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Backyard Games To Remain Popular Post-COVID

In times of social distancing, how can we still connect with friends and play sports and games? We looked to Google Trends to find out which backyard games were more than just a COVID fad. We found that both cornhole and pickleball saw highs in search volume in the summer of 2020, and we predict that they will continue to trend up in 2021. Pickleball Pickleball had a spike in the summer months of 2020 and continues to rise in popularity through April 2021. According to Google Trends, the keyword “pickleball” had its highest search interest over the past 5 years in late April/Early May 2021. Users were mostly interested in the rules of the game and how to play. Some of the most popular pickleball keywords and questions were: Keyword April 2019 April 2020 April 2021 pickleball 246,000+ queries 201,000+ queries 550,000+ queries what is pickleball 22,200+ queries 18,100+ queries 60,500+ queries how to play pickleball 6,600+ queries 8,100+ queries 18,100+ queries pickleball court near me 6,600+ queries 6,600+ queries 40,500+ queries how to score in pickleball 320+ queries 390+ queries 880+ queries   Cornhole Looking at Google Trends over the last 5 years, we’ve seen seasonal spikes for cornhole searches in the summer months. However, cornhole saw its largest search interest in June 2020. As of the end of May 2021, this trend looks like it will continue – and potentially even pass – the volume of searches that we saw in 2020.  Keyword April 2019 April 2020 April 2021 cornhole 110,000+ queries 135,000+ queries 135,000+ queries how to make cornhole boards 5,400+ queries 18,100+ queries 8,100+ queries how to make cornhole bags 1,300+ queries 4,400+ queries 1,900+ queries bean bag toss 12,100+ queries 14,800+ queries 9,900+ queries custom cornhole board 8,100+ queries 12,100+ queries 14,800+ queries Yard Games Lastly, we found that people were searching for yard games in general, which may have led them to find cornhole or pickleball if they were previously unaware. Consumers were searching for any ways they could get outside and have some fun while social distancing. Some of the most popular keywords related to yard games we found were: Keyword April 2019 April 2020 April 2021 yard games 18,100+ queries 33,100+ queries 22,200+ queries lawn games 9,900+ queries 14,800+ queries 14,800+ queries backyard games 8,100+ queries 22,200+ queries 14,800+ queries backyard sports 1,900+ queries 6,600+ queries 2,900+ queries diy yard games 1,000+ queries 1,900+ queries 720+ queries   Game On What may have started out as a socially-distant, at-home activity novelty in the summer of 2020 has progressed into a behavioral change. These backyard games and sports have taken on a life of their own as more people become aware of the fun that could be had in their own yards. Will this trend continue beyond 2021? We can’t say for certain; but as for this summer, the popularity of these backyard games is increasing. Like how we pulled these insights from search data? Learn more about our SEO agency services.

After Pride: 6 Ways Your Brand Can Be an Ally to the LGBTQIA+ Community Year Round

