Local SEO: How to be Present

Google has reported that over the last two years, mobile “open now near me” searches have increased 200%, and searches containing “buy” terms have increased over 500%.  Additionally, 82% of smartphone shoppers conduct ‘near me’ searches and 76% of local mobile searches result in a store visit within 24 hours

It is clear that current and potential customers are on the go, on their phone and looking for specific locations.

Local SEO is different from SEO or paid search as it is based on a unique algorithm and set of conditions. Even with a robust SEO and SEM program, there can still be gaps in the search engine results when it comes to local search.

For local information and results, Google relies primarily on information through the Google My Business platform. Apple Maps is powered by primary data partners and other third-party sites, Siri uses Google as a data source and Amazon’s Alexa gets a good portion of location data from Yelp. Additionally, each of these platforms check and verify the location information with other platforms.

The foundation of local search centers on basic information: name, address, phone number and website URL. This information powers what appears in the listings, however, the NAP (name, address, phone) is only the foundation of local SEO.  Additional strategies such as location information syndication across the local ecosystem, content-rich individual location pages on the website, sponsorship and links to local organizations, location-based social media and review management are all key components to the local ranking algorithm.

A local search program is no longer an option for retailers; brands that are not present online for most consumers is equal to not existing.

For more information on utilizing Local SEO in your campaigns, contact us here.

Keeping Google My Business Listings Safe From Hijackers

The issue of hijacked Google My Business (GMB) listings — when a person other than a business owner or representative gains control of the local profile — continues to grow. 

Unethical marketers are phishing through many listings in the hopes of hijacking, ultimately succeeding through using the “claim this business” or “manage this listing” link on a local profile. Clicking on this link generates an email request for control over the listing that is sent to the registered owner of the profile. Business owners that are unaware of what these emails mean could unwittingly surrender control of their business listing and find their location marked as closed, as well as other objectionable changes to their local information.

Google is aware of the growing issue and advises business owners to remain cautious. A Google spokesperson recently told Search Engine Land, “If a merchant ever receives a request to manage or to transfer ownership from an unknown person, they should decline the request.  The rights to own or manage a Business Profile can only be granted if the verified merchant accepts the request or the requester proves their affiliation with the business.”

Why does it matter?

It is obvious to say that any form of false information in Google Maps and Search is not ideal for both companies or consumers. However, these phishing attempts in order to hijack Google My Business listings are significantly bad for small businesses. False online information can lead to a negative impact on sales, especially during COVID when the majority of consumers are obtaining information through a Google search.

How can you be proactive about this issue?

To start, as Google suggests, decline any request to manage or transfer ownership from an unknown person. Beyond that, this growing trend highlights the importance of a strong local SEO management program and agency partnership that can keep on top of listing status and puts your business’ security first.

For more information about True Media’s Google Search and Local Search marketing capabilities, contact us.

Connected TV in Your Media Strategy

As the media industry continues to be unpredictable with the disruption of COVID-19, advertisers are finding it harder to connect with their core audiences. 

Connected TV has continued to see an increase in viewership since the beginning of this year and it’s expected to continue to rise while paid TV households (those with a subscription to traditional paid TV services) continue to decrease. By 2023, according to eMarketer, non-pay-tv households (cord-cutters) will hit 68.2MM users (vs 56.3 in 2021), while pay-tv households dip to 63.4 (vs 73.7 in 2021). Ad spending in this space by 2021 is showing to be $11.36 billion dollars and by 2022, $14.11 billion. 

As the incline in Connected TV users grows, advertisers should start to strategically think about how to utilize this service to its fullest potential to reach their core audiences. Knowing that a majority of the population is going to be consuming content within this format, this type of targeting should undoubtedly be a successful tactic in advertising efforts and future strategies. 

Outside of traditional video, CTV buys and layering core audiences, there are additional opportunities and publishers that you can tap into that allow for expanded advertising. Examples like VideoAmp and Tremor/Alphonso, publishers that have ACR data, allow advertisers to target audiences who have seen a competitor’s TV ads and then target those users in real-time with their own advertising. Another example of expanded advertising opportunities with CTV is utilizing Origin, which is an offering within our programmatic efforts that gives you the ability to send trivia questions about your brand to your core audience as a different approach to capture consumer attention. Publishers, such as Hulu, can build out branded slates that live at the end video ads that allow for an additional call to action type of brand advertising.

When thinking about the next strategy approach for clients, it is important to include innovative ways to not just reach your audience, but also keep their attention. With the high consumption rate for Connected TV expected to continue to grow for the foreseeable future, utilizing this format could serve as an excellent solution to target your core audience.

