Season 3 | Episode 1

The Intersection of Paid Media and UX Podcast with Kelly Mancuso at INBOUND

Paid Media Coffee is a podcast where some of the industry’s best come together to discuss industry trends and strategy. Over coffee, of course.

In this special episode, recorded for our friends at INBOUND, we dive into the many ways that user experience (UX) intersects with paid media. Our host, Kelly Mancuso, Vice President of Paid Media at Nebo, joins Brian Easter, Anna Swinyer, and Cael Olsen for this spirited and educational discussion. 

Grab a cup of Joe and learn how UX and paid media can work together to elevate each other’s strategies.

Kelly: Welcome to Paid Media Coffee. I'm Kelly Mancuso. And today we have a special episode around the intersection of paid media and UX or user experience. And we're really excited to be sharing today's podcast with INBOUND 2020 attendees. So if you're new and that's how you found the podcast, we hope you enjoy it.

If you are a longtime listener, then welcome back. So to help me with today's discussion, I've brought in a few experts.

First, we have Cael Olsen. He is Nebo’s VP of Interactive. Welcome to the show, Cael.

Cael: Thanks, Kelly. Happy to be here.

Kelly: We also have Anna Swinyer. She's a senior paid search manager. Welcome back.

Anna: Thank you, Kelly. Hello everyone.

Kelly: And we also have Brian Easter. He's a Co-founder of Nebo. Welcome back to the show, Brian.

Brian: Thank you for having me, Kelly.

Kelly: All right, so let's just dive right in. You know, there are a lot of opportunities for paid media and UX to work together, to really elevate each other. So I want to start with the why, why do you all think the partnership between paid media and UX is such an important one.

And Brian, I know you have a lot of thoughts on this, so I would like for you to start.

Brian: Yeah, thanks, Kelly. I do. And I'll try not to make your first question of the entire podcast is something I get really fired up about. One of the things that UX and UXO people or CRO people often don't understand is how media is bought.

And I'm going to start a little bit with a smaller example. If you just think about a programmatic or a typical display buy, or even a TV buy, the goal of the creative that you're buying on a CPM basis is to get the audience to take the next step, whether that's clicking the ad to go to a landing page or picking up the phone, or giving an email address. The point is that you just spent $2 million on this buy, if you have a 0.03% CTR on a display campaign, which is somewhat the norm, I think the last thing I read was 0.03 to 0.07.

And that's what you get. You get the average, you find, you spent your $2 million, you drove some people to a landing page, no biggie, but if you can make that first touchpoint a 0.1 or 0.2 CTR, you've just effectively tripled your budget. You've just taken out $2 million and you just turned it into six and then they land on a landing page.

For example, from this display buy, he just spent $2 million on, and if UX and paid are in sync and they're, they're doing the tango, so to speak. And the messaging, the user experience, all the expectations are aligned. And the conversion rate on that landing page goes from 2% to 2.5% or 2% to 3%. You've actually just added another 50% to a hundred percent of your budget.

At the end of the day, we're in a, we're in a place and time we're customer experience is everything. We need to be meeting people on their own terms. We need to be helping them. We need to be taking friction away and helping customers. Do the things that they want to do and need to do.

We need to be easier to work with. And too often, Paid and UX or UXO, they don't really come together unless it's at a conversion point. So the math is easy, but there are also big reasons for these two to really be tied at the hip and be aligned from the strategy from the top down.

Kelly: Yeah. I totally agree with that.

I think we tend to collaborate a lot more in those one-offs and look at things in a silo, but you mentioned the money part of it, especially now where a lot of ad budgets are being cut and also user behaviors are changing, too. And the way that we're interacting with media is just with the current climate.

So it's really important to make sure that we have that Omnichannel strategy and look at things the whole way through. Okay. Cael or Anna, do you guys have anything to add there?

Anna: As an advertiser, I think about how our landscape has changed, ultimately, in the past people couldn't escape that quote, unquote ad experience. If you wanted to watch a program, you had to sit there and listen to a commercial or watch a commercial, and then you're on the radio.

If you're in the car driving around and you want to listen to the radio, you had to listen to these ads. And there weren't these ad-free streaming services that we have today. And that's just something that's at the constant top of my mind when I'm thinking about creating ads is that people now have a choice.

They have an option to skip a YouTube ad if they want to. They have an option to apply ad blockers. They can pay for these ad-free experiences if they choose to. So, this all ties back into this control that users have now when they see an ad. So for me, there is an expectation from an advertiser standpoint, to be relevant, to make sure that that ad experience for them is exactly what they want to see because they have the option to turn it off if they want to.

