With the release of iOS 14, Apple gave iPhone users the option to opt-out of sharing their data every time they open an app.

As a result, platforms and advertisers lost insight into the activities of a billion iPhone owners around the world—seemingly overnight. At the same time, platforms like TikTok, Hulu, and Instagram are opening new advertising options.

If you’re trying to run a marketing agency and build a portfolio of successful ad accounts for clients, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. And that’s where today’s show comes in.

Welcome back to Agency Accelerated with Agorapulse, where we explore ways to grow and scale your agency with some of the most trusted brands in the industry.

We are live Wednesdays this quarter at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Make sure to subscribe to the calendar on the Agorapulse website, so you don’t miss any of our upcoming episodes.

In this episode, I’m joined by John Lee. John is the Head of Evangelism at Microsoft, where he fosters a community of industry influencers and builds deep relationships with industry thought leaders. He works to develop and execute an industry engagement strategy inclusive of content creation, strategic storytelling, public speaking, panel participation, blogging, and more to drive awareness, perception, and adoption of the Microsoft Advertising platform.

John is a digital advertising professional with extensive experience in search engine marketing, display advertising, and social media advertising. He has owned his own agency for years and is a genuine fanatic for all things digital.

Microsoft Advertising’s primary product is search advertising, and they are the number two competitor to Google ads when it comes to searching. Other syndicated partners include AOL, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and others.

While it depends on the country and the market, in the United States, Microsoft Advertising is at 36% of the market share for PCs. They also have a native advertising product that’s a part of the same platform, much like how Google has search, display, and YouTube.

“Microsoft’s native advertising platform is called the Microsoft Audience Network. Their current mind share is heavily focused on the entire consumer decision journey and how search interplays with native, display, social, and other channels. How does it all come together?”Tweet This!

John has been on the agency side of things and the client-side. Now, he’s on the platform side. Because of his knowledge in different areas, he can be the conduit between the consumer and the agent. He understands and appreciates the systems and workflows, and understands how to launch a campaign and why the customer relationship is the bedrock of everything they do at Microsoft.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this episode:

  • How digital advertising has changed and evolved
  • What kinds of advertising options are available today
  • How agencies can diversify their revenue with ad services

Let’s get started.

How has the advertising landscape changed and evolved?

Between the pandemic and the iOS changes I mentioned at the show’s outset, a lot has changed for advertisers and businesses that want to reach new customers. There are also a few things that marketing agencies need to be mindful of.

The industry has been fast-moving and quick to change for a very long time. Change management is more important than ever. For any marketing agency, they need to ask, “What is coming at me from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.? How do I respond, and how can I prepare?”

The global pandemic has been a huge factor that’s colored everything we’re experiencing through work and life in general. Within the digital advertising industry, the changes we see almost feel heavier.

One way the industry is evolving is through advances in automation. Automation isn’t new in general; every ad platform has been striving towards and pushing towards varying levels of automation over the years, Microsoft Advertising included.

However, the new advances are large and strong. When you think about search, in particular, there is often a heated conversation between platform and client, whether it’s the agency or in-house, about how much control an advertiser has versus platform.

The automation conversation and these advances in automation feel like it swings more towards the platform. John is in an exciting position where he sees the data and the rationale behind some of these changes. Nine times out of ten, decisions are made from a very sound position.

“Whether you only do search advertising or if you’re an equal opportunity digital advertiser, automation has been around for a very long time. It permeates every layer of an account of a campaign.”Tweet This!

Another layer of automation evolution is that recommendation engines (often called AI or machine learning) have undergone huge changes in the last 12—18 months.

The Google ads side includes recommended ads and ad copy, and recommended fundamental campaign changes, some of which could be automatically applied to a campaign if you take too long to respond to.

On the Microsoft Advertising side, they focus primarily on ads and responsive search ads. On their platform, they’ve seen performance in click-through rates and conversion rates across the board increase when responsive search ads are in play in a campaign.

John and Steph discuss today's ad options for marketing agencies.

John foresees more of this happening from Google, Microsoft, and other platforms. Recommendation engines are here to stay and will only get bigger as time goes on. From AI/machine learning to natural language processing, the advances in technology are amazing.

There is still training or persuasiveness on the agency side of things that needs to happen to understand the data points and how to speak the language that helps you get better results relevant for your clients. As search recommendations become more data-driven, agencies have a unique opportunity to understand why a recommendation is made and how it can help their clients.

Overall, in the last 12—18 months, we’ve seen changes and discussions around privacy, identity, and audience targeting. There is still a lot of uncertainty about where the future lies. After Apple introduced their new iOS to allow users to opt-out of sharing their data, Google released FloC as a part of their Privacy Sandbox, and Microsoft began PARAKEET.

There will be a time in the future when every browser has a way to provide a safe and private experience for its users. However, there will still be some levels of tracking still at play. They may not be as impactful, but they will still be relevant and important.

As an agency, you need to start thinking about the future. What can you do with your clients for first-party data? There’s no better time than now to start leveraging the currently available tools through Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Advertising.

What kinds of advertising options are available today?

Many agencies have used Facebook advertising primarily over the years. However, in recent times, it has changed dramatically, including high costs and low effectiveness. Fortunately, there are other advertising options available, especially if you focus on diversification.

If you take what you’ve learned from using Facebook advertising for years, you can apply your creative strategies in other places such as:

  • YouTube
  • Google Display
  • Microsoft Audience Network

You can even take your current targeted audiences or campaigns on Facebook and import them into Microsoft’s native platform. Microsoft has made it as simple as possible to go from one channel to another.

Suppose you already have campaigns created on Facebook and understand the different data points, and how the campaign performed in a specific timeframe. What would happen if you take that same structure and import it into Microsoft Advertising? You can compare the results to learn what is and isn’t working, and how to implement those results into your clients’ work.

You can even use channels like Quora, Reddit, and TikTok. As an agency, if there’s a channel you believe may be an opportunity, why not test it? Work with your clients to have a dedicated testing budget where you can go out and try new features, ideas, and platforms.

What have successful agencies focused on over the past 12–18 months?

