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What’s Happening to Google Grants?
Episode 36

What’s Happening to Google Grants?

CI to Eye with Kathleen McFarlane

This episode is hosted by Erik Gensler.

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Erik and Kathleen talk through how arts organizations can manage Google Grant’s recent changes, the continued importance of mobile, and how organic search should play a role in arts organizations' digital efforts.

Erik Gensler: Kathleen, welcome to the podcast.

Kathleen McFarlane: Thanks for having me.

Erik Gensler: We’re here to mostly talk about the recent changes to the Google Grant Program, but let’s start a little more broadly. Why is Search an important channel for art organizations?

Kathleen McFarlane: Search acts as a foundation to your overall digital success. I mean, it’s all about driving quality traffic to your site, right? How can you bolster your retargeting pools for your other channels, YouTube, Display, Facebook? And, ultimately Search can help and work in tandem with other channels to give your overall digital presence, really, a boost. And according to Forrester, 71% of consumers begin their journey on a search engine. On top of that, we know Search acts as multiple touch points on the consumer journey, and when someone turns to search, of course, they’re showing a high level of intent, right? They’re basically raising their hand and saying they’re super interested in what they’re searching in. In fact, according to Google, when looking at the Performing Arts Industry in the U.S., 77% of people who use a search engine in their research, end up buying tickets to a performance. So, in other words, you can’t really not be on this channel.

Erik Gensler: That’s remarkable, that level of intent. And, not only using that data to, of course, underscore the importance of Search, but underscore the importance of making sure you can follow up with those people. You mentioned remarketing, just for people who may not know what you mean by that, can you explain that a bit?

Kathleen McFarlane: If someone’s been to your site before, they’re then going to be pixeled, and then, then you can actually retarget them on other channels. You can customize your ad copy, you can make bid adjustments, etc.

Erik Gensler: What is a bid adjustment?

Kathleen McFarlane: Essentially, you can bid more if someone is going to be a strong prospect, right? If, if they have a really strong propensity to convert, you can actually say, “Let’s bid more on those folks to make sure we get in front of them and have a high position in front of them.”

Erik Gensler: So, we’re talking broadly about Search. Let’s zero in on the Google Grant Program. And for those who are unfamiliar, can you just explain a bit about that program, what it is, who is eligible, how it works?

Kathleen McFarlane: The Google Grant Program is a fantastic program. It’s very generous from Google. It’s up to $10,000 of free advertising through Google search network, every single month, for eligible nonprofits. So, if you’re listening and you don’t have a Google Grant Program, and you are a nonprofit, I absolutely recommend looking into it. It’s a fantastic resource.

Erik Gensler: So, how are ads that are being generated through, say, a Grant account different than a paid search account?

Kathleen McFarlane: Well, whenever someone searches on Google, there’s basically an option on the back end, and Google’s essentially looking at two major factors. One is, of course, how much are you bidding per click? Because it’s a pay per click program, but also something called quality score, which, essentially, is simply relevancy. There are over 100 factors that go into quality score, but basically, they’re looking at how relevant are your keywords, or the terms you’re bidding on, to your ad copy, to your landing page. And that’s really because they don’t just want the highest bidder to win out, they want the results to be relevant for the end searcher. So, those are the two primary factors that play whenever someone searches. But, above and beyond that, it’s important to know in a Grant account, as amazing as the program is, there are certain restrictions and limitations at play, that aren’t at play in a paid account. So, the major thing to note, is that there is a $2 cost per click maximum bid in a Grant account that is not at play in a paid account.

Erik Gensler: And, there’s also some limitations in terms of the strategies and tactics you can take advantage of. Do you want to talk a bit about that?

Kathleen McFarlane: There are a lot of different tactics that you can leverage in a paid account that, unfortunately, you can’t actually leverage in a Grant account. One being that in a paid account you make a whole host of targeting and bid adjustments, that simply aren’t available in the Grant. So, for example, you can make bid adjustments based on CRM lists and ad copy adjustments based on those lists, as well as audience, audiences. So, retargeting past site visitors, or people who look like past site visitors, such as similar audiences. People who google dean, based on their browsing behavior, are in the market for buying performing arts tickets, for well as, of course, bid adjustments based on device, geography, you know, time of day, day of week, I mean, the list goes on. Demographics, age, gender, income, etc. So, you can get extremely granular, in a paid account, to make sure you are hitting that right person in that right moment.

