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Duane Brown, of Take Some Risk, Inc., on maximizing results in digital advertising

I had the pleasure recently to sit down with Duane Brown, CEO and Head of Strategy at Take Some Risk, a performance-focused agency based in Canada. Duane, like myself, will be attending the Brighton SEO conference in San Diego this month. He will also be presenting; the topic of his talk will relate to how agencies can make more money by operating more effectively.

Duane shares the origin story of his agency, explaining that he initially started as a freelancer but ended up forming an agency due to the increased workload, especially during the pandemic. We discuss philosophies relating to testing in digital marketing and the importance of managing risks.

He emphasizes that adapting to change is a necessary skill in marketing and that testing should be done without risking a large portion of the budget. He suggests limiting testing budgets to around 10% of the total budget and launching tests towards the end of the month to better assess their impact on monthly performance.

Duane and I discuss some common mistakes in paid media audits, particularly in the context of search and other advertising platforms. Some of the key points made include:

Conversion Tracking: One common mistake is the improper setup of conversion tracking, which became more challenging after Google discontinued Universal Analytics. It’s crucial to ensure that conversion tracking is functioning correctly and that there are no tracking issues.

Account Maintenance: Marketing teams sometimes fail to spend enough time on account maintenance. They overlook small changes or shifts in performance, which can later become more significant issues. Duane emphasizes the importance of double-checking work to catch mistakes and maintain account integrity.

Campaign Types: Duane mentions the overreliance on “Performance Max” campaigns in Google and other platforms. He suggests that while Performance Max campaigns are useful, they shouldn’t be the sole campaign type, and advertisers should understand how different campaign types work together.

Facebook Advertising: In the context of Facebook ads, a common issue pertains to having too many campaigns and ad sets, which can lead to inefficient budget distribution. Duane recommends that advertisers focus on having fewer campaigns to collect sufficient data for optimization.

Data and Long-Term Strategy: We both stress the importance of collecting and using data effectively for long-term strategy. They talk about understanding post-conversion metrics and using business intelligence data to optimize campaigns for customer lifetime value (LTV).

Google Analytics 4 (GA4): The transition to GA4 is discussed, with Duane emphasizing the need to adapt to the changes. He suggests consolidating data and focusing on using the available data effectively, rather than dwelling on what was available in Universal Analytics.

Single Source of Truth: Kevin raises the challenge of reconciling data from various platforms and analytics sources to establish a single source of truth. Duane suggests using Google Analytics as a default source but also emphasizes the importance of auditing and maintaining data feeds and platforms.

Seasonal Tweaks in E-commerce: The conversation delves into how to manage e-commerce data feeds seasonally. Duane advises making seasonal tweaks to data feeds and campaign strategies, taking advantage of events and holidays to optimize feed data for better performance.

Consistent Data Feed Updates: Regular updates and tweaks to shopping feeds are vital for maintaining good performance in ad campaigns. This includes keeping an eye on new attributes, custom labels, and adjusting rules as needed to adapt to changing conditions.

It was a pleasure speaking with Duane and highlighting the importance of attention to detail, data quality, and strategic thinking in managing paid media campaigns across different advertising platforms.

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