“Less than 60% of digital traffic is human”
(New York Magazine)
Sound like a sci-fi movie treatment?
BUT, it’s not!
Rather this is the digital media landscape you face as a marketer.
No surprise that consumer trust has declined to an all-time low!
Further, non-human digital traffic also applies to search, social media and influencer marketing. All of which have matured requiring paid options to supplement organic reach.
So what does this mean for your 2019 marketing plans?
You still need humans to see your digital advertising and take actions on your digital owned media and other digital outposts.
- Build awareness for your company and brand.
- Support content distribution.
- Promote products and other marketing-related initiatives.
So what should you do?
Follow these 3 steps to improve your marketing to deal with increased non-human digital traffic.
3 ways to make marketing work despite increased non-human digital traffic.
1. Minimize Ad Fraud Damage From Non-Human Digital Traffic
Face reality—despite increased non-human digital traffic, you need digital advertising.
Because search, social media and influencer marketing no longer provide free opportunities.
Your organic activity needs paid support.
When Google and Facebook control 75+% of digital advertising dollars, you know where a chunk of your marketing budget is going regardless of your business type, size or category.
But fret not.
Instead, take these 3 steps to minimize wasted advertising dollars today:
Step 1: Make your advertising as measurable as possible
While this non-human digital traffic takes a variety of forms including spoofing good domains and redirecting traffic, you can minimize the impact on your marketing budget.
By following these steps, you reduce the impact of non-human digital traffic.
Beyond including a targeted call-to-action, add unique related tracking codes and send people to tailored landing pages. Use different tracking codes and landing pages for each.
The key to success:
- Focus your audience on taking one specific action.
Track your advertising results with Google Analytics. You don’t need fancy or expensive technology solutions to detect advertising fraud. Where possible use past advertising results to guide media purchase decisions.
In fact, Ad Fraud expert, Augustine Fou recommends using manual blacklists to reduce advertising fraud.
To monitor advertising, examine:
- Click-throughs. The number of people who go from the ad to your landing page.
- Conversions. The number of people who came to your landing page from a specific ad and then took an action
Remember: Your goal is to reach the best human prospects at the optimal cost. This doesn’t mean the lowest cost.Stop a digital advertising campaign when it stops yielding cost-effective results. Click To Tweet
But still monitor your new audience to determine how they perform over time. Although a specific media entity may yield higher initial results, those prospects may drive lower sales and profits.
Step 2: Tailor your advertising use to reach the most humans.
Sounds basic, right?
But Dr. Fou found that digital advertising dollars get wasted because ads get shown when most humans aren’t paying attention. This example shows how digital advertising budgets get wasted while you’re literally sleeping!To ensure real people see your ad, define when, where, how and to whom your ad is displayed.Click To Tweet
Use human-oriented advertising targeting options:
- Audience targeting. Select the human audience that you want to see your advertising based on general demographics that you know about your existing readers and customers.
- Use day-parting. Only show ads when and where your human audience spends time on specific media entities and devices.
- Determine specific geographies. Consider if your content and offering requires a global audience. Focus your advertising delivery based on where your audience lives and works.
- Select specific media entities. Assess which media entities will work for your business.
Step 3: Get Creative With Digital Advertising Alternatives to Reduce Non-Human Traffic
Many marketers overlook these options because they don’t fall into a paid advertising option.
- In addition to being lower cost, they’re more likely to reach real people!
If you work for a larger organization:
- Don’t assume that other divisions know about your product or that employees use your product. No one pays much attention to the employee handbook.
- Assess the potential for intra-company exchanges. Provide value to everyone involved. For example, at The Economist, I traded run-of-site digital advertising and a free 3 month online subscription in return for promoting my digital offering in their direct mail pieces.
- Take advantage of receipts and other types of post-purchase communications.
For solopreneurs and small businesses:
- Cross promote your newsletter list with a peer who focuses on a similar but not competitive topic. Use plain text to appear to be part of the emailing. Alternatively, take advantage of post registration Thank You page real estate.
- Partner with people in similar fields to cross-promote content. By curating each other’s content on social media you expand your reach and don’t look like you’re saying me, me, me.
2. Increase Control Over Your Owned Human Audience
Increase your control over your owned audience
Today’s world runs on Share of Audience Attention (aka: SoAA); not flash in the pan hype. You need to earn your audience’s trust and attention with Every. Single. Communication.
Owned audience includes:
- People who want to consume your content. They shared their email address with you to receive regular communications.
- People who have bought at least once from you. While similar these people have paid to test your product. Your goal is to increase their loyalty and encourage them to buy more from you.
The key to owned audience success:
- Nurture your audience and customers to build their trust by regularly delivering your content. This grows your SoAA.
Regardless of where it’s distributed, use each piece of content to encourage readers to take action.
Get readers to:
- Consume more of your content
- Register for your emailing
- Take a step closer to purchase
- Use your product or service
- Tell their friends and colleagues about your firm.
Make each piece of content and/or page of your blog or website deepen relationships. Get prospects to sign up for your emails by building trust that you’ll provide quality information while protecting their privacy.
