HeroConf 2017: Recap On 3 Days Of Non-Stop PPC

T-Shirt from HeroConf 2017 that says PPC Nerd

From April 17th-20th, I had the opportunity to attend one of the largest gatherings of PPC nerds in North America: HeroConf 2017 hosted in Los Angeles.  This was my first PPC conference and I had no idea what to expect, but I couldn’t have felt more at home at the conference among other people who live and breathe PPC.

It was a busy week filled with learning, networking, and free drinks. Despite all the fun, I came home excited to share my new knowledge with the Strathcom team. Here are my key takeaways about what to expect in the world of PPC in the future.

 

It’s Time to Move on From Last Click Attribution

Attribution Modeling was one of the hottest topics discussed at HeroConf. Speakers from all industries agreed that it’s time to ditch the last click model, and focus on other touchpoints that lead to a conversion. However, there is no magical way of knowing which model is right for you. Speaker Jeff Greenfield of C3 Metrics discussed the importance of not waiting around for the perfect model, but to test and test again. The only way to prove the value of attribution models is to test until you become less wrong. Attribution modelling is extremely important in the automotive industry as we move away from the standard sales funnel, to a customer journey with multiple touchpoints. By ignoring the touchpoints a customer reaches today, we may never see them again for another 3 years.

Integrate Your Paid Social & Paid Search Strategies

Marketers are making the mistake of not integrating search and social strategies, or choosing to ignore social all together. Keynote speaker Jason Dailey of Facebook’s US Agency Development team stressed the importance of running a social campaign along with search ads, and how to properly run the content together.

To no surprise to anyone, mobile is the leader in performance marketing channels, and is the key platform to integrating search and social. Jason mentioned that people are on their phones from when they wake up to when they go to bed, and are less distracted by things around when consuming content on their smartphones (as opposed to TV).

The key to integration is recognizing that search and social advertising have the same outcomes, but with different signals. On social media, we can identify our audience based on their profiles and engagement, but cannot identify their intent online. Paid search allows us to discover our customer’s intent with keyword targeting, but cannot identify who they are as a person. Integrating social and search brings us to the middle ground of the two to execute a successful online advertising campaign.

Making Sure Your SEO & SEM Get Along

My favorite session of the week was keynote speaker Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive. Wil brought an exciting insight as an SEO expert on how paid listings should complement organic. As PPC analysts, it is so easy to forget why customers are using Google, and focusing too much on getting them in our sales funnel.  His key take way was optimizing for the real world, and making sure you answer the customer’s question. If your organic or paid listings don’t help the customer, another source will. A true example below shows that both ads on the top of the page have no mention of the price of a Toyota Rav4, and the answer is provided by a non-dealer website.  Making sure ad copy or ad extensions match the “why” of a consumer’s search will improve the quality of traffic SEO and SEM listings receive."how much is a rav4?" typed into Google Search

It would be difficult for me to include everything I have learned in a single blog post. HeroConf 2017 was a great experience and provided so much insight into how to succeed in PPC in 2017. Can’t wait to return next year in Austin!

2017 Precious Metal Gala

It’s not difficult to enjoy an evening of fine foods and entertainment, especially when it’s paired with a range of the best vehicles on offer. The Edmonton Motor Show’s 2017 Precious Metal Gala combined these things into a truly enjoyable evening.

The Edmonton Motor Show Precious Metal Gala

The Precious Metal Gala featured the best vehicles available by various manufacturers all in one place.  We were excited to explore the offerings. Here are some of the sights and highlights from the 2017 Gala:

The Nissan GT-R’s refined interior with updated technology in featured Rakuda Tan Semi-aniline Leather.
The Nissan GT-R’s refined interior with updated technology in featured Rakuda Tan Semi-aniline Leather.

First up, we have one of the gala favourites! The 2017 Nissan GT-R supercar has been revisited for further refinement on the interior to make it an amazing experience behind the wheel. Updated instrumentation, technology and connection give the GT-R it’s powerful feel. This track day superstar has received the necessary refinements to make it a road trip worthy contender too. Gone are the days of harsh low speed shifts and a bone jarring ride. Everyone is welcoming a new era of luxurious touring from Nissan’s peak vehicle.

 

Next up, Subaru was undoubtedly the best lit booth at the show. Perhaps a testament to their love of all things outdoors. They wanted everyone to see the meticulous details that have gone into their engineering. Such as their FA20 2.0L engine.

FA20 2.0L engine found in the BRZ Manufacturers: Take note of oil filter placement.
FA20 2.0L engine found in the BRZ Manufacturers: Take note of oil filter placement.

