In 2021, more than 250 million items were purchased by Prime members worldwide over the two-day timeframe. This year, preparations for Prime Day should be well underway by now so that your brand can be ready when millions of consumers shop during one of the most significant retail events of the year. Here are a few tips so you can be prepared ahead of time.
Amazon Prime Day Tips:
View your historical performance of past Prime Day events
Create a ‘Prime Day’ page within your Amazon Store
Start planning your budgets NOW. Remember, traffic to Amazon’s website is increased exponentially during the Prime Day event, so you want to capitalize on this. If you don’t have enough budget for your campaigns to stay visible throughout the day(s), your ads will be paused until the next day.
Build brand awareness ahead of the event with Sponsored Display Ads and Sponsored Brand Video ads. Shoppers are more likely to purchase a product during Prime Day that they discovered during the lead-up to the event.
During Prime Day, use Sponsored Display and Sponsored Product ads to engage with shoppers browsing similar products or even remarket to audiences that visited your product detail pages before Prime Day to stay top of mind on the day of the event.
Use negative targeting to help prevent your ads from appearing on shopping results pages that don’t meet your performance goals.
Check your inventory levels for your products, as well as understand your top-selling and least-selling products, so you know where to focus your efforts.
Create and choose strong products to focus on in your Sponsored Product campaigns. Ensure their product detail pages are informative, have high-quality and detailed descriptions, and include four or more high-resolution images with a strong title.
There are many more solutions for brands to reach audiences you might not be aware of. Consider diversifying your content before Prime day by streaming a video game on Twitch, listening to music through Amazon Music’s ad-supported tier, or streaming video via Freevee (formerly IMDb TV) and Fire TV…all of which are available via Amazon DSP ads.
Use Sponsored Display Ads to target other products in your category to help reach new customers, or consider targeting your product detail pages to introduce shoppers to other products you sell. Let’s take ‘Computers & Office’ as an example: to engage new customers and ensure that your laptops are top of mind, you can target similar product pages within the Computers & Office category, or you can target your own product pages to promote your complementary products (e.g., laptop cases or external hard drives).
Lastly, don’t forget, there’s the lead-up (- two weeks) and lead-out (+ two weeks) of the Prime Day event. Brands that advertise throughout all phases of Prime Day can better build brand presence with shoppers. According to Amazon’s internal data, “Brands that advertised leading up to and during Prime Day showed a 216% increase in awareness and 214% increase in considerations, compared to the week before.”
Amazon Prime Day Deadlines
Keep the following deadlines in mind for Prime Day as they are right around the corner, and some have already passed.
Prime Day Deals Deadline (for consideration):
Lightning Deals Submission Deadline:
April 29 (U.S. and Canada)
May 13 (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the UK)
Coupon Submission Deadline:
June 10 (U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the UK)
FBA Inventory Cutoff Deadline:
June 20 (U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal)
June 29 (Japan)
Inbound Shipping Cutoff Deadline:
June 2 (U.S. and Canada)
June 22 (Mexico and Portugal)
June 29 (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK)
Prime Member Promotions Deadline:
April 29 (U.S. and Canada)
May 13 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Australia, Japan, India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates)
Prime Exclusive Discounts Deadline:
July 8 (the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Australia, and Japan)
July 19 (India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates)
As a marketer, you know that paid ads and organic social media traffic are both valuable. But how much effort and resources should you put into each? In this article, we'll explore the pros and cons of each campaign type to help you make smart choices. We'll also offer tips on how to measure the success of your campaigns. Read on to learn more.
What are paid ads, and what are they used for?
Paid ads are one of the most popular online marketing strategies for people and businesses to get their message out and drive traffic through their sales funnels.
There are many types of paid ads, but the most common are pay-per-click (PPC) ads. As the name implies, the advertiser pays each time someone clicks on their ad.
Paid ads can be a great way to get your brand in front of an audience that’s already interested in what you have to offer. Since you're only paying for results (clicks), it can be a very cost-effective way to market your business.
Benefits of Using Paid Ads
One of the biggest advantages of using paid ads is that they can quickly provide results. Unlike building followers through creating content and relying on SEO, which can take months to bring results, you can start seeing traffic from your paid ads almost immediately.
Customers like them and respond well to them: especially social ads that feel native to the social media feed. Facebook advertising has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last few years and has many options for detailed audience targeting.
In general, people like seeing ads that are targeted to their interests, and they're more likely to click on them.
You can track and measure results: When you're running a paid ad campaign, you can track how many people are seeing your ad, how many are clicking on it, and what they do after they click through to your website. This information is invaluable in helping you to fine-tune your marketing strategy and optimize your campaigns.
Paid ads can reach a large audience. For example, with Facebook Ads you can set your ad to appear to people in a certain geographic area.
Paid ads can generate a lot of traffic quickly and easily. Simply create the campaign, choose where you want it to show, and make it live.
Drawbacks of Using Paid Ads
One of the biggest drawbacks of using paid ads is that they can be costly, especially if you're in a competitive market. The cost-per-click (CPC) can be high. You might also need to spend a lot of money on your ad campaign before seeing results. For example, the more your ads are served to potential buyers, the more data Facebook is able to collect. More data leads to better targeting and higher conversion rates down the line, but conversion rates may not be great starting out.
Campaigns need to be constantly monitored and adjusted to be effective. You need to keep an eye on your CPC and cost per action and ensure you're getting the results you want. If not, you may need to re-evaluate your strategy.
Some people find paid ads to be disruptive and annoying. Paid ads have the disadvantage of being seen as a form of spam, and some may be less likely to trust your brand as a result.
What is Organic Social Media Traffic?
Organic social media traffic, on the other hand, is driven by unpaid posts, stories, and blogs, etc. that appear on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Organic social media content can be a great way to increase brand awareness and build relationships with potential customers. It’s also less disruptive than paid ads.
Benefits of Targeting Organic Social Media Traffic
The most obvious benefit of targeting organic traffic through social media is that it’s free. You don't have to pay for each click or impression as with paid ads.
Organic traffic is also more likely to convert than paid traffic. This is because people who find your business organically may be further along in the buyer’s journey; they're actively searching for information related to your business, product, or service.
Organic social media marketing campaigns are more sustainable in the long run than paid ads. Once you build a following, you'll continue to get organic traffic as long as you maintain the quality of your content. This is not the case with paid ads, which need to be continuously paid for.
Drawbacks of Relying on Organic Social Media Campaigns
Organic traffic can be slow to build: One of the biggest drawbacks of relying on organic social media content is that it takes time to create quality content and build a following, and you may not get much traffic until you do so.
To get the most out of organic social media content, you need to pair it with investing time and resources into search engine optimization (SEO). This includes keyword research, link building, and content marketing. The same principles that make your content valuable to search engines also make it valuable on social media, which in turn drives more traffic to your site and signals to search engines that your content is useful.
Organic Content vs Paid Ads: Which is Better for Your Business?
The answer depends on your business goals and objectives. If you're looking for a quick way to increase brand awareness or generate leads, paid ads may be the way to go. However, if you're interested in sustainable, long-term growth, organic ads are probably a better option. There’s a good chance that your business would benefit from both, but the relative resources you invest in each strategy can be assessed by looking at the pros and cons of each one.
Both options have their pros and cons:
Both require ongoing management and optimization: Otherwise, your return on investment could be negative.
Paid ads offer consistent and reliable returns: Since paid ads get more impressions from potential new buyers, they generally perform better than organic results.
Organic content is free (aside from the time it takes to create, post, and manage it).
Paid ads can be disruptive: Ads can be intrusive and may put potential customers off your brand.
In the end, if you’re not sure where to start, try experimenting with both paid and organic social media campaigns to see what works best for you.
How to Measure the Success or Failure of Each Type of Campaign
An analytics program is needed to determine whether specific content from your organic social media campaign is performing well and the ROI you’re getting compared to your paid ads. To work out the best formula for how to divide your resources, use a combination of ad spend and organic content and analyze the results. The best way to do this is using an ad management platform like MarinOne. With MarinOne, you can see all your campaigns in one place, including performance data for both organic social media content and paid ad campaigns. This makes it easy to track the success of your organic and paid ad campaigns and compare the two side-by-side.
5 Quick Tips for Implementing a Successful Campaign With Both Types of Advertisements
Identify your goals before running a campaign. This will help you determine which type of ad is best suited to your needs.
Define your target audience. This helps to ensure you're targeting relevant users and not wasting ad spend on a demographic uninterested in your product or service.
Budget for both paid and organic campaigns. Don't put all your eggs in one basket—a mix of both can lead to the best results.
Monitor your campaigns regularly and make changes as needed. What works today may not work tomorrow. So, it's important to stay on top of your campaigns and keep tweaking them for optimal performance
Use MarinOne to simplify your efforts.
While paid ads can be very effective when done correctly, they do require investment, which might not be feasible, depending on your budget and the industry. To make paid ads work for you, be prepared to do A/B testing, reallocate funds if needed, and make sure to use retargeting strategies. Organic social media marketing is free, but it takes effort. You won't see results overnight, but investing in building a solid organic foundation can lead to great long-term exposure for your company.
Regardless of how much you put into each strategy, you’ll likely find that integrating both types of campaigns into your marketing strategy works the best. To fully take advantage of both types of campaigns, however, you’ll need a tool to automate and syncrhonize your efforts. This is where a platform like MarinOne comes in.
How MarinOne can help
With MarinOne’s automation tool, you can set up goals on your site using the programmable automation features in Google Analytics. You'll be able to track ad metrics, CLV, and conversions without having a full-time employee dedicated solely to analytics duties.
Analyze your organic traffic and paid ad data early and make changes according to your results, automatically boost popular organic posts, and build campaigns from your product feed. Since MarinOne works with Google Analytics, there’s no need for a separate tracking code or web property ID either.
Learn more about MarinOne’s ad automation tools today. Get in touch to speak with a team member to see how we can help you get the information and tools you need to increase the effectiveness of your paid ads and organic content.
Creating profitable banner ads is a non-negotiable skill in the marketing world. Like understanding Twitter and knowing your way around Google Analytics, it's just something you need to know. But mastering banner ads is no walk in the park.
It’s hard to get banner ads right. When done well, not only are they an effective way to generate leads and sales—but they can also be used to increase brand awareness and drive website traffic.
We'll take a look at what banner ads are, why you need to use them—and how to make them profitable. Keep reading to learn more.
What is a banner ad?
A banner ad is a digital marketing placement that promotes a product, service, or brand using a rectangular image, GIF, or video. Banner ads are typically displayed on websites, social media platforms, and email newsletters.
Banner ads come in a variety of different sizes, and each size has its own unique benefits and purpose. Here are the most common banner ad sizes:
Medium Banner: 300 x 250. This is a popular size for rectangle ads on websites, social media platforms, and email newsletters.
Leaderboard: 728 x 90. This is the largest banner size and is typically used at the top of a website. It can also be used as a rectangle ad on Facebook and Instagram.
Wide Skyscraper: 160 x 600. This is a popular size for skyscraper ads that appear on the edges of websites.
Full Banner: 468 x 60. This is the standard banner size that's used on most websites. It's also the smallest size that can be used for a 728 x 90 leaderboard ad.
How do banner ads work?
Banner ads typically work on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-mille (CPM) basis. This means that you'll pay every time someone clicks on your ad (CPC), or every time your ad is displayed 1000 times (CPM).
When creating a banner ad, you'll need to consider the following:
Your goals: What do you want your banner ad to achieve?
Your target audience: Who are you targeting with your banner ad?
Your budget: How much are you willing to spend on your banner ad campaign?
The size of your ad: Banner ads come in a variety of different sizes. Choose the size that's right for you.
The placement of your ad: Where will your banner ad be displayed?
Your call to action (CTA): What do you want people to do when they see your banner ad?
Once you've considered all of these factors, you'll be ready to create your banner ad.
Advanced tips for creating a profitable banner
Here are some tips to follow:
1. Keep it simple
When it comes to banner ads, less is more. You only have a split second to capture someone's attention, so don't try to cram too much information into your ad.
Stick to one message and make sure it's clear. CTAs surrounded by negative space see an increase in conversion rate of 232% compared to those surrounded by clutter—so remember: give your buttons room to breathe!
2. Use strong visuals
People are visual creatures, and that's especially true when it comes to banner ads. Use high-quality images and videos that are relevant to your product or service. And make sure your visuals are attention-grabbing and visually appealing.
Pixellated pics, busy backgrounds, and generic stock photos are all big no-nos if you want your banner ad to stand out and look trustworthy.
In addition to choosing a good quality image, make sure your banner ad carries the blueprint of your brand: your colors, fonts, and logo should all be present and correct. Consistency is key to building trust with your audience—if they see a banner ad that looks like it belongs to your company, they're much more likely to click on it.
3. Make it mobile-friendly
More than half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices—so you can't afford to ignore this crucial step.
Make sure your banner ad is designed with a mobile-first approach. This means creating an ad that looks good and is easy to navigate on a mobile device. Use a large, legible font and big, bold CTAs. And keep the overall design of your ad simple and uncluttered.
4. Test, test, test
The only way to know for sure whether your banner ad is effective is to test it. Try out different versions of your ad and see what works best. Test different images, copy, CTAs, and layouts. Keep track of your results and continue tweaking your ad until it's as effective as possible. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to testing.
When it comes to testing your banner ad, there are a few things to keep in mind:
Test different versions of your ad: It may surprise you which designs appeal to people more than others.
Keep track of your results: You won’t know what’s working unless you watch your metrics.
Optimize your ad regularly: It's important to continually optimize your banner ad so it remains effective. As your business and target audience change, so should your ad.
5. Use the right format
The display network you choose should have all the info you need on which sites your ad will appear. Make sure you read it!
Banner ads perform best when they're:
Close to the content
Above the fold
On the left-hand side
It's unlikely you'll have a say over where your ad appears on the page, but you can target specific types of websites that align well with your brand.
6. Use persuasive copy
Your banner ad copy should be short, sweet, and to the point. You only have a few seconds to get your message across, so make sure it's clear and concise. Use persuasive language that speaks to your target audience and drives them to take action.
Remember, banner ads are not the place for long-form copy. Stick to one or two sentences at most.
Earlier this year, Google announced its updated partnership based on industry changes and user feedback. They fall into three key areas: education and insights, access and support recognition, and rewards. If you’re not taking advantage of Google Partners, it’s worth taking a look.
Updated Google Partner Program benefits
Premier partner status is now offered to the top 3% of partners in each country. Premier partners can access the following exclusive perks:
advanced google ads support
Premier partner awards a new 2002 premier partner badge
high value incentives
All google partners and premier partners get access to the monthly insights briefing from Think with Google. It contains the latest insights from Google on consumer behaviors and industry trends.
Additionally, all Partners and Premier Partners will gain eligibility for high-value offers ($500 Google Ads credits) for new clients. To qualify, the clients must spend $500 in the first 60 days. This is an upgrade from the program’s previous $100 credits and 30 day threshold. These offers will only be available for Partners and Premier partners.
As of late February, all Partners are also listed in the new Google Partners directory, available to advertisers all over the world. With these new benefits come a new set of requirements that companies seeking partner status can meet at any time. They’re designed to help you maximize your clients' performance, identify new opportunities, and accelerate digital growth with Google Ads.
The requirements fall into three categories: performance, spend, and certifications.
According to Google, Partners requested two major alterations to the requirements as a result of the global economic situation and to make badge criteria more transparent:
Partners have the choice to apply or dismiss recommendations to achieve a 70% optimization score. While the optimization score requirement was due to take effect in June, it previously only allowed for the application of recommendations. However, Google listened to feedback regarding the ability to dismiss recommendations for clients in situations where it may not have made sense to accept. Allowing marketers to refuse suggestions by Google is a significant change.
Spend thresholds will stay at a 90-day spend of $10,000 US across all of a partner’s managed accounts. Pre COVID-19, the Partner badge requirements were set to increase to $20,000 every 90 days. However, Google listened to marketers and kept the requirement at $10,000.
Agency Partners also communicated to Google that not every Ads Manager within their agency teams should be eligible for certification. In response, Google agreed that advertisers will be able to tell Google the number of account strategists within their business, and “at least 50% of the account strategists you’ve identified will need to be certified in Google Ads” to meet the new requirements. Either update your number of account strategists if it’s out of date or encourage more strategists to get certified on Skillshop to comply. Additional details are outlined on the Google Support Page.
With many agencies and search marketers being affected by the pandemic, the delay of these requirements from February 2020 to February 2022 was welcomed by agency partners. Google’s response to marketer feedback was also a refreshing change of pace. Now that the revamped program is here, it’s time to snag your badge status and start utilizing the new benefits.
The buyer journey is complex and digital marketers need to be able to connect with the right customers through the entire process. Different ad formats and placements can help brands make consumers aware of their product, push them into consideration for that product, and ultimately drive them to purchase it. Two key ad types to consider are search ads (served on search engines like Google, Bing, etc.) and display ads (served throughout the internet on various websites).
The main difference between display and search ads is that search ads are considered "pull" advertising while display ads are considered "push" advertising. So, search ads only appear to consumers actively searching for the required product or service. In contrast, display ads are considered paid placement and can appear anywhere on the web that a user may be navigating. These advertisements are based on several targeting parameters. Search and display advertisements are set up and run using various ad networks, from Google Ads to Amazon DSP, Criteo, and many others.
If your company's marketing budget is substantial enough to support various ad types, then you can (and should) test both search and display ads in your advertising strategy. But keep in mind that these ads are not interchangeable. Depending on the product or service type, you may have better click and conversion performance with one or the other. Think through the customer journey and how customers find your products. Is your product something that people need to seek out actively when the need for it arises, or maybe your product is something buyers might not know they need until they see an ad and the potential use case of your product?
Advantages of Search ads
There are a lot of advantages of search advertising or search engine marketing (SEM). The first of many factors to consider is budget. If the available engine spend of the company is on the smaller side, say less than $10K per month, then SEM may be the best tactic for your business, as it allows more control over who finds your business and at what time. Targeting the right keywords is paramount in SEM for capturing users seeking your service or product. Getting focused and intentional in keyword targeting means that the business doesn't have to waste money on people that are not interested in the industry or are not yet ready to make a purchase decision.
Another benefit is that businesses can easily cater to a local market via search engine marketing. Many targeting options can be paired with keyword targeting, so you end up with more niche and specific audience segments. Geographic, language, gender, age, and affinity (or interest) targeting are all available segments on Google Ads, for example.
In SEM, the sales cycle is typically short, and you are seeking to capture users at the bottom of the funnel or close to the point of purchase. Therefore, there is no need to continue advertising to individuals that have taken action or converted on-site unless remarketing is an essential tactic for your business. This strategy keeps audiences fresh and malleable.
Advantages of display ads
Display ads are an effective tactic for any product that is visual in nature. Clothing, cars, beauty, pet care, and more are all excellent candidates for display as the customer offering can be summarized quickly and visually with a single image.
In less visually friendly industries, like SaaS, insurance, education, or many B2B services…display can still be an effective ad type but with a different approach. In these sectors, short impactful phrases or statements, a key value proposition, or some kind of explanatory graphic (like illustrations) is the better way to quickly reach a display ad viewer. If the CTA and key message cannot be grasped in under 3 seconds on a display ad…your messaging is ineffective and needs to be revisited.
Another advantage of display advertising is that it provides unique access to niche or luxury buyers. With many demand-side platforms (or DSPs), segments can get as granular as a limited website list where you believe your potential customers would visit. Data mining paired with display advertising is also an effective method of getting your message to the right person at the right time, but be cautious that your data provider follows all privacy guidelines in your target geographical region.
Another technique for utilizing display ads is to focus on building brand awareness. If you want to build brand equity or get more top-funnel traffic to your website, consider display advertising a suitable medium. Simple company slogans or flagship product images ought to be utilized. If it looks like it belongs on the homepage of your website, it probably belongs in a brand awareness display ad.
Search ad considerations
We’ve established that display ads are shown on websites across the internet, but search ads only appear in search engine results. Therefore, the advertisers selecting a list of keywords relevant to the product or service must be incredibly judicious and strategic in identifying the right keywords to target. Suppose you are new to this exercise or working with the wrong advertising experts who don’t have enough know-how to develop effective keyword lists. In that case, your costs can become prohibitive quickly, and your overall ad account performance will suffer.
For search ads, each search engine advertising platform requires the advertiser to put a bidding type in place for each campaign. Identifying the right bidding type and optimization techniques for each campaign can be nuanced and sometimes a difficult task of trial and error.
Display ad considerations
The primary consideration with display advertising is that the number of businesses using this method to advertise their business has increased. Due to this, for site owners, it becomes difficult to choose the right advertisers; from a competitive perspective, many verticals are pretty crowded. Expect higher CPMs (cost per 1,0000 impressions) or CPVs (cost per view) than what was once acceptable.
Platforms like the Google Display Network make segments through categories and then offer them to advertisers as a package. Moreover, the ad networks are involved in taking bids from advertisers and working with the highest recommendations that will help them earn space on their chosen site.
How MarinOne can improve display and search ad performance
Using a campaign management platform like MarinOne can help you automate mundane tasks associated with display and search ads. Our team has experts available to consult you on the most significant opportunities for improvement. And with machine-learning and automated bidding built directly into the software, we make omnichannel advertising as simple as possible. See how your PPC campaigns across all platforms are doing in a single place, and change bids or budgets according to performance with our all-in-one solution. Our advertising team is standing by today to give you a demonstration and get you on the path to easier advertising management.
What makes Pinterest different from other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., is that its primary use is not connecting with others. On the contrary, it is a search and discovery platform. People spend hours and hours looking at things they want to do, learn, or purchase. Most of the users on the platform are looking to purchase items of interest that will somehow help them achieve a goal or complete a project.
When it comes to marketing, Pinterest is an extremely underutilized platform. According to Hootsuite, there were almost 459 million users on Pinterest in 2021 per month. In 2020, almost 100 million users were added. This shows just how many people are using the application and the potential market. Read this “getting started” guide on how you can dive into the world of Pinterest advertising and bidding.
What are Pinterest Ads?
The reason why Pinterest ads are so powerful is the fact that they are presented as normal pins. The only difference is that you will see a “Promoted by” tag on the pin that is an advertisement. These ads seamlessly mix in with normal pins and do not seem out of place like ads on other social media platforms. The ads are displayed on the home screen by an algorithm that tracks their historical activity on the platform, much like Instagram or TikTok. This means the ads target potential buyers and not just people at random. You can target different people based on the following criteria:
Pinterest allows you to choose from 5 different ad formats. The format you pick will depend on your brand and needs.
Video pin ads
App install pins
How to Set Up an Ad Campaign
So, how can you stand out with your Pinterest ads? Setting up a new ad campaign requires following a few simple steps.
Make a business account
The first thing you need to do is to set up a business account on Pinterest. You can set it up by clicking your user profile icon which is present on the top corner of the page.
Describe your brand or business
The next step is to describe what your business or brand is. You will be given some options you can choose from. Is your business beauty, home, travel, etc.? Make sure to click the most appropriate business category as this will greatly affect how your ads are listed to users.
Create a campaign
Once done, go ahead and create your ad campaign. Simply click on “create” and then on “create campaign”.
Choose your goals
What is the aim of your business? Why are you promoting your brand on Pinterest? Even though it seems complicated, this step is easy. It’s best not to overthink it, and keep in mind you can always test multiple campaigns with different goal settings. You will need to choose from the three options given. These include awareness, consideration and conversion. Are you looking to create awareness about your brand/business only? Do you want video views or content engagement? Are you looking for increasing traffic to your website or Pinterest page? Or, do you want to promote your catalog or brand? Start with the goal you’d most like to achieve and test variants from there.
Set your budget
Choose whether you want to set a lifetime or daily budget. Go ahead and choose a start and ending date for your campaign.
The Pinterest campaign manager has two options for setting bids.
Custom Bidding: Here you will enter your maximum CPC bid amount via the Ads Manager or Bulk Editor. While you may have more control over what you are bidding at the ad auction, keep in mind this is a manual process which could be time consuming if you need to adjust your bid amounts over the course of the campaign.
Automatic Bidding: With this option, Pinterest will manage your bids for you, working to get the maximum clicks for the lowest possible cost to maximize the budget you have prescribed. There is a learning period when you begin automatic bidding as Pinterest’s algorithms work to find the best outcomes for your ads, but once Pinterest finds the sweet spot for your bids, automated bidding can help get you the most for every dollar spent, not to mention saving you loads of time.
Pinterest also partners with various third party solutions to give their advertisers more options for better results. By layering a bid optimization solution over Pinterest’s bidding tools, you can take your results even further. A few of the added benefits of using a tool like MarinOne include:
Advanced bidding algorithms that take in over 75 signals for the best responsiveness and accuracy.
Custom bid modifiers to adjust to external market signals that are relevant to your business.
Forecasting to help you find the right level of marketing investment and help predict expected conversions, revenue, and profit for your entire account or specific bid strategies.
Budget allocation that assigns spend levels to your bid strategies by setting targets and campaign budgets based on your campaign goals.
Budget pacing which tracks your spend over the course of the month, quarter, or custom spend period, and adjusts your bidding targets to keep you on track.
Performance insights and recommendations that scan your accounts for any and every opportunity to decrease costs and improve results.
Tips for optimizing your Pinterest ads
Get specific in how the ad is positioned
To make the ad more specific and ensure it reaches individuals who can potentially turn into customers, you need to provide details within the creative. One effective approach is to select who you are going to target and put together a “how to” or “tutorial” that directly addresses that target demos’ particular needs or problems that your product solves. It’s a good idea to use multiple keywords within the written content to make your ad impactful for many different searches.
Ensure the Pinterest tag is installed properly and firing
The Pinterest tag allows you to track conversions and optimize your Pinterest campaign budget. With the right setup, you can report conversions from nine different types of actions on your website and view them in Pinterest Ads Manager. Proper installation of the Pinterest tag is essential to get the most out of it. The tag can be installed manually on the website or through Google Tag Manager. To check that the tag is firing and fuctioning, you can utilize the Pinterest Tag Helper.
Use impactful visuals to showcase your brand
Your brand is only as good as you portray it to be. So, choose colors, imagery and videos carefully. Showcase your work and expertise through the aesthetic presence of your brand on Pinterest. Many businesses, both large and small, use Pinterest ads to create awareness about themselves. Therefore, it is important to share real-life pictures of your brand/business in action.
Make the most of your Pinterest advertising
If you have a product that you want to share with the world, Pinterest is an excellent platform to do so. The biggest advantage you will have is that it is still highly unexplored and still a fairly untapped marketing platform today. Most advertisers and marketers are not using Pinterest to its full potential, meaning the available audience is not experiencing ad fatigue. The likelihood your vertical has thousands if not millions of users ready to engage with your brand, without excessive competition, is very good. By placing Pinterest Ads, you can gain that competitive advantage that others don’t have.
In addition to the bid optimization tools mentioned above, MarinOne can also help you measure the results of your Pinterest Ads with advanced analytics that detail performance within and across Pinterest campaigns and also side-by-side with other search, social, and ecommerce publishers. Pull in your customer data from your web analytics and CRM tools for a more advanced view of conversions and LTV. And once you have all the data processed in MarinOne, you can push that out to Excel, Google Sheets, your data warehouse, or BI tool.
Now that you know what a gold mine Pinterest is for leads and conversions, reach out here to get started with MarinOne for Pinterest.
Marketing technology is advancing its pace, with innovative new platforms and approaches being released faster than ever. In an uncertain economy and inflation skyrocketing, many companies are rethinking their marketing budgets and trying to determine the best ways to be profitable. The pace of change in innovation and technology can make it difficult to determine what those digital marketing budgets ought to be. Find out how automation technology can help you optimize your digital marketing campaigns and determine the best budget allocation to ensure maximum ROI.
Several obstacles stand in the way of effective marketing budget allocation, both internal and external. These include:
Unpredictable consumer behavior
Economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and the tightening of budgets as a result)
The age-old issue of fragmented marketing teams
Fortunately, many of the advances in marketing technology can help make budgets stretch that little bit further. For example, automation makes time-consuming processes such as A/B testing much more efficient – and effective.
As marketing can cover a wide range of areas (search, social, ecommerce, display, apps, CTV, video, website, etc.), budget allocation is also a great candidate for automation. If done properly, it can turn a complex process into something automatic, adaptive, and optimized – freeing up time for your team to think about the bigger picture.
How to automate budgeting
“Brands need to understand what is working across publishers and embrace budget fluidity to quickly shift their spend to the elements of their programs getting the best response.”
There are many platform-centric budgeting automation tools, such as Facebook’s CBO (campaign budget optimization), Amazon’s campaign bidding strategy, and Google’s tools and settings. While these allow you to flex your budget around averages for the day or month, they don’t integrate with each other, leaving you with a fragmented approach to your cross-channel budget.
A third-party automation tool can give you a birds-eye view over a range of platforms and incorporate external elements such as day-of-week or -month, month-of-year, or various promotional occasions such as holidays. You can also carry out highly detailed analysis that would otherwise cost you a lot of time.
Marin Software’s Autopilot does exactly that. It allows you to:
Find the right level of investment for your bid strategies
Forecast trade-offs between spend, volume, and efficiency
Automatically pace and maximize performance within your budget
Autopilot does this using a range of approaches that fall into the following categories:
Forecast expected conversions, revenue, and profit for your account or specific elements of your account. Autopilot can allocate spend across bid strategies according to your budget or efficiency target (CPA or RoAS).
Pace Track your spend over the month,quarter, or custom tracking period and adjust as needed to keep you on target.
Bid Apply predictive algorithms using MarinOne Bidding, which automatically incorporates over 75 signals to ensure responsiveness and accuracy across audiences, devices, location, and more. Add custom bid modifiers to adjust to external market signals that are relevant to your business.
When allocating budgets automatically, there are certain factors that you need to account for in the planning stages. It’s important to set goals that span the full range of your sales funnel and all audience segments. A typical campaign budget has to consider the following factors to ensure effective resource allocation: marketing funnel, campaign goals, campaign length, and budget focus.
The first consideration involves deciding if the campaign will take a full-funnel approach to engage customers throughout their brand interaction journey from awareness to retention. The next factor that affects budget allocation is the desired outcome of the campaign. This factor will help marketing teams decide the appropriate channels to use, geographies to target, and functions to perform.
Depending on the approach that marketers take, time can also have a significant impact on budgets. Smaller campaigns that run for short periods of time have a much smaller budget compared to campaigns that engage the customer throughout their lifetime. The final consideration for marketing teams is the focus of the campaign. This refers to the extent to which the budget determines spending. Marketing teams that have an efficiency focus might choose to spend more to achieve certain outcomes compared to a team that is constrained financially.
While the above considerations can provide an effective blueprint for the early stages of planning and budgeting for an online marketing campaign, it is important for marketing teams to develop and retain an in-depth understanding of how campaign performance is affected by financial decisions.
AI-powered software can help marketers effectively collect and analyze performance data to determine the point in the budget that offers teams the highest return on investment and adjust marketing budgets accordingly. Automated budget allocation also allows marketing teams to react quickly to changes in customer preferences, online behavior, or changing market conditions.
Candace Boren, Product Marketing Director at Marin Software, believes that a bid strategy is the best option for companies that wish to make the most of their marketing budgets. She shares that “capped bidding doesn’t perform as well near the level you have capped it at vs. uncapped automated bidding at the same level, highlighting why a bid strategy is better for managing budget spend than simply trying to ensure your daily spend adds up to your monthly budget perfectly.”
With a bid strategy in place and MarinOne’s pacing module adding the guardrails to keep you on track over the period, you shouldn’t have to worry about putting budget caps on your campaigns.
How to decide where to add incremental budget increases
With CPMs at all-time highs on Google and Facebook, marketers will have to get creative to stay within budget while making the most impact. That could mean testing new channels, testing new creative, timing and setting bids differently, and much more.
There are two major approaches that marketers can take to analyze campaign performance from a budget perspective and decide the point at which budget increments can be the most impactful; analysis by conversion rate and analysis by incremental lift.
The automation of these processes can have a direct and immediate impact on marketing campaign performance and can even help companies save money by optimizing resource allocation at all times. Japanese automotive brand Nissan found that collecting and analyzing data from keyword’s vertical, impression share rules, and more. The entire process is automated and allows Nissan to identify the point at which a customer is most likely to make a purchase and can ramp up engagement to increase conversion rates. This approach has allowed Nissan to increase lower-funnel conversions by 34% while reducing cost per lead by 8%, revealing exactly how a data-driven approach to digital marketing can help businesses fully optimize their customer outreach for the best results.
With so many variables at play in determining and managing digital budgets, it’s critical that marketers have the tools they need to stay on track while driving maximum performance.
When we set out to develop Marin Autopilot, our goal was to simplify life for digital marketers in such a complex advertising landscape. Simply give us your destination and we’ll make sure you get there.
If you are using Smart Bidding, not to worry. Autopilot works seamlessly with publisher bidding, keeping you on pace by adjusting the target for your Smart Bidding strategies, with the added benefit of transparency and control that you won’t get from publisher tools.
Businesses often go to great lengths to build their brand, decide on a brand message, and craft a narrative around that brand message. This time and effort are only rewarded when that narrative is effectively communicated to a brand’s target audience. Businesses spent over $238 billion on internet advertising in 2021 and this number is projected to grow significantly in the coming years.
Targeted advertising is the best way to ensure that the brand message reaches the right customer—but how do you make sure that you are paying a fair price to reach those customers? Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising allows business leaders to spread their message far and wide but only pay when engagement is registered. Here is how you can use PPC to amplify your existing brand message online.
What is PPC and how does it work?
Pay-Per-Click marketing refers to an advertising practice where advertisers pay a fixed fee each time their ad is clicked by a visitor. This helps businesses to direct visitors to their website in a cost-effective manner. Companies typically use this method of advertising to drive visitor traffic to their website or social media page through search engines and social media share pages.
Why you should use PPC for your business
Improved brand recognition and recall
One of the major reasons to advertise on the platforms where your target audiences spend the most time is to improve brand awareness. PPC advertising on the appropriate platforms ensures that the advertising brand is always top of mind for the customer when it is time for them to make a purchase.
Search engine ads that appear on generic product searches can encourage customers to associate the advertising brand with the products that they search for, making it easier for them to remember and search for the brand the next time they wish to make a purchase.
Works in tandem with existing brand material
To ensure that marketing campaigns are effective across every platform and channel, marketers must create ad copy that amplifies the brand message consistently. PPC advertising allows brands to amplify existing marketing material such as posters and infographics on social media and search engines.
Can attract new customers to the brand
Almost 60% of shoppers research a future purchase online before pulling the trigger. However, search engine results and social media pages are often saturated with marketing messages from competing brands. Successful brands can use PPC to ensure that their ad rises above their competitors’ by appearing at the top of their customers’ search results.
5 tips to help your business manage a successful ad campaign
Consider the keywords you want to optimize for and set your budget accordingly
The popularity of PPC advertising has led to numerous brands using the strategy to make their presence known online. To rise above the crowd and reach the right audiences efficiently, brands must choose the right optimized keywords to direct customers to the appropriate ad.
Once these keywords are decided, brands must choose the right budget for their marketing efforts. Brands should consider increasing the frequency or reach of ads that serve a general audience to ensure that the ad receives the airtime that it deserves ahead of competing brands.
Use ad extensions like sitelinks, location, callouts, etc., to make your ads more appealing
Ads should always be designed with the customer in mind. This is why it is important to make online ads as engaging as possible. This can be done by adding extensions to your ads. Extensions can come in many forms ranging from sitelinks to store locations and more. These extensions increase the likelihood of a customer engaging with the ad once they have read the accompanying copy or viewed the accompanying graphic.
Include a clear CTA in your ads so people know what action you want them to take
In addition to extensions, brands should make it as easy as possible for a customer to continue engaging with the brand. Call-to-actions (CTAs) are a crucial part of this engagement. Clear CTAs allow brands to control the way customers interact with their ad by directing them to the appropriate platform or site that can help them receive a cohesive experience across marketing channels.
