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Podcast: 2020 Year in Review – How the Digital Marketing Landscape Changed

How the Digital Marketing Landscape Changed:

Podcast: 2020 year in Review - How it changed the Digital Marketing Landscape
Podcast: 2020 year in Review – How it changed the Digital Marketing Landscape

Dave Granfield:

So, All right. I feel like it’s been a little while since this has happened. It’s good to be back in producing a little bit of content and you’re not Jay. No. Who are you?

James Staunton:

I’m James, the sales guy here. So yeah. Thank you for inviting me.

Dave Granfield:

So because we haven’t done an episode since May a lot’s changed around BidPixel. We’ve probably doubled the size of our team. Some awesome people like James have come on board, and that’s where I’m at. We are providing probably more services and better services to our customers now more than ever. And it’s just time to take it up to another notch. A lot of you have been asking for this content to come back, so we’re back with it. 

So James and I today are talking about 2020 in review. What’s happened over the last 12 months? We’re not going to focus on COVID for the whole time. Right. It would be easy to just have an episode talking about COVID, but I’m kind of over it. So mate, let’s go shot for shot, or I’m going to go every two for your one on 2020 and review. So let’s just hear from your point of view, what you’ve seen.

James Staunton:

Well, I know we said we weren’t going to talk about COVID so we’ll get it out of the way as early as possible. Just how the landscape changed in general for all of us, I don’t think anyone was able to prepare for it and no one saw it coming. And it’s not just the little guys that got caught out, big businesses failed to prepare. It caught us all out.

Dave Granfield:

Yep. All right. So give me a couple of examples of where you saw big business get caught out and where you saw a bit of guerilla marketing happening,I know your example isn’t so little, but where the independence had kind of come through this and doing really well.

James Staunton:

Yeah. Well, I remember the first one is what stood out was Kmart deciding to trial a virtual queuing system. I think it’s happened towards the end of March, start of April where we, especially here in Queensland, we were in the pump of it all where we’re in that lockdown, no one could go into the store, we were all spending online. They clearly didn’t trial or set up enough trailing with that queue. And we ended up having up to two hour waiting times to get into their website.

Dave Granfield:

So just to their website, I mean, Kmart came out to have massive issues leading on from that; their stock is in low supply. Like you walk through a Kmart now and you wonder if they’re going out of business because they just can’t get stock into the country. Right? So Kmart tried to adapt and go online in a hard and fast way. Who on the flip side, who did that really well?

James Staunton:

On the flip side, it’s been seen everywhere and in Forbes. GymShark, obviously a company that was quite close to where I grew up in Birmingham.

Dave Granfield:

Represent hey. 

James Staunton:

Yeah, represent.

So Ben Francis the owner, they’ve only been in business for seven years. 2012, he was a pizza delivery guy. And this year they become a billion-pound company. So it’s amazing growth from them. And you know,  they’re breaking the mould of what is the conventional norm for successful businesses. There’s no storefront, no wholesale. It was just social targeting on Tik Tok and Instagram and that fitness community. And they just really went after that activewear and gym wear industry. I think they’ve shaken a few of the bigger brands up.

Dave Granfield:

Definitely, definitely. So if you don’t know who GymShark is and Ben is, just jump on YouTube and start, he’s got his own channel. Ben, you’re never going to watch this right. But you’ve done a good job, mate.

James Staunton:

 If you do, hello.

Dave Granfield: 

 If you do hi, come on.

GymShark is going phenomenally. Like print on demand, activewear, they’ve grown to now be valued over a billion dollars. Ben’s retained something like 70% ownership of that business through that journey. They’re now in every major continent and just accelerating from there. So through the use of user-generated content and user-first content TikTok and Instagram Stories have just propelled that business where a lot of these bricks and mortar retail or traditional retail just hasn’t been able to keep up with the way the consumers are changing. 

Dave Granfield:

The last thing about COVID is I have a personal opinion that COVID softened Black Friday, Cyber Monday results. Looking at our data from our customers, COVID was good to e-commerce. Everyone went online. Everyone started shopping online. No one’s travelling overseas. There’s a little bit more discretionary spending when it came to purchasing online, the lead up from June through to November, really strong sales across the whole e-commerce demographic, Black Friday, Cyber Monday definitely had a spike-like it would, but there just wasn’t the same spike that I’ve seen every other year where it’s just a frenzy over the weekend.

