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Helping students become independent, questioning thinkers begins with stepping back and guiding them to take the lead in their learning.

Cultivating learner agency is an endless journey. It not only entails knowing our students as human beings but also requires identifying and unlearning patterns in our teaching that unknowingly engender dependence in learners.

The term agency comes from the Latin agere, meaning “to set in motion.” It is precisely what agency should do in our classrooms: empower learners so that their minds and hearts become the engines that drive learning in our classrooms. This isn’t as simple as some might believe. Providing too much voice and choice without proper scaffolds can be counterproductive, resulting in chaos in the classroom.

Consider the following moves that cultivate learner agency—and choose one to try in your classroom.

Embrace the Quiet Moments

In an era of learning acceleration and learning loss, it can be hard to grant ourselves permission to slow down. But if we’re looking to cultivate learner agency, we must consider the negative effects of accelerating learning—of always asking our students to be “on” in our classrooms. We must ask ourselves: Where does the urgency come from, and how might it be disenfranchising some of my students?

That sense of urgency can actually cause us to diminish learner agency. I’ve certainly been there. When I’m feeling that sense of urgency, I can’t help but intervene prematurely, act on behalf of my students, and bear the majority of the cognitive load. But when I extend my wait time and embrace quiet moments that allow students to have opportunities to think on their own, my time investment pays off in large dividends, providing me with independent learners who find they have lots of tools to overcome obstacles on their own.

When we embrace these quiet moments, we bear witness to student process, which is perhaps the most personalized part of learning in our classrooms.

Praise Students’ Journeys

By stepping back and supporting our students while they productively struggle, we can learn a great deal about their learning habits, praising and coaching their efforts along the way.

Praising students’ journeys is a great place to start. But we must be specific in our positive feedback. We must name what our students are doing well in order to help them identify it for themselves. Otherwise, our classrooms become places full of empty compliments.

“I can tell you’re seeking patterns,” I said to a student recently. “That is something good mathematicians do. You may not always find the patterns, but looking for them is a great idea.”

“I know research can be frustrating and confusing,” I say to validate my students’ feelings when they engage in the research process. “Let’s talk about some ways to work through those feelings.”

Cultivate a Sense of Mastery

Daniel Pink, author of Drive, describes mastery not as unlocked achievements or boxes checked on a report card, but instead as a “desire to get better at something that matters.” In schools, this means cultivating awareness of how effort is connected to tangible progress.

After all, it makes intuitive sense: If we can see that the effort we’re putting into a task is helping us grow, we’re more likely to replicate those behaviors and persist through challenges. But it’s easier said than done.

Allow for Learner-Driven Evaluation

In order for students to evaluate their own work, they need to have the language to do so. Otherwise, students may nondescriptively refer to their work as “good” or “bad.” This means that educators must create structures, such as learner-friendly rubrics, that can provide them the language necessary to self-evaluate.

These learner-friendly rubrics should contain standards-based, student-friendly learning objectives, such as I can calculate the area and perimeter of rectangles. After evaluating their work on the rubrics, I recommend following up with a structured reflection, in which students state strengths, challenges, and action steps in their own words, as I detail in Reclaiming Personalized Learning: A Pedagogy for Restoring Equity and Humanity in Our Classrooms.

When first starting learner-driven evaluation, learners will need a lot of support. You may want to model how to reflect, even letting them borrow some of your language until they’re ready to do it on their own.

Ask Questions More Often Than You Provide Corrective Feedback

While providing specific and actionable feedback is helpful for productive learning, asking thoughtful questions can help students give themselves feedback, allowing them to tap into their own agency and initiate improvements to their work on their own.

Good questions will have multiple answers; they won’t lead students, either. Consider asking questions like “Why did you choose to…?” or “Is there a more efficient way to…?” This will force students to think about their thinking, adding a layer of agentive criticality to conversations.

When students are stuck, you may feel inclined to intervene directly in order to get them over their obstacles. But we must remember that if we, the teachers, are acting on behalf of students to help them overcome challenges, we may be doing more to diminish agency than we are cultivating it. In this instance, I like to ask students, “What tools do you have to help you get unstuck?”

Tell Students You Trust Them

This sounds simple, but it’s really powerful. By telling students that you trust them, you hand over responsibility to them, and you let them know that no matter what happens—even if they make a mistake—it’s all going to be OK.