In a Canadian first, the Edmonton Motor Show was the first to receive the 2018 Subaru WRX! The new WRX remained the only Subaru viewers couldn’t enter though. It would’ve been nice to see the interior with the revised infotainment screen and optional Recaro seats.

2018 Subaru WRX
The 2018 Subaru WRX

Subsequently, Infiniti brought us their 2016 Team F1 R.S.16 car, and if you’re familiar with the driving of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer you’ll be familiar with the Formula One R.S.16. This racing car was originally designed by the Renault Sport Formula One Racing Team as their competition vehicle for 2016.

The F1 R.S.16 was driven by the likes of Jolyon Palmer in the 2016 Formula One season.
The F1 R.S.16 was driven by the likes of Jolyon Palmer in the 2016 Formula One season.

Audi continued the great vehicles by showcasing the newly redesigned 2018 Audi S5. The revised 6 cylinder now produces 354hp, with the packaging to match. How can you not love those lines?

It was Ford’s set up was likely the booth that took most visitors by surprise. The Edmonton Motor Show falls in the same timeframe as the New York International Auto Show, and as a huge fan of all things cars I can’t help but compare the offerings of each. Normally if you happen to be both a resident of Edmonton and a fan of the automotive industry you’ll feel forgotten when auto season rolls around.

However, this year Ford made us northerner’s truly feel like a booming metropolis. Bringing not only their latest offerings but also the full quiver of performance vehicles (ST, RS, Raptor, Shelby), including the all new Ford GT.

 

 

 

 

 

Volkswagen brought along the Atlas, the company’s all new 3 row SUV. The Atlas is aimed to sit above the Tiguan as VW’s dedicated people mover. With its modern contour and excellent finish quality the car certainly took a fair share of attention on the opening night of the show.

The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas will be coming to Canada in Summer 2017.
The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas will be coming to Canada in Summer 2017.

Finally, Mercedes-Benz showcased their great line-up including the Mercedes-AMG GT. With up to 503-horsepower and a V8 Bi-Turbo engine the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GT is designed for performance. Few vehicles can give the driver such an aggressive seating position and get away with it. There’s a distinct reason this vehicle won the 2015 Motor Trend’s Best Driver’s Car. It is a vehicle that is all about experience.

The Interior of the Mercedes-AMG GT.
The Interior of the Mercedes-AMG GT.

The Edmonton Motor Show’s 2017 Precious Metal Gala was an experience with the amazing vehicles, great food and lively entertainment. Various vehicle manufacturers showcased their latest and greatest. We were excited to see everything on offer. We’re looking forward to next year already!

Facebook Auto Summit

Facebook Auto Summit

Mobile Moves Metal

We may be heading into the second quarter of 2017, but we are still talking about how this is the year of mobile. On March 22, 2017, we were fortunate enough to attend Facebook’s first ever Auto Summit in Toronto where mobile was definitely at the top of all conversations.

The year of mobile has been going on since 2014, but it is still relevant as consumers’ buying habits continue to evolve. I remember a time when I wouldn’t dare to shop online, out of the fear that whatever I ordered wouldn’t be as good in actuality as it seemed on the website. Now, looking at this past Christmas season, I did 95% of my shopping online from my phone, and had it delivered straight to my desk. Talk about convenience!

Looking at the Canadian automotive industry specifically, the most recent survey done found that 74% of shoppers used a mobile device during some point of their purchasing journey. This just goes to prove that ‘the year of mobile’ is still a reality, and one that you as a car dealer need to take seriously if you want to win the online-sales game. And I’m not just talking about having a mobile-friendly and responsive website design – that should be a no-brainer at this point – I’m talking about being present throughout the entire online-buying journey and providing optimized ads and content that relates to your potential customers.

Evolving the mobile-first game is something Facebook continues to excel at. They have developed a number of ad formats for greater impact throughout the purchase journey, with new releases coming soon, all of which have been completely optimized for mobile. As Instagram continues to grow, a lot of these ad formats are moving over to this platform as well, including the ability to have ads in Instagram stories and having carousel and lead ads right in the Instagram feed.

Facebook Auto Summit

If Facebook and Instagram are the new digital newspapers and our thumb is the new remote control, how are you going to stand out and capture someone’s interest when they are essentially seeing a new screen every three seconds? This is where Facebook’s Creative Team’s mantra comes into play: design for mobile, build for people, and play more. Optimizing your content for Facebook is essential. This can be as simple as resizing an image to the appropriate ratio, or as complex as creating a new video asset to highlight your why-buys at the beginning as opposed to the end of the clip. When creating assets for Facebook, you need to think of them as people, not users. People have individual interests and needs that can be capitalized on. This is where you can start to have fun with your ads. Something that appeals to Mary, who is 38 with two kids and likes yoga, may not necessarily gain the attention of Thomas, who is 25 and likes to spend his weekends driving to the mountains; so don’t try to blanket them with the exact same message.

