Google’s Helpfulness Core Update: Write for People, Not for Robots

Google’s latest update, known as the Helpfulness update, is reshaping the landscape of SEO and content creation. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, has shed light on what constitutes ‘unhelpful content’ in the eyes of the world’s largest search engine. As an advocate for user-centric content, Sullivan underscores that the primary red flag for Google is content created with the intent to rank well in search results rather than to genuinely serve end users. While creating content that search engines can find is important, what is more important is remembering your true audience: people.

Stop writing content for search engines

Sullivan’s guidance is unambiguous: content written for search engines rather than human audiences is considered unhelpful. For instance, creating a list of “20 SEO Tricks to rank on Google” that are just common knowledge with the main goal of ranking for “SEO Tricks” instead of providing real value to readers exemplifies content that Google would label as unhelpful. This pivots the focus from search engine optimization to the actual value and relevance for the audience. This will likely have a serious negative impact on sites and pages that employ sketchy methods for keeping people scrolling, for example, recipe websites that bury the actual recipe under a deep bed of search engine bait text. This move is nothing new. We have seen similar updates to search ranking that target and derank unhelpful page designs to falsely increase SEO and SERPs while annoying visitors. The infamous slideshow article trick may immediately come to mind for SEO specialists who suffered through the age of the click-through wars. In the end, the message is simple: write for people, not for robots, because the goal is to create content that helps real people, and keeps the ‘robot’ of AI and SEO tools as a passive intermediary instead of the main target.

Highlights on the Google Helpfulness Core Update:

  • Danny Sullivan’s Warning: Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, highlights the issue with content created mainly for search engine rankings rather than for human readers.
  • Criteria for Unhelpful Content: Writing content like top 10 lists mainly to rank for keywords is considered unhelpful by Google.
  • Content Creation Tools Caution: Using tools to find content topics might lead to content that Google deems unhelpful if the focus is on scoring rather than genuine content creation.
  • Guidance on Useful Content: Sullivan emphasizes creating people-first content that answers questions and provides value as opposed to search engine-first content.
  • Signals for Helpful Content: Google uses web signals to determine content helpfulness, favoring content that addresses user queries effectively.
  • Content and Quality Questions: Google suggests self-assessment questions regarding originality, comprehensiveness, insight, value, and credibility of content.
  • Expertise Matters: Questions surrounding the expertise involved in content creation are crucial for establishing trustworthiness.
  • Page Experience Significance: A good page experience across various aspects is important for high rankings in Google’s systems.
  • People-First Content Approach: Content should be created primarily for people, with a focus on expertise and satisfaction from the reader’s perspective.
  • Avoid Search Engine-First Tactics: Google discourages creating content solely to gain search engine rankings, warning against practices like keyword stuffing or chasing trending topics without genuine expertise.
  • SEO and Content Creation: While SEO is essential, it should complement people-first content rather than dominate the creation process.
  • Understanding E-E-A-T: Google uses E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) as a framework to identify high-quality content.
  • Quality Rater Guidelines: Google’s quality rater guidelines help creators understand how their content may be perceived by Google’s algorithms.
  • Content Evaluation Tips: Creators are encouraged to ask “Who, How, and Why” about their content to align with what Google’s systems reward.
  • Disclosures on Automation and AI: Transparency about the use of AI or automation in content creation can aid in establishing trust with readers.

Sullivan points out that relying excessively on tools to determine content topics can inadvertently lead to the production of unhelpful content. He suggests that content creators should prioritize the “who, how, and why” of content production over merely aiming for a high ‘score’ that would supposedly please search engines.

Answers a user’s question effectively

Responding to a query from Simone de Vlaming about how Google discerns the intent behind content, Sullivan explains that Google’s algorithms look for signals that align with what people generally consider helpful. Content that answers a user’s question effectively is likely to be seen as ‘people-first’ and, therefore, helpful.

crackdown on high-domain-authority news site exploits

The Helpfulness update has implications for SEO strategies. ‘Parasite SEO,’ which exploits high-domain-authority news sites for quick rankings, might take a hit if it dilutes the site’s primary focus. The use of AI in content creation could also be under scrutiny, especially if it leads to content that lacks firsthand expertise or appears automated without clear disclosure. For example, this article employed Ai to design the post image! (Which we are disclosing to you here, but also in our metadata.) ‘Tool-Optimized Content,’ like that created using SEO tools for research, (think SEMrush or AHREFS) will most likely not be at significant risk, since the bulk of research and content development is still person first, and provided it also caters to user needs and offers genuine value.

