Will Amazon Take Market Share from Google and Facebook?

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Last week, we posted about the growing importance of Google and Facebook in the online advertising space. Today, let us consider another giant of the new economy that – though many might not think of them in this way – has a chance to eat into the market share dominance of the other two.

Amazon as Advertising Platform

When we think of Amazon, we probably don’t think of them in terms of digital advertising. We think of them as an ecommerce store where one can buy everything from books to clothes to furniture. We think of them as a technology company – responsible for a line of smart devices (Echos, Fires, TV). Businesses might even think of them as a provider of cheap cloud services.

But the truth is, Amazon has the potential to be an important player in online advertising. The reason why is because they have the three big things that any great platform needs to have:

  1. A large, engaged community
  2. Loads of consumer behavior data
  3. A place to display ads

Recently, Amazon has been courting advertisers for several new advertising programs run by the Amazon Media Group, the department responsible for turning Amazon into an advertising powerhouse.

Brands can display product ads in category searches, on product pages, across Amazon’s network of third-party sites, on Amazon’s shopping app, and more. Shoppers are targeted based on their prior purchases and browsing habits – all of which Amazon has been collecting and storing for years to offer better product recommendations and offers.

With so many people now turning to Amazon for their shopping, it is no wonder they are looking to capitalize not just through sales of their own goods. Advertising has the potential to turn into a serious new revenue source for the company that long ago launched as an online bookstore.

While it may be difficult to imagine any company taking market share away from Google and Facebook when it comes to online advertising, Amazon has the right combination of factors going for it to do just that. Could the big two become the big three?

The Growing Importance of Google and Facebook

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If you are in the marketing world, you probably already know what I am about to say. You probably think that I’m a few years late with this post…

But here’s why it’s still timely – the problem (if you consider it a problem) is getting worse.

I’m talking of course about the growing importance of Google and Facebook. These two behemoths are collectively responsible for over 60% of digital advertising revenue in the United States. No other company accounts for more than 5%.

Google and Facebook are not just Google and Facebook. They are Instagram, Whatsapp, YouTube, Gmail, DoubleClick, and more. And they continue to gobble up smaller companies for their technology and platforms all the time.

It would not come as a surprise to see the market share of these two companies continue to grow in coming years, based on existing trends. Could they own 70% of the online ad marketing? 80%? 90%?

What are the implications of two companies controlling such a large percentage of the advertising market?

We are already seeing the publishing industry suffer for it. Every other company/website that relies on advertising dollars to survive is going to struggle to compete for those dollars when more and more of them are going to these giants.

And for advertisers themselves, it could mean higher prices and increased competition. With fewer options to go to for prospecting, you will find that you are competing not just within your own industry but against all companies aiming to make the most out of those two largest channels.

If you are not feeling the squeeze now, you will soon. So make sure you know how to optimize and get the most out of these critical sources of new customers.

Google AdWords Quality Scores: Explained

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If you are an online advertiser, chances are you are familiar with Google AdWords, the platform businesses use to place ads on Google search results pages, Youtube, Gmail, etc. And if you are using AdWords, you are likely aware of a metric they call the ‘Quality Score’.

What is the Google AdWords Quality Score?

Quality Score is a value that Google applies to each ad in an advertiser’s account. It is used to measure exactly what you would expect, the quality of the ad. But quality in this case means a number of different things.

  • The relevance of the ad to the keywords it is showing up for
  • The relevance of the landing page the ad is directing people to
  • The usability of the landing page and website the ad is directing people to
  • The history of the domain name
  • The past user experience with that ad and landing page
  • And more…

Each ad is assigned a Quality Score from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.

What is the Google AdWords Quality Score use for?

Google uses the Quality Score when deciding which ads to show on which searches. Since Quality Score factors in how likely someone is to click on your ad, and how likely they are to like what they see when they do, it is a good measure to use to control the user experience for their searches.