Erik Gensler: But with a Grant account, because of the $2 maximum click bid and, among other restrictions, those features are not available to you.

Kathleen McFarlane: That’s exactly right, yes.

Erik Gensler: For years, the program’s rules didn’t change. In fact, the whole time we’ve had Capacity, we’ve had the Google Grant. And, towards the end of 2017 last year, we learned about significant policy changes from Google. Can you talk a bit about those changes, what they were, and their impact?

Kathleen McFarlane: It really boils down to two major changes. One is a shift in the fundamental landscape for Google Grant accounts, as well as shifts in policies that went into play. So, let me start with the landscape. In terms of the landscape, last year Google introduced something called a quality filter for Google Grant accounts only, so this doesn’t pertain to paid accounts. Basically, what this means is, there’s a greater emphasis on landing page experience, which actually pertains as well, to mobile page load time, mobile friendliness, etc., expected clickthrough rate and also relevance, ad relevance. So, while these factors have always been at play in terms of ad rank, etc., they now have a much bigger role to play when determining which ads actually rank from Grant accounts. So, in essence, effectively this means that certain terms are much more challenging this year than ever before, to rank for from a Grant account. And, suboptimal or slow loading landing pages, especially on mobile, will definitely hinder your ability to rank within a Grant account.

Erik Gensler: So, in addition to helping organizations, or encouraging organizations to increase their mobile speed, what else should organizations do in light of these changes?

Kathleen McFarlane: There are several things you can do, and certainly you hit on of the major ones on the head right there in terms of paying attention to mobile. Ensure that you have strong mobile load time that’s quick, as well as mobile friendliness. But above and beyond that, you’ll want to look into, of course, investing in SEO. So how can you bolster your organic presence, as well as look into supplementing your Grant account with paid media. In other words, true, true media dollars that you can run search campaigns in a paid account to supplement your Grant. And this will really, kind of, bolster your overall visibility.

Erik Gensler: So, that sounds really confusing. I have to run two separate accounts when, in essence, it’s actually quite simple. Do you want to talk about that?

Kathleen McFarlane: I mean, one thing, as we mentioned, is in the paid account, you do have all those other tactics available to you. But, really a core piece of it is that you can bid more than that $2 per click, right? The other things that’s at play here, is you’re not, under the jurisdiction of the new quality filter, which is a really, really key piece here. And, in fact, I can actually illustrate the impact of a quality filter, the quality filter with a real-world example. One organization that offers jazz concerts, for example, had a campaign, that contained basically, non-brand, so not including their, organization name, non-brand terms pertaining to jazz and music, such as ‘live jazz events.’ So clearly, very related to their organization. Last year, this campaign was a top traffic driver for their Grant account, spending roughly $13,000 in a two-month time frame. In that same time frame this year, that campaign spent dramatically less, at just over $3,000. And keep in mind, for this campaign, the quality scores remained relatively stable, the competition for those terms remained relatively stable. So, really it is very safe to say this was dramatically impacted by this quality filter.

Erik Gensler: So, essentially the $10,000, more than $10,000 of free traffic for that word, is now gone.

Kathleen McFarlane: That’s exactly right. And I should just stop here and say that the goal of the quality filter is certainly a positive one over all. The goal is more relevant, stronger results for the end searchers, right? But, it’s really important to keep in mind that we’ve seen relevant terms, such as ‘live jazz events’ get caught in this stringent quality filter, and end up receiving far fewer impressions, and in turn, far fewer clicks this year than last year.

Erik Gensler: So, if the filter is so strong and- and now all these terms that I used to get traffic from are no longer driving people to my website and mostly getting clicks now from bottom of funnel keywords, why should I even use my Grant? Why can’t I just rely on organic keywords?

Kathleen McFarlane: That’s a great question. And, actually, that comes, that question comes up a lot-

Erik Gensler: I was putting on my client hat.

Kathleen McFarlane: (Laughs).

