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It’s never been easier to run ads and harder to get results

Digital marketing has undergone massive transformations in recent years. The big players in the ad game – of course, we are talking about Google and Facebook – have revamped their platforms to be more intuitive and user-friendly. Even if you are new to the game, you can jump in and start running campaigns within minutes. However, a lesson learned from years of working with these two giants is not to fully trust them.

While they work towards making it easier to set up campaigns, they are also making it more difficult to understand what is consuming your budgets (and lining their pockets). Their lack of transparency surrounding their Smart bidding strategies, automated placements, and keyword match types makes achieving efficient results harder than ever. Additionally, ad blockers, the impending end of third-party cookies, and iOS updates are the thunderstorms in this perfect storm, challenging the whole industry (and your results).

AI is Shaping the Future of Paid Media

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing paid media, making it more accessible than ever before. It has simplified the process and completely changed how we approach our paid media strategy and implementation. There’s no longer a need to overcomplicate campaigns with granular structures, exhaustive lists of keywords, and tedious manual bidding strategies. Consolidation is now key, allowing AI-driven algorithms to analyze vast amounts of data in real-time, uncovering insights and opportunities beyond human capacity. Moreover, AI can adjust bidding strategies on the fly based on user behavior, boosting ROI effortlessly. Even crafting ad copy and videos receives a boost from AI, with auto-generated text pulling from your website and keywords.

Then…. Why Getting Results Is Getting More Difficult?

While AI streamlines certain aspects of campaign management, making some processes easier than ever, it also introduces new layers of complexity. As a result, achieving efficient results has become increasingly challenging.

Competition is fiercer than ever

Google and Facebook are continually refining their user interfaces and processes to become more user-friendly, thereby attracting more advertisers. However, this also means more businesses advertising on Google, which also means more businesses bidding for the same keywords. This results in higher CPCs (Cost Per Clicks). In just the last year, Google’s CPCs rose by 19%, leading to a 17% increase in ad spend in the US, as reported by Tinuiti’s Q4 2023 Digital Ads Benchmark Report. To stand out amid the crowd, innovative strategies are essential.

Is your strategy updated?

On top of that, the algorithms powering them are becoming increasingly intricate. Predicting and optimizing ad performance now demands a higher level of expertise and sophistication. If this is not challenging enough, Google’s frequent algorithm changes, often numbering more than a hundred in a single year, require continuous monitoring and adaptability.  A missed opportunity or a misstep in enabling or disabling a new feature could potentially cost you months of revenue.

Furthermore, strategies that once proved successful may no longer be effective, potentially leading to wasted resources in your campaigns.   

The Privacy Revolution

However, what truly challenges advertisers nowadays are privacy policies. Ad blockers, recent updates like Apple’s iOS changes and Facebook’s data access policies are restricting the data available for targeting and personalization, making it harder to reach and engage with desired audiences. Moreover, the effectiveness of AI algorithms relies heavily on the quality and diversity of training data. Limited datasets can lead to inefficiencies in your advertising efforts and even hurt your ROI.

The Data Maze

The constraints in data not only complicate achieving results but also make it increasingly challenging to obtain accurate metrics. The days of easily attributing a sale to a specific channel are now a thing of the past. This occurs at a time when the paid media landscape has become increasingly fragmented due to the proliferation of digital advertising platforms and channels. In such a landscape with numerous platforms but limited accessible data, how can we accurately determine “which channel did what”?

Basic tracking is not enough to answer that question. While Google and Facebook keep fighting to attribute conversions to their own channels (so they can recommend you increase budgets), advertisers need more clarity and insights to understand where they should really invest their ad spend.

Taking Control Of Your Data

To gain a holistic understanding of the customer journey and attribute conversions accurately, you will need to consider server-side tracking, also known as advanced tracking. Advanced tracking allows you to take control of your data instead of blindly relying on the recommendations made by the duopoly of Google and Facebook.

With advanced tracking, you can track all touchpoints of every single user, regardless of the browser or device the user may have used or whether they have accepted or not your cookie policies. This granular level of insight empowers you to optimize your strategies, identify high-performing channels, and allocate resources effectively. 

In an increasingly competitive digital landscape, data is a powerful competitive advantage, you just need to ensure you are the one owing it.  

Your Agency, Your Next Best Friend

Despite more processes being replaced by machines, there is an even greater need for experts who can ensure that the machines work properly and accurately measure their performance.

In this context, agencies and consultants are a great cost-effective solution. As CPCs and CPMs continue to rise within the Google and Facebook duopoly, and their attribution models become increasingly opaque, agencies can provide specialized expertise, access to the latest innovations and sophisticated ad scripts to control ad spend.

These ad scripts, powered by automation, offer a solution to optimize ad spend and allocate budgets based on performance metrics. Ad scripts can see through the complexity of AI algorithms and help you to identify trends, detect unnoticed ad waste, and ultimately enhance the profitability of your account. 

The Takeaway

While digital marketing platforms like Google and Facebook are working hard to convince you that running ads is easy, this comes with downsides and challenges such as expensive overlooked features, complex algorithms, fierce competition, and data constraints. In such a landscape, where running ads has become easier than ever, it is more important than ever to embrace first-party data and rely on expertise.

If you’re interested in exploring strategies to achieve your campaign goals in a cookieless world, the Zima Media team is ready to assist you. We’re here to guide you through the transition away from third-party cookies and harness the possibilities of AI to achieve the results you’re aiming for. All you have to do is contact us!

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