problem with our ability to choose specific audiences based on these very generalized topics. Meaning, the Coffee and Tea audience found in Google could be anything from Coffee Market Financials to the Health Benefits of Green Tea, but NOT specifically the Coffee and Tea drinkers. It is this little dilemma that forces marketers to add another layer of targeting to try and “hone in” on their preferred audience. That extra layer is called Placement targeting, but there are some extra steps that are needed to get the most out of it.
Extra Effort needed with Google Placement Targeting
Placement Targeting is the closest thing to to Facebook Ads in terms of reaching specific brands or interests that possess a higher level of intent to make a purchase. However, there are some common issues with placement targeting that marketers need to know before they start spending their ad dollars.
- The partnering websites in this network are common Adsense customers. They can vary from being very authoritative and prominent like (CNN, Nytimes, etc..) all the way to suspicious arbitrage sites where all they do is drive up impressions and cost (yes, they still exist)
- Marketers are often missing out on potential site partners because Google’s own search engine is not up to date on listing all of them (meaning, there are great sites that are a part of the Adsense network that are not listed in their directory). This hiccup forces marketers to do their own research to find those sites and they need to be added manually.
The targeting abilities within Facebook Ads have become an absolute “game changer” in the PPC marketing world. It has made such an impact that it’s starting to question Google’s own targeting abilities within the display network. The FBA platform allows advertisers to reach those avid Coffee and Tea drinkers by targeting everything from certain Brands, Flavors, Keurig Cups, Brewing types, etc… However, simply eliminating Display from their strategy is not a wise choice, considering the missed opportunities in reaching that additional audience. If there is one take-away from this article, it is to take what they have learned from Facebook Ads and apply them to their display campaigns.
Since its inception back in 2007, Facebook Ads has changed the way companies approach their online advertising strategies. Early on, many advertisers have tried and failed with Facebook Ads NOT because they were targeting the wrong audience, but because they did not fully understand the dynamics of this (non-search like) Ad platform. The confusion (still today) is due to the enormous traffic volume of users (which many of them disclosed their likes, interests, age, sex, race, political views, education, marital status, household income, etc…) that are skewing the overall performance which forces many advertisers into believing that Facebook is a scam. In this post, I will try to reinforce the notion that Facebook Ads can be successful for advertisers if they approach their strategies on a more micro-targeted level.
Over the years, marketers (like myself) started to change the methodologies of campaign structures just like we did with Google to obtain a good Quality Score. In March of 2014, Facebook rolled out a bunch of new features which seemed to model that of Google Adwords. Some of these updates included:
- Self-serve ad tool, Ad Sets, Ads Manager, Power Editor, 3rd party interfaces
Even before the adoption of Ad Sets, marketers started to realize that in order to “offset” the huge traffic volume and identify what was working and not working, they needed restructure everything at a Micro-level. This strategy of creating individual campaigns for each specific interest is what empowered many to re-think their expectations of what Facebook could do for them.
Below is a quick example of a standard Facebook Ads campaign that focuses on one specific audience. As you can see, we are focusing on Green Tea only (not Tea Drinkers in general). We are also segmenting Women-only as well as different Age Ranges which allows for a more granular understanding of interest and interaction.
#1 Why Micro-Targeting Works
In order to get the most out of your Ad dollars as well as identify winners and losers, micro-targeting is a must for every advertiser. Yes, it’s a lot of work and yes it requires many hours to set it up correctly. However, not investing in this time could cost you even more later down the line because all of the work that was done, can be utilized again in the future with little to no effort to update.
#2 Facebook Ads Creates Storytelling
Wouldn’t it be a great story to tell your CEO or client (Tea Company) that the majority of the FB conversions came from Single Women, 35-40, who live in Baltimore MD, and enjoy Pilates and Yoga. That specific piece of information was made possible by the micro-targeting created in Facebook Ads and quite possibly created a whole new level of both online and offline marketing strategies for years to come.
#3 Geo-Targeting Matters:
As mentioned in the storytelling example above, geography is a huge proponent of micro-targeting because of the different social behaviors that surround us. For example, advertisers that are interested in reaching a younger audience (25-35) that enjoy nightclubs and dancing, would be more likely to choose to target their ads in USA cities such as NYC, Miami, Las Vegas, LA, and Chicago instead of other locations that are not as likely to be interested.
