Your Guide to the New ChatGPT

In November 2022 the artificial intelligence startup OpenAI launched ChatGPT, a viral online large language machine that has the tech world and marketers giddy with excitement…and full of questions. ChatGPT was free to use, but now there is a fee, a necessity to triage capacity issues brought on by the free access that drove huge user numbers. 

It seems everyone has an opinion about ChatGPT. Engineers and  entrepreneurs tout it as a welcomed new frontier. It’s predicted to fuel new products, services and solutions, but not everyone is on the bandwagon. Social scientists and journalists are worried because they see the potential this technology may have to wreak havoc. Don’t worry. According to experts a full AI takeover isn’t imminent. ChatGPT doesn’t speak with sentience and doesn’t “think” like a human. There is an intrinsic difference between how humans produce language versus large language models. 

What puts this chatbot in the spotlight is how close it gets to replicating human-like language abilities thanks to generative AI, which uses statistics, reinforcement learning, and supervised learning to index words, phrases, and sentences. It’s a revolutionary technology that has been trained to learn what humans mean when they ask a question. It can also produce essays, solve coding problems, provide customer service, translate, and more. This is possible because it’s powered by large amounts of data and billions of words scraped from the web and other sources along with computing techniques to mimic writing styles, avoid certain types of conversations, and learn from questions. ChatGPT can access a vast vocabulary and database of information and understand words in context, helping it mimic human speech patterns to dispatch its encyclopedic knowledge. 

OpenAI is not alone in its use of large language model tools. Other well-known tech companies like Google and Meta use the large language model tools to develop programs that respond to human prompts and devise sophisticated responses. 

The technology is spreading to virtually every field – health care, marketing, law, you name it. But, it’s not a magic bullet. Open AI has acknowledged as much, sharing on its website that “ChatGPT sometimes writes plausible-sounding but incorrect or nonsensical answers.”  As with any technology, there are deficiencies and limitations. Here are a few in the spotlight now:

Plagiarism and Cheating

Plagiarism and student cheating are a valid concern. Thankfully, there is software that can be used to detect OpenAI text. However, due to the learning nature of the AI chatbot, it will keep learning and getting smarter, which may make it harder to identify plagiarism using the prescribed software.

Racism, Sexism, and Bias

ChatGPT fell under scrutiny when racial and gender biases were associated with the chatbot. Implicit bias built into technology is not a new discovery. UC Berkeley psychology and neuroscience professor Steven Piantadosi stated on Twitter in early December 2022 his concerns, “No, OpenAI has not come close to addressing the problem of bias. Filters appear to be bypassed with simple tricks, and superficially masked. And what is lurking inside is egregious.” He used queries based on race and gender, and ChatGPT produced results that favored white males over women and people of color.

Inaccurate Information

Despite the ongoing hype over ChatGPT, it also has ongoing issues with accuracy that have been well-documented since its inception. OpenAI has conceded that its chatbot possesses “limited knowledge of world events after 2021.” If there is insufficient data on a particular subject, the chatbot gives replies that contain incorrect data. This has started a much-needed discourse on the use of AI as a reliable source to create content – especially among news sources.

Clearly, some refined, deep content is necessary to address this problem. While it’s one thing for the chatbot to work “just ok” to relieve writer’s block, let’s say, this level of performance isn’t acceptable when using the chatbot to source valid, deep, and expansive domain data. If the information programmed is inherently flawed and the algorithms aren’t constantly regulating for reliability, then this new technology is just a big disinformation machine. Other issues with inaccuracies include:

Phrasing Sensitivity – ChatGPT is sensitive to tweaks to input phrasing or multiple attempts with the same prompt. It can claim to not know an answer, but when rephrased can answer the questions correctly.

Excessively Verbose – The model can be unnecessarily wordy, overusing certain phrases and being repetitive due to biases in the training data that favor long answers that are believed to be more comprehensive.

Inaccurate Guessing – Ambiguous queries should be questioned;  however, the current models usually guess at the user’s intention.