Create different ads with different CTAs based on the audience you are targeting
A common mistake that marketers tend to make when drafting ad copy is creating generic CTAs that are copied across different ads and platforms. However, customer actions can differ greatly from platform to platform. For example, customers who click on a search engine ad are more likely to visit a website that is related to their search. On the other hand, a customer who interacts with a social media ad might need more incentive to interrupt their browsing and interact with an ad.
Track how well each ad is performing to stop or change ads that aren't working as well
Online advertising is a dynamic activity and businesses must be prepared to react to changing customer preferences promptly. Brands can track each online ad using a variety of engagement metrics and adjust ads that fail to generate the expected response from key customer demographics. Consistent evaluation of ad performance also allows marketers to optimize ad spend on ads that seem to resonate more with the appropriate target audiences.
How MarinOne can help you effectively spread your brand message online
MarinOne helps businesses keep track of how each PPC advertisement is performing and presents this information through an easy-to-understand graphical interface. Businesses can receive a bird’s eye view of how their ads are performing across platforms or highlight individual ads to assess their effectiveness in reaching their target audience.
If you would like to learn more about how you can use software to reach your customers more effectively, contact us. We will be happy to schedule a no-strings-attached demo of our solution for you.
68% of consumers have much higher expectations for businesses’ digital capabilities following COVID-19
88% of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to COVID-19
How can brands cope with the increased pressure to perform? Google Ads has proven vital for marketers looking to reach more customers, drive traffic, build brand awareness, and create a positive image for their business.
To help you stay ahead of the pack, here are some tips on using Google Ads to outsmart your competition.
How COVID has affected eCommerce, social, and search
The COVID pandemic has had a massive impact on eCommerce, social media, and search—in particular, on consumer behavior and expectations. More consumers are shopping online from the comfort (and safety) of their homes.
Social media usage has also increased as people turn to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for news, entertainment, and shopping. In fact, a whopping 91% of marketing organizations now use social media as part of their strategy, the same amount using digital ads.More intangible products are also being purchased online (e.g., experiences, memberships, digital subscriptions).
Since COVID-19 hit, we’ve also seen a massive increase in the use of Google Ads by businesses as it is now considered an essential tool for reaching more customers, driving traffic, and building brand awareness.
However, with so many businesses using paid search and Google Ads, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. This is why it’s more important than ever to ensure your Google Ads campaigns are optimized for success.
What is Google Ads and why should you use it?
Google Ads allows businesses to create ads for their products and services. These ads are then displayed on Google search results pages and other Google properties, such as YouTube and Gmail.
The great thing about Google Ads is that it lets you target people who are specifically searching for what you offer. This makes it a much more efficient use of your marketing budget than other forms of advertising, such as TV or print.
In addition, Google Ads is a particularly flexible platform, allowing you to tailor your campaigns to your specific goals. For example, you can use Google Ads to drive traffic to your website, increase brand awareness, and/or generate leads.
How to get the most out of Google Ads (and outsmart your competition)
Google Ads can be an extremely effective tool for businesses looking to reach more customers and drive traffic to their websites. However, to ensure success, it's important to understand how the platform works and optimize your campaigns accordingly. In this section, we'll discuss some tips on how to outsmart your competition.
Create a memorable ad
When creating an ad, it's important to make sure that it stands out. Use eye-catching copy and good quality images—and make sure it’s relevant to your target audience. You can do this by using specific keywords that people are likely to be searching for.
Use Google Ads Editor to make changes faster
Google Ads Editor is a tool that allows businesses to quickly and easily make changes to their campaigns. It's particularly useful for those who are managing multiple campaigns. One of the best things about Google Ads Editor is that you can make changes to multiple campaigns at the same time.
Use ad extensions to increase your visibility
Ad extensions are a great way to increase your visibility and improve your click-through rate. They also allow you to add additional information to your ads, such as your phone number, website address, product images, or customer reviews.
Split-test different versions of your ads to find the most effective combination
One of the best ways to find the most effective combination of ad elements is to split-test different versions of your ads. Split-testing, also known as A/B testing, is a method of testing in which two or more variants of an ad are shown to users. The performance of each variant is then monitored and the variant that performs the best is chosen as the winner.
Use negative keywords to weed out irrelevant search terms
Negative keywords allow you to weed out irrelevant search terms that are not related to your business. This ensures that your ads are only shown to people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. To find the right negative keywords, you can use the Google Ads Keyword Planner tool: simply enter a list of keywords to see a list of related terms. You can then use this information to add relevant negative keywords to your campaign.
Experiment with different bidding strategies
There are a number of different bidding strategies that you can use with Google Ads. The most popular bidding strategy is CPC (cost-per-click), which allows you to set a maximum amount that you'll pay for each click on your ad. There are other bidding strategies you can use such as CPM (cost-per-impression) or CPA (cost-per-acquisition).
Top tip: Set limits on how much you're willing to spend and stick with it.
Include Keywords in the Ad as well as the Landing Page
One way to speed up your Google Ads campaigns is by ensuring that they are well connected from the first engagement to the call-to-action to the messaging on the LP or product page. For example, if you have a certain keyword, then your ad copy should mention it and the landing page should also mention that same keyword. If someone searches for your eyeshadow brand on the search engine, you would want them to end up on a landing page that features only that particular eyeshadow palette.
Don’t Combine Search and Display Campaigns Together
You should make sure to only set up campaigns using a single campaign type. Some Google Ads managers will try to use different campaign types at once, but this can be limiting to your campaign’s performance. By focusing on one content type, Google will give the best AI-powered recommendations possible for mixing and matching different variables and creating the best performing ad possible.
Keep up with what's trending
One of the most effective ways to keep up with what's trending is to check out blogs. Some blogs provide tips on how to improve your Google Ads campaigns.
Some of our favorites include helpful tips on a wide range of topics:
PPC Hero: Read about keyword research, ad copywriting, and bid management.
Hubspot: Learn content strategy, lead generation, and sales.
Moz: Find ideas about SEO, link building, and content marketing.
Track your progress
It's important to track your progress so you know what changes need to be made along the way. Google Analytics is a great tool for monitoring your website traffic, conversions, and much more. For a more all-in-one approach, ad management platforms are a great option: get insights, manage ads, and let the software do the heavy lifting when it comes to bidding—all from one platform.
How MarinOne can help
MarinOne is an all-in-one ad management platform that allows you to track your ad performance, conversions, and much more. It provides smart insights into how you can improve your campaigns, minus all the manual work. This makes it a valuable tool for businesses that want to get the most out of their Google Ads campaigns, and more out of their marketing team.
Use MarinOne’s Analyze features to understand the competition and find opportunities.
Customize, optimize, and automate in MarinOne to streamline your operations and secure your number-one spot.
Get more out of your marketing budget with smart insights and automatic bidding.
If 2022 passes as quickly as the past two years have, it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. Advertisers are paying close attention as Google is under pressure from regulators to meet its 2023 goal for deprecating tracking cookies.
After drawing criticism from privacy advocates, Google recently walked back FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), a form of interest-based tracking that identifies users based on their shared interests, or “cohorts”. The concern from critics around FLoC was that it could make it easier for advertisers to identify users with “browser fingerprinting”, which shares information about user devices, browsers, and potentially demographic information.
Topics API is the latest proposal from Google for replacing third-party tracking cookies. Per Google, under Topics the browser identifies a user’s top interests for that week (things like “Fitness”, “Travel & Transportation”, etc) then shares them with participating sites and advertising partners. Topics are kept for three weeks on user’s devices and removed after that time. Google makes it clear that user’s Topics information will not be stored on external servers, including Google’s servers.
A bonus for user privacy advocates: in Chrome, Google is giving users the ability to view the topics associated with them, remove topics if they wish, and even the ability to disable Topics altogether.
While most would agree that this is a good move by Google for user privacy, where does this leave advertisers?
The general consensus is (justified) concern from advertisers, especially those who confronted Facebook’s deprecation in targeting capabilities post iOS14.5 adoption. Broader targeting inevitably means more challenges in reaching the intended users, so growing pains should be expected.
In particular, marketers have raised concerns about Topic availability as a hurdle to targeting accuracy. The Topics API Github page lists only 350 “topics” so far, which some feel might not contain enough nuance to accurately target customers. Google maintains that this list is in an early stage of development, so this issue may be addressed in the coming months.
As compared with FLoC, Topics gives users more control and flexibility over how they receive targeted advertising. Both FLoC and Topics represent a step down in precision targeting, so advertisers will need to adapt.
Despite the uncertain future for Topics API and Cookie deprecation, there are steps advertisers can take to prepare:
Prioritize First Party Data - Advertisers should maintain focus on collecting first party data which can be used to target customers directly or create lookalike audiences. Prioritizing strategies for developing brand-customer relationships can help with this.
Leverage Cross Channel Audiences - Marin Software also offers proprietary audience targeting options such as Social Intent for Search, which seamlessly integrates social audiences to power search campaigns. Options like this that leverage existing intent will be valuable to adaptation.
Keep Clients Up to Date - Nobody likes unhappy surprises, especially not advertising clients. Start communicating and developing a plan of action now and stay flexible as Google releases more information around Topics API in the coming months.
Test Marin Software for More Performance Power - MarinOne’s bidding algorithm consistently outperforms publisher bidding AND gives advertisers greater visibility into bidding. Advertisers will appreciate the transparency we offer as so many publishers reduce available optimization levers.
Digital display ad spending is on the rise, steadily increasing each year, with some estimates for programmatic digital display spend in the US over $115 billion by the end of 2022.
So why is display advertising growing so quickly? The answer is, in part, due to increased device usage (mobile, tablet, and laptop) in the last two years as consumers stayed home during the pandemic.
But, display advertising via Demand Side Platforms also provides some distinct advantages for marketers. A look at Yahoo! DSP, one of the premier providers of programmatic display advertising, gives some clear insights into the benefits of display advertising for brands (and consumers too).
First party data
Yahoo has a user base of over 800 million globally through their owned and operated properties, so brands can leverage these relationships to understand and reach their audiences. In addition, they draw on 200 billion daily data signals providing insights for data-driven decisions. That being said, Yahoo puts privacy and consumer choice first, creating a trusted environment for their users.
Mobile Ads: With the increase in mobile usage, Yahoo mobile ads are a must, and they are designed for vertical executions and to accommodate swiping, scrolling and screen rotation.
Video Ads: Yahoo delivers 2.7B monthly video views, making it easy for marketers to bring their brand story to life with interactive and shoppable formats.
Advanced TV: Yahoo’s unified DSP means brands have access to cross-screen TV placement providing incremental reach across linear and digital TV.
Audio Ads: Yahoo partners with the top music streaming platforms, and brands can also integrate into Yahoo owned and operated podcasts from TechCrunch, Yahoo Sports and more.
Other formats: Rounding out Yahoo’s omni-channel portfolio, Yahoo! DSP also provides access to solutions including digital out-of-home, brand integrations, and even immersive formats, like interactive video and AR-enabled ads, to make your ads innovate and your message resonate.
Exclusive and comprehensive inventory
Yahoo! DSP gives advertisers the advantage of exclusive omnichannel inventory from Yahoo Media properties like: Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, engadget, and TechCrunch.
Yahoo also has an extensive network of premium 3rd party connections delivering a wide range of touch points and consumer interests.
By reaching customers in the right environments, brands can unleash their advertising potential and build quality connections at scale.
MarinOne + Yahoo! DSP
Now that you know all the reasons Yahoo! DSP is such an effective marketing channel, let’s look at how MarinOne’s Yahoo! DSP integration can supercharge your Yahoo campaigns.
Cross-channel reporting puts paid media metrics from search, social, display, and e-commerce all in one place. Combined with powerful dashboards for easy data visualization, you’ll have everything you need for effective account management in one place.
MarinOne for Yahoo also seamlessly integrates with your first party data like CRM and analytics tools as well as BI Tools such as Tableau and Google Data Studio so you have information when and where you need it.
Automated alerts can be set to notify marketers of performance changes saving you loads of time by not having to manually monitor your accounts.
MarinOne for Yahoo! DSP streamlines your workflows letting you adjust campaign status across multiple accounts and campaigns in just a few clicks.
The same goes for budgets: adjust your daily budgets across accounts and campaigns to easily manage your spend across your digital programs.
If your marketing team is understaffed, they may not be up to fulfilling all of your business goals. While a small team could theoretically handle the bulk of your tasks manually, this can lead to mistakes, missed opportunities, and eventually burnout—not good for morale, your reputation, or your customers.
Marketers need to evolve with technology that allows them to keep up with the fast-changing digital marketing landscape—and the customers driving those changes.
It makes sense to benefit from automation tools that handle your campaign management and other marketing activities—this makes your job easier and means you get to provide a better service to your customers.
To help you make the most of the tech out there, here are 9 ways automation can help out a short-staffed team while achieving your marketing objectives:
1. Automate workflows
Automating your marketing teams’ workflow saves time and money, allowing you to focus on the things that really matter. It’s not enough to just post for your company—competitors are vying for attention in any given area. Your accounts need content, promotions, advertising...in short, they need someone behind them constantly replying to queries and providing value across all channels. Automating this means the software can handle everything so you can focus on other business areas.
MarinOne lets you automatically adjust campaign bids using unique factors that impact your campaign performance, such as seasonality, ratings, new product launches, coverage in the media, and social media buzz so your ads are always optimized to perform well without you having to intervene.
MarinOne also automatically reviews search queries and adds keywords and negatives that meet user-specified criteria. We can track conversions associated with raw queries to provide better insight into whether keywords make sense to be added (or removed) based on their post-click success.
Keyword expansion increases your reach and improves your campaign efficiency automatically.
2. Increase the frequency of messages on social media channels
Increasing the frequency of messages on social channels helps to build rapport with your customers. They'll see a larger presence of your business on their social feeds and will assume you're very active—which means more trust.
Scheduling social media posts in advance used to be time-consuming. But now, automation tools can do many of the repetitive tasks for you, so it’s easier than ever to post relevant content on your social pages without needing someone there posting in real time.
Automation allows you to create a posting schedule for your social media accounts and then let the application take care of everything for you! You’ll get the best engagement when the post goes live on the platform (and there won’t be any embarrassing mistakes). The same goes for your ads: you can use automation tools, like MarinOne’s paid social ads management feature, to track, manage, and optimize your ads with the click of a button.
Take it a step further with Message Booster, which analyzes the performance and content of organic posts and automatically transforms the best ones into ads. Automating this content promotion and campaign creation can save you hours of manual work. By targeting specific audiences with Message Booster, you can reach people who are likely to purchase from you based on location, interests, and demographics that you define. And because your organic post has proven to be effective in engaging these types of customers, you can avoid using your ad spend on paid ads that may or may not interest your audience.
3. Work faster with bulk edits
With bulk uploads and inline edits, you'll have greater control over your day-to-day workflow. In MarinOne, you can use CSV or batch uploads to make thousands of changes at once. The campaigns, groups, keywords, or ads will appear on your account as soon as you complete all of the steps and push to the publisher within a few hours.
Unified bulk uploads allow you to work across accounts and publishers with a single action. Meanwhile, inline editing allows you to make adjustments or corrections without returning to Excel. This means less time hopping between documents and a lower chance of discrepancies and mistakes.
4. Build campaigns from your product feed
Building campaigns from your product feed provides an easy way to integrate product information into campaigns for many different ad platforms at once. Everything is kept in one place, and updating product information is easy so you don't have to worry about campaign updates channel by channel.
MarinOne builds keywords and creatives from a product feed and campaign template. Get complete coverage of your product with no manual work. You can also mechanize pausing and resuming based on inventory levels.
5. Stay informed of changes to your account
Marketing teams are busy, and sometimes things slip through the cracks. To avoid negative ramifications caused by human error, set up preprogrammed notifications about changes to your account such as status updates, new campaigns and ad groups, and the addition of shared library items. Staying clued in to what is being done by other team members as well as natural changes happening in your advertising campaigns will help you to stay responsive, resulting in timelier analysis and action.
6. Get automated recommendations on performance opportunities
MarinOne Insights highlights recommendations for improved performance across your accounts. You can think of this as a continuous audit that evaluates the effectiveness of your organization’s digital marketing activity. In fact, Insights is updated every 24 hours and uses historical data to uncover opportunities to reduce wasteful spending and capitalize on volume in high-performing areas.
Insights also provides performance impact estimates for incremental spend, conversion, and revenue and examples to show you exactly what you stand to gain when implementing recommendations. So no need to worry if you don’t have staff to analyze your accounts every day!
7. Integrate your data
Integrating your data into your ad management platform means you always have information at your fingertips without looking for it. Pull in data from your web analytics, mobile tracking, and CRM, and let the software take the strain.
Another benefit of integrating your software: you can more easily extract insights and create reports that incorporate all your data, not just some. This means you get better insight into your business, customers, and competitors and can use those insights to optimize your campaigns for the best performance.
With MarinOne, advertisers can also export data to Excel, Google Sheets, data warehouses and BI tools so you have information when and where you need it. .
8. Automated spend pacing
Keeping track of your spend is a must—don't let it fall to the wayside just because you're short-staffed. Pacing charts track your spending over the month, quarter, or another period you specify and automatically adjust your bidding targets to keep you on track. MarinOne helps you plan your targets with advanced forecasting, and then you can sit back while MarinOne manages your bids to keep you on budget through the period.
9. Consider managed services
If you are extremely tapped for resources and have the budget, you might consider partnering with an AdTech team that can manage and optimize your campaigns for you. This means that when you're busy or away, their team can run campaigns and optimize them for you, taking the strain off the rest of your staff. When they have questions, they can ping you with an email or DM so you can quickly provide the data needed to make informed decisions.
This is the first post in our three part series where we’ll dive into TikTok advertising and how you can leverage the platform to get in front of new audiences with unique and engaging content.
TikTok is a marketing gold mine. This hub for starting conversations and sharing ideas lends itself strongly to virality, creating the perfect storm for boosting a company’s brand awareness and revenue.
Getting your products in front of the right TikTok audience creates a domino effect. The more users engage with, share, and respond to your post using Duet and Stitch, the more favor you garner from the TikTok algorithm. The platform might even expand your reach by featuring your video on the For You Page (FYP).
Brands just delving into the realm of trendy dances, weird challenges, and life hacks galore can use TikTok ads to find their audience (and jumpstart their success). Ready to get started? Here is everything you need to know about TikTok ad formats, explained.
In-Feed ads are your go-to ad format. They place your videos right on your target audiences’ FYP. This format embeds your video onto the FYP as an ad, making it look native. Users can interact with your ad the same way they do with any other TikTok by liking, commenting, sharing, and reusing the sound for their own content.
In-feed ads are a good pick for quite a few campaign objectives. You can use the clickable CTA button to send users to the destination of your choice, whether that be a landing page, your app, or your TikTok profile. For the best results, make your videos around 9-15 seconds long. Make use of popular effects, filters, and sounds, and keep up with the trends to ensure your videos will resonate with TikTok’s user base.
Top-View ads are more attention-grabbing than In-Feed ads. Your target audience will see these ads at the very top of their FYP. The videos can last up to 60 seconds and have less competition than In-Feed ads.
The Top-View ad format guarantees high reach and impressions, making it a solid strategy for building brand awareness. For the best results, prioritize creating an engaging video. This will help users remember your brand, even after they’ve scrolled past your ad.
The Brand Takeover ad format displays your video full-screen as soon as a user opens the app. While similar to the previous format, due to the lack of direct competition surrounding your video, users cannot engage with Brand Takeovers. The upside is that they can’t be skipped. The best Brand Takeovers are short videos or images that display for 5 seconds or less.
Branded hashtag challenge
The Branded Hashtag Challenge format inspires users to create their own content using your hashtag. This format has three placements: In-Feed videos that inspire users to join in on the challenge, featured banners found on the “Discover Page” that drive users to the Hashtag Challenge placement, and lastly, the Hashtag Challenge itself. This last placement acts as a landing page for the challenge. It pulls all the challenge’s video submissions into one centralized hub, making it easy for users to connect and engage with other participants.
This format combines traditional digital advertising with TikTok’s user-generated content focus to create the ultimate ads for driving engagement and boosting brand awareness.
The Branded Effects placement allows brands to create their own effects for their audience to use when creating content.
This format is special for two reasons. First, it allows users to engage with your brand on a deeper level by using your effects to create content of their own. This content will have a home on their profile, acting as a constant reminder of their relationship with your brand.
Second, users all over the world who have no idea what your brand is all about will have access to your effect. If your effect becomes trendy, your reach will expand beyond your target audience. Users who might not need your products now will still be loosely aware of what you have to offer and, chances are, your brand will be the first they think of when the need does arise.
Like the platform itself, TikTok’s ad formats are unique. When used in tandem, they can create an all-powerful ad strategy that boosts brand awareness, sparks engagement, and drives sales. You can check out more examples of each of TikTok’s ad formats here.
Brands using MarinOne are now able to add the unique value of advertising on TikTok to their digital campaigns. The MarinOne integration with TikTok means advertisers have better insights and improved performance of their TikTok campaigns.
Ready to learn more about how MarinOne can expand your reach and drive growth on TikTok?
Once Facebook automigrates affected campaigns, you won’t be able to create campaign types with the objectives that are not included in the consolidated list. Not to worry, the team at Marin has you covered! Read on to learn everything you need to know about Outcome-driven Ad Experiences (ODAX) and how to handle the migration.
What are the new ODAX Objectives?
Under ODAX, Facebook campaigns will migrate from the original 11 available objectives to 6 campaign objective types. We can see how these will be mapped below.
Facebook explains that this change is designed to better align campaign objectives with widely accepted marketing objectives, reduce confusion in campaign setup, and help advertisers discover on-site solutions to use in their campaigns. In short, this change will make campaign setup more accessible for advertisers of all experience levels.
Facebook also teases cross-channel campaigns, stating that their mission is, in part:
“Once cross-channel conversion optimizations are available (e.g. website + app, website +shop), communicate the value of, and default advertisers into, these solutions make it easier for advertisers to adopt.”
How will ODAX affect Facebook campaigns?
The impact for advertisers will vary based on the campaign objectives in use. Facebook advises that advertisers using Messages, Video Views, and Conversions campaign objectives will be most affected by this change, at least partially because these campaign objective types will no longer exist under ODAX. Facebook provided the below chart with their announcement to show marketers how the new objectives will align with various goals and initiatives.
Advertisers running campaigns that will be affected by this change won’t need to take immediate action - Facebook assures advertisers that legacy campaigns will continue to run after implementation of ODAX. However, post-implementation there will be limitations to duplicating legacy campaigns and new campaigns will need to align with the new campaign objectives. After 100% rollout, Facebook plans to share an update about the eventual deprecation of legacy campaigns.
Though immediate action is not required, affected advertisers should begin to consider a strategy for transitioning to this new objective mix. Advertisers should also plan to monitor the performance of both legacy and new campaigns throughout the ODAX transition.
Marin Software is proactively working with Facebook to ensure that advertisers using MarinOne will have a seamless transition to the new campaign objective mix.
Click here for more on how MarinOne can help you drive campaign performance and growth for Facebook and other social publishers.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably heard about Facebook’s announcement that certain detailed targeting options will be sunset in early 2022.
Here’s a quick review of the news straight from Facebook:
“Starting January 19, 2022 we will remove Detailed Targeting options that relate to topics people may perceive as sensitive, such as options referencing causes, organizations, or public figures that relate to health, race or ethnicity, political affiliation, religion, or sexual orientation.
Health causes (e.g., ‘Lung cancer awareness’, ‘World Diabetes Day’, ‘Chemotherapy’)
Sexual orientation (e.g., ‘same-sex marriage’ and ‘LGBT culture’)
Religious practices and groups (e.g., ‘Catholic Church’ and ‘Jewish holidays’)
Political beliefs, social issues, causes, organizations, and figures ”
While some are supportive of this change, other marketers are concerned about the implications for companies that leverage this targeting in light of an already rapidly changing advertising landscape. Cause-based organizations, political parties, healthcare brands, and many others will need to change tack in how they communicate with their audiences.
In the same announcement, Facebook also teased that they’re working on additional Ad Controls to enable users to see fewer ads related to gambling, weight loss, and other unspecified categories. They also reminded marketers that users currently have the ability to see fewer ads related to politics, parenting, alcohol, and pets.
So why’d they do it?
This latest announcement comes on the heels of escalating public scrutiny, FTC antitrust suits, and steadily increasing concerns around consumer privacy. Not to mention a huge rebrand. Facebook, er, Meta has had a busy few years.
In the announcement, Facebook states that they “heard concerns from experts that targeting options like these could be used in ways that lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups.” While this move might pose a challenge for advertisers who use these detailed targeting options benevolently, Facebook’s move also removes the possibility that they will be misused.
Especially in a time of heightened scrutiny, it makes sense why Facebook would prioritize reducing the possibility of perceived negative experiences on the platform. Continuing to make Facebook an attractive option for social media users works in advertisers’ best interests as well.
What Advertisers Can Do (And How Marin Social Can Help)
Facebook’s announcement comes with several suggestions:
Leveraging Engagement Custom Audiences to capture relevant intent on Facebook-owned properties. Targeting users who currently like your page or users who watched one of your videos in the news feed are a few examples. Facebook also suggests using these audiences as a seed list to create a lookalike audience.
Remember the 2-Second Video Viewer audience that is no longer available on Facebook? Marin Social still offers this option so you can get even more out of your Engagement Custom Audiences.
Website Custom Audiences can still be used to target customers who interact with a company’s website (and can also be used as a seed list for a Lookalike Audience).
Want to take your custom audiences to the next level? Marin Social offers Enhanced Website Custom Audiences, which integrates rules to automatically segment your audiences based on parameters you build. Save time and find your most valuable audiences seamlessly!
Location targeting is suggested to help brick-and-mortar retailers reach customers around their locations.
Marin Social offers “Location Clusters”, which lets you group together your target locations in one fell swoop for easy use in campaigns. All of the marketers who spend hours quality checking location groups can breathe a sigh of relief.
Customer lists are a great way to connect with customers (if you have their permission to do so). Try segmenting your customer lists and customizing messaging to get the most out of using customer lists.
For marketers whose campaigns are impacted by Facebooks’ upcoming targeting changes, Marin Software’s social marketing experts are here to help you through the transition. Click here to schedule a demo with us and learn more about what Marin can do for you!
You’ve likely heard that Google is sunsetting the Expanded Text Ad (ETA) format in favor of Responsive Search Ads (RSAs). It’s Google’s next big push for automation in its advertising platforms. While this may seem like a big change, it’s nothing to worry about as long as you prepare. Luckily, the sunset isn’t happening until June of 2022, and Marin’s industry experts are here to answer some commonly asked questions:
What Exactly Are Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)?
Traditional Google text ads consist of static headlines and descriptions, so advertisers provide specific headlines and descriptions which remain constant within an ad. Google then rotates that version with your other static ad versions according to your campaign settings.
When creating an RSA, you’ll input a variety of different headlines and descriptions. Google and Bing will then rotate through different combinations of assets, serving the combination that seems best based on the demographic data of the person who is searching. The purpose of RSAs is to improve the personalization of search ads through automation. This personalization should lead to improved performance, and eliminate the need for you to run lots of ad copy tests as the engines are basically doing the testing for you.
How Many Headlines and Descriptions Can I Include in an Ad?
You can input at least 3 and no more than 15 potential headlines.
You can input at least 2 and no more than 4 potential descriptions.
The publishers recommend using at least 8 Headline Assets and at least 3 Description Assets.
What Will Happen to My Expanded Text Ads?
You will not be able to create new ETAs. Your current Expanded Text Ads will continue to serve, but you won’t be able to edit them. You can still play, pause, or remove them, but the ad content will be unchangeable. Reporting for your current ETAs should not be impacted in MarinOne or the platforms.
Will I Have Any Control Over Which Headlines and Descriptions Serve?
Yes, you have the option to pin assets to certain positions in the ad. For example, if you have a top performing headline that you’d like to display as Headline 1 every time your ad serves, you can pin that headline to position 1. You can also pin descriptions.
For example, if you pinned “Low Prices” to headline 1, the every time that ad serves, “Low Prices” will be the first thing people see.
But that being said…
Should I Pin My Top Performing Assets to Position 1?
My natural instinct was to pin top performing headlines and descriptions from my ETAs to my RSA positions 1 and 2. However, this often hurts the ad’s quality score, sometimes even knocking a ‘good’ ad down to ‘poor’ quality, therefore limiting its ability to serve in the SERP.
In order to avoid a decrease in quality score while still maintaining control over your ads, Google recommends pinning 2 or 3 headlines and descriptions to each position. This allows Google to rotate those assets, and may prevent decreases in quality score.
For example, if you pinned “low prices” and “shop now” to headline 1, Google will rotate through those options, so every time the ad is served people will see one of the two headlines in position 1.
How Will I Analyze Performance in MarinOne?
MarinOne users are already accustomed to the performance benefits the platform provides for all their search programs, and RSAs will be no different. The digital marketers at Marin have already made changes to help you measure, manage, and optimize your RSAs and are always prepared for future changes from the publishers.
Responsive Search Ads should flow seamlessly into any workflow you currently utilize for analyzing ad performance. These ads will be automatically added to any automated reports just like expanded text ads are.
We have also added two new columns to our creative grids, titled Headline Assets and Description Assets. Select these columns in the column selector to see a list of all headlines and description variations for an RSA.
Note that in the Headline column in the grid, you can see a preview of what your RSA might look like in its completed form. This does not necessarily represent all Headline or Description Assets that have been entered. You will simply see the first three Headline Assets in the order they were entered. This is the same behavior as in the publishers.
You will also see the ads’ creative type listed as Responsive Search, and you can filter for Responsive Search in the Creative Type column if you want to see a readout of performance for RSAs only.
If you export your ads grid into a report, you will see separate columns for each Headline and Description asset, with Headline 1 simply called Headline and the remaining Headlines numbered 2 through 15.
How Will I Bulk Create RSAs in MarinOne?
You can create RSAs in bulk in much the same way you do for other ad types in Marin. To specify the creation of an RSA in a bulksheet, you should include the value Responsive Search in the Creative Type column.
You can edit your RSAs in bulk by including the Creative ID column. To find your creative IDs, simply run a report from the main Creatives grid with the relevant columns included.
When building your bulksheet for either creation or editing of RSAs, you can use the following bulk headers:
[Headline 1] through [Headline 15]
[Description Line 1] through [Description Line 4]
[Headline Pinned to Position 1]
[Headline Pinned to Position 2]
[Headline Pinned to Position 3]
[Description Pinned to Position 1]
[Description Pinned to Position 2]
I hope this all eases your mind about the transition from ETAs to RSAs. The idea behind RSAs is basically constant, dynamic AB testing and ad personalization, which sounds great in theory. I expect this shift to lead to improved ad performance and easier management through automation.
The paid search experts at Marin are always eager to help clients, new and old, navigate the ever-changing search landscape. Click here to schedule a demo with us and learn more about what Marin can do for you!
Organic Instagram posts provide your followers with a stream of free content that can help establish and strengthen your brand identity, build your social community, and hopefully, engage customers interested in buying your products.
Of course, the limitations are that your organic content has a limited viewership of your followers, the followers they may share the post with, and people searching for or following your brand or particular hashtags you may have used in your posts.
But one key advantage of organic content is that it can be very insightful into the type of content that resonates with people interested in buying the products you sell. Inevitably, some posts will perform better than others with more likes, more comments, and more shares. So how can you capitalize on those posts to help drive your business?
Using organic content to reach new audiences
Now that you know the content and creative in a post is popular with people interested in your products, why not convert it to a paid ad to expand your reach to new audiences? Instagram allows you to “boost” a post you create on Instagram and turn it into an ad. You’ll be able to choose your advertising goal (more profile visits, website visits or messages), your audience (who you want to reach), your budget (how much you want to spend daily) and the duration (how long you want your ad to run).
Targeting specific audiences is an efficient way to reach people who are likely to purchase from you based on location, interests, and demographics that you define. And because your organic post has proven to be effective in engaging these types of customers, you can avoid using your ad spend on paid ads that may or may not interest your audience.
Automating message boosting with MarinOne
Promoting organic content is a great way to leverage well-performing posts to reach more prospective customers, but tracking your engagement on Instagram can be very time consuming, especially if you are managing multiple Instagram accounts.
MarinOne’s Message Booster for Instagram analyzes the performance and content of organic posts and automatically transforms the best ones into ads. Automating this content promotion and campaign creation can save you hours of manual work.
Just like Instagram, MarinOne lets you set the criteria for your boosts based on engagement, duration, and budget. But with MarinOne’s Rules engine, you’ll be able to create paid ads at scale across multiple clients and accounts.
For example, you may want to boost all posts within the last 24 hours with an engagement rate higher than 5%. You might choose to boost these posts for a duration of three days, and ask MarinOne to pause any boost if the engagement rate drops lower than 2%. You can set your budget to a daily budget per rule, or a fixed budget per post, and then set your bid strategy and optimization goals. Then sit back while MarinOne takes care of the rest.
MarinOne’s advanced automation features are designed to save advertisers time, while driving performance at scale across accounts. Click here for more on Message Booster for Instagram with MarinOne.
Yes, you read that correctly. Since the start of digital advertising, there has been a thin line between organic and paid search data. There have been many tests and studies conducted on how organic data can influence paid search data and vice versa.
With MarinOne, you can add a bit of control to the mix by automatically bringing in organic metrics alongside your paid search keywords. These include ; organic average position and organic clicks, which come from the Paid & Organic Search Results report in Google Ads.
Off the back of that data, you have the ability to leverage MarinOne’s powerful bidding solution, which lets you automatically assign custom bid modifiers based on factors outside of the auction (in this case, organic data), and thus increase or decrease bids based on the criteria specified by you.
Similarly, if organic position is better than 2, then lower bid by 35%.
Imagine all the possible strategies this approach could introduce and how it could boost your paid advertising efficiency, improve your keyword coverage, and reduce ad spend waste.
Last but not least, from a reporting perspective, Marin has got you covered.
When adding organic data to the mix and having it alongside your paid search data, Marin’s powerful dashboards and reporting capabilities can help you find synergies and let you slice and dice your data however you see fit.
If you would like to find out how this strategy could work for your business, get in contact and one of our account team members is more than happy to help.
MarinOne Insights generates over 5,000 recommendations for our customers daly, identifying millions of dollars in potential performance improvements from their digital marketing programs.
Insights are automatic, tailored recommendations that help advertisers get more out of digital marketing campaigns and provide them with the tools needed to quickly implement those recommendations.
This week, we have added these four new Insights to MarinOne:
Landing Page Errors
Sending traffic to a broken web page is a waste of spend and a terrible experience for your customers. MarinOne automatically crawls your top landing pages by spend, and surfaces issues such as a 404 error codes.
Marketers should either fix the landing page or pause the keyword until the landing page issue is resolved.
Bid Strategy Performance
The bidding tools in MarinOne help you get the best performance for a given target (e.g. ROAS or CPA) but did you know they can also help you understand what your performance would look like at a different target.
This Insight identifies MarinOne Bid Strategies where adjusting your target would yield improved performance. In other words, we look for situations where a different target would increase the overall profitability of your campaigns. Marketers can then adjust the Bid Strategy targets if the forecasted outcome aligns with their campaign goals.
With the publisher’s rules for what is permitted in ad constantly evolving, it’s easy to lose track of policy violations that can result in ad groups not serving. This Insight identifies ads that have been disapproved within the last 2 weeks.
Marketers should then either submit a policy exemption request to the publisher or add a new creative to the group that is within policy.
On a large account, it’s inevitable that you will have duplicate keywords creating clutter and complexity in your accounts that should be avoided. This Insight identifies duplicate active keywords.