If you’re reading this, it probably means that you, or your brand, are interested in becoming a stronger ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Welcome! We’re happy you’re here. To our LGBTQIA+ readers, we hope this blog post will be a helpful resource for specific strategies and information that you can share with your brand, colleagues, employees, partners, or clients. At AMP Agency, we believe that people of all genders, sexual orientations, and romantic orientations deserve to feel safe, respected, loved, validated, and represented. Through this lens, we’ve curated a list of actionable ideas that your brand can incorporate into your workplace and year-round marketing efforts. 1. Establish an Atmosphere of Respect within Your Workplace Before your brand can be an LGBTQIA+ ally to the general public, it must be an ally to the LGBTQIA+ people behind the scenes. No matter how inclusive a campaign appears on the surface, it will feel inauthentic (and perhaps even disrespectful) if the brand that created it doesn’t treat its own employees equally and with respect. In addition to the following sections of this blog post, which include tips for brands to use internally and externally, here are a few more tactics you can use to make inclusivity a key component of your company culture: Hire LGBTQIA+ employees and work with LGBTQIA+ influencers, partners and clients year round. Did you know there are professional recruiting events specific to this community? There are also employment programs for community subgroups, like the SF LGBT Center’s Transgender Employment Program. Create employee resource groups to foster a sense of community among workers. For example, our parent company Advantage Solutions created the group PRISM to nurture personal and professional growth among our LGBTQIA+ employees and their allies. 2. Learn the Language and Use It Thoughtfully Like other cultural groups, the LGBTQIA+ community has its own language, which includes slang, acronyms, personal identifiers, and more. Learning appropriate terms and using them considerately in your workplace and marketing efforts can build authenticity, loyalty and respect. However, please keep in mind that your brand’s historic and internal use of the language will impact how the public receives your current, public usage of it.  For example, if you use the term “yasss” on a branded Pride shirt — a phrase that originated in 1980s ball culture among LGBTQIA+ people of color — and your brand has never previously spoken or acted in support of LGBTQIA+ individuals and/or people of color, that would not be a respectful or authentic use of the language. And more importantly, this surface-level celebration could come across as exploitative. When it comes to branded support, walking the walk must come before talking the talk. So, what does it look like when a brand thoughtfully uses language to support the community? Check out the inclusive work that Sephora has created in recent years, like their “Identify as We” campaign. Not only does it spotlight LGBTQIA+ people, their lives, and their pronouns, but it was also created by and for the community. Allure reported in 2019: "Both in front of and behind the camera, the campaign is populated with exclusively members of the LGBTQA+, transgender and gender-fluid community. Activists and influencers like Fatima Jamal and Hunter Schafer appear, putting on makeup, showing off beautiful hairstyles, or just plain old making out." It’s a great campaign on its own, but it’s even more powerful if you take into account Sephora’s continual allyship efforts. For example, they have beauty classes designed specifically for the transgender comunity. Authentically using language is important, but it’s most effective as part of a larger allyship initiative. With that in mind, here are some great resources for learning basic LGBTQIA+ terminology: The Trevor Project’s glossary of key terms The Safe Zone Project’s glossary of LGBTQ+ vocabulary “LGBTQ definitions every good ally should know” from USA Today GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender Before we dive into the next section, we want to call out a few additional tips for thoughtfully using LGBTQIA+ language. First, language is fluid. The words we use are constantly changing in connotation, usage, and relevancy. For example, the term “queer” has historically been used as a slur, but many in the community have since reclaimed it. Still, others find the word offensive. Check out this article from them, a next-generation community platform, for a nuanced look at the term. Second, every member of the LGBTQIA+ community is an individual, and thus has their own unique cultural identifiers, preferences, and opinions. Think about which other cultural groups someone might identify with. This intersectionality may impact the language they use, like how the term “Two-Spirit” is used as a gender/sexuality/role identifier among some Indigenous North American communities. 3. Make Sharing Pronouns as Easy and Comfortable as Possible Across Your Brand Experience Pronouns can dramatically impact how an LGBTQIA+ person feels about themselves and others. Schuyler Bailar, the first trans D1 NCAA men’s athlete and owner of the popular Instagram account @pinkmantaray, explains the feeling of being misgendered in a 2020 blog post: When [you] call me the pronouns & name I no longer identify with, it says: You don’t exist. It says: I don’t see you and I value my view of you more than I value your comfort and safety. Misgendering me hurts my feelings a great deal. I know I might look a different way now than I did but I am still me. And I have always been me. And [you] using the name and pronouns that I use now – always, even with old pictures – is a way to validate that. To validate me. To say you see me.   Click the links below for resources you can use to better understand pronouns and how to apply them in daily life: LGBT Life Center’s “Understanding pronouns” guide “Pronouns 101: Why They Matter and What To Do (and Not Do) If You Misgender Someone” from Medium “Why You Should Put Your Pronouns in Your Bio” by Schuyler Bailar Once you’re more familiar with pronouns, start incorporating them into your company culture and brand strategy. How? Share your pronouns when introducing yourself to new clients, partners, or members of your workplace. Whether or not you’re a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, this can create a safe space for people to share their pronouns, if desired. Add your pronouns to your social media bios, email signature, Zoom title — or anywhere else that might be relevant — as a sign to others that you support the LGBTQIA+ community. When your brand partners with an openly LGBTQIA+ individual, make sure you know their pronouns and how they identify before you post anything that specifically references their pronouns, sexuality, or gender. Be especially cautious when working with transgender and non-binary partners to make sure you don’t misgender or deadname anyone. (Deadnaming is when you refer to a transgender or non-binary person by their birth name or other former name. It’s often harmful and can be traumatic.) If your brand is creating a contact form or hosting a survey, consider adding a section for people to provide their pronouns. If you ask for someone’s gender, provide a variety of options to choose from, as opposed to the historically binary choices of “male” and “female.” Many governmental and medical forms still use this binary structure, which excludes many members of the LGBTQIA+ community. 