Announcer: 00:00 On this episode of Edge of the Web.Susan Wenograd Transcript

Susan Wenograd: 00:04 Just keep experimenting. All the changes we’ve seen in the past year, I think are going to really come to bear this year, and I think by the end of the year, I think that’s when we’re going to see Instagram stories starting to get super competitive. So, just get your learnings now, fail fast, find out what works and what doesn’t, and you just start applying it, and you’re going to be 10 steps ahead of your competition.

Announcer: 00:23 Your weekly digital marketing trends with industry trend setting guests, you’re listening and watching Edge of the Web, winners of Best Podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017. Here and see more at Now, here’s your host, Erin Sparks.

Erin Sparks: 00:46 All right. Hey, this is Edge of the Web Radio, episode 343. We’re getting up there, almost 350 here. I don’t know what going to do for 350. I guess throw a party or something like that. I’m your host Erin Sparks. Every week, we’re bringing you amazing guests to chat with regarding digital marketing, news, trends, as well as unpacking a key marketing topic for our digital marketing audience, whether you’re a part of an agency or a freelancer or part of a firm, this show is for you. Be sure to check out all the recent shows over at, it’s If you’re new to the show, let us know, let’s give you the ropes here. The ropes are, we do the show every Monday as much as we possibly can at 3:00 PM Eastern live. So, we certainly encourage our listeners and our followers to jump into the live engagement because we want to be able to have those questions that you have posed to our guests. So, feel free to jump in there, and let us know what you’re thinking about as we’re guiding this conversation.

Erin Sparks: 01:47 You can also jump in afterwards into any YouTube platform that you’re listening to. Our show is right there, so simply subscribe to that. If we’re not where you are, from your podcast production, let us know and we’ll absolutely get there. I think we’ve got them all covered, but I could be wrong. Find our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, Podean, Spotify, Tunein … what else have we got? Well, there’s so many. Check them all out. We’ve got all the links on our show page. If you just look for our SEO podcast, you’ll be able to find us right there. We’re at the top of the list. You can find all the transcripts of the show over at, we’re rolling up from this show, the full transcript as well as a number of different blog pieces regarding that. So, jump over and unpack a little bit more of what we talked about on the show. Show is brought to you by Site Strategics, the title sponsor of the show. Site Strategics is a pioneer in the agile digital marketing world.

Erin Sparks: 02:45 We focus on SEO, technical SEO, search engine marketing, social media marketing and social media advertising, conversion rate optimization, omni-channel media. The slew of stuff that we do here on the show from this media studio, we do that over at Site Strategics, so if you’re interested in what agile marketing is, simply give us a call at 877 SEO for web, or 877-364-932, and there’s the gratuitous commercial. All right. In the team, you’re both out, you’re going to have to talk. You do. Jacob Mann and Allie Coons are in the house helping us with this production. Say something.

Jacob Mann: 03:21 Happy President’s Day.

Erin Sparks: 03:22 Happy President’s Day.

Jacob Mann: 03:23 That’s a good looking shirt you’ve got there.

Erin Sparks: 03:25 You’ve got an excellent shirt as well.

Jacob Mann: 03:26 You like that?

Erin Sparks: 03:27 I really do. See, you’re wearing the team colors. So, why do we have these, we’re actually going to be at SMX tomorrow. Well-

Jacob Mann: 03:39 Yeah, we’re getting late tomorrow.

Erin Sparks: 03:40 I mean, it’ll be a late trip, but we’re going to be out there as the media partners for SMX, for Wednesday and Thursdays conference, it’s going to be fantastic. We’re going to go out and meet a number of the people that we talk to on a regular basis. So, if you see us, you see these jerseys, track us down and we can even do an impromptu interview out there as well. It’s going to be fun, if you haven’t gotten your ticket, I think it’s probably the last opportunity to do so.

Jacob Mann: 04:08 Get it now.

Erin Sparks: 04:09 Get it now, and take the red eye out there, and you can actually use a code that we have as a media sponsor or media partner of that. If you actually use the code EDGE15, you can actually get 15% off of your ticket. And again, Allie has not said anything this entire … She’s just not going to talk.

Jacob Mann: 04:30 She said she doesn’t want to because she didn’t wear her jacket today.

Allie Coons: 04:33 [inaudible 00:04:33] not allowed.

Jacob Mann: 04:34 Oh, she’s not allowed to.

Erin Sparks: 04:35 Oh, she’s not allowed to. I got you, I got you. Well, we are allowed to tell you who’s going to be on this show coming up here. We’re going to have Sherry Barnley next week, as well as Brittany Mueller … Brittany Muller, I keep on doing that, on the 9th March. There’s a number of additional individuals coming up here in the next few weeks, but we want to let you know those two interviews are also, like I said, going to be a media partner over SMX. So, go get your ticket today, and get 15% off. And if you’re interested in being part of the show or you have a guest that you’d like or a interview that we’d like to have, just let us know over at, that’s Set your reminders to on YouTube, you get notified when we go live.

Erin Sparks: 05:20 All right. Last but not least, if you’re an Edge fan, and we certainly appreciate you as loyal listeners, we want to learn a little bit more about what you’d like to hear from the show. So, go over to, we had a poll running simple questions. It’s anonymous, we will not even ask for your email, that’s how intent we are on getting some information from you. Let us know what you’re interested in for the show content for 2020, and we will certainly listen. Jump over to the site real quick, and let us know what you think. We’ve got a feedback tab there as well, we’d love to hear from you. Give us your thoughts.

Erin Sparks: 05:50 All right. With all that, let’s introduce and deep dive with this week’s featured guests. All right, we have the none other, but Susan Wenograd on the line. She’s been here three times now. Why in the world she’s a glutton for punishment, I have no idea. But Susan, how are you doing today?

Susan Wenograd: 06:09 I’m doing great. How are you guys doing?

Erin Sparks: 06:11 Well, we’re all pumped for SMX as you can tell.

Susan Wenograd: 06:14 Yeah. Heading out to the West Coast.

Erin Sparks: 06:16 Heading out to the West Coast. We were there in ’16, had a great time, so we’re coming back there again and teaming up with Third Door to see what we can do from a media content creation side of things, and whip things into shape and do a little bit of broadcast.

Jacob Mann: 06:30 I’m not going to lie, I’m in it for the weather.