At True Media, we will continue to utilize resources and research to help determine the best approach within this tactic to capture consumer attention and ultimately convert them to favor your brand.  For more insights on Connect TV advertising in your media strategy, contact us.

New Google Testing for Local Ad Options

Google continues to evolve with its local campaign options, which in turn continues to improve the value for advertisers. Earlier in the year Google added call clicks and driving directions as additional conversion options to original store visits. Additionally, they introduced the option of audience targeting or exclusion — a change that offered additional controls for advertisers. Most recently Google has been testing auto-suggest results within Google Maps.

On October 15, Thibault Adda tweeted that as he typed a search for “seafood restaurant” in the search bar, an ad for the seafood restaurant chain Red Lobster appeared in the auto-suggest results before his search query was even complete (see photo example).

Tests such as this are nothing new to Google, but it does seem to signal that local campaigns are now a permanent part of the Google suite of Paid Search campaign types. This is good news, as several True Media clients have already seen incredible results with local campaigns.

When examining results for Q3 year over year, one Farm and Home client saw a 1,250% increase in impressions, as well as a 86% increase in-store visits with 98% of all impressions coming from the local campaign.  Another client in the same industry saw similar results with a 2,623% increase in impressions.  Additionally, a Regional Banking client testing local campaigns saw similar results with September 2020 impressions showing a 236% increase over the previous year.

While advertisers do still need to be ‘whitelisted’ for Google local campaigns, retailers with physical locations who want to drive store contact via visits or calls, local campaigns can provide an unparalleled opportunity for brand reach and exposure.

For more information on implementing Local Search Campaigns in your media strategy, contact us.

Preston Waller Appointed President of True Media U.S.


  • Advertising Industry Veteran to Lead Agency’s U.S. Operations 
  • Waller to Report to True Independent Holdings CEO Jack Miller

ST. LOUIS, MO (September 18, 2020) – True Media one of the fastest-growing media strategy and communications agencies in North America, a subsidiary of True Independent Holdings, announced today the appointment of Preston Waller to the role of president of the agency’s U.S. operations. Waller will assume responsibility for the leadership and growth of the True Media U.S. network across its St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Missouri, and Minneapolis offices. Waller joins Bruce Neve who serves as President, True Media Canada as a member of the network’s executive leadership team. Both Neve and Waller will report to True Independent Holdings Founder and CEO Jack Miller. As previously announced on September 14, Miller assumed the role of CEO of True Independent Holdings the holding company which includes agencies True Media, True Media Canada, Coegi, RADaR, and True Properties.

I couldn’t be more excited to join the True Media team at such an exciting time for the company,” said Waller. “Throughout this process, I’ve been very impressed by the team, the capabilities, and the work; and I am honored to be joining such a great organization. I look forward to working alongside Jack and Bruce to ensure True Media remains the most effective independent marketing network for our clients.” — Preston Waller

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome a person of Preston’s character to the True Media leadership team,” said Jack Miller CEO of True Independent Holdings. “His experience working at respected global agency networks and his track record of building transparent and rock-solid client relationships made him the absolute right choice to lead True Media into the future.”— Jack Miller

Waller joins True Media after a distinguished career working in positions of increasing authority at some of the advertising and media industry’s most respected holding companies. He most recently served as Vice President and Head of Business Development for MDC Media Partners/Assembly the media offering within global agency holding company MDC Partners (NASDAQ: MDCA). During his tenure at MDC Media/Assembly, Waller was integral in new client wins that delivered more than $1.5 billion in new billings for the agency from iconic brands such as Nickelodeon, E*TRADE, Pabst, GameStop and Boehringer-Ingelheim. Prior to MDC Media, Waller worked for Interpublic Group’s (NYSE: IPG) media unit IPG Mediabrands helping to launch BPN a new global agency network. He began his career with IPG Mediabrands flagship agency UM in Dallas eventually being promoted into positions in New York.

A native of Nashville, Tennessee, Waller received his degree from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, and is a proud Horned Frog alum. He and his wife Caitlin will relocate from New York, with Waller assuming leadership of True Media U.S. effective October 1st. He will be based in the agency’s St. Louis office.

About True Independent Holdings

True Independent Holdings is one of North America’s leading independent marketing and advertising networks with capabilities that span strategy, media, data, analytics, digital, social, and content development across its award-winning agencies True Media, True Media Canada, Coegi, and RADaR. Collectively, our companies provide marketers with the ability to collaborate and access best-in-class services by leveraging technology, data analytics, and a deep understanding of consumer behavior in order to help grow business for clients. Our structure enables the agencies in our portfolio to exist independently, grow entrepreneurially, yet collaborate when needed to meet our client’s needs. This integrated approach ensures our clients receive more holistic and effective solutions in less time, from true experts. In addition, through our subsidiary True Properties the company operates locations in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Columbia (Missouri), Minneapolis (Minnesota), Toronto (Ontario), and Calgary (Alberta).