4. Be Mindful of News, Cultural Events, and Legislation That Might Impact Your LGBTQIA+ Audience Since American marketing and advertising began, the LGBTQIA+ community has had to deal with exclusion, harassment and discrimination — both inside of and outside of the industry. That’s still true today.  When we create campaigns targeting or spotlighting this demographic, we should make sure we consider the personal, societal, cultural, and political issues our audience may be dealing with at the time they encounter our marketing. This is a tactful act of strategy as much as it is an act of allyship and empathy, because this insight makes your brand appear more in touch, aware, and authentic. At AMP, we loved working with Eastern Bank to bring their “Join Us For Good Good Votes” campaign to life. When transgender rights were being debated on a Massachusetts ballot in 2016 and 2018, Eastern Bank provided support to the transgender community through lobbying and rallying support, employee engagement, philanthropic assistance, and community engagement. This wasn’t just a one-time act of allyship, it’s consistent work. And we’re so proud we get to be a part of it. While Pride Month is an important time for the LGBTQIA+ community, allyship moments can arise at any time of year. Stay in the know, and act when something resonates strongly with your brand’s values and capabilities. 5. Resist “Rainbow Capitalism” and “Rainbow-Washing” When Designing Your Campaigns Custom Pride collections can be fabulous. Who doesn’t love a rainbow hoodie or “Y’all means all” bumper sticker? But they don’t often help a brand stand out from its competitors, especially not in June. And more significantly, these merchandise-based initiatives can occasionally worsen a brand’s reputation among the LGBTQ+ community, if they’re seen as rainbow capitalism or rainbow-washing. A recent CNN article defined rainbow capitalism as “the idea that some companies use LGBTQ allyship for their own gain.” In that same article, digital communication expert Chris Stedman is quoted as saying the following about Pride merch: "It feels like a violation in some ways because these companies are taking our language, our memes and our norms and using them for their own gain without fully understanding them or investing in the community. This language and imagery emerged in spaces that have been a refuge for people who haven't been safe and welcome in other communities. And I think that's why people are so bothered by it." Similarly, rainbow-washing “allows people, governments, and corporations that don’t do tangible work to support LGBTQ+ communities at any other time during the year to slap a rainbow on top of something in the month of June and call it allyship,” according to Social Media Coordinator Justice Namaste in this 2018 WIRED article. If your brand is exclusively supporting the LGBTQIA+ community through branded Pride merch, you might want to rethink your strategy. Here are some starter questions to get you headed in the right direction: What has my brand previously done to support the LGBTQIA+ community? How were those efforts received? Do I feel like my brand is genuinely helping with this campaign, or does it feel like we’re checking a box? How can my brand’s unique product or service improve the lives of the LGBTQIA+ community specifically? Is my company inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community in the work environment it creates, hiring tactics it uses, and resources it provides? Are there any openly LGBTQIA+ individuals on the client team, creative team, strategy team, etc. for this project? If not, might this be an issue? Does this campaign feel authentic? Authenticity is especially important here — partly because consumers in 2021 crave authenticity, and partly because this value plays a huge role in the LGBTQIA+ community. Embracing one’s LGBTQIA+ identity means letting your real self show up in a world that doesn’t always get you or respect you. That’s incredibly authentic. This year, Getty Images partnered with the non-profit GLAAD to improve LGBTQIA+ representation in advertising. We love this campaign because it tackles a relevant issue (increasing visibility of an underrepresented group), it’s authentic (campaign links directly to the Getty Images brand), and it’s creative. Another example of authentic marketing is Verizon’s moving “Love Calls Back” campaign. In both of these campaigns, the brands have innovatively used their products and services to make the world a better place for LGBTQIA+ individuals.   6. Keep Accessibility in Mind When Creating or Sharing Content According to the CDC, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has a disability. And PRNewswire reported in 2018 that “among lesbian, gay and, bisexual adults, 30 percent of men and 36 percent of women also identify as having a disability.” Creating accessible content is essential to allyship because many members of the LGBTQIA+ community (and their allies) have a disability. And if you want to have the most inclusive, intersectional and visible content possible, you should consider accessibility. A few starter ideas for making your brand content more accessible: Add alt text to your brand’s Instagram captions. You can either select automatically generated alt text, or customize it to add your brand’s personal flair. Use Instagram’s new automatic caption feature for Instagram Story. Learn how to improve your brand’s digital accessibility with the A11Y Project. Follow ADA-approved design guidelines. Final Thoughts Whether you’ve been an LGBTQIA+ ally for decades or are just getting started, we’re excited you’re putting the work in to become an ally year round. Remember that you and your brand aren’t always going to get it right, and that’s OK. All allies make mistakes, whether they’re individuals or Fortune 500 companies. It’s because we’re human. Making mistakes is a part of our growth process. What matters is that you hold your brand accountable in an authentic way and work to do better going forward. For example, if you accidentally misgender someone in a client meeting, apologize, correct yourself, then move on. Allyship matters all 12 months of the year, not just during Pride. How your brand shows up will be unique and ever-evolving, but it matters that you are showing up. Thank you.

