Brian Finnerty is Director of Marketing at Marin Software. He enjoys writing about all things mobile, ad tech, and digital marketing.
The world of search and product discovery is changing rapidly, particularly among younger users. Last year, PWC published an in-depth study that found that 71% of consumers would prefer to use their voice assistant to search than actually type a query. It’s clear that marketers need to adapt their search strategies to reflect emerging user behaviors and preferences.
At the 2019 Youth Marketing Strategy conference in London, Marin Software hosted a two-hour digital marketing stream (to a packed house!) that included a panel of digital marketing experts discussing the future of search. Moderated by Marin’s marketing director, Brian Finnerty, our panel lineup included:
Before the discussion, Marin screened a short video that shows how the younger generation (kids from ages 8 - 12) interact with devices and find products online, highlighting a definitive shift from traditional typed search terms to long tail voice and rich visual search. Not only were the kids very funny and enthusiastic about emerging technology, but also they proved to be incredibly savvy at finding what they needed online. Take a look...
Picking up on the kids’ reluctance to type anything (even on their phones), our panelists discussed how brands should plan for voice and visual outreach to build and maintain customer relationships in the future. Although voice search is still in its infancy, Richard May from Marin suggested that those advertisers who are willing to experiment now, while the technology is still new and fresh, would be ahead of the curve.
The panelists then addressed the huge potential that visual search brings to retail advertisers, with new ad formats like Checkout on Instagram and shoppable ads on Google Images coming to market earlier this year.
Lara Suleiman from Google explained that visual search provides consumers with the most seamless purchase journey possible. As witnessed in the video on how kids search, it’s much easier for shoppers to one-click purchase items from a rich image than clicking a text ad to arrive on a vendor’s website, for example.
James Murray from Bing picked up this thread about facilitating a quick and painless customer journey. For example, he pointed out how people feel aggrieved if they have to enter a PIN number for smaller purchases today—with the proliferation of smart payment terminals now, the expectation is that it’s one-touch approval for those less substantial recurring purchases.
As shown in Marin’s future of search video, the next generation wants to see both high-quality images and price comparisons in their search results, often skipping directly to the shopping tab in Google or Bing. This is a telling development for PPC advertisers, who’ve traditionally optimized their campaigns around purchasing text ads in prominent positions on search engine results pages.
Consumers now expect search engines to do all the background work for them, filtering down to relevant and desired options with glossy product images and clear price comparisons. The panel agreed that brands who can re-engineer their PPC strategy around the user’s need for visual product information and dynamic pricing options will be most successful in terms of ROI and lower-funnel conversions in the future.
Our Future of Search panel offered some great insight into where they think voice and visual search are heading. If one thing’s certain, it’s only a matter of time before voice and visual search are essential parts of the modern purchase journey in retail and beyond.
Youth Marketing Strategy is a marketing conference in London focused on 16 to 24 year olds, otherwise categorized as Gen Z. Marin has been a sponsor of this conference for several years now, and it’s designed as a touchpoint for advertisers and brands looking to connect with a younger audience.
So what generalizations can I spring on you after spending two days attending sessions and speaking at YMS? Quite a few....
For starters, I can now explain that FOMO, JOMO, and FOBO are considered real “things” for Gen Z inhabitants:
I took extra care with my notes to make sure I didn’t screw those definitions up, and I’m rock solid on the first two—but I did start to question whether FOBO was a fear of being online or offline. But I’m guessing that both work equally well.
Like any event that’s geared up to categorize a whole group of people based on their age, many of those present (vendors and speakers) will inevitably turn to survey data to find insight and make points that are worthy of a pithy slide or memorable visual. Turning to surveys is really the only way you can get away with sweeping generalizations about an entire group of people based on their age.
Skepticism aside, I did scribble down some interesting facts that were appended to Gen Z for the benefit of advertisers and companies selling products to people in that group. I’ve cherry-picked some compelling points to share from a UK study of Gen Z respondents, which was presented by Mark Walker, CRO at Attest:
In addition to the nuggets of Gen Z consumer data, I did find an old marketing quote that still rings true in a clever Opinary presentation:
“Most people ignore advertising because advertising ignores most people” – Bob Levenson
Ed Harvey, Head of UK Brand Partnerships at Opinary, also made the point that we’ve reached near saturation point for advertising, and the average digital native from Gen Z see 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day. Not surprisingly, engagement rates are very low as a result of all that noise, just 0.09% on Facebook and 0.05% on Twitter.
I also listened to a lively discussion about innovation in retail where Shakeel Sanghera from Nike made some excellent points about how people will always want the social, connected experience of high-street shopping. It’s something you just can’t recreate in an online setting, but it is possible to merge online and offline in meaningful ways for consumers.
For example, why not pre-order your next pair of Air Jordans online and arrange an in-store visit to try them on (to make sure they’re in stock in your chosen size and color)?
It was also noted that people are less impetuous when online shopping—which means they spend less per visit than in-store. Online customers tend to know exactly what they want and go right to the Shopping tab in a search engine or on Amazon to find it. There’s less browsing behavior online, and people aren’t inspired to try on random items and keep their partner waiting in the changing room for hours.
The summary of this discussion ended on a sensible note—for retail and beyond, technology should remove barriers and friction for consumers and ultimately be helpful. It won’t replace the warmth and social aspect of shopping with family or friends, but it can save you from waiting hours in a store for the perfect shoes, only to be told that your size is out of stock.
