The Future of Digital Advertising with Matt Maroon

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You’re listening to the Paid Search Magic Podcast!

Your weekly deep dive into Search Engine Marketing, AdWords, client management, and so much more.

This is episode #18, and I am your host, Amy Hebdon.

Today I’m very excited to be talking to marketing maven Matt Maroon (how’s that for alliteration?) about how he got started in his data-driven career, and where it’s taken him. After working at Nielsen and Microsoft, Matt is currently helping to shape the marketing curriculum at BYU Idaho. In this episode, we talk about:

  • What’s new in digital advertising
  • The skills new marketers need to have
  • Some of the cutting-edge technologies Microsoft is investing in (and why).

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Show Notes

Amy: Alright, Matt. Thanks so much for joining the show.

Matt: Yes, absolutely, happy to do it. Thanks for having me.

Amy: Awesome. Well, I’m wondering if we can kick things off. I know that this year you’re teaching at a university level. You’re teaching marketing. I was thinking maybe you could tell us what’s different now in terms of what’s being taught about marketing compared to when you were in school?

Matt: Yes, so I think the easiest way for me to answer that question is what’s different now is that we’re completely restructuring the way we teach marketing. At BYU Idaho, we’ve had kind of like the traditional format of having marketing kind of live within the business department, but starting next semester, we’re actually breaking it out so that marketing is going to be its own department. Within that department, we feel like it gives us a little more flexibility to go a little bit deeper in areas that aren’t, or I guess that are outside of the traditional kind of marketing areas. One of the big focuses for us is to actually carve out a big piece of our program, so that it’s just focused on digital marketing.

What we’re doing is we have people who have experience in search, display, social and email, and we’re putting together a program that basically allows our students to get a degree in marketing with either an emphasis in digital, or at some point, we envision it that it could potentially be its own degree where a student has a digital marketing degree where they get experience in these four areas, and then other areas that we think might be pertinent to that degree. Obviously, as things change, we can be flexible to have the content and the curriculum that will help them so that their best position upon graduation to enter the field in the digital space.

Amy: Right, and so what significant changes are there, having carving it out so it’s no longer part of business anymore? What’s going to be different about that for the students?

Matt: Yes, I mean a lot of it is really just around the actual curriculum that we’re teaching. We’ve had a lot of … You have your standard classes, right? Your basic marketing stuff where you’re talking about the four Ps. You’re talking about swat and promotional activities. All that stuff, and we’ll still have those classes to lay a foundation, but what we want to do is we want to be able to go deeper so that students can have more hands-on and more tangible experience to what a lot of digital agencies are looking for today. We talk about display advertising, making sure that our students can speak the language that we hear within display. Whether or not that’s understanding what programmatic is, how it works, bit of environments, native advertising, the differences and nuances between different platforms in display like video, mobile, traditional PC, et cetera.

Really being able to go a little bit deeper in those areas so that they’re more familiar with that content and can speak that language more fluently because I feel like right now, they’re getting a real high level like, “Oh, yes, a display ad. That’s the one like a pop-up, right,” or “That’s the one on a PC” or whatever. We want to make sure that they have a little more context around the value prop that each of those different types of positions offer, the value prop of those different channels, so how search performs differently from display, how search on mobile is different from mobile display, et cetera, and just going deeper in all those things. Socials is going to be a big area of focus for our program just because the way we see it, so many job opportunities are currently available but will continue to grow in that space as social becomes a more mature platform.

Amy: Sure. I think that sounds really smart. When I was in school, this is something that … Marketing was something we studied, and we put together a book maybe, but it was just something for classes. It wasn’t real life. Are your students able to get that hands-on experience of understanding programming display ads or creating display ads, or is that something that’s part of internships for your students?