James Staunton:

Well a few clients I’ve spoken to, they actually held off, they did the opposite to what you’re meant to do for Black Friday. And they held off from actually launching any sales and they still saw that spike in orders. And I think, good on them. I think that there are probably a lot of people that have spent money online and we’re waiting to see sales. And when they didn’t happen from a few businesses, they still purchased.

Dave Granfield:

They still purchase right? And those businesses sold at full price. Whereas everyone else was discounting up to 50 per cent, right? We’ve for a long time discouraged people going hard into Black Friday, Cyber Monday for the sake of doing it. If you’re not going to turn a profit and you need to be doing it as an exercise to grow your user base and grow your audience base if they’re never going to come back and purchase from you again, don’t discount that heavily. One of the other things I saw, what I saw and what I was targeted with, the US largely narrowed down or shrunk down their black Friday, Cyber Monday to literally Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A lot of them went back to just the weekend, really. Whereas Australia is probably lagging in that. And we are like a lot of our customers that were participating were doing week-long sales. Right. So they’re discounting everything for a whole week. Wow. Whereas the US I can kind of see it starting to contract just to the sale days.

James Staunton:

Yeah. On that point as well. And this is, so I’ve got to get this off my chest because I’ve heard it a few, the number of businesses that we’ve come across, where they’re discounting some of their items so much, they’re literally losing money on some of their items. I don’t know what’s going on.

Dave Granfield:

I like there are three ways to make money in business. Right. Get more customers acquisition through ads, get them to come back and purchase or get them to spend more and get them to come back again. And if they’re not getting them to spend more or come back again, they’re literally just running themselves out of business. Yep. All right. So what have I seen in 2020? Disapprovals and bans have just been a massive thing over the last couple of months. It happens every Q4 with Facebook, Facebook just tries to clean up their data and get a bit of a look. All of this stuff that’s happened this year with Facebook and privacy rules. And we’re going to talk a little bit about that more in a second, but all of that has kind of happened every year in Q4, they usually tighten up their rules and they usually start changing how the platform works.

Dave Granfield:

I think it was a bit heavier this year, lots of account bans, ad account bans, page disapprovals, and a lot of just cleaning up the find the fluff gets cleaned up in Q4 and the people who aren’t prepared or haven’t been through that before kind of get caught up. My news feeds and Facebook have just been full of “My ad accounts banned. My page is banned”. I react like, well do things according to Facebook’s terms of service and you’ll be fine. Yes. There is the odd time where, you know, some AI bots got it wrong, but within a few hours, it’s usually back. The second thing I’ve seen, which is no different this time of year is CPMs. So cost per thousand and CPA Costs to Acquire are increasing. There’s been about a 90% increase year on year.

Dave Granfield:

Since we’ve been playing with Facebook ads. Now, the stats are the 7 million advertisers currently on Facebook’s network. This year, there’s been very slow growth in actual users joining Facebook. So it’s a supply and a demand thing. The more advertisers that are coming to play without the more consumers, the demand goes up, right. 

James Staunton:

Noisy space, right.

Dave Granfield:

It’s a noisy space. All right. We harped on at the start of this year, it’s all about content. It’s about video first. It’s about mobile-first, which I think you’re going to talk about if you’re not putting out the best content, targeting the audience in the best way, you’re going to see your costs rise, and you’re not going to be winning at the game of Facebook. There is going to be someone who’s doing it better than you. That’s going to get it cheaper than you. Yeah. Do you want to talk about mobile-first? What’s the status?

James Staunton:

Yeah, it’s been crazy as, like 93% of all Facebook traffic comes from mobile, which currently probably ties into what we found this year with COVID and everyone being stuck at home and we’re searching on our devices more and more. We’re a digital economy. So it makes perfect sense that such a high percentage of traffic does come from our mobile. So it’s about making sure you’re present if you’re a brand online.

Dave Granfield:

Perfect segway. My next point, dynamic ad placement formats this year. Facebook’s platform in business manager took a massive change to allow better dynamic ad placement one image or multiple images, variations placed differently. So, vertica, one-to-one all the different aspect ratios and all the different placements it’s become easier for the consumer to do. What I have noticed though, is lazy marketers, have slowed down or stopped doing their creative placement correctly. The amount of Instagram stories I see with a one by one square image. And Facebook’s algorithm putting a bit of colour top and bottom is insanely prolific. The platform is getting easier and easier to use, but sadly people aren’t taking the extra step or going the extra mile to make sure that the user experience on the ad creative is there.