One final anecdote before leaving the world of Gen Z—Michelle Capp, Client Partner of Retail at Facebook, made the excellent point that technology has made us all very impatient, with Gen Z’s digital natives perhaps the most influenced.
Take hailing an Uber for example. If we see that a ride is going to take more than five minutes to arrive, our instinct is to cancel it and look for quicker alternatives. Remember that just a few short years ago, people would happily call a taxi the night before for a ride to the airport. How times have changed with technology advances, for Gen Z and all of us.
We called time on The Big Bang 2019 recently in London’s Science Museum, but plenty of good memories abound from the conference. The agenda included several big themes swirling around the digital advertising world, including artificial intelligence, feed management, big data, and the future of search.
Our opening session was a lively slam down debate about the impact of artificial intelligence on both marketing and our world at large. Charles Radclyffe claimed that AI is just “fancy maths plus data plus computational power,” whereas Sera Miller asked if AI can “help you unlock a strategy or help you get the creative solution to where it needs to be? If you don't ask those questions, AI will be like the emperor’s new clothes.”
Anita Caras from Verizon took the stage to talk about the strength of native advertising to drive more engaging user experiences. She described how difficult it is for a digital brand to survive, when some research shows that 75% of brands could disappear tomorrow and people wouldn't notice! That’s a long way from the brand love that advertisers crave.
Our shopping panel was a big hit (despite being interrupted by a museum fire alarm—thanks, kid!) with guest speakers from Facebook, Google, Bing, Marin, and Feedonomics. Panelists agreed that AI, feed management, and online/offline closed loop advertising are all important advances in advertising. But Michael Wicks, a shopping specialist at Google, seemed to capture the panel’s mood with his comment, “Retailers have got to remind themselves that the customer comes first and must be at the heart of everything we do.”
Ian Carrington, Google’s Managing Director of Performance Advertising Solutions, treated our audience to a fascinating keynote on the future of search advertising, which pivoted on a single fundamental concept—technology’s role in being helpful to users. “Understanding the customer journey and being aware of it is the first step in giving that customer what they want. All companies are finding their way through this. No one knows the answer yet. It's an exciting time.”
Wes MacLaggan, Marin’s SVP of Marketing, followed with an in-depth look at how data can provide advertisers with a huge competitive advantage, particularly when it’s used to leverage performance across multiple channels. Wes took the example of Google’s translation efforts, moving from rules-based to semantic, AI-driven translation techniques to get ever closer to the holy grail of natural language processing.
The conference ended with a truly inspiring talk by Doctor Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science at Durham University. Sue shared her riveting life story—starting as a single mother in her 20s with three young children to becoming a successful academic and public speaker. “Coming from very difficult circumstances, I never ever would have believed I’d become who I am. Education and technology have changed my life. It’s changed my family’s life. I love technology. If I can do it, so can you.”
Sue’s uplifting talk led us into a cocktail party in the Science Museum’s flight gallery (think champagne reception with large aircraft dangling overhead) followed by science-themed fun in the amazing Wonderlab space. We ended the day with tesla coil demonstrations, a gin lab, and controlled explosions—going out with a big bang indeed! Until next year...
Who doesn’t love visiting the science museum? On a Thursday! In February!
Marin Software and The Drum are bringing hundreds of digital advertisers together in London’s spectacular Science Museum on February 7th for The Big Bang event.
We’re aiming for breakthrough thought leadership, deep learning, and an opportunity to mingle with top brand marketers. It’s the hottest ticket in town (if we do say so ourselves) and the agenda will cover big themes from the impact of AI to the role of advertising in our lives.
This is most definitely not your grandma’s conference! We’ve invited the world’s largest search, social, and eCommerce publishers, as well as digital advertising entrepreneurs and innovators, to provide you with a glimpse of the future. Attendees will hear from performance marketing experts at all the major publishers.
We’ve put a ton of thought and effort into securing the right presenters and panelists with strong opinions and plenty to say about the future of digital advertising—check out a sampling of our speaker lineup below. It’s safe to say the agenda is packed and the marketing insights will be flowing.
The Big Bang event is sold-out, but we have a waitlist should any registrants be unable to attend on the day. Roll on, February 7th!
To help search advertisers understand and implement Google responsive search ads (RSA), we've created this quick tip sheet. Use it to get your RSA campaigns up and running today.
(Click to enlarge.)
The holiday season is upon us and it’s always fun to analyze the aggregate performance of our advertisers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Each year when we “read the tea leaves”, some existing trends are reinforced while a new pattern jumps out at us. 2018 is no exception.
As expected, we see a marked jump in clicks and spend on paid search in the U.S. this holiday season. Clicks and ad spend were up 53% and 81% respectively on Black Friday this year when indexed off the monthly pre-holiday average. Cyber Monday also posted 40% growth in clicks and 105% growth in ad spend for the U.S. market.
We also observed a large gulf between click (40%) and spend (105%) growth on Cyber Monday this year, which means CPCs have increased. A combination of greater click volume with increased competition means higher CPCs for advertisers. If conversion rates increase accordingly, then advertisers can justify this higher spend and this is where an ad management platform like Marin can excel by delivering sterling return on ad spend (ROAS) to match your increased investment.
Although both events originated in the US, data from Marin’s ad management platform shows that advertisers in the United Kingdom and Europe are rallying around Black Friday and Cyber Monday too. While the US leads in overall ad spend for Black Friday (81%) and Cyber Monday (105%), the UK runs a close second, followed by Europe.
What better indication that the shopping season is now global than robust ad spend growth across all three regions in 2018. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of this holiday period from Marin as we roll into December.