So this pressure for me is really what resonates with this conversation that we're having between paid media and UX, how does that really come together? Paid media has an abundance of audience insights. We're able to see what that person is searching for at that moment. We're able to see demographics on that person.

We're able to know, what they're looking to buy based off in-market touchpoints. We can see what content they're reading about right at that moment. So there's a lot of these little touch points and signals that we have on the paid media side that we could then provide to the UX team to really make that a holistic experience from not only using that campaign targeting strategy that paid media knows so well and we're so good at honing in on, but how can we then take it a step further and make that ad experience as relevant as possible? 

That's what I'm really excited about to talk about today.

Brian: Anna, I'm going to jump in real quick, because you just said something that's amazing because paid media people are so good at what they do by and large.

And because the technology is there, what sort of happened over time is we've lost that golden age of advertising, where we had to really earn our audience's trust and attention because the targeting is so good. So what we've seen is less interesting ads, less thought through, or poor quality creative campaigns as it comes to display and these other things.

Because the targeting options are so granular, advertisers haven't put as much time and energy as they need to, into creating an experience that the audience deserves. And if you look at some of the best campaigns, especially you're going back for a few years, There, those commercials, those ads, a lot of times they add value to your life.

They weren't just noise versus somebody just targeting you because you happen to have certain demographics and psychographic characteristics.

Kelly: Yeah, Cael. What are your thoughts?

Cael: So, yeah, I think Brian and Anna, you both had some really awesome points about that. And I'll just add a couple of thoughts from my own experience.

One of those is that user experience is inherently a really data-hungry practice, right? We want to, we want to make really informed decisions and we want to make those decisions from our user's perspective. And there's a tremendous untapped resource, I think in all that data and optimization that's happening within the paid media ecosystem that typically isn't brought into interactive or creative projects as frequently as other types of research?

Your typical personas or a Google Analytics referencing that kind of data. But there's typically not a lot of conversation between a paid media team and our user experience team. When it comes to actually creating the digital experience that we're all working towards.

I think that's, that's something that's really interesting, both from our side, but also reflects on the client-side where more often than not, we're in a situation where the person's sort of sponsoring a web project is really not all that closely aligned in terms of goals sometimes with their paid media team, whether that's internal or it's another agency.

And, and that's sort of an interesting friction that can kind of get resolved by looking at the underlying goal conditions of whatever it is that we're working on. We can find a way to sort of synergize together and really build some interesting connections between those data points and the experience that we ultimately want to build.

Brian: Cael, I think your magic, but you just said the word synergize. I'm gonna ding you a couple of points on that one in my mental score for you.

Cael: That's fair.

Kelly: Okay. Alright. Awesome. So yeah, we talked a little bit about that siloed approach and how paid media and UX collaborate, but not as they should.

So let's dive more into that. Where are you all seeing that paid media and UX are working together most often. And Anna I want to throw it over to you to start with this one.

Anna: I think in terms of messaging paid media and UX are really working together hand in hand.

We talk a lot about the buyer journey and how can we message that person when they're going through all phases all the way from awareness down to conversion past post-purchase all the way through brand loyalty. We are working together on those fronts, prospecting versus remarketing, making sure that we are touching those people differently and talking to them differently.

And looking at the site and the content that's already there and where we can send them. And I know we're definitely going to dive further into that as well, but I do think that paid media and UX do a solid approach of looking at the content that exists and how can we apply that to our campaigns now?

I think a really great thing that paid media and UX does right now is taking a step back, looking at the content and how can we tailor our campaigns and our strategy based on what the site currently has, even looking at not just content on the site, but how the channels might be different as well.

Search ad copy is going to be extremely different than the way that we would speak to a user with a Facebook ad. And we're able to pull content right from the site and different things that are already there based on where that user is from a cross channel perspective. So I think that we do a really great job from that standpoint, just looking at content and seeing how we can tailor it differently based on where the user is and what we already know about them.

Kelly: Yeah. Anna, I think that's really interesting because you talk about these common principles and approaches to building a paid media strategy. And I think as paid media advertisers, a lot of times, you think. Like, those are just common sense things, but they're UX principles, even if we're not actually thinking about it right when we're developing the paid media strategy.

Those things are very intertwined, even if you're not actually going to your UX team and working hand in hand you're still applying those same principles.

Anna: Yeah, that's a great point. Part of paid media, UX, and all of digital marketing, in general, is the constant optimization process.

Right? Taking a step back and looking at what new content on the site do we have? How can we use that with maybe new ad types, new ad extensions, things like that. Those are things that we're already doing. And like you said, Kelly, it might seem like a that's an obvious statement to make, but that is how we are currently using paid media in UX.