Focus on Topical Authority

Strategies likely to benefit from the update include building ‘Topical Authority,’ which entails creating focused content around a specific niche. Google favors sites with a clear primary purpose, and a concentration on topical authority aligns with that preference. For example, we allow guest posts but only from a select few and under a limited number of topics that we know our Louisville-local audience of website owners have an interest in. Additionally, content optimized for user metrics, such as minimizing the need for users to search elsewhere for better information, may gain traction. This speaks directly to E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) page and site structure goals. Make it easy for people to find what they want on your site and you will do well with the new helpfulness update.

Navigate the Helpfulness update successful

To navigate the Helpfulness update successfully, Google advises content creators to ask themselves key questions about the originality, comprehensiveness, and trustworthiness of their content. These questions address factors like spelling and stylistic issues, mass production, expertise, and the overall page experience. In plain terms, do you enjoy reading your own content? If not, you may want to rethink your content strategy.

People-First Content is essential

The main emphasis, if you have not already noticed, is on ‘People-First Content.’ Google encourages content creators to craft material that serves their intended audience with depth and expertise. Conversely, ‘Search Engine-First Content’ should be avoided, as it is made primarily for ranking purposes and could lead to penalties. The good news is this is a “if you know you know” situation. If you are not sure what that means there is a good chance you are already doing the right thing because your content is guided by human interaction and your very real experiences that you want to share. If however you are using so many SEO tools to create content that becoming a cyborg is starting to appeal to you, I would strongly suggest taking a step back and taking a “Touch Grass” approach to your content strategy. Slip on your real-world experience and write from the heart. You don’t have to produce The Lord of the Rings or the Magna Carta for each new post, but try to come at it from a perspective that what you write needs to be engaging and influential in a real and authentic way.

A call to action for content with integrity, authenticity, and audience Focus

Google’s Helpfulness update is a call to action for creators to produce content with integrity, authenticity, and a focus on the audience. By aligning with Google’s guidance, content creators can ensure they are contributing positively to the vast pool of online information and standing out in the digital arena.

Helpful Links and resources on Raising the Bar for Content Quality:

Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content

Google Search Status Dashboard

Interested in seeing what SEOs are saying about the Helpfulness update on Reddit? Check out this thread started by Matt Diggety:

Navigating the Choppy Waters of WordPress 6.4: and why you may want to revert it back to 6.3

Today was a day for the books – the kind of day that serves as a stark reminder that in the digital world, not all updates come bearing gifts. If you’re part of the WordPress community, you might want to buckle up because version 6.4 has hit a snag—a bug, to be precise. Before you hit that update button, let’s talk about why 6.4 might be a version to skip for now.

It seems that 6.4 has a penchant for breaking PHP cURL, an essential feature for WordPress sites that allows them to communicate with other servers. What does this mean for you? Well, if you’re looking to install new themes or update your existing plugins, you might find yourself at a dead end.

The WordPress core team is not only aware but also already on deck, working hard to patch things up. In the digital seas, it’s not about avoiding all storms—it’s about weathering them with grace. And the community’s response? Nothing short of nimble.

For those interested in the nitty-gritty, or if you’re feeling particularly tech-savvy today, dive into the depths of the issue on GitHub ( or float over to the WordPress support forums ( Here, you’ll find fellow navigators of the web discussing workarounds and sharing updates in real-time.

If your site has already set sail with 6.4, it’s time to turn the ship around. Rolling back to the safe harbor of 6.3 is your best bet until the storm passes. And while you’re at it, make sure to drop anchor by disabling core updates in your wp-config.php file—just to ensure you don’t get caught in the squall again.

