Category Archive Digital Advertising

ByApex Digital Media

The Top Digital Media Companies Are Set Up to Never Stop Innovating

Is it true that the top digital media companies are set up to never stop innovating? Harvard Business Review thinks so.

But let’s venture outside the business world for a moment to the realm of esoterics and philosophy. A very wise man known as Bruce Lee, (you may have heard of him) once said:

心無旁騖, 柔若流水, 無形無相
“Don’t think, feel… Be like water, my friend.”

To be successful in the business world the top digital media companies have to be fluid – like water. Constantly able to change and adapt to a marketplace that can switch gears at lightning speeds. It doesn’t show any chance of slowing down either. As technology continues to make huge jumps forward many of the businesses to steeped in old ways loose footing to younger, more nimble competitors.

Here is a list of traits that Harvard Business Review cites as advantages companies who continually evolve will have over competitors.

  • Dramatic reductions in the time it takes to make critical product enhancements
  • The ability to test new ideas quickly and cheaply, run experiments, and back out if there are any problems
  • Large decreases in costs by eliminating the waste of fully developing features that fail in the market
  • Rapid revenue increases from products that are continually on target, with more and better features, or functionality, every day
  • Improvements in quality, reductions in errors, and greater reliability.

These are all traits you can visibly see in today’s top digital media companies – not only here in the US but in the world at large.

Another quality that top digital media companies share is the ability to keep solid ongoing customer relationships. Author Brad Power of HBR puts it like this:

To maintain perpetual customer relationships, they emphasize services over product transactions. Companies that sell physical products such as computers, cars, and refrigerators often lose touch with their customers soon after the purchase — or at least when the warranty period lapses. (“No news from customers is good news,” the thinking can go.) But companies selling online products and services need to regard their customer relationships as continuous ones: “We track how our product is performing for you as long as you own it, and if it’s not performing, it’s our obligation to fix it.”

At the end of the day the argument is that top digital media companies are, like most companies in the digital age, the ones who are constantly evolving and have the ability to pivot quickly. The future of business is online and so the companies able to streamline and be successful in these areas are the ones who will eventually come out on top. As you might guess, Apex Digital Media is one of these companies.

Read the full piece at Harvard Business Review here.

ByApex Digital Media

A Branding Agency Los Angeles Made Possible

Apex Digital Media is a branding agency Los Angeles made possible – and we have proof. Recently Apex Founder & CEO Dustin Peterson was profiled by Voyage LA – A digital magazine focused on Los Angeles local happenings.

The profile is basically a story about how Apex came to be and Dustin’s history in the digital media world.

Here’s a quick excerpt from the interview:

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Apex Digital Media – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We started out as purely an audience development firm but over time have become a full-service agency. The reason being is that all these pieces are connected. We would take on a pay per click client who could not figure out why their campaign was not working. It was because their website was terrible – so we’d either have to find someone to fix that or do it ourselves. So, becoming a “full service digital agency” was a natural evolution.

I am most proud of the fact this thing has thrived and grown for 3+ years.

I think what sets us apart is our commitment to integrity. We won’t take on a client unless we really feel like we can do something of value for them. We’ve had our missteps but we always go deep and become part of our client’s business. Digital is probably the most important piece of your marketing puzzle in 2017 and we take that responsibility seriously.

You can read the full article and find out why Apex is a branding agency Los Angeles made possible here: http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-dustin-peterson-apex-digital-media-beverly-hills-west-la/

Apex is a branding agency los angeles made possible

ByApex Digital Media

Google Maps Messaging – Customers Direct Message From Your Listing

A New Channel for leads, Google Maps Messaging

Great news for businesses – Google Maps Messaging now allows customers to direct message you via your maps listing. As the general public at large shifts to mobile devices this is a fantastic addition by the team at Google that should help businesses of all types to better interact with customers searching for goods & services.

If you have a published Google Business listing (based in the US only for now) you are able to set up a verified phone number to receive live SMS text messages. The message comes directly to your phone from your Google business listing! This way you can instantly answer questions and interface with prospective customers. A brand new channel for leads and new business.