Matt: Yes. Yes, that’s a great question. The way we see it is we see there’s three tiers of learning that we hope a student goes through during their academic career here. The first is one of the things we want to do is we want to enable our students to be able to take some of those higher level courses that are a little more specialized to their areas of interest earlier on in their academic careers. Our thought is like, “Okay, if we could get some sophomores taking some of these digital courses, that can help them so that they have a foundation that they can later apply to some of the other courses that might be a little more hands-on or give them a little more experience.”

The way we envision it is this phase one is allowing students to take some of those courses a little earlier on and hopefully just, excuse me, getting a better idea of what they’re interested in so that they can make the decision. “Hey, this is for me,” or maybe it’s not. They can go somewhere else and not have to lose too much time or whatever in their careers. We give them the courses a little early on. Then, the second phase is here at BYU Idaho, we have this really great program through the business management or through our business school that we’re plugged into again within the marketing department that’s called IBC. Basically what it is, is it’s students create their own companies that are run on campus. Probably familiar with the concept where they really start from scratch, and they ideate. They do research. They come up with an idea that they can fully bake out where they literally start in and finish a start-up here on campus.

I mean honestly, a lot of this can be just food stands and other things. Some of them might be a little more innovative like this semester, we actually have a company that’s selling … They’re selling tech that actually, here in Rexburg, the winters are very cold. They found a distributor that actually creates heat cells that you can sow into clothing that basically, you can have an electric beanie or shirt or scarf and that kind of stuff.

Amy: Oh, wow.

Matt: Yes, it’s a really cool concept because they actually worked with our engineering faculty and some of the students over there to co-ideate on what they could and couldn’t do. Anyway, just a cool idea. That’s the second level where they really get that hands-on experience. Within that type of class, there’s three areas. Many of them in the traditional business sense, so finance and then operations, but then marketing is the third area. That’s where all the students are required to go in and have a marketing rotation. Again, this is where they get some of that more traditional marketing experience. They can also start to apply maybe some of that digital experience that maybe they had gotten earlier in that phase one approach, so that they’re just better equipped to have those hands-on experiences.

Then, the phase three is really, and this is where we’re trying to start to ideate on like, “Okay, what does this look like in the long term consistently,” is a practicum/ capstone type of course where we get a class full of students, and they become a marketing department either for student organizations. We would love to, and this is where we are today, trying to figure out could we plug into some other community organizations so that we could have students doing the digital marketing for local organizations around town that have no idea of how to even get their business involved in that space. The idea is definitely, the more hands-on we can get for our students, the better, so that when they graduate, they are … No only can they speak the language, but they have that experience. They’ve done it. The other thing we want to do too is get them the certifications through, whether it’s IEB, whether it’s AdWords certified, whatever. Having these professional certifications so that it is a little more real and what professionals, I guess, are looking for when they’re looking to hire people.

Amy: That sounds really smart, and I wish there had been a program like that when I was in school because there was such a different between the theory of what we’re learning and the application. When you’re trying to get a job and you’re like, “Well, this is all made up.”

Matt: Totally.

Amy: “This is all practice.”

Matt: Yes.

Amy: Actually participating them makes a lot of sense.

Matt: Yes.

Amy: For you, you worked in the industry prior to starting to teach this. What would you say would be useful for new graduates, whether they’re at your school or another school or just new marketers in general to prepare for a career in digital advertising?

Matt: Yes. You know, I think there’s a couple of different things. There’s the basic skillsets that are necessary. If you can learn as much as you can about digital advertising before you’re in the workforce, that’s great. I don’t know that the industry necessarily though requires that yet. I feel like a lot of these agencies are still doing a lot of the hands-on training to help people just understand what all is available in the digital space. I think there are some of the just the basic skills though that are necessary, that students should definitely have, regardless of whether or not they know where they want to go in the digital space. That’s things like Excel and analytics and understanding how to pull stories from data and look at data, and being able to just mine it a little bit and figure out what is it saying? What are the trends? What are the opportunities?

