Search Marketing Influencer Series – Chris Knoch (Part 2)


Chris Knoch is President of Big Squid Interactive. Chris pulls from a wide array of experience across agencies, digital ad technology, and consulting roles while still acting as a day-to-day marketing practitioner and industry evangelist. Chris and his team at Big Squid develop integrated solutions across SEO, analytics, paid search, affiliate marketing, display, mobile and social marketing.

Aside from the development of more “anticipatory” search platforms, what else is on your 2016 wish list for local?
Honestly, I expect nothing short of a “mobile advertising reformation” in 2016. I hope we address all those errant clicks out there. They are not necessarily fraud, but just really, really bad clicks. (Funny enough, this exact topic was the inspiration for a recent South Park episode.)

There are some aggressive publishers tricking users into clicking on useless links. Advertisers, in return, misinterpret these clicks – as well as the costs related to those clicks – as actual performance. As you can imagine, this is creating a bit of a reality “gap.”

Let’s take popular “Top 10″ articles as an example. When people click to read them on their mobile devices, it’s not rare for a number of related ads to pop up “forcing” people to scroll and click though even more pages, each with sneaky buttons leading to more unexpected pages, more messages, and more buttons – most having little or nothing to do with the initial search. Not only is this a frustrating experience for users, but it creates a tremendous amount of attribution noise for marketers.

Ironically, we experienced similar digital advertising challenges on the desktop just a few years ago (ie. pop ups). Mobile is the next platform where we will have to overcome similar obstacles.

How can marketers avoid these so-called “rabbit holes?”
Brands can get beyond this challenge by simply focusing on the customer experience first vs. simply driving clicks. We need to get out of the marketing by the numbers mindset, striving instead for quality clicks, as these lead to greater ROI and reduced fraud. However, as a byproduct, expect unit prices for CPC, CPM, and the like to increase as overall quality improves. It’s the only way to separate out quality clicks from the detritus.

What else do you think will be part of this “mobile advertising reformation” in 2016?
This year, I expect more local search practitioners to incorporate content strategies into their overall SEM efforts. For example, many brands overlook (or underestimate) the value of customer reviews. Not only do they offer tremendous insights and a variety of perspectives, but they are also a strong indicator of how well your SEM strategy is working.

The challenge here is that people who typically post reviews do so because they were either amazed by the product or service you offer ​or ​significantly underwhelmed by it. Unfortunately, general satisfaction does not typically invoke much action. But brands risk losing hard-earned trust rather quickly when reviews from the generally satisfied customer are under-represented. Consider this an opportunity to invest in getting the middle to voice their opinions.

Lastly, there’s a huge opportunity for brands to create a more cohesive customer experience both online and offline, especially given the rise in mobile-only usage by younger demographics today. An easy starting point is to equip customer service representatives with the right information about online offers, local offers, and more so they can field calls and emails successfully. It’s this kind of operational support at the local level that will make brands, both big and small, stand out from their competition. When customers want information, they expect your brand or business to deliver it quickly. Otherwise, there’s nothing stopping them from visiting the nearest competitor.

I actually have a feeling we will start seeing more services – in the form of both new technological innovations and a new breed of marketing agencies – emerge specifically to serve brands and businesses at the regional and local levels. This is certainly an area where YP℠ can lend its unquestionable local expertise.

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