8 min read December 12, 2018 Stefanie Hoffman Our Top 10 Favorite Blogs of 2018Without a doubt, 2018 has been quite a year for digital advertising and SEM. And over the past year, the QuanticMind blog has captured numerous aspects of this industry evolution. We’ve taken deep dives into PPC industry trends and global issues like GDPR and net neutrality, following the numerous twists and turns of a rapidly evolving and changing industry. We’ve analyzed breaking news and its implications for our customers — and their customers — in posts like “QuanticMind Balances Privacy and Profitability Amid Growing ‘Data Industrial Complex’ Challenge” We’ve provided helpful how-tos on everything from optimizing your AdWords Quality Score to growing PPC revenue while overcoming ad blockers in order to help keep advertisers efficient, profitable and at the top of their game. And we’ve even rang our own bell a few times when a customer sings our praises or when a leading analyst firm publishes a validating industry report.Now, as we’re about to come to the close of yet another year, we have a chance to look back and reflect on our efforts. While there are numerous blogs that we like — and love — we’ve chosen our Top 10 favorites for this year. Among other things, our faves include explorations around the fourth industrial revolution, discussions about emerging technologies like Google Voice Search, and a step-by-step guide that helps you determine if you’re wasting money on Google Ads.As we head into 2019, we invite you to take a trip through memory lane with us — enjoy!1. What Is Machine Learning? Everywhere you look these days, machine learning is in the news. A familiar buzzword, most people have heard it enough by now to know it has something to do with computers and algorithms, but that’s about it. But as we noted on this very blog, 97% of marketing influencers are predicting machine learning is the future of marketing. According to LinkedIn’s 2017 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report, machine learning engineering is now the fastest growing position. And if we are to believe Fortune magazine, machine learning is no longer merely a trend, but a veritable revolution “electrifying the computing industry.”So what’s all the buzz about? Why has machine learning become so popular? More importantly, why now? What is it about this point in time that makes it particularly ripe for a machine learning revolution? In this post, we demystify machine learning not only by defining it, but also illustrating how it evolved over time to fuel some of the the most innovative technology today. In short, we show that all the buzz around machine learning isn’t just hype and that a revolution is happening in the computing industry being driven by machine learning.2. How to Build the Ultimate B2C MarTech StackYou probably use a variety of technologies and online tools to improve your sales and marketing. Most businesses add to their MarTech stack as they see fit, without ever actually taking the time to evaluate it as a whole. So it’s no surprise that only 9 percent of companies have a complete, fully utilized MarTech stack (according to an Ascend2 report).But if you want to build a complete network of marketing technologies, it’s important to think of it as an interconnected system and evaluate it as a whole. In this blog we give you everything you need to know to succeed at building the ultimate B2C MarTech stack.3. Digital Advertising in the Fourth Industrial RevolutionIf there’s one thing that’s true about advertising, it’s that everything changes. From subtle suggestions to in-your-face demands and info-speak to peer pressure, the shifts that have happened in advertising over the years have been many. But what about the changes in advertising as virtually every industry goes through digitization? The changes we’re seeing today will continue to spiral into a bold new future as we learn to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution — the current change to the digitization of business assets. Like the three Industrial Revolutions before this one, the fourth industrial revolution is a dynamic, all-encompassing change in our society, changing how we work, how we play and how we connect with one another — the very essence of what makes us human.But is your advertising plan up to the challenges this brave new world will present? This blog takes a look at how these aspects will change us and how to keep on top of those changes so your business can remain competitive.4. The Rise of Automated BiddingAt its core, the idea behind automated bidding is a simple one: it’s a process designed to take all of the heavy lifting and guesswork out of the equation within the context of your online advertising campaigns, allowing you to use real data and actionable insight to achieve specific goals for your brand in easier ways than ever before. But it also represents something far more powerful and important. It’s confirmation of the fact that, in this day and age, with the technology we now have available to us, there is absolutely no reason to manage your advertising bidding manually any longer. Any benefits you think you’re gaining in terms of control are at the sacrifice of insight and expertise, not to manage a process that creates more time for you to focus on all of the qualities of your campaign that matter most of all in the eyes of your consumers.The rise of automated bidding is a fascinating story, indeed. This blog takes a moment to appreciate how far we’ve come while shedding light on where we might be going.5. Amazon Advertising or Google Ads: What’s Right for Your PPC Strategy?For years, when it came to PPC, Google was effectively the only game in town. Sure, there were other ad networks, but none with Google’s massive reach. Amazon is a relative newcomer to