Review of our Fashion & Lifestyle event at Google on January 31st, 2018.

We love our quarterly events. The last one was in late January, here in NYC, and focused on growing your Fashion and Lifestyle brand. We were lucky to have Dagne Dover Co-founder Deepa Gandhi with us, a a whole host of Mason employees, the incomparable Candace Jordan from Google, and about 100 attendees who braved the 2° weather.

We strive to give real value at these events, and we hope to see you at the next one.

Simple Landing Copy Changes can Make a Big Difference.

We are lucky to work with the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) which, for reasons that will become clear, I will refer to as “The Harvard of cooking schools.”

We work with them across platforms and tactics, and this means that we have the ability to run multiple tests.

On one such test, we’re A/B/C/D testing taglines ONLY. Ad copy, layout, images, body text - everything else remains the same.

This is the Challenger Page, the original we inherited and are improving via testing.

This is the Challenger Page, the original we inherited and are improving via testing.

The control here is the “hero” tagline, “FOOD IS BIG” - that’s our baseline. We’ll say that’s pH Neutral, neither good nor bad. Let’s label it “zero” and measure up or down from there.

Now, this campaign’s goal, is to get potential students to inquire (and then apply, and then enroll.) So let’s call an inquiry - a student filling out his information and asking for an admissions counselor to call him - a “conversion.”

We are testing “FOOD IS BIG” against these challenger taglines:

  1. STUDY ON THE HUDSON

  2. CIA is "the Harvard of Culinary Schools." -Julia Child

  3. CIA is the best Culinary School in the World

I’m not going to give away CIA’s conversion metrics - I’m not going to tell you if the original FOOD IS BIG page converts website visitors into inquiries at 2% or 5% or 20%, but I will share how these 3 “challenger” taglines compare to the original.

And the results are striking. Challenger #2 - the one calling CIA the Harvard of Culinary Schools - converts almost 5% better. This means that for every 100 people that visit this website page, CIA will get five more inquiries.

5 more students is a big, important, serious number. If your agency isn’t testing taglines, please give us a ring :)

Tagline Testing Affecting Conversion Rate

Human Intervention in Google Accounts.

Search Engine Land brings news about a new Google Initiative. In brief, Google Ads reps are about to start making changes to advertiser accounts. Unsolicited changes. I guess this is an immediate direct threat to Yodle or Reach Local.

Why would Google do this?

To make more money: I’m sure they have data showing that actively managed campaigns, spend more than non-actively managed accounts. So I am not surprised that Google is intervening more in advertiser accounts. I am surprised that they are using humans to do this.

Google has been relentless about automation in their advertising platform:

  1. Ad copy is now much more automated than I ever thought possible.

  2. Ad units - actual graphical ads - are being automated via Smart Shopping Campaigns that do perform well but are ugly.

  3. We, as an agency, are partially judged by what % of our clients use Google’s bidding automation tools.

  4. Google says outright that keyterm buys will eventually be sunset, and that we’ll all let Google’s algorithm decide where/what/when to run our ads, and in what units.

So it is a bit of a surprise to see Google saying some version of “key, automation is still great, it’s still coming, but now here’s an additional human layer, too!”

We here at Mason have the following observations about this:

  1. A low-level google trainee out of Detroit - because that’s who will be making these changes - should not be acting unsupervised on your behalf. They can’t know what your goals are.

  2. Contextless changes - because a Google-only view that doesn’t know what’s going on with your Radio, Instagram and Facebook efforts, lacks context - should not be acting on your behalf. They can’t see the whole picture.

  3. Google has a habit of rotating reps off of accounts after 6 months - which means that you, a small business, will have to re-educate these remote, low-level employees, twice a year.

We will be opting our clients out of these efforts.

This is an example of a Dynamic advertising unit, created by Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. Clients - especially upscale clients - do not like these, because they don’t highlight the brand very well.

This is an example of a Dynamic advertising unit, created by Google Smart Shopping Campaigns. Clients - especially upscale clients - do not like these, because they don’t highlight the brand very well.

