Season 2 | Episode 1

Paid Media in 2020 and Beyond

2020 is here, and the future is now.

Our host Kelly Mancuso, along with Brian Easter, Alexa Munoz, and Casey Baker kick off Season 2 of Paid Media Coffee discussing significant paid media trends for the new year.

Pour a cup of coffee! It’s time to take a fresh look at your accounts in this new decade and get ready for all of the exciting opportunities to come.

Kelly: Welcome to Paid Media Coffee. I'm Kelly Mancuso, and we're excited to be bringing you our second season. So, you may or may not have noticed that we've taken a little bit of a break, but we've been working on season two and with it being a new decade, we think it's a really good opportunity to take a fresh look at your accounts, your campaigns, your strategies.

And so this season we're going to be covering all the things that paid media advertisers should be thinking about in the new year and the new decade and, and moving forward. I have three guests with me today. First, we have Casey Baker joining us again. She's a paid media associate at Nebo.

Welcome back to the show.

Casey: Thanks, Kelly. I'm excited to be back.

Kelly: We also have Brian Easter back. He is a co-founder of Nebo.

Brian: Thank you for letting me come and participate, even though you guys know so much more about this than me.

Kelly: Then for the first time on the show we have Alexa Munos. She's a senior media buyer at Nebo.

Alexa: I'm excited. Thanks for having me.

Kelly: Yeah, welcome. Thanks for all being here. Also, for all of you listeners, we apologize in advance for any triggers of your own Amazon devices. After saying her name. All right. Cool. So this episode is really about setting the stage. We're going to be talking about the shifts in the industry that have happened over the past year and how that's going to impact, paid media moving forward.

Talking about those things at a higher level. Our industry is moving very fast. We know that a lot has happened in 2019. It would be pretty impossible to recap everything that happened over the past year. If you're interested, there are a ton of articles out there online that you can go and read through, but I'd like to ask my guests today from your perspectives, what were those major trends in paid media.

Or overarching themes in the industry that you think are going to impact 2020 the most?

Casey: So, I think the biggest thing is just the dominance of artificial intelligence and machine learning. I think AI made huge strides in 2019 but as we get into 2020, this will be huge. I think it'll really reshape and almost reinvent the way we do a lot of things in paid media.

Kelly: I think automation and artificial intelligence, machine learning has been something that's in almost every single 2020 predictions article that I've read so far.

Brian: So to play contrarian here a little bit, you know, there's been a lot written. Also, I think Digiday recently came out with an article that said how AI and some of these automation tools have actually cost more time because they're not where they need to be. I'm not anti AI. I'm not anti automation, but, uh, the reality is that some of the tools are available, um, and some of the actual sophistication needed isn't there. There have been cases where it actually causes the paid media professionals to actually have to work much harder.

I think it'll get there, but also think it's more still the promise of automation or the promise of AI versus the reality, but you guys are, your hands are in it more than mine.

Kelly: I definitely agree with that, and I think that's part of the hesitation for people to sometimes fully adopt automated strategies.

I have seen some improvements, uh, specifically thinking about some things Google's rolled out over the past year. So, they have added seasonal bid adjustments that you can add on to your smart bidding strategies. So, you know, if you're a retailer and you know, advertising and running a smart bidding strategy over Black Friday, it doesn't completely skew that strategy and push it back into learning when all of a sudden conversion rates jump so you can, you know, set that contextual base beforehand and tell the system that that might happen.

Alexa: I think somewhere we're going to see artificial intelligence really be adopted by brands is in chatbots.

I think brands are going to be looking at this more because they're responsive 24/7 they can give correct answers promptly. They're not going to have an attitude if you're annoying them or just hang up and disconnect, like I'm sure everyone's experienced. And with AI, they can also look at your entire past purchasing history.

They can see what your account looks like super quick. They don't have to go digging for it. I think as long as brands are using artificial intelligence to help further their brand and brand sentiment is going to go a long way.

Brian: I think for AI and machine learning to truly reach the level it needs to and the promise that we're all hoping, it has to really be better tied into CRMs and traditional media and other things that as we're experiencing a brand because I think what ends up happening is it ends up being a little bit too much direct response focused. And somebody at one stage of the journey isn't necessarily ready to do something else.

And so then it over optimizes for this direct response world. Plus with the CRM data, you're able to see more of the journey. And I think this even gets, is even more important as we move from a post cookie world. I definitely think there's a lot of potential there, but I'll also think that we're just not quite there yet.

Or Casey, I know we talked offline about how the auto automatic bidding has, um, it sort of blows your mind that sometimes. People are against that.

