The Future of an AI-Powered Search Landscape
AI (artificial intelligence) is transforming the search engine landscape by enabling search engines to provide more personalized and relevant results to users.
Microsoft has invested heavily in AI and NLP (natural language processing) to improve the capabilities of its Bing search engine and the partnership with OpenAI has already led to improvements in Bing’s natural language understanding and generated more human-like responses to search queries. Similar to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google Bard is the latest experimental AI-powered chatbot that can respond to various queries and requests in a conversational manner.
That said, the search engines are not quite there yet as these AI models are continually being trained and tested by engineers for better performance.
As search practitioners, we are excited to see what is in store and are monitoring this space closely – but are not ready to make changes to our SEM or SEO plans just yet.
But, we are able to shed some light on how it looks.
At a Microsoft press event in Redmond Washington, Microsoft showed off its new Bing search engine powered by ChatGPT-like functionality. Following this event, Google showed a demo of Bard and AI generative search, rivaling OpenAI’s ChatGPT. In both these demos, we can see that the AI chat experience is not replacing the traditional SEM/SEO listings but is showing alongside it.
How Does This Impact SEO/SEM Listings?
The impact of ChatGPT on traffic to sites through SEO listings will depend on a variety of factors:
- How search engines integrate AI-powered technologies into their algorithms
- How website owners adapt their SEO strategies to these changes
- How users respond to the new search results
However, AI-powered technologies like ChatGPT are likely to have a significant impact on the future of SEO and search engine rankings.
Advertisers may fear that this will take away from their organic/paid traffic when the users can get answers without visiting their websites – and while the actual impact on traffic is yet to be seen – Microsoft’s demo has also shown answers where SEO links are embedded, assuring that SEO remains an important factor to the websites.
When ChatGPT does not have enough information from its pre-existing database, it uses Bing’s search API to find relevant websites for credible and trustworthy information. While it may re-write your content to answer the user’s query, it does give credit to appropriate sources, as seen below.
Also, let’s not forget that while AI is able to provide short and informative answers to the user query, it cannot complete the final conversion action. SEM and SEO ads would still be important to convert the users.
Five Things We Are Watching Out For?
- Driving qualified leads: In our performance-based campaigns, we often invest higher in the top and mid-funnel tactics to navigate the users through the discovery and consideration phases before driving them down to the conversion funnel. With SEM and SEO working together with the AI chat, the users may be able to get the information they need to decide much faster, driving them to then visit the site to convert. This could potentially help bring down CPAs and even drive quality traffic to the site at a lower investment
- Investment in Bing vs Google: With the upcoming integration of OpenAI & Bing, Microsoft is trying to increase its search market share. We will continue to monitor consumer response and usage of search engines to make sure our clients are engaging with users in the right channels
- SEO traffic fluctuations: Although Microsoft’s demo showed that SEO links would be embedded in responses, we’re still unsure about how often it will show, how it will impact the brand presence and what is the impact on organic traffic to the site
- Change in keyword strategy: With the use of AI models in search engines, search behaviors will shift to longer and conversational search queries which may typically change how we currently view our keyword strategies for SEO and SEM
- Impact on conversions: With users being able to cut a considerable amount of time in the discovery and consideration phases, with the help of AI, how short would the conversion journey become and how will it impact the actual conversion numbers
How Can You Make Sure Your Content Is Optimized For The AI Model?
According to ChatGPT, it’s important to note that the AI models are not specifically designed to ‘scroll’ websites for content, but rather to understand natural language and provide relevant responses to user queries.
However, there are still several steps you can take to optimize your website for search engines like Bing and Google to improve your visibility to users.