While the world of agencies is wide-spanning and takes many shapes, John has seen successful agencies focus on a few things over the last 12–18 months. As an agency, it’s crucial to double down on new technologies, make smart investments, and look to the future. Where are things going next in your industry, and how can you stay ahead of the trends?

Successful agencies have thrived in the privacy and identity space by working with clients and building a smart tool functionality when needed. Understanding and creating a strategy to leverage current data and first-party data is crucial.

Agencies with an extensive global reach also differentiate themselves by inclusivity, sustainability, and other values-based topics that matter to clients and consumers. When you pay attention to the research and content, and what the consumers are looking for, you can get to know the consumer perspective and an advertiser marketer perspective.

Microsoft is making changes as a company through a major sustainability effort to move to a carbon-neutral platform by 2030. Not only that, but they will have made up for all of the carbon used in the company’s history.

In the Microsoft Advertising sector, they are working with an agency to determine how people think about sustainability within advertising and marketing. They are inclusive of TV, print, and radio, as well as all digital channels.

What they’ve found is fascinating. While there is a lot of awareness of sustainability amongst consumers, there is not much action in their choices. Consumers don’t realize that searching on Bing or Google has a carbon impact.

But, there is a server somewhere pulling electricity. Microsoft is asking, what is that systemic chain and how are your choices as a consumer reaching back to sustainability? This is just one example of what successful agencies are focusing on.

“Smart agencies are looking at outside the box opportunities to have meaningful conversations and make an impact for their clients, and also for the industry at large.”Tweet This!

What are a few tools and platforms that today’s digital marketing agencies need to consider?

John notes he has a few favorite tools and platforms that digital marketing agencies should consider for their businesses. As someone who manages his own personal brand and a larger brand, he needs a tool to help differentiate the two.

Agorapulse is a social media management tool designed for agencies to manage all of their client profiles and social activity, and is essential for maintaining a successful marketing agency.

Another tool John recommends is SparkToro, especially if you spend time researching and understanding audiences. It’s a deep tool that crawls social and web profiles to find what and who your audience reads, watches, listens to, and follows.

Whether you like it or not, we all need to handle reporting. John has used Supermetrics for a long time to analyze and report on data. It gives you the ability to centralize and automate data pools from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and other APIs.

Finally, John recommends two tools specific to the search advertising space: Optimizer and Adalysis.

Addalyse focuses on ads and automating the process of testing ads. It uses machine learning and algorithms to identify winners, automatically pause, create new variations, and move on based on input from you, the advertiser campaign manager.

Optimizer began with paid search scripts you could plug into Google ads and Microsoft Advertising. They continued to build it and now provide amazing tools at a low cost that offer layers of automation and general efficiency to the tediousness of managing paid search campaigns.

Both Optimizer and Adalysis are game-changers when it comes to advancing your agency in the advertising space.

How can agencies get started with Microsoft Advertising, and how should they position their services?

For agencies who want to get started with Microsoft Advertising, they can visit the Microsoft Advertising website to sign up for an account.

Marketing Agencies can excel using Microsoft Advertising

If you’re doing any work with Google ads or have experience with Facebook ads, they also have tools to help you import those campaigns into the Microsoft Advertising platform in a matter of minutes.

Microsoft Advertising has a fantastic team of account managers, account executives, as well as customer support. You can also reach out to John on LinkedIn or Twitter. He is happy to answer questions and point people in the right direction.

While it’s nice to have a niche as an agency, it’s important to remember that consumer behavior is shifting. You don’t want to be the Kodak or Blockbuster of the industry. You need to level up your experience and see what’s happening internationally, understand the values of what people are interested in, and think outside the box.

That’s all for today.

Remember to subscribe to our calendar to get notified before each episode of Agency Accelerated, live Wednesdays this quarter at 2:00 pm ET / 11:00 am PT on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

And, if you’re looking for another way to increase and diversify your agency’s revenue streams, Agorapulse has a free webinar to help you do exactly that. Head over to bit.ly/AddAgencyRevenue to sign up for How To Add Agency Revenue By Adding Social Media Services. Get ready to learn and start driving more revenue from social media services.

Full Transcript

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[00:00:00] Stephanie Liu: With the release of iOS 14, Apple gave iPhone users the option to be able to opt out of sharing their data every time they open an app. As a result, seemingly overnight platforms and advertisers lost insight into the activities of a billion iPhone owners around the world. And at the same time, new platforms like TikTok, Hulu are opening advertising options.

Instagram Reels has grown popular enough to have ads be included in Google. Well, Google continues to be well, Google. Yeah. So if you’re trying to run a marketing agency and build a portfolio of successful ad accounts for clients, it can all seem a bit overwhelming. Perhaps, maybe even hopeless. And that’s where today’s show comes in.

Hey everyone and welcome back to Agency Accelerated where we explore ways to grow and scale your agency with some of the most trusted brands in the industry. We’re live six Wednesdays this quarter at 2:00 PM Eastern time, 11:00 AM, Pacific time and all the wonderful platforms of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.

So make sure you go to agorapulse.com/calendar and subscribe so you don’t miss any of this seasons episodes. Hey, everyone. I’m Stephanie Liu, and we are very fortunate to have an incredible guest with us today. In this episode, we’re talking about digital advertising and well, specifically how things have changed so dramatically in recent months.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I want to make sure that the work that I’m doing for clients is still relevant and successful. So stay until the very end, because you’ll get a chance to get your hands on yet another way to add more revenue to your marketing agency. So here’s a quick shout out to our crew.

We’ve got Deb Mitchell in the house. Hey, Deb! So wonderful to see you. We’ve got some amazing things that are happening. So if you’re tuning in, let us know where you’re tuning in from, what type of advertising you’re doing for clients, and also, here’s the question for you. If you could show your clients advertising options that would help them reach their target audience more successfully than they can today. Would that be helpful?

Let me know in the comments. Go ahead and drop it in. So let’s bring on today’s guest. Come on through. Hey John, how are you?

[00:02:56] John Lee: So Stephanie I’m doing quite well.