For more in-depth analysis of trends across search, social, and eCommerce channels this year, check out Marin’s Q3 2018 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report.
It’s pretty clear that Amazon is on a monumental roll. The company’s growth is staggering, showing a 39% year over year increase in net sales, a 12x jump in earnings per share (EPS), and over 100 million Prime subscribers globally in Q2 2018. There simply isn’t another eCommerce company with the same market presence and influence over the customer journey.
The reality is that many people start their purchase journey on Amazon, and brands can’t afford to ignore Amazon’s melting pot of customer demand. The Amazon platform captures a rich store of late stage buyer intent and conversion data, offering it to advertisers with a high degree of transparency into customer buying signals.
With a haul of $2.2 billion in advertising revenue in Q2 2018, Amazon is beginning to offer stiff competition to the incumbent digital advertising giants, Facebook and Google. According to Marin’s recent State of Digital Advertising 2018 report, 33% of digital advertisers see the rise of Amazon as the industry trend that will most impact their business.
It’s clear that many digital advertisers now view Amazon as a growth opportunity for their business, operating much further down the funnel than Google or Facebook. Amazon also offers a huge advantage for first movers, when you consider how competitive it’s become to reach your audience on Google and Facebook.
During a recent Marin webinar titled Ramp Up Your Amazon Ad Game: 5 Tips for Success, 62% of poll respondents were not yet advertising on Amazon. What a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to get ahead of the competition and build a brand presence on Amazon.
How can advertisers capitalize on the global reach and strong buyer intent signals on Amazon’s platform? Amazon’s ad inventory is evolving rapidly—in the past, customer reviews and price were the primary means used to help customers decide what to buy.
Lately, Amazon has been giving more prominent placement to sponsored product ads in search results, forcing brands to buy ads to win top billing. Users often see only subtle distinctions between “sponsored” content and organic results, which is less distracting than you might think when both targeting and relevance levers are working correctly.
Let’s take a closer look at the type of ads that you can run on Amazon’s platform:
Sponsored Brands (previously Headline Search Ads)
These are very prominent paid ad placements where advertisers can map campaigns to specific products (ASINs). Many advertisers are looking to defend their turf on Amazon, much as they do with paid search—companies will try to muscle in on your target audience by advertising competitive brands on your product pages.
Headline search ads are a good way to generate brand visibility and protect your brand from competitive conquest by filling available inventory with your brand. ASINs also provide a great opportunity for retailers to sell complementary products that drive incremental sales.
Sponsored Product Ads
This ad unit looks very similar to Amazon’s organic results, but sports a subtle “sponsored” flag. Sponsored product ads are keyword targeted and trigger when someone uses the Amazon search bar. Advertisers can use different match types to get the right kind of traffic, alongside negative keywords to exclude unwanted clicks. It’s a good practice to separate out brand and non-brand terms to avoid muddying performance metrics for your sponsored ad campaigns.
Product Display Ads
These ads are similar to sponsored product ads, but offer a greater variety of ad sizes and formats to showcase your wares to Amazon users. A key point is that advertisers don’t need to be an Amazon vendor to run display ads, since these ads can link out to the advertiser’s site.
Some advertisers question whether Amazon offers tools that allow you to measure attribution and campaign ROI correctly. While Facebook and Google have a big lead in this area, we see Amazon moving fast to close this gap.
Recently the company announced that it was introducing a pixel-based attribution solution that will track conversions across Amazon’s properties. In addition, Amazon provides advertisers with all the standard metrics on impressions, clicks, and conversions across all product SKUs.
You don’t need to look far to find examples of large brands winning on Amazon. Bryant Garvin shares an excellent example of how Purple drove growth in market share despite a tough competitive environment. How? By playing in areas where Purple’s competitors weren’t comfortable and finding “green field” advertising opportunities on Amazon.
Instead of simply doubling-down on search and chasing increasingly expensive non-brand terms, Purple’s marketing team decided to focus on video ads and experimenting with new platforms like Amazon.
Check out our webinar, Ramp Up Your Amazon Ad Game: 5 Tips for Success, to learn more about Purple’s successful ad strategy. It’s a great example of how to gain leverage and market share by thinking differently about your customer acquisition strategy than all your competitors.
Marin has deep domain expertise in running paid search advertising for global brands, including those looking at Amazon as a new eCommerce channel. If you have questions about getting started with Amazon ads, feel free to get in touch. We have a broad library of customer use cases and industry examples to share with you.
The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.
Trade publication Voicebot.ai reports that 26% of smart speaker owners have made a purchase by voice. And, 11.5% of those people fall into the habitual voice shopper category by making monthly purchases.
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At Cannes this year, Unilever highlighted the problem of fraud in influencer marketing, leading other advertisers to reveal they've been quietly working on their own solutions. Just how big a problem is influencer marketing fraud and what can advertisers do about it?
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While the connected TV remains the most popular screen for streaming live video, between 48 and 51 percent of Telemundo’s live digital viewers consistently watch the games on their smartphones.
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The retail sector's investment in mobile ads is expected to account for nearly 70% of retailers' digital ad spending in 2018, according to a new report from eMarketer. It’s expected that retailers will spend $23.5 billion on digital ads, a jump of 18.7% from last year.
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AT&T has unveiled a bunch of new services following its acquisition of Time Warner. The company appears to be intent on leveraging its new content assets from Time Warner to fight off competition from other streaming services and carriers.