The marketer can easily pause the keyword with a lower quality score. If the Quality Score is the same, pause the keyword with less spend in order to preserve the keyword with more historical data that can be leveraged by an automated bidding solution.
In light of recent news on COVID coming out of the UK and US, such as plans for re-openings and increase in vaccine distribution, travel companies have seen a much-needed surge in vacation bookings.
The Guardian reported that Easy Jet flight bookings from the UK jumped 337% and package holidays surged 630% when compared with the previous week. In the U.S., a recent survey from TripAdvisor found that 80% of consumers planned to take at least one overnight domestic trip in 2021, with over 1/3 of respondents planning at least three.
A term coined in recent weeks, “revenge travel” is the latest buzzword for travel marketers to know about. Surveys suggest that people will want to travel as soon as they can, and this pent-up demand will likely result in similar booking surges around the world as each respective country communicates their road to recovery and timelines of normality.
How to Win:
Leading with Data
In April 2020, I wrote that Business Intelligence and First-Party Data was the vaccine to neutralize competitors. This is even more important now, as advertisers scramble to recover lost revenues. Airline marketers should be leaning on their Data & Analytics teams, requesting access to route codes, profitability metrics, and flight details to automate the creation and optimization of search and social campaigns. Similarly, those marketing the supply of accommodation should be leveraging internal catalogues, occupancy data, and room value to balance the supply & demand of bookings. This data offers little value in our current world, however, as we begin to see countries emerging from restrictions, and life returning to normal, using this data to power your performance channels will be pivotal.
The travel ecosystem is dictated by supply & demand. Marketers, all the more, need to integrate the supply & demand equilibrium to their performance program to ensure efficiency and competitiveness.
Enhanced Automated Optimization
The unknown ahead will likely lead to peaks and troughs in performance. Auction intensity will increase. Impressions and CPCs will rise. Firstly, advertisers need to get back to basics with account health and do this quickly.
Marin can collaborate with advertisers and agencies to find the ideal solution that leans into publisher optimizations while also leveraging first-party data, flexibility and control.
Cross-Channel Audience Alignment
Integrating your performance channels and viewing your data in a unified way is a start, but advertisers need to do way more to get ahead. Your audience data, and how you use it, is incredibly important.
By combining data with digital audience solutions, savvy travel marketers can connect with travellers better – and drive more bookings. Advertisers should be reviewing lifetime value (LTV) to understand how to communicate differently to varying value customers and optimize throughout the entire customer journey.
Reporting & Visualizing Data
As we see travel reopen, it is likely that we’ll see new “Top Routes” emerge and it’s pivotal that marketers stay on top of these changes. A great way to do this is to lean on a solution like Data Studio, Tableau or Looker. Customized dashboards in these tools can give you the data you need, right when you need it.
Travel advertisers certainly have a mountain to climb to execute a recovery plan, and success is ultimately tied to each country’s reopening timeline. However, advertisers need to be agile and ready to capitalize on the recovery of travel.
We’ve added nine new bidding and setup Insights to help advertisers get the most out of digital marketing campaigns and provide them with the tools needed to quickly implement those recommendations.
Here are the new recommendations:
Enhanced CPC Identifies Google campaigns using Marin Bidding or Manual Bidding without Enhanced CPC and allows you to easily enable the Enhanced CPC setting
Bid Caps: Identifies keywords, ad groups, product groups, and placements performing above the bid strategy efficiency goal whose bids are limited by the Bid Cap setting. Users can then disable or raise the Bid Cap setting unless there is a specific business case to maintain a maximum bid
Bid Floors Identifies keywords, ad groups, product groups, and placements performing below the bid strategy efficiency goal whose bids are artificially raised using the Bid Floor setting. Users can disable the Bid Floor unless there is a specific business case to maintain a minimum bid
Keyword Bid Overrides Identifies keywords on Bid Override that are in active Bid Strategies. Users can disable these Bid Overrides unless there is a specific business case for manual bid optimization
Bidding Reactivity Identifies Marin Bidding Strategies that are not using the Limit Bid Changes under X% setting. Users can enable the Limit Bid Change setting and set it to 25% for affected folders.
Keyword Count Identifies ad groups with more than 100 active keywords. Advertisers should segment keywords into multiple ad groups to improve keyword/ad relevancy
Ad Count Identifies ad groups with less than 3 active ads. The publishers recommend maintaining at least 3 active ads in each ad group.
Invalid Credentials Identifies publisher accounts that require a password update in Marin.
Sync Errors Identifies campaigns that have fallen out of sync with Marin.
All Insights are available under the top-level Insights tab, next to your Home tab. For more details about Marin’s Automated Insights check out our original launch announcement.
We’re well underway in the holiday season now with just about a week left until Christmas. Here are a few quick tips to make the most of these last days before the holiday and prepare for the days following.
Budget planning using the What-If functionality has been around in Marin for a while. We have now improved the tool to allow you to forecast and scenario plan at the bid strategy level. This means that at the individual bid strategy level, you are able to see the total spend you are trending toward for the end of the month, as well as the total number of conversions and revenue.
The What-If functionality is a great way to keep track of your budget, but an even better way to make sure you’re getting the most out of that budget. You can leverage What-If to see what would happen to your conversions or revenue if you were to increase or decrease spend, and the platform will automatically recommend updated targets for your bid strategies. After that, you can just sit back and enjoy the holidays! You can read more about it here
While you may be off from work in the coming days, your search activity will probably continue to run. Marin allows you to schedule work that still needs to get done while you’re off using Dynamic Actions. Scheduled Actions enable you to pause or resume campaigns, groups, or creatives at a specified date and time in the future. This means that you can take your Christmas ad copy offline and reactivate regular creatives through a scheduled task, rather than having to come into the platform to make adjustments. Need to change landing pages once Christmas is over? Schedule a bulk upload over email to process changes while you sit back and relax.
Christmas shopping has been underway for a while--and now it’s crunch time. A great way to increase volume is by looking for keywords or product groups similar to your historic/current top performers, and pushing the bid for similar keywords. Using change columns and filters, look for keywords and product groups that performed well for you last year but are seeing little traction now, and increase their bid:
Don’t think a simple increase will suffice? Switch the keywords to Bid Override for a couple of days, allowing them to gather data with a static bid before Marin Bidding takes over and sets the optimal bid for your targets.
Want to track the impact of what you’re doing? Create a Dimension and tag the keywords so that once the holidays are over, you can analyze how your actions contributed to your results and learn for next year!
Scheduled Boosts are another great way to control and optimize your campaigns from your couch. A boost is a percentage increase or decrease of your bids, meant to align with sudden changes in the market. Depending on your industry , you can probably expect traffic to be less competitive from the 24th through the 26th, for example. Marin allows you to schedule a decrease in your bids to account for that lull.
Marin’s algorithms work hard to optimize your advertising spend every day, making sure you get the most for your budget. But sometimes even the algorithms could use some help. Excluded Dates are your way of telling the algorithm which data to disregard.
See that tick box next to Excluded Dates in the above screenshot? This means that we're able to tell the algorithm not to consider certain dates for future bid calculations, based on the dates that were set for a boost. Excluded Dates are important around the holidays when performance varies more than usual. Enter them through a bid strategy, at either the strategy- or account level! You can even set future Excluded Dates, so it’s something you can do ahead of the holiday break.
Automated Alerts are another great way to stay on top of your account activity without having to sign into the platform! Alerts allow you to receive an email notification of, for example, campaigns with a strong increase in cost week-over-week, keywords with large drops in conversions day-over-day, or any other change you’d like to be notified of. Alerts rely on filters and recurring reports.
Setting these Automated Alerts up is now easier than ever, as many of the filters required are already built out for you in Marin and available in the Marin subcategory when looking at your saved views.
We want to wish a happy holiday break to all of you and don’t worry, Marin Software has got your back!
Shopping campaigns and managing the feeds that power them is often cumbersome, time consuming and resource intensive. To help with these challenges, Marin has developed an innovative solution called Smartfeed which manages your feed and also updates your account’s structure -- the Marin platform serves as an intermediary which automates the build based on your feed.
So, what is it? How does it work? And how to use it to the fullest?
What is Smartfeed?
Marketers are always looking to improve their feed and shopping activities’ performance, and most solutions available are expensive and solely feed-focused.
By including Smartfeed within your Marin account, marketers not only have the ability to optimize, create and maintain their feed automatically based on their business’ needs, but they are also able to do this in combination with optimizing, creating and maintaining their own shopping structures, with the aim to maximizing reach and efficiency.
While having all this activity in one place saves marketers’ time, Smartfeed also tailors optimizations for each channel’s requirements (such as Google Shopping or Facebook Marketplace). This allows marketers to use rules and other optimizations to apply to the feed at scale, before they are submitted or scheduled to multiple shopping platforms on an automated and recurring basis.
Marketers will also be able to analyse their feed’s structure and performance, report on those numbers and receive alerts based on product performance to understand when and where optimizations are desirable.
What does it solve?
Many of the challenges faced by marketers today revolve around time consuming setups and maintenance of low quality feeds, which also then need to be maintained and optimized in each shopping or marketplace platform.
As seen before, Smartfeed deals efficiently with the time consuming piece as everything sits under the same platform, while low quality feeds can be enhanced by using multiple and new sources to upgrade your feed’s data. Finally, building out and managing your shopping structures will happen straight within Marin on a daily basis, allowing you to tweak your feed’s information and see this change reflected into the Shopping campaigns shortly thereafter.
Maintaining a clear and consistent shopping campaign structure can be tedious and time consuming. Marketers need to spend a lot of time creating all the different objects, only to then spend additional time optimizing the structure itself, as well as maintaining it and removing and adding objects as relevant in order to improve performance.
With Smartfeed, Marin Software takes the heavy lifting out of a marketer’s day to day workflow by automating the build and edition of shopping campaigns as well as automating their optimization.
Smartfeed can use a feed to build out entire shopping structures to include all or specific SKUs in the feed. Multiple level objects can be built, such as campaigns, ad groups, product groups and creatives. Building out the campaigns, for example, can be as simple or complex as required, with Smartfeed’s ability to adjust settings such as budgets, device modifiers or status to name a few.
In addition, Smartfeed integrates fully with Marin’s dimensions feature. This allows marketers to assign dimension values to specific objects, such as ad groups or product groups, with a view to adjust the bids via our Dynamic Actions feature or simply run a granular report across multiple publishers such as Google and Bing.
Finally, ad groups and product groups can be automatically assigned to bidding folders based on information within the feed such as custom labels or product categories. Smartfeed can be set up so that if these are modified, the changes are reflected automatically in the structure in order to make optimizations as precise, custom and easy to implement as possible.
Ready to know your best-performing tactics across the consumer’s journey and optimize every marketing dollar? Schedule a demo and learn more about Smartfeed!
There are a lot of moving parts to a digital marketing campaign. So many that it’s hard for even an experienced marketer to know what they need to do to get the best results from their campaign. Collecting data, recognizing the trends for optimization and other paid search strategy efforts often do not come as quickly as advertisers would like. That’s where we come in.
Marin has been providing account insight to our customers for over 10 years and now we are delivering these powerful, actionable recommendations directly in the MarinOne platform.
Insights are automatic, tailored recommendations that help advertisers get more out of digital marketing campaigns and provide them with the tools needed to quickly implement those recommendations.
Automated Insights in MarinOne are designed to
uncover opportunities to reduce wasteful spending
capitalize on additional volume in high-performing areas
Implement learnings from one channel to another
How Insights Work
Each Marin Insight is a customized, cross-channel recommendation designed to increase your campaign’ performance. Unlike recommendations from the publishers, Marin Insights look across channels to identify the most efficient areas of improvement or to highlight where a learning in one publisher can be implemented in another. We also focus on recommendations that align with your business goals, not just increasing spend.
To help you prioritize your work, Marin Insights are always presented with a corresponding performance change. With this information you can easily tell how your account may change as a result of implementing and insight. These performance forecasts are built by analysing recent performance of campaigns, ads, keywords, and products and benchmarking that against the overall account performance.
If your account is tracking revenue data the forecasts will be reflected in terms of predicted change in Revenue and Spend. If your account does not currently track revenue, the prediction is in terms of Conversions and Spend.
Insights are updated daily based on performance data over the most recent four weeks so you never have to worry about wading through old materials.
What Insights Help You Do
Each Marin Insight is presented along with a downloadable report that enables you to go from insight to action. Each report can be uploaded back into MarinOne to apply the recommendation. This workflow gives you flexibility and the ability to accept or reject each recommendation at the most granular level.
Examples of our Insights Include:
Ad Copy Optimization - Identifies the individual word with the most clicks across an ad group's keyword set and determines if that word is included in the highest-traffic creative.
Ad Optimization - Identifies underperforming ads using the KPI and statistical confidence in your A/B test settings.
Budget Capped Campaigns - Identifies high performing campaigns limited by their daily budget.
Keyword Expansion - Identifies non-exact match search terms performing at a lower cost-per-conversion than their parent campaign based on Google conversion tracking.
Keyword Match Type Expansion- Identifies high performing keywords that do not exist on more specific match types.
Keyword Publisher Expansion - Identifies top-performing keywords that are not being leveraged in Bing.
Negative Keyword Expansion - Identifies non-converting search terms based on Google conversion tracking with a statistically significant amount of clicks.
Single Keyword Ad Groups - Showcases which keywords have significant mobile performance to move each into their own ad group so it can get its own mobile bid.
Top Performing Products - Identifies shopping products performing above average within their product group and should be moved to a dedicated product group for additional control.
Highly Qualified Recommendations - Volume and performance criteria result in recommendations that are expected to provide meaningful impact to your bottom-line performance.
Performance Predictions - Incremental spend, conversion, and revenue estimates allow you to prioritize your time on recommendations that will have the most impact.
Platform-Ready Exports - Downloadable reports allow you to review Insights at the most granular level. We've also made it easy to implement the recommended changes using a bulk upload.
Click on the Insights tab in MarinOne to see your personalized recommendations today!
If you aren’t yet a Marin customer, reach out today to learn about everything Marin has to offer.
We recently wrote a blog on The Power of Web Queries, a type of scheduled report in MarinOne that is hosted on a URL and automatically updated with the most recent data. These are fully customizable reports, right down to the date range, activity type and even how often the data is refreshed.
The flexible nature of Web Queries means that marketers can automatically import their data directly into Microsoft Excel instead of having to manually download their data and then import into Excel, saving you endless hours of time spent generating reports manually. You can even create dashboards and templates in Excel, which get updated with the most recent data at the click of a button.
The New and Improved Web Query Reports
Since our earlier blog post, we’ve made further enhancements to our Web Query reporting capabilities to not only allow data to be automatically imported into Excel, but now into Google Sheets too.
You’re probably asking why use Google Sheets? What’s the benefit? Well, here’s a few…
Due to the cloud-based nature of Google Sheets, collaboration between multiple users makes a marketers workflow easier and faster
Built-in revision history
No need to constantly press “Save” due to Google Sheets’ auto-save functionality
Real-time chat window with colleagues
Access to your Google Sheet and data from any computer/device
Refreshing of data is automatic on an hourly cadence - no manual intervention needed
Ability to control access levels to the data, i.e. Read-Only, Edit or Comment access
Share the data easily with management and stakeholders
The data can also be synced into big data tools from Google Sheets for enhanced customization and reporting i.e. Google Data Studio
Pricing – Google Sheets is completely free to use
Setting Up Web Query Reports for Google Sheets
Once you’ve generated your Web Query report from MarinOne, copy the URL and open up a Google Sheet then follow the steps below.
Click into a cell and type =IMPORTHTML(
This function / formula imports data into a Google Sheet from a table within a HTML page such as Marin’s Web Query reports that are hosted on a URL
The syntax format is =IMPORTHTML("url", "query", index)
url – The URL of the page to be examined, including protocol (e.g. https://). This is where you paste the Web Query report URL that you generated in MarinOne
The URL must be enclosed in quotation marks
query – Either "table" or "list" can be used, depending on what type of structure contains the data For Marin’s Web Query reports, it will be the query "table", and make sure to also enclose it in quotation marks
index – The index, starting at 1, which identifies which table or list (as defined in the HTML source) should be returned For Marin’s Web Query reports, there are three tables to choose from (as shown in the image below)
Your formula should look like the example below. Make sure that each syntax is separated with a comma.
Once you hit enter, the data will be imported into the Google Sheet from the Web Query report
Once you have the data into the spreadsheet, you’ll need to set the criteria for the data to be refreshed;Click File >> Spreadsheet settings >> in the pop up, click Calculation >> change the recalculation to ‘On change and every hour’ >> click Save Settings
Google will now automatically refresh the data on an hourly cadence, so you can be sure that the most recent data is up-to-date - There’s no need to manually refresh like you have to in Excel
Why not give it a try and enhance your workflow with our latest update? And if you haven’t already, check our earlier blog on Web Query reports: The Power of Web Queries.
Reporting is often a mundane and repetitive task. How much time do you spend on reporting? If that answer is too much, then keep on reading.
Every marketer's dream is to spend as little time on reporting as possible. The fact is that the less time you spend on reporting, the more time you have to spend on your marketing strategy, campaign optimization or perhaps testing something completely new.
One of the key benefits of using MarinOne is its web query functionality.
In a nutshell, web queries enable you to pull data from a website's URL straight into Microsoft Excel. The web query format creates an automated report that is posted to a static URL every time the report is processed.
Web query reports in MarinOne are designed to let users take advantage of their existing reports and have the application update the data on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, saving you literally hours a week by not having to pull reports manually.
As you can imagine, the possibilities with web queries are endless. Below we have outlined a few examples of the web query alerts and reports that we tend to recommend.
Performance-based alerts and reports:
Poor performing campaigns, groups, creatives or keywords
Strong performing campaigns, groups, creatives or keywords
High potential keywords and search queries
Campaign, group, keyword coverage change
Low CTR/conversion rate creatives, keywords
Performance by match type
KPIs that have been achieved by certain objects in a given timeframe
Mobile vs. desktop performance
QA-based alerts and reports:
Missing Google Analytics parameters
Active groups with less than two creatives
Example: Cross channel Dashboard build by using Web Queries
Setting Up Web Query Reports
Now that you know when to use web queries, how can you create one?
If you are using Windows, you can follow the below steps:
Create a recurring report in MarinOne and select Excel Web Query as the format
You can then run your report and click save.
Right-click on the URL for the Excel link and select Copy Shortcut.
In Excel, open the workbook where you wish to import the data. From the Data menu, select From Web under Get External Data.
Paste the link you copied into the address bar and your report will be loaded into the window.
You can choose which section of your report to import by checking boxes placed next to each table in the report.
Click Import and you will be asked to specify the location for the report and you will have to enter your Marin credentials when prompted. If you wish to have the data in the report, refresh automatically when the file is opened, click Properties and select the Refresh Data When Opening File option.
Click OK and your data will be imported into the workbook at the location you specified. This data range will be refreshed whenever you select Refresh All from the Data menu (or automatically, if you choose that option). Simply link your existing output report to this data section and your report will be updated.
As mentioned, web queries will help you save time and hopefully enhance your day-to-day workflow. If there are any questions or you would like to know more, don't hesitate to contact us.
From spend monitoring to ad ranking, keeping tabs on your campaign performance across your different marketing channels can be a lot of work. And because optimization is the key to a successful campaign, it’s good to stay in the know. However, most of us are not on our computers all the time, so we need an easy and efficient way to stay on top of it all, and be notified of any major changes immediately.
With Marin’s Automated Alerts, you can stay in the know with automatic monitoring and notifications for all your marketing campaigns. These alerts bring changes directly to your inbox, so that you can be notified as soon as they happen. This means timelier analysis and action, so that your campaigns can continue running smoothly even while you're away.
Check out these 5 alerts that you can set up in Marin to stay productive, optimize strategy, and make the most out of each advertising dollar.
This may feel pretty standard. But as a reminder, the cost of an acquisition or conversion is important to ensure not only that our ads are converting, but that they are doing so at a profitable rate. It is important to modify an alert like this one with an impressions count to be sure that an ad or campaign has reached enough users to properly determine an ideal CPA.
Example: Alert me if impressions are greater than 1000 and CPA is greater than X.
Getting Close to Spend Cap
This can help you monitor your budget pacing, and view the rate at which your campaigns spend. Take action before your cap is hit so that you make adjustments to achieve your performance goals.
Example: Alert me if total spend > $950 (where spend cap = $1000).
Impression Share is Dropping
If your strategy includes top or absolute top impression share, this alert is for you. By receiving a notification when an ad’s impression share drops below your target, you can take the appropriate action (improve ad ranking, evaluate keywords, expand budget) before falling too far behind.
Example: Alert me if the impression share drops by more than 10%
If you’re testing out some new keywords for your campaigns, use this alert to monitor their performance and iterate when necessary. This alert is great for keyword strategy
Example: Alert me if CTR is less than 3% for selected keywords.
Ads Not Converting
Your ads may not be converting because of audience targeting, ad copy, or user-experience on your landing page, you want to be notified about ads that don’t lead consumers to the end goal of a purchase or sign-up. This helps you save money and optimize your campaign for success.
Example: Alert me if I’ve spent more than $1000 and conversion rate is less than 10%.
Once you’ve created these alerts, you can breathe a bit easier knowing that if something dramatically shifts in a campaign, you’ll be notified and can take action immediately. Automated alerts in Marin are customizable and can be set up in just a few minutes. Schedule time with an account representative today to learn more!
These are unprecedented times. Whether you have cut your advertising costs and are making tough budgeting decisions, or are gearing yourself for an unexpected increase in traffic and conversions, the marketing programs you need today are different from what you were running last month.
According to eMarketer, 38% of US Agency and Marketing Professional’s advertising efforts have been paused until later in the year.
The answer to the question “What should I be doing now?” is going to be different for every company. We want to help you make the right decisions by asking the right questions about your business, your marketing programs, and your customers.
We’ll be joined for this conversation by Jake Renter, Chief Operating Officer for Intertwine Interactive. Jake has seen a broad range of impact across the companies he helps manage and he’ll be sharing what he’s hearing from his customers.
Together we will help you answer the ten questions that will make sure you’re continuing to get the most out of your marketing investment, including topics like:
Is my messaging correct?
It’s a sensitive time for creatives, you might need to review and refresh your existing copy and revise anything that may be misconstrued as insensitive given the current climate.
Should I change my bidding strategy?
Paid search is very measurable, the first thing you need to look at is if your conversion rate has changed? We’ll elaborate on that during the webinar but as a start, one way to save yourself a lot of time and worry as long as circumstances continue to change day by day is leveraging tech for alerts. Demand and volume shifts for products can be dramatic, swinging up or down.
Should I be reducing my budgets and how should I be spending?
First, you may want to shift budgets into those products or services that have more relevance during this national emergency. Now might be a good time to do some incrementality testing and see the impact, especially at the top of the funnel.
Are there strategic projects I can be working on that will set me up for success?
If your mandate is to essentially “keep the lights on” now may present a good time to do the deep cleaning.
Sign up today to join us on Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 at 9am PST | 5pm BST
These are challenging times. Fortunately, as a group of experienced performance marketers, we have a set of tools that we can rely on when supply and demand greatly change. Whether it is Black Friday, National Pizza Day, or the CEO emailing you a screenshot of Google search results with your ad nowhere in sight, we can help you make quick adjustments.
COVID is certainly a unique event, with no clear timeline--so how do you adapt? The answer uses the same techniques as any other promotion or event. The following list of strategies and tasks will help update your account for the current climate. Get the fundamentals right and your search campaign should stay healthy.
Automated Alerts - Performance changes daily. Receive an email from Marin showing Campaigns/Groups/Keywords that have realized a significant change in spend and conversions across all of your channels Google, Bing, Amazon, Facebook.
Negative Keywords - New events can trigger new searches. Ensure to keep a close eye on Search Query Reports. Marin provides your Google and Bing search query results in the same view and allows you to add negatives to both publishers at the same time. Go to the Keyword Expansion tab in Marin to view and manage.
Day Parting - People’s schedules have changed, which may also impact online behavior. Review recent data and implement a day-parting strategy or revisit any pre-existing bid multipliers. Marin will make a recommendation with a click of a button.
Scheduled Actions - New announcements are made daily, often days before they go into effect. Stay tuned into events affecting the geo locations your campaigns are opted into. Schedule the Activation or Pausing of Campaigns/Groups/Creatives.
Sitelinks - The most efficient way to adjust your messaging or highlight a new offering is to add a new sitelink. These can quickly be added across campaigns.
Budgets - Because search patterns have been changing, you might be running into budget limits on parts of your accounts. Please keep an eye on campaigns maxing out their daily budgets and make adjustments where necessary.
Marin bidding will consider the most recent data and calculate bids for each keyword based on the recent performance performance accordingly, allowing for quick responsiveness during this volatile climate. The following detail bid strategies and features we can leverage if anticipating significant changes in performance:
Targets - Marin bidding will automatically adjust for changing conversion rates, but if a conversion today is not worth the same as it was yesterday, you should also consider adjusting your targets to match the current environment.
Boost - Set a bid multiplier across the folders. This will allow you to quickly bid down or bid up KWs in the folder while keeping your original bid in place. When the event is over, simply remove the boost and bids will return to normal. Calculate the boost by calculating the difference between the historical conversion rate by the anticipated conversion rate ((Historical CVR - Anticipated CVR)/Historical CVR).
Folder Forecasting - You may have been asked to reduce spend for the month or next. Marin will recommend and implement performance targets based on budget. If reducing spend, use Marin's What-If feature to input your budget and Marin will make recommendations on how to change the target and hit your target spend. You can then select "Apply Recommendations" to quickly apply those targets. This can be found in the Optimization>Select "Forecasting" slider button area.
Dynamic Actions - Similar to boost, a unique bid multiplier can be applied to a Campaign/Group/KW by assigning values to a Dimension and applying a bidding rule. This can be useful for making targeted adjustments on specific parts of your account without having the change your folder structure.
Bid Override - If there are certain keywords to be managed manually, a keyword can be placed on bid override from the key tab while the remaining keywords in the campaign or group remain on automated bidding.
In addition to all of these strategies, Marin is happy to announce our “Expert Assist” offering, providing our customers with account audits that will provide 50+ insights and health checks. Whether your marketing program has cut budgets, adjusted your headcount, is in the middle of re-evaluating your strategy, or in some cases, is seeing new trends with your sales, please consider us an extension of your team. Our decades of digital marketing experience can help you navigate through this unprecedented time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need further help!
When I first started working in digital marketing, part of my training process was learning about best practices, campaign structure, and all kinds of additional tools provided by publishers and third party vendors to drive success for brands.
As discussed in my previous posts, it’s important to know your brand and your customers, and to understand what makes them tick (and click) to convert on your website.
One way is to continuously run tests on your activity and learn what works and what doesn’t. Or, you can switch on and off tools like audiences and bid adjustments, explore new campaign types and channels, etc.
This article is dedicated to bidding—automated bidding, to be more precise. However, it would be wrong to look at this topic separately from everything else that’s happening in your accounts.
Much like in your home, wi-fi wouldn’t work with no electricity. Or, how can you enter the living room without a front door?
Let’s walk through our house together from room to room to see how every component makes our environment cozy and inviting to our guests—in other words, our customers who we’re driving to convert and come back for more.
Let’s start with the hallway (a.k.a., data source)
When thinking about your account optimization and bidding (whether it’s manual or automated), it’s important to identify your trustworthy data.
Some advertisers have developed their own tracking and attribution systems in-house. These systems provide them with first party data, and all the insights they opted into their product to track user journeys and interaction paths with the brand.
Another option is to pick a third party vendor or publisher tools to execute tracking for you. Here, it’s important to review the packages vendors offer and understand which ones suit your business needs the most.
Remember, the digital world is changing every day. Online customer behaviors simply aren’t the same as they were five to 10 years ago.
For instance, social networks now have more influence on a consumer’s decision making process. When someone’s in their exploration phase, reviews and feedback are important. This assigns higher revenue share from sales to publishers like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
The question here: as an advertiser, are you taking cross-channel user interactions into account, and is the value you assign to your social media or affiliate advertisement fair?
There are various vendors that consider these factors in their attribution model and share the conversion data between the channels fairly—whether it’s a click from Google or impression from Facebook that contributed to a conversion.
Marin Software has developed an attribution model called TruePath, which helps advertisers see the impact of other channels on their search campaigns and vice-versa. This allows you to better understand the value of campaigns that don’t necessarily convert on their own (e.g., prospecting), but play a key role in the user journey.
Sugar, spice and everything nice (a.k.a., audience kitchen prep)
In past posts, we discussed the importance of understanding your audiences, how they affect performance, and what it takes to bring home that extra conversion.
When you’ve identified a list of audiences that convert better than others, you can add these and their similar audiences to specific or all campaigns. As these are best performers, you can add specific bid adjustments to these.
With one of my clients, we created audience rules to cover their top product categories and certain pages—like What’s New? After running these audiences for a month, we saw that after visiting the What’s New? page, people were 32% more likely to convert on the website, even if they purchased long-existing stock. The next step was obvious: increase the bids on audiences that visited the page and reap the results.
There are tools that offer automated bid adjustments for audiences tagged across campaigns. For instance, the Google eCPC model takes audience behavior into account (Google conversion pixel data only) and adjusts bids for you based on audience performance in the campaign/group.
Marin Software also measures audience performance when it comes to automated bidding. Here, however, the app can use your preferred source of truth. You can select a list of conversion types that are important when it comes to bid adjustments and performance and the app will do the rest—calculate and execute.
At Marin, we’ve also come up with the concept of search and social intent. Here, we help our clients to reach social prospects and leads in search engines and vice-versa.
For example, we ran a test on social campaigns using search data. The result: CPA for these campaigns was 65% lower in comparison to traditional social campaigns, while conversion volume spiked by 388%. The client also saw a 100% increase in their daily appointment requests.
The living room (a.k.a., device performance and adjustments)
According to many marketing sources, every year is The Year of Mobile. :)
And yes, every year, we witness how mobile search share is growing, as mobile devices become more versatile and occupy every part of our lives. This may or may not be the case for you, but I feel lost without my phone, as it’s such a huge part of my life—all of my contact information is there, not to mention the easy ability to call for food delivery or an Uber in just a couple of swipes/taps.
And yet, when it comes to conversion rate and return on investment, desktop keeps showing higher, better results.
Why is that?
SmartInsights and many more research companies compiled research on this topic to prove that even though most of the initial searches on the product/service/ideas are coming from mobile, conversions are more likely to happen on desktop.
A key takeaway here is that it’s important to review device performance not only against each other, but also from a cross-device perspective.
Marin has created a special solution for this—you can set separate targets to devices. Then, based on the targets and their performance, our solution adjusts bids to meet the desired goal.
Home office (a.k.a., additional rules in Marin bidding)
Marin bidding equips you with a list of additional rules to augment your usual strategy. You can apply these on top of your target. These include:
Minimum daily bid change
Match type boost
Is your new promotion about to start outside of your working hours? You can set up your schedule to boost bids for a fixed time period.
Or, is your finance team keen to stay on top of the maximum bid values? Not a problem—just set up a bid cap and Marin won’t assign bids above your desired value.
The app uses these rules as advanced triggers to keep your performance in check. It also provides the calculation used for every object on bidding to show what was used in the process, and why.
When it comes to adjusting your target/strategy, the app makes everything very transparent and easy to understand.
Behind closed doors—what else can we do with our campaigns?
Device, audience, geo-targeting, time-of-day and day-of-week—these are the first adjustments that come to mind when reviewing a bidding strategy. But can we do more?
You bet! Our Marin analytics and product teams have worked hard to bring extra zest to your mix-and-match bidding approach.
For instance, do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
Your top-selling shoes are out of stock but your campaign is live
Impression share has dropped but you’re trying to stay ahead of competitors
A list of objects needs an extra push because of a new product launch or seasonality
Who you gonna call? In this case, not Ghostbusters—but, feel free to pick up a phone or email account and contact your Marin team.
Marin’s Dynamic Actions is your secret weapon when it comes to bid adjustments based on your unique situation.
With Dynamic Actions, you can tag objects in Marin with certain labels, whether it’s product stock or a certain performance metric. Marin will then recognize this tag, and based on your preferences, bid down or up for selected objects. Or, you can even stop the bidding altogether if you run out of stock.
This comes in handy when you have additional metrics you want to consider for bid optimization.
Making the place comfy (a.k.a., the importance of bidding target)
Whether it’s revenue or exposure, every organization works towards certain goals, and it’s important to hit them to grow your business.
With automated bidding, your main responsibility is to identify the desired target and to experiment with adjustments and data points. This maximizes the benefits of machine learning for an optimal bid calculation.
When you’re assigning a target to a group of objects, bear their current performance in mind. For example, is the target too aggressive? If so, perhaps it’s best to start +/-20% of the current performance and adjust the target every couple of weeks. This allows the final bid to change smoothly over the given time period, and avoids performance spikes.
If you use the bid adjustments above wisely, they’ll bring great value to your advertising programs. To test them out, start with one to measure the impact, and then add or remove as you go.
As we mentioned in our audiences article, it’s important to have statistical proof that a certain element is bringing your performance to the next level before you add it to your initial target. Also, remember the importance of your budget—sometimes, a higher bidding budget for your test can bring in incremental revenue at a low extra cost.
For instance, during a bidding test with one of our clients, Marin managed to increase lead volume by 600%, while the average CPL in their account dropped by 20%. The team also saved 25% of their day-to-day time by letting the app handle bid optimization.
If you have a little extra budget on hand for the test, it can lead to excellent results.
Last but not least—cleaning house (a.k.a., bidding can’t work on its own)
Some advertisers ask us: why is it important to continue optimizing campaigns, when automated bidding is switched on?
Even the most modern and automated house—where Alexa and Google Home answer the door and adjust the lights—needs a human touch.
Automated bidding can indeed help you save tons of time when it comes to keeping tabs on performance and updating bids. However, we have to remember the world around us is constantly changing. Therefore, digital campaigns continually need fresh ad copy and images. And, with our ever-expanding vocabulary and trend shifts, search engines see +15% new search queries every year.
So, dust the surfaces, make them shine, and be able to show off your best performance to date.
P.S. look at our beautiful garden (a.k.a., bidding test example)
Hope you’re still with us on our home maintenance metaphors!
Like any other top performance marketing company, at Marin we continuously run bidding tests with our clients. Let’s take a look at a test we performed against Smart Bidding, where the goal was to maximize leads to a set target cost per lead/acquisition (tCPL).
Within Marin’s bidding folders, the team activated portfolio bidding functionality. This functionality allows the app to use Bayesian data blending to help the algorithm identify the best bid for the given keywords. On top of this, automated mobile bid adjustments accommodate performance differences across devices. They also ensure placement on the first page of the SERP, and a high position and impression share at competitive levels.
In Google Ads, the client set the Smart Bidding tCPA model for a set of campaigns they used in the test.
During the test, the client didn’t create any new creatives or updated keywords. This kept the data as fair as possible across the campaign buckets that were in competition.
A month after the test started, the team compared results to the time period before the test. We ran the test during a low seasonality timeframe to avoid any external factors that might interfere with the results.
The post-test results were stunning—while running pure automated bidding activity in the account, both solutions showed an increase in conversion volumes MoM +51% with Marin’ bidding solution and +44% with Google Smart Bidding. The CPL also dropped, meaning that not only did the client gain incremental conversions from the automated bidding, but they also did so at a lower cost.
CPL in Marin dropped -47% MoM and -28% in Google Smart Bidding.
When all is said and done, when it comes to bidding, it’s important to evaluate all tools an advertiser can and should use. Once you identify areas of performance, you can use them as a layer to your bidding strategy. Automated tools help with the process of calculation and execution for hundreds or even thousands of keywords—with no time or effort from your team.
So, agree on the strategy, set it up, sit back and relax, and let the machine deliver the best bids possible.
Now that you have the perfect automated bidding home—go take that much-deserved vacation!