# # #

Press Contact:
Erin Bone, Director of Marketing

Google Limits Search Terms Reporting

Earlier this month, Google announced a new policy change to limit Search Terms reporting. This shift is aimed at increasing user privacy, but the response from practitioners in the SEM world has been swift citing concern over losing visibility into advertiser spend.

While Google has shared limited information so far, here’s what was released in a recent statement: 

In order to maintain our standards of privacy and strengthen our protections around user data, we have made changes to our Search Terms Report to only include terms that a significant number of users searched for. We’re continuing to invest in new and efficient ways to share insights that enable advertisers to make critical business decisions.”


While this change will bring more freedom to Google’s Smart Bidding algorithms to enhance performance and take steps to protect user privacy, this change will prevent advertisers to see exactly where their Paid Search spend is going. Advertisers won’t be able to see all searches that trigger their Paid Search Ads, rather they’ll only be able to monitor searches made by a significant (as defined by Google) number of people.

There is no opt-out option at this time, but we’re working closely to monitor the situation with our Google Premier Partner Reps to better understand the changes and proactively ensure limited client impact.

If you have any questions or concerns about your paid search campaigns in the meantime, please contact us.

True Media Announces Formation of New Independent Holding Company Structure

  • True Independent Holdings to Deliver Expanded Marketing Capabilities
  • Umbrella Company Focused on Investment and Acquisition Strategy
  • Founder Jack Miller to Serve as CEO of True Independent Holdings

COLUMBIA, MO (September 15, 2020) – True Media, one of the fastest growing media strategy and communications agencies in North America announced today a significant expansion of its business with the formation of True Independent Holdings. This new holding company structure will include flagship media and strategy firms True Media and True Media Canada, digital marketing agency Coegi and data and analytics agency RADaR. Additionally, the holding unit will also operate True Properties, an independent subsidiary leveraging opportunities across real estate, technology and other shared services.

With the creation of True Independent Holdings, True Media founder Jack Miller will assume the role of CEO for the holding company with a focus on investment, acquisition and integration efforts that grow and strengthen the portfolio of capabilities. Bruce Neve will remain in his position as President, True Media Canada and continue to report to Miller. True Media U.S. will announce a new leader who will hold the title of president. The company expects to name its new president within days.

“Today we celebrate and take a major step in executing our vision of becoming the most effective independent holding company in the marketing industry,” said Miller. “Our portfolio of capabilities across strategy, media, data, analytics and digital content reflect the type of expertise our clients need and demand as they strive to reach their business objectives.”

True Independent Holdings will now focus on expansion opportunities that accelerate growth and further develop its portfolio of specialty expertise which has been built over the past 15 years within the True Media network. Under Miller’s continued leadership, the holding company will look for investment and acquisition opportunities across the marketing continuum.

“My objective is to identify like-minded, entrepreneurial firms across North America that further strengthen our capabilities across the technology, data, media and content spaces,” he added. “Our intent is to find investment opportunities with partners that share our values and passion for client service.”

About True Independent Holdings

True Independent Holdings is one of North America’s leading independent marketing and advertising networks with capabilities that span strategy, media, data, analytics, digital, social and content development across its award winning agencies True Media, True Media Canada, Coegi and RADaR. Collectively, our companies provide marketers with the ability to collaborate and access best-in-class services by leveraging technology, data analytics, and a deep understanding of consumer behavior in order to help grow business for clients. Our structure enables the agencies in our portfolio to exist independently, grow entrepreneurially, yet collaborate when needed to meet our client’s needs. This integrated approach ensures our clients receive more holistic and effective solutions in less time, from true experts. In addition, through our subsidiary True Properties the company operates locations in St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri, Minneapolis, Toronto and Calgary, Alberta Canada.

About Jack Miller

Jack Miller founded True Media LLC in 2005. He has since expanded the network’s capabilities with the launch of True Independent Holdings to include not only True Media US and True Media Canada, but digital agency Coegi and data and analytics firm RADaR. Under his leadership and direction, the company has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of America’s fastest growing companies, received the Missouri Chamber of Commerce “Missouri Fast Track” award, acknowledged by the Agency Post as one of America’s fastest growing advertising agencies, and named the Bionic Agency of the Year for two consecutive years. In addition, Miller was named the U.S. Small Business Administration Business Person of the Year in 2015 and was a Midwestern Finalist for the Ernest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016.