Obviously quality score is not the only factor they are looking at. They also take into account the relative bids of every advertiser targeting that keyword phrase, the type of bids, and the closeness of the match between the exact search phrase and the targeted keywords.

But in general, ads with higher quality scores are more likely to show more often, higher on the page, and cost less per click than ads with lower quality scores. For that reason, as an advertiser, you want higher Quality Scores.

How do you improve your Google AdWords Quality Score?

Knowing the factors that go into determining Quality Score also help you decide what you need to do to improve low Quality Scores. In addition, within the AdWords platform you can get recommendations from Google on how to improve Quality Score.

Generally speaking, there are three ways you can improve your Quality Score:

  1. Improve the relevance of the ad to the keyword phrase
  2. Improve the quality and relevance of the landing page
  3. Improve the click-through rate of the ad itself

That’s the Google AdWords Quality Score in a nutshell. Let me know if you have any questions.

Does Timing Matter in Advertising?

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The easy answer to the question posed in the headline is yes. But you already knew that.

Advertisers have been focused on timing ever since television and radio ads have been on the air. Advertisers know that they should air their ads during times when it is most likely that their target audience is watching/listening.

Dunkin Donuts might advertise on a popular morning show, trying to catch people before they leave for work. Burger King might advertise on the radio during the evening commute, hoping to catch hungry workers before they get home. Home Depot might advertise on weekends when they know people are free to do household chores.

So if timing matters on TV and radio, shouldn’t it stand to reason that timing also matters in digital advertising.

Though most advertisers don’t treat digital the same as they do more traditional forms of advertising, the truth is that the same factors come into play. An ad delivered to someone when they are ready to buy has more likelihood of turning that person into a paying customer than one delivered at any other time.

So what should we do?

  1. First, we should establish a plan of action. This involves collecting data on when people are most likely to take action. It also means doing a full audit of existing campaigns to learn the full capabilities of the various platforms. How much control do you have over when your ads are shown?
     
  2. Second, we test the plan. Start putting controls in place to spend the bulk of your advertising budget at times and in places they are most likely to work. Maybe that means bidding more on Google during evening hours. Maybe that means pausing Facebook campaigns on weekends. Whatever it is, your goal is to increase ROI on your ad campaigns.
     
  3. Third, we measure and optimize. Did the plan work and by how much? What worked and what didn’t? If you have the data you need to answer these questions, you can continue to improve the performance of the plan into the future.

How to Achieve a Higher Click-through Rate on PPC Ads

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There are a lot of different things that go into making a pay-per-click campaign successful. But one thing is for sure, if people don’t click on your ads, none of the rest matters. So one way to improve the effectiveness of your PPC campaigns is to improve the ads themselves and get more people to click on them.

Here are a few ideas for how to achieve a higher click-through rate on your PPC ads:

  1. Clear call to action – clever copy or intriguing design might get your ads noticed, but if it’s a click you are after, ask for it. Use active language and a clear next step. For image ads, use a button. For text, close with an action. Phrases like “Click Here” or “Get Started” or “Learn More” are most effective.
     
  2. Show the value – don’t use your ads to display a big logo or brag about your brand. Make it about the user. How can you solve their problems? How can you make their lives better? Use the ad copy to tell them directly what value you are going to add to their lives.
     
  3. Cater to your audience – know who your audience is and where they are seeing your ad. You want to cater your ads to where they will show up in order to ensure that they stand out. No one is going to click on your ad if they never see it.
     
  4. Don’t jump the gun – remember the marketing funnel? It’s important to know where users are in the buying cycle and to design an ad that moves them down the funnel chronologically. Don’t ask for the sell if this is the first time they’re seeing your message. Give them a simple next step so that they can familiarize themselves with your offering.
     
  5. Continue to test – different headlines might draw more users. The same goes for different colors and images. In any PPC campaign, testing different ads to see which ones attract the greatest number of clicks is critical to long-term success.