Audience targeting is much like cooking—with the right ingredients, a few adjustments, and seasoning to taste, you can create something hearty and enticing. Like any good online recipe, we’ll start broad and dive into the details, and cover the options you have for building an excellent mixture of audience-enabled advertising campaigns.
And, while you can look at the faces of your dinner guests to assess the success—or failure—of your culinary handiwork, we recommend a more analytical approach for your ad campaigns.
What Is Audience Targeting?
Audiences are buckets of your users or customers, grouped based on your preferences. As an advertiser, you can create these buckets across every publisher where you sell your ads (Google Ads, Bing, Yandex, Facebook, etc.).
Once you build audiences, you can utilize them in different ways:
Reporting: This allows you to better understand consumer behaviors, e.g., which web page is driving the most traffic/revenue.
Bidding: Based on the data you’ve gathered, you can adjust your CPCs for advanced bidding.
Prospecting: You can create similar audiences based on your existing lists to target new users.
In this article, we focus on Google Ads audiences—however, you can use this audience approach across all search publishers. The main difference is usually the naming convention across Google Ads, Bing, Yandex, etc.
Where Do I Start?
If you’ve never worked with audiences before, the best way to start is to create Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) and add these to all or top campaigns in Observation mode. This will allow you to gather data on your audiences, while keeping reach open for everyone performing a search query on your keywords.
You can set up RLSAs for specific pages of your website and based on rules—for example, a customer added items to the shopping cart, but didn’t complete the transaction in the last seven days. Generally, it’s a good practice to retarget your cart abandoners with a slightly higher bid, to remind them about their incomplete purchase.
Another good set of audiences are ones based on your top/desired web pages, for example:
Specific category / product line
Blog sections like “what to wear,” ”inspiration,” or “what’s trending this season”
Look at your website structure to determine the audiences to create.
Option two—category audiences
If you don’t know which pages to target or your business is still very new, publishers have an option to use pre-created audiences based on user interests. These are called in-marketaudiences, and represent the people interested in something specific such as travelling, cars, a particular industry, etc.
There are also demographic audiences that allow you to focus on gender and/or age range.
Option three—Customer Match
If your business has been in the market for a while and you have a list of loyal customers you’d like to retarget, all you need to do is upload your CRM list to the publisher and apply these audiences to your search campaigns.
Note that for legal and confidentiality reasons, all publishers encode user data upon upload.
Okay, I Have My Data—What’s Next?
Once you’ve identified which audiences deliver the most revenue for your campaigns, you can:
Start using them in bidding: Based on the most successful conversion rates (CVR), you can add bid adjustments for these audiences proportionally in your campaigns/groups.
Create specific retargeting campaigns: You can duplicate your existing campaigns, while adding top audiences to your campaigns and setting them in Targeting mode instead of Observation. This will restrict who sees these campaigns to people who fall into your audience buckets.
Create similar audiences: The publishers generate these audiences—they include people whose behavior is similar to the one identified in your existing audiences (RLSAs or CRM).
Piece of Cake… Or Is There More?
There’s always more! ;)
You can create and retarget audiences based on the people who spend above your average order value (note that this requires additional analytics tools like Google Analytics or Yandex.Metrica). Or, you can retarget search users who interacted with your social campaigns. Yet another option is combining your audiences with “competitors” campaigns, to drive people back to your website when they enter a competitor’s search term.
Good luck! If you have any questions or want more information, reach out to your Marin CS team. Or, if you’re new to Marin, schedule a demo today.
Omnichannel marketing causes many brands to look at their programs as a set of disparate disciplines—SEM, SEO, content marketing, social marketing, email marketing, etc. And, each discipline often has its own department, budget, and strategy, even though customers only see a single brand.
Advertisers are increasingly coming to understand that a good way to tackle the challenges inherent in omnichannel marketing is through a unified strategy, one that combines search and social into a single blueprint. Here are what our survey of digital advertisers identified as the top obstacles to overcome in reaching the goal of an integrated program.
1. Search and social silos
Separate departments for search and social mean separate staff, managers, budgets, and strategies—resulting in teams that rarely communicate, even when they might be sitting right next to each other in the office. This lack of collaboration can result in mismatched or conflicting campaign messaging, and lead to internal battles for shared resources, such as IT, engineering, budget, or creative.
2. Attribution ‘turf wars’
When search, social, and other marketing channels operate in silos, it creates organizational knowledge gaps and makes it more difficult to agree on how to attribute credit to each touchpoint on the conversion path. Social tends to benefit from a first-click attribution model because it’s typically used to create awareness at the top of the funnel.
A last-click model, on the other hand, will provide search with most of the credit for a conversion. Changing to an attribution model that applies equal or partial credit to each channel could threaten each department’s budget or organizational standing.
3. Lack of a shared budget
As the saying goes, ‘follow the money.’ Successful paid search and paid social marketers operating in different departments and with separate budgets are understandably protective of their dollars.
Search may enjoy the largest share of the digital marketing budget. However, social is increasingly carving out a larger share. As long as search and social strategies and campaigns are isolated from each other, the competition for budget dollars will continue.
4. Incompatible metrics and goals
Search and social marketers each speak their own language around key performance metrics (KPIs) and campaign goals. A social brand awareness campaign may use Facebook to increase the number of followers or the length of time followers spend on the brand’s Facebook page.
Conversely, an AdWords campaign may seek more conversions by increasing click-throughs to the website or improving the cost per click (CPC) of specific keywords. It’s difficult to measure a unified search and social campaign’s ROI when metrics don’t line up.
The “big three” publishers—Google, Facebook, and Amazon—operate as walled gardens by design. Sadly, they have zero incentive to share data across channels. This siloed approach is totally at odds with your goals as an advertiser—you need a single view of performance to run effective cross-channel ad campaigns.
There’s an answer—our next-generation advertising solution, MarinOne, unifies your search, social, and eCommerce advertising. Within a single platform, you can:
Get a unified view of your true customer journey
Amplify your search, social, and eCommerce campaigns
Gain campaign insight with a single, customizable dashboard
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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 SVP of Marketing at Marin Software, and has been with the company since 2008.
Rob Emery has been part of the product team at Marin Software since 2015, where he has honed and delivered features serving Search, Social, and Optimization. He’s currently Director of Product Management and taking a lead role in the development and release of MarinOne. Prior to joining Marin, Rob worked in digital marketing for brands including Hilton Worldwide and Bonnier Corporation.
This is a guest post from Ashley Aptt, Account Director at 3Q Digital.
A marketer’s data is as good as gold. Certainly, there are number of ways to collect data via internal and external sources.
The most common data sources are first party and third party—first party data is essentially your data. It’s the information you collect directly from your customers or your website. In contrast, third party data comes from other sources—it’s data aggregated from a variety of sources.
Due to changes that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires, the future of third party data is uncertain. Under the GDPR, companies are required to inform consumers about the data they’re collecting, such as how they intend to use it and with whom they intend to share it. Given this change, there are concerns that this can lead to the end of third party data as we know it.
What Does This Mean for Marketers?
With all the shake-up around third party data, now’s the time to rethink your marketing strategy and utilize your first party data as much as possible. If your website is already tagged with a remarketing pixel for your various media platforms, then you’re off to a good start. Remarketing pixels are considered first party data since they capture the user’s behavior and activity while they’re on your website.
If you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system to help manage your customer information, then you likely have details about your customer’s past purchases and other interactions with your business. When used properly, you can leverage your remarketing audiences and CRM data to create targeted marketing lists to re-engage site visitors and past purchasers.
Incorporating First Party Data into Your Digital Media Strategy
Most advertisers are already familiar with the basics of remarketing and the importance of segmenting your data to re-engage users with relevant messaging across search and social platforms to increase conversion prospects. But by using your remarketing and CRM data, you can take your strategy to the next level by analyzing customer data and trends to home in on customer retention and repeat purchases, while also using that data to expand your reach to a targeted audience.
Here are some ideas to leverage your first party data and up your remarketing game across paid search and social:
Push upsells and cross-sells: Once a visitor converts, leverage CRM data to determine complementary products they may be interested in. For example, if a customer purchases a swimsuit, follow up with ads to sell them a beach towel or swim cover-up.
Re-engage seasonal shoppers: If you have a set of customers who only purchase during a certain time of year (such as holidays or summer), that’s okay! Create lists for these purchasers, and ramp up your marketing efforts for them during the time of year they’re most likely to convert. Also consider if there are other holidays or promotional events when it might make sense to re-engage these visitors.
Don’t forget about video: Video advertising is becoming more and more popular and it’s a great way to reach your audience. Consider using a sequential messaging strategy to build a story and keep users interested in your brand.
Expand your reach with lookalikes or similar audiences: Google and Facebook both have the ability to build a new audience based off your first party data. This is a great way to expand your reach and find users who are like your current customers.
While first party data may not offer as much opportunity to scale your marketing efforts as third party data, there’s still a lot of potential to leverage first party data to increase revenue and improve ROI. Put your customer data and insights to good use to refine your remarketing, retention, and acquisition strategies.
Lookalike audiences are the Facebook feature when it comes to audience targeting. If you’re looking to scale your campaigns and more, it’s a must-consider option.
The Basics: What Is It and How Does It Work?
You can use lookalike targeting to find similar users to your core audience based on interests, click behavior, and conversion habits. The smaller the percentage of your core audience, the more similar your lookalike audience will be.
A lookalike percentage says, “Give me x% of the selected country users who are most similar to my seed audience.” For example, if you create a 1% lookalike in the US, the output will always be around 2.1 million profiles, since this is more or less 1% of the total number of Facebook users in the US.
However, depending on the seed audience, the profiles may greatly differ—for example, a 1% lookalike of your most valuable lifetime users will be different from a 1% lookalike of all website visitors. Therefore, seed quality is the most important factor for success.
You have several options from which to generate lookalike audiences:
Your custom audience (email lists, phone numbers, etc.)
Website Custom Audience
Campaign data (API-only feature)
A Few Size Guidelines
When segmenting/choosing seed audiences, think quality over quantity. Although quality can be subjective, there are a few generic size benchmarks (guidelines) for your seed audience.
Keep it under 50,000, since anything above this may see a drop in performance.
Keep it above 1,000.
For example, let’s take our previous 1% US lookalike. Our audience has 2.1 million people. When we create our lookalike audience, Facebook compares the people in this audience against how similar they are to our seed audience of less than 50,000. In other words, we’re magnifying the seed 40 times. If the seed isn’t high quality, then the magnification won’t produce the best audience.
As you can see, you have a lot of choices to test different audience types and associated performance. The key challenge is to segment and structure the audiences to avoid overlaps and achieve the best delivery.
Something to note: Since frequency caps limit the daily number of times you can deliver an ad to a user, lookalike audiences won’t increase your overall reach. And, you’ll have less predictability when it comes to which ad wins each auction.
There’s a way to overcome these challenges, however. Make sure your strategy includes nested lookalikes and smart exclusions. Let’s go into more detail.
Using Nested Lookalikes and Smart Exclusions
Let’s start with an example, where we exclude the next-highest percentage audience from our targeted lookalike audience. So, if you’re targeting lookalike 3% and lookalike 5%, then exclude the 3% audience from the campaign that’s targeting the 5% one.
With smart exclusions, we exclude the targeted audiences that we’re already using in other live campaigns. For example, if you’re running campaigns with 1% lookalike and 3% lookalike and want to launch a broader targeting campaign, then exclude the 3% lookalike.
Avoiding Campaign Redundancies and Fine-Tuning
When you’re planning your targeting strategy, make sure you’re segmenting your lookalike thresholds according to the value of the user, and excluding the targeted audiences from campaigns to avoid overlap. This’ll allow you to use lookalike audiences from different sources, increasing the overall reach and scalability of your campaigns.
For example, if you’re running a retargeting campaign based on a Website Custom Audience of all your site visitors, exclude this campaign from all of your acquisition initiatives, along with the associated lookalike audiences.
Here’s another scenario. Suppose you’re a travel website and the user funnel includes two conversions—registration and booking. You would segment the audiences based on your goals—perhaps based on the custom audience of the previous month's bookers, conversion pixel data, and Website Custom Audience of people who registered but didn’t book. Your segmentation would look like this:
Custom audience segmentation:
You can use all of these audiences for your acquisition campaigns, along with interest-based and other targeting options.
Here’s the final campaign planning structure for this example. This takes into account that retargeting campaigns are running based on your Website Custom Audiences.
Fine-tuned campaign planning structure:
Putting It All Together
Creating effective lookalike audiences takes a bit of cunning and patience, but it’s not rocket science. With continued practice, refinement, and measurement, you can scale your campaigns to ensure you’re targeting audiences with the most relevant ads at the most relevant time, in a way that works the best for your business. If you haven’t yet implemented this feature, we strongly recommend you get started today!
Although it’s a great feeling when social ad campaigns are on auto-pilot, functioning automatically, and blasting out to all the audiences we’ve carefully selected, it could happen—we start seeing stunted reach, fewer clicks, and sluggish conversion rates. At these moments, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and investigate the most common culprits for dips in social performance, and make adjustments to address the problems.
Here are a few simple things to examine to ensure your social ad campaigns are performing at their best.
What is it and why does it matter?
Frequency is the average number of times people see your ad. A higher frequency can leave a greater impact on the user, since they’ll be more likely to remember your brand and take action. As a starting point, we recommend planning campaigns for a frequency of 5-8, but with every campaign and creative being different, this can fluctuate depending on a few different variables:
Daily active users
Previous brand exposure
The longevity of the decision-making process
What does it mean?
A greater frequency—often combined with a decrease in click-through rate (CTR)—simply means that your ads are reaching the same audience continuously. In turn, a decreased CTR indicates that users are no longer paying attention to your ads or the audience pool is left with users who aren’t interested in your brand or product offering. Either way, the audience isn’t clicking your ads anymore.
How do you improve it?
If ad frequency has reached higher than your usual average, the best solution is to explore new audiences that represent potential new revenue. Try lifetime value audiences, campaign lookalike audiences (available through Marin via API), or Marin’s search intent retargeting and prospecting audiences.
In addition, new creatives can always provide a performance uplift, as they can appeal to audiences that initially didn’t respond to your ads. Consider changing:
Theme of the creative
Creative format (e.g., video or carousel)
Call to action
Offers and text
What is it and why does it matter?
CTR indicates the percentage of clicks that result from the total number of impressions. The higher the CTR, the more people click your ad, and the higher the website traffic that could result in conversions.
What does it mean?
There are four potential reasons for a decrease in CTR.
For audiences that have performed in the past or are very relevant—e.g., 1% lookalike or retargeting audiences—the creative might be the offender. Alternatively, you’d need to check the frequencies of the previously best-performing audiences to avoid audience saturation.
If you’re experimenting with broad audiences such as keyword targeting, it could be that this particular audience is just less engaged with your brand and your investment could have a better return somewhere else.
If your high CTR plummets, it could be that your ads are suffering from creative fatigue, meaning your audience has seen your creative for a while already and is simply tired of it. Make sure you’re following creative best practices.
Lastly, if you’re targeting large audiences, the campaign may have not had enough time or budget spend for Facebook to identify the users who are most likely to convert.
How do you improve it?
Having identified the reason behind the decrease in CTR from the suggestions above, you could try a new approach or a combination of tactics:
Test new creatives using one of the suggestions in the Frequency section.
Make your audience more specific by overlaying your keyword targeting with a lookalike audience or reducing the percentage size.
Don’t pause your campaigns too early, as Facebook’s algorithm requires at least 50 conversions per ad set to get through the learning phase. As the name suggests, during the learning phase the algorithm is learning about your audience and their behaviors and may not produce optimal results. However, having gone through the initial learning phase, Facebook has enough data to deliver your ads to the right audience and therefore produce the results you’re after.
What is it and why does it matter?
Conversion rate (CVR) indicates the conversions (purchases, sign-ups, etc.) resulting from link clicks. It’s one of the most important metrics, as it indicates the quality of the click audience and the relevance of your ad.
What does it mean?
A sudden, significant drop in CVR can indicate a tracking issue such as:
Broken tracking links
Missing pixels on your website
Missing pixels in ad setup
Alternatively, it can be a sign of a technical error on your website such as broken webpages or errors with processing purchase requests.
Other reasons behind a low CVR can be a misleading call to action or irrelevant landing page. It can also indicate the state of the market and competition, which is why we always recommend keeping an eye on competitors’ activity and Facebook offers.
How do you improve it?
If you’ve seen a sudden unexpected drop in conversion rate we recommend reviewing your website, since often it’s related to this.
Double-check your tracking links and ensure that active pixels are on the website and attached to your ads. Install Facebook’s Pixel Helper plugin, and verify whether the pixel fires on each relevant page such as add to cart, register, and purchase.
Additionally, try optimizing the user experience by shortening the conversion journey and providing appealing offers.
In the previous article in our Marketing on Facebook series, we looked at how to build a robust A/B scope of test framework to help uncover optimal relevance and ROAS. In our third and final post, we analyze the results of our test and formulate an action plan. (Be sure to refer back to the previous article for a refresher.)
Summary of Insights
Remember, we’re working with a retail advertiser’s scope of test. The retail advertiser is using Conversion and Product Catalog sales objectives. They’ve set a goal to optimize their campaigns, with the broader challenge to drive ROAS improvements.
Let’s don the hat of a Marin Customer Engagement Manager. Reviewing performance insights, we can formulate our summary:
Men and women display consistently different trends in purchase behaviors—men have higher conversion rates, but cost more per conversion and produce lower revenue; women produce higher revenue, but have lower conversion rates.
Instagram posted consistently higher ROAS versus other placements.
Summary of Opportunities for Optimization
In response, we note several opportunities for optimization:
Testing men and women targeted together versus. segmented
Testing placement optimized ad sets including Instagram versus segmenting Instagram
Testing optimizing to standard pixel events versus. Custom Conversion
Testing more refined lookback windows for seed audiences
Testing more refined lookback windows for dynamic ads
Summary of Scope of Test
Because age, gender, and in many cases the location often have a significant impact on results, the gender A/B test weighted higher in importance for Phase 1, versus testing placement optimization. Additionally, this was a priority for the advertiser at the time because they were also thinking about a more gender-tailored approach to creative design.
We’ve noted that in setting up ad studies, a clear definition of success is very important for successful learnings, so be sure to define KPIs. We elected ‘overall campaign performance’ as the measured goal for our scope of test, and also noted improvements for our KPIs of Relevance Score and ROAS.
Let’s look at some of the highlights that the example scope of test produced.
Phase 1: Testing Gender Optimized Ad Set Versus Unique Ad Sets for Men and Women
Background: A/B test campaign targeting men and women together in an ad set, versus a campaign targeting men and women in unique ad sets. Winner is plugged into Phase 2.
Theory: Optimized ad sets—whether combining placement or genders—allow the Facebook auction algorithm to find the most opportunities from the defined audience pool. When we target women uniquely, do we see higher ROAS?
Including men and women in the same ad set can work better in some cases. This is because the auction algorithm has more options in effectively placing impression opportunities for results (placing an ad impression in front of the person most likely to take action X), for the most efficient price.
In other cases, we need segmentation to better refine the audience versus the goal—to make it more relevant.
Learnings: The campaign segmenting men and women improved Relevance Scores by two points, and improved ROAS by 18%. Creating segmentation in the audience—limiting and refining its overall scope—helped generate a more relevant targeting pool. Because more relevant ads are more cost efficient, we saw improved ROAS in correlation with higher Relevance Scores.
Highlights: Looking at the ad set targeting men only, we saw that the Relevance Score and ROAS were about equal to that of the campaign ad set that combined gender targeting. However, the ad set targeting women only posted significantly higher Relevance Scores and ROAS. While men remained an overall difficult and more expensive conversion, the more focused and relevant ad set targeting women was able to efficiently serve impressions, and generate conversions and revenue.
Conclusion: Overall, the campaign segmenting gender targeting produced better results.
Targeting in this way achieved not only a more relevant—but also a more positive—user experience. The auction produced more value for our advertising outcomes, reaching people who mattered most to specific goals. As a result, we gained improved ROI.
It’s possible for a budget to be spent faster yet win less auction impressions. Why? Because of low relevance. For comparison, the two campaigns with equal overall audiences produced the following insights in Round 1:
CPM (Campaign A, Segmented Genders): $26.16
CPM (Campaign B, Combined Genders): $29.66
For the same budget of $1,500, Campaign B produced 6,776 fewer impressions, and despite a higher conversion rate (52.94% vs. 49.89%), produced 18% less revenue.
In all, the ‘less relevant campaign’ produced less impressions, less clicks, higher overall CPAs, and lower revenue.
With similar results in Round 2, we were able to prove that fostering more relevance in our targeting, ads in the auction produced more results at higher overall campaign ROAS in response.
Marin Tip: Relevance Score can be a powerful tool in your campaign management. Look for it in the Marin Social dashboard at the campaign, ad set, and ad level:
With the above results, you can also test unique creatives to men and women in the future, to see if you can further optimize with a more tailored message or image/video.
Phase 2: Test Placement Optimization Versus Segmenting Instagram
A/B test campaign utilizing Placement Optimization (including Phase 1 winner: men and women segmented), versus a campaign utilizing Placement Optimization except for Instagram, which is a unique ad set. With noted insights that Instagram produces higher ROAS, can a controlled budget via a dedicated ad set improve overall campaign ROAS?
Winner is plugged into Phase 3.
Learnings: Segmenting Instagram into a unique placement and providing for controlled budget produced a 4% improvement in ROAS overall. We noted a slight uptick in Relevance Score, (under 1 point).
Highlights: While Instagram continued to post performance gains in a dedicated at set, we saw smaller overall gains than we hoped for. We noticed that the ad set utilizing all other placement options without Instagram performed markedly worse than when we included Instagram.
In the ‘overall’ performance gains overview, Instagram carried the campaign’s success. We planned further testing to produce a placement-optimized ad set.
While not as impactful as we’d hoped, Phase 2 created an opportunity to build a follow-up scope of test to understand the best combination of placements. Just because our results don’t post a clear winner doesn’t necessarily mean a failed ad study. We should view such results as additional opportunities to test and refine our strategy.
Phase 3 and Beyond
Additional testing found that building Lookalike Audiences from Custom Audiences that used more narrow lookback windows (10days was best) helped improve Relevance Scores. In addition, on average, it produced 11% gains in ROAS, versus campaigns that used Lookalikes based on a 180-day lookback window seed Custom Audience.
We uncovered similar patterns for dynamic retargeting ads—using more tiers, plus more narrow windows in those tiers, proved most optimal from a ROAS perspective. There was no significant impact to Relevance Scores.
Dynamic retargeting tiers we found most successful were:
Added to Cart but not Purchased in 3 days
Added to Cart but not Purchased in 10 days, not Added to Cart in 3 days
Viewed Content but not Added to Cart in 7 days
Viewed Content but not Added to Cart in 14 days, not Viewed Content in 7 days
Viewed Content but not Added to Cart in 30 days, not Viewed Content in 14 days
We also determined that using a Custom Conversion produced worse overall results, versus using a pixel event to track conversions. When using the pixel event, for example, our Relevance Scores were on average 1.2 points higher than when we used a Custom Conversion. Also, we also improved our ROAS when we used the pixel event.
Relevancy and quality can help advertisers achieve efficiency gains in assigned budgets on Facebook. However, they’re often overlooked in favor of bid and budget adjustments.
While bid changes and budget adjustments hold value in optimizing campaigns, Relevance Score—and overall the relevance concept in the auction as described within the total bid—is one of the key drivers of performance efficiency.
Time after time we’ve noticed that campaigns with low Relevance Scores perform worse when compared with campaigns posting a higher Relevance Score. In these cases, increasing the bid value or switching to Auto Bid doesn’t typically improve acquisition costs or revenue.
In a lot of cases, campaigns with low Relevance Scores also under-deliver to allocated budgets.
Finally, to achieve efficiency gains, you need a carefully outlined approach that incorporates an understanding of the baseline, plus measured steps to test improvements to this baseline.
Refining Your Campaign Strategy
If you’d like to partner on projects similar to the one we’ve described here, contact your Customer Engagement Manager and they’ll gladly schedule a time to review your campaign strategy. They can also help model and support your progress through a scope of test. Or, if you’re new to Marin, feel free to get in touch.
Like all algorithms, Facebook’s collects a certain amount of data and analyzes it before stabilizing performance and delivering the best results. So, while your ad sets are in this “learning phase,” you may see fluctuations in performance, which might make it tempting to stop your ads before they’ve had a chance to work most effectively.
In this article, we cover the basics of the Facebook algorithm and things that can impact the learning phase.
More About the Learning Phase
Facebook wants to ensure a flawless user experience and that you’re reaching the people that matter the most to your business. To this end, they’ve introduced the learning phase.
During this time, Facebook’s algorithm shows ads to different types of people in your audience, and tries to feed the delivery system with more conversion data for the most stable and best results after the phase ends. The algorithm decides who gets served ads.
Facebook has different requirements depending on the optimization timeframe:
Day: Facebook has a minimum requirement for an ad set of five optimized conversions. You should aim to get at least 10.
Week: For a week, the number of conversions has to reach 50 for optimal optimization.
What Happens Once the Learning Phase Ends
After an ad set reaches 50 conversions, the learning phase ends. This means the Facebook algorithm has collected the necessary amount of data and you should start seeing stable performance.
If you’re using a different attribution model than the Facebook default (one-day post-view/28 days post-click) the learning phase can be longer. For example, for one-day post-click it’ll take longer to get 50 conversions.
In addition to the recommended number of conversions, be sure to not pause ads or make any drastic changes to the ad set, especially by editing creatives, updating targeting specs or the optimization timeframe, amending bids and budgets, and firing the pixel conditionally. Also, note that the oCPM algorithm needs at least 24 hours, with no changes at all, to effectively learn.
After the learning phase, you can start optimizing your ad sets to get the best performance. However, make sure that your budget/bid changes aren’t higher than 20%, as this will most likely restart the learning phase.
It’s important to gather enough of data for the algorithm to collect learnings and stabilize performance. So, be sure to allow the algorithm to reach the time thresholds before trying to optimize your campaigns.
If your Facebook ads aren’t quite reaching all the people you’re looking to influence, there are several things you can analyze to solve the problem. Here are a few tactics to ensure your ads are delivering the way you want them to.
Is your bid too low?
In order to run competitive campaigns in an increasingly competitive Facebook auction market, make sure you’re entering your ads in the auction with a realistic bid that reflects your CPA target. However, if the initial bid doesn’t get you delivery at some point, don’t be afraid to test higher values to get back on track. Facebook’s market is ever-changing, so be sure your bids keep pace.
Is audience overlap too high?
If ad sets in your ad account have a high overlap, Facebook will try its best to keep you from bidding against yourself in the auction. However, in order to do so one of the ad sets will miss out on impressions and subsequently suffer from under-delivery.
To combat this, try excluding the audiences from each other. If this result sin small audience sizes, try testing broader audiences (such as increased lookalike threshold) and apply the exclusions then.
Your promoted object may not have enough data
Generally, if you’re optimizing towards one of your pixel events, it’s recommended to be as specific with your promoted object as possible. By setting your promoted object, you’re telling Facebook what you want your final conversion to be so that Facebook can help you achieve it.
Some advertisers may struggle with generating enough conversions to feed Facebook’s algorithm to have the required delivery. Facebook recommends having 50 conversions per ad set per week so that the algorithm has enough data to optimize delivery.
If you’ve concluded that your promoted object doesn’t reach this target, try adjusting the promoted object to an event before the final conversion. The volumes there are likely to be considerably higher and therefore can improve delivery.
Are you using the right bidding type?
Facebook offers various bidding types to suit your objective, audience type, and audience size. While oCPM bidding can be very powerful, it’s not always the right bidding value. As a rule of thumb, we suggest using oCPM only with larger audiences whom you know relatively little about (i.e., prospecting audiences). Keep the audience size over 100k.
Sometimes seasons, holidays, and major retail days (such as Black Friday, Christmas, and Back to School) can increase the demand of ad space for particular verticals. If you’ve historically noticed increased competition during those periods, consider increasing your bidding to stay in the game.
Is your budget realistic?
Make sure your budget expectations are realistic for the audience size you’re targeting. For instance, if you’re retargeting a high-value custom audience of 500 users, you might not be able to spend the whole allocated budget. To set realistic audience targets for your team and your client, follow this simple calculation.
Audience size x 5 (frequency) ____________________________ = Anticipated budget CPM that you’ve historically seen for such small audiences
With this calculation, you’ll get the total number of impressions you’re able to deliver with a recommended maximum frequency of 5. By dividing it with your historical CPM for a similar audience, you’ll get the expected budget you’ll be able to spend.
Check the Relevance Score
Lastly, Facebook is always looking out for its audience as it’s aiming to provide a pleasant user experience. If your ads have received a lot of negative feedback (hint: the tiny x button in the top right corner of the ad) Facebook will scale down the delivery of the ad as it’s seeing that it’s not resonating well with the audience. So, always make sure to target the relevant audience with the best possible creative most likely to resonate with them.
Facebook is constantly introducing new features to help advertisers scale activity. Testing new stuff is exciting, and can often distract us from our main tasks. That said, a best practice is to allocate 70% of your budget to core campaigns and 30% to testing new features.
What steps should you take to ensure your core campaigns perform efficiently, and that your campaign structure’s up to date? Don’t be afraid to shake things up and re-structure your campaigns to identify more opportunities and improve results.
Before You Jump In
Before you re-structure anything, it’s crucial to analyze your current core activity—in other words, a gap analysis. This happens in three stages:
Assess your current campaign structure and note observations.
Identify opportunities and action items.
Design and implement the campaign restructure.
Current Campaign Structure and Observations
Depending on the size of your account, you can either analyze all of your campaigns or concentrate on the top performers. In either case, follow the steps below to complete an initial assessment of your campaign structure. The campaign elements we’re using are just an example—tailor the specifics for your business.
Mirror the campaign structure to an Excel table. This will give you a full view of your setup. Include:
Ad set – Audience Inclusion
Ad set – Audience Exclusion
Ad set – Age
Ad set – Gender
Ad set – Placement
Any other ad set splits, e.g., country, language, connections, etc.
Number of ads inside the ad set
Budget per ad set
Analyze the amount of ad sets and the audience splits. You can use Facebook’s overlap feature to identify highly overlapping audiences.
Analyze Exclusions to make sure you’re using smart exclusions, and at the same time not excluding too granularly for ad sets to have limited size (and thus bad delivery). Read more about this in our article on lookalike audiences.
Check that your age and gender splits are consistent and broad. Facebook algorithms are more efficient with broader demographic targeting.
Make sure you’re using consistent placements and making the most of Facebook algorithms.
Ensure you’re not running too many ads, and that the number of creatives is consistent.
Make sure you have enough budget allocated to the ad. This is important. There should be enough budget to deliver at least one main KPI per day.
In our example there are a couple of observations:
Our Main KPI is Purchase and goal CPA is €35.
Yellow: The campaign has 25 ad sets with lookalike audiences that have a high overlap percentage. This means the splits are too granular and are less efficient.
Tan: In most cases, you should use smart exclusions. However, since we’re targeting highly overlapped audiences, these exclusions aren’t sufficient to reduce overlap and excluding more audiences will result in very small audience sizes.
Blue: Some ad sets have reduced age ranges for no particular reason. Also, since our product is suitable for both genders, there’s no reason to split them.
Gray: Currently, there are too many ads within each ad set and it looks like the number isn’t consistent. Facebook will push the best performing ad, so not all ads in the set will have a chance to perform. It’s better to reduce the amount of ads to two to four to avoid wasting budget.
Dark green: Since we’re running a lot of ads, our budgets are very limited—some ad sets have enough budget enough for one conversion. This is fine, but our budget should be higher to scale activity.
Opportunities and Action Plan
As you’re noting observations, you’ll likely identify a few opportunities to improve your account structure. Let’s put our knowledge into action.
Reduce the number of limitations by reducing the amount of targeted segments. Run main lookalike audiences with smart exclusions. Once the initial segments are exhausted, we’ll add other thresholds. This will allow for audience and campaign rotation.
Expand reach by targeting broad consistent demographics and avoid splits. Same for placements, as this will allow Facebook’s algorithm to optimize your ads more efficiently.
Reducing the number of ads will prevent user fatigue, and once these ads are exhausted, add other elements to keep things fresh. You’ll spend your budget more efficiently here, too, and you’ll be able to identify the best performing creative you can use as a template for the future campaigns.
Proposed Campaign Restructuring
The final and easiest step is based on our action points. Here, we create our new campaign structure.
Management and optimization should be easy, whether manual or automated. Allow more budget for your ads to deliver and push the best performing ones.
When your campaign starts to experience fatigue, pause underperforming ads and let your top performers continue delivering results. Create a campaign with new segments to ensure you have the right volume.
Your own campaign structure and goals may differ from our example. Look at your strategy from a full-funnel perspective, and implement the most efficient campaign structure for your particular needs. If you’re a Marin customer and need help, contact your account representative. They’ll be able to assist with a full gap analysis and provide the best recommendations for your campaign restructure.
Audience targeting gives marketers a powerful tool to tailor their message and build highly relevant ad campaigns for different customer segments. Layering “Audiences” on top of keywords drives better results than using keywords alone.
Consider a few results:
eharmony averaged 220% ROI after adopting an advertising strategy based on personalization and audience segments.
Ancestry’s smart audience utilization continues to increase its ROI and drive high-performance remarketing campaigns.
MoneySuperMarket discovered that delivering the right message at the right time was key to keeping customers happy and retaining their business.
Breaking Down Barriers to Success
Most marketers underutilize audience products today. In our conversations, we hear a number of recurring themes when we explore why this is happening.
Many advertisers say that “We don’t have a retargeting pixel installed” or “I don’t know where to start or how to test audiences.” The good news: After you set a baseline with Google Analytics, audience targeting is easy to implement and test to find the best configuration for your organization.
Luckily for social advertisers, Facebook algorithms continually optimize to create value and provide a positive, relevant user experience. Still, there are a few things you can periodically do to boost performance.
One important exercise is examining why your ads may be under-delivering. There are two main areas to monitor for under-delivering ads: targeting and bidding.
Cause: Audience is too narrow and paired with low budget
Solution: The easiest solution to overcome this issue is to broaden your audience. Facebook offers many audience types—so, instead of being granular with your splits, make sure your audience is broad enough for Facebook to maximize opportunities of reaching relevant users.
Cause: Overlapping ad set audiences
Solution: We all try to get the most out of our high-value users. However, it’s important to use smart exclusions to make sure you’re not targeting the same people to ensure the best delivery.
Cause: Audience too broad paired with low eCTR (the probability of a click) and eCVR (the probability of a conversion)
Solution: Segment your audiences to be more precise, making sure the segmentation isn’t too granular. If the segment is too narrow, consider changing the bid type.
What’s in the eCTR and eCVR? Everything. Facebook looks at your ad, ad set, campaign, and account history; recent activity on the ad set; user characteristics such as gender, age, and conversion history; page/app history; and other factors.
Focus on your value and let Facebook do the rest. Test value-based lookalikes, including the tiered lookalike approach, remember smart exclusions, and always test different targeting options.
Let the system optimize and avoid stopping or starting your ads too often.
Cause: Bid is too low
Solution: Increase the bid to the maximum to ensure ad delivery.
Cause: Low number of 1-day post-click conversions
Solution: There are a few possible solutions here:
Consider changing bid type to clicks or reach.
Optimize to a conversion higher in the funnel.
Change the bid to a 7-day post click conversion optimization.
Note that bidding higher won’t affect your cost. Therefore, it’s important to choose the right bidding option depending on your objective.
Average and Maximum Cost Bidding
Average or maximum cost bidding can also lead to better results. Use maximum cost bidding to optimize for cost that’s under a given amount. Use average cost bidding to increase delivery and volume within an average threshold.