But you have to walk the talk. It’s not enough to only tell students that you trust them. You have to show them, too, by embracing the aforementioned teacher moves that cultivate learner agency.

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Innovations In Teacher Prep Programs

During the past couple years, teacher preparation programs have been taking a lot of heat. Everyone from the Secretary of Education to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is concerned about the performance of colleges of education, calling for teacher education to be “turned upside down” in this country. And the National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News and World Report recently announced an ambitious new project to rate the teacher education offerings in all 1,400 of America’s schools of education, one might assume in response to concerns about their quality.

The vast, vast majority of new teachers come through colleges of education. And to be honest, I am sure that some of those programs are not so hot. But there are others that have developed innovative strategies to prepare their students to teach in 21st century classrooms — and we should take care not to lump all programs together in conversations about the state of teacher preparation in this country.

University/District Partnerships in Florida

A recent Blue Ribbon Panel on teacher preparation stressed the importance of grounding the pre-service teacher experience in clinical practice. The University of Florida’s College of Education does just that. For over ten years they have worked in partnership with the communities they serve, developing clinical programs that meet community needs while helping their own students gain important experience. For example, in the first field experience the university offers, pre-service teachers work one-on-one with children who live in public housing communities, generally in a recreation facility or center in a public housing neighborhood.

The program was developed with the executive director of the local public housing authority and a captain from the police department as a result of their concerns for children in those neighborhoods, and as a result of feedback from university graduates who felt they lacked preparation in working with children and families from backgrounds different from their own.

The college is also working with school districts to strengthen its ESOL program. All its students graduate with ESOL endorsement from the state of Florida, with ESOL competencies woven throughout the program. But in the area where they are located, there is not a large population of students who speak English as a second language. So the college has partnered with other districts throughout the state — districts serving a larger population of ESOL students — to give their students more experience with the unique challenges and opportunities of educating this population so that as teachers, graduates will be better equipped to serve them.

Co-(Student) Teaching in Minnesota

Another innovative approach to teacher education comes from Minnesota’s St. Cloud State University. The University’s “co-teaching” model of student teaching prepares new teachers for the challenges of the job while keeping master teachers in the classroom. The rationale is two-fold. Research shows the importance of mentoring new teachers, so why not push that mentoring down into the student teaching experience? And also, why do student teaching programs take effective, experienced teachers out of the classroom while novice teachers are learning? They should always be available to work with kids.

In these co-taught classrooms, a student teacher works with a cooperating teacher. The student teacher is actively engaged with children from the first day, assisting the cooperating teacher. As the experience progresses, the roles reverse — the cooperating teacher becomes the assistant.

The benefits are huge. Not only do student teachers have support in the classroom, but the expertise of master teachers is not “lost” for a semester while a novice teacher takes over. Plus, student teachers learn how to effectively utilize adult resources, helping them maximize the impact of a paraprofessional or parent volunteer in the classroom, for example. And they graduate knowing how to collaborate with other professionals — a skill that is increasingly valued in educators.

The best part of this model? It benefits children. Four years of research show that students in these co-taught classrooms outperform students in classrooms using other models of student teaching. They even outperform students taught by a single experienced teacher.

The Bottom Line

Given all the negative attention that colleges of education have received over the past several months, it would be easy to write them off — to dedicate our teacher preparation resources towards alternative (and unproven) preparation programs, rather than university-based programs. But we shouldn’t do that. Again, colleges of teacher education prepare the vast majority of our new teachers — and they are constantly developing innovative new ways to ensure these teachers are ready to be effective in the classroom.

Google Business View: Street View Moves Inside

Google recently launched a new program that will allow popular businesses to add interior imagery to their Google Place page. The Business Photos program, which will provide Google users with 360 degree views of business interiors, will allow potential customers to “virtually visit” the interior of participating businesses.

A Google spokesperson told BBC the following of the new program:

“Building on the Google Art Project, which took Street View technology inside 17 acclaimed museums, this project is another creative implementation of Street View technology, to help businesses as they build their online presence. We hope to enable businesses to highlight the qualities that make their locations stand out through professional, high-quality imagery.”

The interior Business Photo feature will use the same cameras and photographic method that the Street View project has utilized and will allow Google users to pan 360 degrees around the finished image. Although there is speculation that the 360 degree imagery may make a business vulnerable to criminal activity, Google has stated that the images will not capture anything different than a customer would see in real life.