Erik Gensler: (Laughs).

Kathleen McFarlane: We often get asked, you know, “Should I be bidding on my branded terms in my Grant account?” Right? Or, those really bottom of funnel terms, and the answer is a resounding, yes, you should. You know, often, very often, paid traffic is incremental to organic traffic. So, really what I mean by that, is if you pause out your search ads and you only rely on your organic results to pick up that slack, then you’ll often find that you’re losing out on those clicks that you would have gotten from your search ads. So, in essence, that traffic, that paid traffic is truly incremental, and you absolutely should have coverage for those terms in your Grant account.

Erik Gensler: So, getting back to the changes in the Grant Program, we talked about the filter, what else changed?

Kathleen McFarlane: A lot. Several new policies went into effect in early 2018, and those policies really started being enforced in around March 2018. So, now that we’re a few months in we can really truly feel the impact, and see, you know, what- what is the real impact from this? So, there’s a whole host of new policies that pertain to Google Grants, and I certainly recommend that you check out our blog, if you’re listening and are curious about all the nitty gritty details. But for the purposes of today, I’ll hone in on just a couple of major ones. The first and foremost, is that Google Grant accounts must have an average, monthly, account wide clickthrough rate of 5%, and if they don’t hit that, they are at risk of deactivation. And certainly, for all of these policies, it’s important to keep in mind that if you aren’t, if you are found in violation of these policies, Google can cancel your Grant account, and you lose that free advertising. Another one is that keywords within your account, must have a quality score of three or higher. So, we mentioned quality score earlier, the highest score for quality score is out of ten so you do have to make sure that you are having that higher quality. And, the other thing that we really wanted to zero in on, is Google Grant accounts can no longer bid on competitor terms, on generic terms, or single word, non-branded terms, such as jazz, theater, etc., right? And, as I mentioned, there are several other but let’s just take a moment to pause on the Generic Terms Policy. We’ve seen this one have a disproportionate impact on volume coming from Grant accounts, this year versus last year. So, for example terms that are deemed too generic. What we found is that many of these terms, often in the past, were top traffic drivers. These are upper funnel terms that people are using for research, so they don’t have your organization’s name in them, but they can absolutely be highly relevant to your organization. So, to give you a real-world example, you know, an organization that is located in Boston, that has a host of concerts and events, is now no longer able to rank for the term, things to do in Boston. Even though someone may be looking for, you know, concerts, activities, etc. that weekend certainly relevant, but now is being flagged as non-compliant for the Generic Terms Policy. Another example would be classical music events. This organization in this example has classical music concerts, and now this term is no longer able to run within their Grant account because it’s deemed too generic. So, again while the goal of the Generic Terms Policy is certainly, a good goal we are seeing things get flagged that are still relevant.

Erik Gensler: So, there’s been a tidal wave of changes, and coming over a very quick amount of time for a program that hasn’t made changes like this for a very, very long time. How does Google support you and your team in something like this?

Kathleen McFarlane: You know, they’re a fantastic support, certainly our partners at Google have been very, very helpful and remained really strong partners. They’re able to help trouble shoot certain issues and talk through the different policy changes at depth and in detail. So, that’s been significantly helpful. And what I can share, is that the changes in the landscape and the policies are macro changes that are affecting all grantees, and Google really has confirmed the need to really shift how you’re looking at grant accounts which is something we’ve already done here at Capacity Interactive to say what are our key performance indicators and what- how can we truly measure our success? So, instead of looking at spend, which may have been a factor we would look at in the past, now we really hone in on relevancy metrics, like conversions, click-through rate, and revenue to make sure we are looking at, really, what matters and- and how we can drive value.

Erik Gensler: Google always wants to drive the most relevant traffic, and I think what we’ve seen is a lot of organizations that may not have a ton of expertise around, searcher people who are really comfortable in the out of words platform, have almost misused the platform because it was free money. So, my sense is that they’ve added this filter, specifically to grant accounts, to help curb that and help to level the playing field of the auction. And, I think in some ways, it may have gone too far.