[00:02:58] Stephanie Liu: Doing well. We’re doing our best. That’s good. So everyone, let me introduce you to John Lee. He’s the Head of Evangelism at Microsoft, where he fosters a community of industry influencers and builds deep relationships with industry thought leaders.

We were having a really insightful conversation in the green room. Just talking about his role in all the different things that he does in order to build not only his personal brand, but his relationship with everyone in the industry on behalf of the company itself. So he also works to develop and execute an industry engagement strategy, inclusive of, get this, content creation, strategic storytelling, public speaking, panel participation, blogging, and more to drive awareness.

As well as the perception and adoption of the Microsoft Advertising Platform. My friend. That is a lot, but wait, friends. There’s more. There’s more. So John is a digital advertising professional with extensive experience in search engine marketing, my first love, display advertising, social media advertising, and having his own agency for years, I’m telling you this was a match made in heaven is a genuine fanatic for all things digital. So, Hey John. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome.

[00:04:16] John Lee: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, this industry has been my work home as it were for 15 years. And so. It’s the same age as my daughter. And so it’s easy to keep track.

[00:04:29] Stephanie Liu: That’s clever. When I think about how long I’ve been married, I know like, oh, it’s my daughter plus one. Plus one. And that’s how it works out. I want to give a quick shout out to Diana, who is tuning in from Columbia. Welcome. Welcome to Agency Accelerated. We’re so excited to have you here. So, John, quick question for you.

Can you start off with sharing more about what you do for the advertising arm of Microsoft and what they currently offer?

[00:05:00] John Lee: Absolutely. So my role, head of evangelism is relatively nebulous as a job title goes.And as you illustrated, the role is wide reaching.

Where I would start is yes, I manage a group of influencers and inclusive of agency owners, folks at some tool providers, but also folks from the media. Say, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, media posts, et cetera. And I meet with these individuals monthly and it’s a two way street here.

I’m coming to the table with product updates and insights from data that we’re looking at, our teams are looking at, and giving these folks kind of a look down the path, but then they’re also providing valuable feedback, to me, yes, but also directly to folks from engineering or other parts of marketing.

So it’s a wonderful group that I actually was a part of it before I worked for Microsoft Advertising. But that’s one piece. Evangelism in the tech world is me being out there. Right now, that’s virtual. It’s much like this, participating in interviews, panels, speaking at conferences. Think SMX, right.

Search Marketing Expo or Hero Conf. Maybe, knock on wood, we’ll be back in person in Austin after the turn of the year. But then it’s also writing. And so, that’s how I made a name for myself in the industry. It was through writing initially, and then public speaking. And that’s carried through now for 15 years of being a blogger talking about yes, search advertising. But I’ve blogged about SEO. I’ve blogged about native and display, blogged a lot about social, not so much in the last five years, but, if you can spend money on advertising, it’s something I’m likely paying attention to. And just maintaining that kind of context and big picture view.

So then I can say, okay, how does the Microsoft Advertising value proposition fit into that overall. So the second part of your question was a little bit more about Microsoft Advertising. So for those that may not be aware, our primary product is search advertising. So we are the number two competitor to Google Ads when it comes to search.

And so that is Bing. Yes, but also, Yahoo. It’s a host of syndicated partners, including the likes of DuckDuckGo and many others. Yes, Google is massive and not to be ignored. I would also argue that Microsoft Advertising, in that sense is the same. And so, it depends on the country. The market, for sure.

But in the US, specifically looking at PCs or like 36% search market share maybe in the twenties. I think in the UK, in places like Australia, et cetera. So it’s not a small number of searchers, but then, it’s search. Yes. But we also have a native advertising, product that’s a part of the same platform so much like Google has.

Search Display and now YouTube and a number of other things. Our native advertising platform platform is the Microsoft Audience Network. And so it’s a one-two punch. It’s search. It’s native and that’s a lot of what our mind share is right now is talking about the entire consumer decision journey.

And how does search interplay with native or display or social and all these other channels, and how does it all come together.

[00:09:05] Stephanie Liu: Brilliant. Yeah, one of the things that I love about your role and even what you had shared in the green room is that you have been on the agency side, right? And then you’ve also been on the client side where you’re in-house and then now you’re at the platform side.

And so you have all of this knowledge, all of this feedback that you’re getting, and because you’re the conduit between the consumer in this case, the agency. And feeding back that information over to the engineering team, that is always so helpful. I always appreciated the monthly or the quarterly calls that I would have with my advertising partners and actually have someone to talk to, which for those of you that are watching Agency Accelerated, if you’ve ever tried to advertise on one platform, you might have always just got an AI.

Right. And so it’s nice to have someone like you where we could really reach out, offer our insights, our workflow, and how to make our lives a lot easier because more often than not, we have clients that come to us with budget, and really, I need to spend this budget, right. I’m accountable for this. Cool.

[00:10:08] John Lee: And I would say like, I’m lucky to be in the role that I am. And if I look at the three predecessors to me in this role for Microsoft Advertising specifically, we all have something in common. And that is a strong history that is both platform side, but also be that in an agency or in-house somewhere.

And actually having been hands-on with the work that we’re out there talking about, and that shared language that shared just the comment.

[00:10:43] Stephanie Liu: On that experience. There’s something about agency life. When you know someone has been in the trenches of agency life, they understand, and you understand, and you have this appreciation for systems and workflows.

And when something, when you’re just trying to launch a campaign, and if it doesn’t go as smoothly as you wanted it to, because a certain setting wasn’t turned on, it’s like, John, where are you?

[00:11:05] John Lee: And again, some of our best and most amazing account representatives are the same. They come from that background. They speak the language and to that point, you call, they’ll answer.

It matters, right? That customer relationship is super important. It’s the bedrock of everything that we do.

[00:11:25] Stephanie Liu: Absolutely. Knowing that you have someone that you could have their brain on speed dial when you need something is absolutely essential. All right. So between the pandemic and the iOS changes that I mentioned at the outset of the show, there’s a lot that’s changed for advertisers and businesses that want to reach new customers.

Right? So what’s your take. On what’s changed you as, you know, writing all this content and all the things specifically from a marketing agency perspective. What should we be mindful of?