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It’s a wrap for another year at SMX Advanced in Seattle, where thousands of digital advertisers huddle up to explore the latest paid search and SEO industry trends.
SMX was an exciting show for team Marin, not least because we unveiled our new platform, MarinOne, to the world on the conference opening day. The announcement garnered quite a bit of media coverage also—check out what Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost had to say about it.
Later that evening, we were thrilled to share our news with a room full of digital marketing leaders during our launch party at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum underneath Seattle’s iconic Space Needle.
While it wasn’t possible to attend all the sessions due to the excitement and activities around MarinOne, I did manage to siphon off my top five takeaways from SMX this year:
As you can tell from my notes, there were many important digital advertising topics under discussion at the conference. It’s also an excellent opportunity to mingle with brands, agencies, and digital marketing experts in the great city of Seattle. Until next year!
Over 1,000 digital marketers braved the torrential rain and weather delays to attend SMX West 2018 in the San Jose Convention Center from March 13-15. Despite a wide-ranging agenda that included artificial intelligence and voice search, the emphasis of this year’s show fell squarely on marketing attribution.
We all know that attribution is a complex topic that frustrates many advertisers. It’s hardly surprising that all the competing attribution models—such as first-touch, last-click non-direct, linear, time-decayed—leave some advertisers dazed and confused.
Google’s session at SMX West promised an “Inside Look at Attribution” using a clever soccer analogy for capturing all touch points along the customer journey. In soccer terms, you can consider last-click attribution as the equivalent of giving 100% credit to the striker who scores a goal—and I know a few strikers who would happily take all the glory! Last-click gives an incomplete picture of the path to success, as it’s designed to ignore the defender who won the ball, the midfielders who played it forward, and the winger who crossed it for the assist.
Although many advertisers still use it today, last-click attribution discards much of the creativity (and credit) from the goal-scoring process. The Google team shared statistics showing that most retailers see four clicks along the customer journey prior to a purchase. Using a last-click model inherently ignores 75% of the influence by discarding the first three clicks in each consumer’s path to purchase. Put simply, you’ll never get an accurate Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) if your model ditches three-quarters of the data you should be using to measure a conversion.
Placing this into the context of a modern marketing campaign: it may be a thought leadership webinar that gets a prospect to take a discovery call, but you can’t discount the benchmark report that prospect downloaded earlier in the year, or the newsletter that contained a relevant customer success story, or the email campaign that generated a website visit. The point that Google and others made is that data-driven attribution is the only way to track all of those meaningful interactions that happen along the customer journey to conversion.
It’s also notable that mobile activity tends to take place earlier in the customer journey when buyers are researching a purchase or doing some digital window shopping. Although mobile accounts for a growing volume of transactions, many consumers still feel more comfortable completing their purchases on a computer or in-store. As a result, mobile influence is easily discarded by last-click, and it’s important influence on the buyer’s journey is often overlooked by less sophisticated attribution models.
If you’re interested in learning more about attribution, join Marin Software and Facebook for a live, 60-minute webinar on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 at 10 am PST / 1pm EST. This event will explore the myths and realities of cross-channel attribution, offering a clear picture of your conversion efforts across channels and devices. You’ll learn:
We’ll answer any attribution questions you have and demystify the various models. Hope you can join us.
“With Shopping, you can’t just bump bids up. Great Shopping results begin with feed design and optimization.” — Kevin Wetherby, Google Shopping Commercial Lead
According to Marin’s Q4 2017 benchmark report, Shopping ads saw 8% more clicks and 31% more click share from Q3 to Q4 2017. Given the strong adoption of Shopping campaigns by retailers, we believe this trend is only set to continue in 2018.
How do top advertisers run Shopping campaigns that consistently outperform their peers? With the industry constantly evolving and so many moving parts, how can retailers optimize their digital shopping campaigns to gain more clicks?
Shopping success starts and ends with the product feed. The first step is verifying that all of your feed’s values are accurate and that the feed is structurally organized so you can confidently build campaigns that map to value groupings within the feed. In other words, you can only build product groups that correlate exactly with your feed—so, this is your top priority when it comes to Shopping.
There’s just no substitute for domain expertise when setting up Shopping campaigns; using a combination of quality feed setup and proven campaign structure will improve the likelihood of each product showing for related customer searches.
Once the foundation of your feed structure is set, the next step is establishing an effective campaign structure. This basic structure addresses two of the most common challenges when it comes to Shopping:
The best way to ensure Shopping success is to use a multi-pronged approach. Heavy reliance on broad segments (All Products or Everything Else) leads to inefficiencies, while an overly granular structure (all item ID) can bottleneck volume and impede performance. The trick is to find the right mix through a combination of continuous testing and optimization.
There are even more great things you can do to ensure your Shopping campaigns are meeting and exceeding your revenue goals—feed optimization, scaling your campaigns, advanced strategies like mobile and RLSA, and more.
For in-depth tips on positioning your Shopping campaigns for success, join us on Thursday, February 22nd at 10 am PST (1 pm EST) for Shop ‘til You Click: Creating Shopping Campaigns at Scale. During this 60-minute webinar, we’ll offer expert advice that includes:
Our Product Marketing Manager for Search, Patrick Hutchison, will present with Brian Roizen from Feedonomics and retail industry leader, Ginny Marvin, from Search Engine Land.
Ginny Marvin, Associate Editor, Search Engine Land
Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including search, social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions.
