Decoding The New Consumer

Being a Google Premier Partner gives Strathcom access to events held by Google across the United States and Canada, and we got to take part in one such event in Vancouver on March 1st called “Decoding The New Consumer.”

With Google trainings and events, much of the info is about the data they’re willing to share about the trends they see in today’s consumers, and to no ones surprise, today’s consumers want accurate info and they want it now! Today, consumers are 80% of the way through their car-buying journey before they ever step into a dealership, so being in those moments to provide the consumer with what they are looking for can make or break your sales.

One bit of info I was surprised to see was that Google searches which contain “near me” – after years of increasing – are going down in frequency. Why? Because people expect Google to know where they are, so they don’t feel the need to say “near me.” If they search “Pizza,” they expect Google to know where they are, and show them the best option near them – no need to type it anymore. This is an ongoing trend Google is seeing where people are acting more natural with search; instead of ‘Googling something’ they are asking Google the same way they would ask their friends, which is outlined beautifully in this Google Home ad:

With the decrease in people searching “near me,” Google is seeing a 100% increase in people searching “where to buy.”

Next, Jason Fohlstrom took us through what Google and their A.I./Machine Learning arm DeepMind (they have an office here in Edmonton) are working on. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are two buzzwords you’ve probably heard somewhere in the last few years, but most people don’t know that A.I./Machine Learning already play a huge part in all our lives. They will affect 33% of all the world economic markets (that’s $24,000,000,000,000 – yes TRILLION!) in 2018. You’ve probably heard of it in use mostly with Google’s self-driving car project Waymo, trying to learn how to drive itself without causing an accident or killing someone. It has now driven over 5,000,000 miles completely on its own. This A.I./Machine Learning is actually available to everyone running AdWords today, whether it be through a/b ad testing, which AdWords will do by default with the ads in an ad group, and also through data-driven attribution, with which Google will be able to tell you which steps of the buying process should get the credit for a sale. This is better than giving all the credit to the last click in the process or through a linear model (which Strathcom uses) to give credit to all steps within the process. Smart Display Campaigns let you put in some creative, text and headlines, and your target cost per acquisition/lead, and Google will create the ads, figure out who would be the best people to show them to, and change the creative on it’s own as it gets more data on what the user is reacting to. They also announced targeting by life events, knowing who is going through a targetable life event like marriage, buying a car, graduating from college, etc, so we can show your ads to those people.

In the blink of an eye, Google can analyse 70,000,000 signals to show the right ad to the right person at the right time, which would be impossible without A.I and Machine Learning.

Decoding The New Consumer

Lastly, we had a workshop session where we saw how we could better pull audience data to create better audience lists, an audience list being a list of users who we can show specific ads to. One thing that was apparent from this session is that the journey is fragmented; people are not all taking the same road when it comes to purchasing, and the more signals we can collect, the better. At the event, Google announced that Map data will now be included in the in-market segment data, so when google A.I. is looking for the best person to show your Ford ad to, they can see that people search for a Ford dealership in Google Maps and opt to show that person your Ford ad. Another great stat Google shared was that 80% of a user’s time is spent outside of search. We know search is usually the main driver of leads, and that needs to be the first place an auto dealer should be, but considering only 41% of users will actually contact a dealership prior to visiting it, it’s also important to diversify your online advertising portfolio and get what you want to sell in front of the right person at the right time, even if it means that person isn’t going to send you a cold hard lead. What better place to do that than the second largest search engine, YouTube! YouTube has always been known as more of a branding play; you can’t expect to get many leads from it, but it is a platform that lots of consumers use in their journey, including for car test drives, car reviews, car walk arounds, etc, so if you want them to find your business, you should be there.

Google made another announcement at the Decoding The New Consumer event, and that is they will now have CPA bidding for YouTube, which means we can set a target cost per lead, that Google will try to reach using A.I.. You have to be reasonable with it though; if you say you want to have a cost per lead of $2, it’s not going to work. You should start with what you would be happy with as a cost per lead (which should be a little less than what the lead would be worth to you) and then Google will work toward that as well as work toward lowering that.

Many of these insights will be shared on eventually, so keep an eye out there and here on the Strathcom blog too for more updates on what’s happening in the online advertising industry!

WordPress is Taking Over

Expect WordPress to take over the CMS market.

The Strathcom WordPress platform has been evolving on a daily basis. We are progressively adding features and pushing out improvements to ensure that your websites are at their best. If you want to know more about the platform, you can check out this post to give you some insight.