App Tracking Transparency & Intelligent Tracking Prevention

Apple is aggressively pursuing end-user privacy improvements and marketing them as positive enhancements to their users; at Apple’s 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC21) the company has announced several new privacy enhancements to the default applications and services within MacOS, iOS, iPadOS, and WatchOS. As with recent proposed changes to iOS14 and the App Store marketplace, the new enhancements are designed to provide transparency to end users about the ways in which they are tracked online and provide options to opt-out of tracking altogether. This will primarily take the form of increased notification popups prompting users to allow or deny permission to allow reporting of behaviors and activities from within applications, emails, and websites. “[The changes] will arrive as part of the fall software update to iOS 15, iPadOS 15, MacOS Monterey and iCloud.com.” At the moment these OS updates appear to be scheduled for release in September of 2021. As with the recent announcements by various providers to move to a cookie-less web in the near future, the changes Apple is introducing into its ecosystem are a clear indication that brands will need to take a thorough look at their marketing data collection procedures and usage of 3rd party services and trackers. Investments into 1st party data collection, server side analytics, and native in-app tracking events will help mitigate current and future marketing changes due to a rapidly evolving focus on user data privacy.  App Tracking Transparency (ATT) Starting with iOS 14.5 app developers must disclose tracking to the end-user and “ask users for their permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies” (see User Privacy and Data Use - App Store). This change led to a precipitous drop-off in opt-ins with nearly ~80% of the iOS 14.5+ user base choosing to decline participation in 3rd party tracking within apps. This is compounded by the iOS 14.5 adoption rate with 90% of devices released in the last 4 years running on iOS 14 and 85% of all iOS devices running iOS 14.  iOS 15 will now also include the ability to run a privacy report to review “how often each app has used the permission they’ve previously granted to access their location, photos, camera, microphone, and contacts during the past seven days” and make changes as they see fit. Given the iOS 14 adoption metrics it can be presumed that the majority of iOS devices will update to iOS 15. Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) Intelligent Tracking Prevention has been included in Safari web browser versions going back to 2017 and was originally built to protect unsuspecting end-users from agents that were surreptitiously collecting data and inputs from browser sessions. The agents targeted were primarily spyware, malware, or other scripts built for nefarious uses such as identity theft. Overtime, ITP has evolved to also provide tracking protections from a much broader set of legitimate 3rd party tracking cookies and pixels. Similar to ATT, the intention of ITP is to provide web users with transparency into how, when, and who is tracking their browsing activities. ITP has the potential to prevent 3rd party tracking cookies and even analytics events (such as Google Analytics) from properly reporting activities or attributing activities to a unique user id. Although Safari does not make up a large market share of browser sessions, this may skew web analytics and events negatively. Safari 15 will be included in the rollout of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and MacOS Monterey with some minor updates to ITP 2.3 such as blocking agents from recording a user’s IP address. The lack of IP availability makes it much more difficult to stitch together user profiles from other data sources and will have an impact on marketing activities such as retargeting.  Apple is now also including ITP in other default applications with the biggest impact being the inclusion of ITP into Apple Mail. This inclusion in Apple Mail is significant to both MacOS and iOS devices as it will potentially prevent tracking pixels contained within HTML emails from loading, severely impacting email open and click metrics. This is especially concerning as the Apple Mail app in iOS currently makes up 38.9% of total email client market share. Desktop Apple Mail makes up 11.5% of market share for a total impact of potentially 50% of all users sent marketing emails not reporting basic email metric information. Link decoration has been a common work around to some of the challenges that ITP has presented wherein data is included in the URL query string of links that can be detected and read on the target server. Another approach is to pass links through a proxy service that tracks clicks and attribution before redirecting to the intended destination. This allows 3rd party services to exchange information about a user to each other without cookies or database connections. Common examples of link decoration include Google UTM parameters for GA attribution or Facebook Client IDs for FB conversion pixels. Link decoration detection and suppression have been part of ITP since version 2.2 and its inclusion in Apple Mail makes tracking pixel workarounds within emails incredibly difficult and not worthwhile.  In addition as a result of these changes to cookie policy in ITP, all Safari client cookies not set explicitly with a “Set Cookie” http header will expire in one day. On subsequent visits outside the initial 1-day timeframe, the user would be tracked as a new visitor. These non-explicit cookies are typically assigned from Javascript snippets using the “document.cookie” method. The forced expiration of cookie trackers especially affects tracking of anonymous visitors who have not been identified to the app/web-site via a 1st party login mechanism. The forced expiration of cookies in this manner makes it harder to track full user journeys as there are no easy solutions to link customer touch-points.  iCloud Plus: Hide My Email & Private Relay Apple has also updated iCloud with a new iCloud Plus subscription option that includes two new privacy features: Hide My Email and Private Relay. Hide My Email allows the user to generate a one-off alias email address for use in marketing forms as a means to protect the user’s true email address; Apple will allow the user no limit to the number of aliases in use. Since the user will potentially sign up with multiple email aliases across different services it removes a key piece of personal information used in data stitching across various data sources. Private Relay is effectively an Apple provided VPN service that uses a double blind strategy to ensure that the user’s web activities are hidden from their ISP and Apple. With Private Relay in effect there will be no ability for IP tracking to occur in any browser or application while the user is connected. Since iCloud Plus is a paid subscription service it is unclear as to what the adoption rate may be across Apple devices but it can be estimated based on reported subscriptions across other Apple services to be in the 100M+ market share. In Summary Transparency and notification to end-users of 3rd party tracking has become a de-facto standard within Apple ecosystem User who are provided notification and opt-in/opt-out decision buttons select to opt-out the majority of the time as has been shown with iOS ATT notifications Primary keys such as email address and IP address are increasingly being obfuscated on Apple devices making user data augmentation and stitching of customer profiles increasingly difficult ITP is targeting workaround mechanisms such as link decoration, proxy servers, unique user ID (UUID) assignments, and social media buttons to prevent unintentional data sharing from end-users which is making conversion and attribution tracking increasingly difficult from Apple devices and browsers Inclusion of ITP into Apple mail clients may severely impact basic email metric reporting and any downstream campaign logic or optimizations built on basic email KPIs (e.g. open email triggers next campaign step) Continued evolution of privacy evaluations and criteria in ITP may impact conversion tracking, attribution, and basic web metric reporting from Safari based browsers  Any easy technical workarounds to ITP are likely to be suppressed in future ITP updates as has been shown in ITP development history so far Owned technologies and platform solutions are very resource intensive but provide brands a more future-proof solution in an evolving privacy landscape Conclusion With all of the proposed privacy changes to the Apple ecosystem as well as changes in the broader Internet software market it is becoming increasingly key for brands to own and architect their own data collection mechanisms as a means to ensure meaningful marketing signals are still accessible. Efforts should be made across several workstreams: Increase 1st party data collection through owned channels so that key identifiers such as email, name, contact information are collected Drive collection via compelling content Exclusive promos Exclusive content Uniqure offers or forms of loyalty programs Rotating editorial content Exemplary service such as concierge services Foster 2-way conversations Store data in owned data warehouses or data lakes Increase conversion of anonymous users to registered users to enable deeper behavioral tracking and prevent ITP and VPN blockage of key metrics by utilizing identifiable 1st party app sessions (cookies) Reduce reliance on 3rd party vendors and service providers including Data brokers (list buys) SaaS analytics Data insights augmented with non 1st party data Channel attribution from 3rd party mechanisms such as query string links (see below) Social media login mechanisms that don’t generate a local session Where possible implement owned server side analytics to track key events and ensure continued capture of behaviors that enable marketing segmentation Key app events (both web and mobile) Key page/screen views Registrations and logins Evaluate experiments, optimizations or smart campaign flows that rely on open and click email metrics for potential impact Drip campaigns are of particular concern Evaluate usage of attribution or other data sharing through URL query string parameters or proxy domains (such as link shortening services) These are potentially impacted by ITP