Remember that it’s important to enable an ad set to deliver at least a few conversions per day, so that Facebook can gather more data and optimize more efficiently.
The Quest for Better Ad Delivery
Remember that whenever you’re experiencing ad delivery issues, be sure to review your targeting and bidding options. The fewer constraints, the better Facebook can optimize your ads. Best of luck!
This is a guest post from Laura Stiles, Manager of Digital Advertising at Wheelhouse DMG.
Did You Know
According to the National Retail Federation, by October, 55% of consumers will have already begun researching their holiday purchases. So, if you’ve been scouring the internet looking for new strategies to adopt this holiday season, look no further—now is not the time to change your SEM strategy.
The most successful clients during holiday are the ones who do the same thing they’ve been doing all year, only bigger. Spend more money, get more clicks, see more orders and higher revenue, but do it the same way you’ve been doing all year.
If you’re not sure you can plan and execute a mobile-only PPC strategy this season, then don’t! If you don’t think you have time to flesh out a new shopping campaign structure before Cyber Week, don’t! Save testing for Q1, when the stakes aren’t so high (more on that in the coming months). Use your tried-and-true methods on a larger scale, and I’m willing to bet money you’ll see great results.
Holiday Prep List
All this is not to say you shouldn’t be investing time now to prep for the holidays. Even though I’m suggesting you shouldn’t change your strategy, here are a few steps to ensure this holiday will be your most effective yet.
Check Your Keyword List Twice
Ask yourself, is there any new merchandise coming in for the holidays or gifting this season? If so, do we have keyword coverage for these brands or products?
Secondly, what key products were popular this time last year? Do you have expansive coverage around them?
Finally, once your keyword coverage is in place, are the keywords above first-page minimums so they’re eligible to show ads?
Pro-tip: Avoid generic gift keywords (gifts for mom, Christmas present, etc.) unless you have significant budget to spend with low ROAS goals. These terms get very expensive (high CPCs) around the holidays and don’t have specific intent (low conversion rate).
Shopping Campaign ‘Til You Drop
As you bid up on your product groups this holiday season, do you know what kinds of search queries you’re receiving? Scan Search Query Logs, and add negatives for any irrelevant traffic that may spike when you increase bids on your popular product targets.
Pro-tip: Optimize your feed with relevant titles and descriptions. Is your “Gingerbread Birdhouse” a great gift for bird watchers? Add “Bird Watcher Gift” to your product title to help the engines match a user’s intent to your perfect product.
Make Your Message Jolly and Bright
There are lots of ways to make your copy stand out. Experiment with countdown copy and IF statements that target user device or audience segments to make your message super-targeted.
If you’re using the new AdWords UI, then you have access to Promotion Extensions. This feature allows you to add Black Friday and Cyber Monday specific extensions to your ads.
Pro-tip: If you have physical locations, use ad copy or extensions to promote extended hours to help drive users in-store this season.
Shoppers start researching early for purchases they plan to make on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Make sure you’re allocating budget to days based on click date revenue per click, as opposed to purchase date.
Don’t rely on your existing time of day or day of week rules through Cyber Week. Keep in mind shoppers may be searching at odd times (like 3am on Black Friday while they’re in line at Best Buy) and your current bid pullbacks may cause you to miss good opportunities.
Pro-tip: Use the custom holiday audiences you hopefully created from converters this time last year to retarget as they shop this holiday season.
As you prepare, ensure the best practices you’ve been refining all year are in place, and don’t change your overall approach. Happy (almost) holidays!
Brand awareness campaigns on Facebook are great—they allow you to improve the visibility of your brand and products, and enlarge your fan base.
But, when it comes to driving users to perform specific actions on your website or app, conversion campaigns are your best allies!
Unlike branding campaigns, conversion campaigns usually need not only a more detailed plan and sophisticated structure—they also require a more specific and timely optimization, along with an impeccable bidding strategy.
Every situation and project has its own peculiar characteristics, and needs to be considered carefully in developing the right strategy. But, you can follow some basic steps that serve as a mini-guide on how to master conversion campaigns on Facebook.
Before you launch a conversion campaign, always make sure you’re able to properly track your conversions. You should only have one Main KPI—which we’ll discuss in the next section—but you should also have perfect visibility of the whole conversion funnel, in order to be able to answers questions like:
How many users left the website right after viewing a product without converting?
How many “add to cart” events did your campaign generate?
What’s your bounce rate on each step?
You can answer these questions with intermediate, specific events that you track along with your main KPI.
Choosing the right Main KPI enables you to accurately evaluate your campaigns, and optimize them towards your central objective.
Pick the Pixel or In-App event wisely. Main KPIs that generate poor volume—like the purchase of a very expensive product—or metrics that will most certainly be performed outside of the attribution time frame, may complicate campaign optimization. If you don’t achieve enough conversion volume, you won’t be able to analyze your campaign results properly and take the right course of action to optimize them.
Make sure your desired cost per conversion is achievable, and that it ensures a transparent analysis of your campaign.
If you’re new to the publisher or launching in a new market—or simply unsure of the best cost per conversion you can get with your campaign—start by optimizing on CPC or other delivery metrics.
It’s easy to estimate the average CPC and CPM, so use this as a good starting point for your new digital advertising activity.
Conversion-focused optimization is the most precise way of bidding in conversion campaigns. But, you may want to start with a CPC or CPM optimised bidding model, especially with small audiences.
Once you get your first conversions and a decent volume (and your audience is ample enough), you can switch to oCPM and let Facebook’s algorithm optimize your bidding towards your Main KPI.
For More Information
If you’d like more information on setting up the best conversion ad campaigns for your business, just get in touch.
Advertising performance for a world-famous design and fashion house trended well below its target return on ad spend (ROAS). Strong seasonality and a rapidly shifting marketplace caused sliding sales. These challenges were as tricky to negotiate as the catwalks at Fashion Week.
In with the Marin Crowd
Marin Software collaborated with this fashion house to design a new shopping plan and implement it with the “hautest” marketing technology.
The alliance was an immense success, resulting in a 400% increase in ROAS.
Facebook recently worked with Kantar Worldpanel to test the hypothesis: is someone exposed to an ad on both TV and Facebook more likely to buy? Specifically, would there be at least a 22% lift in sales from this “double exposure” on both channels?
The short answer: yes. The amazing answer: the lift was actually 29%—1.3 times higher than expected.
What can digital advertisers do to capitalize on these numbers?
Get in the Game with TV Sync Technology
If you already have a good baseline social advertising strategy, use TV Sync technology to take things to the next level. TV Sync allows you to automatically activate your social ads based on customizable offline events like television flight schedules, live programming, weather changes, or sporting events—all in real time. It’s a powerful way to amplify your reach and drive engagement across screens.
And, as the Kantar Worldpanel study indicates, it’s a great way to increase revenue across a host of CPG industries.
TV Sync allows you to:
Trigger your social ads when your competitor’s commercial airs
Launch social ads automatically based on weather status or key sporting events such as touchdowns and timing
Extend your advertising beyond TV, onto the second screen and into the virtual shopping space
Consider a few other examples of how you can use Marin’s TV Sync to amplify your advertising efforts.
Extend Your Advertising Message Across Screens
Running TV commercials? Use TV Sync to trigger your social ads immediately as your commercials air, reinforcing the message and increasing your impact with a multi-screen presence.
Counter Your Competitor’s TV Commercials
As soon as your competitor’s commercials appear on TV, counter them by launching social ads in real-time. This is a great way to stay top of mind and boost mindshare.
Improve Targeting and Relevance with Weather and Sports
Trigger your social ads according to weather status or key sporting events for a timely, optimized, and personalized campaign that strikes a chord with your audience. For example, during snow-filled winters, travel advertisers can target users with ads to tropical locations.
Drive Engagement During Live or Scheduled TV Programs
TV Sync can help you advertise your auto brand during an episode of Top Gear, or launch social ads for your beauty brand during the red carpet at the Oscars. Aligning your ads with specific programming in this way creates a highly targeted and relevant ad experience.
Make TV + Social a Default Part of Your Advertising Strategy
As more and more brands see positive results from this dual advertising approach—and as premium TV and Facebook continue to domineer viewers’ leisure time—make the double exposure a given. Measure and optimize, and see if you can top Facebook’s and Kantar’s 29% sales lift figure.
TV Sync is available for Marin Social customers, and clients like Danone Actimel have already seen great results—nearly 40% increase in CTR, helping drive down video view costs by over 60%. Be sure to check out the full case study.
If you’re interested in learning how Marin can help you expand your ad exposure and reach, contact us today.
Search advertisers are having an increasingly common conversation around the importance of product feed optimizations in the context of overall Shopping performance. Truly, you can’t maximize results of your campaigns by only managing campaign-side efforts or only tweaking the product feed.
To get the most out of your Shopping endeavors, it’s important to know what’s happening on both sides of the fence. This post explores a few scenarios to demonstrate why.
As long as they’re “in stock,” your products will continue to show on Shopping ads. This poses an issue when “in stock” means “only four left” or extremely limited sizes or colors. At some point, the product is no longer competitive. Be proactive by optimizing based on back-end inventory (excluding products in low supply) as opposed to waiting for performance to drop.
A product image can have as much impact on how a product sells online as its respective bid does.
If you’re only looking at CTR on the campaign side and notice a shift, perhaps it’s due to an image change on the feed side. It takes a unified approach to understand product attribute testing (like an image change) and the resulting impact on performance. Note that having multiple variables will blur results and make a test inconclusive—a proper test has a single variable.
3. Attribute Change
In a worst-case scenario, a change in the feed can cause products to go offline. For example, think of an advertiser who has five product groups, all mapped out to Brand = definitions. These run for a few weeks and then, unbeknownst to the campaign manager, the Brand values for the products are all changed to something new.
This means the existing Brand = product groups would stop showing ads because there are no longer products in the feed that match that criteria. The same could apply to SKUs or any other criteria that depend on a product match in the feed itself.
Understanding that a feed attribute change can have a realized impact in a Shopping campaign is very important. Keeping this in mind allows you to test things like image variations (what’s the impact on clickthrough rate of a side image vs profile?) or titles (does adding brand name improve conversion rate?). Make sure that all the campaign-side optimizations (bids) are consistent, and you’ll get data-backed insights on what works and what doesn’t.
For digital advertisers, 2016 was a fabulous year. Global Internet usage on mobile surpassed desktop, plus significant strides were made in mobile-connected technologies.
Still, marketers continue to identify winners—and losers—that can affect performance and act as barriers or opportunities for growth.
In our State of Digital Advertising 2017 report, conducted in December 2016, we surveyed over 500 professionals in digital advertising—41% who are with agencies and 59% working for brands/client-side.
In addition to data charts and recommendations, the report discusses several industry insights:
Mobile ad spend: Marketing budgets are following the eyeball shift from traditional channels to mobile. We examine this trend and discuss the ROI potential of different mobile strategies.
Overlooked revenue: We explore the implications of the industry’s lack of expertise in the face of new features and products, and the opportunity this presents to those willing to learn and leverage new tools and channels.
Top priorities and aspirational goals: Marketers have taken notice of consumer willingness to try the newest video, voice, and augmented reality technologies coming to market. They also identified content marketing as a top priority.
Simplify Campaign Creation with Multi-Objective Media Plans
This month, we’ve rolled out several new UI enhancements to help our users streamline workflows—most notably, our next generation of media plans. Marin Social now supports the ability to create media plans with multiple objectives, which provides users the ability to create campaigns and view performance across objectives within a single plan. This is a significant workflow enhancement that greatly reduces data clutter and the amount of time it takes to launch campaigns.
Roll up Performance Across Multiple Objectives and Calculate Costs Along the Funnel
Multi-Objective Media Plans are especially effective for enterprise advertisers or agencies that want to organize performance across complex initiatives. Now, you can organize your campaigns within a single media plan by things like region, teams, brands, or new vs. existing customer strategies to understand performance across the buyer journey.
For example, say you were launching a new, complicated product with the goal of driving leads. You could create a Multi-Objective Media Plan with video ad campaigns for more top-of-funnel awareness, and Lead Gen Ad campaigns for bottom-of-funnel conversion. This would allow you to view performance metrics across both objectives in the same view and better understand the costs associated to conversion with each touch point.
To see how this new feature can help grow your business, check out our demo video.
For Marin customers only—resources from our Knowledge Base:
This is the first in a series of posts on the nuts and bolts of Facebook Dynamic Ads. Today, we teach you techniques you can use to entice customers to make additional purchases from your product catalog.
If you’re a direct response advertiser on Facebook, by now you’ve probably heard of—or you’re already running—Dynamic Ads campaigns. We’ve put together these expert tips and real-world examples to ensure you’re maximizing the effectiveness of your campaigns.
A Quick Refresher
Dynamic Ads automatically generate creative from a product feed, and you can target to people based on their actual intent. A lot of advertisers would call this practice Website Custom Audience remarketing.
However, with Dynamic Ads, you can automatically trigger upsell and cross-sell campaigns—to people who’ve converted on your website or app—with personalized creative from your feed. This is a great way to increase the lifetime value of your customer base with relevant product creative based on their purchase and browse behavior.
Now, onto the tips….
Dynamic Ads Upsell Techniques
Gear your upsell campaigns to offering a higher margin product or service based on someone’s browse or purchase behavior. For example:
Visitors viewed fitness shoes, but didn’t buy -> upsell with higher-margin shoes
Visitors viewed hotels in San Francisco -> upsell hotels with great reviews and amenities
Dynamic Ads Cross-Sell Techniques
For your cross-sell campaigns, offer a complementary product or service based on someone’s browse or purchase behavior. For example:
Visitors viewed and purchased fitness shoes -> cross-sell complementary socks
Visitors purchased an airline ticket to vacation in Hawaii -> cross-sell hotels within that destination
Visitors bought a hotel room for a weekend stay in New York -> cross-sell a discount on drinks in the lobby bar
Follow these suggestions, and you should see more engagement and more clicks from your Dynamic Ads. If you’d like to hear how Marin can help you implement a robust, click-generating Dynamic Ads strategy, just get in touch. Also be sure to check out our Dynamic Ads webinar with Facebook.
Easter spending is on the rise. Is your 2017 Google Shopping campaign ready?
If you’re a Marin customer, here are some advanced tips to help you get the most bang for your buck with your Shopping budgets.
1. Dimension Synergy Across Shopping and Search
Ever wonder how your Shopping campaigns are performing compared to search? With a solid understanding of how your account is structured, you can readily implement this reporting with Marin Dimensions.
Create a dimension for All Networks, and then tag corresponding ad groups with respective products. For example…
Campaign: Shoes (Search) > Ad Group: Running Shoes and Campaign: Footwear (Shopping) > Ad Group: Shoes > Product Group: Product Type = Running Shoes
…would get the same tag Running Shoes. This allows you to see how Running Shoes are performing in aggregate, and also to pivot the two against each other (campaign vs. campaign).
Consider ways you can apply these to identify opportunities. Is a product category performing exceptionally well on Shopping but not search, or vice versa? Identify and rectify this by adding objects or tweaking bids. The flexibility of Marin Dimensions makes this an easy project.
2. Remarketing with Shopping
You can use Google remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) in combination with Shopping. Plus, it’s supported to the same extent as RLSA for search.
Create lists in Google, and then use campaign management functionalities in Marin to link them to campaigns or groups to manage the audience boost.
There are some neat ways to remarket with Shopping. For instance, if you have a list for Returning or Existing Customers, you could define your product groups so that you’re only showing these customers a preset list of products. Similarly, if you have a list for Shoe Buyers, you could set up product groups for socks or shoelaces for customers to re-engage with.
3. Clone to Facebook Dynamic Ads
If you’re comfortable using Google Shopping campaigns and want to increase your reach, check out Facebook’s Dynamic Ads (DAs). Facebook is growing rapidly, with 61% of advertisers planning to increase their Facebook spend over the next 12 months. Marin has a tool to clone existing Google Shopping campaigns to Facebook DAs, and we can help you set the program up for success.
If you’re interested in further details on any of the above, we’re happy to discuss. Just get in touch. Here’s to a nice spring and happy Easter.
During the research phase of the user journey, your brand can easily turn off a consumer due to a slow loading page or a pixelated product image that’s not designed for mobile. Trust is an important aspect of any purchase, whether online or offline, and without it, you run the risk of a negative user experience, or worse—a lost sale.
Here are three tips to heighten the effectiveness of your mobile ads.
1. Build Initial Trust and Maintain It
When consumers are on their mobile devices, they’re still tentatively in the m-commerce sphere. At this research stage, trust building and nurturing the consumer relationship are often at the highest point. Create relevant, useful, interactive content to build and maintain your reputation. Also make sure the information you’re delivering is timely and accurate.
2. Make It Easy and Attractive
When you create your ads, place yourself in the shoes—and palm—of the customer, and check your site experience from this perspective to ensure a smooth ride for them. If you’re a social advertiser who’s looking to tackle slow-loading pages, consider Facebook Instant Articles, a simple way to deliver fast, interactive content.
3. Think Beyond the Ad
Make sure your landing page is also designed for ease of use. Use short copy, plus stats and bullets for scalability and to drive more engagement. And, while you have their attention, ensure your payment gateway is completely mobile-compatible, offer a smooth payment path, and don’t let them abandon the cart. If they do, don’t let them get away!
As online retail continues to grow, small brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly developing attractive e-commerce websites and investing in digital advertising. However, for the majority of these businesses, their lion’s share of revenue stream is still offline, in-store sales.
In a former life, I owned a physical retail store. My business partner and I would debate on a weekly basis about how much our social ad spend was actually leading to in-store sales! We’d dream about tracking our online ad spend to in-store revenue.
Well, it’s finally arrived. Facebook now allows us to upload sales data files. Facebook, in turn, matches that data to users who were shown your ad. Presto—we can associate offline conversions to social spend!
First, from your page, navigate to the Facebook Business Manager and go to Offline Events.
Next, create an offline event set.
In the upper left of the page, click Create Offline Event Set.
Enter a Name and Description.
Accept the Terms & Conditions.
Now, choose which ad accounts should be assigned to this particular offline event set.
Note: Be sure to keep auto-tracking On to automatically track offline conversions for all campaigns in your ad account.
Uploading Offline Events
Now that we’ve created our event set, we need to upload our data so that Facebook can try and match it with a user.
Building Your Data File
The data file upload is quite similar to a Dynamic Product Feed. However, in this case, it’s a record of all offline transactions. Here’s a data file template to make your life easier.
Every entry must have an Event Time that’s either a date or a Unix timestamp.
Tip: If you don't have an exact timestamp, use the next day's date so that you don't miss conversion attributions.
Every entry must also include an Event Name from one of the following case-sensitive strings:
You’ll also need to enter the purchase value and currency. While you can choose to set Value to zero, this turns off the ability to measure cost performance metrics and cost-based optimization features.
Once you’ve organized your data file, you can upload it as CSV or TXT.
Tip: Offline tracking only works if you gather information from your offline sales—name, phone number, email, date of birth, etc. The most unobtrusive way to gather consumer data is by offering to email them their receipt. Even better, offer a loyalty program that can collect more data. However, this data must match their Facebook account in order to be matched to a user.
Mapping Data to Users
Similar to uploading a product feed for Dynamic Ads, Facebook cross-checks the data file and shows us any errors we should address.
Once uploaded, Facebook gives us the glorious green indicator telling us everything’s been successfully uploaded. You’ll now see your offline event set in your list.
Tracking and Reporting Offline Events
Now that we’ve uploaded our offline event data and ensured that auto-tracking’s on, we can analyze our campaign’s offline performance.
Tip: If you navigate to the ad Level, click Edit, and find the tracking section of the workflow, you’ll be able to ensure your event set is tracking your ad.
To see offline events in reporting, navigate to the Ads Manager campaign dashboard and customize the columns.
In the Conversions section, note the addition of the Offline tab.
Select the offline events that are relevant to your business and data file. Your dashboard will show the selected offline events, indicating how many conversions occurred, just like an online conversion with the Facebook Pixel!
A Few Best Practices
As with any new feature, it takes some time to truly use it to its fullest potential. Here are some of our recommendations to help you get started with offline events.
It’s important to keep your sales caps on at all times, so that you can try and make use of the data for further opportunities. We recommend segmenting your offline events, for example, by product type or price range. Segmenting data in this way allows for future cross-sell and upsell campaigns.
To increase the match rate of your offline event set, try to include as much information as possible, i.e., email, first name, last name, telephone number, etc. The more data, the higher the match rate!
Facebook recommends uploading transactions within 62 days of the conversion. You can uploaded transactions up to 90 days after the attribution event.
Organize your data gathering. Try to glean as much information as possible, and use the required naming conventions to save you time when uploading.
Advanced Best Practices for Offline Conversions
Through mapping offline events, Facebook allow us to use this data to create custom audiences. In other words, just like online retargeting, now you can retarget people based on what they do offline. You can create retargeting segments and up-sell/cross-sell people based on their offline purchase behavior. Invite those recent purchases back and cross-sell a complimentary product, or retarget loyal customers with a discount offer to keep them happy!
As with any custom audience, you can also develop lookalike audiences from them. This offers a wonderful opportunity to create high-intent lookalike audiences to target those similar to your purchasing audience. Since advertisers constantly need to recruit new customers, high-intent source audiences provide great lookalike options.
Excluding converters is just as helpful as targeting them. Remember to exclude those who’ve converted offline if you’re running campaigns that have little or no correlation to these people.
Mapping offline events provides real insight into your customers. Try to create multiple offline events based on revenue amount or, for example, product category purchased. Speak to your customers with all the information you have—personalize your advertising to the price-conscious consumer, and be product-specific to others.
Offline Conversions isn’t limited to retail. If you’re a B2B company and want to track performance metrics like opportunities and revenue generated from your campaigns, then Offline Conversions is for you.
Do you often wonder how many of your inbound leads that came from Facebook advertising converted to opportunities and revenue? With Offline Conversions, B2B marketers can close the marketing and sales loop with performance data such as phone calls, MQLs, SQLs, opportunities, and revenue from leads that resulted from people seeing or clicking your ads.
So, that’s it. You can now track your offline sales to your social ad spend. However, although this is an exciting move toward bridging the gap between offline and online reporting, we’re restricted in our ability to match users. What retailers should do now—start finding unobtrusive ways to glean Facebook-matching information from consumers during the purchase, in a way that doesn’t negatively affect the customer experience.
Advertisers have much to gain from an integrated search and social advertising approach. But exactly how much?
To answer this question, we conducted a study of more than 200 enterprise advertisers managing Google, Bing, and Facebook campaigns. With billions of dollars in annualized ad spend managed on the Marin platform, we work with many of the world’s largest and most sophisticated advertisers.
Here’s what we found:
Customers who click search and social ads are more likely to buy. Users who click both an advertiser’s search and social ads had an approximately two times greater conversion rate than users who click the search ad only. Users who click both the search and social ads have a click-through rate approximately four and a half times higher than users who only click social ads.
Customers who click search and social ads spend more. Users who click both a search and social ad contribute approximately two times more revenue per click than users who click search ads only. Users who click both a search and social ad contribute six times more revenue per click than users who click a social ad only.
Search campaigns perform better when managed alongside social campaigns. Search campaigns managed alongside social advertising campaigns have two times more revenue per click than search campaigns managed in isolation. An integrated search and social management strategy also benefits an advertiser’s revenue per conversion—advertisers have almost 10% higher revenue per conversion from their search campaigns when managed together with social advertising campaigns.
You’re beaming, proud, and ready to rake in a massive amount of leads. Why? Because—you’ve got two brilliantly designed sets of ad creative and you’re ready to set ‘em loose to the hungry, scrolling consumer masses.
How do you know if your campaign will be a boom or bust? Can you even test such a thing in an easy and straightforward way?
Time for some split testing....
For those who haven’t yet implemented split testing to increase conversions, an explanation is in order. Simply put, split testing (also known as A/B testing) allows you to test different advertising strategies on commonly divided audiences to see what works and what doesn’t.
Want to see which bidding option, creative, or ad placements perform best? Split testing is the answer.
How Does It Work?
The Facebook split testing API does several great things:
Automates audience segmentation
Ensures there’s no overlap between segments
Allows you to test variables like bidding type, ad placement, different ad creative, and more
Takes away the hassle of manually building unique audiences and running your test campaigns independently
Where to Start and How to Run with It
First, let’s start with a simple example. Let’s go back to those two stellar ad creatives. At this point, of course, you don't know which one’s going to perform better. The first thing you should do is set up your two ad sets, with each one of your creatives in each ad set (in other words, one ad in each set for a total of two ads). Keep the copy the same for each ad.
For the purposes of this example, then, our plan is straightforward:
Create our two ad sets
Target the same audience
Split test to see which one performs best
To run the split test, you’ll need to set it up in Facebook. (If you’re a Marin customer, contact your account manager for help with this.) The test can be 50/50 or 33/33/33, etc., depending on the testing variables, but note that 50/50 is the most commonly used model. So, if an audience has 10 million people, the ad sets will have 5 million people in each audience.
From here, we select the image as the variable to test. Our main KPI is conversions (downloads), and we’re allocating $5,000 per ad set. As we mentioned above, our audience is 5 million per ad set. We’ll run the campaign for two weeks to ensure we have a broad reach, high budget, and long duration.
Since we want to see positive results before we extend our campaign to other markets, we’ll start only in the UK first.
Ready, set, test, measure.
How to Scope a Test That’s Right for You
When scoping your own split test, make sure that the test will have value for you, and that you’ll see clear results that you can use to refine and improve your campaigns.
The first questions you should answer include:
Which ad account are you planning to use?
What are the campaign timelines, including start and end dates?
What’s the budget, broken down by test group?
What variables would you like to test?
What’s the campaign objective and the main KPI?
Back to that riddle—is it a boom or a bust? To determine which test worked best, choose the variable that has the highest efficiency level based on your objective.
In our example, our objective is conversions and the main KPI is downloads. So, we can consider the ad set that has the lower CPA as the best performing.
And there you have it. Easy, right?
Best Practices and Recommendations for Maximum Success
If you’d like to dig deeper (and we recommend that you do), here are a few best practices.
Define an acceptable confidence level
Before you create a test, determine an acceptable confidence level. Test with larger reach, longer schedules, or higher budgets.
Choose one variable to test
This allows you to define the exact difference in ad creative that drove better performance.
Define main KPIs before the test
This will allow you to determine the best performing variable.
Ensure both test sizes are comparable
When testing for volume metrics such as number of conversions, scale to ensure both test sizes are comparable.
Start testing on one specific market or campaign
This will allow you to monitor and analyze the test results more efficiently, which will in turn allow you to draw better conclusions. If you find this useful, you can conduct further tests on different variables and expand to other markets.
Test based on one large audience
The audience should be big enough to be split and to allow you to gain sufficient insights.
Allocate the same budget to the test groups
If you’re running your splits at the campaign level, make sure both campaigns have the same lifetime budget. If you’re testing on the ad set level, both ad sets should have the same lifetime budget.
No changes to the test groups
Any changes could compromise the split testing and prevent you from seeing clear results.
To wrap things up, this article looks at the importance of having access to all of your data—not just the numbers a publisher wants you to see. Let freedom—and transparency—ring.
The Trouble with Too Little Data
When it comes to data visibility needs and desires, advertisers and agencies run the gamut—some are happy to pay on a CPC basis without knowing what CPM the vendor paid. Others are okay tracking to just a few KPIs. Still others want it all. What’s the best way to go?
The key to transparency is precision—whether you’re running a direct response or a brand campaign, having the right data measures the impact of either type of campaign, and allows you access to what you need to measure ROI.
So what do advertisers most often expect from their ad tech vendors and publishers? Our take is that list is long, but we’ll focus on the essential data you need to transform “unaware” to “X-ray vision.”
To gain greater intelligence about the effectiveness of your display campaigns and to better understand the customer journey and attribution, at minimum, you need access to:
Effective cost per thousand impressions (eCPM): the effectiveness of a CPM campaign that takes earnings into account and gives you a comparable metric across buys
Assisted conversions and view-through metrics: measures the extent to which display ads influence subsequent site visits and sales—without a click—and avoids allocating value to ads that didn’t influence a visit or sale
Site-level reporting and performance by domain: whitelisting and blacklisting promotes better targeting and provides a way to measure site-level effectiveness
Bids: know what your partner’s bidding for each impression (win vs. bid rate), and the logic, math, and algorithms behind a bidding process
The lookback window used to calculate conversion credit: lets you understand the relationship of a consumer’s engagement during upper-funnel tactics to drive awareness and consideration (e.g., 30-day+ window) or lower-funnel tactics (e.g., a two-day window) to give proper attribution to the campaign that lead to the conversion
This level of transparency allows you to understand true ROI. It also lets you keep an eye on how your bids are managed, unlike black box vendors who don’t reveal a history of bid calculations or otherwise provide any idea of what—and how—you’re actually doing. With the black box model, it’s much harder/impossible for you to look into the data and understand what’s driving conversions or an algorithm. Conversely, being able to do this provides you with a high level of visibility into the effectiveness of your campaign.
Why All the Secrecy?
Despite industry calls for greater data transparencyon many levels, mum’s still the word from most vendors and publishers. Some players have their reasons—the main one being to maintain a competitive edge. Understandable. However, as more and more brands pound at the locked doors of black box vendors, it’ll become less to those vendors’ advantage to keep the secret sauce secret.
If a vendor is transparent about not being transparent, is that “transparent”? We say “no.” As vendors realize this, perhaps there’ll be some level of agreement that to survive in an increasingly tug-of-war environment, neutrality and openness are key.
That is, companies must heed the call to “show me the data.”
Transparency for Optimal Performance
In sum—the best way you can improve campaign performance is to know exactly how bidding, reporting, and attribution are all working independently and in concert. Once you have this level of data and insight, you’ll know exactly how your budgets are working for you (or not), and you can take active steps to enhance effectiveness. At that point, you’ll have a crystal-clear view of your marketing efforts—and your ROI—to give you the confidence, control, and independence you need to execute measurable marketing initiatives.
Holiday shopping’s in full swing. If you’re running retargeting campaigns, make sure they’re as prepared for the season as you are. Online sales are forecast to increase between seven and 10 percent over last year to as much as $117 billion.
We made your list, so check it twice, and take these steps to boost campaign performance during the holiday season.
Increase your budgets to win more impressions
You’re likely going to see a boost in site traffic (especially if you sell anything that can be given as a gift), which means you’ll see a boost in impressions served and in advertising funds spent. Make sure your campaigns have a proper budget set to guarantee you have enough ad money available for the day, so that you don’t miss out on these potential new customers.
We recommend a 25 to 50% budget increase for the holidays, but you know your site traffic best. Whatever percentage of traffic increase you’re expecting, boost your budget about that same percentage.
Raise your campaign bids
Almost all advertisers will increase their spend for the holidays, so you’re going to have serious competition.
With so many advertisers fighting for ad space, it’s not uncommon to see your CPM costs rise during this time of year. To prepare for this surge, make sure you increase your CPM bids across your campaigns. Bidding higher will make your campaigns more competitive and will give you a better chance of serving more ads by winning more impressions. We suggest increasing your CPM bid by 50-100% of the current average CPM cost for the campaign.
Use holiday-themed ads and landing pages
Holiday-themed advertising only gets people’s attention during one time of the year, and you should join the conversation your customers are having. Using ads that mention specific events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any of the major holidays can grab a visitor’s attention.
Send a happy holiday message, mention that there are only X number of shopping days left, and give them a reason to click your ads. Use the holidays as a chance to create urgency and you could see a boost in clicks and conversions.
Two Quick Steps You Can Take Right Now
Create landing pages and content on your site for these holiday events, then create audiences that capture visitors of these pages.
Run campaigns to serve your holiday ads to your holiday page visitors. If they’re coming to your site looking for seasonal deals, they’re more likely to respond to holiday-themed ads.
We hope these suggestions are helpful and lead to a profitable holiday season for you and your business. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.
We’re headed into another peak retail season, which runs from now through Christmas Day. Considering not-so-recent trends in Shopping and mobile, many marketers are hedging their bets on this being the biggest online retail season yet. Preparation is key, and understanding what went well and what didn’t last year—and when it did and didn’t—will help guide decision-making in the coming weeks.
When the volume is so high, each day could make or break the quarter. Here are three things you should be doing on a day-to-day basis to increase the likelihood of favorable outcomes.
1. Monitor Top SKUs
Your buyers should have a list of products they expect will be major sellers this season. These could be products where inventory is so deep no one can compete, or buyers purchased at a bulk rate and can offer the best pricing.
Work with your buyers to understand what these products are, and optimize them on a per-item basis with SKU-level product groups in a High Priority campaign. Monitor these daily and keep an eye on inventory—when they start to sell out, pull back so that you don’t end up aggressively pushing nearly sold-out products.
In addition to the proactive management of products you’re bullish about, the high volume is going to yield insights of its own. Monitor your broader product groups—defined by Category, Brand, Custom Labels, etc.—for segmentation opportunities.
You’ll start the season with a single bid for a Brand product group. But, as volume dictates, some products or sets of products within the group will warrant segmenting and assigning a new bid based on how they’ve performed to date. This is a crucial step to optimizing and hitting performance goals on an ongoing basis.
As you structured your campaigns, you established the levers and switches you’re going to use to effectively manage your product mix and hit performance goals.
The most important pieces of all this will be to understand how you want to bid these levers and how to stay on top of everything. Be considerate of sales, key dates, top products, and inventory / stock levels. A combination of proactive strategies (e.g., Brand X is 20% off next week) and reactive strategies (e.g., Brand Y is selling amazingly well over the past week) will be necessary to generate the best results.
Be aggressive where you expect the best returns and don’t hesitate to pull back on things that aren’t producing. Good luck!
In PPC, there are two main approaches when it comes to bidding workflow—manual and automated. Over the years, there’s been debate among search marketers on the pros and cons of each approach. Search marketers have differing opinions on which yields the best outcomes.
The Great Manual Versus Automated Debate
One of the main arguments in favor of manual bidding focuses on the control that it affords the search marketer, in contrast to the hands-off nature of automated bidding inherent with publisher bidding—like AdWords “Smart” bidding and most (but not all) 3rd party proprietary bidding algorithms.
In nearly all automated bidding approaches, the search marketer sets a goal and the bidding algorithm reviews historical performance, and then calculates a bid with limited transparency from start to finish.
The apprehension some search marketers feel towards automated bidding derives from the opaque nature inherent in most approaches. This fear is realized when a campaign is underperforming, and the search marketer becomes at a loss for what’s amiss, or how to improve it.
Putting that fear aside, let’s reflect on the many benefits of automated bidding, which is the reason for its proliferation.
Here are just a few.
Automated bid management is a huge time saver. Think about it—how long would it take you to manually change a million keyword bids? How confident would you be that each bid is optimized to maximize your return?
If you’re being honest with yourself, the answers to those questions should naturally steer you towards automation as the optimal solution. Automation augments the search marketer by executing repetitive tasks, serving as an ‘enabler’ for the search marketer to focus on growth opportunities or account strategy while keeping tabs on daily performance.
Automated bid management platforms produce accurate bids through regression modeling that looks backwards to predict future outcomes. With millions of dollars at stake, these algorithms are typically built with risk aversion at their core to produce low error rates. By their very nature, they make changes at scale that’s quite literally impossible for any individual, or even team, to compete with.
The reality is, sophisticated marketers with material budget use an algorithm to bid on their media today. If you aren’t, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Automated bid management platforms allow advertisers to define the goals and milestones for the algorithm to work towards. The marketer remains the operator and the brains of the operation, with the bidding algorithm working as his proxy.
Learning from massive datasets to create better future outcomes is at the heart of bidding algorithms. Today, this type of mathematical analysis is popularly called “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence.” Most ad tech companies have years of experience with these techniques, but largely fly under the radar in popular press, with newfangled applications like self-driving cars getting the headline coverage.