James Staunton:

Yeah. It’s like anything on, especially Facebook, you know, as competition gets more and more, the platform evolves. And I think, you know, I remember a couple of years ago where on Facebook, you could get away with just one or two ads that kind of semi-relevant to the majority of people. But now, it’s just, you have to do so much more to get that performance. And I think we see a lot with a number of agencies or businesses that come across in other agencies, and will adopt what I would call a bit of a lazy approach, really.

Dave Granfield:

100 percent.

We need to have a chat. The biggest things that you’re facing at the moment is lack of communication and probably lack of expertise when you’re talking to people in your sales role. Honestly, the results are almost taking a back seat to people’s agencies not being there for their customers. Right. So we’re going to have to do a whole other episode on that. All right. One of the other changes was ads limits per pages. So Facebook announced that they are rolling out within early 2021 where ad accounts will have a set limit of ads that they can run. So a small business who’s doing less than a hundred thousand dollars a year in ad spend will have a cap of 250 consecutive ads running. The guys that are getting closer to our size with the $1 million to $10 million a year in ad spend, where they can have 5,000 ads consecutively running.

Dave Granfield:

Now, there are different tiers in that, in between that and above that, but Facebook’s come out and said, we want to start capping how many ads you can run, just so that there’s a better user experience and a better both on the consumer end, but also on the advertisers end as well. Right. Don’t do a ‘spray and pray’ strategy. Obviously there’s room for testing, but making sure that there are, I guess, some limits around how many ads are live on an ad account at any given time. Have you got something else?

James Staunton:

 I didn’t know that that’s very interesting.

Dave Granfield:

Well there, you go guys, teaching sales, something new every day.

James Staunton:

Facebook never, never shy away from changing things up once in a while. 

Dave Granfield:

Oh, well, we can keep on talking about changing things up. Let’s talk quickly about campaign budget optimization. Probably not a lot that you know about, but Jay and I hyped on about CBO campaign budget optimization, a bucket load at the start of the year when CBO was coming in. It was going to be enforced by January this year. They backdated it, they cancelled that. And then, in the end, Facebook came out and said, we are not forcing you to run campaign budget optimized campaigns. So that was where you had to allocate your budget at the campaign level and then create your ad sets below that, they retracted what they said. And you can do ad-set based budgeting like you always used to. Now honestly on our end, 90% of our campaigns that we run for customers are still campaign budget optimized. We are still using the algorithm as Facebook built it, and it’s working exceptionally well. I need Jay to fill us in on the intricacies of this, right? He’s on holidays, by the way. That’s why I’ve got Jimmy stepping in, but CBO came. It was enforced, and it was redacted. And honestly, it’s business as usual. It’s just another change on the platform.

James Staunton:

Well deserved holiday, by the way. 

Dave Granfield:

Yeah, Jay’s off on a week fishing. He has been going very hard all year. Next thing was pixel tracking, becoming redundant. So pixel tracking is browser-based tracking. So on your phone in Safari on Chrome in your web browsers, those sorts of things, that’s all browser-based tracking. So, you have the pixel that’s on your website and the browsers are gathering that data. And then that’s how you’re getting re-targeted with the privacy laws. Apple, Firefox, Chrome, are all coming out and saying, we’re no longer allowing this third party tracking. So Facebook scrambled and has come up with a server-side tracking. So working directly with people like Shopify, and we’ve got the ability now to start tracking data through a web server and basically at the very, very start of the, you know, the truth on our website.

Dave Granfield:

Now at the moment, it’s only for purchased based conversions. So we can’t see an ‘Add to Cart’ or view content. We can only see purchase tracking, but from what we’ve been testing it on big and small accounts, still a few little bugs, but definitely something to start thinking about when you’re talking to your agencies, right? Are they aware of this? Are they prepared for this there’s agencies are going to have to start having developers in-house or sourcing developers to start helping with this server-side tracking. And if your agency or your freelancer doesn’t have a clue about this server-side tracking and how pixels are becoming redundant, it might be time to start either putting a firecracker up there butt, or maybe looking and shopping elsewhere.

James Staunton:

Yeah. It’s a massive, massive change. Isn’t it? It’s like a lot of clients or, or conversations we’re having. It’s amazing how few have actually been made aware of it? So, yeah.