Brian Roizen, Co-founder and Chief Architect, Feedonomics
Brian oversees all of Feedonomics’ automation processes and loves taking the most annoying manual tasks and automating them. He has founded a series of AI-based websites reaching tens of millions of users per month and landing in the top 1,500 websites on the internet. His latest company, Feedonomics, helps automate feed-based advertising for some of the largest agencies, brands and retailers.
Patrick Hutchison, Product Marketing Manager, Marin Software
Patrick is a Product Marketing Manager at Marin Software, with a specialty in search. Previously, he held roles in Sales, and Professional and Client Services at Marin Software. He got his start in online advertising back in 2007 with Vizu (acquired by Nielsen).
Another year older and wiser, and the digital advertising industry shows few signs of slowing down. To understand the current landscape and get a sense of what lies ahead, we dug deep into industry data as well as the Marin Advertising Index—which represents billions of dollars of annual ad spend on the Marin platform.
I hope you enjoy the result—our list of 10 digital advertising trends that promise increasing opportunities and unique challenges for global advertisers.
By the end of 2017, Google and Facebook owned 63 percent of the U.S. digital ad market and 54 percent of digital ad revenue worldwide, according to eMarketer. Nationally, Microsoft grew but remained a distant third place, claiming four percent of the total U.S. revenue share.
The numbers don’t lie—at the close of Q3 2017, Google reported ad revenues of $24B and Facebook reported $10B. All signs point to continued dominance of “the big two” in 2018.
The opportunity: Upping your cross-channel game stands to net you more customers and more revenue. Our own research indicates that brands who manage their search campaigns alongside social have almost 10% higher revenue per conversion.
Digital marketers increasingly understand that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t cut it anymore. They’re finding ways to go even further to meet customer expectations of greater personalization and map relevant ad campaigns to audience needs. Audience targeting fills this need.
Layering “Audiences” on top of keywords drives better results than using keywords alone. With this focus on more refined audience targeting, marketers will be able to more easily identify people interested in their products, set the right bidding rules, and create the right experience for millions of people. In fact, advertisers using Similar Audiences in conjunction with remarketing on Marin’s platform are seeing strong campaign results, including 40%+ increases in clicks and conversions.
The opportunity: Despite the advantage that combining audiences with keyword targeting provides, use of Audiences by advertisers remains low at just 21%. As a result, first movers stand to benefit the most. Add audiences to all campaigns, starting with “Bid Only” to measure without restricting your reach.
Cisco expects video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Not only that—64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video, according to comScore.
YouTube has a secret weapon in the video battle: TrueView. TrueView has 93% ad viewability, plus you only pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your ad. As an advertiser, you can deliver big spikes in conversion with video advertising campaigns by evaluating your videos across a variety of variables, and then optimizing and adjust to meet your goals. We predict that TrueView will become a not-so-secret weapon for advertisers in 2018.
The opportunity: As video advertising continues to explode, marketers who master the game stand to drive substantial campaign performance improvements. Use YouTube and Facebook for your video ad campaigns to take advantage of 80%+ of the public’s attention in digital. In addition, be sure to use search intent to inform and drive your social ad campaigns. Then, measure, manage, and optimize to continuously improve results.
To see just a couple of examples of how businesses have crafted successful video ad campaigns, read our case studies and check out our recent webinar on video advertising tips:
Despite the dominance of Google and Facebook, Amazon is emerging as the next big player in digital advertising. But let’s be realistic here—Amazon’s current share of the digital ad market is just two percent nationally and less than one percent worldwide.
However—as The Wall Street Journal reported in December, GroupM’s parent agency, WPP, may increase its spending with Amazon by 50 percent this year from $200 million in 2017. This would help push total spending on Amazon ads by three of the world’s largest agencies to a collective $800 million a year.
As Amazon opens retail stores and ventures into the CPG space with its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods, retail advertisers in particular will have to do double time to keep pace and take advantage. Additionally, Amazon’s self-service offering for retailers on Amazon Stores, with basic headline search ad capabilities, means retailers have yet another avenue for additional revenue and growth.
Consumers definitely now have a voice—and they’re using it to make purchases. Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant—inside millions of Echo virtual-assistant devices sold into U.S. homes—should give the company a powerful boost in an online advertising market driven by consumer targeting.
The opportunity: Keep an eye on Amazon. It remains to be seen whether it’s “too big to fail” or will be perceived as a competitive threat to retailers. In the meantime, advertisers would be wise to monitor Amazon’s evolution as an emerging powerhouse in the digital advertising space, and start to plan for future ad spend on that platform.
Voice search has taken the consumer market by storm and the numbers are staggering. Amazon has sold over 20 million Echo units, with Google Home gaining ground and gobbling up to 24% of market share since it hit the scene in 2015.
In addition to voice search, smart hubs and visual search will become firmly established in 2018. Innovative products like Google Lens, Pinterest Lens, and Amazon’s CamFind allow consumers to take a picture of an item and then search for that product to purchase online.
The opportunity: As voice and visual search technology matures, so will the advertising opportunities. Adapt to increased voice and visual search volumes and make sure your team is understands these technologies. A single-answer voice response is vastly different from the familiar world of typed search queries with multiple ranked results. Stay informed, knowledgeable, and ready to be an early adopter.
Because up to 90% of sales still happen in-store, marketers increasingly want to understand the full path to conversion and the impact of digital touch points to offline sales. To this end, the industry’s quickly moving away from the limitations of last-click attribution—rife with its inaccuracy, double-counted conversions, and poor reflection of the customer journey across devices and platforms. Advertisers are increasingly embracing a holistic view of measurement.
