4 Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask an Agency

Thanks to AdRoll for featuring Terry’s Q&A on their blog:

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing agencies with the availability of do-it-yourself advertising?

A (Terry): The question implies that online advertising is easy, or at least that it has gotten easier over time. And, to a certain degree, it’s true. For example, AdRoll’s platform is very intuitive and easy-to-use for display and retargeting campaigns. Additionally, Google AdWords’ Conversion Optimizer, which automates bidding based on conversion goals, is another useful and simple tool. Although CO has been around for many years, constant improvements have made it a flexible and dynamic automation tool in AdWords. But for every example of easier-to-use tools or improved automation, there are several examples of added complexity.

Overall, the whole ecosystem has become more complex and tougher to navigate. I experience this on a weekly basis, particularly in AdWords – the industry standard for pay-per-click (PPC). Though AdWords has become more transparent and powerful, more expertise is now required to take advantage of this added complexity and enhanced utility. The same can be said for Facebook Ads.

Facebook is now a powerful direct marketing channel and, in the last 6-12 months, has become a necessity for advertisers. However, to truly succeed at scale with this new inventory takes a ton of knowledge and expertise. All in all, the efficiency gap between what a user can accomplish versus what a specialist can accomplish has gotten wider — not narrower — in the last year or so.

So, the biggest challenge from an agency perspective is the same today as it has always been: having the people with the right knowledge and skills that are able to elevate your clients’ PPC initiatives far beyond what the client could accomplish themselves.

Q: When a new advertiser comes to your agency, what advice do you give about the first channel to test?

A: First, we ask questions. Does the advertiser offer something that users already know they want or need?  Do users search for the advertiser’s product or service? If the answer is yes, then I think Search, and Google AdWords in particular, is the right first channel to test. AdWords is super-transparent and super-controllable. For transparency, we can view data at the query and placement level. We can segment by network, geographic region and device type. In terms of control, we can modify bids across multiple dimensions, and we can easily set daily budget limits to reduce our risk. Lastly, we can test, measure results, and implement strategic changes in real time.

If the advertiser doesn’t provide something folks are searching for, then Search may not work at all. In that case, we want to evangelize, which is all about display. We can use the Google Display Network to target contextually, but that only goes so far. Google does have demographic target functionality, but their actual data on user demographics is very limited.

If we know the audience we want to target however, we’ve got Facebook on the consumer side, and LinkedIn on the B2B side — both are very powerful channels. Facebook Ads have come a really long way. Though the self-service interface isn’t as intuitive and the reporting not as granular as they could be, the richness of potential targeting and advertising value is too good to miss. In fact, we have more than 1 client where we are managing five times as much spend on Facebook Ads than AdWords! Facebook also has what they call “Preferred Marketing Developers” that build 3rd party UI’s to make advertising at scale easier on Facebook. LinkedIn’s self-service ad platform has great targeting functionality. Advertisers can target by user role, function or title, seniority, group memberships, industry, and even by specific employer. LinkedIn doesn’t provide any conversion tracking, but otherwise the functionality is good.

Q: What are your thoughts on retargeting?

A: I love softball questions! Retargeting is powerful. It adds a lot of value on the branding side, and on the direct marketing side, it’s within reach of virtually all advertisers. As an agency, we view retargeting as a necessity. AdRoll brings a lot to the table here, with ease-of-use, very good functionality, great service and reach, including Facebook Exchange inventory. I don’t know of a reason why any advertiser would not benefit from retargeting.

Q: What’s your go-to marketing hack?

A: With the enforced move to Enhanced Campaigns in Google AdWords, campaigns must be set to run on all devices, including mobile phones. However, AdWords does allow advertisers to ‘opt out’ of mobile by setting the mobile-specific bid to -100%. But what if the advertiser *does* want to run on mobile, but also wants to have control of mobile bids? Or, what if the advertiser wants to easily view mobile performance, without having to segment campaigns, ad groups and keywords by device?

Yep, there’s a hack for this! Advertisers can set the mobile bid adjustment to 100%+ and this will effectively eliminate all desktop and tablet traffic. Just remember the bid multiplier setting when bidding, and set your keyword and ad group level bids to half their intended value.