In the tech world, more data is always better. That philosophy is at play here as well, with OpenAI suggesting the system will “learn” from invalid data as long as the data set gets bigger. Fixing issues with inaccuracies is a challenging assignment that will garner more attention as the technology matures.

Not Original Content

A limitation is if more than one user asks the chatbot to write on the same topic, everyone making that request will get the same response. Therefore, the content created isn’t unique or original – all users will end up with the same copy. Thus, personalization is an area that still requires a lot of development.

No Mobile App

Currently, ChatGPT is strictly a browser-based platform with no mobile app feature available as of yet; however, I’m certain one is coming, but there has been no confirmation of this by the brand. This lack of cross platform availability has given rise to copycat apps charging exorbitant prices. Beware of ChatGPT fakes not associated with or supported by OpenAI. A popular workaround for this is to load the chatbot on your smartphone browser. 

Looking to the Future

As with most new technologies, pioneers usually take most of the heat for early misses. However, the market will grow and advance, fueled by eager VC firm funding. Financial investors predict ChatGPT will spawn new companies and products moving forward. Some also foresee a new form of Internet search coming from this technology.

Competition is certainly on the way, as all of the players will enter the ring, perhaps introducing industry-specific and domain-specific offerings, new products, and other creative solutions. Just yesterday OpenAI announced version three of ChatGPT is out, unveiling “an entirely new user interface” complete with:

  • Five new creative sizes for those who do display or programmatic ads
  • A new version of AI that can generate more and better creatives even faster 
  • An OpenAI-supported startup with  several copywriting methodologies

The opportunities this technology presents is staggering. Rather than replacing vast amounts of workers, the technology will be used to enhance and upgrade the systems we use to do our work so we can do that work more effectively and efficiently.

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Video Drives Sales – Here’s What You Need To Know

Study after study has shown that video is the easiest and most effective way to engage customers and drive them to take action. Video works exceedingly well to create brand awareness, activation, onboarding, and retention. Effectively using video as a component of your marketing strategy helps you gain a competitive edge in an  increasingly crowded market.

According to a Wyzowl State of Video Marketing Report and Hubspot surveying:

  • Online video watching has almost doubled since 2018.
  • Nearly 93% of brands reported new customer acquisition came from videos posted on their social media.
  • 87% of video marketers reported that video gives them a positive ROI.
  • 85% of consumers report wanting to see more videos from brands. 
  • Video usage in ad campaigns increases conversion rates by 34% according to Vidyard.  
  • Unbounce reports including a video on your landing page can boost your conversion rate by up to 80%. 

Clearly, video is no longer a nicety; it’s a necessity to ensure your brand is responsive to consumers’ growing desire for efficient and informative self-service options along their buying journey. More consumers than ever before are digesting content before reaching out to sales. Video enables marketers to target different personas to deliver the most relevant and compelling information at various stages in the sales funnel. Video has been shown to be superior at explaining information and building momentum, so it’s a great choice to keep moving prospects further into the buying journey and down the funnel by directing them to the next relevant video. Avoid the pitfall of the “request a demo” option. It works much better to use wording like “watch our demo now.” Simple changes like this will boost your conversion.

In order to take full advantage of video content, you need to understand the best strategies for using video as well as how to track and quantify its impact. The importance of video will only grow as we move further toward enterprise self-service. Let’s take a look at the four most common types of videos you should be creating.

Explainer Videos 

As the name alludes, this approach is best when you need to explain a complex product or service or differentiate your brand. 

Onboarding Videos 

This is typically a series of videos that welcome new customers and work to get them more familiar with a product or service by addressing key areas. Often these videos will include screen captures and audio instructions to show actions the customer will need to take.

Demo Videos 

This video approach allows you to demonstrate your product or service to show prospects exactly how it works. This type of video also makes use of screen captures and audio instructions. 

Testimonial Videos 

These videos are your opportunity to showcase satisfied customers to positively influence prospects. 

Top Tips For Maximum Results

These tips will help you achieve your video marketing goals and track your results. 