Casey: I would say that definitely with some of my smaller clients and those smaller budgets. I have some clients that have been doing manual bidding for years now, and so those clients are really hesitant to kind of switch over to that automated bidding strategy since their current campaigns are performing just fine.

I've kind of had to communicate to them that while there may be a short learning period, it's definitely gonna pay off for them in the long run, but they definitely are when you have, when you're kind of constrained by budgets, telling a client that you may not see the same results you saw last month, is something that is definitely a big hesitation for them.

Kelly: I also think we've seen automation more prevalent in terms of a simplification of account structures, so across like Facebook with campaign budget optimization or CBO, um, responsive ads across. search platforms, display, and even Facebook. You know, we're able to create a lot more versions of ads, have a simpler account structure, make it easier to manage.

And, automation is helping us do that.

Brian: You know, you guys, a lot of times we're talking to your points of contact or the marketing folks that a lot of our clients, whether they're larger clients or smaller clients. I think sometimes I end up talking to some of the brand folks and I know automation sometimes terrifies them, especially as it relates to brand safety.

You know, they're terrified and not being able to control all of the variations of ads or the ad copy. You know, I've had recent clients say, I need to see every version of ad copy before it goes. I'm like, that's not possible because, some of the automation is deciding that, but also understand the fear that brand marketers have when you're afraid that it's gonna, you know put the wrong context, especially with some of our clients that may have more emotional decision making and just the wrong word could really be a bad look for a brand.

Alexa: I feel like automation is just a necessary evil in marketing.  Programmatic wouldn't exist without automation. Real-time bidding.

Like that's how it came about. So, I think that advertisers should definitely be open to automation.

Kelly: If they haven't already, what are some ways that paid media professionals are going to have to adapt their strategies across paid channels to adopt some of these best practices and automation?

Casey: I think one thing is definitely being comfortable with kind of releasing that, some of that control and allowing those algorithms and platforms to do their thing.

Kelly: I've seen it so many times where people are, you know, scared to take on some of these like automated processes, but then once they do, they're like, Oh my gosh, I have more time to actually do my job. So, yeah, definitely something that you can benefit from.

Brian: So, I think that sort of transitions to another thing that I think that's really, um, it's, it's been around, but I think it's going to catch fire in 2020 and beyond is really advanced media.

And that we're shifting from a world where we're buying TV shows to buying an audience plus behaviors. And you're not going to do that without some automation AI in place. And I think to Alexa's point earlier, you know, there are some things that you just have to let go and say we have to do this.

We're in a different world. it's not 1952 where we're going to see every ad script before it goes out. There are things you can put in place, but if you really want to take advantage of advanced media, whether that's outdoor, TV, audio. You're already going to have to play in this and you're going to have to get comfortable in this automated world.

Alexa: I think another thing to keep in mind is that automation doesn't mean set it and forget it, right? You should still be QAing, still checking in. You're still running the account and what is happening. It's not just something that's totally out of view, out of focus running and no one's QA or checking in on anything.

Brian: Well, one thing that's interesting too is, you know, there's the brand safety element and all of that, but there's also, misfires and fails. You know, I've seen there's tools out there that have the promise of resizing videos. So it goes from all the different sizes and all the different ratios.

But even taking it to that Instagram mobile first, and there's been some big fails, cause I don't think AI is. At least I haven't seen some of the CMPs some of the things, even Adobe, I think at times maybe over promise a little bit. And it's really hard to take a TV aspect ratio and turn that into a mobile aspect ratio in an elegant way.

Um, but I think that that's part of, uh, what paid media is responsibility is, is to understand where these tools and platforms can really add value and where maybe we're being upsold a little bit and we did when we need to pull back and understand that balance,

Casey: I almost think these new algorithms and platforms that come out are almost against best practices at first, and it's kind of making sure you are aware of when they become a best practice and people start to trust them.

Kelly: There are a lot of ways to leverage automation too, you know, it might be giving up the reins completely to the platform that you're working with for something that they offer.

But you can also write custom scripts or create rules that alert you when certain things are happening so that you're in the know. So, you know, there are different levels of that automation. But Brian, you brought up privacy and I think we should transition to that because it is. A big thing on every advertiser and every marketer's mind right now, you know, with GDPR and then CCPA, which just went into effect and it's going to start being enforced in June.

So what do you guys think are the biggest concerns or takeaways, for advertising in 2020 considering privacy?

Alexa: I think the biggest takeaway is just not being able to leverage that third party data anymore. I know that as advertisers, we still rely on third-party data, probably most heavily compared to first or second.