Kathleen McFarlane: Yeah, definitely see your point. I mean, certainly that was the goal of implementing, the quality filter, as well as the policies, is to ensure a really strong, relevant experience for the end searcher. And, certainly some Grant accounts you know, were bidding on things that, perhaps, weren’t highly relevant or didn’t make sense to have in their Grant account. And, so they’ve applied these, these practices and put these practices in place to ensure, you know, a really strong experience. But ultimately, we are seeing that the stringent quality filter and the policies, are catching some things that are relevant, absolutely.

Erik Gensler: Yeah, it’s almost like it’s a double filter for a Grant account, because in theory, a quality score can be a relevancy filter for all search, and then when you’re using a Grant account, you now have this second filter. Right?

Kathleen McFarlane: Yes, that’s exactly right. You know, I’ll give you another example, and this really pertains to your point, in that the quality score remain consistent for an organization that has dance camps for the term ‘dance camp.’ So, clearly, very relevant to the organization, their offerings, etc. but what we found, for that specific term, was that although the quality score remained consistent year over year, there was a 77% drop in impressions, even though competition for this term actually remained relatively steady as well.

Erik Gensler: Wow. I think, like anything, Google is constantly optimizing, and they’re constantly trying to make their programs better, and they’re constantly changing. I wouldn’t be surprised if this continues to evolve, and perhaps that filter is too tight, and it will loosen up.

Kathleen McFarlane: Mm-hmm. I think it probably will evolve over time. You know, this initial wave was to, kind of, make sure that they’ve got those practices in place, but I think it will loosen up, most likely over time.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. And there’s been a lot of backlash online, and I know we’ve been very vocal about our partners at Google about this. So, and I think Google, you know, it does to a typical person who doesn’t have the interaction, they just see Google as this search engine. But they’re very responsive to us, they’re very good partners, they are they-they take our feedback. And so, I imagine they’re getting a ton of feedback from different people in the space that hopefully will, you know, lead to some additional evolution.

Kathleen McFarlane: Most definitely.

Erik Gensler: We’ve heard murmurings of a similar grant type program from Microsoft Bing. You were recently at a search conference, and I’m curious, what did you learn about that?

Kathleen McFarlane: Yeah. To clarify, there isn’t currently a program open, however there may be one in the near future, perhaps next year. What I can tell you right now off the bat, is that Bing currently accounts for around 20% to 25% of the market share in the United States, across devices, and on PC’s that’s even higher at round 34%. On top of that Bing’s audience is very aligned with the traditional performing arts ticket buyer audience. It skews, you know, higher income tier, college educated, etc. and, beyond that, CPCs on, or cost per click…

Erik Gensler: Thank you (laughs).

Kathleen McFarlane: …that’s on Bing tend to be more affordable and often you can drive higher ROIs, it’s a little bit of a less competitive landscape. And there are certain parity functionalities with Google AdWords as well. Essentially making it a lot more seamless to, navigate that transition as well. So, what I would say is, while your first line defense should absolutely be, you know, supplementing your grant with paid media through Google AdWords, if you do have additional budget it’s absolutely worth testing, running campaigns on Bing as well. We’ve actually seen great success there.

Erik Gensler: Let’s shift over to the organic side of the search engine results page. Why is it important for organizations to care about their organic search?

Kathleen McFarlane: If you look at site traffic, broken up by where someone enters your site from in your Google Analytics account, for example, you will often see that a lot of that traffic, the bulk of that traffic, is entering through, for example, performance detail pages rather than your home page. And, on top of that, when you break up your traffic by channel, you’ll often see organic traffic as the top traffic driver to your site. So, essentially if you boil that down, it means Google is your home page, right? So how do you make sure that you are A, showing up when relevant organically, and B, that you’re actually represented the way you want your organization represented on the search engine results page. Capacity Interactive has an annual benchmark study, in which we survey close to 200 art organizations across the U.S. and Canada. and in the most recent survey, we found that the vast majority of arts organizations said they spend little effort or budget currently on SEO, despite its importance. And, most arts organizations spend less than 10 hours monthly on minor site changes, except the fact that SEO does require ongoing, iterative updates and maintenance. And this is all despite the fact that the bulk of tickets for arts organizations are sold online. So, organic search is incredibly important channel, and should absolutely be invested in.