The opportunity: Unify attribution across channels. Assign reasonable and accurate value to all touch points along the customer journey to gain a full picture of performance and make better budgeting decisions to drive profitable return on ad spend (ROAS).
Speaking of offline sales—consumers continue to turn to mobile for all aspects of the shopping experience, whether it’s searching for products, finding the nearest retail location, or consulting their mobile device in-store. In other words, when it comes to mobile, shoppers are most often looking—and searching—to buy.
Additionally, it’s important to note that Google has access to 70% of all US debit and credit card transactions in-store through partnerships with companies that track that information. That’s a whole lotta data! To determine when digital ads contribute to an offline purchase, marketers will have to match this user data with other identifying information from merchants and credit/debit card issuers.
The opportunity: By matching ad clicks with in-store transaction data, Google has a treasure trove of information for merchants about which digital ads translate into physical store sales.
Advertising is an industry in the crosshairs of consumer privacy, and the past several years have seen a substantial shift in attitudes towards protecting user identity and online activities. Many people are no longer content to share personally identifiable information (PII) without providing publishers with explicit permission and defining strict rules of engagement. Coupled with fresh legislation such as GDPR, many advertisers find themselves seeking practical advice on what marketing activities are permitted or prohibited.
The opportunity: GDPR will have a broad impact on all advertisers (not just those based in the EU), but programmatic ads will be most affected. Advertisers who adapt to GDPR will likely be forced to emphasize less ad volume and much higher quality data. Advertisers will be required to show far greater transparency around their data collection and targeting practices, but this presents an opportunity to build a much greater level of trust (and engagement) with users in the longer term.
Recent estimates from eMarketer predicted that over a quarter of US internet users would block ads in 2018, up from just under 16% in 2014. Also, research from PageFair shows that people are much more likely to leave your site if you ask them to disable ad blockers. Not only are ad blockers a reality on US desktop and mobile, but they’re also on the rise in developing countries.
This all means, of course, that ad blockers will continue to pose a significant threat to ad-funded business models due to their rising popularity with users globally.
What’s an advertiser to do? Large publishers have little incentive to intervene as their business booms, but small publishers still struggle with these ad blocker restrictions. In particular, recent Apple/Safari and Google/Chrome moves on privacy impact smaller publishers, given the potentially deadly impact of ad blockers on already limited revenue streams.
The opportunity: Despite the seeming doom and gloom surrounding ad blocker adoption, advertisers still have options to run successful campaigns. Be sure to focus on a positive user experience, so that users won’t be prompted to block your ads in the first place. Make your ads relevant and enjoyable. It’s essential that you deliver meaningful ads that don’t annoy users. Also, be sure to get fewer, higher quality ads via opt-in mechanisms, as advertisers will pay higher CPCs on these ads.
Messenger Ads represent one of the most exciting channels to come online as of late—although still a nascent offering, it’s being touted as “the new email” by some in the advertising industry. Despite its relatively recent arrival on the scene, Messenger itself now has 1.3 billion monthly users, up from 1 billion in July 2016. That’s the same count as Facebook’s other chat product, WhatsApp, showing massive advertising potential.
The opportunity: Advertisers are already reporting CTRs north of 50% (which is basically unheard of these days). Perhaps it'll decline with time, but Messenger Ads promise a huge opportunity for advertisers who jump on the bandwagon in 2018. Be sure to hop on.
According to a recent study by Cisco, video will represent a whopping 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019. But that’s mostly people watching videos of cats falling off furniture, right?
Not entirely! In fact, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video, according to comScore.
Despite the numbers and trends, many advertisers still struggle to craft stellar video advertising campaigns—what video formats improve ROI? How should marketers handle creative? How do video ads impact paid search?
As video advertising continues to explode, marketers who master the game stand to drive substantial campaign performance improvements. Leading video advertisers must:
With a holistic view of the overall advertising landscape and the right preparation, marketers can use video ads to boost brand awareness, move consumers through the sales funnel, and increase revenue.
Sign up for our webinar, Press Play on Video Advertising: Tips for Success in 2018, to learn everything you need to know about paid video advertising. Marin’s Wes MacLaggan and Cory Henke from Variable Media will share the latest data, tips, and tactics.
The webinar is on Thursday, December 14th, at 10 am PST
(1 pm EST).
Wes MacLaggan has over a decade’s experience developing and delivering analytical enterprise SaaS applications, including four years with Applied Predictive Technologies working on the company’s platform to help retailers maximize the return on their promotional spending. He is currently Head of Marketing at Marin Software, and has been with the company since 2008.
Cory Henke launched his creative and analytics advertising agency, Variable Media, in March and has been able to grow and mature both large and small clients. His background is heavily rooted in analysis stemming from many years with ad agencies such as IPG and web publishers like Yahoo!, developing substantial experience in the direct response and e-commerce front.
SMX East is always packed with great speakers, events, and new ideas, and this year’s conference in NYC was no exception. Marin had an awesome time hosting visitors in booth 426, and got a chance to attend sessions detailing the latest digital marketing trends and big announcements.
Scott Brinker, SMX Conference Chair, focused his keynote on why search marketers are uniquely qualified to lead in the new "MarTech Era." Scott’s main argument was that SEO and SEM marketing professionals have the keys to the kingdom—their core skill set includes a blend of marketing operations, content marketing, advertising, conversion optimization, and analytics knowledge.