Um, so now that that's going away, we need to be agile in transitioning and how we're going to still hit the right audience at the right time.

Casey: And I think kind of the overarching theme to all that is transparency. Consumers really want transparency. They don't want to be fooled into anything. You can no longer just blast an email at someone, at a bunch of people.

I think that you need to make things more personalized for sure.

Brian: I have to take a little bit of a contrarian view. I think there's no such thing as privacy anymore. If you have a Facebook account, if you're on Instagram, if you, uh, are on Amazon, your data's gone. There's no such thing as privacy.

And I think that some of the things that we're doing are almost to make people have the illusion that they feel good or they're in control. But the reality is, you know, that privacy is gone in my opinion. But I also think the consumers want it. I think that consumers don't want as much privacy as they think they do.

I think to Casey's point, they do want transparency, but at the end of the day, they do want relevant experiences. You want to be able to go to Facebook and, and have some mechanism that it remembers your login. You don't want to have to remember every single login you've ever had. You want to be able to, you know, to go to a site or to see an ad that's relevant to you.

I think that there's a balance. and I also think that really plays into like, you know, the disappearance of cookies in a couple of years and some of the platforms that are already. limiting cookies, but also think that's also a false hope because I think that the reality is as we watch TV, as we get into advanced media, as we're listening to podcasts, as we're as voice tech is in our life, cookies don't work on those anyway. I think that Google has been planning and transitioning from a post cookie world for awhile, and it's not been about privacy for the consumer. It's about, it's an incomplete measurement tool and they're probably looking at, um, ways to unify us and most likely some type of biometrics.

and I think that that is definitely already here in some capacities, but it's going to be coming even more as we go forward. 

Kelly: Talking about like consumer needs and wants, I was just thinking about this the other day. We're thinking about this every day, right? Privacy, CCPA, what's going to happen in June?

But do consumers even really know what's going on? Like in June are we going to see, or even before then, since it is in effect now, going to see immediately a bunch of opt outs of people like are people like, Oh, this is happening now. I can't wait to opt-out of sharing my data. Or, you know, are they just going to keep living their lives as they are?

Like we don't really know yet. Only time will tell.

Brian: My strong opinion on that is that they, most people will keep living the way they are, but the people that have tin hats and have never logged on to Facebook, they're going to stay paranoid and you won't hear from them anyway. 

Casey: I was actually at a conference not too long ago and there was a comedian speaking at the end of it and he made a really good point about that.

Those same people that are paranoid and all worried about privacy are the same people that will spit in a test tube and send their DNA off to and the same people that are wearing like Apple watches, which are essentially tracking devices, um, Fitbits. It's all, it's all, yeah, it's all relative.

Alexa: You make a good point there. I think people like to pick and choose who has their data because Tik Tok is one of the fastest-growing platforms right now, and all of that data is being collected basically by the Chinese government. And I don't think people are cognizant of where their data's going, who's collecting it.

You just do something fun and new and you download it and basically give up all your privacy.

Brian: Well, I think the common thread, at least in American society, is that people will, trade privacy for convenience. And I don't think that's going to change.

Alexa: I mean, I would.

Casey: I know I do. Personally,

Alexa: I'm not going to opt-out of anything.

Kelly: I really want any of my passwords, all my information.

Alexa: If it's going to show me relevant ads at least.

Kelly: But as we do, you know, think about this. I think we have to be prepared for any scenario. And something interesting that some people, some peers were talking about at a Digiday video conference that I was at recently, was if we are having to work off of limited data. And you know, we can't use that third-party data that's there. You know, it's, it's scaled back. So it's not as accurate. We kind of have to go back to where we were maybe 10 years ago were contextual targeting was King, you know? And so it's interesting.

We're going to have to figure out how to do our jobs with less data than, you know, we've had so far.

Brian: There could be one positive by-product by that. I think that marketers and have been a little bit lazy as the targeting ability has been, improved and increased. there's too much focus on being there versus being there in the right way.

Uh, I would love to see some type of marriage of the golden age of advertising where we're doing better campaigns and we're doing really creative stuff. Also with better targeting. cause I do, I see lazy ads all the time and my, how did this get approved? This is like, it gets approved because it ends up being something where the targeting is so precise that it can be effective even if it's not really good.

Kelly: And something Brian that you say all the time, is that. Like with creative, if you have good creative and you've got good targeting, you can increase that click-through rate, then you can double your budget essentially. And yeah, I think people forget about that.

Alexa: And I think a good platform that is capitalizing on contextual targeting and not relying on outside data is Reddit.