But fear not, intrepid web wanderers, for this tale has a silver lining. The problem has been identified and fixed in the upcoming WordPress 6.4.1. The core team has even made adjustments to the mothership to help afflicted sites update smoothly, despite the troubled waters.

Interestingly, this digital tempest seems to have only rocked a subset of sites, with many of the larger hosting providers bearing the brunt of it. It’s a reminder that sometimes, size does matter—especially when navigating the high seas of the internet.

So, what’s the moral of this story? Stay vigilant, keep your site’s lifejackets close (backups, folks!), and remember that in the world of updates, sometimes patience is more than just a virtue—it’s a necessity. Keep a weather eye on the horizon for WordPress 6.4.1, and until then, happy sailing!

Curious about what people are saying about this on Reddit and other WordPress Community Forums?

Read more here:

How to Stand Your Ground Like a Pro with a Troll (Without Turning the Air Blue)

Digital marketing can be a tough environment, even for those of us who have been cracking away at the keyboard since Berners-Lee put 3 W’s together for the first time. So what can you do when your best laid campaigns and marketing strategies ensare an internet troll or other adversary? While the knee-jerk response might be to just feel your feelings and let it all out, we have a sleeker approach and a few fun twists on the old expletive-laden standards to keep the sweat off your brow and bridges unburned in the toughest of situations.

First and foremost, Don’t Feed the trolls

If you have a negative comment or content about something you are pitching, sometimes the best response is no response. In the industry, we say “Don’t feed the Trolls,” and it means don’t engage with content that puts you in a bad light because it can actually call more attention to the negative content and, in some cases, bring more attention to the negative content than the original content or subject you are working with. This may seem entirely counter-intuitive but when you understand how media algorithms work you quickly realize that every comment, every response, and every piece of dialog you create with a negative interaction actually adds fuel to the fire when it comes to social media platforms and search platforms that are designed to serve up the hottest content. A post with more comments will get served higher than one without responses. A negative review with a nasty response is more damning that an unresolved one (although a polite but short response can be a net positive if you know how to handle the situation with tact). Responses to negative Tweets are far more likely to be seen by your followers than ones you ignore, and posts with incendiary comments get shared more than posts with polite ones. It feels terrible sometimes to let a negative and sometimes entirely false comment or piece of content go without being battled down, or at least corrected, but in the court of public opinion, any mud-slinging, even when it is just, is still mud-slinging, and the spectacle in and of itself can bring a crowd to something you don’t want made public. For context, Google the Streisand effect, where fighting to take something down can actually cause more attention to the thing in question.

What is a Troll, and why are they so much trouble?

Ok, so we know not to feed the trolls now, but what is a troll, and what kind of damage can they do? Internet trolls can cause a variety of problems for digital marketing efforts, affecting both the brand image and the effectiveness of online campaigns. Some of the disruptive behaviors and consequences include:

  1. Spreading Misinformation: Trolls may deliberately spread false information about a product, service, or the company itself, which can mislead potential customers and damage the brand’s reputation.
  2. Hijacking Conversations: They often infiltrate comment sections or social media discussions related to the brand and derail the conversation with irrelevant or provocative comments, distracting from the original message or content.
  3. Engaging in Negative Commentary: Trolls might post negative or inflammatory remarks on various platforms, aiming to provoke a reaction from other users or the brand, which can escalate into public relations issues.
  4. Impersonating Brands or Individuals: Some trolls go to the extent of creating fake accounts impersonating the brand or its representatives, which can lead to confusion and mistrust among the audience.
  5. Attacking Other Users: Trolling can create a hostile environment by attacking other users who engage with the brand’s content, potentially discouraging constructive interaction and community building.
  6. Overwhelming Platforms with Spam: Automated or manual spamming of a brand’s digital channels can drown out legitimate content and marketing messages, making it difficult for the brand to communicate effectively.
  7. Initiating Hashtag Hijacking: Trolls may misuse a brand’s campaign hashtags to spread unrelated or harmful content, undermining the campaign’s objectives and possibly associating the brand with negative content.
  8. Damaging Customer Relationships: The abrasive interactions that trolls incite can negatively impact the customer experience, sometimes leading to loss of trust and customer churn.
  9. Exploiting Sensitive Topics: Trolls often exploit sensitive topics to create controversy and division, which can reflect poorly on a brand if it inadvertently becomes associated with such discussions.
  10. Disrupting Analytics and Feedback: Trolling behavior can skew analytics (like engagement rates, sentiment analysis) and feedback mechanisms, making it challenging for marketers to obtain accurate data on campaign performance and audience preferences.