In addition to being a new channel for leads, it also enables you to better communicate with other local businesses. If you don’t already have a Google Business listing it is highly advised! In addition to the many opportunities to connect with local customers, the business listing will also help to improve your local SEO presence.

Fantastic upgrade for SMB’s Google!

Read more from Google Support

ByApex Digital Media

Brand – The Origin & History From Cattle to Computers

Brand – it’s a term we all know being part of a consumer culture. Where did the term come from though, what are it’s origins?

cattle brandA few weeks ago I went with my daughters class on a field trip to an old cattle ranch. One of the exercises we did was to create our own logo brand. Ranchers back in the day identified their cattle with a unique logo that was burned into their skin or a “brand.” This little exercise made me realize that the term “brand” comes from cowboys. In it’s origin, a “brand” was originally a way to identify your cattle, it was your logo. The idea of livestock branding goes back even further than the old West. When you factor all this in, “branding” dates all the way back to ancient Egypt! Until my daughter’s field trip I had never even made the connection between cattle branding and modern day digital advertising & branding but that’s really where it all comes from.

History of the Word Brand

The word “brand” is of Germanic origins from the same root also comes “burn.” It originally meant anything hot or burning in the same sense as “firebrand” or a burning stick. By the Middle Ages, it commonly identified the process of burning a mark into stock animals with thick hides, such as cattle, so as to identify ownership. This practice became widespread in countries with large cattle populations, such as Spain.

These terms and customs were eventually brought across the ocean to North & South America. They were further refined by the vaquero tradition which dominated what is now the southwestern United States & northern Mexico. In the Old West, a “branding iron” became the tool of choice for cattle ranchers. It was a basic iron rod with a simple symbol or mark – eventually known as a “logo.” Cowboys would heat the rod in a fire. Once the iron had become red hot, it was pressed against the hide of the cow. Once livestock was emblazoned with a unique brand cattle owned by multiple ranches could graze freely together on the same open range.

Modern Day Marketing & Branding

Branding is a set of marketing and communication methods that help companies to set themselves apart. The long term goal is to create a lasting impression in the minds of customers. There are several aspects involved including identity, communication (via logos & trademarks), awareness, loyalty, and other management strategies.

 

Apple - Think Different

Apple’s Brand is Distinct

Apple is a great example because they are the most profitable company in the world right now… (or at least in the top 3 depending on what day it is.) What they’ve been able to do as a brand is truly remarkable. Apple instantly associated itself with revolutionary thought. From the day they burst on to the computer scene they billed themselves as an alternative to the stale corporate world of personal computers. “Think Different” those 2 words combined with the silhouette of a bitten apple have grown into a technology empire. Apple’s success is of course due to many factors beyond their logo and ad copy but these are important parts of how a business like Apple makes the jump from garage to empire.

Clearly Defining the Value of a Brand

In accounting, a brand defined as an intangible asset is often the most valuable asset on a corporation’s balance sheet. Companies need to manage their brands carefully to create shareholder value, and their valuation is an important management technique that ascribes a money value to a brand. This allows marketing investment to be managed so as to maximize shareholder value.

Yes it’s true, a brand on it’s own can hold value. Going back to my Apple analogy – think about the weight that their brand now carries. Anything Apple puts out will instantly be bought by it’s loyal following. This is not just due to the logo and marketing though – Apple has spent years delivering quality products to it’s customers and their brand has a reputation for this. So while the logo and the messaging are important what’s even more important in marketing is delivering on that message and retaining the customers that your brand marketing attracts.

 

ByApex Digital Media

How Digital Advertising Helped Trump Win the 2016 Election

 Digital Advertising for Obama - 2012

2008 Obama Ad

Here’s something that isn’t being talked about on Fox, CNN or MSNBC. Digital advertising, big data and retargeting have been key factors in winning the last several elections, including the most recent one.

Like it or not, traditional media is going the way of the dinosaur. Modern technology allows people to connect and consume information anywhere on handheld devices. It is now standard practice for the average person to browse the web, post on social media and watch TV shows & movies, all on their mobile devices. This gives marketers and political consultants a huge amount of personalization and targeting power. Make no mistake, this is a power can be used to make kings by those who wield it… Is this starting to sound like the opening to an episode of “Game of Thrones?”