Google Search Trends Insights May 2021

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for May 2021. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. The Highest Queried Phrase in May 2021 (according to Google Trends) Unlike other months where we see multiple keyword phrases hit the maximum query number, we only have one to report for this May.  Memorial Day - 5/30/2021- 10,000,000+ queries Even though this term is related to a holiday and the unofficial start of summer in the USA, the query numbers were aided by a Google Doodle which records a query with every click on the modified Google logo. AMP thinks the lack of compelling news stories this month was the reason we didn’t see many 10 million+ queried terms, which is probably a good thing. May 2021’s Other Holidays and Special Occasions Memorial Day may have been the holiday that got the most queries, but there were other days in May that sparked the need to search for information using Google: US Teacher Appreciation Week - 5/2/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Cinco de Mayo - 5/4/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Cinco de Mayo - 5/5/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Happy Mother's Day! - 5/7/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Mother's Day 2021 - 5/9/2021 - 5,000,000+ queries Happy Mother's Day - 5/9/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Teacher Appreciation Week is a subject that makes the top 3 most queried terms in Google Trends on an annual basis. It has grown in popularity over the last 5 years. With the pandemic raging last year, it hit new heights, which you can see in this chart:   In 2021, the topic wasn’t as popular as it was last year, but that can be expected. AMP does anticipate that this week will become a more popular gift giving season in future years. The two other holidays, Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, had multiple entries across multiple days. We found the 2 day Cinco De Mayo queries interesting as it may show the last minute planning that is associated with this holiday.   As for Mother’s Day – who doesn’t enjoy seeing an exclamation as a top queried phrase? Looking at the data, Mother’s Day continues to be a popular May holiday for US search audience. Top Movies and TV Shows To understand the popularity of a movie or TV show, AMP Agency looks closely at Google Trends top queried phrases. Here are the films, trailers and TV shows that were searched for the most in May 2021: Those Who Wish Me Dead - 5/14/2021 - 500,000+ queries The Woman in the Window - 5/14/2021 - 500,000+ queries Army of the Dead - 5/21/2021 -1,000,000+ queries A Quiet Place 2 - 5/27/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Cruella - 5/28/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Friday the 14th was a big night for streaming as two films were made available on that day. Towards the end of the month, the sequel to A Quiet Place and a 101 Dalmatians prequel of sorts drove search interest. Previews of upcoming films sparked the imaginations of searchers with the trailers being released in May: Dear Evan Hansen - 5/18/2021 -500,000+ queries Eternals - 5/24/2021 - 500,000+ queries The film version of Dear Evan Hansen is set to be released in September 2021 and Eternals has a November 2021 release date. Fans of the ‘90s television show Friends seeked more information about the cast’s reunion that was available to be streamed on HBO Max: Friends reunion - 5/27/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries At 2 million plus queries, it was the most popular TV event of the month, using search interest as a proxy. Finance and Technology With the meme-stock trend that started back in January of this year, the AMP Agency team has been keeping a close eye on keywords related to financial matters. Here are the top phrases for May 2021.  AMC stock - 5/13/2021 - 200,000+ queries AMC stock - 5/26/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Keywords related to stock of the movie theater chain made the top 3 of Google Trends twice in May as speculation about the stock’s price was in the news and discussed on message boards. Phrases related to cryptocurrency were prevalent during May 2021: Dogecoin - 5/3/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Elon Musk - 5/8/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Dogecoin - 5/9/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Bitcoin price - 5/12/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Bitcoin price - 5/16/2021 - 500,000+ queries Bitcoin price - 5/19/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Queries into Dogecoin and Bitcoin led the pack this month, and Elon Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live had effects on query volume related to cryptocurrency. The more recent queries about Bitcoin were driven by its falling price. Lastly, the gasoline shortage fueled by (pun intended) a ransomware hack drove people to search for gas price apps: GasBuddy - 5/11/2021 - 500,000+ queries   NBA Playoffs A clear indication that things are getting back to normal, keywords related to sports took up a third of all of the queries we collected for the month. The biggest segment of sports queries were related to the NBA playoffs. Here’s the list of NBA team name keywords that spiked when the team was playing. Warriors - 5/16/2021 - 500,000+ queries Celtics - 5/18/2021 - 500,000+ queries Lakers - 5/19/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Miami Heat - 5/22/2021 - 500,000+ queries Knicks - 5/23/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Lakers - 5/25/2021 - 2,000,000+ queries Clippers - 5/25/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Knicks - 5/26/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Lakers - 5/27/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Celtics - 5/28/2021 - 500,000+ queries Celtics - 5/30/2021 - 1,000,000+ queries Seeing the Lakers and Celtics make the list 3 times each is bittersweet since they were both knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. Oh well – there’s always next year. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services. Until next month.

What is the Most Popular Dog Breed After COVID?