That’s a skill that I feel like everyone … That’s just where most industries are going these days, and that everyone really should be trying to hone, especially when they’re in school because it is going to be such a big part of their day-to-day. That’s a piece that I feel like it’s just really important in order to be successful and be prepared to set yourself apart, because anybody can learn how to use Excel. Anybody can do some of those more basic or remedial tasks within applications, but it’s taking that other element or ability to … Now that I have the data, how do I get something out of it? So many of marketing decisions, I feel like, are really coming from data and analytics that we don’t live in a world where people can necessarily go by what their gut says but really by what the data are telling them.

Amy: Yes, absolutely. I think that’s a really good point. It’s something that I think even more experienced marketers struggle with sometimes, is to confidently say, “I know how to use data to tell a story or to get meaningful insights.” I know that’s a topic for a whole other podcast, but I’m wondering if maybe you can tease out a little bit. If someone doesn’t feel confident in their ability to tell a story with data, what would you suggest for how they can get on the path to learn that?

Matt: Yes. You know, I think you always want to figure out why people aren’t confident. My thought is like if you’re not confident because maybe you’re just not a numbers person and it’s just something that you never really had to do, I mean I was a communications major. I was probably a communications major because I didn’t want to take finance or some of these other classes in the business school because it’s like, “Oh, numbers are scary.” When I went to grad school though, I really … Well, first of all I started my career at the Nielsen Company, and there, it was super numbers heavy. Whether I liked it or not, I was in data sets that forced me to learn that language. Then, when I went to grad school, the statistics class I had to take was one of my favorite classes because it was just like I’d already seen how the numbers can work in real life. Then, learning some of the theories of how we got there made it all the more impactful.

I think for people who might be struggling or wondering like, “Okay, how do I do this,” I think it’s just learning to be comfortable with numbers and not shying away from them because they’re everywhere. You can, whether it’s just doing your own finances, your own personal finances or investment strategies or whatever the case may be, you’re going to have, to have some idea of how to work with numbers. I think just being comfortable with them, and if you can take it to the next level of learning how to speak the language of data and analytics, I think that’s where the magic happens and where you could really start to differentiate yourself and offer more value to what you bring as aa marketer.

Amy: That’s a great answer. Thank you.

Matt: Yes.

Amy: You mentioned your time at Nielsen, that you went to grad school. I know you also worked at Microsoft. Could you maybe give us a little bit of information about what led to your career, your Nielsen, Microsoft, where you are now and then what you did along that path to get to the point where you’re teaching this at a university level and experiencing success there?

Matt: Yes. I mean to be perfectly honest, I really got lucky. I think there was some providence involved as well, in terms of just kicking off my career, having the opportunity to work at Nielsen. I was graduating in April, and I think it was March, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. I got really lucky in a sense that I had a professor who told me about an internship opportunity at the Nielsen Company. It was a brand new internship. Nobody had done it before, and they were looking for someone who had some data and analytics or some media research background. I didn’t have any of that experience. I had gotten lucky though, and I had taken a media research class. I was like, “Well, I took this class. I don’t know if that’s enough, but what the heck? I’ll throw my hat into the ring.” Sure enough, I mean that was enough.

The fact that I just had that one class where I learned about GRPs. I learned about some of these basic media research principles that it was enough to get me in the door and qualify me, I guess. I guess the first thing is, it’s just being willing to maybe get outside your comfort zone because again, research and analytics, that was not something I had any interest in, but I was able to understand the value of it. Once I understood the value, I could really get behind it and use some of my other strengths to set me apart once I learned the language. I often refer to data and analytics, some of the things that we do in digital media and advertising as learning a language. Once you know that language, it just opens the doors to so many opportunities to talk to people and to have conversations that position you better in your career.

For me, that’s how I got my start through an internship, was lucky enough to stick around like I mentioned before. I had already graduated, and so I was able to apply for full-time position when my internship was complete. I think just having that foundation or having the start of my career be more on the data and analytics side, just really created a foundation that I always leaned on later on in my career. When I had gone to Microsoft, I would look through things through and in an analytical lens as opposed to just going with my gut or trying to position things because I thought they were cool. I always went back to the data. What does the data say? That just helped me to establish more credibility with the customers I was working with, with my colleagues and other people so that we didn’t have to feel like we were … I worked in a sales org, but we didn’t have to feel like we were selling anything. We were just like … The data speaks for itself. I would tell this corny dad joke that like Shakira’s hips, the data don’t lie.

