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2018-12-18 Steve Gardiner Learning Digital Literacy - Romney Allen

Editor's Note: My three daughters have found their own niches in the world of literacy. The next three front page stories will feature them discussing their lives and their versions of literacy.

The first story was about my oldest daughter Greta from Ashland, Oregon, and how her travels and song writing have framed her life.


This story, the second in the series, is about my middle daughter Romney from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and how her academic studies for her MBA degree led her to understand and track the cutting-edge world of digital advertising.


The third story will be about my youngest daughter Denby from Denver, Colorado. While she works her day job in the solar energy industry, one of her passions is attending the myriad musical shows at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and other venues around the city and reviewing them for 303 Magazine.


Romney Allen


Ten years ago, when Romney Allen graduated from college, her job as a paid search analyst did not even exist. She and the job have grown up together, and now, she monitors million-dollar advertising budgets directly from her laptop.


In the beginning of her career, she worked for two newspapers and sold print ads for them. She was responsible for talking to clients about the ad, working with designers to produce the ad, making sure the ad appeared in the paper and on the website, and reporting on the ad.


No more.


“In today's age, if you are spending money on advertising, you have to have some sort of metric back,” she said. “With a print ad, all you can report is something like circulation or how many issues were sold, but with digital impressions, you can say this many people saw the ad, this many people clicked on it, this is how long they stayed on the web site, this is how many pages deep into the web site they went, this many people converted, and this is the amount of revenue, so your return on investment is this amount.”


She is able to track all of that through software and report all the results to her customers.


One method of digital advertising is banner impressions, the ads that appear on a website as a person is browsing the internet. Those are sold by the thousand, Romney explained, and if no one clicks on those banners, the advertiser still pays.


With search engine marketing, her speciality now, the focus is different. The cost is based only on how many people click on an ad. Total cost is based on the number of clicks.


“The thing that I have to monitor everyday, and which is constantly fluctuating, is how much I am willing to pay per click,” Romney said. “That varies with the products a person is looking at. It depends on what the demand is and how much I am willing to spend on it.”


The cost of those clicks also varies with the time of year.


“Holidays drive cost per click through the roof, because that is when everybody spends their advertising budget,” she said.


November is busy the entire month. The concept of Black Friday has expanded to days and weeks and especially with online sales, it doesn't take a break. The competition for consumer dollars is great, so she has to constantly watch competitors' ads, in addition to her own, and react to them.


When consumers search the internet for a product, they often see listings at the top of the page with a small flag that says Paid Ad. Companies are constantly fighting to be at the top of those lists, and the information inside those ads is another of Romney's concerns.


“I write all that ad copy,” she said. “I have character constraints I have to work with, but I still have to make it enticing for someone to click on our ad as opposed to some other retailer that sells the exact same product.”


Anyone who works in digital advertising is concerned about brand safety, she said. If an ad says an item is on sale, but the web site doesn't show that sale, customers will be angry and complain. While digital advertising makes it easier to get information out, it is also easier to spread incorrect information.


“You have to be aware of every single thing that you are putting out there on behalf of your company,” Romney said. “It is so easy for information to spread. Anymore, it is so hard, because the second you do something wrong, it is everywhere. That is the biggest change now, since everything is going from conventional to digital. There is so much more room for error, and the consequences are triple what they would be if you did something wrong in a print ad. How do you fix something when it is digital and it is already out there?”



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