The main takeaway is that you can’t just be semi-present by only putting one foot in to test the waters. You need to think outside the box, put your money where your mouth is, create thumb-stopping creative, and measure your success. With over 18 million daily active users across Canada on Facebook, and one in every four minutes on mobile being spent on Facebook and Instagram, there is so much potential to differentiate yourself from the competition on these still underutilized advertising platforms. At the end of the day, don’t get stuck in social jail thinking that Facebook and Instagram are just about generating likes and shares. These platforms are here to help you generate leads! If you’re not sure where to start, give the Strathcom Media team a call.

Google Think Auto 2016: Full Review

For those of you who need more than a brief summary of think auto here is the big one, enjoy.

Google Think Auto 2016

This year, Think Auto was held in the historic Massey Hall. While the venue was definitely cool, the seats left something to be desired. The event featured a lineup of well known Googlers that took turns presenting different topics. Think Auto followed a similar path to previous years and updated a lot of the data points. There was a strong message presented again this year that OEMs and dealers are not living up to what the customer wants. One dealer group executive who attended the event told me he wasn’t quite sure he liked Google presenting itself as “the supreme overlord telling us how shitty we are at our jobs. We sold more cars than last year didn’t we?” Anyway, his words, not mine.

Sam Sebastian, the managing director of Google Canada, opened the event with a discussion about change which really set the tone for the whole day. Due to the fact that there are a lot of stats at Think Auto, I am going to use a lot of bullet points, this will make it easier for you if you are only looking for the numbers. Continue reading “Google Think Auto 2016: Full Review”

Google Kitchener-Waterloo Breakfast Highlights

Baristas, hidden rooms, a cyborg moose, oh my!

cyborg moose at Google Kitchener-Waterloo

This week I had the privilege of visiting the newest and coolest Google office, located in Waterloo, to learn how dealers can capitalize on  their  fixed ops departments.  Here are just some of great stats that Google shared in their presentation:

  • $19 billion is spent annually on automotive parts and service in Canada
  • 80% of consumers who service their vehicle at your dealership are 2 times more likely to make a purchase from your dealership
  • Parts and Service queries peak in October and November

We also got to see some great stats from this year’s Think Auto Study:

  • 55% of buyers use their smartphones to research vehicle models while on the lot of a dealership
  • 56% of buyers purchased from a dealership with whom they had no previous relationship with
  • 77% of buyers are looking for vehicle promotions
  • Online video has a positive influence of 53% on car buyers in the market

For this particular breakfast, we were able to go on exclusive tour of the office along with our Golden Ticket contest winners. We will have another blog post including photos and some video of the office, so stay tuned! And to stay in the loop about our upcoming contests and Google events, please subscribe to our newsletter. Hopefully you can join us next time!

Highlights of DealerTalk 2016

This year’s edition of Kijiji’s DealerTalk went down at the Allstream Centre on Tuesday, September 20.  One of the changes for this year was having two streams that attendees could attend; one for sales and marketing, and the other for the executive level.  I personally thought this was a great way to provide attendees with the flexibility to attend what mattered to them most.

Jon Montgomery speaking at DealerTalk TorontoThe day opened with an inspiring keynote from Georgian College Alum, Olympic Gold Medalist and TV personality Jon Montgomery.  Jon is definitely a charismatic and fearless guy. Who else flies head first down a sheet of ice at 140km/hour? Or just hands his golf medal into a crowd and says: “I’ll get it later”?

After Jon Montgomery, dealers were invited to head to their first break out session.  Due to the fact that I can only be in one place at a time, I cannot give you a break down of all the sessions, but if you are looking for a bigger breakdown check out the site: https://dealertalk.ca/.

I checked out Alan Dickie’s presentation on how he uses video and Facebook for his business and how car dealers can do the same.  Alan is definitely an energetic presenter.  He opened with asking everyone in the room to go to Facebook and put in their status “if I can guarantee you $3,000 over what your vehicle is worth would you trade it in?”.  Towards the end of the session he asked the brave souls who did it what happened.  It definitely generated some buzz.