So how can the platform shine even more? Simple: by having Google lend a hand.

Google is one of the most dominant entities that can shape the internet. Recently, they started to invest their resources by teaming up with WordPress. WordPress is one of the largest open-source CMS (Content Management Systems) out there, boasting a market share of close to 59% and an estimated 1/3 of all web content published. Expect these numbers to increase with Google’s help.

What does this mean for the future? As Alberto Medina (Google Developer) states, “The goal of our team is to help bring these two worlds together and work both with the WordPress community and core developers, and the web platform developers to enable amazing user experiences on the web”- Albero Median blog.

This is great news for any web-hosted WordPress websites in general, as we will be seeing accelerated speeds and vast enhancements.

Speed Up Your Website with These Tools

Page speeds and website performance are more important than ever. You may inadvertently be increasing the amount of time it takes for your website to load, which in turn, can lead to visitor loss. Here are a few quick fixes you can apply to your website that can help your page load speeds!

Large unoptimized images can be a culprit to poor page performance. You may be asking yourself if uploading an unoptimized image can really hurt your page load times, and the answer is it really can. By large images, we are talking about file sizes and not dimensions. Images that are 1 MB and up could start affecting page load times.

Page speeds and website performance

How can I ensure my images are not slowing down my website? Here are three quick tips to help you out:

1) Resize your images: Most sites should be responsive to an infinite amount of displays and phones. That being said, you do not need images to be excessive dimensions (ex:5000×2000) to ensure your images are being displayed perfectly. You should try to keep your image dimensions close to the max Height/Width that it will respond to.

2) Choose the right image format: There are a handful of file formats that we use for web. JPEG, GIF, and PNG are the main three that you will see floating around. These can be used interchangeably between one another, but they all have a specific use. When it comes to quality and file size, we recommend using JPEG. JPEG is universally used as it keeps image file size low and keeps its quality if it needs to be compressed.

3) Compress your images: Image files are more complex than they look. Tying into file formats, images store complex data sequences and other segments that can affect the quality and colors of that image. At times though, we can do without certain data. This is where file compression tools come into play and can help us reduce our file size. You can reduce your file sizes by over 70% without affecting their quality! You don’t need a designer to compress your files for you; you can easily use free tools to optimize your images…

Here are Our Recommended Image Compression Tools:

Compressor is an online image compression tool with which you can upload your images instead of taking up space from your computer. After uploading an image into the browser, you will be provided with a before and after of how much space you have saved. It also gives you the option of saving to your Dropbox, Google Drive or just as a regular download.

ImageOptim is a free and open sourced tool with a minimal interface to get the job done. This tool is as simple as dragging and dropping your images in and having a compressed version saved to your desired save location. The only setback is that it is only available for MAC.

One of the more popular online image compression tools currently is Kraken. With the ability to bulk load multiple images and upload zipped folders, Kraken has a speedy compression rate. The one downfall is that it has a file size limit of 1MB which shouldn’t be a huge issue for all users.

If you want a simple image compression tool to compress your JPEG, look no further than optimizilla. It has a very simple interface and provides you with an image vs. image view where you can adjust the quality of your image.

Bonus Tool!

Any web/graphic designer should have this listed as one of their go-to tools. Adobe Photoshop provides the save-for-web option with which you can tweak dimensions and file format, and also help optimize images for websites. As this is typically a paid program, you can also take a look at these free alternatives: and photops.

You can learn a lot more about site performance and page speeds through Strathcom’s beginner and advanced training in Content Management Systems like WordPress. We’ve got webinars on February 13 and 21 for both beginner- and advanced-level CMS training, and you can sign up below…

Dealers Asked, Google Listened: Google’s 2017 Dealer Playbook


2017 Dealer Playbook

If you attended any of the Google Think Dealer events this fall, you know that Canadian dealers have been asking for a step-by-step guide on how to advertise on Google for years, and it is finally available. Based on Canadian automotive data, whether you are a beginner looking to do the bare minimum, or a seasoned pro looking for how to stand out online, The Dealer Playbook breaks down exactly where you should be spending your marketing dollars.

You can download the Playbook here, and if you have any questions just ask your friendly neighborhood Premier Google Partner, Strathcom Media.

To learn more about the Dealer Playbook, there is still time to register for Google Think Dealer in Vancouver and Calgary , and we will be publishing a blog summarizing everything we learned at these events. Stay tuned!


For those of you who enjoyed the brief highlight reel we released in September on Google Think Auto, here’s the full review. Enjoy!