Basically how you target users on that site is subreddits. So, you're hitting them on themes they're interested in. And then you can follow them throughout the site, but that's how they mainly use their audience targeting.

Brian: Have you had good experiences on Reddit? Because, you know, in our experience it's almost like catching the honey badger.

Kelly: I know I'm always so scared about Reddit advertising.

Alexa: I think a lot of brands and marketers are moving towards their cause they see good growth. I wouldn't say anything negative necessarily. You have to watch your frequency because you do follow some users across their journey on Reddit.

So you can have your targeting. If someone's interested in, I don't know, wine, you can show them and find them on their wine subreddit, but then you can also show up on cars because you're following that user when they were on the wine subreddit. Oh, interesting. I think you'd kind of be careful because I have seen in the past a little bit of backlash where we followed users to other subreddits and they thought it wasn't necessarily brand safe.

But they weren't in our target like that separately. It wasn't in our targeting pool.

Brian: Just to get that inside joke up to the podcast, we're shooting this one in the afternoon that I'm the only person with coffee here and everybody else has wine.

Kelly: As Alexis talking about the wine sub-Reddit,

Alexa: I was like looking around the room.

Kelly: Today is a paid media wine podcast. But no, I love that you brought up Reddit because I think a big trend right now is also these emerging channels in paid media and Reddit's definitely one of them. We also mentioned Tic Tok there, a number of others, but will you guys tell me about like what platforms you guys think advertisers should be thinking about how they should be expanding their strategies beyond just the, you know, tried and true Big guys.

Alexa: I mean, I think Tik Tok is definitely the wild West right now. if you're an advertiser and you're bold enough to get into the beginning, you're going to see that kind of return because right now it is a lot cheaper than Instagram or Facebook. But I think as more brands and advertisers see success from other companies on that site.

It's going to start flooding the market and raise the cost.

Kelly: And they're trying to scale their ad platform really quickly. I know right now it's not great. There's not great targeting, not great tracking, but I think they're working on it. And so if they can reach parity with some of the other, paid social ad platforms, then yeah, they will definitely take a big share of wallet.

Brian: I'm interested to see if Microsoft can do a good job of continuing the integration between LinkedIn and it's search. Right now it's relatively basic, but I think that's a, a gold mine. If they can, you know, elevate. I'm not sure where they're going. I'd like to watch that. you know, obviously, you know, there's, we already mentioned advanced media earlier.

I think, you know, the convergence of traditional and digital and programmatic and just those worlds are going to be very exciting. I also think that you're going to see more interactivity and traditional channels. You know, TV has been a broadcast medium for so long, but now with. connected TV and people there, there's going to be more ability for consumers and brands to interact in ways that they couldn't in just the linear fashion and even on the linear fashion.

I think that's going to evolve so, I think it's not just about the buy, but it's also like what is the creative experience that we're going to bring consumers? I really think paid media professionals need to be thinking about that because I think the ability to provide pretty, uh, amazing experiences is going to be there quicker than we think.

Kelly: Well, yeah, I mean, it's kind of already here. Peacock just announced their ad strategy and they've got shoppable TV pause ads like a Zander, and I think Hulu are doing pause ads now. Also engaging ads, they're rolling out. More of an interactive ad type. Definitely.

Brian: What do you guys think about the Amazon DSP and that first-party data?

Does anybody have any thoughts?

Alexa: I think we're going to start seeing these bigger companies. Pull in that first-party data and sell it because now people really need it. So another emerging, I guess DSP or channel you want to say is Walmart, they're going to start having a self-service platform selling all their first-party data.

I think that's going to be a big shift for these major corporations that know what we eat, what we buy, what clothes we buy, basically can track us.

Casey: I would agree. I would say that we can expect to see a lot of these big box stores kind of follow suit.

Brian: And speaking of Amazon, and it's not just Amazon.

Also, think that voice and voice tech is going to be something that emerges. It might not be this year, but you know, to me, voice isn't a voice-first or voice only. It's a multimodal, it's an ad experience. It's click type swipe. Uh, touch and talk. I was just at a voice conference as case it was relevant, um, referencing the conference.

And it's interesting to talk about some of the things that they want to do. There's a lot of things that they want to do, like tying voice recognition to your credit card data, time, voice, and, uh, two shopping experiences while blending that with like AR and VR. I think there's a lot of, it's not there yet, but it will come. I think that's very exciting.

Alexa: I think going back to like Amazon and Walmart's and the big box stores, we're also going to see a lot of acquisitions. Amazon buying whole foods. They're just going to get all that data from us too. And then, Google's bang Fitbit, they're going to know where we're going and how far we walk every day.