Amy: Oh, no.

Matt: People love that joke, but it just made it a lot easier to have those conversations because we were comfortable talking about the data and the potential impact that the data could have if we were, with the different recommendations we were offering to our customers.

Amy: Mm-hmm (affirmative), so you mentioned twice now that having access to data and understanding data prevented you from having to go with your gut. Is that something that you see is common still in the industry, or is that something that you feel like we’re moving away from?

Matt: I think it’s still common. At the same time, I think we’re moving away from it as well because I think more people are more data-minded now. There’s so much. So much of everything is being driven by data, but it’s interesting though because even people, and I’m guilty of it too, even people who have been classically trained in data … I don’t know if that’s the right term, but they have this background in data and analytics. You still want to think that your opinion matters, and you still want to do your own thing at times. Again, I’m totally guilty of this as well, even though everything I just said previously would oppose that.

I think there is this inner battle where there’s a little bit of art and science, but more and more, I think that the emphasis is definitely going to be put on the data side because it’s just necessary to … It’s just a third party that has no skin in the game and is just telling you, “This is what opinions are. This is what the behavior is,” et cetera. You can’t really fight that. Even if you have the greatest idea in the world and yes, you don’t know. The marketplace might not be ready for it.

Amy: Right. Well, I think that’s one thing that can be really surprising, especially to people who are entering the industry, is that there’s this expectation that everything is cutting-edge. Everyone is data-driven. Everyone else knows how to make decisions, and then you find that, “Wow, my boss or my clients, they’re making decisions based on something that’s actually a lot more emotional than logical.” I think that can be really surprising for people to experience at first. It’s consistent with how they pictured the world of business or of their future employment.

Matt: Totally, yes, totally seen that.

Amy: Actually, maybe you could tell us how you transitioned from working at Nielsen to working at Microsoft. What led there? What did you do when you were in Microsoft?

Matt: Yes, so I had a great experience at Nielsen. Like I said, really kick-started my career, and I was able to work on a number of different things that were really interesting. I think while I was there, they were going through … The TV industry was going through a revolution or fundamental change to their business that really was unprecedented with the impact of technology and DVRs and VOD and this idea of time-shifted viewing. People not having to watch all programming live but now having the ability to watch it on their own terms, pausing things, starting things late so that they could fast forward through commercials, watching things a day or two later to accommodate schedules and all that kind of stuff. That really was revolutionary and something that was exciting and fun as we all just tried to figure out, what does this look like? What are the norms? How do we standardize the business, and ultimately, how these networks are being paid through all of the dollars that are coming in, based off of the data that we were providing n the TV ratings.

I just have always loved technology and the impact that technology can play in different fields and in the media world, given my background. I though that was always a lot of fun. As I got involved in some of these projects that were more future, techie type stuff, I just realized, “Man, I would really love to work at a technology company at some point because I think it’s just a lot of fun. It’s very vibrant. It’s always changing.” I applied a couple times to Microsoft. I grew up in the Seattle area, and so I had an affinity for the company to begin with, but applying on my own, never got any bites, nothing really happened. I ended up having a friend, actually, who started working at Microsoft over on the MSN side. She reached out.

It was very, very timely when she reached out because I really was feeling I was at the end of my rope in terms of what I was learning at Nielsen at the time. I was looking for more opportunities to learn. She reached out regarding a position on her team that just helped me get my feet wet and get experience in digital advertising. I made the switch over to Microsoft, working, primarily selling ads on MSN, Xbox. We later acquired Skype. We later had hands on Windows 8 if anybody remembers that. That was the area that really got me excited because the digital space was really where I wanted to be because it really was unchartered territory. There really was a lot more that could be done there. It was much more dynamic. It offered different types of experiences to consumers, which I thought was really cool, whereas in TV space, I mean it’s still, to this day, it’s still the 30, 60-second ads that dominate the broadcast space.