Shorter Is Better – The goal is to deliver relevant information as quickly as possible. Follow these time guidelines:

Explainer Videos: 45-90 seconds
Demo Videos: Maximum of 10 minutes
Onboarding Videos: 1-3 minutes
Testimonial Videos: 45-90 seconds

Using More Videos Is Better – Don’t think of your videos as a one-stop shop. Instead, realize that the most effective approach is to drip your content over a series of videos. Prospects are more likely to watch more short videos. 

Use Videos To Address Pitfalls – Use what you know about your sales funnel and any of its possible pitfalls and address them with videos that pull prospects down your funnel. 

Track the ROI Of Your Videos – You’ll want to track who watched what and how those views impacted your KPIs, influenced new leads, the amount of new pipeline, and new revenue generated. 

For marketers looking to deliver on the new self-service buyer journey, maximize their sales efficiency, and increase conversions, video is a must in your marketing strategy. Video delivers a full-funnel strategy that is proven effective. 

Why is AI So Important for B2B Lead Generation?

No matter the vertical you are in, customer experience is paramount. Today’s B2B consumer cares nearly as much about the service they get from a business as they do about the product or service they are buying. The expectations are set for a fully personalized experience at all online touch points – including your lead generation website.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can help companies create the experience leads and prospects want and expect. More and more marketers are utilizing the power of AI to sell, and the trend is just beginning. According to data from Salesforce, the use of AI in marketing has skyrocketed from just 29% in 2018 to a staggering 84% in 2020. Here’s a look at how AI is being used to drive and close leads:

1. Access Massive Datasets 24/7

We all know that lead scoring is a tedious and time-consuming process, but it is a necessary evil. AI enables marketers to access massive datasets 24/7, looking at the most important factors and every detail that marketers just don’t have time to do on their own. And, AI does a better job, picking up on finer details that an overworked marketing professional cannot. AI scoring is far more accurate, enabling marketers to use the data to target leads much better.

Even better, AI only improves with time due to machine learning that studies computer algorithms and makes improvements automatically through experience and data analysis.

2. Reduce Bounce and Increase Engagement

This is marketers sore spot: bounce rates. All marketers want a low bounce rate because it’s an indication of interest in your content, your products, and your brand. A high bounce rate indicates low interest, which isn’t something anyone in marketing and sales wants to see.

The best way to mitigate a high bounce rate is to take measures to increase engagement. We know that the longer a prospect stays on your website, the more likely they are to convert to a lead and self-nurture. Keep in mind, the average buyer consumes at least 13 pieces of content from a single site before making a decision. Self-nurturing websites let prospects binge relevant content until they’re ready to provide their e-mail address and other information.

We also know that in order to get a lead to provide contact information, takes work, even when the content on our site is compelling. AI uses your content to create an engaging customer experience using multiple algorithms to study the behavior of each prospect that visits your site. AI then provides personalized content recommendations to let prospects do their own research while being guided down the sales funnel – all without having to fill out a form or talk to a salesperson yet. AI streamlines the sales process, encouraging prospects to stay on your site longer and to learn more about the opportunity, consuming more content with each subsequent visit to your site. 

3. Make Better Insights

Most marketers are in the fortunate position of having lots of data on prospects. However, it takes time and know-how to properly sort through that mountain of information. AI gathers and analyzes all of that data and draws better insight than any marketer could working alone.

4. Create Adaptive Content Hubs

Most blogs require visitors to scroll through an organized list of blog posts based on categories you have selected in order to access the content they want. AI enables you to organize your blogs by any vertical or pain point you choose. Once a prospect starts browsing your blog, your algorithms study the prospect’s behavior and provide personalized selections from your blog content.

5. Collect Accurate Data

It takes a good strategy to segment prospects, score leads, and develop content. But all that work can go down the drain if you are not collecting high-quality data. When your data is incomplete or incorrect, it throws a wrench in your marketing efforts. AI is your security that you are collecting accurate, usable data from the get-go, right when the lead enters your system. It does this by scanning public sources to verify company, job title, and other contact information. 

