Instant Recap: The Top 10 Online Advertising Hacks of 2016 by Larry Kim

Center Stage Themes: The Mission to Mars

Play Abstract: Kim’s unique strategy for content promotion and targeting will launch your efforts into the stratosphere.

Setting the Stage: WordStream Founder and MobileMonkey CEO, Larry Kim is a marketing and entrepreneurial legend (those are my words, not his). Wordstream is easily one of the best products in the world for managing your paid search efforts. He writes for Moz, Search Engine Land, Forbes, and more, and is the Founder of the space unicorn mission. Wordstream currently manages $1 billion in global search marketing spend, 2% of Google’s total paid search budgets.

Building the Action: A freak accident has stranded our astronaut on Mars along with our target market. This is partly because prior efforts have become ineffective. Paid search is at an all-time high. Organic social media traffic is in decline. And almost all of our content goes nowhere; it “explodes on the launchpad”. To make matters worse, conversion stinks (less than 1%).

It feels a little like a mission doomed to fail.

Before launch, Kim covered why content marketing fails: content doesn’t get created; when it does get created, it fails; and when it does work, measurement is difficult.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it DID get created? And it WORKED? And you could MEASURE it?

You can. And it won’t cost you a NASA budget to get started.

Action and Insights:
You came for the list promised in the title, so here it is:

#10- Strive for a high quality score in social media ads. Relevancy scores matter.
Higher post engagement comes from higher relevancy scores, leading to better per-click costs. Boost an interesting post with a good engagement rate. Don’t throw money at poorly performing posts; that’s just fighting the algorithm. Spend the cash on something relevant that is performing well.

Promote your best stuff. It yields exponential returns. Don’t send “donkeys into space”. Promote unicorns instead. Instead of promoting ten posts with even budgets, wait to see which post performs and go all in on that post.

Or, more specifically: take 100 posts and audition them by sharing organically on Twitter, then post the top stuff to other networks or in a newsletter, then pay to promote the winners (or “survivors” if you will).

#9Get better mileage with keyword targeting (AKA premium unicorn kisses rocket fuel).
Kim once wrote a post called “10 Unusual Twitter Marketing Tips from Donald J. Trump”. The post targeted specific audiences.

#8Get free clicks on social media.
Second order engagement allows you to get freebies, so once natural engagement on Twitter dies down, a paid dump can reinvigorate your content.

#7- Demographic and behavioral targeting.
You don’t just want hits. You want conversion. Therefore, it makes more sense to cast a narrow net targeted toward specific consumers than a wide net with high volume from people outside of your target audience.

Not only does this improve conversion and make good business sense, but it also vastly improves overall engagement.

#6- Leverage custom audiences.
This is a brand spanking new opportunity for marketers that allows you to promote to people by uploading a specific business list: Twitter handles, names, etc. You can target and extremely specific list- say, a list of 1,000 people in your space- as opposed to coordinating an eblast and sending it into the abyss (black hole?) of cyberspace in hopes it gains you some ROI.

Kim paid an intern to collect a list of 1,666 names with Twitter handles and leveraged that list to drive a campaign that landed him space in Business Insider, Fox Business, MSNBC, WaPo, NY Times, and other major media sites.

If you want to enact this hack in a more buttoned up manner, you can always simply segment your lists without the stunt by focusing on more traditional variables or customer behavior.

#5- Leverage large gravitational sources such as Reddit and Medium…
High engagement in a short period of time serves as a gravitational boost that will bring your efforts home. Find those boosters and give your efforts a kick.

#4- And love the RankBrain Algorithm
CTR, Conversion, and Engagement are required for modern marketing. Affinity takes you farther than almost anything else. Create a bias in the heads of your audience members and it will encourage traffic naturally.

A note on this: Facebook videos are one of the most effective, least expensive ways to market. Facebook is aggressively pushing video so they can compete with YouTube. Take advantage; their video insights are even better than those of Google.

#3 – Armed with this new data, engage in remarketing.
You have everything you need to know what’s going to get the job done; now is your opportunity to get extra mileage out of it yet again by remarketing to your target.

#2- Combine everything into one strategy.
High engagement content + Remarketing + Demographics= Sharp, focused target. Combine it, choose your channels, and give it everything you’ve got (your full $75 budget).

#1 – Launch search ads.
Find the people who visited your site recently and target them. This is your low-hanging fruit. However, you can enhance the size of that audience by improving brand awareness altogether.


Curtain Call: Larry Kim mixed more metaphors into one speech than I have ever seen, but somehow, it all unified into one cohesive message. My hat is off to him for splitting hairs and climbing Mt. Everest as he herded cats on his way to the promise land.

Key Takeaway: Find unicorns, not donkeys. (In other words: find and invest in what works).