[00:11:58] John Lee: Yeah. So, yes, we’ve been living through a global pandemic and that has colored everything that we are all experiencing in work, in life, et cetera, and not to be ignored or pushed to the side.

And this industry has been fast moving, quick-to-change for a very long time. And change management is now as important as ever. To say, okay, what is coming at me from Google, from Microsoft, from Facebook, et cetera. And how do I respond? How do I need to prepare? It’s not new. What I’m sensing from my own point of view, from what I’m hearing from folks like you and everyone that I’ve spoken to this year in particular is that the changes feel heavier.

And by that I don’t mean bad, just, they feel more monumental and it’s for the future of the industry. And so, that takes on different flavors. So one aspect would be advances in automation. So automation, nothing new, right? Every ad platform has been striving towards and pushing towards varying levels of automation.

Microsoft Advertising is absolutely in that. However, the advances have been really big and really strong. And I know that when you think search in particular, there’s always this heated, not negative, but a heated conversation between platform and client, either that agency or in-house of how much control, right?

What advertiser have versus platform. The automation conversation and these advances in automation feels like it swings more towards the platform. But, I’m in a position where I get to see the data, I get to see the rationale and the thinking behind some of these changes. And I can assure you that nine times out of 10, decisions are being made from very sound position. That makes sense. But like, that’s something, I think everyone’s paying very close attention to whether you just do search advertising or if you’re an equal opportunity digital advertiser. Automation has been a thing for a very long time, but it permeates every layer of an account of a campaign.

The other thing here, and it’s kind of a layer of automation to a certain extent, and that is recommendation engines. Now call that AI, call it machine learning, call it whatever. But these recommendation engines have been a really big change in the last 12, 18 months. And so. On the Google Ad side that is recommended ads, recommended ad copy, but it’s also recommended just fundamental campaign changes.

Some of which, if you take too long to respond to could be automatically applied to a campaign. On the Microsoft Advertising side where we’ve looked at that as mostly in regards to ads. And so if you look at responsive search ads on our platform, we’ve seen performance in click-through rate conversion rate pretty much across the board increase when RSA is already in play in a campaign, but not everybody’s adopting.

So of course. Right. And so the recommendation here that is within certain accounts could be automatically applied if not approved within a 14-day timeframe is less about us taking control and more so saying, Hey advertiser, there’s this huge opportunity for you to see potential gains and performance metrics if this is in place.

So we’re just going to help you get to that end point where it’s a net benefit to you. But that’s a big thing. Right. And there’s going to be more of that happening. I can see it, coming from Google, I know what’s being worked on within Microsoft Advertising, but even other platforms as well. Recommendation engines are here to stay and will only get bigger.

Right? Yeah. We could have a very long,

[00:16:34] Stephanie Liu: I mean, having been on the practice side, I especially mean when I was in like the bootcamp of search engine marketing and when one senior search marketing manager teaches you how to build a campaign, there’s like, oh, you know, when they recommend stuff, I would just turn it off. And you’re like why is that?

It’s like, oh, because they’re out to get you, they’re out to get your ad spend. And so. As much as I love AI and everything. I also have a deep love and appreciation for human psychology and what motivates them and what are their fears and certainty and doubts. And I love tech just as much as you do. And I love AI.

We’ve had a bunch of previous guys talking about machine learning and just the advances in the technology. Natural language processing and all the different things, all these different data points, but it’s able to take in. And I think even as platforms, you know, not specifically being platform specific, but with all of these recommendations that are coming out, I think there’s still some type of training or persuasiveness that needs to happen on the agency sides that way they understand that it’s not just, here’s not just a case study, but these are all the data, the points and speaking their language as well as like, this is to help you do your job better because you want to get better results that are relevant for your clients and whatnot. And so, I think once people cross that bridge, make the connection, then jumping on board is going to be a lot easier for you and all the other recommendations that were being provided.

[00:18:06] John Lee: Well, and that’s an excellent point and what I would add to that is that the “artist” formerly known as the opportunities tab in both Google and Microsoft Advertising, which is now known just simply as recommendations has come a long way. And so I remember being a practitioner going through those, and it’s like really more broad match suggestions.

You know, what am I going to do with this? None of this is helpful. Like, hey, you should increase your bid. And I’m like, well, that’s nice. Okay. So what I’m saying though is like, and in this case, crediting both Google and my peers. I’m actually advertising those recommendations have come a long way and are now fully supported with data saying, hey, if you make this recommended change to a bid or a campaign budget, or add X number of keywords that are recommended, here’s the estimated performance change and what that actually means to your bottom line.

That’s a big differentiator because that’s just the just raw recommendations. You know, the wet noodle being thrown against the wall.

[00:19:12] Stephanie Liu: Yeah. I mean, I can only imagine, you know, as the practitioner and you have a budget. Whether you’re having weekly meetings with your key stakeholders and they want to know what’s going on. And yes, there’s a recommendation that comes through. But at the end of the day, who’s going to get that email at like 3:00 AM in the morning of like, why is our CPCs not where they’re supposed to be at?

Right. And it’s us. I love that you’re helping to build that case. Give practitioners the confidence of this is why you should take this into consideration. Here’s all the different data points to support this, the evidence and whatnot to, to help us really make a sound decision of how to optimize our campaigns, because that’s really what we want. At the end of the day, if you could get me the results, without putting me at risk in my job, because we know the fast turnover in agencies, right. Then, by all means, give me all the recommendations, but at the end of the day, if I’m like, oh, there goes my phone again. And it’s Labor Day Weekend. I shouldn’t be working.

Newsflash. If you’re in search marketing, that’s not a thing.

[00:20:22] John Lee: The 800-pound gorilla in the room, when we think about change over the past year, year and a half, and you let off the show with it. These are really big topics around privacy identity and audience targeting. There’s a lot to touch on there and it is certainly on the top of everybody’s minds.

Part of the reason for that is the uncertainty of it all. So Apple made their decision and rolled things out with iOS. And that was really the push of the snowball right over the top of the mountain. And now it’s going down. And so where do we go from here? And so we’ve seen Google introduce Flock and the Privacy Sandbox.