Obama’s Team Won Twice Using Digital Advertising & Micro-targeting

President Obama had a top notch digital team and strategy. He was able to comfortably win in both 2008 and 2012 with the help of top notch digital talent. The Obama campaign employed a lot of young, intelligent and talented people. These people understood the digital landscape and how to leverage technology to micro-target voters across the country. By using modern digital advertising tools and data sets, they were able to target very specific political messaging to individual voters in different voting districts.

Hillary Clinton's Social Media

Hillary’s Twitter

The campaign also utilized a numerical scoring system for ranking voters. This system was created to gauge how likely a person was to vote and what types of issues would influence their decision. Armed with this information Obama’s digital marketing team could show these voters highly targeted ads that spoke to their politics. You can read the full story here.

This new digital ecosystem allowed Obama’s team to rely heavily on forms of micro-targeting enabled by the digital advertising ecosystem. This network of DSP’s, exchanges and data providers has been used by digital brand marketers since the early 2000’s but was foreign to politics. Political consultants can now match up voter registration info with online data points. Some examples being – what a person reads, buys, where they get their news online, etc. Paring this data with voter registration roles allows political campaigns to show invidvidual voters ads with specific messages that have been directly tailored to appeal to their views.

Jim Walsh of DSPolitical said the company has so far aggregated more than 600 million cookies — or tags on Internet user IP addresses that track movements online — and has worked to match them against lists of some 250 million voters in the United States.
This all is aimed at helping them determine how someone might vote and then reaching them wherever they go online.
Digital Advertising for Donald Trump 20116

Trump – Pence Ad

Trump Spent Big and Early on Digital

This report from Bloomberg in July 2016 outlines the details of Donald Trump’s campaign spending more than $8 million dollars on digital marketing around this time. Clinton’s team by comparison spent only a fraction of that amount, somewhere around $132,000.

Trump’s digital director Brad Parscale runs a small firm in Texas, Giles – Parscale. Parscale was initially employed by Trump for website design. As a result of that relationship Parscale was tapped to manage the campaign’s digital marketing efforts. He says the majority of the money given to the firm by the Trump campaign was used to pay for advertising costs.

Around Sept. as the election was entering it’s final 60 days, Trump was spending $40 million plus on digital advertising efforts. Sources close to the campaign say they spent heavily on Facebook & Twitter. In another surprisingly deft move the Trump campaign also utilized Internet radio through the “I Heart Radio” app. It’s not clear how much of their strategy involved the type of micro-targeting Obama’s team used but they clearly invested heavily in digital marketing efforts – and it paid off.

Hillary’s Digital Strategy Looked More Like a Traditional Media Buy

In researching the Clinton team’s digital approach I found no evidence of a digital targeting strategy to match what Obama’s team had in 2008 and 2012. Most of the headlines read “Clinton Reserves Digital Ad Time” which sounds like a traditional TV ad blitz but through digital channels.

It also looks as if Hillary’s campaign only made a really big push towards digital advertising near the end of the election. Their goal with this push was not to target policy messages to voters but instead to “appeal to millennials.” who we all know use social media… Am I right old people?

While millenials definitely use the internet, so does everyone else in 2016. It was short sighted to focus only on millenials when using digital media and the detailed methods of targeting it offers.

Digital Advertising for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Campaign Ad

Instead of mirroring Obama’s intense data driven approach, the Clinton team relied heavily on celebrity endorsements and a big media blast that ran on YouTube and other digital platforms. These ads primarily focused on controversial statements made by Donald Trump rather than pushing detailed political messages to different voters with different views depending on the parts of the country they live in.

Politicians Can No Longer Ignore Digital Advertising

This season neither candidate had a targeting strategy that rivaled what Obama had. Unfortunately for Clinton, Trump’s digital strategy was strong enough that simply throwing money at YouTube near the end of the campaign did not produce the results needed for her to take the white house.

It’s evident that from here on out anyone with political aspirations is going to need to have a great digital marketing team and strategy if they intend to win!

