Masood Akbarzai

25. How to beat the advertising algorithms

 September 23, 2020

By  Will

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In episode 25 of the Customers Who Click podcast I spoke with Masood Akbarzai all about data, AI, and algorithms.

It was a really interesting episode, diving in to how algorithms work, particularly around Facebook, and how brands can make sure they benefit the most from these algorithm, and the correct ways to approach them.

It’s not as simple as ‘I’ve cracked the algorithm and can now advertise any business I want’. Each business is different; a different brand, values, tone of voice and creative, and this all means that the different audience you’re targeting will respond differently to your product, than one that is very very similar.

The only real way to hack Facebook is to throw money at it, and some companies will take this approach and just aggressively spend, and accept high CPAs because they do have high lifetime values as well. But for the majority of businesses out there, it’s absolutely cruciall that your advert resonates with your audience, and that means conversions. 

Get that right, and Facebook promotes you more and more. The same goes for other algorithms. If your brand is achieving positive interactions and responses, the algorithm likes you and promotes you.

Masood is a digital marketing specialist with a background in chemical engineering (UMIST) and mathematical modeling — both academia and in industrial operations. He used that as inter transferable prowess into his passion that was the online world as a whole. He has more than 12,000 hrs of experience with social media paid and organic algorithms dissecting, and deciphering. 

He’s an avid fanatic and expert of reverse engineering systems to evaluate digital intelligence for businesses and the roadmap for the way to go. He has an overall internet media analysis experience of 16 years, and currently runs an AI driven digital marketing consultancy and agency with the world’s top 1% talent, and technology from around the world. 

Key Highlights:

02:27 - 15:13 - Masood introduces us to algorithms - Algorithms are designed for actions and reactions, whether it’s clicking your call to action and converting, or just liking and commenting on your advert. The algorithms take these actions into account to decide whether to continue to promote your business to a wider audience, or to start limiting your reach.

15:17 - 22:46 - Myths & Misconceptions about algorithms & data - The biggest one is that you’ve cracked the algorithm, and what works for you will work for anyone. One of the biggest issues with a lot of advice and courses around Facebook is that they simply explain how someone ran successful ads, but not why the ads were successful. So people end up copying the process, but its not the process itself that necessarily works, its the creative and the audience. 

23:55 - 28:17 - Key things to consider when getting started - Look at what your competitors are doing. It’s so easy to ‘spy’ on them, find out what theyre doing, see how people interact with them on social media and how you might be able to use this information to your benefit. The other big one is user generated content, and in this case it’s more about analysing USG, and using it to reverse engineer your offering. How are people talking about you on social media? What are bloggers writing? How do they describe your business? It’s all great feedback that can help you restructure your messaging so that it resonates better with your audience.

29:07 - 31:20 - What are the biggest mistakes brands make? - The biggest mistake is that people tend to make pre-assumptions about data based off emotions, or trying to relate it to something you’ve done in the past. You need to build a relationship with the data, learn from it over time and in real-time, take a step back from the data and really think about what might be influencing it.

31:41 - 34:23 - What are the upcoming tends in data - More automation and AI in the media buying process and it’ll become more commonplace. Manual bidding might still exist for smaller companies, but anyone with decent budgets will use tools to automate, optimise, and be more efficient with their media spend.

34:40 - 38:28 - Masood’s Pet Peeves - People who claim to have a single, award winning solution for all businesses of all sizes. It’s unethical and unprofessional, as any decent marketer knows that isn’t true. The issue is that some people do get suckered in to this, and will buy courses, or work with people who make these claims, and when it doesn't work, feel that the problem must be with them and their business, and not on the advertising approach.

38:39 -41:20 - What’s the most underrated aspect of marketing? - Content marketing, but also copywriting. Content marketing is mainly just done poorly with little strategy behind it, but copywriting is really underrated. A lot of people think that because they can write, they can write compelling marketing messages in content, but it’s not that simple. It is a skill that requires learning and a lot of practice.

41:42 - 45:05 - Bonus advice! - Influencer marketing is going to be a big influence on algorithms going forwards, particularly where the influence is genuine, not simply paid for. If they get good engagement, you can get really good feedback and data from it, and incorporate this into your wider marketing strategy.

If you’d like to hear more from Masood you can find him on LinkedIn or drop an email to masood@akbarzai.com.


Will is a Customer Journey Marketing consultant, specialising in CRO, CRM and Customer Experience. Will has over 7 years experience working across a range of consumer facing businesses and has worked for huge brands such as MyVoucherCodes, Europcar, JackpotJoy, Virgin Games and Virgin Bet.


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