the PPC advertising arena, but the company has made huge advances quite quickly. Last year, the Amazon advertising business passed the $1 billion mark between Seller Central Ads and Amazon Marketing Services (AMS).As an advertiser, which of these options is now the better choice for your PPC marketing budget? The truth is that you should explore and continue to use both. In this blog, we put Amazon Ads and Google Ads together in the ring, outlining the benefits of each for specific products and circumstances. Why? Because choosing the right one at the right time can mean better results for your business and a better return on every PPC advertising dollar that you spend.6. Build or Buy? SEM Agencies vs. In-House SEM CampaignsFor the past decade or more, in-house SEM campaigns have taken a back seat to SEM agencies for most small, medium and large businesses. But while there are still a host of benefits to outsourcing functions to SEM agencies, in light of today’s digital climate this tried and true approach is far from the only one available for many organizations. So what does this mean for you? Depending on your business needs, budget and marketing goals, you might want to consider thinking outside the proverbial box and take a new approach — such as in-house SEM campaigns that put your digital marketing activities within your control. In short, if you can find ways to hack growth in-house, there’s a strong chance you’ll see significant results.In this blog, we help you understand why bringing your efforts in-house represents a fundamental change in approach from outsourcing to SEM agencies, and how it might better align with your digital marketing needs and comprehensive strategy.7. How to Optimize Your PPC Ads for Google Voice SearchIf popular digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have taught us anything, it’s that voice technology is dramatically changing the way that consumers search for information online. And that holds especially true for Google Voice Search — instead of wasting countless hours scrolling and surfing on Google’s search pages, voice activated search enables us to find exactly what we are looking for simply by saying the word.But as Google Voice Search and other voice search capabilities rise in popularity, they’re also becoming important vehicles for businesses that want to improve their pay-per-click performance and reach new consumers. As a result, it’s now vital for marketers and businesses to start thinking about how they can optimize their PPC ad campaigns for voice search engine queries.In this blog, we discuss why it’s important to consider a new combination — Google Voice Search and PPC — when developing your pay-per-click ad strategy. And we also provide actionable tips for optimizing your PPC ads for Google Voice Search queries.8. How To Tell If You’re Wasting Money on Google AdsGoogle AdWords and Bing Ads have evolved dramatically over the past several years, developing more features that enable advertisers to make their ad targeting more precise and their keyword bids more efficient. While this is great news in concept, the practical complexities can be overwhelming. Thus, most advertisers lack the tools needed to take advantage of the new Google Ads features.But if you bid effectively, you can achieve extreme precision — eliminating wasted spend and producing huge returns. So how can you tell if you are best leveraging the tools available to get to the right bid for each scenario? This blog gives you a sneak peak at our upcoming step by step guide that will help you quantify the opportunity to improve your returns on Google Ads, which we have turned into a comprehensive, soon-to-be-released eBook — so stay tuned!9. Windstar Cruises: Why the Partnership with QuanticMind “Will Last a Lifetime”You might not think a beloved, gold-standard cruise line would need to sell itself, but it’s a crowded world. Windstar Cruises, which boasts six different ships across 300 ports and 80 countries, knew that while its customer experience was top notch, it’s market share could improve. The marketing department also had a sneaking suspicion that they were wasting money by underutilizing the most advanced technologies available today.Enter QuanticMind. Because digital advertising platforms bounce around so much throughout the course of a day or a week, and because the human mind simply can’t compensate for that, artificial intelligence provides a solution unreachable even by an entire marketing team.In this video post, we fill you in on how Windstar Cruises saved roughly $700,000 and increased their goal conversions by 16 percent year-over-year.10. 10 Steps to a Higher-Performing Keyword ListYou’ve done your keyword research. You’ve compiled a monster keyword list. You’ve run plenty of campaigns on that keyword list. You’ve worked hard trying to optimize your bids. You have analyzed and tweaked and done your best to make sense of the results.But you can’t. Your ads don’t seem to produce the profits you seek, your keyword list isn’t getting play and your superiors are wondering if you actually majored in marketing.Nevertheless, this story is a familiar one to internet advertisers of all stripes. Keywords, while their harvesting and list-building is pretty straightforward, are actually monumentally difficult to make pay … at least until you know what you’re doing.Luckily, there are some answers. In this blog, we discuss a wide variety of relatively simple tricks to help you boost your ads’ effectiveness, including understanding the difference between keywords and search terms; discarding irrelevant keywords; removing errors and extra characters in your lists; and tightening up your words and phrases. Whatever stage you’re at amid your strategic PPC journey, you can benefit from these smart, easy steps. Read on to get started!