Since Google will not take or post pictures without a business first filling out an application and consenting, it is difficult to make the argument that these interior business shots are a privacy risk. In addition to only adding businesses that have requested inclusion, Google is blurring out the faces of people who appear in the images.

However, once Google photographs a business, Google owns the images and can use the images however they choose. Although a business owner can request that Google remove the images at a later date, the contract does not require that Google comply with this request.

At this time, the Business Photos program is only available to small businesses and is unavailable to big-brand chains, hospitals, and lawyers. The program, which will initially focus on popular restaurants, shops, and gyms, is being rolled out in London, Paris, and select cities within the US, Australia and Japan.

[Sources Include: Google Lat Long Blog, Google Places, & BBC]

The Biomechanics Behind Michael Jackson’s Impossible Dance Moves

Before reading the rest of this article, please first stand up and try to tilt your whole body forward at a 45 degree angle. You may only bend at the ankle. Assuming that you are not Michael Jackson, you will fail at this endeavor.

But why? Do you not have the incredible core strength Michael Jackson possessed at his peak? Honestly, probably not, but even if you did you’d be unable to perform Jackson’s famous anti-gravity tilt from the music video for “Smooth Criminal.” And if you’re a true fan, you’ll already know why—but don’t worry, you’re still about to learn something cool.

This mysterious dance move intrigued three neurosurgeons at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, India, and being highly motivated individuals they set out to analyze whether it’s even physiologically possible to lean forward at 45 degrees while keeping your entire body rigid. They published their results in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine.

“Being an ardent MJ fan, I was always fascinated with his dance moves,” explains co-author Manjul Tripathi. “As a child, I tried them several times but failed miserably, especially with the ‘forward bending’ of ‘Smooth Criminal.’ During my neurosurgical training, I again got interested in this mystery move and found the trick.” Yes, Jackson used a little stage trickery to accomplish his fancy footwork—more on that in a minute. “But even with the trick, the movement is difficult to execute,” Tripathi says. So he decided to investigate the biomechanics behind such a movement.

As it turns out, the anti-gravity tilt is physiologically impossible. To understand why, stand up again—here comes some more audience participation.

When humans want to lean forward, we bend at the waist. In addition to having better flexibility, bending at the waist allows you to use your erector spinae muscles to, as the study authors put it, “act like cables to support the suspended spinal column.” This bundle of muscles runs from your hip to your neck and is responsible for straightening and rotating your back. By maintaining your center of gravity, they keep you balanced. Go ahead and try it: bend at the waist and notice how easy it is to keep your back straight and yet remain upright.

Trying to bend at the ankles thwarts this whole process. Your erector spinae muscles are certainly keeping your back straight as you lean precipitously forward, but they’re not involved in the actual movement anymore. The authors explain that the strain of the lean has now shifted to the Achilles tendon in the heel, which was never designed to hold your whole body.

This is why most humans can only tilt forward Michael Jackson-style to the tune of about 20 degrees, though the authors say trained dancers could reach 25 or even 30 degrees. To get all the way to a 45-degree angle, you have to cheat.

In the video, Jackson achieved his miraculous lean using wires that supported some of his weight and kept him balanced. But when it came time to go on tour, he wanted to be able to perform the feat live. And for that, he needed some new shoes. Specifically, he needed the shoes outlined in U.S. Patent 5255452 A (on which Jackson is a co-inventor) which have a slot in the heel that conveniently locks in a peg raised from a dance floor. This peg secured Jackson to the ground as he tilted, and then stage technicians could retract it before he lifted his feet again.

But the authors think that even with the special shoes, the move would have required “athletic core strength” to pull off. They note that moves like Jackson’s give dancers all kinds of unusual injuries that neurosurgeons like themselves must later fix. Though you might not usually think of neurosurgeons as sports medicine experts, Tripathi and his colleagues are the sort who operate on athletes with severe head trauma or spinal injuries. “Back problems” are not purely muscular; because your spine contains so many important nerves, it’s also a prime area for neurological damage. This is exactly what neurosurgeons who focus on sport injuries are trained to fix.

“The seemingly impossible dance movements of Michael Jackson have actually inspired the next generation of dancers to practice more difficult movements, which are putting lots of physical strain and stress on the musculoligamentous structure of the body,” Tripathi says.