- Use clear, descriptive language: When writing content for your website, use clear and descriptive language that accurately reflects the products or services you offer. This will make it easier for the AI language model to understand and interpret your content, and provide more accurate results to users
- Optimize for relevant keywords: Research the keywords and phrases that users are likely to search for when looking for businesses like yours, in the new environment with integrated AI chat. Use these keywords throughout your website’s content, including in page titles, meta descriptions, and headers. However, make sure to avoid “keyword stuffing,” as this can negatively impact your search rankings
- Focus on quality content: Creating high-quality, informative content is important for both users and search engines. Make sure your website contains helpful information about your products or services and aims to provide value to your user’s intent
- Use structured data: Structured data is a standardized format that makes it easier for search engines to understand the content on your website. By including structured data on your website, you can make it easier for all AI chat-powered search engines to interpret your content and provide more relevant results to users
- Ensure your website is mobile-friendly: With more users accessing the web on mobile devices, it’s important to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile. This means using a responsive design that adapts to different screen sizes and optimizing your website’s loading times
- Personalization and engagement: AI language models are designed to provide quick and convenient answers, but they may not always provide the level of personalization or engagement that users are looking for. By creating engaging and interactive content, including videos, infographics, and other multimedia elements, you can help build a stronger connection with your audience and encourage them to return to your site
- Build a strong reputation: Encourage user engagement and feedback by providing a forum for comments and questions, responding to feedback and criticisms, and actively participating in online communities related to your website’s topic
By taking these steps to optimize your website for search engines and user experience, you can help ensure that AI-powered technologies can effectively crawl and understand your content, and provide more relevant results to your users.
In the future, we can expect Google, Bing, and other search engines to continue investing in AI and NLP technologies to improve the search experience for users. This may include more advanced voice and image recognition capabilities, enhanced personalization, and improvements in the accuracy and relevance of search results.
Introducing PPM Wearables: An Enhancement in Measurement from Nielsen
Nielsen recently announced another improvement in its ability to collect local broadcast viewing and listening data. The rollout of PPM Wearables will certainly add an additional layer of accurate measurement to its toolbox of data collection methods. As Nielsen looks to increase sample size and accuracy while reducing its reliance on often unreliable or inaccurate diaries, it hopes to grow advertisers and agencies’ confidence in its ability to accurately measure exposure across platforms.
For years, advertisers and agencies have relied almost exclusively on Nielsen data to analyze and forecast national and local viewing ratings. Nielsen’s audience measurement began with diaries – actively filled out by panelists across the country – to collect reported viewing data. In 1986, Nielsen developed the People Meter to electronically and passively – and more accurately – collect exposure to TV and radio broadcasts. The People Meter revolutionized the television industry – suddenly “overnight ratings” were available, allowing advertisers a glimpse of viewership almost in real-time versus weeks or months later. Then in 2007, Nielsen announced new Portable People Meters (PPMs) intended to further improve accuracy in measurement at the individual person level.
PPMs operate with encoding that picks up the electronic signals of stations within earshot (what the individual participant is likely listening to or viewing) making it a more reliable source. Interestingly, the introduction of PPMs resulted in a general decline in reported viewing/listening likely due to greater accuracy.
Now, Nielsen has enhanced the Portable People Meter – introducing PPM Wearables.
According to Nielsen, PPM Wearables are the next frontier of audience measurement and a key component of cross platform measurement. The rollout of the PPM Wearables began in late April/May in 47 radio metros and as of early June, approximately 6,500 PPM Wearables have been installed. By the end of 2022, Nielsen expects 50-75% wearables to be in the panel.
PPM Wearables have a smaller, updated design that is more aligned with current wearable technology trends. They aren’t connected smart watches – they’re designed specifically for accurate reporting of viewing and listening data – but the new designs are easy to wear and carry, making them more appealing to challenging demographics. The PPM Wearable includes multiple carry options including a wristband, clip and pendant.
What does all this mean?