Fashion & Lifestyle Summit at Google NYC HQ

We are happy to have our third Google Summit in the books. We throw these events quarterly, and we strive to give real value to our attendees. This time, we were lucky to have Deepa Gandhi, COO and Co-founder of Dagne Dover, on stage for a fire-side chat.

Thank you to all 100+ attendees for braving the 2 degree weather and coming out. I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Deepa and Candace on Stage at Google on January 31st, during Dagne Dover’s fire-side chat.

Deepa and Candace on Stage at Google on January 31st, during Dagne Dover’s fire-side chat.

Adrian Padron, Director of Biddable Media, on stage at Google on January 31st, 2019

Adrian Padron, Director of Biddable Media, on stage at Google on January 31st, 2019

Clients in the Wild: dude. be nice

dude. be nice, who strive to create what they call "Conscious Culture," is a blast to work with.

Their mission is "to inspire people to treat themselves and others better" and part of the way they do that, is to partner with schools and other not-for-profits.  

Anyway, it's one thing to know that intellectually, and it's another to actually see one of their products "in the wild," as we did today on Cape Cod playing mini-golf.  Good show!

(and thank you to the kind gentleman who let a stranger take his picture)

Dude be nice advertising agency Mason Interactive

Changes to Gainful Employment laws affecting our business.

The Education Department plans to eliminate regulations forcing for-profit colleges to prove that they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll.

As someone who makes his living (in part) from advertising For-Profit Colleges, I  have mixed feelings about this.  The roll-back will most-likely result in my clients doing more advertising, which is good for me.

And yes, I think personally that past Presidential Administrations over-regulated.  Yes, I get that colleges are businesses, and businesses should operate as a free market.  Yes I understand that nobody is making anybody enroll in these classes. 

But the loans people take out to attend these colleges, are backed by the tax-payer.  In effect, the tax-paying public is subsidizing the few for-profit colleges that can compete at scale.  So on that end, I think that rolling back these regulations is a bad idea.

On the other hand, nobody every asked whether my Ivy League Art Degree was likely to result in me being gainfully employed.  And in fact I drove a cab for a few years to make ends meet, because it was the best job I could find.

Bad Targeting

bad targeting on twitter from monster

Our job is to be an ally for our clients.  We can be tactical/executional allies (Dear Mason, please update these 6,000 links by end of day) we can be Strategic allies (Hey Mason, we want to increase Back Friday sales by 3X over last year - let's align on a plan to show the board) and we can be both.  I think we offer more use as strategic partners than as execution-based allies, but that's a discussion for another day.

This Monster ad, above, fails on both levels*. 

Tactically/Executionally,  this is really bad targeting.  There's plenty in my twitter feed to suggest that I might open a record store, or run for city council, or open a bar, or book concerts at small punk clubs, but nothing to suggest that I might become a limo dispatchure**

Strategically it's bad because it will not bring them more money.  This is a wasted effort in man-hours, media spend, and reporting time.

I'd expect any client we did this for, to call me angrily ASAP.

* FYI, we work with a competitor of Monster's.

** I drove a yellow cab here in NYC after college, and am in no way above driving for a living then or now.  I'm just not a good demographic fit for this ad.

Van de Velde Quarterly Business Review

We try, and do not always succeed, to have high-level Quarterly Business Reviews with our clients.  Sometimes the client doesn't have time, or we delay it, but we really shouldn't.  QBR's (Quarterly Business Reviews) can be super valuable for all.

Today's QBR was with Van de Velde, who we've worked with for a while now.

Adrian, Vivian, Caroline and I were joined by Candace Jordan (our Google Relationship Manager, who nicely left the Googleplex to see us in-office) while we talked over the Q2 challenges, and how these challenges inform Q4 strategy.

The value here was in aligning growth expectations with historical trends, and I found it very helpful.  If your agency isn't giving QBR's ask them to.  Or if you don't find the QBR valuable, tell your agency what would be valuable, instead.

Mason Interactive Van de Velde Quarterly Business Review