Looking across the marketing Lumascape, Scott pointed out how many different areas of the martech stack are very familiar to search marketers. Their unique blend of expertise across paid, owned, and earned media—while maintaining a focus on simply getting stuff done—will stand paid search professionals in good stead for the years ahead.
Scott also shared some interesting slides that show how tech giants like Microsoft view their own martech stack, and what solutions are essential to a modern marketing organization. Check out the full version of Scott’s SMX East keynote presentation.
Marin Software’s Chris Yachouh gave an SMX theater presentation on integrating your search and social campaigns. Many digital advertisers are building their paid campaigns around the customer journey, which jumps across channels, devices, and locations. Given that Facebook and Google make up over 75% of time spent online, it makes sense to run cross-channel campaigns that leverage the synergies across both channels.
For example, users who click your search and social ads are twice as likely to make a purchase. Chris shared how Marin’s platform lets advertisers use search intent signals on Google to create highly targeted custom audiences for social ad campaigns on Facebook.
Bridging the divide between search and social is an idea whose time has come—check out our Search and Social Playbook for more details.
Voice-based advertising was a recurring theme at SMX East 2017—it cropped up as a topic in sessions, panel discussions, and on the show floor. The argument is that voice-based advertising is causing many advertisers to start exploring beyond keywords and traditional search campaigns.
While most people at the show felt that voice advertising is not yet ready for prime time, there is a strong sense that it’s gaining momentum with both brand and direct-response advertisers. Given the runaway success of visual product ads and the growth of video advertising, it’s clear that paid advertising is leaning into more visual (and spoken) territory that will “rewrite” how users engage with brands.
While keywords still matter and the vast majority of paid search campaigns are built around them, the strategic value of other approaches is growing by the day. I encourage you to read Brian Smith’s article titled The future of paid voice search and monetizing the map for more insight on this topic.
We’ve seen Amazon move into surprising new markets—recall the $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods that closed in August 2017—but its latest voyage into the paid advertising space is a lot closer to home. In a presentation at SMX by Colleen Aubrey, VP of Performance Advertising at Amazon, we got a better sense of the shopping giant’s expanding vision for retail and paid advertising with Amazon Stores.
Amazon Stores is a self-service offering for retailers already selling their products on Amazon. While the traditional brand experience on Amazon has been product-based and transactional (not to mention lucrative for retailers), it’s hard for companies to deliver cohesive, brand-friendly experiences for their customers. With Amazon Stores, brands can offer a multipage storefront to showcase all their wares, in custom categories and highly personalized shopping experiences.
Amazon is betting that brands will flock to these virtual stores, leveraging the reach and targeting that they’ve always offered alongside a more immersive customer experience. Retailers can take advantage of embedded features like social sharing buttons, in addition to promotional extensions such as Headline Search Ads, to drive store awareness and traffic.
While there are missing pieces in the overall campaign functionality, it certainly looks like Amazon is building out an impressive value proposition for retailers looking to drive customer engagement and loyalty.
As 2017 draws to a close, it’s clear that Amazon continues to be the driving force behind retail innovation. Voice and innovations across the martech stack are really heating up, while integrated search and social campaigns continue to drive substantial gains for advertisers in terms of incremental revenue and customer acquisition. It’ll be fun to see how these themes develop in 2018.
This is the second article on our annual customer summit, Marin Masters. At this year’s event, our presenters explored several key advertising trends that impact digital marketers today, with a focus on driving more clicks, conversions, and revenue.
One of our keynote speakers, Erik Hawkins, Director of Global Product Marketing at Facebook, explored how mobile has impacted customer growth. Mobile has transformed entire industries—think about how eating, dating, or shopping habits have changed—by putting users in control of the overall narrative.
Facebook’s research shows that people consume a piece of content faster on mobile (1.7 seconds) than on desktop (2.5 seconds). Mobile users also browse five fewer products than desktop users. For advertisers, Erik’s advice was clear—the customer journey has changed too much to wait for people to come to you. Today’s top brands must be proactive; they should create purchase intent and reach out to meet customers where they are.
Laura Masters from Oath delved into the importance of brand safety for advertisers, identifying several high profile recent incidents where brands were burned by association with low quality inventory, fake news, and offensive content.
In fact, 75% of consumers feel that brands are responsible for the content their ads appear next to—so advertisers are fully justified in their concerns. Consumers in turn are seeking out trustworthy content from reliable sources, which creates a tremendous opportunity for premium media brands to leverage their established reputation.
In addition to the priority of brand safety, Laura emphasized the message that premium content simply drives better results for advertisers. Check out Laura’s presentation titled The Importance of Content in Context.
Patrick Hentschel from Feedonomics built an excellent business case for designing and optimizing your product feed on Google Shopping and with Facebook Dynamic Ads. Linking your product inventory to an optimized data feed can deliver outstanding results for advertisers. Patrick explained that high feed quality lowers your cost per acquisition (CPA), increases your rank/relevancy, and drives up return on ad spend (ROAS). You can view Patrick’s presentation titled Transform Your Marketing Efforts with Feed Management. Marin and Feedonomics are working together to offer feed management optimization to all our customers, so contact us if you’d like to learn more.
See you at Marin Masters 2018!
As the dust settles on Marin Masters 2017, we stepped back and reviewed the core themes from our annual customer summit in San Francisco and New York.
This is our first article in a two-part series.
Christopher Penn of Shift Communications, our keynote speaker in New York, addressed how AI is redefining marketing in fundamental ways. Gone are the days of “spray and pray” campaigns that lack scale, profitability, and agility.
