Avoid Being Cheated by Online Advertising Companies

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How Businesses are Changing the Way They Spend Advertising Money

By Hector Cisneros
Over the past seven years, I have been writing about the latest trends in online marketing and advertising. Many things have happened, and changes are as constant as change itself. What doesn’t seem to change is the fact that major marketing players keep trying to stack the deck in their favor without regard for the return on investment that they provide businesses. Recently, Google made lots of negative headlines because they were serving up ads on inappropriate YouTube channels for some of their biggest corporate clients. It’s easy to understand the sensational headlines when a large corporation pulls millions in ad money from the likes of Google or Facebook. However, little is said when millions of small company’s websites take it on the chin because Google changes its search algorithm or Facebook policy flip-flops canceling ads running mid campaign. If you consider how these advertising giants wield absolute control over how business is advertised online, you quickly start to realize that you must have a plan B in place if you want to succeed. In this episode of Working the Web to Win, we will explore the current state of online advertising. We will ask the question, “How can businesses protect themselves from the power these mega advertising giants wield?” We will provide the steps needed to make sure you have a good plan B in place so that you will get your money’s worth.
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This Type of Problem is Not New
As far back as 2012, we wrote about how Googles algorithm changes were hurting any business that was trying to trick Google by outsmarting its search ranking algorithms. In fact, we stated back then, that if you had been exploiting several known ranking factors (Like keyword count, backlink numbers), this algorithm would kick you off page one of organic search. The Penguin Update, as it was dubbed, could now spot this keyword stuffing and link farming techniques, which in turn penalized any website using those techniques.  We also discussed how these battles between Google and webmasters was good for Google and bad for business. In our article;  Google’s Secret Ranking System - Harder for You, More Profits for Them. We discussed how Google was increasing its profits by constantly changing its organic search algorithms to keep webmasters from exploiting them. Working the Web to Win is often referred to as a leading-edge ideas company.  We had written about this subject before it was considered something that you had to take into account in your marketing plan. We have always stated that your marketing plan needs to provide what consumers want, which in turn often pleases Google. Here are a dozen articles covering what’s being happening the last six years.
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The YouTube Crisis
In the opening of this article, I mentioned the headlines about large corporations pulling their advertising from YouTube because of Google’s ad algorithm placing their client’s ads in inappropriate YouTube Channels. This is not only a huge story; it’s a huge crisis for Google. Our blogs have always shined a light on how Google algorithms have hurt smaller businesses. Truth be told, it has also been hurting large corporations as well. Small businesses keep a close watch on how their money is spent on advertising. Large corporations often have huge departments or advertising agency’s handling their marketing. Large corporations have been shielded by this extra layer of scrutiny.
It’s not until Eric Feinberg made it his mission in life to find ads that were supporting content linked to terror and hate groups that the big boys started to take notice. In the advertising age article; Meet the Man Behind YouTube's Sudden Ad Crisis”, it discusses how mega corporation’s like General Motors, Walmart, Verizon, AT&T and Johnson & Johnson have stopped spending advertising dollars on YouTube or other Google web properties. 
Here a partial list of articles that discuss the crises.  
Is the problem just with YouTube? Or is it Adwords or just Google?
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The Answer is NO! This crisis isn’t just a problem with Google. It’s a problem that occurs anytime you have mega corporations that wield monopoly power. This de facto monopoly status allows them to dictate terms without regard for return on investment for their clients. If you have little or no competition, you can push the envelope until your clients start to scream “Enough is enough!” This is what is finally happening right now.
And it's not just YouTube. Adwords is showing it can reap more profits as well. Normally on AdWords, you set a daily spending limit, and once you reach that limit, your spending stops. It’s also possible that you don’t reach that limit. Not reaching your spending limit often would normally signal that you need to make changes to your ad in some way. Now Google is using a new algorithm that averages your spending limit so that if you don’t reach your daily spend, it boosts your ad’s exposure so you can make up the spend by overspending the next day. Needless to say, this makes it harder to analyze your results, and it makes sure Google gets it’s pounds of flesh.
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Yes, Bot’s do Exist!
Over the years, Google has been caught using clickbait and other kinds of bots to click on and evaluate webpages. These bots often skew analytical results and pay per click costs. You don’t believe me? Just type in Google Search “Google caught using bots” and see for yourself.
Last year Google also made many changes to its Organic Search Ranking system as well as it’s AdWords Listing Practices. In our article called; Understanding the SEO Paradigm Shift in Business., we discussed in detail many of these changes and how they mainly favor Google and not business. This article discussed how the latest algorithm changes reduced the number of organic and AdWords listings for highly competitive keywords. It also added fact boxes and map listings to many search results. This in effect kicks all organic listings off the above the fold position on page one of Google Search. Again, this forced, businesses who are desperate to be on page one of Google search to have to pay even more than they did before.
Let’s Not Leave Facebook Out
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The other Mega Player in this story about advertiser abuse is Facebook. The problems with Facebook are different that those with Google, although they manifest the same problems. Facebook is a de facto monopoly in the social media arena. How else can you explain that they have little to no advertising support even though they have double the number of subscribers than their nearest competitor?
Did you know that they have zero phone support? Say what you may about Google, at least with them you can call and get someone on the phone! Facebook touts that they offer email support, but my experience is that their email support is weak at best and terrible on its worst day. I have had to write them as many as eight times just to get a single response!