And I think a lot of people don't realize that that's the convergence that we have today. It's just more of where can we go from here?

Brian: Cael obviously can speak to this a lot better than I can, but when you're typically designing a customer experience, whether that's a mobile app, a kiosk in-store display website, whatnot, we tend to start from the top down.

It's like this linear thing, especially when it comes to digital design. And you're looking at it from a standpoint of somebody enters a site and they go to a secondary page, tertiary page, so forth and so on. Paid looks at it almost from the opposite. A lot of times it's like, okay, here's my conversion point.

What do people need to do to get to this conversion point? And typically paid media looks at it from a perspective of, Hey, here's sort of this funnel here's upper than mid and lower, so forth. And so on. Bringing these two schools of thought together so that everybody's looking at both these perspectives and also looking at all the other touchpoints that we don't control.

Would elevate both crafts, frankly, in my opinion,

Cael: Yeah, I would, I would completely agree with that. Looking at this question as where does it kind of happen now and not where should it be happening? One of the things that we're constantly trying to push past is this sort of what I think of as a layered, as opposed to an integrated approach to either sort of a paid media first conversation or a UX first conversation, in which case, strategy, tactics, everything is laid out by either the paid media team or the UX team, and then the other services sort of layered on top. 

You have a campaign that's built out around really sound paid media strategies, and a lot of background information that's available to that team. The successes that they've had, the optimization work that they've done, then when it comes time to create the landing page or their conversion experience, there's sort of a, a layer of UX applied to that almost like just from a visual perspective.

And then I think the inverse is also true sometimes where. We're building a website or an application or something like that. And we might get a little bit of input at some point in that process from the paid media team, but it stays in those sort of separate layers where you get the benefits of both, but what it's really missing are sort of those emergent properties that can come from a really integrated experience where one plus one doesn't equal two, it equals three or four because you're starting to build sort of those relationships between the teams. You're starting to make more connections between the insights that each can offer. And you end up with something more than just the sum of its part.

Anna: That's a really interesting point that you're making Cael that is this layered approach. This one, plus two plus three plus four. And it's hard when you're trying to keep that momentum moving forward and also restructuring the wheel at the same time. We know that we need to be more integrated, but what's going to force us to take a step back and really reassess the strategies there?

And I think something that we haven't touched on yet, I think it's really important to call out is the biggest industry shift that we talked about in the past three to five years that has really forced UX and paid media to work better together is the mobile experience. That's something that hit all of us by storm.

We saw mobile pages acting differently. We saw users coming in from this whole new device and they were on the go, they needed quick content fast. And that was the first time in my experience where. We were all learning it together. So by default, we were all working together. We are for the first time asking what have you learned? What have you seen?

Paid media started coming out with mobile final URLs and all these different things were changing. And site speeds were becoming so much bigger of an issue or not an issue, but I should say more of an opportunity to improve the user experience. And so it's interesting how you say that because yes, typically we do have a layered approach, but it's very, very interesting when the industry shifts kind of force us to come together and then. We haven't really implemented that across our strategies yet.

Brian: Yeah. That's a great point. There are different expectations, different UX, different paid approaches to mobile, but the reality is that the campaigns that we have had the most success on and I'm sure successful were, and I'm sure other marketers as well, have looked beyond just paid and digital and looked at it and said, what is the true customer journey? 

If you are watching a television commercial, you go into the store, you see the display, you go home an ad for that box of cereal, you do something on social. As a human, you don't divide your time until I paid, earned, and owned your experience, the brand on your own terms.

And that, to me, that is the magic of UX and paid working together to really better understand that buyer journey and that, or the million buyers journeys that people are having and create experiences that empower the consumer versus chase the consumer or not respect the consumer in terms of where they're at, where they want to be in terms of the brand versus consumer relationship.

Kelly: Yeah, definitely. And that goes back to just your brand perception in general. If you have all these disconnected touchpoints, it's going to confuse users and they're going to not respect you as a brand as much. So I definitely think that's important. 

Let's talk about preference testing, Brian.

Brian, I know that you have a lot of thoughts on that and that's a pretty common way where paid media and UX are working together, but I'd love to hear your thoughts on that.

Brian: Thanks, Kelly. So, yeah, I mean, I know it's sort of been implied here, especially from a UX and paid media is like, hey, we, we do a lot on landing pages.

We do a lot on conversion points, check out leads, form, so forth and so on. But there are other things that are a little bit less known, but still work. And a lot of advertisers are doing and they're doing well preference testing. And I apologize, I'm going to have to nerd out for a second.

