A BC Business 30 Under 30 winner, Alex is Co-Founder and CEO at Periphery Digital, a rapidly-growing Vancouver Chinese marketing agency.
Transparency, privacy and security — oh my! With data breaches happening left, right and center, it only makes sense that many consumers are losing trust in the companies they once freely shared their personal data with.
Privacy concerns aren’t going away anytime soon. This means companies will have no choice but to listen to their customers’ demands or face them choosing a competitor who will. Making the wrong moves could have devastating public relations effects — consider some of the headlines about Facebook in the last year, for example. It’s up to marketers to stay ahead of the curve to keep their campaigns performing.
Apple recently introduced its App Tracking Transparency framework. The framework requires applications downloaded in the App Store to show a prompt informing users what data will be collected and how it will be used; it also allows them to opt in to tracking for advertising purposes. Historically, users have had to opt out of such tracking, and the function to do so was buried in your settings. Not anymore.
Over the last few years, my agency has managed millions in our clients’ ad dollars and collected over 140,000 leads in real estate campaigns. I often spend time strategizing with our digital specialists to get the best value for our clients. In my last article, I went over Apple’s latest privacy updates and their impacts on real estate advertising while using Facebook ads as an example. This time, I’m focusing on Google ads to give you a holistic view of how iOS 14 and beyond could affect your performance marketing campaigns, and help you mitigate disruptions.
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The Good And Not-So-Bad News
With Apple holding over half of the smartphone market share in both the U.S. and Canada, the company’s privacy updates have many real estate marketers understandably concerned about the efficacy of their campaigns.
While Facebook has made many changes as a result of the updates, since most of its ad revenue comes from mobile devices, Google appears to be far less affected, likely because its ad network is much more diversified and not as reliant on mobile ad revenue.
Facebook ads appear on — you guessed it — Facebook, along with Instagram. There’s also an option to show your placements on Facebook’s Audience Network, which consists of other third-party mobile apps.
Google’s network, on the other hand, encompasses many more corners of the internet. Search ads appear on search results pages and other Google sites like Maps and Shopping, along with select search sites partnered with Google. These ads are not affected by Apple’s updates since they do not rely on tracking a user’s online behavior and are instead intent-based and targeted via keyword bidding.
Display ads are shown on thousands of partnered sites and Google sites including YouTube and Gmail. These placements are affected in a similar way to Facebook ads as campaigns rely on interest-based targeting.
Real estate marketers may be seeing performance fluctuations for their Display campaigns since Google has less user data to match with interest groups. To make up for some of the lost data, Google is enhancing modeled conversions. Google already did this prior to Apple’s updates to provide advertisers with a more accurate representation of lost attribution.
On the transparency side of things, Google is rolling out identity verification to most advertisers where their name and location will be visible with their ads, helping build audience trust. Once advertisers receive notification about verification from Google, you must complete the verification process within 30 days or ad campaigns will be paused.
Future-Proof Strategies For A Privacy-First World
H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity,” and this rings true even for real estate ads. The innovative company that it is, Google is always releasing new advertising products. Taking advantage of these opportunities as technology advances is a great way to get ahead of the competition — and you might just see amazing results.
Announced in 2019, Discovery ads are mobile-first visual ads appearing on the Google Discover feed, in Gmail and on the mobile YouTube feed, and they’re managed under a single campaign. These ads use machine learning to optimize the best performing combinations of creative and copy. Our real estate clients have seen an outstanding ROI with Discovery ads — one such project has led to a 61% increase in conversions compared to Search campaigns. And this is post-iOS privacy updates.
Another just-released campaign type is Google Performance Max. This allows advertisers to manage YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail and Maps ads from a single campaign. Such ads are designed to complement existing campaigns by using automation to maximize performance based on machine learning. We’ve seen great results with Performance Max so far as well. Some campaigns have generated more conversions than any other Google campaign within the account — in some cases even more than Discovery ads.
While Google continues to release new ways to advertise, the privacy and security landscape will also continue to evolve. By putting all of your eggs in one basket and sticking to one or two real estate advertising channels that aren’t touched by privacy regulations, you could be severely limiting your audience reach. That’s why it’s important to test out and combine a variety of channels such as Google, Facebook, other social media, out-of-home ads, print, etc., so your project is top of mind at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Coupled with a strong brand and messaging, your audience will have no choice but to pay attention.
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Author: Alex Wan, Forbes Councils Member