Hip hop injuries are so prevalent that there are “b-baby” workshops designed to teach dance instructors how to introduce toddlers to break dancing safely. Yes. You read that correctly. The article in question notes that it “intends to emphasize the need to introduce breakin’ at the earliest age possible in hopes of inspiring dance educators to improve hip-hop dance education across the United States.”

Strange as it may seem to see “breakin’” in an academic journal, they’re not wrong. Studies have consistently found high rates of injuries amongst break dancers, including slipped spinal discs. Break dancing is the second most researched kind of dancing, according to a meta analysis, just behind ballet. Whereas dancers in more traditional genres typically have more upper extremity injuries, break dancing and other modern types have far more lower extremity and back injuries.

Tripathi says he regularly sees dancers with spine injuries ranging from tendon tears to muscle ruptures to prolapsed discs and fractured cervical vertebra. Some only need physiotherapy, but others require surgery from experts like him. He says between dancers pushing themselves to outperform their peers and the unusual rotational forces at play in their bodies, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to treat these injuries, especially when dancers keep going back to their craft. Repeat stressors and constant strain mean that neurosurgeons have to keep fixing the same body parts as they get increasingly broken.

So if you, like these authors, strain your back while attempting to copy Michael Jackson, please seek some kind of medical treatment sooner rather than later—and let the King of Pop keep his dance moves.

How To Use Personality Profiling In An Seo Agency

There’s a lot of stress involved in owning a business – especially during times of crisis, like the current Coronavirus pandemic.

We all deal with stress differently, too – and our coping mechanisms can derail our businesses if we don’t keep them under control.

I’ve found personality assessment tools have helped me to understand how I manage stress.

They’ve also helped me to be more empathetic with staff and work more effectively with my co-founder Carrie Rose.

For most of this post, I’m going to dissect our personalities according to various tools – and what that’s taught us about how to structure our nearly 10-month-old SEO agency, Rise at Seven.

What Personality Profiling Tool Should I Use?

There are a number of personality assessment tools on the market, some more credible than others.

Most people are familiar with Meyers-Briggs.

DISC is one of the more popular assessment instruments and the one I’m most comfortable with (but I’ll talk through a few).

Worth mentioning: I’m in no way affiliated with DISC or anyone who sells it.

What Is DISC?

DISC is a (typically online) assessment consisting of multiple-choice questions.

Some variants include lists of loosely related words to be placed into order of preference.

These answers are turned into a report all about you and your personality.

DISC stands for:

Dominance or Decisiveness.

Influence or Interactivity.

Steadiness or Stability.

Conscientiousness or Caution.

These letters are used to make up your DISC personality types.

You might be a straight letter (D, for example) or a combination of a couple of these.

I’m a dS: What Does That Mean?

I used a DISC variant from Innermetrix called ADVanced Insights that gives a score out of 100 in each category.

I’m very high Decisive (81/100) – not uncommon amongst business owners and directors.

I’m also off-the-charts Stabilizing (99/100) – not uncommon amongst SEO professionals, developers, and people who work in more technical disciplines.

It’s uncommon to find these two traits together though, it’s what we call a “personality conflict” (which already makes you feel great about your stress levels, right?).

If we were to play word associations with just these two scores, I’m simultaneously Forceful, Daring, Determined, Patient, Predictable, and Passive:

These scores reflect my “natural” style: the way I tend to behave when I’m under pressure (which, when you own a business, can be pretty often).

My “adaptive” style – how I behave when I feel like I’m being watched, or how I want to behave – is pretty middle of the road:

Understanding the difference between my natural and adaptive styles is key to understanding what causes me the most stress at work.

My natural and adaptive S traits, for example, are almost opposite ends of the spectrum:

I try to be outgoing, but it doesn’t come naturally to me.

I want to be seen as spontaneous and make quick decisions…but when times are tough and crisis hits, I really want to see how it unfolds and maybe I can be guilty of reaching for my tried and tested playbook.

Keeping an extreme personality under check day after day comes with stresses of its own – it can be hard to appear outgoing every day when that’s isn’t who you are.

Not really understanding the reasons I had a tough day used to result in drinking in the evening as a way of switching off.

Now I know when I’m keeping my true self.

Understanding my tendencies was extremely helpful when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

I could question myself: am I waiting for something because I believe I’ll get more data on how the situation is going to unfold, or is it just my personality?

Most valuable of all though, it helped me to navigate the situation with my business partner.