Erin Sparks: 06:32 You’re in it for the weather. It is a weird, weird set of weather out here, Susan. I mean, literally Thursday, it was three degrees here. Sunday, it was literally 53.

Susan Wenograd: 06:45 Yeah, that’s how our winter is too.

Erin Sparks: 06:47 And my kids played in both. What is that? Yeah, I mean literally, the neighbors are out in their little motorized go-karts, I was picking up poo out of the backyard, and that has been there all winter long. Thanks kids, appreciate that [inaudible 00:07:02]. They were getting-

Jacob Mann: 07:04 This is how you get subscribers.

Erin Sparks: 07:08 I can tell you all about the crap in the backyard. Susan, we certainly appreciate you coming on. Why in the world are you here a third time? That’s the question.

Susan Wenograd: 07:17 Oh, you guys are fun to talk to. It’s hard to find people that’ll geek out and have emotions about digital marketing.

Erin Sparks: 07:24 Come on. I mean, it’s wired in our blood. I mean, how can you not be passionate whenever you have a Google core algorithm that lasts seven days?

Susan Wenograd: 07:34 I will say SEOs are always passionate. People are less passionate about things like paid media, but I remain quite passionate about them.

Erin Sparks: 07:41 Well, is it passionate or are we just frenzied? Just not-

Susan Wenograd: 07:45 Well, both. Doing the algorithm updates, it’s frenzied, for sure.

Erin Sparks: 07:48 Absolutely. All right. We want to introduce Susan to our listeners who have not listened to the show before. She is the CMO of Aimclear. Susan, tell us a little bit about Aimclear, what you guys do.

Susan Wenograd: 08:02 Yeah. We’re an integrated digital marketing agency, so we handle everything from paid media to PR, to email funnels, CRO, all of that stuff. Just basically making sure all your digital channels are working together seamlessly.

Erin Sparks: 08:15 Absolutely. And you represent Aimclear on podcasts like this, conferences and publishing and writing. So, you’re a publisher on a number of different platforms. And if you haven’t been in the conference circuit for a while, shame on you. You need to be out there. But Susan has been an SMX Pubcon Digital Summit Series, writing SEO, PPC Hero Comf, State of Search and other events, and you’re also contributing into marketing [inaudible 00:08:42] search engine, [inaudible 00:08:42] Search Engine Journal, and much more. You get pretty busy, don’t you?

Susan Wenograd: 08:46 Yes. Conference season, March and April, I’m basically just not home for most of it during conference season. The writing part’s easier because I write fast and I can do that whenever, but the conference season is more commanding.

Erin Sparks: 08:58 It’s a slog, but I mean, we really appreciate you going out there and teaching all of you.

Susan Wenograd: 09:03 It’s fun, I have a great time teaching. I enjoy it.

Erin Sparks: 09:05 Absolutely. Well, listeners, if you hadn’t caught the previous shows Susan was on, episode 251, shifting from Google ads to Facebook ads, as well as 316, episode 316, leveraging search and social for maximum ROI. Please check out those podcasts because we had a great time there, but we wanted to bring her back around and really unpack a lot inside of Instagram stories. But first, give us your history. How’d you get to where you are today?

Susan Wenograd: 09:32 Yeah, I started in e-commerce actually at I did content editing and email marketing for them for quite a few years, and then I fell into PPC, just love of words and copy, and love of metrics became one, PPC. I started in paid search, and then I really got interested in Facebook ads, because it just felt a little more classical marketing to me. I liked the mix of the creative part, as well as the targeting, as well as the math, so it had all of the stuff that I enjoyed doing. I got involved in Facebook ads in 2013, is when I got heavily into them, and the demand is-

Erin Sparks: 10:13 That’s about the time they started. Yeah?

Susan Wenograd: 10:15 No, they started sooner than that, but they were very simplistic. It was like, just right hand side only, basic cost per click, they were very, very in their infancy. Around 2011 is when they started the pickup a lot, 2013 is when they started to get really popular. That’s just where the demand has been more, so the past few years is Google ads become a more mature platform, the paid social world has just been changing so fast that that’s just where I wound up spending most of my time these days, because that’s just where people need help the most. But I’ve done it for in-house, the majority of my experience at this point is agency side. I’ve worked with econ lead gen, lots of names you’d know that I can’t say because of NDAs, all the way down to small businesses that needed help. So, I’ve done it across the spectrum at this point.

Erin Sparks: 11:00 But as much as you have focused on paid, you also recognize that you just can’t be siloed in that space, because there’s so many integrated spaces in which you need to be able to pay attention to attribution from other places. It just can’t be in one area, so you’d certainly have championed a lot of different skills inside of digital marketing. But we appreciate the deep dive that you’ve been doing regularly on Facebook and Instagram ad space. One of the key things that we wanted to open up with is something that you wanted to talk about as really the deepening chasm of ages and different social platforms. We talked about it briefly, I think either the last show or the show before, of just how the spectrum is changing, how different demographics are drifting. I got some demos that I’d love for you to comment on Facebook. This is from Sprout social, I have a huge breakdown of demographics, Facebook, 74% of the users visit at least once a day. It’s important to note that usage among teens has dropped in favor of YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, and the network leans more towards women at 75% and 63% of men using the platform.

Erin Sparks: 12:19 So, is that what you see in your perspective on the changing demographics? Give us a little bit more context.

Susan Wenograd: 12:26 Yeah. There’s a couple of interesting things going on. Actually, if you go to Search Engine Journal, I had an article that was posted, I think it was early last week that deep dives on this. What was interesting is, certainly the demographic shift between Facebook and Instagram has become very noticeable. I mean, it’s noticeable when you do ad buys about how the buy gets distributed and where most of the inventory is and where most of the performance is, but what I thought was interesting is when I was putting together this information for Search Engine Journal, I started discovering some studies that were done … I found them on Statista, but they were done about how and why people go on these platforms. The part that was super interesting is why they’re on these platforms, and they’re for very different reasons on Instagram versus Facebook.