It means Nielsen is heading deeper into development technology that will help build a single panel with more cross platform measurement data. Nielsen’s competition (ispot, VideoAmp, Comscore, Google etc.) are also working to have the most accurate and efficient technology/methodology for audience measurement. And all (Nielsen included) wanting to achieve MRC Accreditation so that advertisers and agencies trust the data. Advertisers and agencies like True Media are anxious to figure out which measurement system, or combination of systems, will rise to the top in quality and efficiency across platforms. In the meantime, PPM Wearables trendy look and ease of use should entice more panelists to participate, and ultimately result in more accuracy in reporting listenership/viewership for TV and radio. And perhaps other channels in the future.
True Media Awarded Google Premier Partner Status
Columbia, Missouri-based digital agency, True Media, one of the fastest growing media agencies in North America has achieved 2022 Premier Partner status in the Google Partners program.
True Media’s team of experts, across six offices, provides comprehensive media strategy, data analysis and all forms of media buying from traditional to programmatic across six offices in Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Louis, MO; Minneapolis, MN; Toronto, ON and Calgary, AB.
“Only a small percentage of digital and media agencies are awarded Premier Partner status,” said Preston Waller, president, True Media. “While we’re, of course, delighted by the honor and recognition from Google, our real reward comes simply from doing high quality, innovative work with our clients day in and day out. That’s what drives our team.”
This month, Google recognized the achievements of top performing digital marketing partners across the globe by awarding Premier Partner status as part of the new Google Partners program, which was not True Media’s first time receiving the designation – marking a years long commitment to maintaining Premier Partner status.
The Google Partners program has undergone significant changes for 2022, including redefining what it means to be a Premier Partner through new, advanced program requirements and offering new Premier Partner benefits to support growth and success with Google Ads.
“Congratulations to our Premier Partners for being among the top 3% of Google Partners in North America. These companies stand out based on their commitment to developing product expertise, building new client relationships, and helping current clients grow. We look forward to supporting them as they help their customers succeed online.” – Davang Shah, Senior Director, Google Ads Marketing.
True Media is part of a select group of Premier Partners in the Google Partners program. This program is designed for advertising agencies and third parties that manage Google Ads accounts on behalf of other brands or businesses. Its mission is to empower companies by providing them with innovative tools, resources, and support to help their clients succeed and grow online.
True Media was founded in 2005 with a simple mission: creating strategic, innovative and impactful ways to connect clients with their customers in the evolving media landscape. Starting as one office, True is now a network of six locations across North America, delivering best-in-class media and engagement programs, strategic partnerships and a combination of the power of big agency buying with start-up entrepreneurial flair. Each client program is tailored, custom and designed to immediately ignite business results where they matter most.
It’s Time for a Local TV Currency Change
Local TV broadcasters and buyers are finally moving to an impression-based vs. ratings-based currency in order to place Local TV on a playing field comparable to other video and digital channels. Viewing audiences have actually always been measured on impressions, and this evolution does not represent a fundamental change. What is changing is the transaction currency for those impressions — now transacted on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) rather than a cost-per-point (CPP) used when the impressions were converted to rating points. The pace of this evolution was accelerated to accommodate Nielsen’s upcoming integration of broadband-only (BBO) homes into its local samples and universes – originally slated to become the standard for most local markets on April 1st, but recently delayed by Nielsen to October 2021.
While rating points typically rounded Local TV viewing audiences to the nearest tenth of a percentage point, leaving some viewers on the sidelines, and were held to Nielsen’s minimum reporting standards, impressions account for all viewers and allow for more precise reporting of Local TV audience delivery and performance as well as post-buy evaluation.
In the past, ratings could easily be converted to impressions, but the nature of rounding and reporting minimums often under-represented the total number of impressions, and the recent addition of Nielsen’s BBO homes is affecting the local market universes. Early estimates indicate that the shift from ratings to impressions and the addition of BBO homes adds anywhere from 5%-20% of viewers depending on the daypart. Interestingly, while local market universes will increase, ratings will likely see an overall decline because of proportionately less Local TV viewing in BBO homes.
The shift to impressions not only enables sellers and buyers to count all viewers on screens, it helps to simplify cross-platform comparisons and include Local TV in those solutions. Using impressions as the currency for Local TV, buyers and brands can now plan holistically across platforms and screens.
