Google goes to Montana

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The waters of digital marketing have been uncharted, but finally, some companies are creating maps. 

Google paired with Hagadone Digital on Thursday to bring a Digital Marketing Forum to Northwest Montana to help guide participants through the murky waters. 

The forum in Whitefish taught over 100 participants about trends in marketing and social media and how to use every resource available to better their advertising. 

“It’s a good refresher course,” said Keith Lederman, director of marketing for Casey’s in Whitefish. “I graduated college with a degree in marketing, but coming to stuff like this helps to keep the information fresh and updated, and hopefully learn something new.” 

Many of the participants asked specific questions about their business’ online presence. They also gave to and received advice from each other. 

The forum concentrated on how to stay in front of prospective clients at opportune times using a theory called “time, location, device” developed by Google.

“We’re referring to that old adage, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ but we will not be out of sight, and we will not be out of mind,” said Doug Shust, chief operating officer for Hagadone Digital. 

That strategy is based on research showing people will use different digital devices at different times of the day, meaning that marketing should change in relation to those. Google uses a variety of algorithms to find what kind of device a person uses, and where they are, to decide what kind of advertising to display during the user’s Google search. 

Shust gave the example of searching online for “pizza.” In one case, a person could search the word “pizza” at 5:30 p.m. from a desktop computer. The marketing and advertising displayed on the first page of Google would be for home delivery, assuming the person is searching for dinner for their family. 

However, if the search is placed on a smartphone while in a mall at 7 p.m., the results will show advertising for pizza-by-the-slice located in the mall, assuming the person is looking for a meal right at that moment. Because of that, different marketing strategies should be used for different devices and times. 

THE FORUM not only taught participants how to market themselves digitally but also looked to the future. 

One presenter was Krista LaRiviere, the co-founder and chief executive officer of gShift, a company that studies the trends in Google-based advertising and where it will go in the future. 

“If a company says they will make you number one on Google, fire them,” LaRiviere said, speaking about standing out during Google searchs. “That’s not what this is about.” 

LaRiviere explained that there are an infinite number of variables that go into each Google search. Setting aside Google’s algorithms that track time, location and device, those marketing their companies through Google also need to be aware of what their customers type into the search engine. For example, different results are found for the search “flower shop” and “I’m looking for a florist.”

Some digital marketing companies will say they can make their clients come up first in a Google search for several key words, but LaRiviere cautioned that this is not the smartest way to advertise on Google. 

Instead, she said the process is about enhancing a company’s web presence through discoverability, using social media, and increasing the ability to be found on any device. She said the best way to enhance a company’s web presence is through content on the site. 

“Focus on content and the rest will come,” she said. “Content is king.” 

Because Google promotes sites that are proven to be more reliable and recent, LaRiviere suggests updating a website several times each week with relevant content such as blog posts about the industry. 

That way, people will look to the website as an information source, not just a promotional site and may share the blog posts with their friends on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. When Google’s algorithms sense that a site is becoming more popular, it lists it higher during a search for related topics. 

Presenters also included Baltej Gill, vice president of M3 Social Mindz. 

Sher Khan, a strategic partner manager for Google, was scheduled to speak at Thursday’s forum but he was unable to make it due to a car accident. 

The group has presented versions of the forum across the world in over 30 countries, helping to drive the marketing and advertising sphere into the 21st century. 

Reporter Brianna Loper may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at


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