ByDustin Peterson

Goal Setting & Tracking [Digital Capitalist]

You’ve established your online presence. You have a great website, several social media pages and a well positioned digital brand. Now it’s time to set some goals and layout a plan to achieve them.

Setting a CPA Goal

Your goal is going to change depending on the nature of your business. For example, if you are a blog that specializes in news the goal is going to be driving page views, maybe subscriptions, etc. The end game in this situation is developing a large audience that will facilitate advertising dollars. On the other hand, if you’re trying to sell handmade jewelry through an e-commerce site your goal is not sheer volume of audience but audience that’s looking to buy handmade jewelry. As you can see the nature of your goals are variable based on what you want to accomplish.

We borrowed this graphic from a Google training deck because it’s the perfect summation of most online business models. Take a look at this chart and find the one that most closely matches what you are doing.

Common Digital Strategies

Different types of conversions

 

Using Industry Benchmarks

One of the things we run into quite frequently is unrealistic CPA goals. As an example, if you’re a doctor or a lawyer the price of clicks and leads is going to be higher for your service than say, someone selling a toaster. The reason for this is that the cost of the product or service is so much different and the pay off for converting a legal lead is much higher than it is for selling a $20 dollar toaster.

Still a lot of people will come to us and say “Hey I want to get leads for less than $1.00!” – And while this is possible, the old addage: “you get what you pay” for holds true in digital advertising. I would seriously question the quality of leads for under $1.00.

Use Industry Benchmarks as a Pricing Guide

So how can you vet the price of leads? Well Google AdWords is a great start and there are plenty of documented benchmarks for different industries. You can even use Google’s pricing to keep other vendors honest. The industry averages in Google should be relatively similar for most, if they are not I would do some digging.

One of my favorite sources of industry benchmark information is WordStream. Here are their benchmarks on Cost Per Action:

AdWords Industry Benchmarks - CPA

WordStream created this infographic

 

So how do you calculate your ad budget or your “Cost Per Acquisition” using this information? In order to keep it neat – We’ve put the steps into a numbered list for you, this is the step by step process we would use to find a good starting CPA goal.

  1. Look at industry benchmark data
  2. Consider on average, how many “actions” it takes to convert a user to a customer. How many calls do you get on average before one closes? How many email form submissions result in actual business or sales for you?
  3. Multiply the average amount of leads you need to get for a sale by average cost per action number: If I run an automotive website the average cost per action is $63.00 in search. I know that 1 in 10 of my inbound leads on average will result in a sale. so $63 x 10 = $6300. I know that I will likely need to spend $6300 to get a lead that closes. 
  4. Make sure that your cost is less than your net profit. If the only cars you have for sale are $10k $6300 might be a lot to spend to acquire that user. You may want to consider alternate routes that will result in better margin. On the other hand if your car’s are $50,000 – $150,000 models $6300 is not much to spend on that customer.

Google Analytics & Search Console Are Your Best Friend

Google offers everyone it’s basic analytics service for free. Attached to that is Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools). Search console shows you first hand what keywords you’re ranking for in organic search as well as which ones are getting you traffic. The value of this tool cannot be overstated and it’s not incredibly difficult to set up and manage.

Analytics goes incredibly deep as well allowing you to create conversion events on your website and track users paths to those events. This can show you where you’re getting the most and best performing traffic from so that you can focus on developing those sources further. It has several other invaluable features as well, the ability to release site maps being an example.

Google Search Console

Search Console

 

Good Data, Strategy & Persistence Produces Results

If you build a solid plan with realistic goals and follow through with it you will see results. The quality and magnitude of those results depend on a multitude of variables, but that’s the fun part. Once you have the goals in place you can begin to look at data and make adjustments that will help you to yield the most from your efforts.

Click here to read - download "The DIgital Capitalist" e-Book

Click here to read – download “The Digital Capitalist” e-Book

ByDustin Peterson

Social Media Marketing – Quality vs. Quantity

With social media marketing on the rise there are a lot of agencies out there with different methods to help you grow your audience. Some of them are extremely effective and others are not. When we work with companies on social media audience strategy we always focus on quality. Getting quality at scale is possible, especially if you have a decent advertising budget. Getting quality in social media marketing without a large ad budget is also possible though, if you are consistent and stick to best practices.