Susan Wenograd: 13:14 On Facebook, the majority of the users, it was like over half of them are there to be entertained and to catch up with friends and family, and that’s it. The fraction of them that say that they expect to hear from brands is very small. When you looked at Instagram, it was very different. It was to be entertained, to hear from brands and to see friends and family. There was much greater expectation of interacting with a brand on Instagram as opposed to Facebook. So, it was interesting to see because it explains a lot about why users are more receptive, and I think it’s always been assumed that it’s just because Instagram is more[inaudible 00:13:52], so it’s more captivating. But I think there’s just also a generational acceptance of the fact that brands almost have personalities and they’re people, and there’s this expectation that you’re going to see what they’ve done recently on Instagram in a way that you don’t expect to see as a user on Facebook.

Erin Sparks: 14:09 And just the delivery of that obviously is visual, obviously we’ve got great videos, but it’s that connection of emotion in that space, that the younger generation is certainly expecting more and more from brands.

Susan Wenograd: 14:26 Yeah. And I think the interactivity piece is a big part of that as well. So, the ability to purchase right from Instagram now, in stories you can have polls, so there’s all these ways that whoever is posting on Instagram, it feels like … On Facebook, it’s always been comments and likes and stuff, but there’s different interaction types that have been rolling out on Instagram that they’re trying to roll out to Facebook, but the adoption really isn’t that great, which just really I think further highlights the differences in these demographics.

Erin Sparks: 14:56 Oh wow. Yeah, there’s certainly less interactivity on the Facebook ad platform, but I mean, just to be able to understand that the brands aren’t really wanted there, is this almost like an evolution of the platform that got so monetized and we were just peppered with ads instead of Facebook, that there was a true natural push away from even interacting with those ads. The likely platform would be a good deal more brand oriented instead of Instagram. I mean, two different things are playing at the same time. We got just inundated inside of Facebook, right?

Susan Wenograd: 15:35 Yes. Yeah. And really, all they had was the feed too. So, it became this one trick pony, and I always think of it like, display ads were the thing back in the early to mid 2000s. Display still has its place, but those were the only type of ads there were. But then once they were everywhere, they call it banner blindness. People don’t even see them anymore, a lot of times they go to pages, they automatically ignore them. So, it’s the same thing in Facebook. From a feed perspective, we’re seeing more and more that creative is winning more so than targeting. Just because the Facebook algorithm is smart enough at this point that it does a pretty good job of finding the people that you’re looking for. I mean, how consistently it does that day over day is debatable, but it’s definitely gotten very smart in the way that it targets, but the creative is still that human element that it really can’t be auto-generated in a way that’s going to win.

Susan Wenograd: 16:25 We’ve seen things where it’s been the same targeting for months and months, and then we finally get the right creative, and it looks like you completely changed everything, but it’s just because the creative was better. But it’s just so competitive now for those eyeballs, because people don’t want to see it. They skip past it a lot, so you have to do that much more to stand out.

Erin Sparks: 16:41 There’s also a push back on just the data privacy side of things. There’s a migration away from Facebook, although granted Facebook owns Instagram. There was just this push over the course of the last couple of years. So I mean, younger minds are less to trust, and they’re looking for something that actually speaks to them a good deal more visually. But on top of that, it’s a fresh new game, so to speak, as opposed to … I mean, is Facebook now the grandpa network? I mean, literally, it’s-

Susan Wenograd: 17:11 That’s how it seems when you look at it from the outside in. I mean, we still see that there’s tons of ad inventory, we still are able to spend a lot of money and sell on it. So, it definitely hasn’t fallen off the map, it’s just that the demographics that we see do well on there and the ones that we see respond, have certainly shifted. We definitely tend to see it’s more female heavy, it’s dominated by 45 plus now usually, so you can still sell to the younger set on there, but the inventory is usually a lot smaller, it’s usually a little more expensive. So, it’s definitely easier to sell to the older “demographic”, than the ones that are like Snapchat or Instagram or ones like that.

Erin Sparks: 17:57 In comparison between Instagram and Facebook, is there a difference in the time on platform on a daily basis? Is there much more immersion on the Instagram side?

Susan Wenograd: 18:08 I need to see what that looks like nowadays. Facebook, on their quarterly things, the only times that I’ve seen them talk about time on platform, I haven’t seen them break it out between Facebook and Instagram in the summaries that I’ve seen.

Erin Sparks: 18:21 It’s probably intentional.

Susan Wenograd: 18:23 I mean, to be honest, probably. There have been some studies about how much time people spend in stories versus feeds, and that’s been pretty fascinating to see because on Instagram, people are spending more time on stories than they are in feeds at this point. So, the growth rate there is just exponentially higher, but the time onsite thing has always been a curiosity of mine because I’m sure on the Facebook side, it’s probably dropped, but because they’re treating everything like … I don’t know if you even noticed, when you open the Instagram app now, it says Instagram, but on the bottom it’s like, by Facebook. So they’re starting to try and merge the brands to not make it feel so separate. I’m not really sure what the breakout of that looks like.

Erin Sparks: 19:02 I mean, I know that was a big decision in their boardroom there, but cultivate the different platform, don’t try to force in that space. But there are some stats that show that there’s more log-ins per day on Facebook and Instagram. I was just wondering if the immersion time, the overarching time on platform is higher. Because I certainly do understand that this is a whale of a different environment than Facebook is, but on top of that, they’re not all your friends inside of Instagram. You’re actually looking at brands, you’re looking at things that aren’t in your circle, so to speak. It’s a good deal more in a bracket, interactive on the non-known brand. Along with that, there’s something so different in the Instagram space and that is the Instagram story. Give us a history of the story, how it evolved. I mean, it truly is a unique platform, just like Pinterest is, but how in the world, Instagram just completely overshot, and is that … I mean, we had the vines, and we’ve had the Snapchat, these video platforms, but Instagram is really taking hold of this space. So, give us a history of the stories and how they’ve evolved.

Susan Wenograd: 20:24 Stories actually was a creation of Snapchat, so I’m sure they’re happy to see that Instagram has taken it and run with it. Stories were originally an organic placement, they didn’t have ads in them for a while. It was just a tester thing, but I think what it managed to do is it managed to bridge the gap of the feed world that it seemed the younger audience wasn’t embracing as quite as much. I mean, they were using it, but it just felt there was some other thing that was going to speak to that generation better. And so, I think my guess is probably looking at what was working well on Snapchat, the format was a big part of it. And so, they did a good job of marrying that format but within the Instagram world to see what it would do. So, once story started doing well and then they started adding more interactive options, like the ability to swipe up, you can add polls. They started adding these interactive elements that were adopted.