Microsoft is out. You’re talking about parakeet, which is another recommendation, right? And so at the end of the day, there’s going to be a time. I wish I knew when that was, but there will be a time when Google, Microsoft, even, you know, Mozilla, Apple, anybody that has a browser at this point has found consensus on how do we handle this and going forward, that is mutually beneficial or platforms for browsers, but is also safe and private for the end user. And I think that everyone has good ideas here and there. That there are loopholes and all of them. It’s for somebody more technical than me to figure out. But, it’s that uncertainty, right. Has everybody just sort of scratching their chin going, okay. So we’re already in. Right. We’ve already that first shot across the bow, where do we go next? And how do we plan and how do we prep for that? And that’s a much more challenging thing to tackle. And so you’re really the way that I’m viewing it. The way that the entire team at Microsoft Advertising is viewing it, is look, there are baby steps that you can take today, right?

So. Yes, it’s death of the cookie, but there, there are some levels of tracking that will still be at play. You can still apply a tracking pixel to a site and get baseline data. It may not be as deep, or as impactful as maybe it was yesterday, but it’s still going to be relevant and important.

And we think about tracking conversions and that’s true today, and it will be true tomorrow, but it’s also planning ahead, like, what are you doing as an agency with your clients’ for first party data? How are you handling that? Like I have been, I would say surprised, it’s kind of a mixed emotion, I guess I wasn’t necessarily surprised, but at the end of the day, yes, that’s so many people who are on top of their game. They know what they’re doing, working for really big agencies.

And then I see them write about or talk about, we know that we’ve had these tools, like customer match and ways for us to use first-party data, but we’ve not really been using it. If they’re willing to lean into that, I’m like, oh my goodness. We’ve had these tools at our disposal now for years, and hear people who are just now getting to I’m like, okay, well there’s no better time than the present. Torch and run. So, that’s really where things are headed is like, what are you doing with first party data? How are you thinking about leveraging the tools that are available on Facebook ads, at Google ads, and at Microsoft advertisingas it relates to the data that all those platforms have say, like, in marketing.

[00:24:04] Stephanie Liu: Interesting.

Sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it’s taken away, but, some people are motivated to stick. And so, good point. I’ve certainly heard from many ad agencies, as well as former colleagues of mine how dramatically Facebook advertising, in particular has gone up as far as cost and down in its effectiveness.

And so for agencies where that was once their primary service, what do you recommend?

[00:24:39] John Lee: Yeah, so this is something I’ve been following along quite closely with. On Reddit, there’s various subreddits that are very active. You know, there’s our PPC, our digital marketing, digital advertising. There’s a number of them. I just can’t tell you how many conversations there have been over the past, certainly 12 months, regarding Facebook, both in what’s happening with my data, the audiences that I used to target aren’t working anymore. But even on kind of just the like foundational management aspect of like accounts getting randomly blocked for no apparent reason. And then Facebook support system. And again, I’m not here to knock Facebook, but it is like chat-led.

And then you were lucky, right? You won the gold star for the day. If you actually talked to a person, and you know, there’s a lot of pent up frustration. So all of that being said, when I want to take a step back and I look at it, it’s all about diversification. And I know that there’s a lot of people that would agree with me on that.

And that is to say, yes, Facebook Advertising has been this huge, important thing in the marketing mix now for several years. It’s changing. It’s not going away, but it’s certainly changing. And if you hadn’t seen the writing on the wall or you hadn’t already been thinking about diversification of channels, that needs to be at the top of your list for priorities right now to say, okay, we have Facebook. It’s different and we may not be able to get as much mileage out of it as we did before the world. Can we take our learnings, right? From the years we’ve run on Facebook. Where else can we take that learning both through creative, but also targeting and things like that and apply it elsewhere. And so, of course, you could wrap up on YouTube on display through Google. The Microsoft audience network, right?

Our native platform is another area where you could take that audience targeting the same type of creative. In fact, you can even import it from Facebook, into our our platform.

[00:26:47] Stephanie Liu: Ding, ding, ding. Wait, I think you need to say that again for the folks that are deep into trance of like, what am I doing with my data?

Why are all my eggs in, you know, in one basket? And so for those of you that are just tuning in, he literally said, go ahead and repeat what you just said.

[00:27:03] John Lee: So if you have Facebook campaigns, even if they’re there campaigns that are inactive now, because whatever audience started and you had set up, isn’t working anymore, you could take that structure and literally import it from Facebook Ads into Microsoft Advertising and it’ll carry over the targeting as it, you know, whatever the direct corollaries are between the two platforms and effectively say, hey, here’s a campaign ready to target the Microsoft audience network, including the creative, right.

It’ll pull the images through the API. So that’s like, again, in terms of how can I go from one channel to another? We’ve made it as easy as possible.

[00:27:41] Stephanie Liu: Yeah. And see, I think a lot of times when we’re talking about Agency Accelerated, we talk about, as you know, since majority of our audience is sometimes creating content from a social media perspective, you can still take that one piece of content and repurpose it across all the different channels that you are trying to grow your audience. And so in that same respect, what you’re saying is if you’ve had these campaigns that were already created on Facebook, you know the actual data points, how it’s actually performed in that specific timeframe. What would happenif you take that same structure, that nomenclature, all of that audience interest and all those different things easily imported over into Microsoft Advertising, then now you can compare and see like, okay, do I need to pay more attention to this?

What else can I learn? What else can I do? Yeah.

[00:28:32] John Lee: Of course, I work for Microsoft Advertising, so that’s top of mind, but I wouldn’t stop there. And I think I heard you say at the top of the call, channels like Quora and Reddit and TikTok and my advice to everybody is if there’s a channel out there that you think could be an opportunity for you. And this was always my perspective on the agency side. Why not test it right? Work with your clients to have just a dedicated testing budget, whether that’s a new idea in the existing channels, but even to say, hey, let’s go out and try to combat.

[00:29:10] Stephanie Liu: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

That’s the thing. And so I love that you bring this up because this is something that I actually haven’t even mentioned before on any of my shows and yeah, you should have your marketing budget, but still carve out a piece of it where you could experiment, where you can do your conquering campaigns and just really just test different types of mediums.