Ask for the least amount of information necessary. The less information you ask for, the more likely you’ll get people to sign up.
- First name (to personalize communications)
- Email address (while B2B marketers may want a business email address but don’t underestimate that the people may not want to share it.)
- Zip code. If you need it to take reasonable actions. For example a B2C client of mine used zip codes to suppress communications based on extreme weather.
- Company name, category and/or size. Useful for B2B marketers but people may not want to this share information with you.
Skip phone numbers and budget size! Research shows that they suppress results. Or worse, they’ll put in fake information. (Take my word for it–I do it all the time!)
2. Have connected content in place to nurture human traffic
Connected content pulls potential readers and buyers further into your sphere of influence.
BUT–Don’t waste their time.
At a minimum, focus each form of connected content on getting visitors to sign up for and reading your content.
The 5 types of connected content include:
- Landing pages. Tailored to continue the scent of your advertising or social media posting. Focus on capturing visitor name and email address.
- Thank you pages. Targeted pages that appear after a prospect has signed up for your emailings or made a purchase. Direct visitors to related content or products.
- Welcome series. Warm newbies by providing useful information. At a minimum, use an email confirmation. For example, Henneke has an 18 part welcome series.
- Contact Us. Provide visitors with a way to contact you, find your location, and/or get their questions answered. Let them choose the format. Include email, phone and physical address. And don’t forget to include an email signup! Also include this information on key social media profiles.
- About Us. Show your face because people do business with people. If you bury this page or make it sound like anyone could have written it, then you’ve lost an opportunity.
Key owned media metrics
Track these metrics to gauge the size and quality of your owned audience:
- Housefile. The number of people who opted into your email list.
- New emails. The newbies to your list. Ideally, have a welcome series to help them get to know you.
- Churn. Calculated by taking the number of email addresses that unsubscribe and bounce. Ideally calculate this number on a regular basis.
- Traffic. The number of people who visit your blog or website. While considered a vanity metric by some, it gives you a general sense of whether your traffic is growing or declining.
- Average email lifetime. This tracks how long people stay on your email list.
- Average cost per email acquisition. Total cost per segment divided by the number of new email subscriptions.
- Average sales per email. When sending promotional emails, calculate the total sales from people on your email list and divide it by the number of emails mailed. To improve results segment your lists. Further, track how many people you lose every time you send an emailings.
3. Optimize your content on other platforms to connect with your target audience
Every piece of content should be optimized to reach your maximum target audience based on platform context.
- Ensure that your advertising and content reflect your branding including your visuals, typeface and voice.
This includes these platforms:
- Search. Make each piece of content support your top 3 to 10 keyword phrases. Beyond Google include mobile, voice, location, images and more.
- Social media. Stake out your brands across platforms and till your key streams with curated information, photos and videos that your audience actively seeks. Focus on platforms that where your audience spends time. Also participate in real time.
- Influencers. Involve high profile influencers in your category, purchase influencers, customers and fans as well as employees. Take care to vet paid influencers and their audience. Ensure that they and their followers really exist, are trusted and adhere to your business guidelines.
Just as an actress wouldn’t wear a t-shirt and jeans on the Red Carpet, present your content to stand out in context on other platforms.
Remember: Your readers are smart.
As David Ogilvy famously said,
“The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife.”
Beyond actively participating on social media and connecting with influencers, make your content shareworthy!
- Attract attention with a great headline and image.
- Chunk your content to help skimmers.
- Use easy-to-understand language.
Further, continually update and improve your content to keep it visible and relevant. In addition to attracting new readers, it supports improved search results.
Additionally, change your content distribution presentations on a regular basis or they begin to look like wallpaper.
Make Your Marketing Work Despite Non-Human Digital Traffic Conclusion
Regardless of format, you need to use a variety of advertising options across different platforms and devices to keep your brand visible, grow your addressable audience and support promotions and other marketing activities.
Since you need advertising, minimize your organization’s risk of fraud by using tracking codes and monitoring the results. At a minimum, use Google Analytics. Where they exist, past results provide guidance on performance (although you need to continue tracking audience performance over time.)
Further, where you have the ability to target audiences, use demographics, daypart, platform, geography and media entities. And avoid pushing agencies for the lowest price since this is more likely to result in non-human activity.
Make your advertising measurable by driving viewers to sign up for your emailings and other owned media.
But your work doesn’t stop there!
Romance your addressable audience with quality content that they actively seek or they’re gone once they get what they need.
Further supplement your owned media with organic search, social media and influencer marketing targeted at supporting your brand. Where necessary add paid options including an array of advertising.
The 2019 marketing bottom line: There’s no more marketing free lunch!
You need to continually balance your owned, search, social media and influencer marketing between organic and paid options.
While advertising fraud exists, you can minimize the impact on your results!
Get Heidi Cohen’s Actionable Marketing Guide by email:
Want to check it out before you subscribe? Visit the AMG Newsletter Archive.
Use my discount code: and save $100 off the registration price.
I'll be there along with 200 other speakers from around the world.
Register today. Use my code: to save $100.
Hurry - early bird prices end May 31!
Photo Credit: (c) 2018 – Heidi Cohen. Use with link to this article.