Susan Wenograd: 21:23 The other big one was Snapchat, I think hung on for a while because it had the face filters and then Instagram released face filters. It was like they took that one thread of what was resonating with the younger crowd on Snapchat, but they integrated it into Instagram, which was already trending younger, and I think that probably acted as a magnet for some of the younger people that wouldn’t have been on it much longer. It kept them there. They finally started adding advertising space in it, and at a very small rate, but when you look at the adoption rates of daily active users on stories, it is astronomically higher than what you see on Snapchat or with feeds. So, it’s a really quickly growing atmosphere for them. They’re trying to make it work on Facebook, but reaffirming that it really is a generational thing. Facebook, they’re saying that it’s growing, but it’s … In some ways, I feel like they left no choice because when they redesigned the app, you see the stories at the top, but the ad inventory for them, from what we’ve experienced is still very, very low.

Susan Wenograd: 22:27 There’s been a lot of news stories about the actual adoption rate of people choosing to add to them is somewhat low. Because when you go to post your Facebook posts in the feed, you have the option to add it to the story too. So, they’re trying to make it a new habit that it just doesn’t seem like it’s catching on very well.

Erin Sparks: 22:44 There are secluded circles there, and you can’t move the Facebook audience now into utilizing that, because you’ve got a higher and higher Gen Z demographic. Well actually, the millennials and the Generation Xers and the baby boomers, they’re now the groups that are actually interacting with Facebook, and they may not even know some of the goals that you have with the visual marketing that you can do for yourself. I say that because, I mean, it is this image environment, and there’s a particular mentality of being able to post those images on a regular basis that also has to be a discipline to do it as well. So, there’s a tribal concept that’s inside Instagram that Facebook tried to tap into, and obviously Facebook is the largest social media platform, but it’s so diverse of all these different demographics that now, you’re starting to see this fractional audience just like Quora, just like these … not to that sizeable degree obviously, but there is a tribal concept in Instagram that broke away from Facebook. Right?

Susan Wenograd: 23:57 I think the other part too is just at a certain point, you’re only going to be able to do so much with one platform. Facebook’s trying to incorporate and be everything to everybody, and what I think Instagram has done a good job of, was they knew what they were good at, and that’s what they focused on. They’ve weighted into IG TV and stuff, but Facebook has tried Facebook Watch and they have the … I forget that the … town hall stuff, and they have pages, and they have groups, and they have … They have all of this stuff, but at a certain point, people tend to just go there and use these two to three things that they go there for. And getting them to adopt something past that point is going to be difficult. I think the other part too, it’s like most of the people that use stories are the demographic that’s on Instagram, so to them it’s like, why would I make a story in two different places?

Erin Sparks: 24:47 Yeah, exactly.

Susan Wenograd: 24:47 It’s like, I already posted my story on Instagram, I’m done. I think that there’s also that part of it that it’s going to feel repetitious to the people that are on both platforms.

Erin Sparks: 24:55 As a sidebar, what are your thoughts about IG TV, and Instagram actually taking off the app? Is there any there there anymore?

Susan Wenograd: 25:02 It doesn’t feel like there is. I feel like I haven’t really seen much new rollout with it. Everyone’s just trying to compete with YouTube, and the problem is YouTube is primarily a search platform to begin with. So, the discoverability is very different, and the recommendation algorithm is fantastic. It’s like on the IG TV side, I think there’s just this perception that it’s just going to be long TV shows with Kardashians type influencers, and does anybody want to watch that content? You know what I mean? I don’t really feel like there’s a unique selling proposition to it, other than the fact like, hey, you’re already on the platform, so watch something longer.

Erin Sparks: 25:42 Yeah. And that challenge is the usability of the entire platform from the mobile experience. I think it was their attempt to carve out some of that live YouTube interactivity, and the interface was clunky. I mean, it was not well thought out to be able to use this as an ongoing tool, so it’s been pushed to the side. Instagram stories, we understand this tribal side of things, and the engagement is explosive. It’s an exponential growth as opposed to other video formats. So, the adoption rate that you see inside of social media, what you’re talking about is very interesting, is that these platforms cannot try to be omni purpose for all the demographics as well as all the utility. So now you’re seeing live YouTube and live video and video inside of YouTube. I dare say that Facebook is still going to try to carve a piece out of the live pie and the video pie. But I mean, groups are starting to start moving towards those utilities as opposed to trying to get all in one basket. Right?

Susan Wenograd: 26:55 Yeah, yeah. I think that that’s been something that I’ve … I mean, I don’t speak on it, but just watching where things are going, my personal belief, everyone’s like, oh, what’s going to be the Facebook killer? It’s not going to be one platform that does it. It’s going to be 10 platforms that do the 10 things Facebook does, but does them better. I think Facebook is realizing also that it’s just at a point where they can’t algorithmically select content for people and have happy customers.

Erin Sparks: 27:25 Amen.

Susan Wenograd: 27:25 So, when you look at something, like part of the reason why they’re pushing groups is they are trying to push people to self select into what they want to see, and even that’s become an issue because they’re … I mean, I see it all the time, people are like, I don’t see group content anymore. I used to always see the group content, now the reach on that is becoming a problem because it’s just too much for one thing to handle. I’ve always said, I feel like the Reddit now … Reddit’s a different animal, but I feel the concept of the sub Reddit world is probably going to become more prevalent in how social is done, because people want the control over what they see, they want control over what groups they belong to, what they identify with.

Susan Wenograd: 28:06 I’ve been saying for a while, I don’t think it’s going to be one platform that kills Facebook, I think it’s going to be, the mediums of the world are going to take over the long form content that people like reading, or it’s going to be like people want short, fun video, it’s going to be Tik Tok. They’re going to go to these platforms for different things, and they’re going to self select into that environment as far as what they want to see.

Erin Sparks: 28:25 It’s interesting because you saw all the big giants just suck up all of these small companies, and it’s almost this natural pushback, because no, we don’t want to have everything in one platform. And on top of that, you’re doing it bad, so we do want to these more niche type of products. I mean, my God, LinkedIn groups are better than Facebook groups, right?

Susan Wenograd: 28:44 I know. Right.

Erin Sparks: 28:46 That’s [crosstalk 00:28:47]

Susan Wenograd: 28:46 I know. Anytime LinkedIn does it better, that’s scary.