So, how do you get the best of both worlds? Simple—employ automated bidding with full transparency. That’s not an oxymoron. That’s a real thing offered by a few leading independent marketing partners (not to toot our own horn, but Marin Software is one such example).
What’s in a Fully Transparent Bidding Solution?
Fully transparent bidding solutions (i.e., the bidding system shows you the step-by-step logic of the bidding algorithm) allow users to see all the details behind their bid calculations for each keyword. This includes the bidding model(s) employed, the details of the dataset used, performance bumpers activated, and any other pertinent details behind the decision-making. If automated bidding is fully transparent, many of the arguments opposed to automated bidding lose their heft.
Information Available in a “Fully Transparent” Bidding Solution
The level of information available for each keyword in a “fully transparent” bidding solution varies. That said, at Marin Software, we show the logic of our algorithms “line by line,” which allows users to see a full breakdown of bidding decisions, including:
Date ranges and data sets used
Auction and volume models
How the optimized bids are calculated
External rules applied
Excluded dates and thresholds
Final calculated bid
Constraints on the algorithm
Contrast this to the information displayed in a “black box” bidding solution:
Final calculated bid (sometimes this is obscured, too)
User-defined bid rules
Clarity and Confidence in Transparent Automated Bidding
Fully transparent bidding solutions allow PPC managers to review the logic used to reach a bidding conclusion. In addition, the search manager has the option to overlay bidding rules to ensure the algorithm behavior is consistent with their risk tolerance and strategy to hit certain goals and milestones.
The best fully transparent bidding solutions also allow you to preview bidding calculations before they’re pushed to publishers, and manually override bids on specific keywords if needed. This gives PPC managers the full control of manual bidding with all the time saving, efficiency, and data processing power of automated algorithms.
If automated bidding isn’t currently part of your strategy, we hope this post helps break down the nuances of different approaches. Although it also explains the pros and cons, it advances the argument that if you aren’t using a transparent bidding algorithm in today’s environment, you’re hamstringing yourself, because it’s near-certain that your competitors are employing an automated method of bidding to try and out-compete you. If you’d like to learn more about Marin Software’s approach to bidding, click here.
Shopping doesn’t end after the holidays—according to a National Retail Federation survey, 65% of shoppers plan to keep shopping after Christmas. Use this time of year to convert them to loyal customers with new demand generation and cross-sell opportunities.
Demand Generation and Cross-Sell
Don’t let your holiday campaigns go to waste—keep aiming for more purchases. Post-holidays is a great time to re-engage to drive demand.
Audience: Identify recent purchasers to showcase new collections to them. You can achieve this by using Website Custom Audiences (or Tailored Audiences on Twitter) with an appropriate retention window.
Ad formats: Use Dynamic Ads to automatically cross-sell complementary products or upsell higher value products from your catalog.
Creative: Focus on creative that defines your brand beyond the holidays to avoid ad fatigue and expand into the New Year. Your brand message should seamlessly transition from the holidays to the post-holiday period to maintain interest and create new opportunities, such as additional gear and add-ons for holiday presents (video games, DSLR bag, etc.), post-holiday flash promotions, etc.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼Optimization: Optimize for product sales or conversions to maximize the delivery of your ad campaigns to people likely to convert, once again making sure that your pixel is capturing enough conversions per week.
You’ve got your product feed set and sending to Merchant Center. You’ve created campaigns mapped from the attributes that make the most sense for your style of management. And, you’re pretty familiar with the set attributes you can use to define product groups:
Google allows for up to five custom labels per feed. Here are some effective and creative ways you can use them.
One clever way to use a custom label is to group SKUs together under a Parent ID. Think of this as a “Parent” and “Child” relationship where we group the Child SKUs under a Parent label.
For example, suppose you offer a coffee mug in different colors. Each variety has its own unique Item ID. You could assign the same “Parent” identification number to each of the variations, and then set a product group to define the set of the products—as opposed to having to map these individually by Item ID.
Another interesting way to apply a custom label is to group products by their price point, or average order value. For example, you could apply values of “High,” “Medium,” or “Low” to products based on where they belong in the overall product mix. In your campaign, you could then segment out Product Groups based on these values, and utilize these levers to bid more or less aggressively on products based on their anticipated return and volume.
Categorizing products by how (or whether or not) they sell according to time of year can be a wise consideration depending on the nature of your business. Indicating these designations in the product feed allows you to increase or decrease bids across a range of products classified by time of year.
So, in the final days of summer, you could increase bids across all seasonal products and then, right after, immediately bid down on those after the heat breaks.
These are just a few ways to apply custom labels—and give your campaigns levers to bid and segment on—that are completely specific to your account. The main takeaway is to use them.
Brainstorm what makes sense to be able to dictate volume by (whether or not a product is in peak season, whether or not it brings a high yield per order, etc.), then apply the values in the feed and create the defined product group in AdWords. Custom labels are the most flexible of the attributes available, so test them out and see what helps shift the needle in your overall Shopping performance.
Dynamic Ads enable you to automatically promote your entire catalog across devices. With Dynamic Ads, you have full control over the products you advertise, ensuring you’re reaching audiences who’ve expressed high intent to purchase with the most relevant products. Advanced tactics are also available—cross-sell, upsell, and even prospecting.
Audience: Segment audiences based on past browsing behavior. For example, you can create audiences of people who viewed or added products to their cart but didn’t purchase, then retarget them with the same products to increase their purchase intent.
Targeting: Upload your product catalog to Facebook and make sure it’s regularly updated. Build product sets by category, best sellers, or high-margin products.
Ad formats: It’s best practice to use Carousel Ads rather than static image link ads.
Creative: Test different variations with macros such as price, brand, and description in your ad text and Carousel titles.
Optimization: Always bid your maximum value for one-day post-click conversions, and make sure bid values match with audience behavior. For instance, “add to cart” is a higher intent than a simple “product view” and may justify a higher bid. Make sure your audience pools are broad enough to get sufficient delivery.
SEM has long been considered bottom-funnel advertising, but Facebook's new and improved direct-response features mean you can turn the platform into a revenue machine over the coming weeks. Here are five essential direct response (DR) features available on Facebook—and how to use them to your advantage.
With Q4 bringing a high saturation of ad demand—especially ecommerce and retail for the holiday season—carousel ads are a great way to stand out. With these ads, you have the ability to tell a story about your brand or product. You can also showcase the different benefits of a signature product, or a range of products or product lines. More real estate means more opportunity to grab attention and gain potential new customers.
Lead Gen Ads
If your focus is on lead gen, you should be using lead gen ads. The benefit here is that the user doesn’t need to leave Facebook to fill out your form. There are tons of fields to choose from—Facebook will try to fill them in automatically based on information from the user’s Facebook profile (which makes it a lot easier for someone to complete the form). You also have the option of putting up to three custom questions on the form that are specific to your company.
Wondering what creative works well? You can use carousel ads with this campaign objective to help tell your company’s story, list different benefits or services, etc. (Yes, we’re fond of carousel ads.)
If you’re worried about spending a ton during a highly competitive season (remember, with Facebook ads, you’re competing for space, not keywords), we recommend establishing a test budget to figure out which messaging works, then open the budget spigot in Q1.
App Install Ads
If your focus is on app installs, Facebook now has a great new type of bidding to use for app install ads. You can now bid on in-app events such as a registration or purchase. Your cost per install may rise with this, but you’ll be targeting people who are more likely to complete the in-app event that’s most important to you.
Trying to figure out who to target this season? Lookalike audiences should definitely be in the plan. With lookalike audiences, you can target from a 1% lookalike all the way to a 10% lookalike. A 1% lookalike will be the percentage most closely like your original seed audience, but once you find a seed audience that works, you can expand the percentage in order to scale more. Fee seed lists we see work well on Facebook are:
Last but not least, make sure you’re confident in your pixel implementation! Once the pixel is placed, make sure you go through the user flow on your site a few times and test the pixel. You can use the Facebook Pixel Helper Tool extension on Google Chrome. With this tool, you’re able to see if the right event is firing on the page you want it to. Since you’re likely bidding oCPM for conversions (in order to maximize the number of conversions you can get), you want to ensure you’re optimizing on a conversion that’s firing correctly.
Make sure you use all of the above features throughout the year, not just in Q4. But, to compete on Facebook and show some return for your dollar from now through mid-December, it’s imperative to use what’s available to you. These five features are a great start.
With school out and warm weather in, we traditionally think of the summer months as the best time to take a vacation. However, is it actually prime time for search advertisers to ramp up their ad campaigns?
To answer this question and others, we took a look at travel advertisers on Google and Bing. We examined 2014 and 2015 to locate any trends in advertiser spend and performance for the travel vertical across quarters, and to assess the state of consumer behavior. Google and Bing dominate the global search market, which made them ideal for our study—other search publishers have regional presence at best, so they were excluded.
We found a few interesting things:
Summer searches, but fall clicks. Although, on average, consumers searched for travel terms (flights, lodging, auto rentals, etc.) almost 20% more during summer than winter, clicks on travel-related searches didn’t peak in summer as expected. Instead, their highest point was in autumn, right after the summer months.
The great smartphone migration. Over the past two years, travel advertisers have steadily shifted spend away from desktop and tablet towards smartphone. While smartphone made up under 10% of search spend in early 2014, by end of 2015, that number grew to almost 30% of all search budgets.
Native is restless. The travel ad format that’s seen significant growth is native advertising via channels such as Yahoo! Gemini. Starting in late 2014, investment growth in native ads by travel companies grew almost 5x by mid to late 2015. While this format is one of the newer ones, it’s been growing consistently in both advertiser and consumer adoption over the past year.
About a year ago, Facebook launched Dynamic Product Ads to attract mostly e-commerce advertisers looking for a more efficient way to launch remarketing campaigns, without having to manually create hundreds of link ads and custom audiences per SKU. Facebook now just refers to this solution as Dynamic Ads, with a unique offering available to travel advertisers called Dynamic Ads for Travel (DAT). With DAT, you can automatically deliver ads at a product level from your hotel and destination catalogs with unique creative based on a person's click events on your website.
For example, you could dynamically deliver ads across all hotel destinations with imagery specific to the location that people are searching for. People who searched for hotels in Maui on your website and didn’t convert would be delivered a very unique offer, compared to those who searched for, say, hotels in Minneapolis.
Dynamic Ads for Travel - Thousands of Relevant Ads in Seconds
As you can imagine, it’d be near-impossible to create all of the possible permutations of audience segments paired with unique creatives for each destination or hotel that people are searching for manually. Dynamic Ads for Travel improves campaign performance in several ways:
Relevancy: More intelligent ads that capture details such as price, check-in date, and destination relevant to what people are searching for and where they want to go. You can personalize landing pages with redirect URLs specific to these details.
Automated delivery: Ad creative is deployed automatically from your catalog feed, meaning you don’t have to manually create each individual ad.
Improved targeting for optimal ROI: Target people who are searching for a hotel in a certain place or flight on a specific date. Cross-sell people who’ve booked a flight with a complementary offer on a hotel.
Scale: Remarket to people across all placements including mobile news feed, the Audience Network, and Instagram.
So How Does Dynamic Ads for Travel Work?
There are two key components that enable Dynamic Ads for Travel to work:
The Facebook Pixel to enable “Website Custom Audiences” and track click events on your website
A feed that includes details on all items you sell, as well as creative (description, price, availability, etc.)
The click events that the Facebook Pixel captures allow travel advertisers to deliver more personalized ads to audiences based on a variety of user signals such as search activity, browsing history, and purchase behavior on your website. You can further enhance these audiences with a few parameters in both your exclusion and inclusion targeting:
Pixel Parameters For Travel Companies
HotelsFlightsDestinationsContent TypeContent TypeContent TypeDestinationOrigin and Destination AirportSuggested DestinationsCheck In and Out DateDeparture and Return DateTravel Start and End DateCurrencyCurrencyRegion, City, and Country
To determine which ad creative to trigger when a pixel event is fired, you need a travel feed with information from a catalog. You can either upload the catalog manually with a .CSV file or have the data retrieved programmatically from a feed in .XML format.
The good news is that many travel advertisers already have a feed that they use to deploy campaigns on Google, where the practice of retrieving this information for Facebook is very similar. Facebook currently supports the following catalogs with plans to roll out a flight specific-solution in the near future.
Hotel: A list of details specific to each hotel such as room availability, pricing, star rating, guest rating, and image URL with support for up to 20 images
Destination: A list of details specific to each destination such as longitude location, neighborhood, price, price change, and image URL with support for up to 20 images
If it seems a little hairy, not to worry—Dynamic Ads for Travel is one of the most advanced Facebook advertising features available on the platform today, so mastering it takes a bit of practice. The opportunities are truly endless, however, with all of the possible configurations that are available with this ad type.
Just note that some of these variables such as price and availability need to be updated in real-time, meaning to get your campaigns ahead of the curve, you should use a Facebook Marketing Partner platform—such as Marin Social—that’s developed this capability into its offering.
We recently published our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report, which looked at the current state of shopping ads, and examined advertiser and consumer behavior over the past year. Now, with the shopping season even closer, advertisers are quickly making sure their budgets and ad campaigns are ready and flawless.
Based on the data, what are our top tips for retailers looking to get the most value out of their digital advertising campaigns this holiday season? Read on.
1. Plan and time large increases in budget to account for holiday spikes.
We predict that 40% of all shopping ad dollars will be on a mobile device. Similarly, around 37% of search clicks will be on a shopping ad on either Bing or Google. Be sure to budget ad campaigns accordingly to match up with consumer attention during critical holiday spikes.
Research shows that spend peaks in November, with overall ad spend reaching almost 90% above what it was in January. Smartphone behavior was the most pronounced—smartphone ad spend spiked to almost 400% above baseline in November when compared to the year’s beginning.
2. Account for mobile-desktop differences for shoppers.
Smartphones now make up the majority of clicks and spend for all shopping ads. With 55% of all shopping ad clicks originating on a smartphone, the importance of properly optimizing ad spend can’t be overstated.
Research shows that shoppers are utilizing mobile devices in-store more than ever, to conduct product research and price-shop. Being able to capture this audience while they’re in the middle of a purchase decision may be crucial this holiday season to ensure an offline conversion.
3. Spread shopping ad budget across publishers.
While Google remains the largest search publisher for shopping campaigns, Bing is no slouch, either. Adoption of Bing Shopping Campaigns (BSC) has been accelerating and Marin has seen over 20% of clients on Google Shopping already using BSC. While Google Shopping has more viewership and use, BSCs are competitive in price and performance, and may be a good option for some retailers.
4. Go beyond shopping ads.
Shopping ad spend has been taking up a larger portion of retailer ad spend every year, reaching almost 30% of all search ad dollars this year. However, this doesn’t mean this is the only ad format retailers should consider.
Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are a relatively new ad format that have seen strong early returns for many advertisers. Early data has shown an almost 300% ROAS for ETAs, meaning they’re highly competitive with both conventional search ads and shopping ads.
5. Social shopping is great for mobile retailers.
While social networks have always been a highly mobile device oriented channel, this is especially true for retail. Almost 95% of clicks on retail ads on social are on a mobile device, and mobile also accounts for 90% of all social spend for retail advertisers. Research shows that consumers interact differently with social ads than they do with search. Rather than research, social ads are better used for awareness and to start conversations with target audiences.
Each holiday season has been bigger than the last, and the trend is positioned to continue this year. Retailers have more choices than ever when it comes to ad campaigns. However, with this increased choice comes increased difficulty, as effectively managing spend across multiple devices and channels isn’t easy. A little planning, knowledge, and foresight will go a long way.
If you’re a retail advertiser, you have one, overarching goal each holiday season—drive sales. Every ad campaign launched, tracked, and optimized works holistically toward this goal.
Now that fall’s here, it’s time to gear your social campaigns to the rigors of Q4 and this quarter’s particular idiosyncrasies. The October to December timeframe is your most important business period of the year. You have your work cut out for you leveraging insights and audiences from your pre-holiday preparation to maximize sales. For optimal efficiency, retargeting users who’ve demonstrated interest is a key tactic.
Here are some tips to drive sales during the soon-to-be busiest, most competitive time of the year. To sum it all up in a single directive—focus on people familiar with your brand.
Audience: Build your campaigns around high-intent customer segments such as recent purchasers, loyalty members, and past holiday purchasers—and try to plan for a specific conversion path for each of them.
Targeting: Use Custom and Website Custom Audiences of people who’ve visited your website recently or purchased from you before.
Ad formats: Focus on ad formats that’ll allow you to showcase your products and services, such as Video Link Ads, Carousel Ads, and Canvas Ads.
Creative: Showcase your best-selling products to your audience segments and highlight USPs. Create urgency with limited-time offers, shipping deadlines, or discounts, and timely promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday %-off.
Optimization: Optimize for conversions to maximize the delivery of your ads to people likely to purchase. Once again, make sure your conversion volume is enough for Facebook’s algorithm to be effective (especially if you're selling high-value products with costs above $200).
For more tips to stay ahead this holiday season—plus extra guidance designed specifically for Marin Software customers—download our Social Advertiser’s Holiday Guide.
Shopping has been a hot-button topic for some time now. While many customers have launched successful Shopping campaigns, there are some lesser-known features that may provide a quick additional boost or improvement to your current efforts.
Four such features are:
SKU-level reporting (Marin)
Campaign priority settings (Marin)
Automatic item updates (Google Merchant Center)
Promotions (Google Merchant Center)
Marin fully supports performance reporting at the SKU level. With this extremely valuable data, advertisers can review products on a regular basis to see where individual SKUs prove to be candidates for segmentation or exclusion. If the SKU data warrants it, you can indicate a more aggressive or conservative bid.
To see SKU-level reporting enabled in Marin, work with your platform representative to append the appropriate parameter to the product groups, and to have the new feature enabled and backfilled.
Campaign Priority Settings
Priority settings are extremely useful for advertisers who invest the time in building out multiple Shopping campaigns and want to maximize their effectiveness.
As Google describes the setting, “When you have the same product in multiple Shopping campaigns, you can determine which campaign should participate in the auction for that product with campaign priority. Your campaigns already have a priority: Low. But you can change this priority to Medium or High. These priorities determine the bid for any product that the campaigns share.”
The highest priority campaign will bid
If the highest priority campaign runs out of budget, the lower priority campaign bids
When multiple campaigns have the same priority, the highest bid is used
The right mix of priority assignments and bid strategies by campaign solve the tricky issue of being able to control products that exist across multiple campaigns.
Automatic Item Updates
If you have metadata enabled on your site, it may be prudent to enable Google’s Automatic Item Updates feature. This allows Google to crawl your site and update Shopping based on the site’s inherent microdata information. This is mostly valuable in reconciling price discrepancies and/or availability.
Enabled in Google Merchant Center, a Promotion is an excellent way to differentiate your product from the competition and advertise your sale. You can assign Promotions to a subset of products or across all products in the feed, as applicable.
Google manually reviews all promotions for accuracy, so be sure to schedule these well in advance of the actual promotion launch so that the approval process won’t cause any delay. Also be sure you know Google’s Merchant Promotions Program Policies.
Get ahead of the competition by testing out some of this readily available advanced functionality! If you’re interested in speaking with a Shopping Consultant from Marin, get in touch with your platform representative. Or, if you're new to Marin, get in touch with our team.
When Google released product listing ads, it dramatically changed the way retailers advertise online. Because of their huge success, retailers are constantly on the lookout for the next game-changing ad format.
If the results our retail clients have been seeing are any indication, the next frontier for product ads is harmonizing Google Shopping and Facebook Dynamic Ads (DA). Even though there’s been steady growth in the number of advertisers using Facebook DAs since their launch in 2015, many retailers are still managing their search and social channels in silo.
In this post, you’ll learn how to supercharge your shopping ads by combining the best of search and social. Using these techniques, our customers have seen a 68% higher revenue per conversion from their campaigns, when managed together with social advertising campaigns.
Seed Facebook with your best Google Shopping campaigns.
Savvy advertisers take advantage of their existing Google Shopping campaigns to optimize—or simply test—DAs for the first time. By identifying your best-performing products from Google Shopping campaigns, you can export high-ROI products to advertise using DAs.
Through Facebook’s new Google Shopping to DA product (available to Marin Software customers), advertisers using Google Shopping can take their best-performing campaigns and easily create Facebook DAs in a few easy steps, without the need for lengthy setup and extensive IT resources.
Build out the right types of campaigns.
To easily increase your average order value and/or customer lifetime value, be sure to offer products related to what a customer’s ordered. As you’re building out DA campaigns, you can create upsell, cross-sell, and prospecting campaigns using the same process.
Upsell and cross-sell: With these types of campaigns, you can increase the chances of selling complimentary, relevant products to your customers via upsell (higher profitability items) or cross-sell (similar product sets).
Prospecting: Take shopping on Facebook beyond retargeting through Facebook’s DA prospecting campaigns. Advertisers can now reach new customers within the Facebook universe who haven’t visited your website. Facebook allows you to automatically create the best ads and find the best users for prospecting, giving you an efficient, effective way to find new audiences for your products.
Use search intent data to power DA creative.
Search intent retargeting is the smartest way to maximize the ROAS of your search budget. As cross-channel marketing strategies become commonplace, digital advertisers have started using search intent data to power their social campaigns. This strategy can be extended to Facebook DAs.
One example: using search intent to optimize DA creative templates. If the right users see them, these dynamic changes to creative can lead to significant lifts in CTR, conversion rates, and ROI.
Let’s say you have three users who’ve reached your website using different levels of search intent.
Discount-driven (keyword: discount shoes)
Product brand (keyword: Buffalo Shoes)
Store name (keyword: PowPow Shoe Shop)
Through DA creative templates and search intent data, you can dynamically tailor your Facebook creatives based not only on the products users have seen on your website, but also on the keyword they used to get there in the first place. This allows you to show hyper-targeted ads, resulting in higher click-through and conversion rates.
In the above example, our users see different things depending on their keyword group:
Sales-driven user (keyword: discount shoes) sees an ad with a sales message.
The user who’s shown product brand infinity (keyword: Buffalo Shoes) sees a creative with a large product brand logo.
The user who’s shown brand affinity for the shop/advertiser (keyword: Marin Shoe Shop) sees a large advertiser logo.
Use cross-channel product reporting and optimization.
Once you start running Google Shopping and Facebook DAs, you should look at product performance and optimization in a more holistic way. The challenge with cross-channel tracking is normalizing conversions across multiple devices, ad buys, and other variables. However, with a third-party platform like Marin Software, the problem’s solved, so you can focus on the most important task—making sense of all that rich data and finding synergies.
With consistent third-party conversion tracking, you can also deduplicate conversions across search and social. And, through attribution modeling, you can gain deeper insights into how your Google Shopping and Facebook DAs are affecting the overall path to conversion.
Your future shoppers are spending an ever-increasing amount of time on Facebook and Google. In fact, 78% of all new ads were on either Facebook or Google last quarter. Now’s the time to think smarter about how you can cost-effectively engage and convert these users.
By combining search and social shopping strategies, not only do you break down channel silos—you gain a holistic view of product performance, and the ability to optimize across channels and improve overall product performance.
Shopping season is here. To help retailers navigate the current terrain of shopping ads and digital marketing, Marin has developed new features to help retailers maximize revenues and efficiencies this back to school and holiday season.
In this post, we’ve asked Anil Channappa, Senior Director Product Management for Marin Social, to talk about these features and how they’ll benefit retail and ecommerce advertisers.
From the lens of your role, what is Marin's cross-channel shopping solution?
It’s the ability for marketers to maximize the sales and revenue of their products through advertising regardless of the publisher. Without such a solution, advertisers have to coordinate advertising campaigns across Google and Facebook (in the same or different tool), without a way to measure the effectiveness across publishers.
With a solution like Smart Sync for Shopping, advertisers can mirror a Google shopping campaign so that the same campaign is running on both Google and Facebook, without needing to know much about leveraging their product feed on Facebook. The cross-publisher reporting helps our advertisers make smarter bid and budget decisions to maximize ROI. And this is a unique and innovative solution in the market today.
Why is it important?
Customers and prospects are browsing freely across Google and Facebook. So, advertisers shouldn’t be bogged down by publisher-specific differences, and should be able to reach customers where they are. Being able to reach shoppers where they shop with one product feed and campaign flow, will improve campaign management efficiency and the effectiveness of their campaigns.
How does this solution enhance how retailers approach their ad campaigns, and impact their business needs?
Campaigns should be geared towards business objectives and needs. Does a customer want to run a promotion that aligns with events like 4th of July, Black Friday, or a major sale of specific products? In most cases today, customers have to replicate these campaigns manually across all publishers.
With Marin’s cross-channel solution, advertisers can rely on technology to create, measure, and scale campaigns across publishers, while spending their time on critical decisions and optimizations.
Why now? What motivated Marin Software to invest in this feature rollout?
Publishers are racing to offer innovative products to keep pace with emerging customer behaviors. Mobile technologies (tablets, smartphones) have been a huge disrupter. Publishers are forced to innovate rapidly to offer advertising products that fit this new paradigm.
Shopping Campaigns and Dynamic Ads are all visual ads that are easier for users to preview and click on mobile devices. Depending on your source, anywhere from 75-95% of mobile users click social ads. Marin’s research shows that during Q1 of this year, closer to 95% of all social ad clicks were on a mobile device.
In the past, we’ve invested heavily to streamline advertising within channels (search, social, and display), but we can only go so far in our value-add, because the channels themselves are very different. Given shifting user behaviors and publishers offering similar products, there is a huge convergence of ad products across publishers. This is a perfect opportunity to help marketers who are used to streamlining their channel-specific advertising and extend it across channels.
If you could describe how a company would use this cross-channel solution and come out with strong results, what would that scenario look like?
Google is the dominant player for most retailers to drive demand and new customers. This is the place where advertisers have gone back, time and time again, to drive their sales.
With Facebook stepping up their ad products, we’re hoping it’ll be a great source of new customers, and provide advertisers with increased scale and higher revenue across the board. As a secondary benefit, the streamlined solution could help advertisers save time, reduce cost, and balance their budgets more effectively.
What tips would you like to share with Marin customers who are gearing up for the upcoming back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons?
Think about people-based marketing rather than channel-specific marketing. From the outset, we suggest that customers set up cross-channel campaigns and measure the impact to net revenue and ROI. The channel-specific team should still focus on channel-specific optimizations (creative, audience and bid optimizations in Facebook and product group, bid optimization in Google), but share cross-publisher learnings from platforms like Marin.
You’re in a relay race and this is what you have to do—run with a bucket of water to your next team member, without spilling any of the water. The next player does the same, and so on, until the last player finishes the race.
The object of the contest is to not only preserve as much water as possible, but also to know exactly how much water you lost throughout the course of the game. Oh, and another thing—the buckets are different sizes, you’re playing at night, and you’re blindfolded, and so are your team members. And, you’re playing against a lot of other teams.
We call this race “the programmatic supply chain.”
The Role of Programmatic Intermediaries
As we mentioned in our first post in this series on programmatic transparency, the programmatic supply chain is made up of intermediaries that may or may not disclose their pricing model. We also mentioned that a recent ANA/Forrester study revealed that55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain. This is up from 21 percent just two years ago.
Like our shot-in-the-dark relay race, advertisers often have to settle for hidden bid prices, secret media value, and even kickbacks. What if the increased concern was translated into clear, actual dollars? How do you get bottom-line clarity? If you haven’t asked your programmatic partners what they’re charging you, now’s the time.
Let’s look at the intermediaries, then assess the average take rates of each one.
Anatomy of the Supply Chain
Here’s roughly how the typical supply chain flows. Note that there’s lots of bi-directionality, and the model changes dramatically depending on the services included.
Ad serving (advertiser side, publisher side)
Exchanges and ad networks
Managed services fees through an agency or media buying partner (or lower fees if you’re accessing a SaaS platform)
We’ve estimated it would take you one to two hours to determine what you pay each of your supply chain intermediaries using IAB’s programmatic calculator. And, that’s if you already know what you’re spending with each partner.
Although it’s challenging to pin down exact cost amounts for each intermediary in the supply chain, it’s not impossible. Knowing the average take rates and ranges allows you to establish benchmarks you can use as a guide. We strongly recommend taking the time to measure what you really spend so you can improve your bottom line. (Click the image to enlarge it.)
Fine-Tuning the Fees
The various cost models you might encounter will alter your numbers, so here are some additional aspects to consider as you complete your appraisal.
CPM-based fees: Before you buy any media, make sure you understand the nature of any fixed fees charged for a thousand ad impressions. How are the fees determined?
Percent of media fees: If you’re working with an ad agency, ask them for access to their spending model. Find out how your money’s being allocated.
Flat fees: Figure in any fixed costs exchanges collect from you.
Arbitrage: After purchasing media, some agencies mark up the cost before they sell it back to you. If you’re working with an agency, make sure it discloses this amount.
Viewability: If any of your impressions aren’t viewable, you should get a credit toward those wasted impressions.
Gaining Clarity in Your Cost Model—ROAS to ROI
Digital marketers, and agencies that support them, are on chronic overwhelm with the choices of platforms, programs, vendors, and the consistent pressure to improve return on ad spend (ROAS). But with deeper understanding of the supply chain and an increasing availability of advanced attribution and offline measurement, closing the loop on profitability is a worthy and attainable goal.
True ROI is within reach, so long as media agencies and ad tech vendors evolve to become more transparent and focused on driving business performance, not just advertising performance.
We hope these tips make it easier to achieve greater transparency in your specific programmatic supply chain, and that the path becomes more of an easy route planner than a blind relay race.
Retailers know that the second half of the year is always more important than the first. The shopping season and back to school are crucial periods for brick-and-mortar and online stores—these are times when retailers need to capture consumers with sales and promotions, so that they’ll stay longer and buy more.
With advertisers over doubling their ad spend during the holiday season compared to the rest of the year, competition remains fierce. The 2015 holidays raked in over $100 billion for ecommerce alone. How can advertisers compete within this complex online marketplace?
Launch search shopping campaigns.
During the holiday season, we expect that shopping ad clicks will spike almost 400% when compared to the beginning of the year, and will account for one of every three clicks on a search ad.
By now, all retailers should be exploring shopping campaigns for their products. Not only do shopping ads perform better for search advertisers, they’re also competitive in price and particularly effective for mobile advertising. This is especially important since smartphones are now the device of choice for most shoppers.
While Google is the biggest player in the shopping ad market, be sure to consider Bing, which offers its own shopping ad format.
Expand into cross-channel advertising.
90% of social retail clicks come from mobile.
Although search is important, it’s not the only channel where retailers should advertise. Display and social are both vital channels to consider for how they interact with potential shoppers and audiences, and they're both much more heavily mobile than search. Combining search, social, and display allows advertisers to create a very powerful campaign that can target shoppers across channels more effectively and efficiently.
Play to device strengths.
About 40% of all retail advertising dollars will be spent on a smartphone this holiday season.
Understanding the strengths of each device is key to effectively spending advertising dollars. While desktop remains on top for converting an ad click into a purchase, the role of mobile devices in the conversion pathway is becoming better understood.
Many consumers treat mobile devices as a research tool, and while they may not convert directly to a purchase through a mobile click, there are ad types such as click-for-directions and click-to-call that contribute directly to an offline or later purchase.
Timing is everything.
Back to school clicks and conversions increased year-over-year by about 15% and 10%, respectively.
Timing campaigns appropriately allows you to reach the maximum number of people. For retailers, this is particularly important during the second half of the year. If you’re looking to reach the right audiences at the right time, be sure to take into account the day on which your campaigns go live.
The back to school click boost begins a month ahead of school, usually peaking about a week before school starts. For the holidays, it begins slightly earlier every year. We usually see consumer interest rise as soon as October ends or even slightly before, with steadily increasing impressions and clicks for retailers when compared to prior months until a peak in late November.
What’s the saying? There is no rest for the weary? Just when it feels like summer’s just begun, it’s already time to switch up your marketing campaigns for back-to-school shoppers.
According to Google Trends, interest in “Back to school” is on the rise since early June. But summer isn’t over yet, which makes this the perfect time to take advantage of this level of interest before we hit peak season.
Here are the top 6 things to make sure you check off your list to ensure you’re prepared for this year’s back-to-school season:
Understand your competition.
Don’t be so quick to start changing bids. A little research on your competitors goes a long way. Identify the gaps and move quickly on those opportunities. Look for top and direct competitor ads, and don’t forget online tools that can assist in finding out what competitors are doing with keyword bids. We recommend arming yourself with competitive information now so that your account is prepared for the next big retail shopping season.
Target back-to-school focused search queries.
Most back-to-school shoppers include parents and college students—as they prepare for back to school, they’re also searching online for deals. Marketers can benefit from this by creating campaigns that are focused specifically on back-to-school keywords and deal searches. Some examples of this are:
back to school supplies
back to school sales
cheap school supplies
Be sure to give these campaigns a healthy budget, plus either an end date or a scheduled pause to ensure they don’t continue to run post-season.
Create relevant, compelling ad copy and landing pages.
Parents and college students are often price conscious, but also want the products they purchase to last. Also, shoppers are often looking for sales to save money. Marketers should focus their ad copy around these consumer needs to incentivize shoppers to click their ads.
If a consumer doesn’t see a phrase that indicates there may be a good deal on the landing page that comes after their click, they may select a competitor instead. Helpful phrases include the obvious “back to school,” but also things like:
an additional X% off
all school year long
And more. We suggest using discount-focused terms for smaller ticket items like colored pencils, and durability-focused terms for larger ticket items like backpacks and athletic shoes.
Put together a bidding strategy
Make sure your strategy is informed by previous years’ data and this year’s goals. This also goes in line with understanding your competition, as we mentioned earlier. Take note of when the cost-per-click in your campaigns rose last year, and by how much, and adjust bids accordingly to ensure you’re pacing well with market demands throughout the season.
Don’t forget to include your shopping campaigns in your bidding strategy planning as well, especially for larger ticket items. Many consumers do a lot of research on items such as backpacks prior to making a decision, and may choose to purchase these items online in order to get exactly what they want.
Stay top of mind using retargeting.
Retargeting is another area where you may be able to better keep the attention of consumers who do a lot of price comparison shopping before making a purchase. Create a separate retargeting campaign specific to, again, higher-dollar items such as backpacks and athletic shoes, targeting users for several days after viewing your product.
When creating these retargeting ads, we recommend showing the products viewed previously in the ad, and potentially offering a coupon code to incentivize the consumer to purchase this product from your business specifically.
Parent and student purchase decisions are heavily influenced by mobile. According to Google, in 2014 over 40% of back-to-school searches were done via mobile devices. These searches are typically performed on the go by busy parents and students trying to get back-to-school shopping done in between all the other things they need to do.
What are these roving shoppers doing? They're performing price comparisons, checking product availability, and searching for the closest store to their current location to sneak in a quick trip and check items off their list. You can capitalize on this by using location extensions and prominently displaying inventory availability for products at nearby stores on their easy-to-navigate mobile site.
If you’re strapped for time and can’t roll out a new back-to-school strategy, keep this checklist on hand, since these best practices are also applicable during the holiday shopping season. Want to learn more? Join the Center of Excellence for our back-to-school webinar on Thursday, July 21st!
In today’s blog post, we’re focused on three topics: sharing results from early Expanded Text Ad users, discussing support for Expanded Text Ads in the Adwords API and a brief discussion of automated transition options to get you on Expanded Text Ads quickly and profitably. If you're unclear what Expanded Text Ads are, read our full coverage here and then come back to read our in-depth coverage in this post.
Case Study - Expanded Text Ads
As the largest partner in the Adwords ecosystem, Marin was fortunate to be in a position to help many of the advertisers invited into the early beta program for Expanded Text Ads. In today’s blog post, we’d like to share with you a few of the insights we’ve learned from our early exposure.
How will Expanded Text Ads impact my performance?