I know yesterday I was talking to one of my good friends. I was like, hey, you know? We have this conference that’s coming up and we have ads running on Facebook and on Twitter and on Instagram. But we tried something different where we reached out to a major influencer on TikTok. Had that influencer do an organic post, and then we put money behind it.

And we’re like, we need to test that some more. Good. I know. Did you love the sound effects? So more gems that we have, the better our produce would be like, oh here’s the button, here’s the button.

[00:30:10] John Lee: I know. Nobody’s

Now I feel like I’m on just some classic, like nineties radio station. You couldn’t see me, but I was very appreciative of the music that was playing at the launch. Like I’m sitting over here, just rocking out. Through getting into it. So I’m a fan.

[00:30:31] Stephanie Liu: Love it. Hey crew, if you’re just tuning in, we’re talking about adding the digital advertising landscape and we’re talking about what’s changed from marketing agencies, right?

But first, a quick reminder and a bonus, this show is brought to you by Agorapulse voted the number one social media management tool by customers on the planet’s top review sites. And if you’re looking for yet another way to increase and diversify your agency’s revenue streams. Get this: Agorapulse has a free webinar to help you do exactly that.

So head on over to bitly.com/adagencyrevenue to sign up. Trust me, you’re going to have an opportunity to learn and start driving more revenue from your social media services. So let’s get back to the digital advertising agencies, John. Because we’ve covered so much ground and it’s exciting.

First of all, I’d like, honestly, the whole having a budget dedicated to testing. Thank you so much for saying that because not a lot of people know that. So, here’s another question for you is what have you seen some of the most successful agencies focus on over the past 12 to 18 months?

[00:31:43] John Lee: So the world of agencies, as most of us here know is wide-spanning and takes many shapes, right? So I’ve seen some agencies that play say strictly in the retail world, do some really interesting things and you’ll end double down on new technologies. I’m thinking of like a company like Tinuiti, right? And they’re making some really smart investments to make sure that they maintain their lead right there. Their number one spot is a, whereas like if you got to work with an agency and you’re a major retailer, this is where you need to go. Right. And so, we could have an entire hour long conversation just on what’s happening and evolving in the world of retail.

But I’ve seen a lot of smart plays there and I referenced Tinuiti just because they were top of mind, but there’ve been several other agencies that are clearly on top of it. They’re looking around the bend in the road, so, okay, where are things going next and how can we be in front of it? But then, we already talked about it and that’s the privacy and identity piece.

And I feel like the agencies that get it and are going to be successful in this post-cookie world, as it were, are already in it, as it were in IT, capital IT, even working with their clients and building smart tools functionality if needed, but even just a building a strategy for how are we leveraging the data that we have and how are we going to build first party data now, and in the future. Like that is smart.

and I have the opportunity to partner with agencies in that sense. and Think about how do we voice these strategies in the industry? And it’s really exciting and there’s a lot of great work happening there, but then the last point, I would make, and that is agencies that, particularly agencies, that have just like a really big reach, not just North America, but a global reach. How do they differentiate themselves?

And there’s been a lot of work around inclusive sustainability and other more values based topics that mattered greatly to their clients. And at the end of the day, the consumer that’s buying or reaching out for services, what have you. And so, that’s something, that’s a journey that we’ve been on with Microsoft Advertising as well.

And we’ve done a lot of work. We actually have this entire pillar of content that we call.

[00:34:33] Stephanie Liu: Yeah, I was going to say one of the things that I always loved about. Like, so it’s September right now at the time that we’re recording this and whatnot. But usually when we’re, when we had to do like a quarterly strategy, it was always helpful to reach out to our account reps and the teams and be like, tell me about the psychographics for my particular end consumer, what should I be mindful of?

And just the amount of data and content and research and white papers and all the different things that I would have to thumb through and really dive into to get to garner insights and then put it back into a report to present. Here’s my marketing budget recommendation and all the different things. Yeah. Reach out.

I mean, I can only imagine how much information you’re sitting on and how much you have to share with your agency partners.

[00:35:20] John Lee: Yeah. There’s a lot of research. Right. And so on that marketing with purpose side of. I’ll have to pull a link and I’ll share that with you after. There was amazing research done there.

General population research, but also research within agencies to get both perspectives, right? So the consumer perspective, but also an advertiser marketer perspective. Then there’s a project that I’m actually working on right now. For those that don’t know Microsoft all up.

So just think of the big, the big Microsoft as a major sustainability effort in place and shame on me, but I forget the year marker, but basically like not only will make sure it be carbon neutral, but we’ll have actually made up for all of the carbon used in the entirety of the company’s history. It’s a major milestone.

Once that’s reached, it’s a very aggressive goal. Now come down to my level within Microsoft Advertising, just one little corner of a very big corporation. We’re actually working with an agency partner right now on what does it look like? Like how are people thinking about sustainability within the world of advertising and marketing?

We’re looking at it. In inclusive of TV and print and radio, in addition to all the digital channels, right. That all of us here are thinking about on a daily basis. And so the results are fascinating, right? There’s a lot of awareness, but not a lot of action on the part of consumers in their choices.

Like how are they choosing? Or are they even thinking about the fact that when I do a search on Bing or on Google, that there’s actually a carbon impact, right. There’s a server somewhere pulling. What is that systemic chain and how are your choices as a consumer reaching back to sustainability?

And so it’s a big topic and so more to come on that, but like smart agencies, particularly those that have influence in the industry, they’re looking at outside-the-box opportunities to have meaningful conversations and really make an impact for their clients, but also just for the industry at large.

And it’s these types of topics that I think are really, really hitting home.

[00:37:49] Stephanie Liu: Brilliant and shout out to our producer who helped us out. So for our podcast, listeners, Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030. So that’s going to be really exciting. Good. Of course, my friend. Oh, we got to always bring out the best in our guests.

Good. So having said that, can we geek out over tools for a minute? Because I don’t know about you, but I like to get really geeky about systems and processes and all the different things. So John, like, what are some of your favorite tools or platforms that today’s digital marketing agencies need to consider?

