One of the things that I do enjoy about what I do is the constant dialogue that I get to engage with in a few different industries, but especially Entertainment and Tech. It also always is interesting to have some of my conversations reference something that I recently touched on in one of these write-ups, so instead of posting what I had planned for this weekend, you all get a bonus impromptu shorter write-up thanks to some of the questions or conversations that I fielded or participated in around last week’s “For Your Consideration,”
Sometime in the near future, I’ll try to do a write-up with a focus on the how-tos and additional tips on the Search/SEO space. In the meantime, I’m addressing a couple of those questions that came to me from everyone from some of my Gen Z team to those that came in from CEOs of some of our most prominent Entertainment companies as a side-convo part of larger conversations in the past week. To keep this from becoming a post dedicated to the art of a “Search” campaign or media buying.
So very quickly below are my answers to three of the top questions I answered or topics of conversations that I engaged in the last week around Search and Paid Media campaigns--what you’re using them for doesn’t matter as the below will be fairly universal, so whether it be for what was the focus of the last post, “For Your Consideration” during awards season or awareness campaigns for new shows for (“Upfronts”), new films (“Festival Season”), or even new products or your own brand/identity positioning are you should be able to come away with at least one new insight hopefully.
1. Tricks of the Trade: I’ll start with the basics, a question from one of my Gen Z team members: Is this area hard to learn?
It depends. I would say not at all, but it depends on the type of person that you are and your willingness to learn. If you’re more of a creative person who doesn’t have as much of an interest in analytics or tactics for audience building, then it might be a little more challenging for you, but only because you may block yourself mentally from being able to master this. Most of you know how creative I am, yet I will admit that I also do have that analytical side so for me this was an interesting new area to learn.
If I’m 100% honest, I actually learned media-buying and search on my own. Just like many other things throughout my career. When I first got into Marketing, it wasn’t ever an area that I thought I would need to know or had given much thought to prior to needing to learn it.
My crash-course came when I helped to build out the Audience Acquisition department for CBS with the then VP of Audience Acquisition who was basically a one-man show at that time (this department employs over 10-15 people and this VP went on to become the CMO of Turner’s SuperDeluxe and TikTok competitor Lomotif). Most of those who handle these type of campaigns spend a few years learning the tricks of the trade at media-buying agencies developing their expertise.
For me, as it tends to be the norm, this was just another skill set that I picked up on top of everything else I was already managing, as this was added to my plate as the Search (social, and display) campaigns that were running were for me and coming out of my Marketing budget. I knew the CBS brand, our shows, our talent, and therefore it started with me providing the list of keywords that I wanted Audience Acquisition to look into, and that turned into me joining the calls with the agency that was managing our account, to then basically learning to do it myself. This turn of events happened mostly because of the highly-confidential nature of our Upfronts campaigns, the fast-paced nature of that campaign, and my agility and ability to think a bit quicker than most.
So, long answer short, learning by doing is honestly the best advice I can give here. If you already have your own website (it can even be a personal website), you can create your own Google Ads account and allocate a small budget (even just $100) to play with. These days, there are plenty of articles and Youtube videos that walk you through how to set-up these type of campaigns, where you don’t need to start at an agency if this isn’t what you want to do full-time as a career and are more just interested in growing an audience for something specific. A decade or so ago, when I first learned the ins and outs of this, I didn’t have all of the great resources that are available now, I really did learn this from the folks at agencies that we were working with and that VP, but really mostly by just doing it firsthand. “Sink or Swim” seems to have been my very-much unintentionally preferred method of learning in my career. When I have time, I’ll revisit this entry and add some that might be helpful for novices in this space.
Do I feel new marketers entering the job market should have Search/SEO/Paid Media knowledge? For many roles you may not need it, but it doesn’t hurt and actually makes you more valuable. Just like I recommend knowing some basic graphic design, video editing, and honing in on copywriting skills. All of those things add value to you as an employee.
