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Online advertising is getting harder. Change is noticeable on all platforms, and it’s coming fast.
Ads that would once have been profitable now cost 2x-3x more. Often, they don’t produce a single appointment or sale. Many ads that would have been just fine before are now deemed “low quality” and result in penalties that drive up costs even further.
What’s behind it all?
There are three main factors:
1. Platform Competition Goes into Overdrive
In a world where data privacy is more important to more people, platforms are pulling out all the stops to get an advantage from their existing data pool. At issue is the value of “first-party data,” that is, the kind of data users submit directly to a website, which the website controls.
Google, Apple, Facebook, and the rest want to be the king of the mountain, holding as much first-party data as possible on billions of people all across Earth. Looking ahead to a world without cookies (which may be here sooner than you think), they’ve cut off many forms of data sharing.
Less data means less precision, which drives down the value of ads to the advertisers that pay for them. So, platforms are also making changes to effectively force more businesses into the ad game to make up the difference. That’s one factor behind the collapse of organic reach on social media.
2. Technologies and Regulations Shake Things Up
More and more browsers are designed to help users reject third-party cookies, which help companies gradually compile a user profile of each individual they can then target with ads. At the same time, the growing data privacy movement has produced major changes in the U.S. and around the world.
From the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, the war on unwanted data collection is heating up. These aren’t just minor tweaks: They represent a sea change in the way advertisements are planned, designed, and served.
And big players aren’t the only ones in the mix. Countries all around the world are entertaining new privacy legislation. That may not have much impact on the average Central Florida business, but it means an extra layer of know-how is needed to stay in compliance.
3. More People Are Opting Out
At the same time, more people are admitting they’re just fed up and sick of ads.
Look at the recent news about advertisements coming to Netflix. Bombarded with thousands of ads a day, a growing number of users will take refuge any way they can. For the younger generation, that typically comes in the form of an ad blocker that bars digital ads from loading.
Some 46.2% of users aged 16 to 24 use ad blockers, and 42.7% of internet users worldwide do it.
When someone blocks an ad, it doesn’t mean you’re paying for an ad placement that no one ever saw. On the contrary, the blocked ad is never served. It goes on to the next person who happens to have ads enabled. Passing traffic from one person to another may not seem like a big deal, but it is.
As platforms increasingly lose the fight against ad blocking technology, they’ll see their #1 product – user data – become less useful and less competitive. That’s bound to drive continuing price increases over and above what an ad market would normally see as more businesses enter it.
How All This Bad News Can Actually Be Good News for Central Florida Businesses
All this can seem like terrible news, especially if you’ve been profiting from ads.
The last few years have rocked Central Florida’s economy, and it might be disappointing to hear that you suddenly need to take a “slow and steady wins the race” approach. But, in the long run, it will safeguard your business against rising costs and whatever whims the ad platforms come up with next.
The answer is in the jump from advertising to marketing.
Advertising is never a level playing field. You’re always competing against the biggest players. There’s no getting around the fact that today’s digital advertising platforms are designed for smaller businesses to fail. After all, they make the most money when you struggle to stay in the game.
On the other hand, marketing can:
- Deliver advantages that no one can replicate or take away simply by spending some money
- Lay the foundation for cost-effective results that last for months or years, not days or weeks
- Deepen customer relationships to inspire more repeat and referral business for years to come
Online advertising isn’t going away, and some Central Florida businesses will continue to see success with it. But the number of situations where it isn’t a good fit will continue to grow. Even today’s most powerful ads are living on borrowed time without marketing that follows through on their promises.
Pivot to a marketing-focused strategy today and within three months you could be seeing clear results in terms of targeted traffic. In a year, you could be attracting more locals to your digital doorstep than ever before – and seeing larger numbers go from prospects to leads to life-long customers.
For any business to endure, a far-sighted strategy makes the biggest difference.
In today’s world, that means digital marketing is in the driver’s seat.
How to Start Building the Digital Marketing Machine that Will Boost Your Sales and Profits
If you want high-impact results as soon as possible, hiring a Central Florida marketing agency is the way to go. There’s no reinventing the wheel when you partner with an experienced agency: They bring all of the techniques, technology, and strategy to realize consistent, compounding results.
With an agency, you can be as involved in marketing as you wish – or leave it to the pros and enjoy the updates. But even when you have a marketing team, it can be helpful to understand some of the basics.
Most of digital marketing comes down to a few proven methods, woven into a complete strategy and practiced on schedule. The sooner you get started, the sooner your marketing starts influencing dozens, hundreds, and finally thousands of people in your local community every month.
Here’s how it all starts:
1. Know Your Audience and Know Your Brand (and You Will Win 1,000 Customers)
Every piece of marketing material, no matter what it is or what it’s about, is written for someone.
This might seem obvious in theory, but in practice, it’s easy to forget. There needs to be a “North Star” in place to constantly check marketing output against real customer needs. That’s why, when you work with a marketing agency, the adventure often starts by exploring what you already know.
All of your insights about your customers are solidified in the form of a buyer persona. This document tells of a character who represents your ideal customer: Who he or she is, age, educational and work background, hopes and dreams, needs and fears. In effect, your marketing talks to this person.
Over time, a formal buyer persona lets you fact-check your assumptions.
But that doesn’t mean customers won’t surprise you. You’re always going to be learning and growing in your understanding. At the same time, they’ll be changing. Adjust your marketing to match, and you’ll continue deepening a relationship that turns into something life-long.
All of this comes together to support your vision for your digital brand.
Your brand is everything customers know, think, and believe about you. You can shape it, but it is also determined in part by experiences at every touch-point. Your marketing team will help you clarify the “promised experience” that defines your brand and communicate it through your marketing.
2. Develop Helpful, Informative Content – and Get Your Website Ready for Traffic
When people search online, they have one (or both!) of two goals:
- Answer a question
- Solve a problem
They aren’t looking for you, and they usually don’t even know you exist. But the more you publish useful online content to support their goals, the more likely they are to spot you at the perfect moment.
A steady stream of content that would-be customers read and respond to is the key to raising your visibility in search engines. The more content you have, the more opportunities you create to rise through the search ranks and appear in search results most relevant to your business.
To reap the full benefits of all that content, you need search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization (SEO) encompasses a variety of techniques for making your website faster, more secure, and easier to use. It makes things simpler for your visitors, wherever they are in the buyer journey, and it informs search engines your website is a top quality resource.
3. Promote Your Best Marketing Materials with a Laser Focus on Ideal Customers
Social media, email marketing, and even text messaging work together to promote your other content. With more eyes on pages comes engagement with your website – comments, likes, subscribers, and the rest. That sets the stage for website visitors to “get out of the computer” and come see you.
Promotion also dovetails into your effort to retain customers and boost lifetime value. For example, a lead or customer who joins your email list signals a willingness to hear from you. Providing them with the right targeted offer at the right time can get them off the fence and ready to buy.
Digital marketing is like a snowball rolling downhill. Both publishing and promotion need to happen on a regular basis so that, together, they gain size and momentum. A marketing agency comes fully equipped with the knowledge, tools, and technology to set the right cadence for you.
Stop Chasing Ad Revenue and Start Winning Customers with Central Florida Digital Marketing
Any way you look at it, the world of online advertising has changed forever.
But there’s no reason for Central Florida businesses to be intimidated. Whenever the status quo gets a shakeup, it creates a world of new opportunities in its wake. It’s not too late to get in position for the windfall marketing can offer – but it’s wise to move fast.
Even a slight tilt toward marketing in your current budget can pay dividends in a matter of months. And the results might surprise you. Contact New York Ave to find out more or get started.