We have UX and UX user experience optimization versus CRO. A lot of CRO is done in a way that isn't statistically valid. If you run a test and you're saying I need 300 conversions, or I need 300 responses. To get a statistically relevant answer 175 choose A, 125 choose B, you think you've got a winner, then you rerun the test and it's the exact opposite.

The problem with that is you can't control the number of variables. You're not controlling for device. You're not controlling the buyer journey or the existing customer, recent customer. There's probably any time, anywhere between 10 to 15 variables going on at any given time. So that 300 conversions now needs to be 300,000 conversions to get a statistically valid answer, and it's not possible, but that's one of the beauties of preference testing and preference testing is something that the UX team and the creative teams have done for a long time.

They isolate the variables. They show one design A, design B to a certain group of users in a very controlled environment. But through preference testing, you can isolate the variables and then inform your marketing programs, whether that's a hero image on a, on a landing page, whether that's a certain mobile experience, whether that is some type of key message or something, that's going to be an ad and Cael, I'd love for you to dig into this a little bit more and talk about the pros and cons of preference testing because I think it's something that marketers do, but they probably could do more of.

Cael: Yeah. I mean, I think that the preference testing piece is something that, as you said, has been a little bit of a creative discipline, strong point for a while that the paid side has potentially been overlooking as a solution. And it's definitely one of those opportunities for us to sort of align and work together on things. 

For us, it's a fantastic way of looking at sort of a paid campaign or a general approach to content within a campaign and get kind of high-level understanding of how that actually works and plays out and as received by people, humans, the users on the other side of the screen who are going to actually be the ones interacting with it. 

The thing I can think of most recently was something that we did about COVID and part of the question there was knowing that this is now a concern, something that we're all dealing with.

It's part of our daily reality. Does including that in messaging and in imagery do something to sort of assuage the fears that people may have about that in regard to our client, who works in a COVID sensitive industry? Or is it something that in introducing that information into an otherwise unintentionally void place, where there's normally not COVID in appearance. There are no masks the messaging doesn't mention it. Does injecting that sort of image bring up more problems than it solves? In that test, it gave us a really interesting way of evaluating what this makes people think about.

And in that specific instance for this specific client the thought going in was we want to show that we care. We want to show that we're keeping people safe. We want to show that we're on top of trends. There were fears a little bit about some of the politics of it and whether that would be a factor, but at the end of the day, what we got out of it was, it's not so much the politics of it.

It's just that it brings it up for people. It makes people think about this thing that they're concerned about. 

Kelly: Yeah, its the reality.

Cael: And it drives them down. These alleys of like now I'm actually assessing the marketing of their promotional imagery that you've created. And I'm now thinking about it through like my own checkboxes of what I've heard are best practices.

And are you following those and why isn't everyone wearing a mask? It doesn't look like these people are social distancing and like, it sort of starts to draw out a lot more problems than it solves. What was initially this idea that was sort of conceived of as being entirely positive went through a short round of focus grouping?

Everybody thought it was awesome when we just do a slightly larger group of preference testing it, it becomes pretty obvious immediately that this is probably not the direction that we want to go down for a reason that nobody really perceived in the first place.

Brian: Yeah. And Cael. That's a great point.

I do want to make a clarification on something I said earlier and then kick it back to you or Anna. It's not that I'm against, UXO or CRO testing on a site. I am. But I think where we need to be more disciplined as marketers and this is another great reason to bring UX in is that we isolate the variables enough so that we know the answer we're getting is statistically valid and is in UX best practice.

I've just seen too many tools I talked about earlier when Anna was mentioning all the levers and buttons, they can push from a paid media perspective. There are some really great UX and CRO tools. Unfortunately, some of those tools don't teach the statistical rigor or enforce it to statistical rigor that you might need to truly get the best answer and the right answer from whatever tests that you’re running.

Cael: I think part of that is the mentality where a lot of user experience practitioners have this idea of iterative improvement and prototyping from the very first thing that starts. So it's, it's almost like we get input naturally at every step of the process. So if we're working through an information architecture, we want to get input from users or customers or audience members by way of a card sorting exercise or a design thinking exercise.

And then we'll put that into an IA and maybe work that into a navigation and do a little bit of usability testing. And then we'll get a couple of page designs together or work with the content team to get some messaging and do some preference testing at that point. Further down the line we kind of continue that process to the point where we have a complete prototype. And before that goes off and we do the work of engineering, everything to actually bring this thing to life. We want to test it in a medium-fidelity mode, make improvements tested in a high-fidelity mode, test it again, move that into a design so that now we have something that's sort of final, completely improved upon, and confirm our findings there.

