Most of the talk about digital marketing is done by industry outsiders looking or digital marketers engaging in geeky talk with each other. Very little is said about the concrete problems facing this sector. As an industry insider, let me talk about some complexities that digital marketers face on a daily basis.
Digital marketers today face two big challenges:
1. An increasingly diverse clientele and unusual expectations
2. Ever-changing advertising platforms and web technology
- Customers and their expectations
1.1 Beginner Marketing and Digital Marketing
Today, just as digital has become ubiquitous, within marketing, digital marketing has moved to center stage. And although marketing has been best practiced by organizations in a few consumer industries, for example FMCG, Consumer Durables, Automotive, BFSI, and Telecom, today almost all organizations are interested in implementing digital marketing – even if that just means having a good website or doing effective email marketing. To illustrate this with a few figures, an agency like the WPP group only has a few thousand clients worldwide, but the number of Google Ads advertisers worldwide exceeds twenty million. In India, tens of millions of SMEs along with the approximately 2 million enterprises in the country make up the digital marketing market.
Each of these organizations can benefit from a good website and SEO, basic social media presence and decent email marketing and many can also benefit from online advertising. line. And let’s also say that many of these organizations are considering or have considered professional digital marketing at some point, in the form of hiring an outside agency or in-house resources.
So, digital marketing agencies like the one I run cater to a very diverse set of potential clients. Since most of these potential clients have not been marketers or advertisers, they are looking to get their marketing start with digital marketing itself.
Unlike traditional marketing organizations that have in-house marketers who talk to agencies, in these various organizations the business leader or the sales manager or the CEO themselves initiates the discussion – and that person is not marketing savvy. For example, such a person would never have evaluated a brand campaign before.
Such organizations have two bridges to cross – startup marketing and digital marketing – both together. And digital agencies and their marketers bear the burden of making that happen.
In-house digital marketers working with such newbie marketing organizations also face this challenge, they have to overcome the lack of understanding of this field among their colleagues.
1.2 Marketers without practical digital marketing experience
Second, when it comes to established marketing and advertising organizations — at FMCG and other industries — marketers aren’t very digital marketing savvy. Indeed, doing digital marketing well requires practicing it yourself and doing it for a while.
Marketers usually have an outside, i.e. external, view of what digital marketing is and what it can do for their brands and businesses. In my experience, this results in their training of an incorrect perception of what works. This is also reflected in whether marketers and their organizations have high or low expectations of digital marketing.
Thus, agencies and digital marketers need to serve organizations that are unfamiliar with marketing and digital marketing OR whose marketers have misconceptions about digital. This poses a challenge as considerable holding of the customer’s hand is required.
(Advertising agencies, on the other hand, have it much easier, each of their clients knows what a print or television ad is, and most have a reasonable idea of what good advertising is. Similarly, of software services deal with CIOs who speak the same language as them).
2. The ecosystem of dynamic advertising platforms and web technologies
I will limit my comments here to a few examples of the two main advertising platforms, Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
2.1 Google Ads Smart Automation Impacted Digital Marketers
Google Ads has made a major change to its preferred targeting, creative, and bidding method. Starting in the second half of 2021, it is making a major push to use Smart Automation to run its campaigns, using Google’s machine learning capabilities. I won’t go into the actual details of the change.
What’s important to note is that intelligent automation calls for a complete shift in the way marketers approach Google Ads. For about 15 years, one of the main tasks of Google marketers was to optimize three types of keywords and use CPC and CPM in bid options. The new approach encourages the use of only one type of keywords viz. and using CPA (cost per acquisition) bidding instead of CPC and CPM, etc.
Additionally, in the new system, a digital marketer must ensure that the campaign can “learn”. New campaigns as well as major changes often require a 15-hour waiting or cooling period, during which no changes should be made to the campaigns. And while Smart Automation has worked well overall for my clients, in some cases it hasn’t worked well and we had to come up with a plan B.
Overall, Smart Automation requires a shift in mindset and a leap of faith for the digital marketer and often also for the client (who now receives different campaign reports).
2.2 Facebook Ads: nothing new?
Unlike Google Ads, where change and innovation are a constant, in Facebook Ads you don’t see much of that. The main features remain the same as years ago. Facebook Ads includes ads on Instagram.
An important feature of Facebook ads is interest targeting. I find interest-based targeting hasn’t evolved at all. The categories of interest are the same as years ago. Also, in many cases the interests are very US-centric, for example, it is possible to target ads to people in India interested in Starbucks, Costa Coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts, but there is no no way to target people interested in the first chain of local cafes. , Coffee Coffee Day.
While Facebook Ads has its strengths – the simplicity and convenience of its desktop and mobile News Feed ads being one – its lack of scale poses a limit for digital marketers.
2.3 Google Analytics: the new GA4 product adds to the workload of digital marketers
Google Analytics is the leading free web analytics tool, installed on over 90% of websites worldwide. It tracks traffic to websites. Google is phasing out its current Analytics product called Universal Analytics (UA) and replacing it with Google Analytics 4 (GA4), a new product. Despite various improvements, GA4 also has several negative points vis-a-vis UA, it follows a new approach and is not as easy to use as UA but has a learning curve. Not all digital marketers are fans of the new product.
2.4 Ad support by Facebook and Google could be better
Google Ads and Facebook Ads have limited support available to advertisers (including agencies). Google-badged agencies — what they call Google Partner Agencies (like the one I’m in) — previously had phone and email support from a Google Ads Account Manager and a Google Ads Specialist. advertisement. This team was available for support on all new accounts and general questions.
This has since been removed. Now, a partner agency must chat online with the general Google Ads support team. Phone support is limited, this team looks after all advertisers, no separate team provides support, and general advice that was previously available courtesy of the account team is unavailable.
With Facebook Ads, support for Indian advertisers is provided from Singapore. Unlike Google Ads support, where one can ask for help with somewhat complex issues, here – in our experience – support is available mainly for frequently asked cases. A fairly large, albeit unusual, case took us months to solve.
2.5 AMP for websites: a web technology that may not be accepted
AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is Google’s framework (programming tool with out-of-the-box solution) to create faster and mobile-friendly pages. Google has been championing AMP for about three years now, claiming it translates to better SEO results for websites as well as faster landing pages for ad campaigns.
However, AMP has received critical criticism, for example all AMP pages end up looking the same and this gives Google too much control over the web. Therefore, AMP may not be widely accepted. Digital marketers like us need to be able to navigate such technological uncertainty at all times, this is just one example.
The above will show that digital marketing is becoming increasingly complex. The next time you speak to a digital marketer for your needs, keep the above in mind!