Google Think Auto 2017

In September, we were fortunate enough to attend this year’s edition of Think Auto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The scenery of the event was different and so was the direction of the event. Instead of focusing on the four phases of the car buying journey, there was a ton of data presented on the the buyer’s persona. If you don’t remember what the four phases are, check out our 2016 recap of Think Auto for a good refresher. Continue reading “GOOGLE THINK AUTO 2017: FULL REVIEW”

Think Auto 2017

Google Think Auto 2017
Toronto Centre for the Arts, September 7, 2017

This past Thursday, we were fortunate enough to attend this year’s edition of Google Think Auto at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Although the venue changed from the usual scene at Massey Hall and the direction of the event was slightly different by not having individual dealers out (check out our blog on the upcoming Think Dealer events!), the content was useful and provided a different perspective on our ever changing Canadian car buyer market.

The focus of this year’s event was on buyers falling into three main buckets:

  1. First Time Buyer “The Newbie” – represents 20% of the Canadian car buying market
  2. Brand Loyalist “The Loyalist” – represents 37% of the Canadian car buying market
  3. Brand Switcher “The Switcher” (or the promiscuous as they like to call them) – represents 43% of the Canadian car buying market

Here are some highlights of this year’s study:

  • Video continues to be the hot topic going into next year, but the conversation has changed from OEMs being simply present, to being present in the right way and getting in front of the right audience.
  • The Newbies and the Switchers are the top two buyers heading to YouTube, but they are watching different content. The Newbies are focused on expert and peer reviews of vehicles while the Switchers are watching on the road and test drive videos.
  • On average, Canadian car buyers:
    • Will visit 2 dealerships (down from 3 last year)
    • Are in the market for 57 days
    • Will consider between 2 and 4 brands
  • 80% of car buyers said that digital will reduce the number of visits to a dealership, meaning they are using online resources to be more efficient
  • 54% of car buyers said that they will not contact the dealership before going there
    • This means that you have to WIN online to win the in-person visit!
  • Google will be hosting Think Dealer events across the country to present more dealership specific information

We will have a  complete summary to follow with more detailed info and stats, stay tuned!

Think Dealer 2017 Events

Think Dealer 2017 Events

If you haven’t already heard, Google changed up their Think Auto event this year. Instead of bringing everyone across the country to the centre of the universe…Toronto… they decided to bring their wealth of knowledge across the country and host Think Dealer specific events in 5 cities between October 12th and November 9th. Lucky for us, we were still able to check out Think Auto and you can read up on our quick summary of the event here!

The goal of Think Dealer is to bring the latest industry stats and innovations to a location near you. The team from Google will be presenting their latest findings on what you can do at the dealership level to reach, engage and drive car buyers to your dealership!

Our team will be jet setting off to 4 of the 5 Think Dealer events (sorry Montreal) and we’d love to see you there. Here are the dates and locations:

  • Montreal – October 12th
  • Toronto – October 17th
  • Halifax – October 19th
  • Vancouver – November 7th
  • Calgary – November 9th

If you’re interested in attending one of these events, we would be happy to sign you up! Please reach out to and we’ll take care of the rest. If you’re looking for some more information, head to Or if you would like to attend Think Dealer in either Toronto or Vancouver but don’t want to splurge on a plane ticket and hotel room, enter our contest and we will not only foot the bill, but also hook you up with Strathcom, Facebook, and Google swag!

We look forward to seeing you at Think Dealer!

Advertising in the Age of Ad-DHD

People are busy. With work, family, social media, and a plethora of other distractions it is getting more and more difficult for advertisers to get people to notice their ads; let alone retain people’s attention long enough for their ad to actually be recalled. Think of it as a kind of ADHD… Ad-DHD.

As people's attention spans decrease, their ability to recall ads does too.


According to Google, users who watch ads for more than three seconds are more likely to recall, recognize and consider your brand. This may not sound like a long time, but to keep someone’s attention for more than 3 seconds is a lot more difficult in this day and age.

In a recent Google Livestream, Google talked about the new currency: time. Google also discussed how the Old Mantra was ‘get the customer to the dealership‘ and the new mantra is ‘bring the dealership to the customer‘. So, how can do you bring the dealership to the customer?

By personalizing your message

Advertise to your potential customers based on their interests, inventory they viewed, their demographics, and where they are in their sales journey. It’s the next best thing to saying “hey, so-and-so, I have your dream car in stock, come buy it!”