Engagements. Breakups. Weddings. Pregnancy announcements. Needless to say, a lot of major life events filled peoples’ timelines during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of our personal favorites to see at AMP was the increase in pet adoptions – specifically dogs. This surge in furry friends not only brought smiles to our faces, but an important question to the front of our SEO team’s minds: What is the most popular dog breed since COVID? An analysis of the most queried “adopt + dog breed” searches shows which kinds of pooches Americans gravitated towards when looking for some extra company during the doldrums of the COVID-19 quarantine, and which dogs breeds are the least popular according to organic search data. How did you determine the most popular dog breeds? To identify the most popular pups during COVID, AMP used DogTime.com’s list of All Dog Breeds to create a list of 455 dog breeds and breed-mixes. We then added the word “adopt” before each breed, meaning breed names like “Border Collie” became “Adopt Border Collie.” Once we had our final list, we entered the queries into Google Ads Keyword Planner and exported the last 48 months worth of Monthly Search Volume data about each breed, going back to April 2017. “MSV” is the rough number of queries a keyword gets in organic search. Since Google is the most popular search engine in the country by far, we use their data to paint the most accurate picture we can of the search habits of the American public. Using this data, we can visualize interest spikes for certains breeds and try to correlate them with real world events – most notably the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders when many American realized just how empty their houses could get as hours spent inside turned to days and weeks. Most popular dog breeds before and after COVID: Keyword Avg MSV adopt golden retriever 14,300 adopt french bulldog 13,815 adopt corgi 11,219 adopt pug 9,952 adopt greyhound 8,075 adopt husky 7,260 adopt dachshund 6,525 adopt poodle 6,144 adopt pomeranian 5,681 adopt chihuahua 5,546 Do you know someone with a new Golden? Evidence suggests you might. Maybe it was all the Tucker Budzyn videos we were watching during quarantine, but as can be plainly seen, the popularity of Golden Retrievers surged higher than any other breed during quarantine and continued to do so after, reaching new highs in interest in November 2020 and January 2021. Before the quarantine, the ever-Instagramable French Bulldog (or “Dutchie” as they are known colloquially) was the most sought-after dog during the majority of months throughout the last four years. You can see it indicated by the orange line on the graph. Many other breeds have been the “breed of the month” since May 2017. Corgis, Greyhounds, and Pugs have all competed for the top spot. “Adopt Greyhound” in particular experienced a major MSV increase in November of 2018, which correlates with a ban on Greyhound racing overwhelmingly passed by Florida voters in that month. Since at the time Florida contained 11 of the country’s 17 remaining dog tracks, there was a massive newsburst relating to how Americans could adopt these soon to be jobless pups.  https://lifehacker.com/how-to-adopt-a-racing-greyhound-after-the-florida-ban-1830343694  Which dog breeds are the most adopted according to organic search interest? When users are specifically looking to “adopt” a breed, these are the ten breeds they are most likely to search: Keyword Avg MSV adopt golden retriever 14,300 adopt french bulldog 13,815 adopt corgi 11,219 adopt pug 9,952 adopt greyhound 8,075 adopt husky 7,260 adopt dachshund 6,525 adopt poodle 6,144 adopt pomeranian 5,681 adopt chihuahua 5,546 According to our data, April and May 2020 were nearly tied for the most popular month ever to adopt a dog, showing that at a time when spirits were down and man needed a friend, there was none better than his (or her) best. With this in mind, humans have been doing a great job upholding their end of the bargain. Since the start of the pandemic, interest in adopting different breeds of dogs has grown by an average of 81% over pre-quarantine numbers. Which breeds benefited most from the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders? The Lagotto Romagnolo sticks out to us as the single breed with the greatest increase in sustained interest resulting from the stay-at-home orders, presumably because “I just adopted a new Lagotto Romagnolo” is so fun to say. This guy https://dogtime.com/dog-breeds/lagotto-romagnolo  Over the last 48 months, 67.85% of all searches for “adopt Lagotto Romagnolo” came during the last 13 months, March 2020 to April 2021. In March 2020, MSV was 480 searches a month; however, April showed a growth of 83% to 880. Which are the least popular dog breeds during stay-at-home orders? Pretty much all dogs got a boost during the COVID lockdowns from the Affenpinscher to the Yorkshire Terrier. That being said, some breeds did see a reduction in adoption interest since the start of quarantine, or at least didn’t experience the interest bump that other breeds saw. The least popular breeds during quarantine are shown below and they are, for the most part, unsurprisingly, NOT creatures you would want to be stuck with indoors. The honorees are semi-feral Canaan Dog- a variety of Jordanian street dog, and the presumably entirely feral Australian Dingo. Cute, but not an optimal Netflix companion. The 3.5 billion different Google searches that take place every single day are all the result of human curiosity. We trust search engines with our most intimate and our most mundane questions. While your individual search history will always hopefully remain anonymous, the aggregate search history of the public at large is not. If a query is asked often enough, by enough unique individuals, it will be assigned an average number of monthly searches. We can make use of this information by exploring the many different queries relating to a topic and analyzing how the search volume of different queries changes from month to month. By utilizing our Search Intelligence services, AMP can help you unlock a trove of valuable market intelligence data sourced directly from the Google queries of your customers. If you have an interest in analyzing search data to drive brand & business decisions or in monitoring search data on an ongoing basis for up-to-date audience insights, you may want to learn more about our SEO agency services.

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of June 7, 2021

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social media platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER LAUNCHES 'TWITTER BLUE', ITS NEW, PAID SUBSCRIPTION OFFERING FOR ADD-ON TWEET FEATURES You've seen it in testing, and now it's here, with Twitter officially launching its new 'Twitter Blue' subscription service, which will enable users to pay a monthly fee to gain access to a range of additional tweet features and tools. INSTAGRAM ADDS NEW 'DROPS' PRODUCT SHOWCASE TO HELP BOOST ECOMMERCE ACTIVITY Instagram has launched a new product showcase option today called 'Drops', which will highlight the latest product launches from brands you've engaged with, or may be interested in, at the top of the Shop tab in the app. FACEBOOK OPENS UP MESSENGER API FOR INSTAGRAM, PROVIDING NEW CUSTOMER SERVICE POTENTIAL Facebook announced an expansion of its Messenger API for Instagram, which will enable businesses to feed their Instagram Direct messages into their existing CRM platform, streamlining management and response. TWITTER CONTINUES WORK ON ITS NEW SPACES TAB, ADDS EDITING OPTIONS FOR SCHEDULED SPACES As Clubhouse downloads continue to slow, Twitter continues to add new elements to boost the use of its own audio Spaces option, which will soon include a new, dedicated Spaces tab in the middle of the bottom function bar to improve Spaces discovery.     That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of June 1, 2021

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social media platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. NEW INSTAGRAM INSIGHTS MAKE ITS TIKTOK COMPETITOR REELS MORE APPEALING Instagram launched new Insights for Reels and Live on its Professional Dashboard, giving businesses and creators essential data about the reach of their content. These tools will help Reels catch up with its competitor TikTok, which already offers users detailed analytics. As Instagram and TikTok continue trying to keep up with one another, it can only be a good thing for influencers and small businesses that use these platforms to bolster their income. INSTAGRAM ROLLS OUT NEW OPTION TO HIDE LIKE COUNTS ON POSTS, WHICH IS ALSO COMING TO FACEBOOK It's been in testing for a while, and has even been implemented as the only display option in some regions. But this week Instagram has announced the next stage of its experiments in hiding like counts on posts, with all Facebook and Instagram users soon set to be able to choose whether or not they display like counts on each of their updates.   PINTEREST NOW FACILITATES MORE THAN 5 BILLION SEARCHES PER MONTH For context, Pinterest last, officially reported its total search volume in 2016, when it was facilitating 2 billion searches every month. That means Pinterest has increased its search volume by 150% over the last five years - which, given the pandemic, and the subsequent boost for eCommerce and online product discovery, is not overly surprising. But it does provide some additional context on Pinterest's user traffic, with the majority of these searches (if not all) for products that people are looking to buy.   That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of May 24, 2021

