If you’ve worked in digital marketing for a while, you’ve probably noticed something as of late – overall costs are going up, up, up. As the online advertising ecosystem matures, and the demand for eyeballs increase, it means higher costs associated with growing and maintain your reach in the marketplace. This means that more than ever, you and your dollars need to work smarter. Here’s a short list of some big changes that are driving cost increases, followed by a few ideas to counter them.
The company behind the #1 search engine on the planet has gotten very good at making money, as they should. They’ve got shareholders to answer to, and this means we all will be paying the great and powerful Google much more for traffic in the future. This translats to less free traffic. A short list as to why includes:
- The expansion and prominent placement of Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) is driving more of overall search traffic into the paid category, while creating increased competition right at eyeball level, both among advertisers and among Google’s own paid media assets (traditional paid search ads).
- Less organic real estate in the SERPs, due to the above mentioned changes, plus other layout changes Google has made to its results pages.
- Increased SEO costs, due to an emphasis on creating high quality content, and promoting that content around the web. Google’s algorithmic changes have driven this. Gone are the days of just “ok” content. It’s all about engagement today.
- Decreased Email open rates, due to Gmail tabs: Your Email Marketing program doesn’t pay Google a darn cent directly. Sure they make money off the ads in Gmail, but that’s already happening. Which is probably a good reason why Gmail now groups all marking flavored emails into a “Promotions Tab’, no longer to your default inbox. With fewer customers interacting with your brand for virtually free via email, they might be more likely to use search to visit you again, and migrate through one of the paid Google properties in the process.
Facebook Throttling Down the Free Ride
Following Google’s suit, Facebook continues to monetize itself, slowly shifting much of its organic content out for paid. Social Media is cheap right, practically free….right? Those days are waning. FB has spent years gathering our demographic and psychographic information and now they mean to cash in, to whatever degree its user base will tolerate. For now, it’s looking like they can test further in that direction.
Paying Twice for Radio
The rise of streaming radio and recent reboot of PodCasting is providing advertisers a small but growing way of reaching markets, but there’s a twist. A radio personality who use to only be syndicated using terrestrial radio (old school radio), now may also offer a streaming channel. So now you’ll pay to test that out right? Often you’ll need to book streaming though a different agency and at a different cost than terrestrial, how much of that personality’s audience is listing via old school vs. new? It’s believed that the two work as complementary channels to increase ad recall, but yes, you are spending more too. As streaming grows, so too will the cost, as music services like Spotify, iHeartRadio, and the like pay high licensing fees. This is one to keep an eye on.
So costs are going up, but what to do about it. There are some good answers that are quite specific within some of the articles I referenced, but across the whole here’s what I would offer:
- Take a good hard look at your creative. Have you been using the same thumbnails, ad copy, script, or page title for several years simply because it won out in a test you did in 2011? It needs to perform better now than ever before, so invest in understanding what is going to resonate more with your customers than the go-to pieces you may have relied upon, and specifically for the audience in each discrete channel.
- Never stop testing
- Work that much harder at getting more eyeballs for the cheaper channels: grow your email house file attending/hosting offline events, expand your organic keyword universe, and double down on getting crafty with the content you push to social media. Increasing your reach on cheaper channels should help to offset increases to your overall costs.
Thanks for reading, would love to hear from you..