I think that that approach is providing a little bit of a solution to what you're talking about, which is to say you don't have to put all of your work into learning after something's done, you can learn about something that you're doing while you're doing it. It just takes doing of it a little bit longer, but with a very prototype driven and sort of that Kaizen mentality that you talked about earlier, it can be something that's done in a very sort of agile lean way.

Brian: Cael, that's why I think paid media and UX are so meant to be together forever because what you just talked about and Anna could really dive into this and is relentlessly optimizing her paid media clients for that same mentality, but just from a different angle. And I don't know if you want to dive into anything about how you approach optimizing campaigns and being more relevant for users.

Anna: What I'm really excited about for us, is answering how we can expand this? What we can do more of,? Taking what we've learned from a paid media side and optimizing and learning about the long term approach of UX and how to learn as we go.

And how do we gain those insights that we know, Hey, we touched this point and it made this change. And that's what I'm really excited about to talk about today, How can we better inform each other? And how can we make that user experience as valuable, as valuable as possible while still gaining those learnings?

I think a lot of the paid media mindset too, in general, is you always want to be the first, you see that new ad type or that new beta and you just want to go for it. And that's something that paid media has to be aware of. We can't just jump at the bit to every new ad type.

We have to make sure that it's aligned with our strategy and our testing, and that we will gain these valuable insights as we're moving forward and working with UX and letting them know this is tweaking this here, I'm seeing really great results and seeing positive results coming to the site.

Like, what are you seeing on your end? And really having that conversation is just going to elevate a website and that user experience more than we've ever seen before.

Kelly: Yeah. And I think something that's kind of frustrating too, from the paid media side of things. We do test a lot. Right. But our platforms are inherently set up to kind of take that testing into their own hands. Google or Facebook or whatever it might be, we launched two ads and it will automatically start optimizing for what it thinks is the best performer. It's not really easy on our end, to isolate those variables and make things a true one-to-one test.

That's where we can definitely collaborate a little bit more and leverage some of the tools and concepts and approaches that UX does in order to get more statistical significance in our tests.

Anna: Yeah. And I know I'm Cael feel free to jump in here as well. But recently we've been working on a client that has been working on a site redesign and they've been really excited about the site redesign. They've really been talking to us, keeping us in the loop about when they're doing their launches, what they're tweaking, and what we were able to do on our end is look at it from a paid media perspective and say, Hey, you're making a lot of changes on the site and we just don't want to send all of your paid media dollars to brand new pages without testing them first. And part of that goes into what you were just talking about, Kelly, was that we know there are limitations on our side. So we were able to work with UX, develop a cohesive testing strategy. We could gain findings quicker and be able to act on them faster.

And while working with the client and getting them ramping up while working with a client and ramping up their site.

Cael: Yeah, I think one of the things that are really exciting about the paid media approach to optimization and testing is there's, there's this inherent nature to plan for testing. Like you all go into a campaign with multiple ideas and that you're going to execute on at least one of them.

And I feel like a lot of the time from sort of the interactive approach is. We know that for launch, we need to whittle things down to just one of a page. If we're going to have a landing page, we're going to have page A, and that's the one that performed best in usability testing or something like that.

So that's what goes live. And what's, what's sort of unique about adopting that paid media approach is basically saying. No, we don't need to just launch with one page. We can launch with multiple variations of different, important pages and use testing immediately after launch to sort of power those optimizations and start making learnings that are happening in the real world.

Because while, while usability testing is a fantastic tool, it definitely doesn't account for all of the actual real interactions that are going on, where people are using the website they're coming in from paid ads or organic search terms. They're landing pages may not be what's set up and the initial usability tests.

So there's a huge benefit. I think to that approach of being really open-minded and sort of future-forward about the opportunities for testing. That's sort of something that we're seeing being with this client is this option to say let's, let's approach the launch of this new portion of your experience with the test first mentality.

We know that the new page should be great. And we expect that it may outperform the existing page, but let's make sure that it does in reality, not just in a focus group or a usability test. And I think that's something that we could bring across the industry to a wide variety of different experiences.

Brian: I do think we need to be taken a Kaizen approach, to everything we do, whether it's an interactive experience where there's a kiosk, whether it's in-store or whether it's social, whether it's paid and just continuously improve.

And one of the disconnects for a lot of creative, interactive projects as they are approached as a one and done, I'm building a building once I'm done with the building, I leave maybe every now and then I change the blinds or change the carpet, but you're building something as a finite thing versus looking at, as a living, breathing, entity that needs to continue to grow and has a life cycle.

