July 25, 2018

Is Google Wasting Your Digital Advertising Budget?

Do you ever feel like you’re wasting your digital advertising budget? Well you likely are and nobody – definitely not Google – will tell you. The perpetrators? Kids!

It is a very common scenario in today’s digital society: busy and tired parents offering their children “screen time” for a moment of peace, however short lived. What most companies don’t realize, is the impact this trend has on your ad spend.

The problem in a nutshell:

  • Parents are lending their own mobile devices to their kids
  • The kids’ online behaviour muddies the targeting and demographic information used to set up tailored digital advertising campaigns
  • Additionally, ads meant for the parents will actually have countless impressions and potentially clicks from the children
  • Many of the ad platforms offer no way of opting out of advertising to children

The unique selling point of digital advertising is the promise to advertise only to your targeted audience. Targeting your audience can be done by age, marital status, whether they’re outdoorsy, whether they’re moving homes, heck, some days it feels like the sky’s the limit when it comes to targeting. Google and Facebook are both doing an amazing job at offering up almost unlimited targeting possibilities. But it all comes crashing down when we add this trend to the equation: kids using devices registered to their parents.

For example, as a travel agent spending money on a digital ad campaign targeting parents looking for a vacation getaway, there is no way of knowing if you’re wasting money on an 8 year old clicking your ad. To read this might sound pretty defeating. With everyone being online nowadays, how do you choose the right digital channel to advertise on and ensure your targeting is actually accurate? This is where a digital marketing agency, like Top Draw, can help.  

Video Ads

When it comes to video ads, i.e. on YouTube, not all hope is lost. There are ways to avoid wasting your budget. Some advertisers are using more technical techniques like coding and testing user behaviors to understanding the user at the time, however this can be very time consuming.

Mobile Apps

Mobile apps are possibly the worst culprits for wasting digital advertising budgets. Parents download free mobile games for their kids that are full of popup ads, which kids accidentally click. Though kids using mobile devices is a trend that is growing at an explosive rate, Google and other ad providers are not providing clear tools to address this issue. Personally, we think it is not a matter of whether they can or can’t, but more a matter of they won’t. If there were a way to opt out of accidental clicks by kids, Google’s revenue stream will see a HUGE decrease.

Current options for audience exclusion by age in Google AdWords

What Can You Do?

Ultimately there’s not much people can do to force change upon a leading technological giant. We don’t anticipate being able to separate out ankle biters via their own category soon. The good news is that online advertising still isn’t nearly as expensive compared to traditional advertising methods.

Awareness and understanding of the issue are step one. To action this and cut down on advertising to kids, you could manually exclude the most problematic types of content when reviewing results, i.e. mobile apps, and several video categories, but this is a daunting task and does not address the issue at hand. Additionally, you could spend copious hours testing and coding, however this is extremely time intensive and likely not the best use of your time.

As a digital marketing agency with over 25 years of experience, Top Draw has the expertise to understand audience behaviour and the knowledge that each digital channel may require a completely different solution. For example while coding might work for Youtube, this may not always work for Adwords and other forms of display ads. Choosing to work with agencies like us is choosing to leverage our experience gained from day to day battles against these toddlers and teens.

Ultimately, providers like Google will need to figure this out, because it is hurting the image of their platform. They need to provide an easy way to stop this expensive and ineffective advertising to be able to guarantee you get the best bang for your digital advertising buck.

Know What’s Next
from Top Draw