In the digital marketing space, dealing with trolls requires a strategic approach that often includes active moderation, clear community guidelines, and sometimes the use of automated tools to detect and manage inappropriate content. Brands must be vigilant and responsive to minimize the impact trolls can have on their digital marketing efforts.

How do you handle negative press or a troll situation?

Dealing with negative press or an internet troll is a delicate situation that requires a measured and strategic approach. Remember, even the worst “troll” may have a valid reason for being upset, so stay calm and think first before you react. If you handle the situation with grace it can actually a net win not only for you but for everyone watching the way you handle a tough situation. Here’s how a digital marketing team should respond:

  1. Assess the Situation:
    • Determine if the negative press or trolling is a one-time comment or part of a larger trend.
    • Evaluate the potential impact on the brand’s reputation.
    • Evaluate the validity of the negative claims being made.
  2. Monitor Closely:
    • Keep an eye on all mentions and the spread of the negative content.
    • Use social listening tools to track the sentiment and volume of the conversation.
  3. Do Not Engage Hastily:
    • Avoid knee-jerk reactions that can escalate the situation.
    • Take the time to formulate a considered response, or if a response is necessary at all. In may cases, no response is the best course of action, depending on if the claim is valid or just misdirected foment.
  4. Prepare a Response Plan:
    • Develop a response that is aligned with the brand’s voice and values.
    • If dealing with a troll, determine if a public response is warranted or if it’s better to ignore, block, or report the user.
  5. Communicate Internally:
    • Ensure that all relevant team members are informed about the situation and the agreed-upon response strategy.
  6. Respond Appropriately:
    • If the negative press has legitimacy, acknowledge the issue, apologize if necessary, and outline steps to address it.
    • For trolls, if engagement is necessary, keep the response professional and avoid emotional language. Exercise extreme caution in this area because even the most professional response can come off as tone-deaf or out of touch if it is not carefully planned.
    • Say less. Either in public or private keep your communications short and concise and in a format that can weather the storm of public opinion.
  7. Provide Excellent Customer Service:
    • Address any legitimate customer complaints promptly and publicly, showing commitment to customer satisfaction.
  8. Leverage Supportive Community Members:
    • Encourage brand advocates to share positive experiences; their authentic voices can be persuasive in shifting the narrative.
    • Be careful to engage in and encourage authentic communications only. Trying to drown out negativity with content that feels disingenuous is worse than having a few negative interactions.
  9. Update and Inform:
    • Keep the audience updated on any steps the company is taking to resolve legitimate issues.
    • Share positive news and developments to counteract the negative press.
  10. Learn and Adapt:
    • Analyze the incident to improve strategies for risk prevention and crisis management.
    • Update policies and training as necessary to better prepare for future incidents.
  11. Legal Action as a Last Resort:
    • If the trolling or negative press involves defamation, slander, or libel, consider consulting with legal counsel to explore options.

The key is to stay calm, be thoughtful, and not to let trolls or negative press derail the marketing strategy. It’s also important to understand when engagement is beneficial versus when it could potentially harm the brand’s image even more.

Talking to a troll with a bit of humor and professional jargon to keep it PG

I’ve encountered a troll, and a response is warranted. I intend to maintain professionalism yet infuse a bit of humor into my reply. Is it possible to incorporate playful slang or idioms like “f*ck around and find out” or “your an idiot, gtfo” without compromising my professional demeanor?

That is a tough one, but if you feel confident that responding is essential, then here are a few fun, tongue-in-cheek ways to say what you need to say without losing your composure. Keep in mind, you really need to understand the assignment on something like this, or you run the risk of coming off cringe.