After Alan I checked out Susan Seto’s data driven presentation on what motivates Canadians to buy a car.  This was a jam packed session with a lot of charts.  Having just attended Google’s Think Auto event, I was interested in seeing what Susan had to say.  It’s important to note that Think Auto samples 5,000 individuals while, to my understanding, this data was based on 1,800 individuals.  Biggest difference in my mind was in the data on most important sources used when buying a car.  There was a little bit of overlap, but while Google says Search, OEM Sites, Dealer Sites and Reviews are where customers are looking, Kijiji – surprisingly – placed classified sites on the list and did not have a single mention of dealer websites.  Seems a little convenient, but then again, I sell dealer websites and Kijiji sells classified listings.  You’ll have to decide for yourself or trust Google!

After lunch I checked out Kyle Costa’s presentation which focused on some fundamentals that you need to get right and then some next level initiatives you can work on when you have the foundation laid.  I agree with Kyle’s mentality that other industries are being disrupted and our industry is ripe for the picking.  Companies like Carvana and Beepi are making an attempt to change the game and if you don’t step up, they will succeed.  Kyle provided real examples straight from the trenches that are working for him, not just ideas a consultant dreamed up and has never tried.

DealerTalk TorontoKevin Graff closed the day with an afternoon keynote which was very impressive considering he had only 30 minutes. Kevin had everyone agreeing that we can all sell more and provided us with five foundations to do this:

  1. Focus on Goals – if I called anyone in your store would they know their target?
  2. Share Results Constantly
  3. Accountability for Success – people play the game different when they know it matters
  4. Ongoing Training and Coaching – do you train every week?
  5. Make it Worthwhile

Overall, I thought that the day was well put on and well received by the attendees.  I also really appreciate the sweet K-Way jacket from Kijiji!

TADA’s Auto Dealers Innovation Series Recap

Auto Dealers Innovation Series 2016

This year’s event dove into marketing and sales strategies and featured presentations from several keynote speakers including: “Dragon” and innovation expert Bruce Croxon, Erin Elofson -Director of Auto and Financial Services at Facebook Canada, and Mike Badour – General Manger of Business Development and Direct Marketing at Canada Post.

Key Takeaways 

Bruce Croxon

Bruce Croxon spoke about how now is the best time to be a consumer and how dealers have the ability to reach the consumer through multiple places and products. Everything from Google to Facebook, cellphone to desktop. He said that dealers need to invest in core values that include teamwork, vision and planning, as well as make sure that they are measuring what is working and what isn’t working. Customer acquisition cost is key, and the importance of relationships between businesses and customers is coming back.

DD20_MichaelCirillo_HeadshotThe Dealer Panel discussed the customer journey and the use of technology. The panel  included the perspectives of dealers, vendors, and OEMs and was moderated by Michael Cirillo – Co-Host of The Dealer Playbook Podcast & President of Flexdealer. They determined that, when it comes to marketing, the old school vs new school argument doesn’t matter. You should never assume what level of technical experience your customers have; in other words, you should base your marketing on your customers’ habits, not their age. They also spoke about how customers expect an ‘instant process’ that matches the experience that got them to the dealer in the first place. The importance of price transparency in the online journey was also reiterated.

2._Erin_ElofsonErin Elofson with Facebook Canada told dealers to forget about fans and followers and to think of Facebook as a new channel to get buyers into your dealership. Out of the over 3.1 million mobile apps out there, 82% of the time spent on apps is split between only 5 apps, one of them being Facebook. Something that a lot of people don’t realize about Facebook advertising is the targeting ability. Since everyone logs into Facebook as themselves on all sorts of devices, Facebook always has the ‘real identity’ of users. Not only that, but Facebook can target people using the immense amount of data that they have about users, and they can use CRM and website matching. Also, since Facebook ads show up on your news feed without interrupting your experience, people tend to be more open to ads on Facebook compared to ads on YouTube, for example.

Mike_Badour-crop1-lgMike Badour with Canada Post spoke about how direct marketing is not only still relevant in a digital world, but actually complements other medias for a complete marketing plan. He also introduced Canada Post’s brand new Smartmail Marketing which uses Neuroscience to help businesses find new customers and increase the value of existing customers. Mike used Audi’s A8 launch as an example of a really cool mail campaign.

This was just a short summary of the conference, but as always, we learned a lot and look forward to attending next year!

What’s New in Waterloo? Google!

Google WaterlooWe were honored to be one of only 16 Google Partners invited to come and spend the day at Google’s latest and greatest office in Canada’s tech hub – Waterloo, Ontario.  This is one of the many perks that we get as a Premier Google Partner in Canada.  The day was packed with insightful speakers, great content, exclusive training, lots of food, and a tour.