Welcome to the AMPlifier – a spotlight on the latest and greatest industry updates. Whether you want to learn more about this week’s marketing trends, the newest updates to your favorite social media platforms, or simply what meme is currently taking the internet by storm, then read on. You never know what you might learn. TWITTER OUTLINES CHANGES TO IMAGE POSTING PROCESS, AND ADDRESSING ALGORITHMIC BIAS IN VISUAL PREVIEWS This is interesting - earlier this month, Twitter rolled out its updated, full image display format for visuals added to tweets, ensuring that users get the full context in image previews, as opposed to an automatically cropped version. FACEBOOK LOOKS TO EXPAND PAID EVENTS TOOLS TO HOST PAY-PER-VIEW LOCAL SPORTS Facebook is looking to expand its paid events feature into the minor league and local sports, which would give these smaller competitions more opportunities to generate income, while also bringing more viewers to Facebook, helping to boost its video offerings. PINTEREST LAUNCHES 'IDEA PINS,' A REVAMPED VARIATION ON STORIES Pinterest, the social network that decided it doesn’t want to be classified as a social network anymore, given its evolving focus on eCommerce, has now also decided that it’s not going to call its Stories clone ‘Stories’ any longer.   That’s a wrap on this week’s feed. Stay tuned to see what happens next.

AMP Agency’s Andie Tilden Jewett Featured In Ad Age

AMP Agency’s VP of Business Development and Marketing, Andie Tilden Jewett, was recently featured in an Ad Age article discussing the impact the pandemic has had on working mothers in our advertising agency. Here’s what Andie had to say about it:  “My first son was born at the end of February, and the world turned sideways only a few weeks later. When I returned to work, I felt severe pressure to find ways to immediately provide value to my team and company. I felt any free moment between meetings should be spent with my son, and every moment the baby was sleeping should be spent working. It’s taken many months, but I have invested time in establishing rules for myself. It’s territory I never thought I would have to navigate, but ultimately has made me a better mom and employee.” Check out the full article and feature here: https://adage.com/article/advertising/amp-spotlight-how-she-cession-has-transformed-advertising/2336626 

YouTube vs. TikTok – Which Is The Better Educational Platform?