Understanding Your Personality Can Help You Improve How You Work With Others

Most of the time, Carrie and I are pretty similar. Here are our adaptive profiles, for example:

…but in times of stress, our personalities clash in a big way. Here’s a comparison of our natural styles:

Carrie gets more cautious (a swing from 13 to 51 C) and is even less likely to follow process, so an unprecedented situation like this feels even more like the rule book should be thrown out of the window.

Like my natural tendency to stability (I’m more likely to follow the protocols and behave in a similar pattern under pressure), this natural tendency to caution is the thing that’s likely to cause Carrie the most stress.

The biggest problem for us is that we both become extremely decisive (very high D) – so we have to be on the same page.

When things are going wrong, I can aggressively want to keep the status quo, whereas Carrie may desperately want to reign everything back, cut costs, and shut the doors.

Just knowing this helps us to keep our business relationship smooth.

When we have a conversation, we know to ask ourselves:

Have we made a decision?

Do we agree on the decision we’ve just made?

How will we know when we need to change our decision?

Likewise, when times are good, we should temper ourselves and ask if we should be more cautious at any point.

Our agency is 10 months old, for example, and we’ve hired 19 staff in that time, making the call as soon as the work is coming in.

It’s meant that we’ve been able to scale quickly, but it hasn’t given us a huge buffer for a crisis that we didn’t see coming.

Where to Start With Personality Profiling

Knowing your DISC profile might help you to make better decisions but, more likely, it’ll help you to understand why you’re making the decisions you are.

DISC assessments come in all shapes and often have a budget attached, but Crystal is a freemium assessment program that includes a DISC variant (and quite a lot of other useful tests).

We put every new starter through Crystal because it links together – everyone can see their colleagues’ scores – and can be a great conversation starter for people just getting to know each other.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author, April 2023

Google Analytics 4 Should Trigger Reorganizations & Agency Reviews

By now, you may already know that GA4 operates across platforms, uses an event-based data model to deliver user-centric measurement, and does not rely exclusively on cookies.

And you recognize that GA4 uses machine learning to generate sophisticated predictive insights about user behavior and conversions, create new audiences of users likely to purchase or churn, and automatically surface critical insights to improve your marketing.

Heck, you may have already started to move to GA4 as soon as possible to build the necessary historical data before Universal Analytics (UA) stops processing new hits on July 1, 2023, and UA 360 stops new hit processing on Oct. 1, 2023.

Many people may mistakenly think they have a good bead on things.

Well, I was at Pubcon Las Vegas on Nov. 14, 2005, when Google announced that Urchin Software, which it had acquired in April of that year, was being renamed Google Analytics. Yep, I was in the room where it happened.

That’s when we both heard that the basic version of Google Analytics was free for the first time.

So, I know a little something about the impact of new versions of Google’s web analytics service.

And, I’ve learned that you don’t need to wait for machine learning to generate sophisticated predictive insights about a couple of “events” that the adoption of GA4 is likely to trigger for your organization or clients in the next 14 months.

One is a reorganization. The other is an agency review.

The Reorg

The “web analytics” team still sits in the IT department in far too many organizations.


Because the team was originally created back in 1995 when web analytics meant servers, log files, and complex handwritten code to parse the log files and pump out reports.

So, putting them in the IT department made perfect sense back then.

But, data collection, storage, and processing have all moved into the cloud (hosted by your application service provider rather than in-house).

This eliminated the need to maintain IT teams for web analytics, except perhaps to update measurement codes and related code fragments collectively known as “tags” on your website or mobile app.

In addition, your website itself has transformed from being “brochure-ware” back in the early days into an increasingly integral part of your business – both online and offline.

Nothing highlights this change more than the fact that we no longer count the number of client requests (or hits) made to the web server like they did a generation ago.

Because of these trends, the “digital analytics” team doesn’t belong in IT anymore.

Where does it belong?

Well, ask yourself three questions:

Who uses analytics?

Marketing (not IT) needs to see unified customer journeys across their websites and apps.

Marketing (not IT) needs to use Google’s machine learning technology to the surface and predict new insights.

And marketing (not IT) needs to keep up with evolving customer needs and expectations.

Who directs implementation?

Marketing (not IT) needs to decide which recommended events to add, which suggested audiences to use, and which events to mark as conversions.

Marketing (not IT) needs to decide what associate monetary values to use for micro-conversions, custom insights to create, and anomalies to act on.

And marketing (not IT) should decide which other platforms, such as Google Ads, Search Console, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, to integrate with GA4.