Instead, we’ve entered a brave new world of cognitive marketing that leverages AI, algorithms, and machine learning to drive results. How will this impact marketing professionals? “If you do it with a template today, a machine does it without you tomorrow,” said Chris.
Increasingly, marketing organizations will seek out multidisciplinary skills—think about pairing data mining with mobile development—and algorithmic thinking, where machines do the heavy lifting. It’ll be interesting to monitor which job roles drive this revolution in marketing practices. In Chris Penn’s view, the future of marketing belongs to developers, data scientists, and marketing technologists. Do you agree?
To learn more, check out his fascinating Marin Masters presentation on Cognitive Marketing.
At our San Francisco event, Google’s Todd Pollak gave an excellent presentation on the increasing role of data in marketing and advertising campaigns. In his role as Managing Director of Google’s US Product Specialist Team, Todd noted that CMOs are moving away from channel-focusedmarketing efforts with distinct silos for media buying, digital marketing, and data. Instead, marketing leaders are moving towards a customer-centric model that connects first-party data across websites, channels, and teams.
In New York, Dan Taylor, Managing Director of Global Display and Programmatic at Google, explored how Similar Audiences lets you find and reach people who share similar interests with your best customers. Reaching the right people is part of the equation, but capturing their attention with relevant ads at the right time completes the customer-centric approach. Dan’s session focused on putting the customer first and using audience data to rethink the customer journey. You’ll find more customer-first insights in the Think with Google collection of case studies and resources.
At both our San Francisco and New York events, Emerson Spartz, the CEO of Dose, delivered a high-octane presentation about the death of website influence and the primacy of social. Applying a test-driven model to identify which social content will resonate is part of Emerson’s successful top-of-funnel methodology. Using a predictive approach consisting of bare-bones ideation, pre-testing, and production has allowed his team to deliver impressive results for brands heavily invested in social.
Emerson’s final point is simple—if you don’t use data to inform your creative, it’s like setting fire to your marketing budget. Check out Emerson’s thought-provoking presentation on The Future of Innovation, Data, and Attention.
That’s all for now, but stay tuned for our next post with more insights from Marin Masters 2017.
Marin Masters is our annual customer and partner summit that offers attendees a deep dive into the latest digital marketing trends, including cross-channel advertising, audience targeting, multi-touch attribution, and brand safety. We’re hosting Masters at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco on September 21st and The Standard High Line in New York on September 28th.
We’ve compiled a full-day agenda of thought leadership, deep learning, and networking with top advertisers on the Marin platform. Attendees will enjoy presentations from an exciting lineup of expert speakers, each offering a unique perspective on the state of digital advertising today:
At Marin Masters this year, we’ll also be showcasing our next-generation platform that combines the best of search and social advertising. We’ll reveal the how and why of managing campaigns in a single place, including:
A big shout-out to our key sponsors for adding their insights to our overall agenda for the day:
Marin Masters is an exclusive, invite-only event and space is limited this year. If you’d like to join our waitlist, please use the appropriate button below.
Over 1,300 people and 60 exhibitors traveled to Seattle from June 12-14 to attend SMX Advanced. This year’s event kicked off with a rooftop networking reception for SEO and SEM professionals. An overcast sky and arctic winds couldn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm for topics like bidding strategies, attribution models, and audience targeting.
You can tell a lot about a conference by its premier sponsors—Google and Bing had a big presence at SMX, but the absence of social media sponsors was notable. While SMX is largely billed as a search marketing show, the lines between search and social are blurring across the industry. Multi-channel marketing is poised to emerge as a winning proposition, as industry leaders like Marin Software demonstrate the value of managing and optimizing both search and social advertising in tandem.
Like most expo halls, SMX had a mix of established companies like Moz in slick and spacious booths alongside scrappy startups like OnCrawl (visiting from Bordeaux). I did notice a cohort of vendors focusing on inbound call tracking, including Invoca, CallTrackingMetrics, LeadGiant, and Marchex. These click-to-call advertising solutions promised motivated prospects dialing into your business with clear purchase intent, which could make your white paper campaigns turn green with envy!
Danny Sullivan led the SMX Advanced keynote, and interviewed Gary Illyes from Google. While somewhat light on product announcements, their discussion delved into topics like Google’s expanding mobile index, long awaited improvements to featured snippets, and the potential of combining Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) with Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Gary noted that the PWAs could overcome the install hurdle for native apps, which he described as “freakishly difficult” for most companies.
An SEM track called “The Mad Scientists of Paid Search” lived up to its promising title by offering good content depth and entertaining conclusions. Andreas Reiffen from Crealytics presented some keenly observed Google Shopping data.
In one hypothetical test, Andreas used controlled experiments to prove that a more granular account structure actually improves campaign performance. His data showed that splitting products into separate product groups increases the total number of impressions received. This finding is at odds with Google’s recommendation not to split products too soon so that the algorithm has time to fine-tune performance.
In another experiment, Andreas showed that impressions and clicks are highly sensitive to price changes in Google Shopping campaigns. Using an Asics sneaker example, he demonstrated how a 5% increase in price can trigger a 60% decrease in clicks. His findings also demonstrated that products priced “cheaper than the competition” generate far more traffic than more expensive products. The art and science of pricing is alive and well, clearly!
If I learned one thing at SMX, it’s that the future of paid advertising is shifting towards combining search and social channels—and everyone at Marin is thrilled to be part of it. Let’s see how the industry evolves over the coming year, and I expect we’ll see new sponsors and an increasingly multi-channel agenda at SMX 2018.