And I love the fact of what you're bringing up. There is a fallacy that humans have of like a yes, no zero one mentality it's either-or, and a lot of times it doesn't have to be either-or, going through, we've seen people get stuck on this design or that design. And the reality is we can go faster if we say yes, both. We'll do both.

Let's build a plan, implement both, tests both learn from both. And the reality is if not also one works for one doesn't work, sometimes one works because some of the assumptions that we're making in one scenario might be a more informed or lower funnel customer. And maybe another approach works because we're thinking through a higher funnel a less informed customer. 

And if you expand that to like, e-commerce, this build it and leave it, it really hurts the continuous improvement on mentality because you have a checkout page. Do you have a product detail page? Those tend to be relatively static and not dynamic. They tend to be a product detail page for a returning customer frankly should be different than somebody that's never heard of your brand. And this is their first experience. 

There's so much room to elevate, not only in our individual crafts but as paid media in UX, as I've always said they are meant to be together. They're meant to like learn from each other and push each other.

There's just so much here. I think we could make this like a 10-hour podcast, but nobody would ever listen. 

Kelly: Brian, on that note, I think we've kind of already started talking about where we should be working together and more so let's explore that a little bit more. Specifically and Cael, I want to hand it over already you to talk about some of the specific ways that you think that paid media in UX should be working more together and why.

Cael: I mean, to me, one of the first places to start is really with communication and making sure that the teams are aware of common goals and really kind of building a mentality. It is cross-functional across their teams as well as any other teams that are involved. Cause it's usually not just a UX team and a paid team on a project and making sure that everybody is really aware of what the benefits can be of working together and what that process should look like. Every team is a little bit different. The way a UX team works and communicates may be very different than the way a paid media team works and communicates, but they may also be really similar.

They may benefit just from having a conversation about how they work together, but. To me the first big step there is making sure that they're aware of what those common goals are. What is sort of the underlying victory condition here for us? And sometimes that's something that even needs to be communicated to the client-side and we sort of need to generate buy-in in the idea that we're going to be building the best web experience for you, we really need to get your paid media team onboard as part of this project.

We know that they're not typically working with your web team internally, but. Part of the reason that you brought us in is to sort of shake things up and give you all an experience that hasn't been built for you before. So part of the way that we want to do that is by being a little bit more cross-functional in our approach and making sure that we focus on the business metrics that are going to drive your success as a stakeholder.

That it's easy for you to sell that collaboration on the additional time that's going to be taken from people's schedules, as sort of, again, that emergent property. You're going to get way more out of this than you're going to put into it. If we can get everybody on the same page together.

To me building that sort of foundation of communication and understanding is absolutely critical and is really sort of pivotal for whether these projects that attempt to integrate the two are successful or not.

Anna: Yeah, Cael, I think that that's a great point, and starting that conversation and having those discussions in the beginning and aligning teams is huge because I think a lot of what paid media looks at is, is our reporting, right? 

Like paid media is all about reporting or monthly reports or weekly reports. How can we improve those metrics? But ultimately improving a CPC all the way down to improving a CPA that is helping everyone and with UX working together and all these teams coming together, the paid media side, the organic side, everyone coming together, ultimately all those efficiencies are going to improve.

Ultimately, we see clickthrough rate, we see our CPCs, we see clicks, impressions; that's what first grabs us. And that's what we learn day one, how to optimize and where to go from there, whether it's placing negatives, doing placements or exclusions, all those things that's what we've learned from day one.

We don't know what’s going on from the site side of things. What new pages are coming down the line. We don't know the full end approach of things. So what happens is paid media tends to be adaptive. And so we see our landing pages switch and then we just react and instead of being proactive and trying to work on those efficiencies in the very beginning.

It just makes it really easy for advertisers to forget what happens post-click because we're working in this, we see something we have to pivot and switch and fix things. And that's not the mindset that we should be having. Especially because paid media channels, like Google and Facebook and all the things that we've been talking about, they favor that positive user experience.

They want us to work together. They want somebody seeing an ad. They want them to engage with it and they want them to have a positive experience because that's going to ultimately affect their own brand perception. Right? We get favorited on Google if we have a high landing page experience. If we have really strong ad relevancy. All those factors go into our quality score.

And if we're able to work on those better together and improve on them. I mean, everyone's going to reap the benefits of it. That's definitely something that I think as paid media advertisers and experts, and as we're working through these optimizations, that's that fruit at the top of the tree that we're all trying to achieve.

Working together in tandem is what's really going to get that for us.

