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Shifting Expectations in the Paid Traffic Space | With Ashley Monk
Episode 113th September 2022 • The Strategic Marketing Show • Insights For Professionals
00:00:00 00:18:00

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The paid traffic landscape is constantly changing - are you keeping up with what works best?

Today we’re going to be discussing how the paid traffic landscape is shifting, how your paid traffic expectations should be shifting, and how you should be tracking your paid traffic success in 2022 and beyond.

Joining us to discuss this is a lady who helps growth-minded companies who have been unable to scale their services and digital products because they cannot dial in strategy, or solve their own marketing problems.

She serves clients internationally and is Founder and CEO of Onya - one of the top marketing agencies in the Indianapolis region. A warm welcome to the Strategic Marketing Show - Ashley Monk.

[You can find Ashley over at]

Topics discussed on this episode include:

  • How has the way that paid traffic success is achieved changed over the past couple of years?
  • Have ad platforms and the way that they operate changed much?
  • How about the style of ads that are most effective at the moment?
  • And what about tracking success - how has that changed?
  • How does performance-based marketing tie in to conversion marketing?
  • You use Hyros - what is that, how does it help and how does it work?


David Bain:

Shifting expectations and the paid traffic space - with Ashley monk.

The Strategic Marketing Show is brought to you by Insights For Professionals: providing access to the latest industry insights from trusted brands on a customized, tailored experience. Find out more over at

your paid traffic success in:

Joining me to discuss that is a lady who helps growth-minded companies who have been unable to scale their services and digital products because they cannot dial-in strategy or solve their own marketing problems. She serves clients internationally and is founder and CEO of Onya, one of the top marketing agencies in the Indianapolis region. A warm welcome to the Strategic Marketing Show, Ashley Monk.

Ashley Monk:

Thank you, David. I'm very excited to be here.

David Bain:

Thank you, Ashley, great to have you here. You can find Ashley over at So Ashley, how has the way that paid traffic success is achieved changed over the last few years?

Ashley Monk:

It's changed drastically, and keep in mind, this whole paid traffic space in the online media space is still relatively new. If you think about it, Facebook was the first giant to really begin - and that was just in around 2007 and 2008. So, over just over a decade, we've seen so many changes happen but the last several years have been very significant.

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For marketers leveraging paid media, it has created quite a challenge, and a lot of changes in how we serve ads to different audiences and how we leverage user data to really create effective campaigns. As a result of that: strategy, creatives, messaging, and targeting strategies as a whole, have drastically needed to shift and will only continue to evolve to do so.

David Bain:

Right. We're seeing that a lot over the last couple of years; we've seen the implementation of Google Analytics 4 recently with privacy laws in mind as well. With Facebook, perhaps as an example, how has the way that targeting is achieved actually changed?

Ashley Monk:

There's so much to this question but, to get on a tactical level, there are quite a few changes - one being retargeting and the use of the Facebook pixel. The pixel can still be effective in the right area, but it's not nearly as effective as it was several years ago because of a lot of people not wanting their information to be tracked. That's one commonality, and that has created a need for more broad audiences and targeting people differently.

It used to be - and one thing that I've heard a lot of prospects say when they are inquiring to potentially engage and work with a firm like ours - that they really want to laser target their audience and show ads to very, very specific groups of people. In some cases, that's not always possible, depending on your audience size.

That's changed the way that we target people: to try to - instead of going after demographics or being very, very precise in the way that we serve ads to people - to really rely on messaging and effective creative to do some of that targeting and qualifying for us. There are a lot of nuances that affected that, but retargeting is one area that's been highly affected - in addition to trying to create larger audiences instead of smaller segmented groups, which was a very promising tactic in the past.

David Bain:

Okay. You mentioned iOS 14, that to a certain degree led the way with Facebook having to comply with what they were looking for there as well. And you alluded to the fact that actually, it's necessary to build larger audiences nowadays, and possibly even trust the machines, trust the AI, to deliver your messaging in the right way to your target audiences.

So, is AI in advertising much more effective than it used to be?

Ashley Monk:

That's a great question, and I believe that it is, and it's had to be. To your point, that's been one of the largest concerns that many people have had: trusting machine learning and trusting AI to target their audiences - and being concerned that it's not to the point that it needs to be. Even in the past 12 months alone, so much substantial progress has been made to improve that.