#4 The Power of Indirect Targeting:
Lets assume that avid Tea Drinkers are also more likely to be fans of the Food Network and other TV cooking shows. With Facebook Ads, we have the ability to create individual campaigns targeting not only the Food Network, but also specific shows such as Man vs. Food, Barefoot Contessa and others… The fact that we can create TEST campaigns to see if those “in-direct” yet similar audiences could convert is a game-changer in all aspects of marketing.
#5 Why Timing Matters:
We are constantly being bombarded by news everyday coming from TV, radio and the internet. However, the one thing that is NOT constant is the “shelf-life” of the news story and that is where Facebook Ads (including all Social Media) provides a unique advantage for advertisers. For example, lets say the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) comes out with a study that says people who drink 2-3 cups of Green Tea everyday have a better chance to fight the symptoms of the common cold. This report obviously not only shines a positive light on the Tea Industry but it’s also fresh in everyone’s mind and when they see an ad for Green Tea in their Facebook Feed, they are likely to remember that news story about the health benefits and are more inclined to make an impulse buy.
Truth be told, Facebook Ads may not be a fit for everyone. While certain industries may thrive on having a social-friendly presence, many others will not find their target audience in that social environment. However, I implore that all advertisers/marketers to keep an open-mind when looking at Facebook Ads because there is more strategy potential than you think. In my opinion, FB Ads has become more a testing ground than a standard vehicle for website traffic. Facebook Ads may not be a GEM for everyone, but with an open-mind it could be a diamond in the rough.
Don’t get me wrong, Google Grants is an amazing “in-kind” gift for those qualified 501(c)(3) Nonprofits (especially for those who are utilizing it efficiently). However, times have changed since it’s inception in 2003 and considering the multi-device environment that we live in, Google should consider adapting their Mobile Network as a viable option for Google Grantees. Maybe call it (GrantsMobile)?
In this post, I will discuss the reasons why Google should revamp their Grants program to be more mobile app friendly.
Nonprofits have been “Going Mobile” for a while
The idea that Nonprofits have become “less savvy” as compared to “For-Profit” organizations is simply not true. Even though nonprofits may not have the big advertising budgets as do for-profit companies, they are savvy enough to “fish where the fish are” in trying to increase awareness, volunteerism and most importantly fundraising. In a Capterra Nonprofit Technology Blog article published back in 2014 entitled “The Essential Guide to Going Mobile for Nonprofits“, author Leah Readings talks about the importance for Nonprofits to be more mobile because it creates a wider range of communication between the organization and its members. Readings also states “Allowing for online donation pages or portals, or donation apps, makes it much easier for your members to donate—when all they have to do is click a few buttons in order to make a donation, giving becomes easier, and in turn will encourage more people to give.“
Need more convincing? In a 2013 article from InternetRetailer.com entitled “Mobile donations triple in 2012” (which was also mentioned in the Capterra article) the author goes on to quote from a fundraising technology and services provider Frontstream (formerly Artez Interactive) which states “nonprofits that offer mobile web sites, apps or both for taking donations generate up to 123% more individual donations per campaign than organizations that don’t.“
Why Google Mobile is Ripe for Nonprofits:
If you have ever done any mobile advertising within Google Adwords (formerly AdMob), you know that the system is pretty robust and is considered one of the best platforms to promote Apps on both Google Play and the iTunes store. Moreover, advertisers can easily track engagements and downloads back to their specific audience that they are targeting. The costs are also much more affordable than traditional $ 1-2 CPC offered to Google Grants accounts which can only run on Google.com.
Here are the Mobile App Promotion Campaigns by Google Adwords:
Universal App Campaigns:
AdWords create ads for your Android app in a variety of auto-generated formats to show across the Search, Display and YouTube Networks.
- Ads are generated for you based on creative text you enter, as well as your app details in the Play Store (e.g. your icon and images). These ads can appear on all available networks
- Add an optional YouTube video link for your ads to show on YouTube as well.
Mobile app installs
Increase app downloads with ads sending people directly to app stores to download your app.