In video, we’re starting to see some changes there with what YouTube is doing and introducing these six-second ads and stuff like that, which I think is really interesting, but it’s still … There’s just not a ton of variety on that side. I was looking for just having that ability to continue to learn and grow. Digital media, digital advertising is dynamic. It’s always changing. It probably always will change, and that’s a lot of fun to me, being a part of that evolution and just not getting complacent in one single area but always having things vibrant and dynamic.

Amy: Sure, yes. Speaking of evolution at Microsoft, could you tell us a little bit about the CEO and how the current CEO has shaped the direction of Microsoft, particularly with respect to Bing ads?

Matt: Yes, totally, so Satya Nadella is the current CEO of Microsoft. He replaced Steve Ballmer a few years ago, maybe three, three years ago or so. He has just been a total … Revolutionary might be a little stronger word, but he’s just been great for the company and the culture at Microsoft. He understands the role that technology plays for everyone, but also the role that data and analytics play in making decisions, these larger decisions for the company. He grew up. He had to come most recently from Azure and from some of the Cloud-based computing. He understood the impact that the Cloud would have both on the consumer side, on the enterprise side and what that can look like in the future. Prior to joining that team, he actually did have experience working on Bing and being involved in Bing, I guess as a search engine but also as a, it sounds cliché, but decision engine where it’s taking all of this data, and it’s able to process that data and then can create outputs based off of some of that behavior.

Long story short, a lot of what he did was understanding that the Bing really had this potential to become the life blood, not just within search advertising but within the rest of Microsoft’s core products and services. Windows, Office, some of the other more enterprise tools, CRM, et cetera. He made it so that Bing was at the heart and core of all of these services. It was literally the DNA that these other programs were being built on. That allowed, it’s a lot, a number of things, but it’s really allowed the company to be more data-driven because obviously, within the search world, so much of what … I mean everything that happens is due to the data that’s being provided from the inputs and outputs of both behaviors and results. Yes, that’s a lengthy answer there. I’m not sure if I completely answered your question.

Amy: No, I like that answer, and I like that Bing is becoming more forward-thinking and data-driven. You know, this is an outdated story. It happened a long time ago, but I’m thinking maybe 10 years ago, we had Bing reps that would come to agency where I was at. They would bring homemade cookies and brownies. Okay, they probably weren’t Bing. They were probably Microsoft, but they bring these homemade treats.

Matt: Live search.

Amy: Yes, to try to get us, to woo us over. Google had those Google alerts, and Bing didn’t have that, so they would hand-put-together like, “Here’s where your clients had been in the news.” I had to send a personal thank you note because otherwise, I got in trouble from my boss because they took the time. I don’t want anyone to take the time. I want it to be automated. You know what I mean?

Matt: Right, right.

Amy: It’s really, for me, it feels very encouraging to know that we’re all … This is a global shift that we’re all moving towards this better outcome of really being focused on the data. That’s really good to hear.

Matt: Yes, absolutely, and Google obviously changed the game by doing that. I think all this talk about data that we’ve been having here really is all because of Google. They’re literally changed the game because they’ve been so data-focused and have been so successful in showing the results and being able to monetize those results in a way that completely sustains their business. I think it really turned some heads, obviously, over the last 20 years, but over at Microsoft as well. Once they understood like, oh, you know, Google, so much of their business is based off of decisions that are … I’m trying to think what I’m trying to say. So much of what Google does is based off of the data and the predictability that they can create because of that data. It really got a lot of companies’ attentions and being able to monetize that is really where Microsoft said like, “Okay, we need to definitely do a better job of using that data effectively,” and then ultimately getting paid for it as well.