Professional way to warn someone they are going too far

The phrase “f*ck around and find out” conveys a warning that irresponsible or reckless behavior will lead to negative consequences. To convey this sentiment professionally, you can focus on the potential consequences of actions without using vulgar language. Here are a few professional alternatives:

  1. Highlighting Consequences of Actions:
    • “I would advise caution as actions have corresponding consequences that may not be immediately apparent.”
  2. Encouraging Prudent Decision-Making:
    • “It’s important to consider the potential outcomes of this course of action carefully.”
  3. Warning Against Reckless Behavior:
    • “I encourage you to weigh the risks before proceeding, as the results may be significant and unwelcome.”
  4. Stressing the Importance of Diligence:
    • “Diligence in this matter is crucial to avoid any unintended negative outcomes.”
  5. Asserting Seriousness:
    • “Please be aware that the choices we make in this scenario carry substantial ramifications.”

These alternatives keep the communication professional and focused on the importance of responsible behavior and awareness of consequences without using language that could be considered unprofessional or offensive.

How to end interaction on a sour note with tact

In professional communication, it’s essential to maintain a tone of respect, even when declining an offer, ending negotiations, or expressing the decision not to engage in a business relationship. There is no direct professional equivalent to the phrase or “go f*ck yourself,” as such a sentiment would likely breach professional conduct and could have legal implications. Instead, one might opt for firm but polite language to set boundaries or end a conversation.

Here are a few ways to convey a strong negative response professionally:

  1. Declining a Request:
    • “Thank you for the offer, but after careful consideration, I’ve decided not to proceed. I wish you the best in finding a suitable candidate for your needs.”
  2. Ending a Business Relationship:
    • “We’ve evaluated the direction of our partnership and believe it’s in our best interest to part ways at this stage. We appreciate the opportunities we’ve had to work together.”
  3. Disagreeing with a Proposal:
    • “I have reviewed your proposal, and I must firmly decline. I believe our goals and methods are not compatible, and I do not foresee a productive partnership.”
  4. Responding to Unprofessional Behavior:
    • “I believe this conversation is no longer productive. It’s best that we discontinue our discussion and move forward separately.”
  5. Setting Boundaries:
    • “I must insist that we adhere to professional standards in our interactions. If we cannot do so, I will have to cease communication on this matter.”

Remember that maintaining professionalism helps protect your reputation and any legal business interests. If you find yourself in a situation that is escalating or becoming hostile, it is often wise to step back, refrain from engaging in a negative manner, and seek advice on the best course of action, which may involve legal counsel or human resources professionals.

Going from Grumble to Grateful

So, how do you stand your ground, make your point heard, and still keep it professional? Better yet, how do you skip the fight and get zen in the workplace? Admittedly some professional settings are a veritable jungle where the wild things biting at your heals may include things like … deadlines, meetings that could’ve been emails, and the occasional need to channel your inner warrior without actually going full ‘Hulk smash’ on your desktop. If you’re feeling like a cat being forced into a bath, and you need to make your point without making HR or your legal team sweat, buckle up, because we’re diving into the art of firm-yet-fancy footwork in professional tête-à-têtes.

Channel Your Inner Eagle, Not Your Inner Angry Pigeon

You know what they say, “soar like an eagle, don’t squawk like a pigeon.” That means rising above the situation with a keen eye on the outcome. You want to be the person who brings solutions, not just noise. Next time you’re on the verge of letting loose a flock of feral word-pigeons, take a breath and remember: eagles don’t lose sleep over the opinions of pigeons.

Ditch the Pirate Language

Sure, “Arr, matey! Prepare to walk the plank!” has its charm, but let’s leave the salty seafarer lingo where it belongs – at the costume party. If you’re feeling the urge to let slip some colorful metaphors, take a mental step back. Translate that inner pirate into something more “I went to charm school.” Instead of “You’re walking a thin plank!”, try “I believe this approach might be leading us into choppy waters.”

Become a Compliment Sandwich Chef

Nobody likes to dine on a plate of criticism, no matter how justified. Serve up a compliment sandwich instead. Start with something positive (the fluffy bread), layer on your feedback (the hearty filling), and then top it off with another slice of feel-good (the artisanal bun). “Love your enthusiasm, Bob, but if we don’t follow protocol, we’re gonna get grilled. Let’s steer this ship back to calm waters, shall we? You’re great at navigating tough situations!”