The most effective and affordable way to create personalized ads is through Facebook. Over 18 million Canadians are on Facebook every single day, and Facebook has more information about everyone than you can imagine. Not only that, but it takes 38.5% longer to fill out a form on a mobile device – time that people do not have – but with Lead Ads on Facebook, users can click on your ad (for a test drive, for an oil change, etc.) and the form will pre-populate with information that Facebook already has about that user. And speaking of saving time, we have built out an integration that allows your Facebook leads to automatically be sent to your CRM.

We’ll generate the leads for you, all you have to do is sell them a car.

Facebook advertising is just one way you can bring the dealership to the customer. If you want to learn more about personalization and how it can be used to generate more leads, drop us a line today!

3 Misconceptions About Ad Quality According to Google

In a recent edition of Google Best Practices they laid out the difference between auction-time quality and the 1-10 quality score. Regarding your quality score, here are 3 things that matter:

  1. The User’s Device
  2. Relevance
  3. Performance on Related Keywords

Hands typing on laptop computer - there are several misconceptions about quality score on Google

I don’t think that there is anyone out there that can argue that these factors do not effect your quality score. But here are some factors that, contrary to some opinions, do not matter:

How You Structure Your Account

This article says it best by saying “If it doesn’t affect user experience, it shouldn’t affect quality or Quality Score”. Accounts should be set up in the way that you can best manage and optimize them.

Running Your Ads in Other Networks

If your goal is to drive more traffic, targeting the Google Display Network or Google’s Search partners in your AdWords account won’t affect your ad quality on

Your Ad’s Placement on the Page

I want to highlight, underline and bold this sentence: Your ad’s placement on the page does not matter when it comes to ad quality. Having a high position on the page might have some benefits, but at the end of the day it does not necessarily effect the ROI of your ads. As mentioned in a different article by Search Engine Land:

“I can’t even count the number of times that I’ve been contacted by both clients and prospects with the statement, ‘Company XYZ is above me. We’re better than them, and we need to outrank them.’

OK… let’s take a beat and wrap our heads around what’s really being said here. While the statement seems logical, what is actually being said is:

Company XYZ is above me for the phrase I looked up. We’re better than them, and we need to divert all energies away from pursuing ROI goals and focus on one single vanity phrase.

What we need to remember is that none of this is actually about ranking for a specific phrase. In fact, the goal of our efforts is not rankings at all, but rather revenue. I don’t know about you, but if there were higher revenue from ranking in position 21 than position 1, I’d be working hard to get all our clients to the top of page three”.

All any advertiser wants is for their advertisement to result in a sale. Whether that advertisement is number one or number three on the page does not matter as long as it doesn’t negatively effect user experience and it converts.

So there you have it; 3 things that matter and 3 things that don’t according to Google. If you need more information about how you can succeed on Google or anywhere else online, drop us a line today!

4 Ways to Make Your Mobile Site Better, According to Google Best Practices

In the latest article from  Google Best Practices, Google gave 4 Tips for a Frictionless Mobile Experience. Not all of their tips necessarily apply to the automotive industry, but these are 4 simple ways to make your mobile site better.

Woman using tablet at night, visiting a mobile site

Make it Responsive

Even in 2017, there is a chance your site may not be truly responsive. In order for your site to be responsive, it must automatically adapt to every screen size: desktop, tablet, mobile, and every variation in between. Here is a quick and easy tool you can use to see if your site is responsive or just mobile-friendly.

Make it Quick

We have all visited (and left) sites that took too long to load. Find out what your load time is on both mobile and desktop with Google’s Page Insights Tool.

Make it Pop-Up Free

Pop-ups are to a website as retail employees are to a clothing store. If you are like me, you want to get in the store, get what you are looking for, and get out. Having someone approach me to let me know what the deals are can be helpful, but the more I am approached with offers the harder it makes it for me to just get in and get out. The same is true for pop-ups. I know you want to let them know about everything you have to offer, but the more things you have popping up on their screen, the harder it is for them to get to the ‘Schedule A Test Drive” form.

Make it Easy

Google titles this section Reduce buying friction, and provides ways for advertisers to make the checkout process as easy as possible. Right now this doesn’t completely apply to the auto industry, but I’m sure if you look there is friction in your buying process.

For example, how often do you check that the urls on your ads direct users to the right landing page? Are any of the links on your site broken? When was the last time you secret-shopped your own site to make sure your users aren’t running into any errors? These types of things can create friction in the buying process and make it more difficult for shoppers to get what they are looking for.