# # #

Press Contact:
Erin Bone, Director of Marketing

Search Trends During COVID-19

Businesses around the world have been working quickly to adapt to the dramatic changes in consumer demand, behavior and expectations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is particularly true in the Healthcare space, which has been uniquely impacted by the pandemic. Patients and health care professionals alike have been turning to Google during these unprecedented times for information.

The graph below shows the volume of Coronavirus searches. A steady increase in February & March, after the World Health Organization declared a Global Health Emergency, with volume peaking in the US around mid-March, when a national emergency was declared.

As to be expected, this year telemedicine has seen 4x the search volume so far compared to the same time frame in 2019. While the overall volume has increased, it is also important to call out that the tone of the queries has changed. In early 2020, queries were education-focused and information seeking (what is coronavirus, how is coronavirus spread). However, as time progressed the queries shifted to take a tone of more concern, preparation and statistics (how many people have died from coronavirus, how many cases in the us, when will coronavirus end). 

The symptoms and treatment category search volume, particularly related to COVID, has increased in the first 6 months of the year, with cold & flu category seeing +125% YoY growth, seasonal allergies seeing +37% YoY growth, multivitamins seeing +49% YoY growth, vaccines & immunizations seeing +48% YoY increase and trauma & stress disorders seeing +40% search volume growth. 

Conversely, categories including dental health, lupus, arthritis, and certain types of cancer have seen YoY decreases in Search volume. 
For more information on paid search strategy and your campaigns, contact us here.

Emerging Post Pandemic Out-of-Home Trends

The past few months have been tough on the Out-of-Home (OOH) industry. With consumers under stay at home orders they have not been on the roads or traveling the amount of miles they normally would during the course of a week. Advertisers had to rethink their strategy and find different and creative ways to use OOH to reach their consumers. Hand sanitizing stations, branded face masks, grocery/delivery bags, and pizza/take out boxes are just a few of the ways advertisers have been able to get their message in the hands (literally) of consumers.

This week we are celebrating the 8th consecutive week of the average number of miles traveled increasing across the country. Not all markets are recovering at the same rate, but all have seen considerable growth since April. According to GeoPath, DMA’s New York’s weekly average miles traveled have increased 175% since April, however Omaha has only increased by 37%. It will take time to get the numbers back up to where they were prior to COVID-19, but we are already on the right track and the numbers will continue to grow.

However, not all consumers are ready to venture outside of their homes. According to Nielsen’s (href=”http://blog.geopath.org/index.php/2020/05/19/nielsens-covid-19-consumer-sentiment-and-spending-intention-study/) COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment and Spending Intention Study consumers have one of three attitudes: “Wait and See” (31%), “Proceed with Caution” (37%), and “Ready to Go” (32%).

The “Ready to Go” segment is optimistic that life will return to normal quickly. This group tends to skew younger (25-54), have children under the age of 11 in their home, and are more affluent with HHI of $100k+. They intend to spend money on travel, household services, home improvement, auto parts/ repair, and food/dining. In regards to travel, they will most likely avoid airports and confined spaces, but will still travel by car or other methods to get where they are going.

The “Proceed with Caution” group is leaving the house, but being very cautious about where they go and take all the necessary safety precautions. The “Wait and See” group plans to wait a little bit longer before venturing out. Even though they are taking things one day at a time, they still expect to be back out in the world within a month or two.

This data shows that 69% of consumers are back on the road and ready to spend.

So what does this mean for OOH? With people back on the roads, traditional OOH impression levels are headed back to where they were prior to the pandemic and will continue to grow. Since consumers have been cooped up for so long and summer is almost here, many are starting to plan vacations, which will increase the amount of impressions even more.

The OOH might struggle at times, but if you think outside of the box there is always a way to put your message in the hands of consumers. After all, there is a reason why it is the oldest media format.

If you have any questions about your OOH media strategy moving forward post-pandemic, please contact us.

Chrissy has more than 20 years of experience as an OOH Media Specialist and has worked for national agencies such as D’Arcy, MediaVest, and Starcom. Throughout the years she has handled numerous traditional and experiential/ambient outdoor campaigns across the globe for clients such as Continental Airlines, Oracle, Jim Beam, Miller/Coors, Ernst & Young, and NBC Networks. At True Media Chrissy’s experience helps others develop effective OOH campaigns for our clients. By keeping up the latest trends within this industry she is able to recommend innovative solutions to help clients achieve their goals.