Deploy the Diplomat, Not the Doomsday Device

Diplomacy isn’t just for folks at the UN; it’s for you, the office peacemaker. When you’ve got the red mist descending, remember that a few well-chosen words can diffuse a situation better than any metaphorical big red button. Think, “Perhaps we could look at this from a different angle?” rather than “My way or the highway, buddy!”

Use Your Indoor Voice… Even Outdoors

Yelling is so last season – and let’s be honest, it’s never really been in vogue. An indoor voice conveys calm control, and people will lean in to listen. Yell, and they’ll just lean out – possibly to the nearest exit. Keep it down a notch, and you’ll be heard loud and clear.

Master the Art of the Graceful Exit

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things heat up. If you’re two seconds away from a “serenity now!” moment, it’s time to make like a tree and leave. A simple “Let’s revisit this after a short break,” can save you from a not-so-short list of regrets.

So there you have it, folks. Staying professional when you’re peeved is an art form, but with a little practice, you can become the Picasso of keeping your cool. Remember, it’s not about bottling up that righteous anger; it’s about letting it out in little, socially acceptable puffs – like a tea kettle of civility. Keep it classy, keep it clever, and keep the pirate in the party and out of the boardroom.

What is digital marketing and digital media so stressful for some people?

Digital marketing and digital media can indeed be high-pressure fields, and there are several reasons why professionals in these areas might feel the heat:

  1. 24/7 Cycle: Digital media never sleeps. Social feeds, websites, and online campaigns run round-the-clock. For those managing these platforms, this can mean constant vigilance and the need to be always on, ready to respond to any situation at any time.
  2. High Expectations: With the wealth of data at their fingertips, digital marketers are often expected to deliver measurable and rapid results. This can create a relentless pursuit of optimization and performance, which can be quite stressful.
  3. Rapid Pace of Change: The digital landscape is ever-changing with new platforms, algorithms, and technologies emerging constantly. Keeping up requires continuous learning and adaptability, which can be exhilarating for some and overwhelming for others.
  4. Visibility and Accountability: In digital marketing, everything is trackable. While this means the ability to prove ROI, it also means there’s nowhere to hide. Every click, like, and conversion (or lack thereof) is recorded, and marketers are accountable for these metrics.
  5. Competition: The online space is incredibly competitive. Standing out in a crowded digital world is challenging and requires constant innovation and strategic thinking.
  6. Information Overload: Marketers and digital media professionals are often inundated with data. Analyzing and making sense of this information to make strategic decisions can be taxing.
  7. Creativity Under Pressure: There’s a demand for continuous creativity in content creation, but being creative on a schedule and under pressure can lead to burnout.
  8. Crisis Management: A single misstep on social media can lead to a PR crisis. The responsibility to manage and mitigate such crises promptly can be a significant source of stress.
  9. Technical Challenges: Whether it’s a website that goes down or an ad platform that malfunctions, technical issues can disrupt campaigns and require immediate attention to avoid loss of revenue or reach.
  10. Personal Investment: Many in the field are passionate about their work and may take performance metrics personally, which can lead to stress when things don’t go as planned.

To manage stress in digital marketing and digital media roles, professionals often need to develop robust stress management strategies, set boundaries to maintain work-life balance, and continuously evolve their skills to stay confident and capable in their roles.

How we Stay Cool Under Digital Pressure: The Art of Being an Unflappable Marketing Team for our clients

In the high-stakes arena of digital marketing, where competition is relentless and the landscape is perpetually shifting, our team stands as a beacon of calm and clarity. We take pride in our ability to demystify the complexities of the digital world, making it accessible and comprehensible for our clients. Our approach is not just about keeping pace with the trends; it’s about instilling confidence and empowering our clients with knowledge and tools to craft strategies they can stand behind with conviction. With our guidance, the path to digital dominance becomes less daunting and more achievable, turning perceived obstacles into stepping stones toward success.