If you think about it, for Facebook and the companies that are being affected by this (I use Facebook as an example because it was the one that was affected the most drastically, but we are seeing these changes roll out to other online platforms as well), they have had to really evolve and continue to grow in those areas because they don't want to lose their customer base.

If you think about it, Facebook and all of these social networks are free-to-use for the general public, but they make their money in advertising. Therefore, those companies are very motivated to ensure that the best overall experience is provided for advertisers and marketers so that they will stay on the platform. As a result of all of those changes, they've made significant improvements to the algorithm’s ability to serve ads that were not there several years ago. It's been great to watch a lot of those changes take place.

David Bain:

How can a marketer help the machines learn as quickly as possible? Is it simply about the creative, and actually ensuring that the creative is targeted to as set of an audience as possible, or are there other ways to assist the machines?

Ashley Monk:

This is such a great question. One, I would say, is allowing the machines enough time to test. As a marketer, if you can prepare enough creative in advance to allow a campaign to run for at least five to seven days - that can be great. Now, the machines are relatively quicker at being able to spot trends and being able to serve and cater as well, but I would say five to seven days of a campaign running is really that sweet spot where the machine learning can take over.

It's got enough data at that point to continue to identify where conversions are happening, and the audience that is being served as well. From a marketing standpoint, if you can really intentionally prepare creatives ahead of time to test, that are really aligned with the market that you're targeting - that can speed up the process.

But also, not touching it sometimes - and I've seen this mistake when our firm has audited different accounts and looked at what past companies are doing. I have one in mind, where we were watching them run a new campaign every 24 to 48 hours, and that is just too many changes.

I see marketers doing this - whether it's a marketing director working for a firm getting pressure from their direct superior to scale the campaign more quickly or whether it's an agency where the company is pressuring them to perform. One to two days is too quick to make changes, in my opinion, to a brand new campaign. You really need to allow the machine and the AI time to be able to adapt.

One of the best things that marketers can do is actually allow that machine enough time to learn and to take note of what trends and what changes are happening, before making changes too aggressively.

David Bain:

That's a great point. I love that tip there: wait five to six days for whatever ad platform you're using to actually understand which audience it should be showing ads to, then your conversion rates are going to be better.

Now, just to clarify, actually, you said your first campaign? I just wanted to make sure that it's okay to change creative more regularly after that. So is it okay, for example, to set your initial campaign going for five to six days, then after it's run for that kind of length of time, you can keep the same campaign going but change your creative more regularly?

Ashley Monk:

Yes, I think after that initial period, you can run and make changes maybe every 24 to 70 hours. I shouldn't say 24 hours, it’s a relatively quick period - I would say two to three days is a good rule of thumb.

Obviously, if there's something immediately wrong, or you're seeing something that is very out of alignment, then that change could be made sooner. But after that, every several days you can test smaller elements over time, for sure. Whenever you're running a new campaign, I think the best practice would be letting it sit.

It used to be that people would even run a lot of campaigns for two to three days at a time. That is very challenging to do. If you're doing a Black Friday sale, larger brands are able to do it (or for larger sales or short periods) where they've got enough information about their audience, but even just running a campaign for that short of a period is a risk. Two to three days is a best practice once a campaign has launched, for that window, to make additional changes.

David Bain:

Is there any style of ads that you're seeing at the moment that's working particularly well?

Ashley Monk:

You know, every vertical is a little bit different, and we see different creatives resonate with different audiences. But the one tried and true creative that I think is just the future, and where everything is going, is video. Particularly short-form video, and reels or Tik Tok - and LinkedIn is starting to work on short-form content as well.

Video can express a story in ways that graphics or photos and copy are just limited - and they can reinforce that, but we see video continues to increase. Our video ads across all verticals of our clients will usually outperform static images overall. That seems to be the common trend. Leverage video in what you are doing. It is where marketing is headed in the future.

David Bain:

Brilliant, okay. You’re certainly not the first person to say that on the Strategic Marketing Shows so there's certainly something to that there as well.

Also, just a final question in relation to what works at the moment with paid media tracking: What metrics are absolutely key to look out for? Where should marketers be tracking success? Should they be looking at data within individual ad platforms themselves, or should they be automatically exporting this data into some other studio where they can combine data from elsewhere?

Ashley Monk:

I would say from a tracking standpoint, the KPIs specifically that you're wanting to look at as a marketer (depending on the campaign) are always going to be your link click-through rates - to evaluate the success of the creative itself. And your CPMs, especially with inflation and the global economic climate changing overall.