On top of that Facebook's recent algorithm changes will also cost businesses lot more money. In a June 2016 article By Joe Lazauskas on Contenly.com called; "7 Ways Facebook’s Big Algorithm Change Will Affect Marketers and Publishers", Facebook showed that it can ding businesses as well as Google can. The Truth is this. As long as businesses keep forking out money to run ads without complaining publicly, any de facto monopoly will continue to push the envelope of what they can do to garner more profits.

Google, Facebook, and other internet advertising giants have created lots of road blocks and sand traps for advertising businesses over the years. Let me mention a few here. Let’s start with disappearing subscribers, where overnight millions of accounts are suspended or deleted because they needed  to reassess their account policy. Or when they changed the timeline policy so that business post don’t show up in the timeline unless they are paid ads, or when their advertising algorithm suspends an ad that’s been running because it misinterpreted the words in a video ad. And let’s not forget the fake news items that they were pushing during the election in 2016.
How About Deceptive Celebrity Endorsements?
Read the article on the DailyMail.com
If these types of behaviors weren’t enough, social media, in general, is full of deceptive celebrity endorsements, which are absolutely against the law! In the daily mail article by Ekin Karasin called “US officials warn celebrities and social media personalities that they are breaking the law by promoting products on Instagram without admitting they are being paid to do it”, you will see that this is another widespread problem for small companies. What we need are fines not warnings. Better products are often overlooked because this illegal practice goes unpunished?
Internet marketing is constantly changing. This makes it difficult for the average business to keep up with all of the moving parts that a digital campaign entails.  At the beginning of this article, I promised to show you how to make sure you were getting your money’s worth when advertising online. Let me be clear, most types of advertising come with a real risk of loss. If you’re not doing your due diligence, advertising is gambling, plain and simple. Having said that, you can hedge your bets by properly vetting your advertising candidates, by diversifying and not depending on one type of advertising. It also pays  to take a longer view to success.
Top (Baker’s Dozen) Questions to Ask Advertisers
1.       Where is your company located and how long have you been doing this type of advertising (i.e. SEO, PPC, Boost, etc.)? If they are cold calling you, ask for their phone number and business address.
2.       Do I own all the content or does the advertising company control it?
3.       What are your fees and what will I get for the money?
4.       Does this fee include copywriting of ads, blogs, and social posts? What else does it include?
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(Backlinks, videos, PR)?
5.       Can you provide me with references for current clients? (Do you have any video testimonials?) Call the clients!
6.       What kind of performance guarantees do you offer and can I get them in writing? What happens if you fail to deliver results? What is your guarantee?
7.       What are the consequences if you fail to deliver your advertising in the agreed way? (i.e. The Ad’s run window was missed, they over or underspent, ran the ad at the wrong time or wrong place, etc.).
8.       How long is the contract and how long will it take to see results (i.e. Get my business on page one, receive calls, form fills, page traffic increases, etc.)?
9.       How do you determine the best keywords for my business for search and pay per click?
10.    How do you choose a target audience for my campaign?
11.    What kind of reports will I receive and how often will I receive them?
12.    Who do I call if I have any questions or needs during the time you are in my employ?
13.    Do I get priority contact phone numbers or email addresses and what is the return call time frame?
There’s Still More to Do