Digital marketing teams are often expected to be unflappable due to the dynamic and sometimes unpredictable nature of the digital landscape. Here are a few ways we master maintaining composure so crucial in this field:

  1. Crisis Management: When a public relations crisis hits, it often plays out in real-time on digital platforms. A calm and measured response is essential to navigate these crises effectively and to prevent further escalation.
  2. Real-Time Responsiveness: Digital marketing often requires immediate responses to consumer feedback, social media comments, or online reviews. A level-headed approach is necessary to manage these interactions professionally.
  3. Data-Driven Decisions: The vast amounts of data available can be overwhelming. Unflappable teams can analyze this data objectively and make rational decisions without succumbing to stress-induced reactions.
  4. Rapid Pace of Change: With constant updates to algorithms, platforms, and best practices, digital marketers must adapt quickly. Staying composed helps them to pivot strategies without panic.
  5. Performance Pressure: The direct attribution of ROI to digital marketing efforts means there’s significant pressure to perform. A cool head helps teams focus on optimization and performance without being paralyzed by pressure.
  6. Innovative Solutions: Creativity and innovation are at the heart of digital marketing. A calm environment fosters clear thinking, which is necessary for brainstorming and implementing new ideas.
  7. Leadership and Confidence: Unflappable teams inspire confidence in their abilities from leadership and clients. They signal control and competence, which are reassuring in high-stakes environments.
  8. Team Morale: A calm team can better handle stress, which is beneficial for the morale and overall mental health of its members. A positive work environment can lead to better performance and employee retention.
  9. Technical Troubleshooting: When technology fails, a clear mind is needed to troubleshoot. Panicking can exacerbate issues, while a calm approach leads to quicker resolutions.
  10. Long-Term Strategic Thinking: It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day fluctuations of digital campaigns. An unflappable team remains focused on long-term goals and strategies.

To sum up, being unflappable allows digital marketing teams to handle the complexities and pressures of the industry with grace, maintain strategic direction, foster a healthy work environment, and ultimately deliver stronger results.

Creative is King: Tips for Facebook Ads and eCommerce that deliver ROA according to Reddit

Tip for Effective Advertising: Reinvent your approach and figure out why ads have gotten so weird, according to the PPC community on Reddit.

Don’t be forgettable

In this ever-evolving era of digital marketing, the importance of being creative cannot be overstated. Mediocre ads with subpar products won’t guarantee a lucrative return on ad spend (ROAS) anymore. The trend has undeniably shifted towards an emphasis on creativity in ad creation. This has really always been the case but now more than ever, with the bar set incredibly high for all content including ads, creativity reigns supreme, period.

Oh, this is actually an ad?

Successful ad strategies have increasingly leveraged user-generated content (UGC) or content that seamlessly blends with the platform’s native environment. Your objective should be to craft video ads that viewers watch almost to completion before realizing, “Oh, this is actually an ad!”

It’s good to be Weird, but don’t go too far

Don’t hesitate to test different approaches! Remember, being provocative or presenting relatable content isn’t a fresh concept in ad design. The key lies in how you tailor these tried-and-true techniques to your own creative, unique ad and how it translates to your audience. Keep in mind that while successful ads seem to be skewing toward more provoking or crass content (e.g. watching a unicorn poop rainbow ice cream thanks to the aid of a toilet step – yes this is a real and very successful ad, and you can see it below.), it’s actually just the product of an increasingly polarized society that 1. takes umbrage at being fed an overly sanitized message and 2. is forced to sit through a lot of ads. To be frank, if you are boring it’s offensive to some viewers, almost as bad as getting spam email. Or, worse yet, you just fade into the static of an endless flow of other easy-to-ignore ad content. Find a way to be weird in a safe, fun way and it will pay off every time.

Accessibility is Key

If you are venturing into video content, remember that subtitles are crucial as most viewers tend to keep the sound off. This should already be standard practice since we all know that accessibility is a requirement now and not just a nice-to-have when executing ad design or media work. Not just because it is a necessary part of good SEO it’s necessary to maintain legal minimums, and if we are being honest, it is just the right thing to do. While non-subtitled videos occasionally perform well, their success rate is comparatively low, sometimes drastically so, depending on the platform and audience. Better yet, make ad content so odd or interesting, that it convinces followers to replay it and turn on the sound.