Amy: Right. How is Microsoft pushing that envelope itself right now? What are some of the maybe cutting-edge platforms or technologies that they’re participating in to drive things forward?

Matt: Yes, so one of the biggest focus by Satya and a lot of the leadership team and a lot of people over at Microsoft and Bing and other areas is this idea of conversations as a platform. Really, what we’re talking about here are chat bots. The role that chat bots can ultimately play in the consumer space, so I know a lot of the big tech companies, they’re talking about bots these days. Microsoft, Google and Facebook are the big three that are really leading this discussion around the potential impact that chat bots can have. I think it’s for good reason. When we talk about being able to have this world of consumers and AI working together and producing more effective results, it’s super powerful.

Microsoft sees this landscape of conversations as a platform being in three different areas. One, just the consumers who are using technology. Two, these bots that can basically can serve as like a super app. If we think about apps on our phones, it’s crazy, but they really didn’t exist 10 years ago. The challenge that we have though in this current environment for an app for everything is that 90% of all app usage from 10% of the apps that are available or even less probably. There’s a huge amount of waste that’s happening where these developers are building apps, but they’re not really being utilized to the best of their ability. The idea with bots is that we can create these super apps that they have all of the information that they would want about a product or service. Then, they can surface it at the right time and at the right moment via the third component as conversations as a platform. That is people’s digital assistance.

The other thing that these three companies that I was just talking about have in common is that they all build these personal assistants for consumers. When we think about Microsoft has Cortana, Google has OK Google. Everybody’s familiar, probably most familiar with Siri. The one that’s become probably the most popular now is Amazon’s Alexa. The idea is that these personal assistants, they know everything about the consumer. My personal assistant if I’m using Cotana knows everything about me. It might have my credit card information. It knows where I work. It knows where I live. It knows the route in between and everything else. It really creates this crazy ecosystem of consumers, AI and technology all talking to one another and interacting with one another.

I don’t know how this is coming across. How off the deep end am I right now? Am I making sense?

Amy: Yes, no, keep going.

Matt: Okay, okay. To put into context, the example I would like to use is like, “Okay, what does this look like in real life? Why should anyone care?” Well, when I lived in Chicago, I worked Downtown, and so I would take a train home. Again, my personal assistant, I would get those prompts on my phone after having it for so long saying like, “Hey, is this where you work?” I say, “Yes, I work at the Aon Center.” I would validate that. Then, it would ask me later on, “is this where you live,” and so it’s like, “Yes, this is where I live.” It knows where I work, and it knows where I live. I take the train home every night from work. It knows that on Friday nights, it’s pizza night in the Maroon household. It knows that I have this pattern of buying pizza with my credit card because it has my credit card information through my digital wallet or whatever that we buy pizza on Friday nights.

What it could do in this new world of consumers, AI, search, et cetera is as my train is pulling into the stop, because it knows the stop that I’m going to be at, I could get a prompt from my digital assistant saying, “Hey, it’s Friday. It’s pizza night. Do you want to order a pizza tonight?” I could say yes or no, and it’s like, “Well, of course, it’s Friday. I’ll order a pizza, so yes.” It’s like, “Okay, great. I have these. You’re going to pass these three places on your way home. Do you want me to see if there’s any deals available for these three places?” I’ll say, “Yes, find me a deal.” From there, it might show that, “Hey, Papa John’s is giving away free breadsticks,” or Pizza Hut has these two medium combo thing or whatever. Then, based off of what I’m looking for, I could then select.

Excuse me.

I could then select whatever deal I’m looking for. That takes me to the chat bot at Papa John’s or at Pizza Hut. I then start completing that transaction from that bot. The idea is that okay, now we have something that’s much more powerful than just showing an ad at random to people, but it’s really targeting consumer at the right place, at the right time when they are most likely going to convert or to take action and make a transaction. That’s why these big companies are really focused on this idea of proliferating chat bots and digital assistants so that the behavior becomes such where they can more naturally engage and interact and create theses relationships that are super powerful for both advertisers and anybody who’s trying to sell something.