Erik Gensler: I think it’s just a, the huge opportunity, particularly in light of the changes in the Google Grant, because if you fix your organic search, not only are you improving your organic search, but you’re going to improve your paid search as well.

Kathleen McFarlane: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And, I should also stop and mention, you know, while we do typically see organic traffic as the top driver to your site, it’s really important to, kind of, look under the hood of the car and say, “Well, what actually is that traffic coming from?” And often, by in large mass majority of time, we see that it’s coming from branded terms. You definitely want to own those branded terms organically, but there’s a huge opportunity for arts organizations right now to really bolster non-brand presence through SEO.

Erik Gensler: Right. So, we’re going to give an example of that.

Kathleen McFarlane: A prime example would be things to do in Boston, right? That’s an area where you could absolutely build content around that term and bolster presence for that.

Erik Gensler: So, you build content around that term, you name your pages, you name your images, and all of a sudden Google says, “Hmm, this is a site about things to do in Boston.” Right?

Kathleen McFarlane: Yeah, essentially. Essentially. There’s- there’s a bunch of things that you can do I mean, there’s two primary facets really at play, in terms of onsite SEO, things that are really directly under your control that you can adjust to your site to improve your organic visibility, and then there’s off site SEOs. So, think of, you know, prime example of that would be back links, other organizations linking to you, that gives Google that, kind of, stamp of authority or authority cue, to say “Hey look, this page is worthwhile, let’s rank it.” So, there’s- there’s a host of things to look at when it comes to boosting organic visibility.

Erik Gensler: So, you want other organizations to link to you as much as possible?

Kathleen McFarlane: I would say the one caveat to that would be the quality of that page that’s linking to you does matter, and that site does matter, so you want to make sure you’re not just, kind of, reaching out to Joe Schmo’s blog. But, you should absolutely have, you know, a digital PR practice in place, you are actively reaching out to other organizations, to publications, etc., that are relevant, high quality, that would be willing to link back to you.

Erik Gensler: And it’s also important, the words that are linking back to you, right?

Kathleen McFarlane: Exactly, they should be related to the content on your sit, absolutely.

Erik Gensler: So, Google uses those words to help understand what your site is about?

Kathleen McFarlane: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: Yeah.

Kathleen McFarlane: That gives Google a clue of what it is.

Erik Gensler: Right. Any other quick tips for organizations looking to improve their organic search?

Kathleen McFarlane: I mean, I think would say, you know, SEO is absolutely the long game. It takes time to build authority, it takes time to make changes and for Google to recrawl your site and re-index pages and improve rankings over time. That being said, there are some quick tips and fixes-

Erik Gensler: (Laughs).

Kathleen McFarlane: …that you can absolutely implement that will help bolster your presence. Certainly, you’ll want to make sure you have a site map. This is essentially a map of your site where Google can say, “Oh, look, these are the pages on the site.” And it makes it easier for Google to find them and index them. This is something you want to keep up to date, so as you’re adding pages to your site, make sure those get added to your site map as well. Another free tool that I absolutely recommend using, is Google Search Console. This is a free account through Google that, basically, allows you to see the crawl errors Google’s seeing when they look at your site, as well as, what are the queries that are actually, causing your site to rank organically. And then you can actually mine that query data and use it to inform your content creation strategy.

Erik Gensler: Give me an example.

Kathleen McFarlane: So, for example, if you see a lot of, you know, longer tail, longer term questions coming up, for example, in your query data and your Google Search Console account, you can say, “Oh, look, a lot of people are asking how do I drive to this performing arts venue from X?” Maybe that may be something you might want to leverage for your FAQ page.

Erik Gensler: Right. Or like, the example I think we use a lot is, “What should I wear to the Opera?”

Kathleen McFarlane: Yes (laughs), exactly. Exactly, that’s a great example.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. Should organizations be investing real dollars in middle funnel and top of funnel keywords? When does that make sense? If you used to get a lot of traffic for things to do in Boston and that’s declining, you focus your SEO strategy around it. When does it make sense to bolster that with paid media dollars in search?