Dave Granfield:

Yeah. 2021, again, I’ll get Jay or one of his team in, and we’re going to unpack, server-side tracking a little bit more and give you some good, hard data about what you need to do to prepare for that. One of the next things that we saw with the addition of James to the team and a bucket load of new customers coming on board is our onboarding process has changed a lot over the last couple of months when we bring new customers on. And one of the reasons why that is Facebook’s come out with this Business Suite. Now Facebook’s Business Suite, it’s not  Business Manager, but it’s a single dashboard for consumers to see all of Facebook’s assets. The only thing to note on here is some of the things that change with that is brand new ad accounts, brand new pixels.

Dave Granfield:

They’re putting this window of time where partners can’t get access to that. So some of the accounts that we’ve started working with lately if it’s if you’ve got brand new assets, it’s getting a little bit harder for an agency to get connected to those just purely because Facebook’s trying to clean up their data and they don’t want these rogue ad accounts going live all the time. They don’t want the black hat strategies of millions of ad accounts to run ads that are going to get disapproved. So business suites rollout has just slowed down the way that reputable agencies can connect to your brand new assets within Facebook. The last one for me, before you can do the wrap-up, mate. I definitely like talking don’t I?

James Staunton:

You wouldn’t have guessed it.

Dave Granfield:

The last one for me is the 20% text rule on Facebook has been removed. So for many, many years, you had the 20% text rule on your ad creative. And if you used more than 20% of your image for texts, it would start basically affecting the performance of your ads. Facebook has gone ahead and removed that rule, but there are still some best practices in place. I’ve definitely seen more ads coming out with more text at the end of the day, your discretion of how you do that, but it’s always going to come down to that best user experience. If you can use a big bold font and get your message across great, I wouldn’t be going and using ‘size 10’ point font on your ads and trying to get someone to read three minutes of texts, you know, three seconds of engagement. All right, I’m done.

James Staunton:

I’ll crowbar one more in there. What’s your point of view?

Because the jury is out there for me still. I think we’re still trying to figure out Tik Tok. I always get asked about it all the time. So I’m interested to hear your thoughts on it.

Dave Granfield:

I dunno, as I deleted it off my phone when the whole owned by China thing came out. I was like, I don’t know either way I sit on the fence, but like, I don’t need it. I get the platform. I love the engagement. I know you’ve been having conversations with a lot of people that say they’re getting a lot of engagement. All right. “The engagement’s done on Instagram and Facebook”, but they’re moving to Tik Tok and getting tens or hundreds of thousands of engagement. All I care about as a marketer is actually bringing revenue or bringing an outcome.

James Staunton:

See, this is my argument, as well. I suppose using GymShark as a prime example where their growth happened from, they acclaim it to Tik Tok and Instagram, my argument is their audience is a young audience, right? We are kind of, I think typically we’re more bored by static content. Now, I think we’ve gone past that. Our attention span is less than a goldfish apparently, which is quite embarrassing. But we like moving content. We like highly engaging content, which is probably why Instagram still with stories and video is probably one of the most effective platforms, similar to Tik Tok.

Dave Granfield:

A hundred percent agree with you, user first content. Their experience is everything that’s going to win in 2021. So am I, what’s my opinion on Tik Tok?

James Staunton:

Fence?

Dave Granfield:

We need to be investigating it, we need to be working in it. You’re a hundred per cent, right? It is a user-first platform, but if someone comes to us and goes, I want to be on TikTok, or my competitor has got 10,000 followers on TikTok. All right, bring me the data of what that’s actually getting you in sales revenue or leads. And then let’s have a discussion about how it’s going to benefit you. Because at the end of the day, we’re getting judged on sales, leads or results, right? And people don’t want vanity metrics when they’re talking to an agency.

James Staunton:

There you go.

Dave Granfield:

By the way, look at this shirt. So this is actually, I can’t say the word if we’re not going to censor it, but it’s ‘Terrible Shirt Friday’ today in the office. And James wore his normal shirt today. I’m so disappointed. 

James Staunton:

I wish someone told me about it.

Dave Granfield:

But I think we’re going to have to get you doing some of the agency Tik Tok stuff if we’re going to do it because clearly, you’re the one most in touch with that generation.

James Staunton:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s a terrible shirt. A it’s actually silk, which you probably can’t pick up on camera.

Dave Granfield:

It’s actually pretty nice, Jimmy. Thanks very much, mate, appearing on your first podcast. And it’s going to be the first of many, buddy. We’ve got a few to go in 2021.

James Staunton:

Looking forward to it. 

Dave Granfield:

Thanks, mate. High-Five.

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