[00:38:27] John Lee: Yeah, so I’ll rattle off a couple. And I’ll start with one just as an individual. So yes, I work for a big company and part of a big team, but, there are still certain tools, things like that, that just, we have to get on our own as an individual. And for me, as someone who is managing a personal brand in conjunction with the work I’m doing with a bigger brand, I need tools to help me out with that.

And for years it was Hootsuite. But they went through some changes over the past year. And so I started doing some homework on my own for what could replace that and landed on Sendible. But more than just like the sharing functionalities of it. What drew me to that? And the reason I mentioned on that here, just given that I know Agorapulse is a social media tool.

The reason I linked in the Sendible is what sold it for me, particularly as an individual, was the ability to leverage their, it’s analogous to Google trends. So you plug in some keywords and it will then on a daily basis or weekly, however you choose to set it, will send you an email saying, hey, we found these conversations based on those keywords on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Reddit, Quora, wherever it finds.

it And that’s huge because Google Trends is Google Trends. right And even Google News update is not always spot on. And this one has been extremely helpful, like for me to just keep tabs on a few topics and themes over the past several months. So that’s one. I would also call out SparkToro.

[00:40:11] Stephanie Liu: Oh that’s a good one.

[00:40:13] John Lee: Yep, formerly of SEO Moz. Yeah. If you’re into researching audience and understanding audience and all of these different pieces, SparkToro is a very deep tool, but if you’ve not checked that one out or at least checked it out lately, you certainly should. So I think that if, whether you’re working in social or you’re working across the entirety of the digital advertising spectrum, SparkToro is something you need to be looking at and if not using on a daily basis. Reporting is something that we all have to do by the end of the day, right?

Whether you like it or not.

[00:40:53] Stephanie Liu: Sure do yep

[00:40:54] John Lee: And there’s a particular tool that I’ve been a fan of for a long time. And that’s Supermetrics. And so if you’re not familiar with Supermetrics, it is either in Google sheets or into Excel, like the ability to centralize and automate data poll through API Google, Microsoft, Facebook, all of them.

Right. You name it at this point. Like when I first got into the space 15 years ago, if I’d have had that, I can’t tell you how many hours I would have gotten back.

[00:41:27] Stephanie Liu: You’re speaking

my love language. I remember. Yeah. I remember having to do the data pools for all the different things. And then our data scientists would build this data warehouse, which would we all like connect to.

And that’s the one thing I never realized, like getting into search engine marketing was like, you will have to be a master of Excel and pivot tables and conditional formatting and all the different things. I remember every one of us would have the Excel book, the manual of like, how do I do this?

And you would learn formulas and all the different things, but yeah, supermetrics is definitely, that’s in my real house for sure. It’s such a lifesaver.

[00:42:03] John Lee: It’s brilliant.

And yeah. And again, that’s something that you’re not familiar with. I urge you just to go do some research, check it out.

How I would explain it for someone, especially in our audience for Agency Accelerated like Gabriel, Deb, and the rest of the crew is if you’re familiar with Zapier and how Zapier is able to talk to one SaaS platform to another, like I could have ConvertKit talk to Thinkific and all the different things. Think of SuperMetric for that, but also taking in your campaign, analytics, your data, but now putting it in a reporting format.

And so it makes it beautiful and all the different things. Earlier in our previous episodes, we had the founder of Visme on the shell. I don’t know if you know this, but you’re able to create cloud-based graphics in templates. Kind of like Canva or Easil.

Right. Okay. But the beauty behind it, what makes sense so much more easier and fantastic to use for us as agencies as the fact that it then connects to your Google Sheets. So you could have real time data as soon as you create your reports. And so for those of you that watched Visme, now that we’re talking about, Supermetrics tie those two together and there you go.

There’s your monthly reporting, weekly reporting, all the different things that you need. And if anybody’s a super nerd, like I had been in various times in my life, including right now, is if you play in things like Power BI, right? You can take the real-time or however often the frequency of data pools that you run through Supermetrics and then marry that output with a Power BI and then creating a dashboard that you can just go into and is up-to-date all of that and graphed out for you? I mean, just right.

Yeah. I remember, I once had a key stakeholder. He was the CMO of agency and we just gave him one link. It was like one link to rule them all.

And whenever he just needed to see data for whatever meeting he was going to be into, because that his super genius is like being able to go in and say, I have real-time data. I just click on my custom personalized link. Boom. Here you go. This is how we’re performing in all the different things.

It was cool, but also kind of terrifying because like, if something happened.

In my view, something like that provides a deeper layer of trust with a client to say, hey, like I’m confident enough in the work that I’m doing, that you have real time.

I mean, they would have had that they would have access regardless to the platforms, but to have it all in one place to say, you check it whenever you need to, you don’t need to wait for me to send you a week of a report or a monthly report or whatever that cadence looks like. It’s just there. Right? If you see something that, that you want to have a conversation about, then let’s talk. And my last two tools I would be remiss not to mention are very specific to the search advertising space.

I think they’re both doing some things with display on the Google side and in some ways. At the Microsoft audience network, and that would be Optimizer and Adalysis. And so Adalysis is primarily about ads and automating the process of testing ads. Right. And so putting multiple variations in play and then using machine learning and just some wonderful algorithms that that team is built to identify winners automatically pause, create new variations and move on based on input from you, the advertiser and pain manager. And there are additional flavors and things going on within that tool as well. But if you do a lot of ad testing and you would like to kick it up a notch, check out Adalysis and then Optimizer really started with scripts.

So, you know, paid search scripts that you can plug into Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising. They started there and that’s really the foundation of that tool, but they continue to build it out, add to it. And you know, at this point are providing amazing tools at a really cheap price, frankly, that provide layers of automation and just general efficiency to the tediousness that is managing paid search campaign. And so definitely check those out because they’re game changers and they’re both pretty well established at this point. So I think Optimizer and Adalysis are coming up on like five, six years of existence and are very much past that kind of seed idea stage and are now fully funded companies.