Erin Sparks: 28:50 Well, we want to make sure that our listeners, make sure to hit the YouTube bell so you get notified whenever we go live as well. Please let us know how we’re doing on iTunes by rating the show. Give us a review if you would. All right. Now, that’s our history, that’s where we wanted to come to. Now, let’s unpack this tool that you’re being asked about more and more and more. It’s the Instagram story ads. Now, that’s had an evolution. In September last year, Instagram’s 2 million monthly active users were all limited to the news feeds, and there was stories there, but then came the story ads. So, describe it. What do we have there at our disposal as advertisers?

Susan Wenograd: 29:34 If you’re not familiar with stories, I always tell advertisers go and view them first because it’s a totally different experience than feeds, and it’s one of those things you’re like, yeah, I get it, it’s a video. But it’s like, no, go sit there and watch it for 10 minutes and see what it’s like as a user. Because it’s a full screen experience, and it’s unlike with a newsfeed where there’s stuff competing for your attention, there is not competition for your attention with a story, which is interesting given that there’s the whole, oh our attention span is less than a goldfish or whatever. But Instagram stories are actually a very captive audience thing, they’re only 15 seconds, but that’s actually pretty long when you consider the average watch time in the feed is less than eight seconds now. It’s longer than average, and so users do have the ability to swipe right to keep going to the next one. But other than that, they have to X out to get out of it.

Susan Wenograd: 30:25 So, unlike with a feed where they choose to stop, in stories, you don’t choose to stop, you merge onto the highway and then you decide if you’re merging left or merging right. When you’re on the feed, you decide when you stop and go. So, it’s a different environment, but because it’s a full screen experience, and it’s a full length experience, it’s really important to understand what that’s like as a user. So, you’re not going to want to take a landscape photo, and use it in this vertical screen. You’ll go through and you’ll see ads where they do that, and it looks so bad. I always tell people, most of the Instagram ads you see are pretty terrible, so it’s actually a good practice to sit there and go through because you’ll immediately recognize, oh gosh, that looks bad, it looks bad when you do that. You can recognize what doesn’t look good to make sure that you don’t do that.

Susan Wenograd: 31:11 The other thing that I always tell people too, is look at how people use them organically, because you don’t want to stick out a commercial. People swipe right through it as soon as they’re like, it’s commercial, they go through it. But if you look at how people use it, look at the way they use hashtags, look at the stickers, look at the polls they do, because those are indicators as to what makes it feel natural for that environment. So, the more stories that you watch, the more you get what they feel like, and how they work, and how people interact with them, and what users ask you to do and how they tell the story. Once you understand how it’s used organically, your ads are going to get exponentially better because you can fit into that environment so much better than just trying to go through a typical 15 second commercial with this long intro, and building up towards the end. It’ll help clear that out of your mind and recenter you into how people actually use this channel.

Erin Sparks: 32:01 Got it. So, part of this is also in reference to one of our news articles this week about some of the online tools or the app tools that Instagram has made available to be able to create these stories, and that also is getting these brands into the native application as opposed to using third party videos, you can actually do a lot of creativity right there on the app. So, it’s breaking down some of the pollution and forcing brands to really use some of the tools, and the interactivity to be able to communicate to the Instagram tribe. It actually is amazing that this … I mean, this ad, and Facebook tried it, but this ad type is literally taking over the entire screen, and where else do you actually have that type of experience as a digital consumer? Right?

Susan Wenograd: 32:57 Yeah. It’s very immersive. I think the thing that’s an adjustment for a lot of brands, unless they’re doing spots on say YouTube, most of these brands have been running in feeds, so they’re used to having a text block to go with it. So, one of the biggest adjustments for brands on the advertiser side is that you’re essentially making a TV commercial, so there’s no body copy. There can be, if it just auto formats your feed ad, it’ll bring in some of the copy on the bottom, but if it’s long, it cuts it off. So, you really have to treat your Instagram stories as a TV commercial. You want to use the entire screen, and you cannot rely on body copy and a headline like you would on a feed, that’s not going to be there. So, you have to get really good about telling your story, giving your offer, telling the benefits visually, and that’s been a big adjustment for a lot of brands, because most of them are used to being able to do that in a video, but they have accompanying text that fills it or gives them the longer story, and you don’t have that with stories.

Susan Wenograd: 34:01 That’s the other thing for brands to be aware of is if you go through and you start watching stories, pay attention to how people get their message across. You can use text overlays in your stories, there’s no 20% text rule-

Erin Sparks: 34:13 I was going to ask you that, yeah.

Susan Wenograd: 34:15 … not yet. So, you can do that, but you just have to remember that it’s 15 seconds. So, it has to go at a rate that people can read and absorb. It is an art form, that’s why you hire people to make commercials. They know how fast people can read, where to place things, how to place them, what colors to use, but it is definitely … it’s a mindset shift for a lot of Facebook, Instagram people where it’s like they’re used to doing feeds. People that have done YouTube, to them it feels very natural. I mean, it’s different dimensions, but they’re like, this feels normal to me. So, it depends on what background you’re coming from with where you’ve made ads before.

Erin Sparks: 34:53 But isn’t that interesting in its own right? Because we’re being forced to be more creative, and we are tuning to what is expected of that user, is that they don’t want to read, they want to view, they want to be able to interact, and it also puts that brand on stage, so to speak, that if you’re not creative, then-

Susan Wenograd: 35:16 It’s so noticeable.

Erin Sparks: 35:17 It’s so noticeable, and that’s not the type of advertisement we’re looking for, and you’re going to see those performance metrics really go downhill. There is such an explosion whenever it’s done well. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the creative Instagram stories that you’ve seen?

Susan Wenograd: 35:36 Yeah. What’s amazing is, there’s been a lot of brands lamenting the fact they’re like, I used to get such strong return on spend from Facebook even at top of funnel, now it’s mostly through marketing, the sales cycles are long. I have multiple clients where we are seeing Oh, gee, Facebook results with Instagram stories. We are [inaudible 00:35:58] is converting off top of the funnel if the creative is done right. I mean, we have some clients where we moved the bulk of their spend to Instagram stories because it did that much better than Facebook or feed. So, the biggest thing that we find is that we really can’t predict what users are going to like, so it requires a lot more testing than it does in the feed, which can take a little more time. Because like we said, a lot of it’s about the video production piece. On the feed side, you can get lazy, I’ve seen brands get where they were like, well, then we know this visual works and we’re just going to test 18 different versions of copy.