Brian: And I'm going to be a little bit mean to you right now. And I'm going to be mean to Kelly. I think there are too many times I've been in client meetings or, or we're talking about campaigns where you guys accept what you can't control, because it's uncomfortable to have that conversation, whether it's with another agency or within another department at Nebo, or a client's internal team. The reality is a lot of times we accept the things we can't control. You're like, yeah, I don't really like this page, but I think it's the best page I can drive them to. And given my choices of pages versus having an uncomfortable conversation of like, hey, I don't think any of these experiences are the right experience. 

We need to be able to, Cael’s point earlier, we need to be able to be more transparent with our other stakeholders, whether that's clients, other agencies, other departments so that we can all have better conversations.

You also look at some of the other complexities. So for example, with interactive or creative projects that Cael or the creative team sometimes works on, those are typically Cap Ex. Those are usually one time projects that are funded out of a specific budget or marketing.

A lot of times is out of Op Ex and those two budgets because they're funded in different ways. It also makes it harder for stakeholders to come together and have conversations. So both can be elevated.

Anna: I completely agree. I think a lot of times on the paid media side, we don't, I'm touched on this a little bit before, but we don't know what's going on on the other side of things.

And that does make it very difficult when we tend to lean in on, Okay, well, these are the options that we have from landing pages or content on site. What can we use this for? Or how can we best use the content that we already have available instead of rethinking that strategy and saying, these are the targeting opportunities we have in paid media.

How can we best serve the client and the user experience in partnering with UX? You know what, instead of looking at, got it from these are our options. Maybe it's more of thinking in the mentality of out of the endless possibilities that we can do in UX and paid media targeting, what would best serve and drive that, like you said, earlier, conversion rate to be triple or drive down that CPA? How can we really impact those metrics?

Brian: What you just said touched a nerve and drives me crazy because you'll have somebody literally. Come to you and say, hey, I've got a $2 million per month marketing budget. I just spent a half-million dollars on a new customer experience for site mobile email or whatever.

And then they come to you and they say, I've got $2,500 for display content and at $2,500 for display ads. You’re not going to be able to put the time, the love, the energy to really make that cohesive, and be worth earning that person's trust or attention. Too little budget and too little time is spent on trying to earn that click or earn that phone call and all the money is put into the media and into the build experience, not the glue that connects them.

Kelly: Oh yeah. And there are so many times too, that I see in like retargeting strategies, for example, where people are just driving people back to the same page that they were targeted off of, you know, oh, they hit this page, so let's drive them back there cause they didn't convert and then let's drive them back there again cause they didn't convert again.

And when you think about it as a user, that doesn't make sense at all. That page didn't provide the value that yeah, I needed to the first time. So why would it provide value the second or third or fourth time? So with paid media today, I think in addressable media in general we have such sophisticated platforms we really can develop this holistic omnichannel strategy from the first impression on one channel to maybe the first site visit on another and even the conversion touchpoint that may have come from another channel. 

And so looking at the paid media strategy, holistic is ho sorry, looking at the paid media strategy holistically and from a user experience standpoint is just as important as then translating that to the user's experience on the website and how they've interacted with the brand on both ends from an advertising perspective and from a website and offline perspective, too. 

Okay. So we've talked a lot about why it's important to have user experience and paid media collaborating, where they do tend to work together currently and where there are opportunities to work together better.

Now I want to talk about where we go from here. How can we break down those barriers and silos. Let's talk about actionable things that we can do.

Brian: Kelly, I'll jump in on this one. I think we covered a lot of it in the last question. To Cael’s point it's about breaking down the communication barriers. It's understanding and being empathetic and sympathetic to our clients and to all the stakeholders, understanding where budget pressures come from. That there may be some things funded in one place or another, but the end of the day, I think it really boils down in my view to saying, let's get aligned on goals.

Let's understand all of these campaigns are elevated and let's get more of the right people in the room. And at the very least, I think one question. If, if I were starting a new paid media campaign with a client, I would probably in my discovery questions say, hey, who owns UX? Who owns a creative experience?

Who owns other channels that I'm not collaborating with and what can I do so I can have regular community with them so that we can elevate all of the touchpoints because that's really what we're trying to do. By asking those questions early that say, Jim over here and Sarah over here, they own various touchpoints, and I know how to reach them and talk to them and saying, hey, I just saw this brilliant outdoor campaign you guys did. Let's talk about how we can do pull through optimizations based on your outdoor campaign and how that would connect to social or paid search or some of these other things. 