Google’s introduction of dual headlines, both with longer character limits than its predecessor, creates a problem that some marketers will find easier to solve than others. We all know how important well written copy is to connect with your target audience, and ultimately run a profitable campaign. From our early exposure to Expanded Text Ads, choosing the right strategy for the new dual headline format will separate the winners from the losers.
Performance Gains Aided by Creativity
In one instance, we observed a customer who fully embraced the dual headline capabilities by not only rewriting their ad copy, but fully changing their message to better suit the additional characters now at their disposal. This customer realized a tremendous engagement lift that exceeded our expectations (+50%). An increase in engagement can be unprofitable if conversions do not also increase at a similar cadence. We were impressed (and relieved) when we observed that conversions increased in lockstep (+70%).
There’s no doubt that the increased engagement was due in part to the enlarged footprint of the Expanded Text Ads format. But, based on other observations, it’s clear to us that the larger footprint does not account for all of this improvement. We believe that this customer's decision to not only rewrite, but fully rework their creative was the key to their above average results. We applaud their savvy embrace of Expanded Text Ads and would be happy to speak with anyone who is struggling with how to get started, or looking for an experienced team to help guide their transition planning. Please contact us here for more information.
As expected, this landmark change in Adwords has created a beehive of stories, speculation, and misinformation. One point of contention in the Adwords Partner Ecosystem is timing to support Expanded Text Ads. We’d like to touch on this topic for a moment.
Our Heritage - Partner in your Success
Marin Software recently celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary, and I’ve personally been a member of the team for 8 of them. During our time in business, we’ve prided ourselves on being a true partner to our customers. And as a partner, we’ve always been transparent on our timeline to support new API features. We’d like to remind our readers that, unfortunately, the same can not be said for all software partners that operate in the Adwords ecosystem.
For example, anyone who claimed to offer immediate Expanded Text Ad support on the day of Google’s announcement (5/24/16) was not telling you the full truth. We know this because Google just released support in the Adwords API for Expanded Text Ads today (5/27/16). Three days after the original feature announcement. We’ve been discussing this change with Google for over a month, and Google did not give preferential treatment to any partners.
Now that the API has been upgraded to support Expanded Text Ads, we’ll continue executing our plan to incorporate them into Marin Software's platform. We’ve been advised that our timeline ranks amongst the fastest to support Expanded Text Ads in the partner ecosystem.
Automated Transition Options for Expanded Text Ads
Given the promising results from early testing of Expanded Text Ads, Marin is encouraging our customers to actively plan their transition to reap the rewards. As a partner in our customer’s success we’ve designed two ways to help you get up and running on Expanded Text Ads quickly and profitably.
Option 1 - Ad Rewrite
For advertisers who would like help rewriting their ads, Marin Software has an exclusive partnership with Boost Media. By tapping into Boost Media’s network, you’ll get access to hundreds of professional writers who will create new, optimized creative for the Expanded Text Ads format. We believe the ROI of working with Boost will yield tremendous results for all of our advertisers. If you would like to learn more, please contact us here.
Option 2 - Transition Planning
For advertisers who would like strategic help, Marin’s Center of Excellence is staffed with experts ready to run a marginal analysis on your accounts and create a roadmap of the most profitable path for your program as you begin the transition to Expanded Text Ads. The demand for this service has been overwhelming, we encourage you to contact us to get started today.
Exciting times! Stay tuned for continuing coverage on Expanded Text Ads and the other announcements from the Google Performance Summit.
According to eMarketer, over 70% of U.S. paid search spend will be mobile by 2017. And yet, optimizing mobile advertising and seeing significant ROI on it remains a crucible for many in the digital advertising world.
We joined our technology partner DialogTech at the end of April for a webinar about how search marketers can adopt new mobile-first optimization strategies to drive PPC conversions and customers.
One of Marin’s very own search marketing experts, Patrick Hutchison, teamed up with Kelley Schultz, Digital Marketing Lead at DialogTech, to share proven mobile optimization and attribution tactics digital marketers can use to drive more clicks, calls, and customers from Google AdWords, Yahoo, and Bing.
In order to achieve their mobile advertising goals, digital marketers need to understand the customer journey and all of the touch points prior to sale. To that end, here are five strategies for optimizing your mobile game plan that we learned from this webinar.
1. If your business gets mobile traffic, then you need to be setting a bid adjustment
You want to get into a top (1-2) position for mobile devices to ensure visibility, so set up campaigns with an initial +25-30% bid modifier. You can adjust and optimize based on the types of conversions and traffic you see.
2. Optimize for calls
Incorporate call conversion tracking to ensure you’re optimizing for all conversions. Without measuring call leads, you miss out on a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracking and understanding the source of your leads.
3. Segment search query reports by device
When you perform search query reports, add a device segment. This will allow you to see what keywords are getting the most mobile conversions and traffic. Within your reports, sort by conversions and then adjust your bids for your highest performing keywords to ensure top position.
Next, sort your report by clicks that don’t drive conversions, and adjust bids or add negatives as necessary for these keywords that are driving up both clicks and spend.
4. Remember that mobile-targeted ad copy is key
Create mobile-preferred search ads with mobile ad extensions and CTAs. Remember to take advantage of call extensions, since as Google reports, 70% of mobile searchers use call extensions to call businesses.
5. Incorporate remarketing bidding strategies
Set up remarketing lists into your campaigns, so that you can adjust mobile bids for the top position.
Remember the importance of not only bidding up for mobile traffic, but also increasing bidding for your custom audience lists. If users showed interest once, capture them again on their next query with a different message in the top position.
This is a guest post from Garrett Mehrguth, CEO of Directive Consulting, a Google Partner and MozLocal Recommended Agency serving small to enterprise level firms.
Thumbs and tiny screens can be tricky. Users have unique needs when they’re on a mobile device, and as advertisers, it’s critical that we create a conversion-friendly mobile experience. By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge to take your mobile campaign conversions to the next level.
Change #1: Install Conversion Tracking Software
You can never assume that you know why your users are on a mobile page. And, throughout the mobile user’s conversion journey, there are countless screen sizes and roadblocks. Finding a tool that allows you to record visitors, analyze form drop-offs, create heat maps, and measure funnels is crucial for improving your Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).
It’s possible to drastically improve ROI with elements like average fold analysis on mobile and other tools included in a conversion tracking software suite. In general, you don’t want your call to action below the fold on a mobile page. Remember, thumbs are powerful extremities and they shouldn’t be forced to scroll.
Change #2: Install a Sticky Menu
It would be a total shame if you lost all of your calls to action when someone scrolls! A great way to prevent your call to actions from going unnoticed is to install a sticky menu on your landing pages.
With a sticky menu, you can improve conversions and keep your CTA within a thumb’s distance at all times.
Change #3: Underline Your Phone #
Users on mobile know that underlined items are hyperlinked. Not only do we want to make our number clickable, we want the user to inherently know that it’s clickable. Ideally, this number is a part of a sticky menu as mentioned in change #2.
Furthermore, if you really want the number to pop, take advantage of a secondary color from your brand playbook and go bold. The goal here is to make sure that the user knows they can call you.
Change #4: Fix Your Form Presets to Be for Mobile
In a great presentation, @BryantGarvin touches on a very valuable aspect of mobile CRO – keyboards. After using your conversion tracking software, dive into your mobile sessions. When users enter their number on mobile forms, are you using the right keyboard? Make sure you’re leveraging <input type=”tel”>.
Change #5: Use Copy That’s Unique to the Situation
When your user comes to your mobile landing page, they’re often in a very unique situation. Occasionally, it could be an emergency. It’s critical that your copy speaks to this urgency and highlights your unique selling point while answering their #1 question.
Take the example above. Notice that “Available 24/7” is the first information a user sees. If you’re available to answer the phone 24/7, make sure your user knows! Also, notice “Tap # To Call: 949-362-5388” – here, the action we want the user to take is clear. Lastly, the user’s top questions are answered: Where do you service? How much will it cost?
When designing copy for mobile landing pages, leave nothing assumed, and guide the user as much as possible.
BONUS: Call-Only Ads
For certain industries, call-only ads present a terrific opportunity for your mobile campaigns. Frankly, if you’re in an industry where the end goal is phone calls, why not just have the user call you?
If you can take out a step in the funnel, you’ll be able to drastically increase conversions and compete at a higher level by allowing a user to complete their desired actions. Here are some key steps to keep in mind:
Understand the market. Would a user prefer to call for the keywords in that ad group?
Select your keywords. Analyze the intent behind the keywords and run on local modifiers like +city, +near, and +local.
Craft killer ad copy. Space is limited, so you need to catch and convert in the SERP. Think about including cost, trust, distance, and contact person.
Record calls. Nothing gives you data feedback like recording calls.
Regardless of where you are today, make these changes and monitor for growth. As always, test and improve, but this should give you a running start.
This is the first in a series of posts on transparency. In today’s post, we lay out the many ways transparency is elusive in digital marketing today. We also include some best practices for stamping out the fuzziness prevalent in the programmatic landscape.
Most marketers will admit transparency in media buys sounds like a good idea. So why don’t we have it all the time? Inertia, circumstances, or legacy business practices are the usual culprits. Knowing about the types of programmatic transparency is a good place to start.
The Problem with Buyer/Seller Blindness
You may have read about the recent survey on programmatic buying by Forrester and the ANA. Although we know intermediaries carve up a media dollar along the ad delivery path, a surprising 33 percent of survey respondents in this study have turned a blind eye while knowingly opting into an undisclosed programmatic model.
Not knowing the true value of your media obscures your true ROI. This buyer/seller blindness stands in the way of programmatic growth and success.
Let's dive in and take a look at the three types of transparency: intermediaries, environmental, and data.
1. Intermediaries: What is the True Cost of the Programmatic Supply Chain?
According to the ANA/Forrester study, 55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain, up from 21 percent two years ago. No advertiser is immune to the supply chain realities, but seeing how the budget is allocated should be as natural as homebuyers scrutinizing loan origination fees from their mortgage broker.
There is a host of intermediaries in today’s programmatic supply chain including:
Data / Targeting
Ad serving (advertiser side, publisher side)
Managed services fees through an agency or media buying partner
Not surprisingly, there are also several cost models:
Percent of media fees
The advertiser pays most of the fees, while in some cases the publisher, or both the advertiser and publisher, pay them.
It’s common to have an agent buy media on the advertiser’s behalf, only revealing the final price of a campaign, total margin, and fees. Just as common is the masking of the closing or winning bid prices. Yet this transparency in bidding is precisely what’s needed for optimization. This practice is especially prevalent among black box vendors, as is straight-ahead arbitrage. Without transparent insights into what improves targeting and conversion, marketers are flying blind.
So, what’s the average take rate of each partner? It varies of course, depending mostly on targeting strategies and pricing/profit models. But asking your supply chain partners exactly what they’re charging you is the first step in achieving total transparency.
2. Environmental: Ad Viewability to Detect Fraudulent or Unviewable Inventory
Certainly one of the hottest issues in ad tech today, environmental transparency of an ad is as important as the campaign’s message or who’s being targeted. There are more mysteries than answers focused on who sees your ad, how much was seen, how long they see it, and where the ad showed up, but help is on the way.
In the early days of RTB, fraudulent or unviewable inventory was a common problem. Although challenges remain, there is an increasing number of new tools available for advertisers, publishers, and ad servers to detect bot fraud, fraudulent inventory, or unviewable ads.
Still, there’s no consensus on how viewability is defined. Standard bodies like the IAB and MRC are driving clarity on this issue. Many new vendors are trying to monetize viewability. Large holding companies have their own standards as well.
Advertisers are increasingly demanding that publishers bear the burden of proof by complying with imposed measurement of viewability-centric campaigns. Viewability-tracking fees, brand safety-tracking fees, and brand lift study fees are paid by either side in an effort to run cleaner campaigns. Although far from being solved, the use of ad verification and brand safety tools goes a long way in solving environmental transparency.
3. Data: Data Transparency = True ROI
It seems logical that any data used in an ad campaign that you paid for would be accessible to you. But that isn’t always the case. Publishers could block the intent data or other data sets you would normally have access to with more transparent partners.
You may prefer to pay a black box provider because your only KPI is sales - this can work for some who don’t insist on understanding their true ROI. However, for data-driven marketing to work, seeing all your data for future learnings or to calculate your true ROI is essential.
Irresistible pricing models are as tempting as a timeshare in Tahiti. We get that. But regardless of whether you use a DSP or publisher tools for your programmatic buys, the more you know, the more you can improve outcomes - that is, if you want to know exactly how to improve outcomes rather than relying on your black box vendor to give you numbers devoid of margins or analysis.
Data are collected at every turn, every segment of the customer journey. CPC, CTR, and impressions are table stakes. For more intelligence, you need the eCPM and in-view impressions. Getting site-level reporting helps you blacklist/whitelist and improve targeting.
If you’re striving to get to your true ROI, knowing how the data points were calculated is certainly also part of the equation. Since we’re talking numbers, understanding the logic, math, and algorithms behind a bidding process is another must-have.
Guidelines for Getting Clarity on Transparency
You should be able to decide exactly what success looks like for your brand. This means choosing your own KPIs, publishers, and the data you want to bring, buy, optimize, or analyze. Here are some best practices for how to bring more transparency to your programmatic initiatives.
Insist on seeing the media cost on an impression-by-impression basis, as well as breakouts of all other costs contributing to the total price.
Pick the exact sites, formats, devices, and audiences you want.
Utilize business rules within your RTB programmatic buys and with your brand safety to ensure a URL is present or that it matches where your ad eventually runs - if you can’t prove your URL, your programmatic partner shouldn’t bid on the impression.
Request detailed campaign guidelines from your agency or DSP.
Use third-party verification tools to detect bot traffic and sourced traffic, as both of these contribute to fraud.
Evaluate and utilize tools from new fraud and viewability measurement partners.
Assign in-house team members to focus on media by having them dig into agency and tech partner contracts to determine fraud and viewability practices.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at 3Q Digital.
Last month, I discussed how to use proper segmentation to optimize the performance of Dynamic Search Ads campaigns and why segmentation is vital for success. Segmentation also plays a large part in the success of shopping campaigns.
If you’re not already familiar, shopping campaigns promote your online inventory of products by matching search queries to ads that feature these products. These ads, known as product listing ads, can appear in Google search results or on the Google Shopping results page.
Shopping campaigns generally benefit from high click-through rates and low CPCs. With segmentation, the value of shopping campaigns increases. Reporting on specific product performance becomes even easier. Product bidding becomes more accurate. And, overall product management improves through better organization.
If you’re a digital advertiser new to shopping campaigns, the steps below can help you successfully leverage this campaign type.
1. Optimize the Data Feed
Proper segmentation doesn’t actually begin in the AdWords interface. The foundation of a highly organized and structured shopping campaign truly starts with the data feed. The data feed contains all the product data that’s uploaded to the Google Merchant Center. The Merchant Center essentially houses all the product data and makes it available to Google and Google Shopping.
To make sure proper segmentation within AdWords is possible, include as much data as possible for each product. For segmentation purposes, it’s vital to include the brand, condition, Google Product Category, and product type attributes. You also have the ability to include up to five custom labels that you can segment by. We’ll touch more on that later.
I strongly recommend having values for not only the required data attributes, but as many of the optional attributes as well. Google is more likely to reward products with rich data with a higher impression share and better ad position. So, there are incentives for fleshing out your data feed as much as possible, beyond just functionality.
2. Subdivide Properly
Once your foundation (accurate product data) is set, you first need to figure out what type of segmentation makes the most sense for your business. To go back to the online luxury jewelry store from my last article, if I’m selling different brands of jewelry, I know that select brands are more popular than others. Because of this, I want to be able to bid differently for each brand in my inventory.
So, for this example, it makes sense to first segment, or subdivide, my shopping campaign by the Brand attribute. Selecting the correct starting subdivision immediately improves my ability to bid better, as I now have organized product groups that provide insightful data that allow me to bid more accurately than if they were grouped together.
3. Further Subdivide By Relevant Attributes
Let’s imagine my online jewelry store sells Cartier, among other brands. After first subdividing all my products by brand, I now have a product group specifically for Cartier products. While this is great, I know that I get different returns from different product types, such as rings, bracelets, or necklaces. So, I want to be able to set bids for each individual Cartier product group.
What I would then do is segment that Cartier group by the product type attribute. Now, I have the ability to bid for Cartier rings separate from Cartier bracelets. Once you have your first subdivision completed, you can continue to subdivide until you believe you have the correct product organization for your business.
Keep in mind that each time you subdivide by another attribute, the bid will be placed at the resulting product groups. While this gives you improved bidding and a clear understanding of what products drive revenue for your business, you don’t want to subdivide too much. This could make the product group too small to get any valuable data from and optimize around.
4. Use Custom Labels
Earlier, I mentioned that in addition to the Google required data attributes, you have the ability to create up to five custom labels for each product. Utilizing these labels allows you to be a bit more creative with the segmentation of your shopping campaign than the standard parameters Google allows, and to better segment by attributes that make the most sense for your business goals.
For example, let’s say my jewelry store categorizes products by expected popularity. A product could be given a rating of High, Medium, or Low. By including this rating in the custom label column, I could then subdivide my initial brand segment by this custom label, and bid up for the most popular products and bid low for less popular items.
5. Strategically Exclude Products
Let’s say my jewelry store sells Cartier watches. Imagine these product listing ads have a great click-through rate but a poor conversion rate due to the high price point. Over time, these clicks result in wasted spend and drag down the efficiency of the account. To avoid a poor ROI moving forward, I can exclude Cartier watches from my shopping campaign.
Product exclusion is an effective way of improving performance by removing items from your shopping campaign that carry low ROI. Product exclusion can also be used to organize your shopping campaigns. To exclude products, click the max CPC column for that particular product group and then check Excluded.
Thank you, Google! Your announcement of the Google Analytics 360 Suite is industry-wide confirmation that enterprise level marketing tools are necessary in order to get the most out of your advertising dollars. Of course, Marin Software has known this all along and believes marketers of all sizes can benefit from these tools.
All marketers want efficient ways to reach new and existing customers and to understand what works and what doesn’t. As Forrester Research reports: “Sophisticated marketers who use analytics platforms are 3X more likely to outperform their peers in achieving revenue goals.” Organizations need this kind of sophisticated software to enable marketing teams to align around goals that help them optimize, compete, and drive revenue.
Cross-publisher, Cross-channel, Cross-device
At Marin, our focus is providing the technology and data needed for demand and revenue generation based steadfastly on our customer’s goals. We enable customers to make holistic creative, bid and budget optimization decisions across their campaigns, all from the same integrated platform.
Besides integrating well with Google, we have extensive experience working with Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other leading partners, including 10 of the largest global exchanges. Our commitment remains the same - helping marketers reach their goals across publishers, across channels (search, social and display) and devices (desktop, tablet, mobile).
Accomplish Your Goals with 100% Transparency
Purpose-built to provide customers with complete transparency of campaign data and results, our mission aligns with Peter Drucker’s adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” We provide digital marketers superlative cross-publisher data and measurement including:
Transparent reporting, bidding algorithms, and predictive modeling
Advertisers’ intent data for better targeting and ROAS
Cross-channel insights and metrics
The true cost of media
Data throughout the customer journey
Quality and viewability metrics
View-through or click-through attribution
Although Marin Software has had a legacy in search leadership, we’ve evolved our cross-publisher platform via industry-leading acquisitions to power digital marketing campaigns for the world's biggest brands and agencies. We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with the tools and insights to profitably compete and reach their goals.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at 3Q Digital.
When you sign up to be a search account manager, you’re making the decision to test yourself to find new strategies for account growth. Whenever identifying growth opportunities becomes challenging, a strategy I rely on is launching Dynamic Search campaigns.
If you’re unfamiliar – Dynamic Search Ads match your ads to search queries based on the content of your website. This removes the need to manage lists of keywords or landing pages. AdWords automatically generates a headline most appropriate to the search query and sends traffic to relevant landing pages.
The benefits can be huge. Dynamic Search helps managers of mature and new accounts find new, profitable long tail keywords or new high volume terms.
The setup for this campaign type is simple, but it can really take some time to set up your dynamic targets to give you the optimum performance you’re looking for. To speed up the process, here are five optimization strategies to cut down on the trial and error and start things off on a high note.
Proper segmentation is critical to getting the best possible performance from Dynamic Search. When creating a new ad group in a Dynamic Search campaign, you have three options for how to define targets. The least appealing option is to target the entire website. This is less than ideal because of the lack of control you have over where traffic is sent and what search queries the campaign picks up.
For example, if you run a luxury jewelry website, it makes sense for visitors to go to a page where they can view products and start the sales process. Sending them to a part of the website where traffic can’t start a sale, like the website’s blog, isn’t as ideal. Poor targeting can result in a high bounce rate and wasted ad spend.
I recommend targeting specific topics or webpages instead. By doing this, you narrow the type of search queries that can be matched to your website targets, resulting in more qualified traffic and less wasted spend.
2. Website Coverage
When starting a campaign from scratch or adding in a new Dynamic Search target, pay attention to the target’s estimated website coverage. Simply put, website coverage is the percentage of a website covered by an individual target.
If you’re having a problem with your Dynamic Search campaign not generating high traffic volume, the problem could be that you have too small of a target. Try expanding and see if that opens things up. Or if the opposite is true, switch to a target with a smaller website coverage to cut down on the junk clicks.
3. Exclusion Targets
Dynamic targets can be excluded from your campaign to prevent traffic from reaching pages you don’t want to be used for ads. Much like the different targeting options available, dynamic exclusions gives you control over when Dynamic Search ads appear and where they send traffic.
Exclusions can be made at the campaign or the ad group level. When creating dynamic targets, try applying existing targets as exclusions for other dynamic targets. Sticking with the luxury jewelry website, let’s say you have a target set up for watches, but you want to create another target for Rolex watches in particular.
After creating the new Rolex target, exclude that from the larger, general watch target. Proper segmenting and exclusions should work to create a structured Dynamic Search campaign where there is little, if any, overlap between targets.
4. Negative Keywords
If you aren’t using negative keywords in either a shared list or attached to your Dynamic Search campaign, you need to take action immediately. Negative keywords should be applied just like any other search campaign.
Depending on the dynamic targets, you could make the argument that negative keywords are more crucial for Dynamic Search campaigns because queries are matched to website content and not keywords. When first launching, check your search queries report frequently to make sure you’re not burning budget on irrelevant queries.
5. Remarketing Lists
Like any other search campaign, remarketing lists can be attached to your dynamic search campaign with the option to just bid on these audiences or to target and bid. This is useful if you have a remarketing audience specifically interested in a dynamic target.
Let’s go back to our luxury jewelry example from earlier and imagine we have an audience of people that have previously purchased a Rolex watch. We can attach that Rolex audience to our Rolex dynamic target with a positive bid modifier to raise bids when members of this audience search Google for products we have in our inventory. This modifier will allow us to bid up, obtain better ad position, and ultimately put us in a better place to make a sale.
When applying remarketing lists, it’s important to remember the difference between settings. Bid Only allows you to apply a bid modifier only when members of our audience enter a query. It has no effect on bids for people not in the audience. Target and Bid finds members of that audience only. Non-audience member search queries will not be matched to your targets.
Dynamic Search campaigns have the ability to really blow the doors off performance by finding new, profitable search queries that you otherwise may have missed. But it’s important to regularly update and tweak targets and exclusions to get the most out of performance.
Also, don’t be afraid to step outside the box with your segmentation and test new things out. No matter the size or maturity of the account, Dynamic Search is an effective strategy that should bring success to whoever uses it.
Super Bowl 50 is here, and the cost to advertise is heating up faster than the Broncos/Panthers rivalry. In fact, CBS is charging up to $5 million for a 30-second ad spot during the big game. According to eMarketer, the top five Super Bowl advertisers have spent a total of $745.1 million for the privilege over the past 10 years.
While the Super Bowl is a great time to drive awareness with cute Budweiser puppies and ridiculous Doritos commercials, most advertisers can’t afford to shell out that kind of money. Here are four strategies to help marketers of all sizes take advantage of the Super Bowl without breaking the bank.
1. Start with a good content strategy
Make sure you have a cohesive plan in advance of the big day that includes organic and paid teams, and all marketing channels where you have a presence (search, social, display, etc.). With a solid strategy in place, you’ll have a good foundation to help you capitalize on any spontaneous moments that may occur, such as Oreo’s quick “dunk in the dark” reaction in 2013.
Here are a few recommended tactics:
Plan your gameday creative and messaging in advance
Use a tool like Marin Social’s Message Booster to improve coordination between organic and paid teams, and to ease the workload by automatically promoting top-performing content according to pre-defined rules
Make sure your social media team is at the ready with immediate, relevant, branded content, in case a big and unexpected moment occurs
2. Take a mobile-first approach
During the Super Bowl, millions of Americans are watching more than just the TV screen. They’re grabbing recipes from Pinterest, posting photos of their gameday garb on Facebook, and sharing their real-time reactions on Twitter. Advertisers who understand this second-screen behavior are in the best position to take advantage using a mobile-first approach.
Use mobile device and carrier targeting to maximize ad relevance
Make sure your website or landing page is optimized for mobile viewing
Consider extending your ads beyond the publishers and into mobile apps, via the Facebook Audience Network and the Twitter Audience Platform
3. Run your commercial without the hefty price tag
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all offer top-notch video advertising formats, so you can run your commercial without dropping $5 million. Captivating video formats provide an exciting way to engage with users who skim through their phones while watching the game. Other things to consider:
Use Reach & Frequency targeting with your Facebook video ads to generate awareness at scale
Make sure your creative attracts attention with autoplay and no sound
Run video that’s specifically relevant to Super Bowl viewers, and consider unveiling fresh, never-seen-before content
4. Up the ante with TV Sync technology
If you already have a good baseline social advertising strategy, take things to the next level using TV Sync technology. TV Sync allows you to automatically activate your social ads based on customizable offline events like television flight schedules, live programming, weather changes, or sporting events – all in real time. It’s a powerful way to amplify your reach and drive engagement across screens.
TV Sync allows you to:
Trigger your social ads whenever your competitor’s commercial airs
Launch social ads automatically based on weather status or key sporting events such as touchdowns and timing
Push social ads live during other related TV events (Pro Bowl, Puppy Bowl, etc.)
Last but not least, consider using these strategies beyond Super Bowl Sunday. Every day is a great chance to extend your advertising beyond TV, onto the second screen and into the virtual living room.
Consider applying these ideas during primetime TV shows, live awards events, college or national sporting events, the World Cup, the Lumberjack World Championships, or any time at all.
Pumpkin spice lattes. Cold weather. Football on TV. That can only mean one thing - the holidays are here!
While you’re busy planning your holiday vacation, family meals, or gift shopping plans, remember to schedule a few minutes for your retargeting campaigns. Consumers are ready to spend billions over the next six weeks (especially online!) so make sure you adjust your campaign settings to capitalize on the holiday rush.
Here are a few simple steps you can take to boost your campaign performance for the holidays:
Increase your budgets
With all that holiday shopping going on, you’re likely going to see a boost in site traffic, which means you’ll see an associated boost in impressions served and advertising funds spent. Make sure your campaigns have a proper budget set to guarantee you have enough ad money available for the day, so that you don’t miss out on these potential new customers.
We recommend a 25-50% budget increase for the holidays, but you know your site traffic best. Whatever % of traffic increase you’re expecting, boost your budget about that same %.
Raise your campaign bids
Consumers will be spending a lot of money on products, but that also means advertisers are spending a lot of money on ads. You’re going to have competition! With so many advertisers fighting for ad space, it’s not uncommon to see your CPM costs rise during this time of year. To be ready for this, make sure you increase your CPM bids across your campaigns. Allowing your campaigns to bid a higher amount will make them more competitive and give you a better chance of serving more ads. We suggest increasing your CPM bid by 50-100% of the current average CPM cost for the campaign.
Use holiday themed ads and landing pages
Your potential customers are thinking, talking, and singing about the holidays this time of year. Join that conversation! Using ads that mention specific events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday can grab a visitor’s attention. Send them holiday cheer, mention that there are X number of shopping days left, and give them a reason to click on your ads. Use the holidays as a call to action, and you could see a boost in clicks and conversions.
Create landing pages and content on your site for these holiday events, then create audiences that capture visitors of these pages. (Information about audiences is available here.)
Finally, create campaigns to serve your holiday ads to your holiday page visitors. If they’re coming to your site looking for holiday deals, they are more likely to respond to holiday themes ads.
We hope these suggestions are helpful and lead to a profitable holiday season for you and your business. As always, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com with any questions or comments.
Marin Software recently participated in the E-Commerce Paris trade show, the largest cross-channel event in France. During the three-day event, we had the opportunity of presenting with our customers as guest speakers. One such opportunity was a workshop on 'the relevant criteria to choose your digital media buying platform'. Thibaut Vouloir, Acquisition Manager at financial services company Cofinoga, detailed the main things every agency or advertiser should care about when looking for a solution.
First off, he insisted that the provider must be independent from any media selling business. To guarantee a fair arbitrage of the bid recommendations on any campaign, the platform can’t be owned by a specific publisher, whoever that publisher may be. An independent platform helps advertisers to optimize their media investments on different channels, across search, social, and display.
2. Local Support
For Thibaut, it should be a given that he has access to a local and experienced service team – in his case, based in Paris who speaks French – who understands his needs and gathers his feedback to improve the product. One of his needs is the ability to integrate his DMP tracking system, with customized specifications. The strength of a local team is its capacity to contact the DMP solution, then work collaboratively with the customer to deliver a needs-based solution that drives results.
3. Flexible, Automated Bidding
In particular, Thibaut mentioned the absolute flexibility of Marin’s automated bidding tool considering the different objectives of Cofinoga’s financial products. Using the three different bidding strategies that Marin offers (position, CPA, and ROI) – within the same campaigns or across multiple campaigns and publishers – allows Cofinoga to effectively control and monitor the costs of acquisition. The time an advertiser saves with automated bidding can be reallocated to other tasks, such as A/B creative and landing page testing. “The keyword marketer is freed up from the repetitive task of manually changing bids every day,” said Thibaut.
To find out more about how Marin Software can help you achieve your cross-channel advertising goals, contact us today.
The holidays are a busy time of year for retail advertisers. Outside of work, their lives are packed with relatives, shopping, menu planning, and social events. Add launching holiday promotions, bid management, and budgeting to the agenda and they have an even longer to-do list in the middle of an already stressful holiday season.
To help our retail advertising customers succeed during the critical holiday shopping season, we’re happy to introduce Marin’s Center of Excellence. This is a new division of the Marin Customer Success team that combines marketing expertise and mastery of the Marin platform to help grow your business. The team provides consulting and tailored offerings for Marin customers to address business needs and help them get the most out of the platform.
While consumers are editing their shopping lists in October, you’re editing keyword lists and writing endless variations of holiday ad copy. And, if you’re asking yourself, “What am I missing?” or “How can I better optimize this?”, the Marin Center of Excellence team is here to help you through these and other common challenges.
Having managed campaigns themselves once upon a time, the team has compiled a list of step-by-step recommendations to keep handy as holiday promotions begin to kick off in the coming weeks.
Step 1: Prepare Your Campaigns for Success by Leveraging Key Retail-Focused Marin Capabilities
Start by loading holiday focused objects into Marin early (e.g., keywords, creatives, sitelinks, and mobile-preferred creatives) and keep them paused until you’re ready to launch. This will allow enough time for creatives to go through review on the publisher’s side, for you to submit any exemption requests, etc. Don’t wait until the last minute or you risk forgetting important objects (like sitelinks!) and hitting policy violations.
In addition, make sure you have the necessary Scheduled Actions configured for your holiday-themed campaigns and creatives. Scheduled Actions are essential during promotions and sales and help you take back those long holiday hours by automating the pausing and activation of select campaigns and creatives. If you know that certain days or weeks see an increase in traffic, set up rules so you’re always showing top-performing ads at the most opportune times.
Marin Dimensions are another great time-saving tool. For example, if you have different promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, tag them with a Dimension. Once tagged, you can quickly filter for those objects tagged with a “Black Friday” dimension to pause them and take the same steps to resume your Cyber Monday ads. This workflow works great for those time-sensitive campaigns you’ll be switching on and off across publishers.
Finally, you should consider an account audit ahead of the holiday. This will ensure you have an account structure in line with best practices, help identify specific performance issues, and allow enough time to prioritize any issues requiring implementation. The Center of Excellence is offering holiday focused account audits to improve account performance and better optimize your program this holiday season. Contact your Marin account representative for more details.
Step 2: Review Your Bidding Strategy and Objectives
In anticipation of the expected increase in traffic and competition, the Center of Excellence recommends setting up a schedule for any bid changes that need to occur throughout the holiday season. Take a look at your historical data for previous years. Do you notice a year over year rise in historical CPCs? Did traffic increase significantly? Pair this data with your goals to set up an ad scheduling or boost schedule.
These two features allow you to make faster adjustments to bids without making drastic changes to your overall bidding strategy (by changing folder targets) that could prompt unwanted results. If you want a little help crunching those numbers, the Center of Excellence is offering a Holiday Bidding and Boost consultation tailored specifically to your program that works in tandem with our bidding algorithm.
Step 3: Closely Monitor Performance Throughout the Holiday Season
Marin offers an easy way to set up and schedule automated email alerts to assist you with monitoring account activity during the holidays. The Center of Excellence recommends creating email alerts for the following:
Day over day cost changes
Sync errors for creatives/keywords
Average position threshold
Objects missing tracking
Creatives status = disapproved
If you manage multiple accounts in the platform, try setting up an All Clients report to review cross-client performance data. For example, set up a campaign performance report across all your clients to eliminate having to log into each Marin client account. Hint: Creating alerts across client accounts will save you time, which can be spent enjoying your holidays!
Bonus Time Saving Tips from our Top Center of Excellence Consultants!
If you’re a client that has many different publisher accounts within many different Marin accounts, utilize Marin’s cross-client bulk sheet feature, so you can create everything with one file rather than having to organize and upload many different bulk sheets.
If you plan to use ad scheduling to help manage bidding this holiday season, set this up in Marin using the multi-edit feature, which will allow you to set your schedule across many campaigns or ad groups at one time, rather than individually.
Prior to making changes for holiday bidding, download a report of all your current keyword bids with the columns you would need for a keyword bulk upload. Use this report to upload these same bids into the application after the holiday season is over and more quickly return to expected levels of performance and traffic.
When creating a scheduled report or alert, take an extra 10 seconds and also create a saved view for those same columns and filters. This way, if an alert or performance report merits investigation, you can retrieve the corresponding saved view to pull this up in the application immediately.
Tag all of your holiday objects in Marin using a Dimension. This will make it easier to apply setting changes and scheduled actions at scale so you can get back to family and fun!
We continue to get closer and closer to the busiest time of year for e-commerce businesses and the most festive for online consumer traffic. Our teams at Marin Software have even more tips and tricks for making sure you’re amply prepared.
To help you prepare your accounts for the holidays and top your competitors, we've put together five key action points you can start to implement today, directly in Marin.
1. Identify Your Target Audience and Determine Key Dates
There are several holidays between November and January. However, not every holiday is relevant to your customers – so, it’s important to focus and prepare for the dates and audiences that matter.
First, identify your customers. Are they discount shoppers looking for online bargains? Or shoppers looking for that special present for a loved one? Depending on what’s relevant to your business, bucket your strategy into interest-based audiences. For example:
Next, plot the dates that could influence them to search and purchase online. Here’s a short list of eight dates that have the most impact on consumer behavior, and who the holiday appeals to most. Be sure to add these dates to your calendar!