[00:47:04] Stephanie Liu: That’s awesome. Yeah, I know how hard it is. Especially when new companies, we try to come over to the agencies and sell us on an idea of change your process. We will make it easier. And your like trust issues.

Yeah. Ad agency, Agency Accelerated folks, you know what we’re going to cover next we’ll tie everything that we just discussed. It’ll tie it all together because we’ve covered so much ground on my goodness. We’ve geeked out so much too, and I’ll make it super simple for you obviously to go ahead and get started.

And so if you have any questions so far about anything that we’ve covered, make sure to go ahead and drop them in the comments. Now I was taking a look and I saw that Gabriel is running ads on Facebook, Instagram and Google Ads. No, that’s Vladimir and on YouTube, Gabriel’s talking about funnel hacking live.

Does Microsoft Advertising, do you have any presence at these more niche conferences, like lead pages, funnel hacking any of those things? Cause I’m familiar with all of the SEM agencies and whatnot, but what about these one-off niche specific ones? Do you go to any of those?

[00:48:15] John Lee: Personally, no. At least not yet.

And so, yeah, I would just, I would actually turn that around into if there’s a conference or some sort of gathering as it were that you think I should be at, even just to attend and listen in, I am all ears always. Right. So always be learning. As much as I give and share information, I’m also always receiving and learning myself.

[00:48:44] Stephanie Liu: Yeah. Cause it’s interesting having been and spoken at major social media conferences per se. You’ll always see a track about Facebook Advertising or Instagram Advertising, but I honestly, I can’t recall ever seeing Microsoft being there. And I think it’s a good opportunity, especially if you have the content piece of it.

And would that make sense for, you know, as social media agencies, when we’re working with influencers, should influencers also be thinking about that too? As far as how we’re building our audiences and all the different things. Cool. So, John, how do you recommend agencies get started then with Microsoft Advertising in how should they position their services?

Especially if they don’t find you at the SEM Expo and all the, you know, they’re not Rand Fishkin fans like us, they’re not reading all the blogs and all the things. How do they get started?

[00:49:39] John Lee: Yeah. So it’s just ads.microsoft.com is where you would sign up for an account. But what I would say is like, if you’re doing any work with Google Ads on the search side or display side, if you’ve done Facebook Advertising on social, again, we have tools to help you import those campaigns into our platform to help you get started in a matter of minutes.

Right? The joy of APIs, the magic of APIs to connect all of the data. And it’s a real-time sync. It’s just going to pull the information over. It doesn’t remain like an open connection ongoing unless you tell it to. But like, that’s really the easy way to get started.

Beyond that, I would say we have an amazing team of people on the support side, but also our account managers and account executives who are out there working. But if you’re a new client, you may not be able to get direct access to them. And so what I would say is if you ever have questions and you can’t find an answer, reach out to this guy on LinkedIn, on Twitter and happy to answer questions and point people in the right direction and be as much use and help as I possibly can be.

[00:51:01] Stephanie Liu: I love that you mentioned LinkedIn because I feel like that’s another platform that some ad agency folks aren’t paying attention to, but it’s still one of the most affluent platforms to reach out to, and you could target by job titles and all the different things.

And so it’s really cool. One thing that I wanted to mention.

[00:51:18] John Lee: We have some of it in Microsoft Advertising now, too. So we have LinkedIn profile targeting, which would be job title, industry, and the company.

[00:51:29] Stephanie Liu: Brilliant. And I’m sure that this is probably something that you could even learn and pick up on as when you become a certified Microsoft Advertising Professional. Is that right?

Yeah. Yep.

I remember for my annual reviews, we always had to get certified in something. Right. It was just kind of like get certified in this and certified in that.

Cause you had to, like you said, everything is always constantly changing in the industry itself. And one thing that I love so much about the ad agency experience is that because I like, for me, I was in charge of EMEA and APAC. Right. So that’s Europe, Germany and all the different things, and then, you know, Japan and all the different things.

And what was so interesting about coming from the ad agency experience, especially in PPC, was that we had to keep tabs on what the other advertising platforms were doing. We would sit on the quarterly calls for Facebook to see how it was impacting us. And not only that, but we would sit on the calls for our competitors and what was going on. And so I think this is definitely for all of you that have only been focusing on one area. I know that it’s nice to have a niche, but understand that consumer behavior is shifting.

And if you don’t want to be the Kodaks, the Blockbusters of the industry, then you have to level up your experience and see what’s happening internationally, right? And I love the fact John, that you had even mentioned about just understanding of values and what people are interested in. So thank you, John. This has been such a fun interview, and I appreciate all of your insights, all the new tools to take a look at. You had mentioned a little bit earlier on where folks can find you, but let’s go ahead and let them know again, where they could go ahead and connect with you.

[00:53:24] John Lee: On Twitter, J O H N underscore a underscore L E E. Think I got that correct. And then I believe my LinkedIn profile link is in the chat. So that would just be in/thejohnalee/.

[00:53:43] Stephanie Liu: Love it. Love it. Good. Good. Good. And so for the rest of the crew, if you are leaving comments because you are a replay viewer, absolutely appreciate it. Just go ahead and leave that in there for us and with Agorapulse, we’ll be able to instantly see in our inbox who has been asking questions. That’s all that we have today, folks. And remember to subscribe to the calendar at agorapulse.com/calendar for the rest of the season.

I’m going to be live next on September 22nd with Square 11. And in the coming weeks, we’ll start to share more about what next season is going to look like. So Vladimir, Gabriel. You know, if there’s certain topics that you’re interested that you want to learn more about. I mean, John was just talking about how you need to expand your expertise.

Go ahead and let us know in the comments of what specifically you’re interested in. PS, by the way, remember, take advantage of our free webinar on how to add agency revenue by adding social media services at bitly.com/adagencyrevenue. So, I’ll see you and your agency accelerating into the next show.

Thank you everyone so much for your time. Really appreciate it. Read all the different things. I’ve got flames at the bottom of my screen?

Where’s John? I think John wants to come back on screen. He’s enjoying this.

Thanks to everyone. And the rest of the crew. Appreciate you. Our broadcast partners, everyone. And

tie that in the super metrics.

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