Susan Wenograd: 36:31 So it’s like they’re not having to redo the visual, but on stories, you have to redo the visual. So, it’s a little more time intensive to do, but I mean, we’re seeing like, four or five, six return on spend for some clients depending with the price of their product. But what’s interesting is we actually see clients that it’s not necessarily an easy thing … it’s not a straight e-commerce. There’s a subscription service client that we have where you have to read on the site to see how it works, and it converts so much better than feed. It’s crazy. And we’re just like, but we’re telling them less in the video because we just can’t explain it all in the text, but it does a better job of getting them to the site and selling it.

Erin Sparks: 37:16 It’s almost like you’re performing in front of the Instagram audience, and brevity is the key and you’re getting voted up, so to speak, as you have a better and better creativity, and is a great lesson to learn for brands to understand the investment of creativity. It’s almost like a reset, because-

Susan Wenograd: 37:33 It is. I always tell people, whatever you’re doing in feed, do not just be like, yeah, and we’re going to throw in a story. It’s hard not to do that because of the way Facebook sets it up. It’s just a check box in the placements, so it’s really easy to just check it off and be like, oh yeah, run it there and not give it another thought. But then it’s like, if you actually go to the ad preview and look at it, it looks awful, when they just pull your regular feed, it looks terrible.

Erin Sparks: 37:55 Absolutely.

Susan Wenograd: 37:55 It’s worth it, but it’s hard because it’s a habit change. I mean, people just kept those boxes checked forever. So to go in and remember to specify a different creative for stories or set stories up in their own ad set all together, it’s a big habit change for a lot of people.

Erin Sparks: 38:10 Honestly, the latter has got to be the discipline, is that you have to be much more creative in your visual and set it up. Don’t connect it to a feed story. It’s just not going to work. There are some great stats, Ralph Lauren was able to increase their sales by 18% reading, reaching millennials with the help of the Instagram story ads, they were actually able to increase the product page views by 41% amongst Gen Z audiences. I mean, there’s a lot of really great stats out there of … They’re doing it right. If they’re paying attention to it-

Susan Wenograd: 38:39 If you do it right, that’s what you’ll see. I think that’s the hard part, is there are so many times where people are like, those don’t work for me, and I uncheck them, and I’m like, did you just run your feet creative? Well, yeah, I’m like, that would be why. There are a lot of people that work in creative, and creative is what makes all the difference. I mean, it does make a huge impact, don’t get me wrong, but I will say the Instagram stories are the one place I see where you could run everything the same way, and if you just change the creative, you’ll see massively different results. It is the one thing that where I see, it’s not about … The targeting matters, but if it’s the same targeting that’s working in your feet, and it’s not working in the stories, you have a creative problem. That’s nine times out of 10 what it’s going to be.

Erin Sparks: 39:16 Know your audience, know your audience, and know the tools. Absolutely. Some of the call to action is that, that can be set inside of stories. You’ve got brand awareness obviously, you got reach, you have video views, conversions, app installs, lead generation. What are some of the most valuable CPA’s that you’ve seen take hold when rolling out these story ads?

Susan Wenograd: 39:40 It’s tough with conversion ads on Facebook, but I see really good results with conversion ads on stories still. A lot of times with Facebook, it’s like I’ll roll it out as best practice, but it can be difficult to get it to work if it’s not a high volume transaction environment. It’s interesting because stories is low inventory, so you think that it would be difficult for them to match lower inventory versus feed with lower conversion situations, but it actually does pretty well. So, we tend to do a lot of conversion with Instagram stories still. I mean, I know that that’ll probably change in the future as they add more inventory and there’s more competition, but right now part of it is that the CPMs are still cheaper, in a lot of cases, they’re way cheaper than feeds. So, even if the conversion rate is lower, you’re paying so much less that it doesn’t really matter. It’s like the numbers still work in your favor because the waste is so cheap, it’s negligible. So, we actually still see a really good result when it comes to conversion.

Erin Sparks: 40:39 Which is great news for an advertiser that’s thinking about getting in there because so many times, display advertising for lack of a better description is going towards brand support and remarketing goals. I mean, this literally is top of the funnel conversion opportunities.

Susan Wenograd: 40:56 It is.

Erin Sparks: 40:57 So, you have that direct connection to investment, to return on investment, which is so different than … I mean, we’re always talking multi-touch, right? And we’ve been wanting to get to attribution here real quick, but I mean, being able to have that type of gratification just off of rolling some better creative as persuasion factor to say the least.

Susan Wenograd: 41:18 And it’s funny, because we’re just not used to seeing that anymore. So, when we start seeing it, we’re like, oh God, it feels so good to see that again. I haven’t seen that in years.

Erin Sparks: 41:25 It’s refreshing.

Susan Wenograd: 41:27 Yeah. It’s like you get these great return on spend, you’re like, that was the old day. That’s good stuff.

Erin Sparks: 41:33 But at the same time, this is relatively new. We had a year of story ads. Is the audience going to wind down from an activity standpoint?

Susan Wenograd: 41:47 I’m sure. I mean, I think you still got a pretty long shelf life for it because they’ve been very careful about how much ad inventory they do add. So, it doesn’t feel as pervasive as the feed yet, but they’re going to run into the same problem, where it’s like it works great now, but that’s going to be their moneymaker, and so then all the inventory is going to go there, and then users are going to be like, this sucks, it’s all ads. It’s this predictable cycle in everything. It’s the same with free or organic reach, whether it’s search or Facebook, anything that’s free traffic never stays free, and it’s the same thing that once people discover a certain type of ad unit is working, it’s only a matter of time. I think with stories, it hasn’t blown up and become as competitive as fast because of that learning curve we talked about, where brands are just so used to doing feed stuff.

Susan Wenograd: 42:38 It’s been an adjustment to turn their battleships to make this creative, so I haven’t seen them be as nimble. The brands that do well are the ones that are nimble, and when they send the creative, they’re just like, here, we made it in story versions too. And they’ve already cut it, they’ve re-centered everything, it looks great. Those are the ones that get out faster. So for some brands, it’s like, they look at it, and they’re like, oh it’s such a small part of the spend, it’s not worth it. So that’s the other thing, is some brands just aren’t bothering because there’s not enough inventory. The area for them to pay the extra money to have the creative people make a different version. There’s some things like that I think over time will start to change it-

Erin Sparks: 43:16 This quiet before the storm, right?