On top of these questions, a business must be engaged in the marketing process. No business can afford to disengage and let advertisers and agencies run rough shod over the control and results of your marketing campaign. I’m not saying that you need to micromanage anything. In fact, trying to micromanage something that you fully don’t understand can cause more problems and make matters even worse.
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What you must do is stay in regular contact with the people executing the campaign. You must take the time to evaluate the results, at least on a monthly basis. At Working the Web to Win, we insist that all campaign clients engage in regular update sessions where we discuss what current elements are running, new ideas, solving issues and any elements not performing. These sessions can take anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour depending on the complexity of the campaign. With this in mind, we also develop our exclusive Flex Plan program. This program allows us to alter the agreed contract plan when an item isn’t performing. This does not cost the client anything, and this exclusive element allows us to create and meet customer guarantees.
So how do you know if you’re getting your money’s worth? When you planned, your marketing campaign, you should have created a set of SMART Goals that are now part of your agreement with your advertising vendor. You also need to make sure your plan doesn't depend on just one marketing venue. Have a plan B, but remember, being diversified requires more diligence. Make sure the goals are listed on the contact if at all possible. If your goal is to grow your social media following, how many new followers are guaranteed at the end of the agreed period? If you're guaranteed a page one position, how long will it take and what keyword/s were agreed upon? If it's pay per click, how may monthly clicks, phone calls or form fills are specified? I know this sounds simple, but it requires a lot of work.
An advertising company or agency worth its salt will go out of its way to make sure goals are clear, and expectations are understood. They will take the time to educate you on the pros and cons of any advertising venue. They, in fact, will become your marketing department. If your current vendor is not living up to what I am describing, it might be time to start searching for a better marketing partner. Remember, it's your money, you can gamble with it if you like, but don’t let advertisers throw it away.
That’s my opinion; I look forward to reading yours.
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In this article, I have discussed the current state of internet marketing and how the mega advertising companies are taking advantage of unsuspecting businesses by implementing advertising algorithms that provide maximum profits for the advertising companies, with little regard for the results for the businesses who are paying for the Ads. This article also provides more than a dozen ways to vet advertising companies and several dozen links to related articles.  
If you feel your business could use some help with its marketing, contact us at 904-410-2091. You can also fill out the form in the sidebar of this blog; we will provide a free marketing analysis to help you get better results. Our claimed to fame is that we are one of a few companies who actually provide real guarantees.
If you found this article useful, please share it with friends, family, and co-workers. I recommend reading the articles listed above, along with checking out other related articles on our Show Notes Page.  Also, don’t forget to listen to the BlogTalkRadio show on this subject.  If you have a useful comment or opinion related to this article, leave it in the comment section of this blog.  Also, don’t forget to plus us, on Google+ and share us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well.
Hector Cisneros is COO and Director of Social Media Marketing at Working the Web to Win, an award-winning Internet marketing company based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Internet radio show, "Working the Web to Win" on BlogTalkRadio.com, which airs every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of “60 Seconds to Success.” 


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