Adding an AI engine to your site puts you in a prime position to benefit from high-level personalization for your lead gen. AI also assists you with the task of nurturing your leads. Implementing tech-driven tools like adaptive content hubs and self-nurturing landing pages help ensure your content is working hard and smart for you.

Technology Trends To Ignite Your Lead Gen in 2022

Quarter four is upon us. The numbers don’t lie. A majority of industry experts reported that weak technology infrastructure was the main reason businesses struggled so hard to survive during the pandemic. How about you? Is your technology where it needs to be? Technology isn’t a trend that is going away. There will be a continued move next year away from sales-centric models and toward working with digital lead resources—website, social media, content marketing, e-mail marketing, and others.

As you begin your allocations for next year’s marketing budget – and your lead generation, to be specific – keep the following information in mind. I’ve outlined the trends we’ll see next year and highlight what they mean for you and your lead generation strategy and budget. 

Digital Channels for Sales and Service

As we continue to try to distance ourselves from the Covid-19 pandemic and the effects it has had on our traditional lead gen activities, such as travel, conferences, tradeshows, lunch meetings, and other offline marketing and sales events, we must admit that some of the changes weren’t so bad. Marketers were forced to turn to automation to drive leads while still providing the best customer experience. Inbound and outbound lead generation saw the continued use of artificial intelligence in sales operations. Increasingly, more and more marketers used digital and online channels like video conferencing and live chat offerings to achieve their lead and sales performance targets. Lead generation activities will still be performed through offline channels, but increased emphasis will be placed on digital channels. 

Value-Based Selling to Secure Customers

An increase in digital business strategies means an increase in data available for your use. 2022 will see a movement toward better use of data to shape a value-based selling approach. This trend has marketers responding to their data in real time as a way to slowly build to a sale, showing prospects over time the value of their product or service. 

Artificial Intelligence to Increase Value

AI is becoming more widely used across a broader platform now. That will continue in 2022 and well beyond. More and more companies are looking to AI to improve lead generation and sales because this technology helps gather valuable data on existing as well as potential customers. This data then helps marketers develop  more effective marketing strategies to increase sales. AI is also an effective way to influence future behavior based on prior transactions or interactions and helps identify hot leads that are more likely to convert.

Also on the rise is the use of chatbots. This is a relatively easy way to enhance communication with prospects and customers and to provide better overall service. Chatbots allow companies to be available 24/7 to answer common questions and respond to typical issues. Customers report they love this option.

Better Customer Experience to Build Customer Loyalty

Nothing makes you value a personalized experience more than a global pandemic. Companies will use 2022 to continue work to enhance and personalize their brand’s customer experience. 

Social Media to Generate Better Leads 

Using social media to generate leads is nothing new. Companies will use 2022 to look for ideas to develop better ways of using social media platforms that make sense for their brand. Content will become more personalized using the data available. Video content marketing will continue to dominate, with experts predicting it will account for 82% of total Internet traffic. E-mail marketing is another hot area for 2022. That is because it is highly effective at influencing prospects. Researchers found that interactive e-mails increase their click-to-open rate by 73% and videos boost it an amazing 300%.

Marketers looking to grow in 2022 will want to capitalize on these trends to maintain a competitive advantage in the market.

The Producers Network is a digital media company specializing in franchise development marketing.  We’ve developed  first-party data, cookie-less advertising products and historical data analytics to deliver results.  Learn more at producerdigital.com

Three Things to Do Right Now to Get New Customers in a Cookie-Less World

I mentioned on this blog already that Apple and Google will no longer support tracking technologies like third-party cookies. This move has undoubtedly left many marketers scrambling to find good alternatives to enable them to continue to effectively communicate with their prospects. 

When change occurs, it’s easy to focus on what you have lost. However, I encourage you to focus on what you may still have or what you may still do. You could be sitting on a wealth of first-party data that customers have agreed to share with you.  And if you aren’t in that fortunate position, I encourage you to begin now to consider how you will generate new customers without cookies.