One of the more popular method in recent years is buying likes or followers. There are a lot of different services out there that can in fact grow your audience to be very large rather quickly. This comes at a price though and I often question whether or not that price is worth it.

The reason is that buying followers or likes is not a good long term investment. There are a few reasons for this, but in the interest of time I’ll give you the 2 most important.

  1. Purchased followers are typically fake accounts created by media companies. These profile farms are composed of people who are paid to click, like or follow or sometimes can be completely automated.
  2. Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter & Instagram regularly purge their systems of phony accounts. One day you might buy a couple thousand followers for a great price. Then a week later all of those accounts will be deleted by the platform.

We discussed how the fraud ecosystem works at length in our video “The Wonderful World of Fake Traffic” a lot of the principals discussed here apply to social media.

For Businesses Social Media Marketing Should Be About Relationships

“Long-term relationship building is the cornerstone of any business and brand. Here, I think more than ever, organic and authentic conversation wins out over forced social media sharing through strategic plans and content management systems.”

The above statement from Jeremy Harris Lipshultz’s recent article at Huffington Post sums up the key to great long term, effective social media marketing. We tell our clients “think like a farmer” because a farmer has to get up and do a long list of things every day to keep their crops growing and produce a good harvest. Social Media marketing & content are no different. There are key things that you should be doing each and every day to help grow your audience.

So while you can “cheat” and buy followers or likes the value in that is greatly diminished. The numbers are impressive on the surface but once you look past that you will clearly see they are not real people. For a business if you’re going to invest in real social media marketing, you will want quality over quantity. Real, genuine conversation and interaction between potential and existing customers will win the day even if it comes in small amounts.

ByDustin Peterson

Understanding Programmatic Advertising

There’s been a lot of buzz around programmatic advertising over the past 3 – 4 years. But what exactly is programmatic advertising? The simple definition is that it is an automated method of buying, selling or fulfilling advertising. Apparently it’s caught on because it already makes up more than half of US digital display advertising spend.

Aside from just simple banner advertising, programmatic has begun to rapidly expand in areas such as video and mobile.

From Digital Ad Networks to Programmatic Advertising Exchanges

A few years ago if a digital media buyer wanted to run a branded display campaign they would go to an ad network that had tags running on a long list of websites. The buyer would usually procure a list of these sites and pay a CPM (Cost Per Mille or Cost Per 1,000 views to be accurate) to run their advertising on these sites.

But nowadays buyers are purchasing by the impression. What this means is that CPM’s have increased but rather than buying bulk page views, advertisers are now able to buy large targeted data-sets through programmatic exchanges.

programmatic-openrtb-ecosystem

programmatic open rtb system

 

It’s quite simple, many ad networks already run tags on thousands of publisher exchanges. These ad networks sell this inventory through programmatic vendors that in turn buy and sell these impressions in a real time auction to the highest bidder. It sounds complicated, but it’s a simple auction just like one you would go to in order to get art or antiques. The difference is that these auctions happen in fractions of a second via programmatic DSP’s or Demand Side Platforms. Just like at a regular auction the winner of these light speed auctions gets their ad shown to the user.

Based on recent data compiled by AdRoll. Last year, the bulk of US marketers, (62%), automated 10% to 50% of their digital advertising budget. Just about one third of those marketers also said they invested 50% or more of their digital ad budgets programmatically, up from 7% in 2013.

Other Benefits of Programmatic Advertising

Programmatic is visibly efficient. All data points to this fact. This method of advertising has an unmatched ability to pair audience data with digital content to target the right users with the right message at the right time. This has made digital media buying more cost effective and improved the amount of spend for web publishers.

While programmatic advertising still has issues related to fraud and viewability (cross-device visibility has been an issue) there is a healthy conversation being had about them. The current benefits of these ad buys also far outweigh the risks if you’re a brand or business looking to really get yourself in front of a highly targeted audience demographic online.

Whatever the case, keep an eye on programmatic to keep evolving and improving in the weeks and months to come.