And to Cael’s point earlier, going back from like a build standpoint, whether it's a mobile app or in-store kiosk, or something like a voice experience or even website thinking through it, like where does paid media interact with this and what are some of the levers they can pull? 

So really in that discovery when you're onboarding a new client and having purposeful questions to better understand the landscape and who controls what, and then having purposeful touchpoints, whether that's monthly or quarterly all agency or all stakeholder meetings so that the left hand and the right hand know what they're doing, so to speak. 

Kelly: We've had a lot of success at Nebo with all agency meetings or having those meetings with clients and each of their different departments that are in charge of different areas.

I think that's just an easy way to streamline the communication and at least get those conversations going. And a lot of times we will see unique ideas pop up because we're sharing those insights and sharing strategies that otherwise we may have never come up with.

Anna: I even venture to go, even before that step of all agency meetings and just the educational aspect of it in general.

And we touched on it a little bit of paid media in UX and we want to work together, but there's this internal conflict of, well, I'm a little hesitant because I don't really know what's going on on that side. Right? Like sometimes I'll look at a campaign and I'll be like, man, like, yeah, I have geo keywords in my campaign, I would love to dynamically shift this page based off of where this person is, but to be fully transparent, how much of an LOE is that? I don't know because I'm not the expert in that field. And it's breaking down those barriers and starting to have that educational aspect to it. And that confidence to just bring up the idea and just ask to say, Hey, this is, this might be a shot in the dark, but is this even possible?

Is this even feasible for us to do? And those are those kinds of conversations that make one time projects build upon those. You can work together more and you can really just dive into using the targeting features of paid media for their full capability. 

And a lot of times too, I know at Nebo we have a lot of lunch and learns and a lot of opportunities to learn about the future of what's coming in the paid media world, especially. And Brian, you touched on who's who are those people that should be in the room. Well, I think having UX in the room too is now a huge stepping stone because a lot of times it's learning to collaborate and trying to figure out those how to bridge those gaps.

When new targeting features come across, we would like to use them with our clients. We just don't know if it's possible. And it's that huge question mark in the room and starting to have those conversations together, I think will really escalate this relationship that we're talking about.

Cael: I think there are really three important pieces to making sure that you can kind of get a start at making this kind of integration happen. But one of the first things is starting small. Don't pay for a huge project to do this on. Or if, if all you have are huge projects, pick a portion of it to start making this kind of integration happen so that your teams can work together in a little bit more of a comfortable space without putting so much on the line. Without driving your project managers crazy. 

The second piece of it, which I think Anna spoke to really well is getting the right people involved. Everyone has different personalities. Everyone has different working styles, but getting a team that's really open to sort of new ideas, working together with different people and it's comfortable sort of sharing potentially their own insecurities about things.

I think Anna, you really kind of called that out by saying I'm not really an expert in this thing. I sort of understand that what I'm asking for maybe the next to impossible, but is it? And I think the same thing is true from the UX side. There's a lot of people that are like, I see all these retargeting ads all the time, and I feel like we could do a better job there, but I don't really know what's involved. 

So, making sure that you get a team together that is generally excited and optimistic about taking on new projects, working with new people, and sort of expanding their own knowledge base is really, really critical. Otherwise, that project is basically going to shut itself down.

Then I think the third and most important thing is making sure that the client is involved. The all agency meetings and things like that are a great opportunity because, at the end of the day, it's also not just the client. Other vendors are going to need to be knowing that this is happening as well.

They may have input that's also beneficial or that could be utilized in some capacity. But to me checking those sort of three boxes of starting small, getting the right team involved and then, iterating and involving other teams. That's going to be huge. 

Kelly: All right. Well, let's wrap it up there.

Cael, Anna, Brian, thank you all so much for joining me today.

Brian: Thank you, Kelly, for being an awesome podcast host and for allowing me to be on the podcast again. But before everybody goes. Do you know why paid media people and UX people hate trampolines?

Why is that?

Somebody, anybody you have a guess?

Anna: It's gotta have something to do with high bounce rates.

Brian: Exactly. So sorry. We had to end the show with a bad joke.

Anna: Well, on that note, thank you. Thank you as well, Kelly. I was happy to be here today.

Cael: Yeah, thanks so much, Kelly. I appreciate it.

Kelly: Awesome. All right, listeners, if you have any questions or recommendations for topics that you'd like us.

To talk about in the future. Please let us know. We want to make sure that we're covering the things that interest you the most. So you can email us at or you can send us a DM on Twitter @PaidMediaCoffee. 

And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a rating or review wherever you listen.

All right, thanks so much. And we will talk to you next time.

Posted by Paid Media Coffee on September 21, 2020


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