Kathleen McFarlane: Look, here’s what I would say. We all know that there’s budgetary constraints, and sometimes it’s not feasible to bid on terms like, things to do in Boston, that are probably pretty competitive, there’s lots of volume around those terms. But what you should absolutely look into is what we would classify as more mid-funnel terms. So, to break down that marketing jargon, essentially, we’re saying, you know, things that are a little bit, further along in the consideration period, a little more precise but are not yet those branded or programming specific terms. So, for example, if you have classical music concerts, you could target an area in your, in your location, a radius in your location, saying, “Classical music concerts near me.” That’s highly relevant to your organization, absolutely traffic that you do want to rank for, and that is a term that’s harder now to rank for in a Grant account. So that would make perfect sense to put that into a paid account.

Erik Gensler: Specifically, with the example you gave of 77% of people who click on the search ad end up buying, right?

Kathleen McFarlane: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: …that makes perfect sense to me.

Kathleen McFarlane: Exactly. And these are the types of terms that are going to move someone further along that path and going to assist your overall conversion volume.

Erik Gensler: And I think we’re seeing a lot of organizations dipping their toe into supplementing Grant with paid, and I think where we’re really seeing it is when there’s larger media budgets around a holiday show, or an event with a bigger sales goal.

Kathleen McFarlane: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, certainly with that maximum $2 cost per click bid in a Grant, already, even before all these changes in the Grant landscape and policies, it does make sense to supplement with paid media for those, you know, large scale shows, more competitive times of year, etc. You’re going to get more visibility, you can bid more than $2, and you can employ all those different tactics that we talked about.

Erik Gensler: We can’t talk about Search without really digging more into mobile, because I think mobile has just changed the landscape so dramatically. And, we talked about it a little bit at the top, but just the few data points about how mobile has changed Search, for people who haven’t been following along the Search blogs like you have every day.

Kathleen McFarlane: (Laughs) I do love a good Search blog.

Erik Gensler: (Laughs).

Kathleen McFarlane: You know, more than half of all searches on Google today occur on a mobile device, and this essentially means the need for mobile speed, and mobile friendliness is more important now than ever before. On top of that, according to Google, in the theater and theater tickets categories, specifically looking at the performing arts sector in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2018 versus the same time frame last year, mobile queries have grown 10%. So, they are continuing to grow, more and more people are turning to mobile in that moment and it’s incredibly important. I will say mobile, in the past, got a bad rap, you know? People would say, “Oh, my people aren’t converting on mobile.” Right? They would be segmenting the data in their account and looking at mobile and saying, “The conversion rate’s way lower than desktop, I’m just going to bid way down on mobile.” Well, we know that, you know, as marketers, as well as, as consumers ourselves, just how important mobile is. And, through attribution analysis, you can really, kind of, step away from that last click model, you know, just giving credit to the last step before someone actually buys. If you move past that model, you can actually see that mobile has a far greater impact than what’s seen in that model, right? So, if you’re giving fractional credit to those earlier steps, you’ll see mobile actually is used as a research tool, people as researching on mobile, buying on desktop later, it’s incredibly important.

Erik Gensler: We could really do a whole podcast about mobile, but, I want to give you the chance to share anything else that you think is super relevant.

Kathleen McFarlane: I mean, you know, we talked about the need for mobile speed and mobile friendliness, but when we look at it on a nitty gritty level, it has real impact on, as we mentioned, a major component on the quality filter for Grant accounts, right? So, if you have, poor mobile experience, or slower load time on mobile, your ads will rank less often in a Grant account. It also actually plays a part in ad rank in general as well, although to a lesser this means it does also affect your paid results. And, on top of that, starting in July, right now, Google’s actually moving to their mobile first index for organic search as well. So, in other words, they’re looking at your mobile experience, first and foremost, to inform organic ranking. So, really it has a major impact across the board for Grant, paid, and organic search. There’s a stat from Google that says, as page load times go from 1 second to 10 seconds on mobile, the probability of a bounce increases by 123%, that’s huge. So, this goes beyond just your search results, even your other digital channel results, overall this impacts how someone interacts with your site. you know, whether or not they’re going to buy tickets, subscribe, donate, etc. and, on average, 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load, according to Google. In other words, people just abandon ship.

Erik Gensler: Right.