Susan Wenograd: 43:18 It definitely is. We’ve had that joke where one of my friends had read … I wrote this step-by-step for social media examiner about how to get started with these, and he’s like, stop telling people. Don’t tell them, they’re all going to show up. They’re all going to show up. I mean, I think it’s bound to happen. I think the one thing that, like I said, the one edge that some brands have is, if they’re good at creative, they’ll get it done faster.

Erin Sparks: 43:45 That’d be the quicker to market, and they’re still be able to capitalize on it. But I think consumers in all platforms are just getting more and more, not only savvy, they can sniff out spun stories, spun content-

Susan Wenograd: 43:59 They are jaded.

Erin Sparks: 43:59 They are jaded, and they don’t have the near nearly as much acceptance in platforms. So the platforms themselves have such a huge responsibility not to abuse their audiences. And so, you’re going to see these fractional deliveries of advertising, and you’re just going to have to start opening up that portfolio to a number of different ways as opposed to mass push of advertising in the feed. The users themselves are communicating based on platform selection, and on top of that, they’re showing you from behavior of top of the funnel conversions that they’re willing to dive in there. But at the same time, you’ve got to be very, very careful not to allow that audience to be abused. I want to shift real quick with the small time we have. I appreciate the unpacking of story, it’s refreshing to know that there’s a platform right there or there’s a medium out there that-

Susan Wenograd: 45:01 There’s still opportunity.

Erin Sparks: 45:02 Unbelievable. It’s a gem found in a very dry desert, but when it comes down to attribution, just to talk quickly about this, is that there’s still a problem with attribution, a multi-touch, a cross-platform attribution on different ads. And for users that don’t know what we’re talking about here is literally tracking an engagement of a consumer across the different ad platforms we’re rolling on, and we have multiple devices that we are trying to pierce that veil, to be able to understand the ecosystem that you set up with advertising, how it actually hands off to another platform. Can you describe that better for us?

Susan Wenograd: 45:47 Yeah. The biggest that I see is that the measurability of things that don’t occur on the clients or brand side is the hardest problem. Because when you look at YouTube Instagram, Facebook, they incentivize brands to have people not leave the site. So, they actually hate it when you run traffic campaigns or conversion campaigns, that is not their favorite thing. And with YouTube’s algorithm, you’re getting more likely to show up if your people stay on, so the advice is don’t try and get people to your site from YouTube because they want you to stay and watch longer. The platforms are incentivizing user behavior that does actually not align with the advertiser’s desire, so you have these two competing factions. The thing that’s difficult with the attribution piece is that brands are willing to admit that yes, there’s a lot that happens not on our site beforehand, but we just don’t know what those things are, and how they mesh in with what we see in the numbers.

Susan Wenograd: 46:45 People try and use Google analytics, but again, if they don’t come to your site, you’re not able to intake that, just the impression level data that’s happening on the third party platform side. I feel like brands are getting better about testing different attribution models within Google analytics for their actual site data, it seems like the real pain point right now is just what people are doing on third party platforms before they even come to the site.

Erin Sparks: 47:12 You still have metrics there-

Susan Wenograd: 47:13 You do.

Erin Sparks: 47:14 … but you’re not going to be able to automate these, that you’re going to have to … and it’s not antithetical because of that is still there, but you have to expand your mind that it’s not a conversion funnel as it is an environment in which you’re having engagement that’s loosely associated. So, there’s a maturing of the engagement model that has to happen in the side of-

Susan Wenograd: 47:40 And there’s a data science portion to it, that I think it really requires an investment, data visualization, and that’s one of the things that we wind up doing for clients a lot, is like, look, we’re running on 18 different platforms, and we can’t see everything in one place. Right. So, things like Power BI for Microsoft, or Looker, or all these tools are so important because it’s the only place where you can pull in Like, here’s … you can map like, here are your Facebook engagements against your search traffic. It’s like you can start bringing these things together, and it’s correlation, not causation, all that stuff. But still, it gives you some type of visual of hey, when we spend more with people watching our commercials, do we see any other channels respond accordingly, just to have that knowledge of, it’s just trending more towards a total marketing dollars in versus total marketing dollars out. But you still have to find a way to know how to fine tune it a little bit in the middle, so that’s where I think brands are trying to figure that piece out still.

Erin Sparks: 48:34 It’s a tough pill for any CMO to fathom, is that you’re not going to be able to have that laid out cleanly. You’re going to have to navigate in the platforms data themselves, and put together a user model, put together a theory behind things and be able to see that those transactions on their own merit and make a connection in the different platforms, in the different analytics that they have. What are your thoughts? What is the guidance that you’d give to organizations? Because we were just talking about a great conversion model over Instagram stories, and there’s so many different types of, of conversion tools out there. What would you give as guidance for a marketing firm, or I should say an organization of how to pull all this together. And it’s never going to be seamless, it’s never going to be completely right.

Susan Wenograd: 49:28 Yeah. And I think a lot of it is also tied into that, places just feel overwhelmed because there’s well, should I be on Snapchat? Should I be on Facebook? Which thing should I be on? A lot of times what I’ll tell brands to do, is okay, stop, let’s find the one channel that we know is probably the bulk of where you’re spending your money, and maybe we find tune in there first, where we say, let’s run some theories, let’s run engagement and video ads in this particular demographic, and not do it here or in this geography and not here. And then, we’ll go to the Google analytics side and watch over the times where we run that to see, do we see other channels performing differently? Does direct traffic increase in the coming weeks, does search increase in the coming weeks? So, it’s very much a testing environment, but you have to decide what you’re testing. Just shoving a whole bunch of money in and being like, oh nothing came out, that doesn’t help you.

Susan Wenograd: 50:18 So, you need to decide what it is you’re testing, what is it you want to solve for? So if you’re like, we don’t know if we should spend money running video on Facebook, let’s start there. There’s two ways we can do that; we can run it as video views, we can run as engagement. Let’s pick two cities and run them, and then let’s just see how folks behave in the coming weeks. If there’s no change, then didn’t seem to have much of a brand lift, if there is a change, how much did they exponentially change in both those markets? So, you have to pick things that have a baseline and then just add one thing and see what it does, and then add another thing and see what it does. It’s a very laborious type of testing, it’s very sequentially testing things, it’s not scientifically perfect, but that’s usually the quickest way you can start to eliminate some of the things that maybe you’re wasting time on, and then find the things where you might be getting an edge.