Don’t use clip art or stock images – it’s an instant trigger for ad blindness

Creating engaging still images is important too! Views can sense stock images and clip art in less than 3 seconds and they summarily ignore all of it. Audiences have honed a key skill, ignoring ad content that is played out or over-served. Tools like Canva can help you create a unique video-like experience with your images, but tools like this can be tricky to navigate. It is easy to create something on Canva, that technically looks good, but its is dead content, meaning it’s been seen so many times it just becomes background noise. Audiences are getting better and better at ignoring recycled content.

Canva is great, but be careful of using overexposed elements or templates

Due to its ease of use and massive popularity, it has become a high-traffic tool for reproducing the same look over and over again. Many users are finding that Canva designs are so overused that it’s the visual equivalent of using clip art, and despite being technically accurate work, it’s quickly buried. Facebook, for instance, appreciates and rewards genuine, native content for ads on their platform, and Canva designers have been reporting issues with creative media that, despite being well-designed and polished, are seen as “canned” or low quality. This is not the fault of Canva of course, this has more to do with what components you are choosing on Canva. If you are selecting the same overexposed skyline shot of your city as everyone else, then it’s going to cheapen the quality of the message you have to share.

Follow the example of weird ads that win the ROI race

Creative is more important than ever. Gone are the days where you could throw up a shitty ad with a mediocre product and rake in a solid 5+ ROAS. Things have been moving toward a more creative-focused FB ad world for a while now but this year has really solidified it – creative is king. End of story. We’ve been seeing great results with more UGC-focused ad creative or content in general that seems native to the platform. Ideally, people should be near the end of your video ad before they think “Shit, this is a f*cking ad!”. If you are doing videos, make sure you have subtitles as most people watch with sound off. We’ve experimented with non-subtitle videos and they sometimes do well, but rarely. Test for yourself! Even with still images, you can make a fun and unique native-looking video easily using something like Canva. Also – Facebook will reward you for using genuine, native content for ads on their platform. Ideas: Unboxing videos, “TikTok” style outfit videos, influencer reviews, ect. Check out your favorite brand’s ads in Facebook ad library for inspiration!

Hot take from u/VinterDigital on Reddits r/PPC

“Don’t be afraid to get weird with your ads. Creative, original comedy sells.”

Harmon Brothers 

Post Photo credit: Midjourny imagine prompt, “Unicorn pooping rainbow ice cream”.

What does AI think about ads getting weird?

According to ChatGPT, the trend of “weird” or unconventional advertising in 2023 is a reflection of the continuous evolution of the advertising industry and society at large. Here are a few of the highlights on why ads have taken this unconventional turn and why it seem to work for so many advertisers and marketers:

  1. Odd ads help to Break through the Noise: With the proliferation of digital platforms and content, capturing a viewer’s attention has become increasingly difficult. Brands are compelled to create unique, offbeat, and sometimes bizarre ads to differentiate themselves and cut through the clutter.
  2. Banking on Engagement and Virality: In the age of social media, having an ad go viral (read, earned media for those in PR) can have a significant impact on brand awareness and reach. Unconventional, “weird” ads often spark conversations, shares, and engagement, thus increasing their chances of virality.
  3. Targeting Younger Audiences: Gen Z and younger millennials, who are often a target demographic for advertisers, respond well to quirky, non-traditional content that stands out. “Weird” ads can resonate with these groups as they are often more aligned with their unique sense of humor and view of the world.
  4. Authenticity and Differentiation: In an effort to be authentic and differentiate themselves from competitors, some brands intentionally push the boundaries of traditional advertising. This helps them establish a distinct brand personality.
  5. Tech Advancements and Creativity: Advances in technology have enabled advertisers to push the creative boundaries of what’s possible in an ad, resulting in unique, innovative, and sometimes “weird” executions.

Remember, while the rise of “weird” ads might seem perplexing, the goal remains the same: capture attention, engage viewers, and promote a brand or product. The measure of an ad’s effectiveness isn’t necessarily its conformity to tradition, but its success in achieving these goals.