At recent NECO and Primetime shows, the RWS team had the opportunity to hear directly from independent retailers their top frustrations with digital advertising:

It’s both time sensitive and time consuming.

It requires many different people/companies working together to execute.

It’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t.

While retailers understand digital advertising is a critical activity to reach today’s mobile-obsessed consumer and encourage in-store traffic, many are feeling the burdensome task of reaching—and winning—online shoppers.

Through a series of Learning Academies at the tradeshows, the digital marketing experts at RWS shared knowledge and timely, practical tips for understanding and navigating the world of online advertising as we know it today. Specifically, advertising on the primary platforms, Google and Facebook.

Keeping up with changes to Google Ads can be overwhelming as new features are announced regularly across search, display, analytics, remarketing and more. For example, Mark Zuckerberg announced earlier this year that Facebook would be changing its feed algorithm to prioritize content from friends, family and groups over brands.

After the incident involving Cambridge Analytica, changes to the ways Facebook handles data have included removing household income as a target demographic.

So, if you missed a buying group show this year or were unable to attend all of the Learning Academies, here are the top 10 takeaways from the highly attended session, “5 Steps to Better Facebook & Google Ads.”

Based on presenter material and retailer engagement, the following takeaways are intended to shed light on the state of digital marketing and provide pragmatic tips despite the evolving landscape:

1. The current state of digital marketing

64% of people find most online ads annoying and intrusive. Popup ads lead the way with a 73% disapproval rating.

To cut through the clutter, focus on making ads that are professional, engaging and timely.

2. Ad blocking is real

26% of users have ad-blockers on their computers; 15% have ad-blockers on their smartphones. Google Chrome launched a new feature that will block ads that violate guidelines published by the Coalition for Better Advertising.

From our perspective, this means three out of four PC users DON’T block ads, and more than 8 out of 10 mobile users are able to see your advertising as well!

3. Traditional broadcast TV ad spending is declining in the U.S.

These ad dollars have shifted to digital channels. In 2017, the total U.S. TV ad spend was approximately $70 billion, the digital ad spend was $90 billion.

Given the rapidly-escalating volume and complexity of these markets, placing, monitoring and optimizing these ads manually is no longer a viable option for independent retailers.

You need software, machine learning and artificial intelligence to continually experiment, monitor, adjust and optimize ads so your dollars are used in the most efficient and effective way possible.

4. Mobile has taken over the state of digital marketing

44% of all U.S. browsing is done on mobile devices; 48% of consumers start searches on their smartphones.

5. The big boxes, still reeling from Amazon, are engaging consumers across more mediums

These include Google Display, Google Remarketing, Google My Business, Instagram, Facebook and more.

In order to compete, independent retailers need to rely on experts. That’s exactly why Google has their Premier Partner Program: they know small businesses struggle to keep up with best practices, and they prefer they work with experts for a better experience and ROI.

6. The top five steps you can take to run more effective Google and Facebook ads are:

Use humor

Use video

Use compelling creative

Understand your audience

Grow your store’s brand affinity.

7. Know your goal for each ad

This typically falls into three categories: awareness, engagement and traffic.

8. If your goal is awareness:

In order for people to see your brand over and over to stay top of mind, watch the number of impressions, views and cost per view (CPV). Ignore cost per click (CPC) and click through rate (CTR).

9. If your goal is engagement:

Meaning getting prospects to interact with ads, monitor cost per engagement (CPE) and unique views. Ignore number of impressions.

10. If your goal is traffic:

If getting people to your website is the primary objective, watch CPC and CTR. Ignore number of impressions.