(source: http://www.emarketer.com/Article/US-Advertisers-Investing-Heavily-Programmatic-Obstacles-Remain)

ByDustin Peterson

Snapchat Dominates SXSW Without a Presence and 6 Other Marketing Stats

According to AdWeek: 
The ephemeral app didn’t throw a South by Southwest Interactive party, hire a popular band or even give away cool gadgets—it didn’t have a branded presence at the Austin, Texas, festival. Instead, it was a topic of conversation on nearly every marketing panel and was constantly used by attendees to document their SXSW experiences. In fact, it garnered more impressions on Twitter than any other brand, coming in with 192 million from March 6 through March 16, per Sysomos. Indeed, all Snapchat had to do to win SXSW 2016 was just be Snapchat.

AdWeek went on to cite Snapchat as the most talked about brand at the whole conference and was actually used by a lot of attendees to document their experience.

AdWeek has this and 6 other interesting marketing stats from the past week here.

 

ByDustin Peterson

The Art of Social Customer Service

In today’s digital ecosystem, social media is a great way to drive awareness about your brand or business. It’s also a great way to engage with existing or prospective customers but a lot of companies are starting to discover that it’s also a great way to handle customer service.

This can be a bad thing for some companies. Take the example of the case of Hassan Syed who’s father lost his luggage on British Airways. He spent $1,000 on sponsored tweets to make sure that as many people as possible saw his distaste for British Airways handling of his problem. Unfortunately for BA the onslaught started afterhours while no one was manning their social media accounts. So for 8 long hours they allowed this problem to fester and grow without any response. By the time they were back at the office Hassan’s tweets had already been seen by over 75,000 people.

Knowing that social media is critical for into the modern age for customer service you need to be thoughtful and creative about how you represent your business online and that includes the customer service aspect. Here are a 5 quick tips to help you ace customer service on social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t Leave Complaints Unchecked

If someone’s complaining about your brand or business on social media it’s important to engage them right away. The longer you let them complain and get noticed the more difficult the issue will be to resolve. Responding quickly is key but you also want to do your best to drive the conversation off social media so you can talk person to person. Move the conversation to a forum where the public can’t see every last comment that is made.

If you are an international business it might be wise to have someone manning your accounts at all hours. As mentioned in the scenario above with British Airways, overseas complaints could be after hours for you and cause you to miss an opportunity to shape the conversation in a way that has the least amount of damage to your brand.

Show Some Empathy

Just because you are working on a computer through a social media channel doesn’t mean you shouldn’t act like a human being. When a customer comes to you with a problem make sure that you express interest and show that you care about the problem. If customers see that you recognize the problem and are working to fix it they feel that you’re listening to them. Responding to these issues with the motive to understand and assist will definitely help you resolve the issue and gain trust.

Surprise Your Customers

Not everyone who goes on social media to complain about a brand believes that they’re going to get a response. A lot of people will tweet or post something just to vent about a bad experience that they had. If you have a brand manager who is on top of things this can be used to your advantage by quickly responding to customer complaints. If a customer quickly receives a thoughtful response to a complaint that they didn’t think anyone was listening to, it can quickly turn their attitude from combative to friendly.

Respond Quickly

You’re probably seeing a common theme through a lot of these pointers – time is of the essence. If it takes you a couple days or a week to respond to a customer complaint it looks like your company is either lazy and slow or that you don’t care. Slow response time also makes it look like you’re not really paying attention to what’s going on or worse, avoiding conversations about your brand altogether. The longer that complaint lingers without response the worse you look regardless of what you say. So be quick on the draw.

Turn Critics Into Brand Advocates

If you are able to engage your customers and fix these situations quickly you will have a happy customer who can be turned into an advocate for your brand. They’ll respond with gratitude and if you’re lucky, maybe even delete the original complaint messages. People talk and by solving the problem you will have a customer who goes out and tells others that they are satisfied with the actions you took to quickly resolve their complaint. Most people who complain about a brand on social media are just looking for a quick solution to their problem, so if you can offer that to them and you’re going to win.

To sum, be open honest and quick to respond. Understanding these principles will ensure that social customer service helps to drive new customers to your brand.

(source: https://www.upwork.com/hiring/customer-support/social-customer-service/)