- Available for Search Network, Display Network, and YouTube
- Ad formats include standard, image and video app install ads
Mobile app engagement
Re-engage your existing users with ads that deep link to specific screens within your mobile app. Mobile app engagement campaigns are a great choice if you’re focused on finding folks interested in your app content, getting people who have installed your app to try your app again, or to open your app and take a specific action. These types of ads allow flexibility for counting conversions, bidding and targeting.
- Available for Search Network and Display Network campaigns
- Ad formats include standard and image app engagement ads
A lot has changed since 2003 with the birth of Google Grants and Google needs to continue to be socially responsible and catch up to their own standards of the online world that they helped create. Nonprofits are now, more than ever, relying on the internet to drive awareness, volunteerism and fundraising. For Nonprofits, as well as everyone else for that matter, are getting their information from Facebook, Twitter, TV, Radio and (still Google) using laptops, tablets and mobile devices and it’s time for Google Grants to adapt to this new world.
It’s becoming quite apparent that the Startup world is experiencing a slowdown and there appears to be no quick-end in site, unless you scrap everything your doing and start over. According to many articles from very reputable news sites around the web, the common issue at hand is the lack of funding coming from Venture Capital Firms. In addition, due to this shift in funding, Startups are now forced to change their thinking on how to grow their business on a shoe-string budget. In this post, I will discuss the importance of hiring a digital marketing firm that can not only get their business off the ground, but also do it without relying on the stress of getting additional funding to keep the doors open for another month.
Why is Venture Capital Slowing Down?
Across the major news sites and tech blogs, there has been a slew of articles discussing the apparent slowdown of Venture Capital funding across the globe (not just in the USA). According to the Forbes article entitled Tech CEO Shares Difficulties of Raising Venture Capital in a Down Market, the authors Samantha Walravens & Heather Cabot of GeekGirlRising stated “According to a 2016 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, funding in Silicon Valley startups fell 19.5% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier, and is down 10% for seed stage companies in the first quarter 2016, amidst fears over the global economy and the run-up in startups’ valuations.”
To reinforce this trend, another article from Bloomberg.com, entitled “Is There a Slowdown in Venture Capital?” Phil Libin goes on to say that the reason for the pause and/or decline in Venture Capital funding is due to the current lack of interest of those “Me Too Businesses” that once thrived with the evolution of smartphones and social media. However, he does go on to say that right now is a great time for startups that can offer something new and original. See the video below for the interview (courtesy of Blooomberg.com)
Is Online Finally Catching up to Traditional Media?
In another yet predictable twist, it appears Social Media has finally started to crack that old TV Advertising Egg and is creeping its way deeper into the annual $ 70+ Billion Dollar TV Ad Budget. According to the AdAge.com article “TV Budgets Shifting to Social? Yes, It’s Time to Worry” author
Debra Aho Williamson states “… eMarketer believes the conversation about social and TV will change. For buyers who want the best way to reach their audience, the growing video businesses of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat now present a viable alternative to TV.”
Williamson also goes on to say that even though this shift sounds monumental, the actual amount of Ad dollars from TV to social is very small. On the other hand, she believes that this trend can very easily become a real “game changer” in the near future. So, with the potential of more advertising dollars making their way to the online marketing world, Startups are going to have to rely more on Digital Agencies to promote their product/service.
Getting Big Agency Results on a Shoe-String Budget
Since VCs and Investors are only interested in funding companies that offer something new, exciting and most importantly different, what does that mean for those “me too businesses”? Due to this natural shift in the business ecosystem, Startups need to find a more affordable way to launch their “baby” to the world without going bankrupt in the process. To help with this scenario, startups need to find a reliable Digital Agency that can jump right in and “move the needle”. This agency would need to provide guidance and help build the foundation needed to compete in this highly competitive online space. Here’s a recent article entitled “What Every Startup Needs to Know Before Choosing a Digital Agency” which can help highlight other services that Startups can benefit from.
Here is a brief outline of the services that startups need to remain competitive
Many Startups, especially Early-Stage Startups, operate on very small Ad budgets and are often second guessing themselves on where they can get the “best bang for their buck” with regard to online advertising. Based on the trends mentioned in this article about the decline in VC funding Social media getting more of the overall Ad budgets, it’s pretty clear that Startups need to focus on finding an affordable digital agency that treats them like a partner and not another typical client.
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