Here are three ways to help you get new customers without cookies.  Think of this as an initial plan that will help you prepare for a cookie-less world. 

1.  Audit how you are currently using cookies 

In order to prepare for a cookie-less marketing world, start with auditing how you use cookies now.  Study how cookies are used in your current digital strategy and if they are necessary. What is your retargeting strategy? You should seek to have a full understanding regarding how you collect data now and how the loss of retargeting will affect how you collect data moving forward.

2.  Focus on first-party data

Since you can’t borrow data from Facebook and Google, you need to own it.  In most cases you already do or you are working with a media agency that can gather it for you.  So, what does this mean for advertisers? Here’s what it means:

Focus your marketing efforts on capturing more data from your current customers. Try to acquire e-mail addresses with their consent.

3.  Rethink your data sources

Third-party data will help you better understand your target market, their interests, demographics, etc. More traditional data collection like surveys will help you better predict audience behavior from samples.

The changes from a cookie-less world can be challenging.  If you need help determining the best approach to defining your customers’ identity and how to use first-party data to grow your revenue, please contact me.

The Producers Network is a digital media company specializing in franchise development marketing.  We’ve developed  first-party data, cookie-less advertising products, and historical data analytics to deliver results.  Learn more on our website.

No More Cookies and Retargeting…Now What?

How to Target Customers Under the New Digital Advertising Privacy Rules

The phase-out is well underway with regard to the changes Apple and Google made to each of its longstanding ad targeting practices.  Add to these the new privacy regulations that are quickly gaining momentum, and it’s no wonder advertisers are looking for ways to shake up how they target and measure their ads’ effectiveness.

There’s no denying the industry is changing. As e-commerce accelerates and platforms continue to clamp down on ad targeting, companies must master data and digital technologies. To facilitate this long-term competitive advantage, companies should consolidate insights collected from first-party data such as marketing and social media, as well as retail,  e-commerce sales, and lead generation. This valuable information can then be used to design tailored messaging to your different audiences. Big brand companies have begun doing this and are reporting impressive sales increases, higher ad recall, and increases in consumers’ likelihood of buying its brands versus benchmarks.

All that data you are likely already collecting must be well organized to produce optimum insight so you can leverage it at a scale that works for your needs. Keep in mind that not all data is created equal, some will be better predictors of behavior than others. For example, purchasing history and geographic location work well to predict behavior – like someone living in a hot environment is likely to buy a cold beer – than traditional demographics. Also, compare your data to that of your competition. Chances are your first-party data will outperform other media platform’s consumer segments.

Regional marketing programs also enable you to gather useful information on consumers because it gives you an opportunity to collect more nuanced first-party data, which helps improve your targeting, ROI, and research and development. This data can help you determine how much to spend on each platform, the success of each ad, and the point of diminished returns. This decreases your reliance on any one media platform.

Both Facebook and Google are working with digital advertisers to help determine the best way to utilize first-party data.  Facebook’s Lookalike program is a great use of generating the right impressions, traffic, and lead generation opportunities.  

How to Use Reddit for Your Digital Marketing

The recent buzz surrounding the investment app Robinhood and the skyrocketing of GameStop stock put the Reddit platform in the spotlight and left many marketers wondering if this vehicle should become a component of their digital marketing. This blog outlines the opportunities available on Reddit so you can determine if it’s the right fit for your business.

Reddit is a social sharing website that is built around users submitting text, images, and videos that users can vote on, sending popular content to the top of the chain (called “upvotes”) and pushing unpopular posts further down the chain so they get less views or none at all. Reddit claims to be “the front-page of the Internet.” The platform most recently added livestream content through its Reddit Public Access Network. Reddit’s popularity is a result of the fact it’s free and it fosters open sharing among users. The parameters are loose – so you’ll see just about anything and everything on the site. According to stats from Ignite, most Reddit users:

  • Are males between the ages of 35-44 (although 25-34 year-olds are not far behind)
  • Have annual income levels around $25,000-$50,000Have a bachelor’s degree or some college education
  • Are from the U.S. (in particular San Francisco and Seattle) with Canada (Toronto) a close second

What to Know Before You Reddit

There are two ways businesses can use Reddit: advertisements and posts. Buying an ad on Reddit is pretty straightforward, so I’ll focus on how you should approach posting to Reddit to try to market your business. First and foremost, you cannot post anything that blatantly looks or sounds like an ad. That is strictly forbidden. In fact, before you even think about trying to market on Reddit, you really must read the guidelines for each Reddit community. 