If you were not aware, we are giving away 6 trips in September to this very same office where you will be treated to a similar experience – click here for details and to enter.  You will not be disappointed if you win!  

So what did we learn? A lot!  We are going to break this down into three additional posts.  One on Google’s brand new Expanded Text Ads, another on every business’s favorite source of frustration: Google My Business, and finally, one on What’s New with YouTube.  

A little about the newest Google office first.  It is in an incredible building that was built in 1918 and was actually a former rubber plant.  It houses approximately 500 Googlers with the capacity for about 500 more.  These engineers don’t work on Canadian specific projects either; they work on big ticket items like Gmail, Chrome and the Ads Infrastructure.  Like all Google offices that I have had the pleasure of visiting, it has wicked food at the main cafeteria, mini cafe’s on all floors, a cyborg moose (what’s more Canadian tech?) a gym with a climbing wall, nap pods and a whole lot more.

Google Waterloo - CafeteriaGoogle Waterloo - Cafeteria                    Google Waterloo - Cafeteria

What did we learn? For this post I am going to focus on two speakers, the individual posts will take care of the rest.  First up was Ben Wood, Director of Channel Sales Americas.  Ben spoke about how Google focuses on the ‘whole problem’ and works from that perspective.  If someone using Google can’t spell, it’s a Google problem.  If the internet is not fast enough, it’s Google’s problem.  This type of thinking has lead to great developments like Google Suggest (you know when Google suggests searches before you are done typing) and Google Chrome, a way faster and way better internet browser than what was available.  Further to looking at the whole problem, he spoke about 10X and moon shots – essentially the big, big wins that will transform your business, maybe even your industry.  Google considers these types or products over small iteration.  This is how we get self-driving cars, contact lenses to measure insulin levels for diabetics, and project Loon (balloon powered internet for the remote parts of the world).

Google WaterlooAfter Ben we heard from Sam Sebastian, Managing Director of Google Canada, or the big boss.  Sam provided us with an unbiased look at what Google is trying to accomplish in Canada – mainly diversify away from search advertising.  He spoke candidly about ad blocking and that one solution will be for Google and Premier Partners like us to build better ads.  One comment that he made was that in 10-15 years every business will be a software business.  He provided examples from big banks and agencies and how software is starting to be at the core of all we do.  Whether he is right or wrong, I am going to learn how to code.  The last concept he shared that really resonated with me was about Yahoo’s sale to Verizon for ~$4.8B.  Yahoo was valued at more than $100B at its peak in 2000.  What happened to the other $95B?  No one knows exactly, but it is this type of event that constantly reminds him (and perhaps it should all of us) that we need to be a little bit paranoid about the next start up.  It is this paranoia that needs to drive us to hit our 10X goals that Ben outlined, to stay in business and not lose 95% of our value.

Overall it was a great day and it is always an honor to be invited to such an exclusive event.  For more information on the day and all the training we received, check out our three other blogs on the event:   Expanded Text Ads, Google My Business, and  What’s New with YouTube.

Thanks,

Duncan Cochrane

Win A Trip to Google’s Newest & Coolest HQ!

golden ticket google

We have all heard the rumors about the perks of working at Google. Thanks to movies like The Internship and shows like HBO’s Silicon Valley, the curiosity surrounding the inner-workings of Google are reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. If you have always wanted to get a firsthand look at working for the Search Engine giant, great news: Strathcom Media has your Golden Ticket to Google!

We are giving away 6 all-expenses-paid trips to Toronto and Waterloo! Strathcom and Google will pay for everything, you’ll be our VIP.

  • golden ticket googleWe’ll fly you to Toronto for one of our Google Breakfasts at Google HQ
  • We’ll transport you to Waterloo for a tour of Google’s newest & coolest HQ
  • We’ll look after all of your accommodations & meals
  • We’ll also set you up with a swag bag packed full of all kinds of Google and Strathcom merchandise
  • You’ll also get One on One Time with a Google-Certified team member

 

Google’s Kitchener-Waterloo location opened in January of this year and – according to one of our Google reps – is the coolest location they have opened yet! The trip is September 21-23, and the contest is running until the end of August. Enter Now! And for access to more opportunities like this one, subscribe to our newsletter!

golden ticket google

No Bullshit Here! Google Comes to Edmonton

Google Event

June 23 was our first Google Event in Edmonton and it was a huge success! This event was special not only because it was the first event of its kind in Edmonton, but also because it was the official launch of our non-automotive division – The UnAgency. Check out our full blog post, as well as our band new UnAgency website here!