marketing roundtable

Digital Marketing

A Wave of Change is Coming to Paid Media (And Why You Need to Prepare Now)

The digital marketing landscape is always evolving, but perhaps no discipline resides on the precipice of industry-shifting change more than paid media.

On this episode of the Marketing Roundtable Podcast, hosts Rachel Rhodes and Tatiana Knies-Smith sit down with paid media manager extraordinaire Geoff Graham to review the latest updates in the world of paid media, and how online advertising as we know it is about to transform forever.

Meet the Expert

Geoff comes stacked with years of experience in Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, programmatic Display & Video, and beyond. With a persistent finger on the pulse, he’s trusted around the office to always know the latest — both in the industry and for local happenings around Philadelphia.

And this episode is no exception. Join us to hear all things up-and-coming in the paid media world, from recent Google controversies to the fast-approaching future of cookieless advertising.

Testing, Testing

Before delving into all the latest news and developments, we took a moment to snapshot a few current best practices at this point in time. After all, change may be closer than we realize.

Geoff wasted no time identifying his top recommendation:

“Definitely test often … testing different creative, different audiences, that’s one of the biggest things we recommend. But one big thing — if you are doing A/B testing, make sure you’re giving enough time and budget to the test to make sure there’s a statistical significance.”

Tatiana queries whether traffic or engagement are the preferred benchmarks to test for, but Geoff confirms that goals and KPIs are subject to vary by client and project. He goes on to emphasize that regardless of the particular metric being tested, there needs to be enough guaranteed volume to be able to gauge how an audience is truly reacting.

While we all believe A/B testing is here to stay (and there’s a full podcast episode on that very topic if you’d like to learn more) the fabric of testing itself will be subject to change.

And if you guessed AI had anything to do with it, you’d be correct — and probably not very surprised.

Will AI Replace the Experts?

Anyone would be hard-pressed to get through 36 minutes of discussing the future of digital marketing without mentioning AI. Nay, it may even be downright impossible.

Following the conversation around current best practices and some recent controversies Google is facing with transparency and advertiser trust, it was time to tackle AI.

Automation tangibly feels like the future of A/B testing, with Google’s Performance Max tool already robust enough to test seemingly endless variations of copy and creative combinations.

But Geoff follows a community of other paid media experts on LinkedIn, and has collected countless stories from others in the field on this and similar topics:

“A lot of people have been running tests where they test AI copy versus copy that was written by a creative. Most times, the creative’s copy performs better, but AI is just going to keep going further and further.”

Later in the episode, Rachel shares an instance she came across online, where a millennial comedian shared outreach from an account using thick Gen Z slang in an attempt to win a brand partnership. The comment section was flooded with praise for the nuance and humor of Gen Z marketing tactics, and AI being able to imitate that level of cultural awareness just isn’t possible.

At least not yet, anyway. But for now, Geoff and other paid media experts will happily continue to experiment with automation and other tools while creatives keep cooking.

The Future is Cookieless

The topic of future-state AI in the paid world bled seamlessly into the next big topic: the future of cookieless advertising:

“We were talking about data and privacy earlier, and how cookieless advertising is going to happen.” Geoff continues, “Using AI is going to be a pretty big part of that, for making sure the audiences are right since we won’t be able to use cookies anymore to retarget.”

Cookies are the pixels on websites that allow for paid media professionals to retarget consumers. However, with the latest surge in data and privacy issues, the landscape has already begun changing substantially.

Geoff adds: “GDPR was a big one — you had to get people’s permission before you add cookies to their browser. But eventually it’s all going to go away due to concerns of privacy.”

It may be worth mentioning that there is some pushback on this—and not solely from the professional’s side of things.

Both Tatiana and Rachel add that they’ve received hyper-specific niche ads for products that they’ve genuinely loved and ended up purchasing. Does a cookieless world mean losing these crazy (relevant) ads?

“It’s something we’re figuring out,” Geoff assures them. “We want to be ready when it drops.”

Stock Up Now

If you’d benefit from support in transitioning over from cookieless advertising, reach out! Geoff and the rest of our paid media team are on the front lines, keeping up with bleeding-edge updates and preparing for the day of reckoning. It may be worth having an expert like Geoff on your side when the waves of change begin swelling!

Otherwise, we encourage you to continue your education on paid media updates by watching the full episode linked below. We dive deeper into AI, the cookieless future, Google transparency issues, holographic ads, and so much more:

The Marketing Roundtable is available to watch on YouTube or listen to on every major podcast platform.