Even though Reddit is a massive sharing community, it’s not for the meek and the mild. You can’t just put anything up on Reddit and wait for the marketing magic to happen. Reddit users can spot marketers a mile away. You must know how to provide content of interest and of value or you just may get banned from the platform. Reddit users can be brutal and will ensure you’re never heard from again if they don’t like what you’re posting.  To help you overcome this potential pitfall, here are subjects that are extremely well received on Reddit that work for businesses:

  • Only Share Content People Will Actually Want to See – Don’t post anything else.
  • Include Links In Your Posts – The links don’t have to be ones you created, in fact it’s best if you don’t just post your own content. You want posts that you think Reddit or subreddit users will find interesting, valuable, insightful or funny.
  • Tell Personal Stories That Come From the Heart – Talk about how you overcame challenges, beat the odds, survived the impossible, etc. 
  • Share Unusual or Obscure Facts – Reddit users like to learn little-known facts about a variety of topics, products, movements, diseases and any other topic you can think of that has interesting facts surrounding it that are relevant to your business. 
  • Post Interesting Videos, Photographs and Art – Videos generate the most upvotes.
  • Talk About US and Global Politics Related to Your Business Vertical 
  • Share How You Use Technology to Benefit Your Customers
  • Include Topics On Science, Fitness, Music, Comics and Food As Relevant

Content that is unique, progressive, or simply just eye-catching tends to do very well on Reddit. This platform is no different from other social media sharing sites – each has its own underlying feel. Tap into what that is and post content related to that feel, and you will be rewarded with favorable results. Reddit users are trendsetters.

Another advantage of Reddit is that it is divided into smaller communities called “subreddits.” A subreddit is a board dedicated to a certain topic, which is great news for marketers! Each subreddit begins with “reddit.com/r”, such as reddit.com/r/entrepreneurship, which would potentially put your posts in front of entrepreneurs on Reddit. 

Reddit also enables you to reverse engineer your messaging by giving you the ability to do a search to see which posts have done well on Reddit for the subreddit group you’re looking to target. To Go to the search bar in Reddit and type in “Site: DomainName.com.” What you enter for “DomainName.com” will be the website address for a business that you think is generating lots of likes in a Reddit community you’re looking to target. Doing this will show you all of the Reddit posts that were most successful for the searched site. This is really helpful for marketers who are new to Reddit.

Reddit has a bit of a reputation of being the ugly stepsister, so many marketers dismiss it. However, if you are looking to target certain niche markets and you are open to user’s potential criticism, Reddit is the best place for you. And consider this: If your competition is passing on Reddit, the market is wide open for you.

Before you make the move though, make sure you’ve thoroughly educated yourself on all things Reddit. If you need any help figuring out if Reddit works for your business, let’s talk. Good luck!

What You Need to Know About Apple’s New Privacy Policies and the Impact On Your Digital Advertising

We all know that apps collect our data. We also know that just about no one reads the existing and very long privacy policies that are full of legal jargon to see exactly what is being done with our data. So late last year, as part of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, Apple set out to rectify that. They introduced a new requirement for all software developers that publish apps through its App Store that they must include privacy labels. These look a lot like nutrition packages that are printed on the side of food packaging. The new labels indicate in an easy-to-read format exactly how data is going to used. 

  • Privacy Label — already released, it requires every app to give users an easy-to-view summary of the developer’s privacy practices that includes how an app uses their data — including whether the data is used to track them, linked to them, or not linked to them.
  • App Tracking Transparency — set to be released this spring, it requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies.