So I think we're going to see these bigger companies taking on specific acquisitions for data they need in-house.

Kelly: And capability. A lot of the technology vendors and stuff, we saw a lot of that in 2019 too. The big guys buying up these little shops so that they could have specific. verticalize expertise in certain things.

Brian: And one thing is obviously we're not talking about is how podcast advertising and paid media evolves.

Kelly: We don't have ads on the podcast yet, at least maybe one day, but, podcast ad revenue is up like 50% year over year. And I've seen so many new platforms arising that are allowing you to buy podcasts as programmatically.

Kelly: And then the platform Podcorn, which is less of a programmatic platform, but they're more of like the liaison between the advertiser and the brand and they have technology that matches the two. That you can find the right podcast for a specific campaign and then makes that connection. And it's not just, you know, an inserted ad or a host read ad, but they actually will help negotiate, you know, more the sponsored content types.

So maybe like a sponsored interview or some other long-form content. There are a lot of really cool options out there and it's exciting to kind of explore those.

Alexa: Now that we're, well, some companies are able to layer on audience data. Yep. It's kind of cool that they're almost dynamically inserting your podcast ad so we could be sitting next to each other, listening to the same podcasts and at the three-minute mark hear totally different.

Kelly: Yeah, and Spotify has been doing a lot with that lately. Rolling out new capabilities there.

Casey: Kind of jumping away from podcasts, but something that has been really interesting to me is like the augmented reality ads that have been booming in 2019 and I expect to see a bunch of growth in 2020.

So things like, Sephora virtual artist, which is a, you can go online and essentially try out various forms and shades of makeup. you just put your own picture in there, and you can see what it would look like on you yourself, which is really cool.

Alexa: I love the new augmented virtual reality stuff. I was shopping for a new couch recently, and Amazon offers it for furniture. Oh, you can open up your camera, show your room, and it'll place the couch in proportion to your house before you order this giant piece of furniture investment.

Alexa: But I think we're going to start seeing other brands do this because it will cut back on returns. People, it's just ease of purchase.

Brian: I think one of the big things that we're going to see, and this is a great point, Alexa, is that we're going to be trying to remove friction from the buying experience in the consumer and brand experience in general.

And the technology is there and it's gonna continue to get better. Whether that's, you know, merging voice AR, VR with other things, or even, you know, going back to what we were talking about a little bit with automation, automatically bringing in contextual elements, whether that's weather or whether that's other things.

So that. What is happening is removing friction and just making it easier. 

Kelly: Similar, similarly to that, we've seen kind of a rise in it, native advertising, not just as a tactic or a channel, but a lot of ad units, even on search or trying to appear a lot more native.

So there's kind of this. Flow between what's an ad, what's not what's actual content. And I mean, even from an advertising perspective, we need to be creating ads regardless of what they look like that are helping the user and that are removing that friction. So something definitely to keep in mind,

Brian: And I know that there's going to be a whole, I think two or three, maybe even four episodes about it this season later.

But I think even just someone going back to some of the basics. There's so much opportunity for people to not just think about what's emerging, but to go back and say, how do I restructure my existing accounts? Whether that's something as basic as your Google AdWords- ads account. I know, I know.  I know.

Let me start talking about Overture.

Kelly: That's a really great segue. Some of our future upcoming episodes for this season, we're going to be talking about, Facebook in 2020 and best practices there. We're going to be talking a lot about search, best practices, account structures, the evolution of search.

Having a cross channel search strategy. We'll be diving into Tik Tok. I need to figure out how that works and get on top of it.

Alexa: Download it today.

Kelly: So I can talk smartly about it.

Brian: All of your employees that have less than a year of experience can teach you.

Kelly: Exactly. I know, but then do I want the Chinese government to have my data?

We need all the podcast content. Right?

Casey: Dancing on my Tik Tok.

Kelly: Wait your day, you have Tik Toks of yourself dancing.

Brian: Basically, one of the biggest things on Tik Tok is giving anyway. 

Alexa: We'll say that for the upcoming episode anyways,

Kelly: Thank you all so much for listening. We're really excited about, uh, what we have planned for the rest of the season. If you have any questions or if there's anything specific that you want us.

Talk about, please email us at you can also follow us on Twitter @paidmediacoffee, and then please like us, subscribe to the podcast, rate us, review us. These are the only ways that other people like you can find the podcasts, we would really appreciate it. All right.

Thanks so much and we will be back next time.

Posted by Paid Media Coffee on February 4, 2020


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