Erin Sparks: 51:04 But at the same time, where’s the patience going to come from of actually testing that particular thing out and giving it enough runway to actually give you data one way, shape or form. You could easily, the lazy marketer could easily roll out two weeks and decide on something without actually truly testing the variables of creative, of engagement, any of those ways. So, there’s a challenge there, but I do like the fact that you were talking methodology of experimentation as opposed to-

Susan Wenograd: 51:32 And the platform side is important for that piece where it’s like, if you’re not seeing the in platform metrics that are good, don’t even worry about what’s happening later. If people aren’t watching more than one second of your video, you’re not going to get anything for that, so you need to fix that before you start looking at, okay, so now we have people that are watching 20 seconds of our 32nd video, okay, good, keep that going and then let’s see what happens in the next couple of weeks. So, it is that two phase process.

Erin Sparks: 51:55 Very good. Very good. So, your guidance is experiment, have some patience-

Susan Wenograd: 52:00 Yes.

Erin Sparks: 52:00 But also know that you have to test in those spaces and learn from your ads, learn from these thoughts.

Susan Wenograd: 52:07 All right, the data will tell you what to do.

Erin Sparks: 52:14 Yes, absolutely. The data will tell you what to do. All right, I’ve got to wrap up here. Susan, I really appreciate the time. We do ask you again and again, what bugs you right now in your industry?

Susan Wenograd: 52:22 Still the last click mentality. A lot of times, it’s like, we’re going to put this amount towards paid search because it drives so much, and it’s like, but there’s stuff happening before that, that drives things like brand search. So, it’s just getting people out of that last click mentality, because then it’s eventually remarketing funnel stop working, they’re like, why aren’t remarketing funnels working? Well, because you can spend anything at top of funnel because you were so obsessed with the bottom of the funnel. So, there’s still that conversation that’s happening a lot, of helping brands understand that there’s so much that happens before that conversion, and if they don’t invest money there, they get a smaller and smaller pool of people that are brand aware, let alone those that are going to convert. That’s still an ongoing conversation, which is funny because that’s what marketing is. Classic marketing is brand and awareness and engaging with brand, and then going on to buying it.

Susan Wenograd: 53:14 It’s always been understood to be this multi-step process, but in digital, because for many years, all that could be measured was bottom of the funnel, that’s still this mentality of, well let’s put all our money there because that’s the bottom of the funnel.

Erin Sparks: 53:24 So what you’re saying is we’re all addicted to digital crack.

Susan Wenograd: 53:28 Very much, yes. [inaudible 00:53:28] is the dealers.

Erin Sparks: 53:34 I don’t know if I like that analogy. All right. What excites you about your industry right now?

Susan Wenograd: 53:40 I’m really excited about just seeing what’s going to happen with the ad formats in the future. It’s been exciting to see stories start to take off because feeds were starting to feel played out, and all the options were done. So, I think that’s exciting. I’m also excited for the new platforms that are coming forth that offer something a little different, so I’m really curious to see where Tik Tok goes, they’re growing like crazy. I’m excited to see if Snapchat can continue to grow and be competitive in this environment. I think there’s still a lot of growth to be done on Instagram, so I’m curious to see what they continue to adopt there. I’m very excited to see how the demographics continue to play out among these different ad platforms, and then also what they respond to from an ad unit perspective.

Erin Sparks: 54:23 They’re voting with their feet or clicks as the case may be.

Susan Wenograd: 54:26 Yeah, they are.

Erin Sparks: 54:27 They’re pushing back and the consumers have a voice. You’ve got to listen to it. How is the food blog going?

Susan Wenograd: 54:34 It’s going well actually. I’ve got one last recipe that I’m doing before I launch, so I’ve gotten very into food photography, which has been a fun endeavor. I think all my years actually making digital ads have helped because I understand framing and lighting and all that stuff, so it’s been fun.

Erin Sparks: 54:52 The pictures are one of the most important things there.

Susan Wenograd: 54:57 My husband loves it because he gets to taste everything.

Erin Sparks: 54:58 Absolutely.

Susan Wenograd: 54:59 He’s just like, keep making stuff up, keep making recipes.

Erin Sparks: 55:01 No, you keep on throwing a few food items on Twitter, but we need a destination. So roll that thing out. Okay?

Susan Wenograd: 55:07 I will, I promise.

Erin Sparks: 55:09 All right. Well, we certainly thank you for your time today. Again, if we come across you in different conference, we’ll certainly give you a shout out. Any final thoughts for the digital marketing audience?

Susan Wenograd: 55:20 Just keep experimenting. All the changes we’ve seen in the past year I think are going to really come to bear this year, and I think by the end of the year, I think that’s when we’re going to see Instagram stories starting to get super competitive. So, just get your learnings in now, fail fast, find out what works and what doesn’t, and then just start applying it and you’re going to be 10 steps ahead of your competition.

Erin Sparks: 55:38 Bang. All right. Get your learning in now. Follow Susan on Twitter at @SusanEDub, LinkedIn, Susan Wenograd and Instagram, Susan Wenograd as well. We thank you so much for your time today, and thanks for being a third timer here. Appreciate it.

Susan Wenograd: 55:55 Always.

Erin Sparks: 55:55 We’re going to get you for a fourth time down the road, right?

Susan Wenograd: 55:56 Of course. Happy to.

Erin Sparks: 55:58 All right. Well, don’t forget to and subscribe to the Edge of the Web Radio channel on YouTube. Make sure that … hey, if you’re feeling up to, drop us a quick review on iTunes as well. Be sure to check out all the must see videos over at,, if you’re a listener or a watcher to the show. And if you’re going to be out at SMX, give us a hey, and we’ll be happy to talk to you, and maybe even do an interview to all are out there. So, give us a shout. Next week, we’re going to have Sherry [inaudible 00:56:28] on the show, and for all of us over at Edge of the Web and Site Strategics, thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you at SMX, and do not be a piece of cyber driftwood. Bye, bye.