The new privacy labels began appearing in the App Store in December 2020. At top-of-mind for advertisers is whether or not the new privacy labels will influence users’ choices and how this will influence their digital advertising strategy, potentially limiting campaign measurement and attribution on Facebook. Will the new requirements stop users from downloading the app? We don’t know yet. 

When a user opts-out of data tracking, that means apps cannot gather data to share with  data brokers.  What this trickle-down effect means for digital advertisers is that there is less robust data to back targeted advertising. And, data brokers are just the beginning. There is a vast network of apps, social media companies, websites, etc., that rely on capturing vast amounts of user information across different platforms. According to Apple, the average app has six trackers, which in most cases allow third-party data collection and link data from many different sources.  

Facebook’s Response

While the scope of these changes and their affects are far reaching, entangling the entire mobile-app ecosystem, many advertisers are looking for alternatives – as they rely on Facebook to run and personalize ads on their own platforms and other third-party apps.

Most recently, Facebook responded to the Apple changes saying it would shutter conversion-lift studies, instead providing “alternative options to help you effectively test and optimize your ads in response to the limitations resulting from Apple’s updates.” These studies were used test and control groups to measure returns on ad campaigns. They also helped advertisers gauge a user’s propensity to buy after seeing ads on the platform. Without targeted ads and lift tests going away, small businesses won’t be able to reach their customers as well as before. Some are predicting a regression in the industry and a return to older measurement techniques like geo matched-market testing. I have seen rumors online that Facebook is running a beta test for such a tool.

Looking Forward

As with all change, not every outcome is necessarily bad. These privacy changes could lead advertisers to engage in different approaches like media-mix modeling and insight garnered from a variety of sources. Facebook’s look-a-like program is an excellent targeting strategy.  Building a database and using e-mail is a tried-and-true retargeting method of reaching customers and prospects.

If you need assistance navigating through these changes, let’s talk.

Have Facebook’s Targeting Changes Affected Your Digital Marketing?

While these changes happened in fall 2020 when Facebook announced major  alterations to its ad targeting tools, we are still feeling the effects now. We see the impact of these changes with both existing ad campaigns as well as new ones. Perhaps you’re in the same boat and are wondering how you need to adjust your digital strategy to ensure Facebook is still delivering results for you.

If you’re like me, you may have asked yourself why Facebook decided to make changes to its ad targeting. This has been a slow build, which began back in early 2019 when Facebook was sued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for violations of the Fair Housing Act. According to HUD and other organizations like the ACLU and NFHA,  Facebook’s ad targeting tools limited the housing options reaching certain protected classes by enabling advertisers to target ads based on age, location, education status, etc. 

Facebook responded with a vague announcement that it would make changes to its targeting and advertising tools by the end of 2019. They offered no further insight as to when these changes would go into effect. It came as a shock to many of us then when Facebook, without prior announcement, decided to implement several changes that had immediate effects on existing campaigns and all of the digital advertising on Facebook moving forward. 

Here are the Facebook Targeting Changes

  • The list of interests we had grown so accustomed to and relied on is now greatly shortened. There are no longer targeting options for jobs, housing, employment, and credit ads. 
  • There is no longer an option to do demographic targeting based on traits like age, ethnicity, and income.
  • Radius targeting has also been impacted. Now, there is a 15-mile minimum radius. It used to be a one-mile minimum radius.

These changes create much broader Facebook ad audiences. This creates greater competition among ads because more people are seeing a greater variety of ads. Your ad must fight harder now to get noticed. 

My team has been working diligently to understand and master the Facebook targeting changes. We have been adapting our approach for our clients, leveraging our digital expertise to create updated best practices. All is not bad news. While Facebook’s changes did limit some of the functionality of certain targeting tools, it is still very possible and feasible to use Facebook ads as an effective part of your ad mix. You will, however, need to rethink your Facebook strategy. Here’s what we recommend:

1. Evaluate Your Current Digital Media Strategy

Are you getting the results you want? Where do you need to make changes to get the results you want from Facebook? Too often businesses become complacent and don’t make changes to their digital ads like they should. Now is a good time to see if you have fallen into this trap and if you have to take steps to reinvigorate your strategy. 