Black Friday, 27th Nov: Bargain hunters
Cyber Monday, 30th Nov: Bargain hunters
Hanukkah, 6th Dec – 14th Dec: Gift buyers
Christmas, 25th Dec: Gift buyers
Kwanzaa, 26 Dec – Jan 1: Cultural purchasers
Boxing Day, 26th Dec: Bargain hunters
New Year’s Day, 1st Jan: Event purchasers
January sales, 1st Jan – 31st Jan: Bargain hunters
Review your target audience - will any of these dates affect their purchasing decision? In some cases, people might be interested in a holiday just to benefit from the special promotions that come with it. Instead of including the holiday name in your copy, try organizing by interest. To increase CTRs, tailor your creatives to match the holiday that appeals to your customers.
2. Implement Scheduled Actions
Creating ad copy for every holiday can become difficult to manage. Having a Christmas creative active on New Year’s Day can reflect poorly on your company. It’s important that a mechanism is in place to prevent this from happening.
Scheduled Actions in Marin enables you to schedule campaigns, groups, and creatives at a specified date and time. So, if you’re planning on ringing in the New Year on a beach in Mauritania, you can schedule your seasonal campaigns in advance and let Marin pause and activate them while you’re out of the office.
3. Use Ad Extensions
The top positions for your main keywords are prime real estate. With your competitors throwing compelling ad copy and offers into the ring, competition can be fierce. Just your presence alone in the top spot is not always enough.
To expand the size of your creatives and improve visibility, add Ad Extensions to them. This can increase CTR and brand awareness.
Leverage from your existing creatives’ quality score and add Ad Extensions to:
Sitelinks: Drive customers to holiday promotion pages
Location Extensions: Show your holiday opening and closing times
Call Out Extensions: Add a non-clickable festive message or promote an offer like ‘Free Shipping’
4. Exclude Dates from Bidding
Excluding dates from bidding allows you to leave out cost and conversion data for specified dates and date ranges. This is useful during seasonal periods where accounts experience unusual performance, which can skew bid calculations.
If the data is not a true reflection of normal performance, bids will be calculated based on this inaccurate data. To prevent this, exclude the relevant dates.
Your additional holiday marketing efforts will very likely attract new visitors to your site. These new visitors may have gone to several sites before and after yours. With so many online holiday bright lights, it’s understandable how they could forget where they found that perfect product.
Use retargeting to help jog their memory, bringing them back to the original page where they first saw your offer. Whether you decide to use them or not, there’s no cost in building retargeting lists in AdWords and syncing them with Marin.
Each holiday attracts different search intent. Converting customers on Cyber Monday and Boxing Day could be listed as ‘Bargain hunters’, and customers converting on Christmas can be listed as ‘Gift Buyers’. Building retargeting lists around your target audience will enable you to promote offers across audiences through Display and Search.
We hope these tips get you well on your way to clinching the holiday gold. To learn more about how you can stand out this season, take a look at some of our recent content:
This is a guest post from Jonathan Levey, Digital Marketing Manager at OneSky.
Google AdWords location ad customizers represent a pay-per-click (PPC) way to target a specific audience in a specific location. With location ad customizers, you can change details in your PPC ads dynamically, whether it’s color details, price, size, dimensions, countdowns, sales events, or seasonal sales. If, for instance, you’re managing a large number of ad campaigns, the ad customizers let you make quick changes to a central spreadsheet.
After making these quick changes, you can upload the spreadsheet changes to Google AdWords and watch as all the updates are incorporated across your various campaigns. This makes the customizers completely automated, since after updating your central spreadsheet, the other updates are instantly propagated. (Yay, no time-consuming changes by hand!)
Precision is a great marketing strategy. Location ad customizers allow you to target your audience in a minute, specific location.
There are many ways you can make use of AdWords location ad customizers to achieve superior results. If a user meets the criteria you’ve specified on your array of ad campaigns, your ad text can be updated accordingly. Based on location, here’s how you can use AdWords location ad customizers to do this and more.
AdWords location ad customizers include shipping times; so, if your ad shows that your shipping time is less than your competitors’, then you’ll gain more customers. With location ad customizers, you can include the places you deliver your products to in your ad text. This can be very enticing to potential customers who reside in the locations that you specify in your ad campaigns.
These kinds of ad campaigns enable you to have a targeted conversation with your prospective customers, since they’re drawn in by the fact that you have the exact shipping time for their specific location. This aspect of your ad will appeal to audiences who end up purchasing your products due to the confidence that they’ll be delivered on time.
Mention the User’s Location in the Ad Text Campaign
Users often include their desired locations when they search for products and services. So, if you include the users’ locations dynamically in your ad text, they’re more likely to click your ad. Not only does the dynamic inclusion of location into your ad text campaign save you a lot of time – with good content in your ad text, your conversion rate is set to increase exponentially.
The time you save by auto-including location would’ve otherwise been used to create distinct campaigns geo-targeted to each of the areas where you deliver your products. In addition to time savings, location ad customizers maintain all of the key information of your ad campaign, despite generating different text for the specified, unique locations.
Address, Duration, and Offers
Suppose you’re wildly successful with your location extensions. In this case, you can increase the effectiveness of your ad even more, by including address and working hours of the location that’s nearest to your user in your ad text. And, to appeal to more potential customers and beat your competition, you can add offers and discounts that are specific to those nearby locations.
The ad customizers allow you to update your closing and opening times or offers depending on the day of the week. This kind of ad campaign guarantees an increase in the number of people who’ll show intent to purchase your products and services.
Include the Cost of Service for a User’s City
Finally, location ad customizers can also include different pricing for different regions. Price is an important factor whenever sale of items and services is involved – every buyer considers the price of your product. Make sure that you include the most competitive prices for your products in your ad campaign. Delivery of top quality products at affordable prices will enable your Google AdWords marketing campaign to be the most successful.
You can include dynamic pricing in your text ads. These prices should match your users’ spending capacities to make sure that you have a large return on investment and a reliable conversion rate to drive your sales exponentially. Inclusion of prices in your location ad customizers will increase the percentage of pre-qualification of your clicks.
Follow these fundamental methods when you use AdWords location ad customizers, and watch your PPC marketing campaign benefit as a result.
The countdown for the holiday season is on – which means now’s the perfect time to review your retargeting strategies and adjust accordingly. To ensure your retargeting campaigns are delivering the right message to the right audience, audience segmenting is essential.
This post covers audience segmentation and the types of audiences you should have in your holiday campaign. Identify Target Groups Using your visitor intent data, segment your visitors into several groups, depending on the page they’ve visited.
Add to cart
Add to wish list
Confirmation page (converted)
Sign-in / Login page
Set Up Campaigns Based on Intent
Once you’ve segmented your visitors this way, set up a number of high intent and low intent retargeting campaigns. Each campaign should have specific messaging and creative for the intended audience.
High Intent: Cart Abandonment
To set up a Cart Abandonment campaign, target users who’ve viewed the cart page but haven’t completed the checkout steps. With this campaign type, you can advertise a special holiday discount code or free shipping to get visitors to complete their purchase.
Low Intent: General Branding and Awareness
A General Branding campaign targets users who’ve visited your site but bounced off the home page. So, target the home page audience and exclude all other audiences.
Medium to High Intent: Add to wish list
This unique campaign type is one you can have during the holiday season to spread general brand awareness, or to target users with dynamic ads based on the products they’ve added to their wish list.
Important note: When setting up any of the above campaigns, always exclude users who’ve already converted. This’ll prevent you from spending your budget on users who’ve already made their purchase and may no longer be a good fit for the campaign.
Audience segmentation is key to having impactful campaigns and is the foundation to retargeting success. The above campaigns are just a few examples of what you can create with segmented audiences.
If you’re new to Marin Display, try it for free and get a $100 credit toward your first retargeting campaign.
In the obituary for Adobe Flash, September 1, 2015 will stand out as the day Google felled Adobe Flash with a mortal wound. As was originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, Google announced that its Chrome browser will block Internet ads that use Adobe Flash technology. With Chrome holding 60%+ market share, this essentially means Flash has become exceedingly irrelevant for advertisers.
A Lot of Us Saw This Coming
The move to a Flashless future shouldn’t come as a surprise to advertisers. The increasing focus on mobile – and Flash’s non-existence on that platform – means that many advertisers are already migrating their rich media creative to be built using HTML5, in order to maximize efficiency and reuse creative assets across their desktop and mobile ad campaigns. Other trends like YouTube ditching Flash for an HTML5 player also helped marshal that change along for desktop rich media advertisers.
What If Your Media’s Still Flash-Based?
However, not everyone’s updated all their creative assets, so this switch will have an impact for some advertisers, at least in the short-term. Here are a few immediate recommendations for how to reduce the short-term impact while you rebuild new HTML5 rich media creative:
If you haven’t already, upload static or animated GIF versions of your Flash ads, so there’s a suitable replacement that shows when the Flash ad doesn’t display.
Reduce spend on campaigns featuring Flash ads.
Although it’s ideal to recreate HTML5 versions of your ads from scratch to ensure they render properly, in a pinch, consider Flash to HTML5 conversion tools.
If you need to run Flash ads, segment them out into a different campaign, and block Chrome. They’ll still display on Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari, at least for now.
Odds are the demise of Flash hasn’t impacted you as much as you’d expect, with all the headlines raised in the past couple days (incrementally so if you’re a Marin Display or Perfect Audience customer, as we’ve never been Flash ad proponents). But, hopefully these recommendations will help you minimize the repercussions while you update your ads.
Over 65% of online revenue now comes from purchases made across more than one digital channel. With this in mind, it’s essential that marketers use cross-channel strategies, rather than just looking at each digital channel in a silo. Using the right technology, you can reach the same users across search, social, and display, engaging with audiences on one channel based on their profile and activities on another.
Here are three strategies to survive – and thrive – in a cross-channel world.
1. Cross-Channel Remarketing for High-Cost Search Keywords
Competitive search terms can be expensive. Using cross-channel remarketing for high-cost search keywords can save money while still serving ads to users who’ve shown search intent.Using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs), you can make sure the same user doesn't click a search ad more than once, but still retarget them using social and display – where the CPC is a lot cheaper. For example, an insurance company may not want to have to pay for two expensive, generic insurance search clicks from the same user. Suppose that user visits the company’s website via a generic keyword. The company can use negative remarketing lists for search, but pass the search intent data to social and display channels and spend less on remarketing.
2. Expand Search Targeting Using Social Signals
You may want to use more generic keyword targeting on search for users that you know have visited your website through a social channel. Users visiting your website through social have shown some brand affinity, so there’s less risk with wider keyword targeting to this audience. For instance, the keyword "dresses" may be too generic for a retailer to target without any social signals from the user. But, if the retailer knows the user has some brand affinity, they may want to bid on these keywords for this audience. By creating an RLSA campaign with more generic keywords just for this audience, advertisers can expand targeting while maintaining performance.
3. Search Intent Social Lookalike Modeling
Lookalike audiences let you reach new prospects who are more likely to be interested in your business because they're similar to audiences who’ve visited your website or performed a desired action. Using search intent data for lookalike modeling allows you to build lookalike audiences based on how users have performed a specific search, or who have shown specific search intent. For example, a travel agent may want to reach potential travellers looking for luxury hotels. The agent could use their search intent data to build a Facebook Custom Audience website campaign for prospecting, based on people who searched for upmarket hotels and landed on the website.
Each digital advertising channel has its own unique benefits, data sets, and targeting options. By utilizing cross-channel advertising strategies, advertisers can take audience information from one channel and use it to optimize campaigns on another.
Programmatic is hot right now. eMarketer predicts that by 2020, programmatic spending will top $65 billion, making up over 82% of all US display ad spending in 2018 alone. As quickly as it’s growing, though, programmatic has some serious terminology and conventions you have to learn if you want to consider yourself an expert. And once you get started, you may feel like you’re drowning in a sea of programmatic jargon, lingo, and acronyms.
The programmatic ecosystem is large and wide – but not impassable. A good way to start the journey is getting to know the 8 major players in the ecosystem, as well as their main functions.
1. The Advertiser
If you’re reading this, this is probably you. The advertising world wouldn’t exist without the companies that buy the ads.
2. The Publisher
Publishers are all the publications, web sites, and mobile apps that create and deliver the real value – the content – as well as the ad space that advertisers buy.
3. Ad Exchanges
Ad exchanges are the backbone of programmatic ad buying, and a major driving force for the display advertising renaissance over the past few years. Ad exchanges are essentially marketplaces where advertisers and publishers buy and sell ad space programmatically. Publishers make their inventory available and advertisers then bid for those ads, often in real-time, based on how much a particular visitor is worth to them.
4. Ad Networks
Ad networks are like the older, less capable big brother of the ad exchange. Like ad exchanges, ad networks aggregate inventory across multiple publishers and package it up, helping advertisers buy ads at scale more efficiently. Because they can still be a simple, efficient way to scale your media buy across a large number of publishers, they’re still relevant in this age of programmatic. Still, ad networks don’t offer the same targeting sophistication that ad exchanges do.
5. Data Management Platforms (DMPs)
Advertisers use DMPs to collect, store, and leverage their first-party audience data. DMPs also aggregate data from third parties and make it available to clients to use in their advertising.
6. Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs)
A demand-side platform is a tool that enables marketers to bid on and buy ads from ad exchanges. There are some big differences between the different platforms out there, so be sure to determine what’s most important to your business before investing in one – for example, access to data, quality of reach, transparency, etc.
7. Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs)
Advertisers use DSPs to buy ads on ad exchanges. Publishers use SSPs to sell their ads on ad exchanges. It’s basically the mirror opposite.
8. Agency Trading Desk
Agency Trading Desks (ATDs) are essentially the media buying and reselling arms of major advertising agency holding companies like WPP, Publicis, and Interpublic. ATDs reflect a mix of people and technology. While media is often bought programmatically using technology like DSPs and DMPs, it’s then resold to advertisers as a managed service.
These eight players are just one piece of the programmatic puzzle. For a more complete discussion – including how data, targeting, and retargeting figure in – download our full white paper, The ABCs of Programmatic.
Each year, the US Search Awards recognizes the best and brightest brands among the world’s leading search and digital agencies and professionals. We compiled advice from eight of this year’s judges on what every brand should do to optimize their PPC campaigns.
This year’s awards will take place at Paris Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 7th. For more information and to enter, visit the US Search Awards website.
Inbound Marketing Manager, Cisco Systems | @DPease
Monitor Your Extension Performance
With all the hype around ad extensions, we can sometimes get caught up in “extension excitement” – putting site links, callouts, and location extensions on our ads to provide a better user experience. But it’s important to monitor the performance of your extensions, to ensure they’re really working for you in the way you want them to. Create a reminder – and check on a bi-weekly basis. If you have an extension that’s not performing, make adjustments or try removing it. Extensions are a great way to expand your ad, but they need to be monitored.
Head of Strategy for America’s Advertising, Google | @Matt_Mcgowan
RLSA. Do it. It amazes me how many clients don't add the tag to their sites. For free, you can bring together intent, context, and audience to help your business drive sales and leads with great ROI. With remarketing lists for search ads, you can modify bids, ads, and keywords for past site visitors. For example, people visit your sports apparel site to check out available styles, and look at the shoe section of the site. You could add these shoppers to a "Shoe category" list. Then, the next time they search for running shoes on Google you could bid more for them. More here.
You absolutely have to be leveraging Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) these days. At a recent SAScon event, Larry Kim highlighted the low CPCs that early adopters of the format have benefited from. One great tip is to run a campaign targeting Gmail accounts containing newsletters from your competitors, remembering to negative your own keywords to avoid upsetting existing customers.
Anticipate the device your users will be on and have ads that reflect that context. If someone is on mobile, then having the CTA as "Call" or "Tap" will get higher CTR (TTR - Tap Through Rate) than "Click". Dayparting is now a 168-hour a week function, and device, location, and time of day/day of week will help or hurt more than keyword, bid, or ad.
Digital Marketing Strategist, Author, Speaker, Networker, and Columnist; Sustainable Digital Marketing | @SEOPllyAnna
Look at the performance of high-volume, general PPC ads and test the content for titles and meta descriptions. For example, the shipping message "same day shipping" performed better in Paid than the message "fast shipping". Test the better performing message CTR and conversion to see if you get lift in Organic Search the same way you did in Paid Search.
Senior Account Manager, Hanapin Marketing; Founder of #PPCChat | @Matt_Umbro
In order to quickly find keywords that are costing too much and not providing enough (or any) conversions, create an automated rule. I'll generally create a rule that runs weekly and looks at the last 30 days’ worth of data. I'll set the rule to identify all keywords that have seen at least 50 clicks and zero conversions. I'll have these keywords emailed to me so I can choose whether to change my bids, pay particularly close attention to the search queries, and/or pause the keywords all together. You can adjust the filter as you see fit, but this rule helps to easily find poor performing keywords.
To bid or not to bid? Bid. And, there’s finally concrete data. Bing Ads completed a study measuring the number of clicks a brand received when they were the top organic spot alone, versus the top organic spot plus the top paid ad.
After looking at three million impressions on brand searches for retail during 2014, the study found advertisers saw an incremental 31 clicks for every 100 brand searches when a paid search ad was used in combination with the top organic result. That’s huge!
Only 11 of those clicks would have been received anyways. Adjust your CPA lower by about 18% to account for the overlap – and you have a concrete strategy for bidding on your brand terms.
If you're a retailer, then of course you're running Shopping campaigns. But your campaigns will only be as good as the product or inventory feed that powers them. Spend as much time optimizing your feed as you would any other part of the campaign, making sure you have the right imagery and search-friendly titles. As you can use the feed with Bing Shopping Campaigns (now in beta), Facebook Product Ads, and Google Shopping, the optimization will pay off more than once.
In search marketing, the bidding and optimization are fairly standardized across different marketers and agencies. Most search engines and bidding platforms enable users to conduct sophisticated optimizations. But for traffic forecasting, there isn’t an industry standard process. During my 7 years in search, this is the one subject no two marketers can consistently agree on.
Traffic forecasting is important, because accurately assessing the investment and performance potential could help set the appropriate expectation between different stakeholders. Secondly, it almost always needs to be determined weeks if not months ahead of the activity, in order for the clients or other budget providers to procure. Lastly, in a large agency environment with multi-channel campaigns, having an accurate SEM budget forecast allows different media teams to allocate the right relative investment and create the most optimal media mix.
In addition, most marketers have the resources to do it. But sometimes, important factors are left out of the process. In a large multi-million dollar per quarter campaign, missing a key factor during forecasting could lead to a large absolute deviation.
For me, the forecasting process should include two steps. The first is to project what you could spend, by estimating the full market capacity. The second is to define what you should spend.
To estimate market capacity, you need three factors: historical performance, historical Share of Impressions, and the projected change in search volume.
Historical performance: it’s the foundation on which other factors could modify. On a basic level, you could start with spend and clicks. If needed you could also add in other metrics like conversions.
Historical share of impressions (also coverage or share of Voice): it is the percentage of one advertiser’s earned impressions among all possible impressions, for a defined set a queries. Past Share of Impressions is what calibrates between what we have achieved and what we could at full capacity. In our case example, I have highlighted historical performance and share of impressions. Based on these, I’m able to assess the full market capacity. But it’s not yet complete.
Projected change in search volume: this information could help you further calibrate you forecast, but in the temporal dimension. The projected change should comprise of Seasonality and Trend. Seasonality is defined as the repetitive and predictable fluctuation in the volume and pattern of behaviors, such as search impressions, in intervals of days, weeks, months or quarters. Trend on the other hand is exclusively non-repetitive changes. An example of seasonality is the demand for allergy medications, which peaks every springs and falls. An example of trend is the search demand for Blu-ray DVD, which has declined over the years. To project search demand, I usually use Google Trends and other industry information, to review historical patterns and to extrapolate future changes. In our case example, I project a 15% increase in search traffic Year-Over-Year. Now the first two data columns show a different set of spend and click data.
Now we have estimated the 2014 traffic at full capacity, we move onto the question of how much we should spend. In this step, we need two new factors: Internal KPI/goal.
KPI/Goal: defining a KPI and setting a goal refines the forecast from what’s possible to what’s reasonable. The goal can be a number of metrics such as impressions, sales, CPC, CPA. In our case example, we have a CPC goal of $0.50.
Desired future Share of impressions: This is the lever that determines the equilibrium between maximum engagements and staying within the goal. In our case, we know campaign B has a CPC lower than goal, so we should prioritize budget allocation at 100%. Next, we try a few different SOVs for Campaign A. But at the end, a SOV of 8% help us reach a Total CPC of $0.50.
Using this methodology, you’ll be able to forecast accurately and set the appropriate expectations across all stakeholders!
About the Author
Cong is a Paid Search & Paid Social Director at GroupM, leading the efforts across multiple clients and publishers. She’s responsible for driving market and performance analysis, SEM strategy, digital best practices and processes. Her industry experience spans across consumer electronics, pharmaceutical, consumer logistics, B2B technology, auto, finance, travel, and education.
Cong graduated from Swarthmore College, where she studied economics, statistics, and philosophy, after a short stint in Engineering. Before SEM took over her life, she sang in an Acapella group and enjoyed flamenco dancing. In August 2013 she climbed Indonesia’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, and fortunately, it did not erupt that day.
It’s an exciting day at Marin and for advertisers around the globe. Today we finalized our acquisition of Perfect Audience; an innovative San Francisco based retargeting company. We’re thrilled to have them join us and enhance our remarketing expertise and bolster our industry-leading search, social and display performance advertising platform.
With the acquisition of Perfect Audience, advertisers not only get powerful programmatic display capabilities across the web, but also direct access to Facebook Exchange (FBX), Google’s Doubleclick Ad Exchange, and Twitter. For marketers looking to move away from inefficient point solutions, Marin is the only platform that offers audience-based ad buying across devices and channels.
You know your first party data is your advantage to effectively measure, manage and optimize across channels to win more revenue. Your search data reveals purchase intent. Your social data shows valuable demographic info. Your retargeting offers a trove of behavioral data. Marin’s advertisers will be able to easily combine and analyze all three data streams in a single place to better inform and execute smarter audience buying across the vast search, display and social landscapes.
For example, Marin’s support of Google RLSA in conjunction with Perfect Audience enables advertisers to use their highly valuable first-party data to not only influence display retargeting but also improve search retargeting. Such a 360-degree approach to audience based retargeting in a single platform is a first for advertisers.
Marketers invest big $ to drive prospects to their websites, but generally less than five percent of this traffic becomes customers. Adding Perfect Audience’s retargeting capabilities enables Marin’s advertisers to target the 95% of their traffic that doesn’t convert, generating more revenue from their online advertising programs.
If you’re not familiar with Perfect Audience, we encourage you to check out their powerfully simple platform. In addition to integrating the Perfect Audience platform with Marin, Perfect Audience will also continue to be available as a standalone tool. So, it’s business as usual for current Perfect Audience customers.
Curious about more acquisition details, then check out the FAQ.
Recently, Google worked with Ipsos MediaCT and Purchased® to better understand local search behavior. Unsurprisingly, they found that four out of five consumers prefer and expect that their searches be contextualized to their location. However, it’s important to look at just how much local search affects consumer behavior.
The majority of mobile searches have local intent. According to Google’s study, 56% of all smartphone searches outside the home are done with some form of local intent, along with a little over half of those done in-store. The information consumers are usually looking for are general information for storefronts, such as location and hours.
Consumers respond well to local advertising. When local searches are performed on a mobile phone, half of them resulted in an in-store visit, compared to a third of local searches done on a desktop. In addition, local searches are over two times more likely to result in a sale within the day than a non-local search. While local searches may inherently have more intent to convert than a non-local search, it is still important to note that there is such a significant uptick in conversion rates.
Consumers can influence impulse visits to stores. Google’s study reported that 32% of consumers who viewed localized ads were triggered to make a store visit and perhaps a purchase. Another 19% of consumers said that localized ads caused them to make an unplanned visit or purchase.
What does this all mean for advertisers? It means that if you’re not utilizing location-based advertising, you should be.
Whether it is a click-to-call button, address information, or radius bidding, localized ads drive more in-store visits, calls and conversions than non-localized advertising. While this is particularly true for brick-and-mortar stores, it can also be a factor for online-only companies – it just comes down to understanding the audience demographic which may be localized to certain zip codes or regions. Optimizing advertising budgets for contextually relevant ads will improve overall consumer experience and ultimately drive more sales.
This weekend, Marin is releasing support for Google’s location bid boost capability feature, making it easy for advertisers to take advantage of the benefits. Advertisers can use the feature to easily create and adjust location targets and exclusions, and add location bid adjustments across their Google accounts with one simple bulk form. We’re happy to help our clients extend their relevance and reach consumers on every device and at every point in the purchase process with this new support.
Agencies have come a long way since the "Mad Men" days. The rapid proliferation and fragmentation of digital, social and mobile platforms has fundamentally altered their role in the advertising landscape. Now they need to be mindful of integrating online and offline data, dealing with cross-channel attribution, implementing digital ad tracking technology, and more.
As a quick preview into the Agency Primer best practices, let's take a quick look at how agencies can integrate new channels and vertical publishers. While the major search engines have held strong as the most utilized research channel, other channels and websites are stealing market share by offering a compelling research experience.
Here are 5 tactics to consider:
1. Leverage Niche Search Engines as an Acquisition Channel. Niche search engines often present attractive advertising solutions for marketers looking to enhance their visibility in the search results. In the travel vertical, consider Expedia and TripAdvisor. In retail, look into Amazon, eBay, PriceRunner, Twenga, and Kelkoo. Or think about comparison websites such as MoneySuperMarket, Compare the Market, Confused.com, or Go Compare. 2. Expand and Optimize Affiliate and Referral Networks. Affiliate marketing, which consists of a revenue sharing relationship between websites and advertisers, has grown considerably over the past several years. Agency marketers often appreciate the pay-for-performance model and recognize the channel as an important part of the customer journey. If you choose to go this route, make sure to review and optimize to reward sites with the highest quality traffic. 3. Advertise on Review Sites to Build Awareness and Consideration. Review sites offer opportunities for highly targeted advertising due to the amount of customer information available. Agency marketers should not be afraid to suggest using review site advertising as a way for clients to drive incremental traffic and revenue. 4. Leverage Retargeting to Re-Engage Potential Customers. In order to retarget a campaign, marketers can leverage a variety of Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) or ad exchanges. No matter how you decide to set this up, make sure to adhere to retargeting best practices. These include capping the number of impressions each unique user can be served to avoid over-serving any one user, and carefully crafting your retargeting criteria based on the content they previously engaged with. 5. Test Second-Tier Search Engines and Search Networks. Many agency marketers have started to experiment with second-tier engines as a means of sustaining traffic at target profit margins. While traffic is generally lower on these networks, acquisition costs can be quite attractive. Consider Sendori, AdKnowledge, Advertise.com, AdMarketPlace, and others.
1) Assess Your Organization's Cross-Channel Capabilities - Only 44% and 35% of marketers respectively feel that their paid search and social marketing channels are tightly integrated with their overall marketing activities. That's way too low! To get more aligned, first ask these questions to assess your organization's cross-channel capabilities:
Are your search and social teams working toward the same business objectives?
Is your message and value proposition consistent across channels?
Are you properly attributing revenue from each channel?
Are you budgeting across channels based on campaign ROI?
Are your promotions aligned across channels?
Is your business intelligence strategy integrated?
2) Target High-Value Audiences Across Search and Social - To reach the right customer with the right buying intentions at the right time, take advantage of audience retargeting across search and social publishers:
Search to Social - Create Facebook Custom Audiences based on search query data from your digital marketing platform. Then target the same audiences on Facebook with tailored messages based on their search queries.
Social to Search - Create Google Remarketing Lists based on visitors from social marketing ads. Then use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) to retarget your social audiences when they search for your keywords on Google.
3) Measure Performance Across Channels - Marketers who analyze their search and social campaign ROI holistically are able to make better decisions faster. Here are some considerations:
Make sure your search and social campaigns are tracking revenue from the same data source - this way you'll avoid over or under counting conversions.
Integrate your search and social budgeting workflow in a single platform so that you can compare performance side-by-side and make channel-agnostic budgeting decisions.
Measure the path to conversion across channels so you don't skip over important touch points, and so you have the best data to inform your messaging and creative strategy.
4) Optimize Across Channels Toward Audience Lifetime Value - If you focus on channel-specific metrics, chances are good that you're missing out on the bigger picture. Instead, opt for an integrated search and social optimization strategy that focuses on customer lifetime value:
Automate your cross-channel bidding toward target audiences based on customer lifetime value.
Forecast lifetime value and level of investment required to better hit your ROI targets.
Use click-weighted attribution to assign revenue across clicks to accurately value each channel's impact in the path to conversion.
Create look-alike audiences based on the lifetime value of converting audiences - this will help you expand into other profitable audiences while staying within ROI targets.
Looking for more search and social best practices? You don't want to miss out on our white paper. Download it here and benefit from lots of data, 5 strategies, and 15 tactics to integrate your search and social campaigns.
You already know the data on search and social channels is compelling - more than 92% of the global internet population uses search engines, and more than 73% use social platforms. But when it comes to managing spend across these two channels, marketers are still figuring out what works best.
We recently conducted a study into search and social marketing programs drawing on the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, an advertising data set from leading global brands that manage more than $6 Billion in annualized ad spend through Marin’s platform.
The results show that customers are more valuable when they engage with both search and social ads, but also that integrated search and social campaigns perform better than campaigns run in isolation.
1) Customers Who Click on Your Search and Social Ads are More Likely to Buy: Users who clicked on both an advertiser’s search and social ads had an approximately 2x greater conversion rate than users who clicked on the search ad only. The impact of a cross-channel touch was even greater when examining social clicks. Users who clicked on both the search and social ads had a click-through rate approximately 4.5x times higher than users who only clicked on social ads.
2) Customers Who Click on Your Search and Social Ads Spend More: Users who clicked on both a search and social ad contributed approximately 2x more revenue per click than users who clicked on search ads only. Multi-channel touch points are even more valuable for social advertising. Users who clicked on both a search and social ad contributed 4x more revenue per click than users who clicked on a social ad only.
3) Search Campaigns Perform Better When They Are Managed Alongside Social Campaigns: According to the study, search campaigns that are managed alongside social advertising campaigns have 26% higher revenue per click than search campaigns managed in isolation. An integrated search and social management strategy also benefits an advertiser’s revenue per conversion. Advertisers have 68% higher revenue per conversion from their search campaigns when they are managed together with social advertising campaigns.
Lots of Marin customers operate in challenging markets, and easyJet is a prime example. The largest airline in the United Kingdom, easyJet operates in the notoriously competitive travel vertical, where a multitude of airlines vie for the same keywords alongside travel comparison sites and tour operators. Keyword lists are continually growing, and bids must be carefully monitored.
easyJet faced the challenge by teaming up with Resolution Media and making great use of Marin Software. Our interface is designed to deliver ever-improving financial results even in the toughest markets. Take a look at how easyJet achieved their goals, and pick up some tips for your own campaigns:
Using the automated Folder-based bidding solution, Resolution Media is able to optimize at the keyword level. They segregate brand and generic terms, and set different performance targets to make the most of each keyword and achieve easyJet's goals. Keyword bids are calculated across all routes and updated daily.
Pro Tip: Use the time-savings you'll gain to fully test your campaigns, refine your strategy, or even leave the office a little earlier!
Resolution Media created a virtual reporting structure native to Marin Software that does not impact campaign structure, leaving the team free to adhere to campaign structure best practices and preserve Quality Score.
Pro Tip: Use Marin Dimensions to "tag" campaign elements for segmentation and analysis. Categorize and compare the data sets that matter most to your business.
User Journey Report
Marin Software’s User Journey Report allows the team to understand which type of booking the keyword is actually driving. This facilitates ad copy and budget optimization, and also informs bid strategy in terms of knowing which routes need additional support.
Pro Tip: Turn to the User Journey Report for valuable insight on the best performing times of day and days of the week. Then put the insights into action with our day-parting functionality.
Since adopting Marin Software, Resolution Media and easyJet have seen significant improvements including 111% improvement in ROI, 51% decrease in cost per booking, and 29% increase in bookings. Learn more about their goals and success in the full case study.
Finally, thanks to Resolution Media and easyJet for allowing us to share their story!
Paid search involves a million moving parts, but today we want to call out ad copy as a particularly important aspect. Good ad copy is convincing, drives click-through rates, and makes your ad stand out relative to your competitors. All this can lead to better quality scores and lower costs.
However, if you've ever stared at the blinking cursor with a case of writer's block or wished you had more time to test and optimize, you're not alone. Many search marketers are guilty of neglecting their ad copy from time to time. Even search marketers who take the time to fully test different ad copy and decide on a winner may not be refreshing it as often as needed to continually combat ad fatigue.
In this post, I'll walk through some basic methods to increase your ad copy CTR and make it stand out:
1. Use Your Value Proposition - What's the reason why searchers should visit your website? What benefits do you offer and why should people choose you against your competitors? In the example ad below, the value proposition is clear and straightforward, offering people a way to create a custom website quickly and easily. Someone looking for this service might be enticed by the 100+ design selections offered and simplicity of the "3 Easy Steps" messaging.
2. Capitalize the First Letter of Every Word - There's evidence all over the web that capitalizing the first letter of every word in your ad will help increase CTR. Consider the two ads below, and it's clear to see which one stands out more.
3. Use a Strong Call to Action - What should people do after reading your ad? A strong call to action will instruct searchers on the next step they should take, and create a sense of urgency for them to click on the ad. For example, if you were selling life insurance, "Get a Free Quote Today" is a call to action telling searchers to visit the site right away for a quote.
Keep in mind that optimizing for a boost in CTR doesn't mean that the conversions will magically appear. Just because you create outstanding ad copy to make a searcher click doesn't mean they will convert. Search marketers need to look at all these different elements in a holistic way and use data to evaluate how effective their ad copy is in terms of both click-through rate and conversion rate. For example, if you are driving a CTR of 10% and generating new traffic, but bounce rates are high and conversions are low, then chances are your ad copy isn't relevant to the landing page you're driving them to and needs to be re-evaluated.
Brands that seamlessly tie offline conversions to online events are positioned for success, but it's easier said than done!
Most businesses have a wide variety of customer touch points: website visits, social media interactions, phone calls, email, proposals, quotes, surveys, tech support, ordering, delivery, you name it. While it's terrific to have so many diverse touch points, they can be a source of great complexity for digital advertisers.
A gap between the online and offline can result in an incomplete picture of paid search performance, as downstream revenue from offline conversions remains unattributed to the keywords and creative that drove those conversions. On top of that, not all interactions result in revenue conversions. The inability to define unique revenue values for each event and tie them to a single customer and keyword results in a bidding strategy that ignores lifetime customer value and fails to calculate optimal keyword bids.
So how can search marketers bridge the gap? Here are three tips for optimizing for online and offline conversions:
Track customers with order IDs. Assigning order IDs allows advertisers to bridge the gap between their data warehouses or CRM systems and online customer activities. Search marketers are not only able to attribute offline conversion and revenue back to the paid click and subsequent online event, but they can also modify attributed revenue based on refunds, cancellations, and other downstream revenue adjustments.
Optimize for multiple conversion events. Different consumers will represent different value to your business. For example, a visitor who requests a quote may be worth more than a visitor who signs up for a newsletter. The flexibility to assign a unique value to non-revenue conversion events in this scenario enables advertisers to measure the true value of each visitor and keyword to their business. Tying these events to publisher data allows search marketers to react quickly to top-of-the-funnel activity, and measure the impact of website engagement on downstream revenue and lifetime customer value.
Calculate optimal bids with portfolio optimization. Maximizing conversions or revenue across a set budget requires making spend tradeoffs between keywords within a portfolio. Calculating optimal bids for all keywords simultaneously enables search marketers to maximize online and offline conversions and revenue across their account while taking into consideration business goals that vary across campaigns, products, services, and other business requirements. This approach to bidding requires an automated solution that can capitalize on new keyword opportunities without an expensive "learning" period.
These tips are adapted from our white paper, Navigating the New Paid Search Landscape. It's a must-read for any advertiser in the financial services sector, and we also recommend it for marketers operating in a particularly competitive market.