Looking at CPMs from months past and years past will help show if inflation is the driving factor in why your ad costs could be rising, or comparing that with your link click-through rates to see if creative is the bottleneck. There are a lot of other metrics to look at as well, but those two are very universal.

e eliminated at some point in:

I would recommend, at this point, using a data aggregator to pull it from one platform to another will not solve that issue but using a different source to compile data - using a tool like Hyros or SegMetrics that relies on IP address or other forms of data rather than the platform - is going to be the best way to truly get raw and real data. But this will be a great challenge that, as marketers, we will need to continue to solve over and over again over the next several years.

David Bain:

We love different examples of tools, and how marketers use tools. You mentioned Hyros. What is that, for marketers that are listening to this that haven't heard of that before? And how does work?

Ashley Monk:

Yes, so Hyros is a third-party data tracking tool - and there are Wicked Reports, Segmetrics, and a lot of tools like this that allow for accurate tracking. What I like about Hyros (and we've used it with clients) is that it actually pulls data from about 16 different sources including Facebook and Google when you input it - but also by IP address as well.

Because you're tracking users on so many different fronts, it can be a lot better, to get more reliable information. They're not compatible with all advertising platforms yet - I think they just introduced TikTok - but Facebook, Instagram, Google, and I want to say LinkedIn. They're able to pull all of that data from different platforms to be able to track and measure it in one place, but also for you to really actually see, as a marketer, not only where those conversions are happening from but also the revenue, if you so choose, generated by each ad.

How we've leveraged this in the past with clients: I can actually see, for clients that have used this, the entire journey and the entire click-through rate of a client from inception to when they purchase. You're actually able to go through and see - even if they’ve changed emails - that they've opted in. For instance, we've had a client where I could see: they initially joined the client’s email list, they clicked on a few social media posts, they opted in to an event, and then after reading a few emails, they finally - it took about 16 touchpoints for them to make a purchase. I can also compare that with the ad spend.

Right now, it's a very, very accurate way to see that information and to truly know where purchases are coming from.

David Bain:

So, just to clarify, are you using tracking data from Hyros to actually establish that people have opened one of your emails or experienced some of your content elsewhere, and that's part of the purchase funnel that's attributed to the initial ad that someone saw?

Ashley Monk:

Correct, and we use UTMs and other forms of tracking to be able to do that so that Hyros is really, at a global level - you’re able to see campaigns and efforts across all different channels in one place.

David Bain:

Brilliant, and I love the ability to compare the success of individual ads being platform-agnostic. So, you can bring in LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads, Google ads, and other ad platforms, and then determine which ad platform is the most suitable for your business?

Ashley Monk:


David Bain:

I love a straight answer like that. Let's move on from what works now to planning for the future. So, in your opinion, what is the biggest marketing trend or challenge for marketers over the coming year?

Ashley Monk:

Well, to stay on theme, it's going to continue to be tracking because, while tools like Hyros exist now, the future of marketing (like any other industry, and digital marketing especially) is relatively unknown. You have to remember that, as I mentioned before, for social media, Facebook was really the inception of that in 2007.

That's less than two decades’ worth of info for us to be able to really determine: What does the future hold? The internet boom, boom - we're still in the very early stages. The irony in what is happening right now is that, with all of our advancements and with all of our capabilities to track and to be able to measure progress - the irony is that people don't want to be tracked.

For marketers, we love this, but as a general consumer, we don't want to have companies always know where we're going, what we're doing, and to be connected at all times. While our world thrives with connectivity, individuals don't always want their behavior to be demonstrated for the whole world to see.

As we're seeing the elimination of cookies next year, that's going to be another example of a hurdle that marketers are going to have to overcome, from a tracking standpoint. The legislation on a lot of this - and on data and how it's leveraged - is still new and is still relatively unclear. I think, in the upcoming years, there are going to be more restrictions on how data is used by companies and by marketers.

That takes the focus away from some of tracking and creates an emphasis and a need for very effective creative and messaging. At the end of the day, marketers are going to need to balance that strategy and analysis with really creating effective creatives to serve their audience, and knowing when to prioritize either of those two things.

David Bain:

Great thoughts. I've been your host, David Bain. You can find Ashley Monk over at Ashley, thanks so much for being on the Strategic Marketing Show.

Ashley Monk:

Thanks for having me, David.

David Bain:

And thank you for listening. Here at IFP, our goal is simple: to connect you with the most relevant information, to help solve your business problems, all in one place.




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