Moving to impressions will also help buyers to consider automated TV platforms and processes common in digital platforms, and further efforts to use audience data across platforms.
This change doesn’t reflect a change in the way viewers are watching Local TV. Instead, it reflects the desire for sellers, brands and agencies like True Media to transact in a currency more similar to the majority of other channels, as well as positioning Local TV as an integral part of the evolving video landscape.
What does the Apple iOS 14 update mean for advertisers?
Apple has announced upcoming data-permission changes with iOS 14 that will impact how advertisers, publishers and app developers can target and track users on Facebook and other platforms. Businesses that advertise mobile apps, as well as those that optimize, target, and report on web conversion events will be affected.
Until now, advertisers could use a device ID number called the IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) to better target ads and estimate how effective they were. In iOS 14, each app that wants to use these identifiers will prompt users to opt-in to tracking when the app is first launched. Users can choose “Allow Tracking” or “Ask App Not to Track.” If users want to provide more data for advertisers to serve them more relevant ads, they will need to explicitly opt-in (rather than currently being able to opt-out) in order to provide permissions to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier. This prompt will appear when using all iOS apps, including apps within the Facebook family and apps that monetize with the Facebook Audience Network.
Data permissions that will require user approval include:
- Displaying targeted advertisements in apps based on data collected from apps and websites owned by other companies
- Sharing device location data or email lists
- Sharing a list of emails advertising IDs or other IDs with a third-party ad network that uses that information to retarget
- Placing a third-party SDK in apps that combines user data from one app with data from another app to target or measure advertising
As users opt-out of tracking on iOS 14 devices, advertisers will see a decrease in the number of conversions attributed to their paid advertising campaigns and iOS 14 limitations may cause some ads to be paused or stop delivering to certain devices.
In its long history of conflict with Apple’s stance on data and privacy, Facebook has responded by testing a new feature that shows users its own prompt before Apple’s pop-up appears. In this test, Facebook’s prompt will explain to users why it wants to track activity and ask users to opt-in, hoping to convince users to allow ongoing tracking to provide a more relevant advertising experience.
At this point, it is difficult to anticipate the full impact of this permission change, but we are working with our social partners to ensure that other tracking mechanisms are in place. Making sure pixels, SDKs and web domains are updated and verified is important for future conversions. We will continue to work with each client and determine best actions to ensure the best targeting and tracking tactics for each unique measurement strategy.
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.
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.
What is True Local?
At True Media, innovation is one of our four core values. Each month we award teams who demonstrate internal or client innovations, and at the end of the year we award one overall Innovation Award winner that stood out amongst other winners. This year’s Innovation Award winner is Senior Search Strategist Steve Sherfy for his leadership in the True Local initiative.
True Local is a management services and review monitoring platform that enables you to view and respond to customer reviews in one place. It gathers information from your stores, uploads and maintains listings. This includes changes to hours, new stores, and consistent brand information. True Local also provides a single platform from which you can reply directly to customer reviews — an essential practice for improving local search result performance.
Who Needs It
- Any brand with brick and mortar locations needs a local SEO program which extends beyond the search platforms to other directory sites like Apple Maps, Foursquare, YP.com, Facebook, etc.
- With Google now incorporating GMB location activity into the paid search metrics, along with the store visit conversion paid search metric, a local SEO program is more important than ever for your brand.
Successes – Client A
- 27% increase in total views of their listings
- 16% increase in views on search results and a 43% increase in views on map results
- Total interactions with the listings increased 60% with a 59% increase in clicks to the banking website, 15% increase in clicks for driving directions and an 82% increase in clicks to call a bank location
Successes – Client B
Within first 90 days on the program we were able to show our client:
- Over 1.1MM views of their business listings
- Approximately 12,000 store visits
- Estimated 7,800 in-store purchases
- Worth an estimated $297K
- ROI of 94:1