Who owns reporting?

So, marketing (not IT) needs to use data-driven attribution to analyze the full impact of their latest campaigns and ongoing programs across the customer journey.

And marketing (not IT) needs to export that analysis to Google Ads and the Google Marketing Platform’s media tools to optimize those campaigns and programs.

This is why digital analytics belongs in marketing – and it has belonged there for more than 10 years.

But, inertia is a powerful force – and most people hate reorgs – which explains why far too many organizations are loath to move their analytics team out of IT and into marketing.

So, why do I think that GA4 will be the irresistible force to overcome this immovable object?

Well, one of the features that you’ve already heard about is Analytics Intelligence, which uses machine learning and conditions that you need to configure to help you understand and act on your GA4 data.

And one of the statistical techniques that Analytics Intelligence uses is Anomaly detection.

Using historical data, Analytics Intelligence “learns” to predict the value of metrics for the current time period and flags any data points as anomalies if their actual value falls outside a “credible” interval.

For detection of weekly anomalies, the training period for GA4’s machine learning is 32 weeks.

For detection of daily anomalies, the training period is 90 days. And for the detection of hourly anomalies, the training period is two weeks.

In other words, somewhere between 2 and 32 weeks after GA4 is set up and starts collecting data, Analytics Intelligence’s machine learning will be sufficiently trained to analyze your data and predict future actions that your end-users may take.

That’s when marketers will begin seeing “Insights” appear on their GA4 Home page.

These Insights will show unusual changes, emerging trends, and other anomalies about your site or app.

Seeing specific Insights can help you quickly identify data changes that warrant further analysis and action.

That’s when the marketing department will start “freaking out” if the IT department doesn’t respond to urgent requests for “help” within a week, a day, or even an hour.

And that’s when the business case for moving the analytics team from IT to Marketing will suddenly become data-driven.

Why is this scenario likely to ripple across organizations worldwide over the next 14 months?

Well, early adopters of GA4 have already reported the benefits of getting a complete view of their customer lifecycle with an event-based measurement model that isn’t fragmented by platform or organized into independent sessions.

And I’d argue that the same benefits are available to an organization that isn’t fragmented by department or organized into independent silos.

For example, Gymshark, a fitness apparel and accessories brand based in the UK, used GA4 to understand its customers across touchpoints on its website and app.

Oh, and non-profits can benefit from seeing the user journey from end to end, too.

For example, 412 Food Rescue, a non-profit organization based in Pittsburgh, needed to recruit more volunteers to deliver food from retailers to people experiencing food insecurity.

Automated Insights in GA4 showed their team that weekends tended to be a little bit slower in terms of volunteers and engagement, so they adjusted the social media campaigns that were driving traffic to their website.

And they’ve cut their reporting time by 50%, which has freed up their already limited staff to grow their impact throughout the community and expand to new cities.

Watch “Google Analytics: 412 Food Rescue Case Study”, which was uploaded to YouTube on Mar. 24, 2023, to hear the team tell their story in their own words.

This brings us to the second “event” that GA4 is likely to trigger for your organization or clients: An agency review.

Agency Review

So, they should weather the storm created by the move to GA4 without too much difficulty.

But, many other ad agencies will need to hold an “all hands on deck” meeting to figure out how to hang on to a client that’s just configured their GA4 property and started recording YouTube Web Engaged View Conversion (EVC) events.

To do that, the client:

Linked their property to Google Ads to make YouTube Web EVCs available in their GA4 reports.

Activated Google signals to see conversions from users who are signed in to their Google accounts.

Now, they expect their agency to help them do what Harmoney did.

Who is Harmoney?

They’re an online personal loan platform based in New Zealand.

What did they do? They used YouTube to build brand awareness of its target audience in Australia.

How does Harmoney know that they did that?

For example, let’s say your client has built an audience of “likely 7-day purchasers,” which includes users likely to purchase in the next seven days.

Now, they assume that your agency can help them do what McDonald’s Hong Kong did.

Umm, what was that?

Well, McDonald’s Hong Kong met its goal of growing mobile orders using a predictive audience of “likely” 7-day purchasers.” They exported it to Google Ads – and increased their app orders more than six times.

They also saw a 2.3 times stronger ROI, a 5.6 times increase in revenue, and a 63% reduction in cost per action.

Or, another client may want your agency to create a remarketing campaign to re-engage users based on their behavior on their site or their app.