Kathleen McFarlane: They don’t want to wait. You can actually test your site speed, Google does have a free tool you can use called Test My Site Speed, which I absolutely recommend checking out. And, they do give some very high-level recommendations of what you can do to improve site speed, such as compressing images, minifying your resources, etc.

Erik Gensler: So, we’ve published, a lot of resources on Search strategy for arts organizations, can you mention a few so listeners have a place to look further into everything we talked about today?

Kathleen McFarlane: Certainly Capacity Interactive’s blog has a lot of great information on it, and as I mentioned, we do outline, the new Grant policies really in detail there. So, I certainly recommend that. We also have a bunch of Boot Camp videos on YouTube. Boot Camp is our digital marketing conference for the arts that happens annually in New York City. Certainly, a fantastic resource as well. And also, people can sign up for a free 30-minute assessment with our Search department, via the contact form on our site. So, if you have specific questions, or just want someone from our team to take a closer look at your particular scenario, either from an organic perspective, a paid perspective, or a Grant perspective, or all three, we’re happy to do that and really take a look for you and chat through the biggest areas of growth.

Erik Gensler: Alright. I’m going to do another plug for Boot Camp. You’re giving an entire session about the changes in the Google Grant landscape.

Kathleen McFarlane: Yes, we will be really diving into those changes in depth, what they really mean, the true impact, and how you can really mitigate that impact. You know, how you can assess, supplementing with paid media, how you can bolster your SEO. How you can take into account that, you know, 71% of minutes on digital today is spent on a mobile device, according to comScore? How do you take all those factors into play and make sure you’re looking at Search holistically across Grant, paid, and organic. And also, how does it fit into your larger digital ecosystem?

Erik Gensler: Absolutely. What’s something you’ve learned in the last year or so that’s been profound in how you work or think?

Kathleen McFarlane: I think, you know, this is something, working in digital, that things shift all the time. And, I think this is really just a larger example of that, in that, you know, this year it’s really, really hit home in a very real way, of just how quickly things can shift and how you always have to stay on top of trends. And I think, at Capacity Interactive, we always aim to do that that I think this year it’s really become, very clear.

Erik Gensler: And I’m curious, for you, what do you think you’re best at, and what is one thing you’re working on improving?

Kathleen McFarlane: In terms of Search, or-

Erik Gensler: Or per-

Kathleen McFarlane: In life (laughs).

Erik Gensler: …personal. You know I’ll take you there (laughs).

Kathleen McFarlane: (Laughs) Oh my goodness. So many things. But, I think one thing that, I guess, along the lines of our last, our last question is just always, you know, staying up on the trends, and reading into them. And, you know, you mentioned Search blogs. I’m an-

Erik Gensler: (Laughs).

Kathleen McFarlane: …avid Search blog reader, so I would say that’s probably one thing that, you know, I think I do on a consistent basis and enjoy, and certainly has a real impact on my work. One thing I’m always looking to improve is just continuing the research on other channels as well so that we can, of course, we’re a consulting firm, we want to give the best advice across all channels and really think about the big picture and how it impacts our clients, so.

Erik Gensler: Yeah. And integrating it all, right?

Kathleen McFarlane: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: It’s, I mean it’s hard, you can’t just do Search in a vacuum and

Kathleen McFarlane: Exactly.

Erik Gensler: …bigger picture.

Kathleen McFarlane: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Erik Gensler: We’ve come to your CI to Eye moment, and the question is if you can broadcast to the Executive Director’s leadership teams’ staff and board of a thousand arts organizations, what advice would you provide to help them improve their business?

Kathleen McFarlane: I would say, give the people who have that hands-on impact in their marketing, the fluidity and flexibility to make real time decisions, so they can reallocate, you know, media and budget across channels, to provide the best results possible. And they can really only do that when they can make those decisions in real time.

Erik Gensler: That’s great. Thank you so much.

Kathleen McFarlane: Thank you.

About Our Guests
Kathleen McFarlane
Kathleen McFarlane
Consultant, Capacity Interactive

Kathleen McFarlane leads search initiatives at Capacity Interactive. Her team focuses on paid and search efforts for arts organizations.

Read more

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