YouTube is the world’s favorite teacher We’ve all been there: you need to fix something, cook something, build something, or understand how the heck something works and the last thing you want to do is read a manual or a lengthy blog post. So, you hop onto YouTube for a tutorial or explainer for the problem at hand. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. According to Think with Google, 7 in 10 YouTube viewers use the platform to help with a problem they’re having with their work, hobbies, or studies. 86% of US users say they often use the platform to learn something new. Especially now, consumers are flocking to YouTube for how-to’s and classes while stuck at home.  But there’s a new educational platform in town – TikTok. A growing number of consumers are leveraging TikTok for inspiration and lessons in every area, using #TikTokMadeMeDoIt to track their results. The platform is even looking into baking this behavior into their interface, testing a dedicated “Learn” tab to host snackable educational content.  Putting platforms to the test The benefits of quality explainer content go beyond helping people with day to day tasks. Brands can leverage this content to educate consumers about their products or related topics, engaging and helping their targets to build a deeper connection. But a major question still remains: what platform is the better teacher?  We decided to put them both to the test by trying out tutorial videos on both YouTube and TikTok from two of the most popular categories: cooking and crafts. Each of us took a week to try a tutorial from each platform in our respective categories. Along the way we learned the strengths and weaknesses of each platform, implications for brands who want to dip their toe in the educational waters, and whether or not that viral ramen dish tastes as good as it looks.  Shelby’s Tutorial Head-to-Head: Cooking  TikTok Tutorial One day while scrolling through TikTok, I stumbled upon a video of someone making ramen. The yellow noodles were covered in a miso peanut sauce and made a satisfying squishing sound – a sign of any great noodle dish. Completely entranced, I watched as the cook broke down how to create this comforting meal in ten easy steps, most of which were just combining the sauce’s ingredients in a white ramekin. While watching the cook make the ramen dish reeled me in, it was the simplicity of the recipe that truly sold me on trying to make it myself.  Luckily, I already had most of the ingredients lying around, but I needed to get some ramen. Running to Whole Foods, I was a little disappointed in their slim selection of noodles. Most of them looked a little too healthy to actually taste good, but then I remembered the TikTok cook saying that any ramen noodle would do; so I grabbed a box and checked out. This was my first mistake.  After getting home, I gathered all of my supplies and returned to the TikTok video. Even though the measurements showed up on both the screen and in the voiceover, I was having a hard time getting them right because the video moved so quickly. After missing a crucial step (I didn’t reserve some of the ramen water, which the cook deemed essential) and having to listen to the same audio play over, and over, and over again, my boyfriend recommended that I screenrecord the video so I can pause, rewind, and play with ease. Brillant.  I followed the cook’s suggestion of adding bok choy and sautéed bell peppers (he used mushrooms, but I can’t get past their texture) to the finished product. Did it look as enticing as the bowl featured in the video? No. I have the thin, healthy, organic ramen noodles from Whole Foods to thank for that. But, did it taste good? For the most part, yes. The flavors were amazing, and the texture was fine. However, not having the right noodles really put a damper on the whole dish. The TikTok cook led me in the right direction with the sauce, but the “any noodle will do” bit was my ramen’s downfall. YouTube Tutorial Discovering a recipe on YouTube was not nearly as organic as it was on TikTok. YouTube’s algorithm shows you videos on your homepage that you might be interested in based off of other content you’ve watched. This makes sense. However, all of my suggested videos were either related to yoga, drag queens, or makeup tutorials - not very helpful in this particular instance. I knew that I wanted to bake something, but I really didn’t know where to start. Relying on my previous baking and cooking knowledge, I decided to search for some well-known chefs to get the ball rolling.  After skimming through a couple of Ina Garten videos (the Barefoot Contessa), I was served suggested videos that might interest me along the right side of the screen. That’s when I saw videos from the Bon Appétit YouTube account. BA’s YouTube channel, and the company in general, has recently come under fire for numerous reasons (foodies will know), but these recommended videos reminded me of a recipe that I have always been dying to try: Claire Saffitz’s Blood Orange and Olive Oil Cake. Reinspired, I took to the search bar to find a video that would help make my citrus confectionary dreams come true.  Not being picky, I clicked on the first suggested video and followed an amateur’s baking journey. Interestingly enough, he decided to also bake a version of Saffitz’s cake with more pedestrian ingredients along with the original recipe. This off-the-cuff element was surprising and transformed the once-traditional tutorial format into an exciting experiment.  The video was definitely longer than your typical TikTok video, but I didn’t mind the extra time since it included helpful tips and tricks pulled straight from Saffitz’s book. I’m a visual learner, so the close-ups of how the batter should fall off the whisk when it’s done and other visual cues were extremely helpful. I also was thoroughly appreciative of being able to easily pause, rewind and play the video – something that definitely tripped me up while trying to follow the TikTok recipe.  All in all, my cake wasn’t as beautiful as Claire Saffitz’s,. But guess what? Neither was the YouTuber’s! As someone who has a hard time when my final products don’t match the original inspiration, this greatly comforted me. Following a video from a baker with a similar skill level as me and not stressing about having to play the video over and over again to view the ingredients really allowed me to have fun. Julia’s Tutorial Head to Head: Crafts  TikTok Tutorial  My first experiment started unintentionally. While scrolling through TikTok, I was served a video showing a now-viral trend of a woman turning old glassware into chic faux ceramics using a coating of paint mixed with baking powder. That’s it. Mix, paint, done. No ratios, no specific recommendations for the types of glassware. I was skeptical that the project was that easy, but the results looked so good, I was eager to try it out.  I took one more look at the video and grabbed the paint and baking supplies lying around my apartment, along with an old vase from a flower delivery. I added a heaping tablespoon of baking powder to the paint (let’s be honest, it wasn’t an actual tablespoon. I used a plastic spoon from the takeout I had forgotten to trash), and voila! I had a thick, foamy coating that looked exactly like the mixture in the video.  Thirty minutes and a few decorative details later, I had a cute vase that looked as if I had discovered it in a small, beach town shop and not in the literal recycling bin. As the kids say, I was shook. YouTube Tutorial  My journey into YouTube crafts was not as organic. I stared at my homepage for a few seconds until I lamely typed “crafts” into the search. The first few videos I was served were from the much maligned 5-Minute Crafts series which featured explainers for gold plating your toilet (not really my style) and how to sneak food into a club by taping it to your body (not a craft; also, gross). There were also several supercuts of DIYs using items from stores like Dollar Tree, but clocking in at 30+ minutes, they seemed too long to sift through. I figured I needed to narrow things down and searched “paper mache” to fuel my new upcycled-craft obsession, which gave me thousands of videos with different project ideas. I ended up choosing an intriguing yet approachable short video from DIY Mom titled “How to Make Papier-Mâché - Unicorn Head Paper Mache”. Luckily, the extra time was appreciated as I parsed out how to approximate the shape of a horse head out of newspaper. This is where pausing and rewinding came in handy as well, as I needed to take a second look at the example in the video, and quickly skipped over any filler monologue and the big reveal at the end. Overall, the format worked well with the more involved project.  Platform Pros & Cons    YouTube  Pros Cons Unlimited time to dive into complex topics and details. Creators will often pad videos with excessive and unnecessary information. Users can easily pause, fast forward, and rewind to review specific notes. The sheer amount of content requires some sifting to find the best choice. Videos are easily searchable. Limited discovery – users must have a rough idea of what they’re looking for at the start of a search. Has a very personal feeling due to its blogging format. Overly-polished influencers can be intimidating or off putting. Best practice tips include featuring bloopers or outtakes. AKA, making mistakes is okay. Recommended videos aren’t always as directly related to those you’re currently watching.   TikTok  Pros Cons Content is quick and digestible. Videos are difficult to pause and often have to be rewatched multiple times. The For You Page adds an element of fun and discovery. Searching for content isn’t as clear. Tutorials are easy and straightforward for the most part. The library of videos is more limited, especially if you’re looking for a specific answer. The overall style of the platform is looser, more playful, and more relatable. Format is limiting for more complex explainers. Creators frequently respond to followers’ comments and questions. Users are not able to organize saved TikToks, so it can take time to find a specific saved video. By interacting with tutorial videos you’re interested in, the algorithm will make sure similar videos are featured on your For You Page. Having to listen to the same audio over and over again can be irritating.   There’s a lag between tapping the video and it actually pausing.   Implications for Brands Be where your audience – or potential audience – is Spoiler alert: There’s no winner when it comes to YouTube vs. TikTok tutorials. Instead, marketers should think about where their targets spend their time and how they search for information.  Understand your brand’s social ecosystem Think about how you can leverage your other channels to drive to your video content, or vice versa, to boost engagement and create a holistic social experience.  Deliver unique yet relevant tutorials that fit to your brand Think about how you can make your content stand out from the sea of videos while still being helpful. This could be achieved by showcasing a new recipe or a creative makeup look.  Save more complex tutorials for YouTube, and lighter ones for TikTok If a tutorial can’t be simplified, leverage YouTube’s longer run time. Shorter tutorials should go to TikTok, rather than trying to stretch them out.  Consider who is representing your brand If you choose to leverage influencers or talent for your videos, consider how well they deliver information and if they fit with your overall brand look and feel. Make sure content feels native to the platform Content should fit with the look and feel of each platform. For YouTube, that means well-lit, quality videos that are clear and digestible. For TikTok, content can be looser and shot on a phone camera, using native editing styles. 

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