What will your agency do when it’s handed a remarketing list of “Suggested audiences,” which can include:

Achievers (e.g., users reach key milestones like reading a certain number of articles).

Billable users.

Cart abandoners.

Checkout starters.

Item searchers.

Item viewers.

Registered users.



Top players.

Top scorers.

Tutorial abandoners.

Tutorial finishers.

Video completers.

Video starters.

Wishlist users.

Hey, you can’t make this stuff up.

So, what will you do?

Well, my scientific wild-ass guess is your agency will act like a swan, gracefully gliding across a lake – while furiously paddling beneath the water’s surface.

But, if you don’t convince everyone at your agency that GA4 will fundamentally change client expectations of what ad agencies should be able to do, then you’re likely to lose those clients.

I don’t suppose you know what clients will expect your ad agency should be able to do, do you?

Aw, wait. That was on Final Jeopardy! last night.

Mayim Bialik said…clients now expect their ad agencies to be able to use the front end of the Google Marketing Platform to leverage what the back end of the platform (the part formerly known as Google Analytics) can provide…which now includes measuring YouTube Web EVC events, generating Predictive audiences, and creating Suggested audiences.

So, don’t be surprised when your client announces an agency review.

And even if your agency is invited to compete, don’t expect to hang on to this account – unless you’ve figured out how to defeat some of the big ad agencies using the Google Marketing Platform since March 2008.

In case you haven’t learned these five best practices yet, they are:

Organize audience insights: Aggregate your data sources – including GA4 data, offline data, CRM data, survey data, or third-party data – to get a comprehensive view of your audience.

Design compelling creative: Google encourages marketers to “establish a general campaign plan and align your creative, analytics, and media teams as early as possible. This allows the creative team to tailor messages appropriately for different channels and devices; it will also make it easier to ensure creative assets can work across them.”

Execute with integrated technology: Identify a capable partner for programmatic buying. For example, you’ll find 2,424 potential partners in the Google Partners Directory.

Now, some of the big ad agencies have more experience executing with integrated technology and reaching audiences across screens.

That’s why you may need to identify a capable partner for programmatic buying before the agency review.

But, even the big ad agencies are still learning about GA4 just like you are.

So, I’d argue that you should be able to hold your ground when organizing audience insights and measuring the impact.

Okay, how do you design compelling creative for programmatic digital video?

A second approach uses emotional AI to correlate creative attributes with video performance data.

How do you do that?

Well, read my article, “What’s the Alternative to Spending $7 Million on a Super Bowl Ad?”

The first digital marketing expert to respond to my request for alternatives was Ian Forrester, the founder and CEO of DAIVID. He used his video testing tool, which uses Emotional AI to automatically predict video performance without the need to show creative to respondents.

A third option is to use YouTube Director Mix to create customized videos at scale, swapping out different elements to tailor content to specific audiences.

For example, Mondelez India designed “The Not Just a Cadbury Ad,” employing YouTube Pin Code Targeting, YouTube Director’s Mix, and Google Maps API.

This hyper-localized campaign helped nearly 1,800 local retailers grab business during Diwali during the pandemic.

For example, Grammarly used Video Experiments to test ad sequences.

And now for something completely different.

Instead of letting GA4 prompt an agency review, preemptively urge your clients to conduct a digital analytics review.

Matt Bailey, who teaches people how to turn marketing data into action, says:

“I’ve been talking with Adobe, and they’ve seen an incredible surge in inquiries and changeovers. With the privacy issues and Google being the world’s biggest data vacuum, I’ve decided it’s time to make a change as well. I’m loving that the analytics landscape is once again becoming a financially competitive environment!”

He adds, “I’ve been testing Matomo, Woopra, Heap, and Piwik Pro. They all have similar features as G4. The problem is that G4 still isn’t finished. They keep adding measurements and changing labels. Just two weeks ago, they added a new measurement that trashed any historical data associated with it.”

So, which of these options should you use?

Well, before David went to fight Goliath, he stopped by a brook to select five smooth stones.

And, all David needed to slay Goliath was one smooth stone.

So, here’s what you should emphasize at the end of the agency review: If an agency uses integrated technology to reach audiences across screens with creative that isn’t compelling, then the only thing you will measure is the lack of impact.

My colleagues at Search Engine Journal have already done a great job preparing you to be successful with Google Analytics 4 (GA4). Check out these resources if you haven’t yet:

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