Oh, by the way, we talked about the impact to search and what that could look like in this new world. Those three messages that I get prompted, those could be paid ads. They could follow the traditional means of positioning or whatever. Somebody wants to pay for that higher position, they could do that, but it’s all being done through the assistant on someone’s phone or on the devices that they’re most likely engaged with, again, at the right time and at the right moment when they’re most likely to convert or take action.

Amy: Yes, that’s some really interesting information and I think connects a lot of dots. Question, and then I feel this is a bit of an obligatory question because this always comes up whenever we’re talking about things involving a lot of AI or big data or anything that’s predictive.

Matt: Yes.

Amy: It’s starting to feel a lot like big brother, right?

Matt: Yes, yes.

Amy: That’s the thing that everyone’s going to say. Do you have any response to that? You know, when I hear this, I think, “Wow, that sounds great for the consumer.” I love it when other assistants or anything else can help me make decisions, help make my life easier, but I know there’s the flip side of that where people feel like that’s an invasion of privacy, or that’s too much information that the advertisers have. I feel like I’m being followed. What answer or reassurance maybe would you have for people who are concerned about this?

Matt: Well, I don’t know if I really have a great answer in terms of reassurance. I feel like it’s inevitable. It’s happening, and where we are today with our privacy and our willingness to sacrifice it for the good of convenience and other things, I feel like it’s only going to continue. You know, a lot of the companies, I think … Even Microsoft. They definitely positioned themselves as the privacy champs. They’ve fought a lot of the things that could endanger consumers’ privacies and things like that. I think even they are starting to understand that, that line is much, much more blurred based off of the current behaviors that we’re seeing with consumers.

Consumers, they’re going to be the ones who determine what’s enough is enough or that’s okay. What we’ve seen is this ongoing erosion of people being okay with sacrificing some privacy so that they can have some of those conveniences. With that said though, there definitely are lines in the sand. I think the big companies are going to push the envelope to see how consumers respond to certain things. I remember a few months ago, there was the Google Home, I believe had … I’m pretty sure it was Google Home, but they had an ad that served on their device for a day. It was for Beauty and the Beast. I think what happened is like you would wake up and say like, “Okay, Google. Tell me about my day.” I think it gave the typical response like, “Hey, the weather is this. You have this much time in traffic. Oh, by the way, Beauty and the Beast is opening tonight. Tickets are this much.” Then, after it said that, it actually did a full 30-second pre-roll of the audio from the Beauty and the Beast clip.

Believe it or not, or probably not too surprisingly, people hated that. They were just like, “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe you do this to me. This is such an invasion. Now, I do feel like you’re just after me for my money,” kind of a thing. The spot, I think, ran for less than a day. It got all kinds of negative feedback, but that’s where we are today. I don’t know if that’s going to feel as evasive two, three, four, five years from now because of the way behavior is shifting. As people become more comfortable interacting with these devices, with these personal assistants, wherever they are, on your phone, in your home, et cetera. I think people are going to probably become more comfortable with it. They’re probably understand too like, oh, you know, this just comes with the territory.

Similar to there, being ads on TV like yes, I get my broadcast TV for free. I understand it’s supported by advertising, so whatever. I’ll endure it. I feel like we’ll likely get to that point with some of these new technologies as well where it’s just going to be a part of our day. I think marketers and advertisers, I think they’ll get smart about it so that it doesn’t feel so black and white. I do think the behavior is changing, so that people are going to be more accepting of those messages and places where they might not have been now or a few years ago.

Amy: Right, and I think we hate the feeling of advertising when it feels like ads. This is something I say a lot for paid search. If it feels like a solution to a problem, then that changes the game. If you were getting, “Here’s what to expect. Here’s the weather. Here’s whatever,” and you actually got maybe ads that were like, “Hey, it’s raining. You need to pick up an umbrella.” That’s a bad example, but something that we could go along like that. It might feel a little bit different than just having to sit through a pre-roll of a movie that you maybe weren’t interested in seeing anyway.