Some folks wanted to know what my budget was for some of those campaigns. I can’t give you the exact numbers, in order to protect the privacy of those companies that I ran them for. What I will say however, is that my larger marketing budgets ranged anywhere from $2MM to $40MM for a variety of things (not just Search allocations) and that although I might allocate a much larger budget for an ongoing year-round campaign, for something like new show campaigns or Upfronts, my allocations would sometimes be significantly less than $100k. Just like in my personal life, professionally I’m also a conservative spender.
I know that some people might assume by the way I dress or the cars that I may drive, that I might be a frivolous spender, but as much as I may enjoy dresses and accessories or things that go along with being as feminine as I can be, it’s more about quality and my actual debt would make you laugh as it’s such a nominal amount, I’ve done a really good job of not burying myself in debt, even when starting Consciously Studio or running our big Bring on the Ballot campaign where I employed more Gen Zers than usual. Sure, in my 20’s I likely spent a lot more and of course things like student loan debt didn’t help any at that time, but I’ve actually never been that much of a material person--of course, I don’t work for free either, unless it’s for a cause that I care about or something of my own that I am passionate about. I could still do better in my financials as everyone can, but in debt, I’m really not at all.
Professionally, I am return-driven and I always question the ROI of everything before I approve moving forward with anything, even if I have a large budget, I still want to maximize the return. This again sometimes carries over to my own personal projects and endeavors. I understand the world of business and in the Search world, cost-per-clicks (CPCs), return on ad spend (ROAS), etc so I know what bidding range I usually want to stay in. If it is a completely new campaign that includes keywords or markets I’ve never dealt with before then you start with a test campaign with a small budget allocation to get a sampling of what performs best before you start spending the larger remaining budget.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to know who your audience is. Even if you’re just guessing initially you should have an idea of who you want to target? Who is your product, film, TV show, or even music for? Who do you think will resonate with this? In order to maximize your spend, you need to be clear about your audience and your goals, as there’s no faster way to see little-to-no results than launching a broad campaign. Casting a wider net is not in your best interest when it comes to marketing and campaigns of any time you really do want to hone in on what demographics and geographics (sometimes sociographics) you want to target, unless you’re a.) just trying to satisfy your own ego by showing up in “unrelated” search results or b.) have an unlimited budget. You can drill-down quite a bit when it comes to audience targeting (there are after all reasons why Google, Amazon, and others track your behavior).
Last of all for now, what is your desired goal? Is it driving people to streaming platforms to watch or listen to your project? Are you pursuing an award? Is it buzz and engagement (social chatter) that you want? Press write-ups? Your goals may include all of the above, but you should start off with 1-3 clear goals so that you know what type of audiences you want to engage.
Search and SEO are very powerful discoverability and audience-building tools that can work for you even while you’re sleeping and if done correctly can be steady streams (at times even large sources) of revenue or at the very least site engagement, depending on the aforementioned goals. However, your goals will determine what the right type of Paid Media approach should be, it almost always is a mix of Search, Display, and Social Media paid advertising.
There is more to this type of campaign, but this overview should give you some general insights.
Other things to consider are timing and competitive landscape. I’d mentioned in the “For Your Consideration” write-up that I was glad to not be traversing the murky search waters during 2020/2021 in such a digitally saturated time (honestly billboard and other traditional out of home (OOH) marketing should have been behind search and other digital tactics when it came to budget allocations, but really on my end the hesitation would only be mostly because these type of targeted campaigns do require consistent monitoring and optimization to truly maximize both your reach and budget, something I myself would not have personally had the bandwidth to truly dedicate my own time to while our Bring on the Ballot campaign was running. Also, as you can see we don’t list this service with Consciously Studio as we have other initiatives that we prefer to focus on, but every now and then we will consult on this as this expertise does lie within our team, mostly if your project aligns with our mission of making the world better or if I see it as a challenge that I’d like to take on.
Regardless, the right Search/SEO expert will guide you through what your goals and audience targeting will be or if you’re dealing with a studio, they should have a team that can deal with this for you. In closing, it never hurts for you to know a little about all aspects of your various marketing levers and options, as after all it is YOUR business and to your benefit to have a general understanding.