2. Optimize Your Ad Copy and Design

If you want to attract the best prospects, your ads must cut through the clutter and speak to your target audience with clear and focused messaging. Facebook ads don’t come with much geography, so use the little space you have wisely: think high-impact copy, high-quality images, and a clear benefit.

3. Switch to a Look-A-Like Model

In some cases Facebook allows you to use a Look-A-Like model. This is a great option, but it can get a bit tricky. Your Look-A-Like database must match your target market, and then you must understand how to work with Facebook so they will allow you to use it.

4. Place Your Targeting Radius Strategically

Even with the new 15-mile targeting radius minimum, you may still be able to effectively target by location. We’ve also discovered a workaround you may want to try for your location. Try centering your target over rural or less densely populated areas. You only want the outer part of your circle to include the area you are really looking to target. This little trick helps bring down the number of unqualified prospects and puts your ad in front of your target location.  

As you navigate this new Facebook terrain, please e-mail me if you need any guidance.

How Google Changes Will Affect Your Digital Strategy

Google announced plans last week to end support for third-party cookies.  Third-party cookies fuel much of the digital advertising ecosystem. Other browsers have already begun a phased removal of third-party cookies. This is a significant blow to the advertising industry and will definitely affect your digital advertising strategy. Let’s discuss why this is a big deal.

Third-party cookies are placed on a website by someone other than the owner of the website – this is the third party. The cookie collects data for the third party, enabling businesses to monitor online user activity and develop behavioral targeting by tracking users across domains. This enhances their success at marketing the right message to the right user at the right time because they are seeing a full picture of behavior across sites and not by just looking at data from when the user interacted with the owner’s site. 

Third-party cookies are a powerful way to help drive sales up and increase website traffic. Here’s how:

1. Target Messaging

Data can be gathered from online purchases, frequently visited websites, Internet searches, etc., to better understand and predict consumer behavior. Using this information, marketers can target the right consumer and feed them relevant content. 

2. Optimize Results

Third-party cookies provide the ability to track and value all marketing touch points specific to each consumer, which leads to campaign optimization. This also leads to the ability to measure the impact of each gathered touch point and approach with a higher degree of accuracy. This insight into how individual channels are performing against one another helps determine where to spend marketing dollars for optimum results.

If Third-Party Cookies Are So Great, Why Are They Going Away?

Good question. It’s because of enhanced data privacy laws that aim to make things more transparent about how consumer data is being gathered, used, and shared. They also work to give consumers greater choice and control over how their data is used. This move has led some businesses to implement permission-based third-party cookies. Others are choosing to phase third-party cookies out completely and are seeking new solutions.

What Will Replace Third-Party Cookies?

While there is no one single solution as of yet, there are several workarounds coming: 

The Privacy Sandbox – This is Googles solution that works to protect consumers while also helping marketers. Google will create targeted groups based on anonymous data that can be used by marketers to target, retarget, measure, optimize, etc. 

Authenticated Traffic Solution – This solution is by LiveRamp. It will gather real-time, consented user data without the use of cookies. The single opt-out option for platforms and publishers offers greater control and privacy for consumers while still providing targeted information to marketers. 

It’s important to remember that third-party cookies while incredibly valuable, they are one part of the marketing whole. For example, businesses that put the time in to building their CRM database already understand the value of the first-party and zero-party data they collect. Another option along those lines is direct partnerships with publishers and businesses to collect first-party and zero-party data about customers to target them directly. 

The demise of third-party cookies has been in the works since the beginning due to consumer privacy concerns. It’s taken awhile to get to this stage. I’m certain additional solutions will be offered, and Google will eventually create a new standard for marketers to adopt that will be an effective replacement for third-party cookies. 

If you need someone to help you navigate through this,  let’s talk