Matt: Totally, and that’s where marketers need to get a lot smarter and understand that some of those traditional forms of content and everything else really is not going to work in this new world. You can’t just repurpose what you have and throw it out there. Consumers are super smart. They’re going to sniff that out. We have to do a better job of finding ways to deliver our message in a way that’s organic and natural and doesn’t feel like, I don’t feel dirty after being exposed to it or whatever.

Amy: Definitely. Well, I have one final question. We’ve got a podcast coming up in a few weeks that’s going to be asking people about the biggest changes to paid search in 2017. I want to open this up a little bit and just ask you what you think is the most impactful change for just digital advertising itself in 2017, and why that is?

Matt: Yes, you know, the thing that comes to mind, probably just because we’ve read a lot about it, and for me personally crosses the two worlds that I’ve had professionally at Nielsen and then at the digital space at Microsoft. That’s this idea that … Nielsen recently came out with the ability to measure viewership on some of these digital platforms like Netflix, which was previously unavailable. Netflix was a little bit of a black box. Nobody really knew what to think of it or what the impact was to traditional TV and traditional video. I think that this is something that, it’s going to be really interesting to see how it unfolds because now that we have some numbers that … Netflix will say like, “Hey, this doesn’t tell the whole story,” or whatever, which is true, but directionally, we now have some numbers to scale and scope what the impact is from these non-traditional content providers. I think it really has the impact to change the game for the overall marketing strategies where …

Something like Stranger Things. We know that millions of people are watching Stranger Things. They’re doing it often. It was crazy. I think I saw something like almost 400,000 people binge watch Stranger Things in the first 24 hours.

Amy: Right, all the episodes.

Matt: Yes, like all nine episodes in 24 hours. The fact that, that was like, so what is that? That’s like nine, a little under nine hours of media consumption where a consumer was not exposed to an ad. As a marketer and as an advertiser, that’s just like, “Holy crap. That’s like the worst thing in the world,” right? I have this engaged consumer, but they had no way of hearing my message or getting myself out there. I think that has the impact. Now that we know what the scale is and the scope of these different platforms like Netflix, obviously, Amazon Prime and these other platforms that, again, have never really had a way to measure. I think that really changes the landscape of how digital marketers are going to be looking to get their message out there, whether that’s through social channels, whether that’s through non-traditional formats, like I mentioned, the six-second ad on YouTube and just finding ways to integrate themselves without disrupting the consumer so that they feel like this is an intrusion, but also working themselves into these platforms that don’t necessarily lend themselves to the traditional models.

I think it’s going to be really interesting, and I don’t think any of the different forms of media or channels are immune to that change in behavior. I think that impacts search. I think that impacts display. Obviously, the traditional channels a well, and it would be interesting to see how that type of behavior and having that ability to measure plays out as it matures.

Amy: That’s a great answer. Well, thank you, Matt, so much for joining us. It’s been great to have you on and to get all of your advice and ideas for the futures we’re talking about, the future of digital advertising. If someone wants to follow you or connect with you or hear more about your thoughts on the matter, what would be the best way to reach you?

Matt: Yes, LinkedIn is probably the best way to reach out to me, so yes, Matthew Maroon at LinkedIn. I use Twitter not as an influencer but as a stalker, so that’s probably not a great one, but LinkedIn is where I would post anything that I have going on or thoughts or anything else.

Amy: All right, great. Well, we’ll link that up in the show notes. Thank you so much.

Matt: Absolutely. Thank you, Amy. I appreciate it.

Amy: All right, thanks.

Thanks for joining us on the Paid Search Magic Podcast.

Be sure to join us next week for a mini-episode of Paid Search Magic. I’ll be joined by my husband James and we’ll be talking about the things everyone’s saying about Gmail ads that are flat-out wrong, and what you need to do to get them right. See ya then.

43 episodes available. A new episode about every 24 days averaging 37 mins duration .