Display

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.

Here are eye-opening stats to consider:

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.

Here are some great banner ads. Brand logo, font, and color? Check. Nice images? Check. Short, persuasive copy? It’s a home run! (Image Source

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.

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.

As a business leader, staying ahead of the curve is key to success. It can also be challenging trying to keep up with all the latest changes in marketing. 

To help you on your way, we've put together this comprehensive guide on display ads—complete with everything you need to know about this ever-evolving advertising format. Read on to learn more. 

What are display ads?

Display ads are a type of online advertising that use images, videos, or text to promote a product or service on websites and apps. These ads can appear in a variety of formats, including banner ads, interstitials, native ads, etc.

Display ads are an effective way to reach a wide audience with your marketing message. They can be used to raise awareness of your brand, drive traffic to your website, and generate leads and sales.

How do display ads work?

When a user visits a site with display advertising, a small piece of code called a pixel is placed on their browser. This pixel allows the ad server to identify the user and track their activity across different sites. Based on this data, the ad server will serve relevant ads to the user as they browse the web.

Display advertisers create a custom ad for a given site that includes relevant keywords about the site or offer. The ads are typically served by a third party based on the previous behavior of the user to increase relevance.

What are some examples of display ads?

Display ads can appear in many different forms including pop-up ads, side-banner ads, image ads, and more. You've definitely spotted them while clicking around (usually in the form of an ad for a site you've just visited that keeps following you around).

Display ads pop up in all kinds of places. (Image Source)

Let's take a look at the most common types of display ads

Image ad: This is the most common type of display ad and usually includes a static image with some text.

Video ad: Video ads are becoming increasingly popular and can be used to grab attention and convey a message more effectively than an image alone.

Native ad: This type of ad is designed to blend in with the surrounding content on a website or app. It is often less intrusive than other types of display ads and can be more effective as a result. The CTA (call to action) associated with native ads are usually regarding some kind of longer content piece, such as “Read the article about X topic.”

Pop-up ad: Pop-up ads are those that appear in a new window or tab when you click on a website. They can be effective in getting your message across, but they're also a bit annoying for the user—so use them sparingly. Important: choose sites that deploy them in a user-friendly way, or you could end up irritating the user, appearing spammy as a brand, and losing a sale.

What are the benefits of display ads?

There are several reasons you might want to use display ads as part of your marketing strategy. Here are some of the most common benefits:

  • They are eye-catching and familiarize your audience with your brand
  • They allow for remarketing opportunities
  • They make it possible to track and monitor the engagement and success of your campaign

What are the challenges of display ads?

Some things to keep in mind:

  • They can be intrusive and annoying for users, and that’s not good for your brand
  • They can be blocked by ad blockers
  • It can be difficult to stand out from the competition

Despite these challenges, display advertising can be a powerful tool for reaching your target audience and achieving your marketing goals if deployed correctly. 

Here’s how not to do it: intrusive pop-ups look spammy and usually make the viewer think poorly of your brand. (Image Source)

Important considerations to make before buying a campaign

Before you start your campaign, it’s important to first carefully research and weigh the pros and cons of the two main buying models.

CPM (cost per mille/thousand)

PROS:

  • Can reach a large audience quickly
  • Good for building brand awareness
  • Ideal for targeting a specific demographic

CONS:

  • Less effective for driving conversions
  • Can be more expensive
  • More difficult to track and measure results

Impression (CPC)

PROS:

  • More effective for driving conversions
  • Less expensive
  • Easier to track and measure results

CONS:

  • Takes longer to reach a large audience
  • Not as good for building brand awareness
  • Can be more difficult to target a specific demographic

If you’re looking to quickly reach a large audience and build brand awareness, CPM may be the better option. However, if you’re looking to drive conversions and sales, CPC may be a better choice.

When deciding which model to use for your campaign, don’t forget to consider your budget. CPM can be more expensive than CPC, so if you’re working with limited funds, you may want to consider using CPC.

Once you’ve decided which model to use, you can start planning your campaign. Take note of the following best practices:

  • Create compelling ad copy that stands out from the competition
  • Use attractive visuals that are relevant to your brand and product
  • Target your ads to a specific audience
  • Test different ad placements to see what works best
  • Monitor your campaign closely and make changes as needed

How to measure the effectiveness of display ads

If you don't know how you're doing, you can't improve—which is why measuring your ads is non-negotiable.

Measuring conversion goals is a must. (Image Source

When measuring the success or failure of a display ad campaign, you'll need to track the appropriate metrics. Here are some of the key metrics to have on your radar, along with tips on how to measure each one:

Clicks: This metric measures how many times users have clicked on your ad. You can track clicks by using Google Analytics or another similar tool.

Click-through rate (CTR): This metric measures the percentage of people who see your ad and click on it. To calculate CTR, divide the number of clicks by the number of impressions. For instance, if your ad has been seen 1,000 times and clicked on 10 times, your CTR would be 1%.

Cost per click (CPC): This metric measures how much you're paying for each click on your ad. To calculate CPC, divide your total advertising spend by the number of clicks.

Conversions: This metric measures how many people who click on your ad go on to take the desired action, such as making a purchase or signing up for a newsletter. You can track conversions by setting up conversion tracking in Google Analytics or another similar tool.

Cost per conversion: This metric measures how much you're paying for each conversion. To calculate cost per conversion, divide your total advertising spend by the number of conversions.

Once you've decided which metrics to track, you'll need to set up a system for tracking them. The best way to do this is by using Google Analytics or an ad management and analysis tool like MarinOne. By setting up event tracking, you can track how many people see your ad, click on it, and take the desired action.

Tips for making the most of your ad dollars

When spending money on display ads, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your ad dollars are being spent wisely. 

  • Use your chosen platform’s insights section to help determine your optimal times for posting on the platform
  • Carefully research the specific target market demographics before purchasing an ad campaign
  • Run split tests to identify what works best for your brand or product
  • Experiment with new avenues to figure out the best days, times, and even types of content for your ads
  • Use MarinOne’s advanced analytics tools to optimize and easily manage your ads 

The best times for running an ad campaign on social media

There's been a lot of research into the best times to post on social media. As you can see, it varies by platform:

Image Source 

The most important thing to do is test your efforts and figure out what works for you. And remember to keep testing. 

FAQs about display ads 

  • What is the difference between an in-stream video ad and a banner ad? In-stream video ads are those that show up before, during, or after a video. Banner ads are static or animated images that usually appear in the sidebars or header/footer of a website.
  • What's the difference between an impression and a click? An impression is when your ad is seen by a user. A click is when a user clicks on your ad.
  • What's a good CTR for a display ad? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as it will vary depending on your specific goals and target audience. However, a CTR of 1% or higher is considered good.
  • What's a good CPC for a display ad? Again, there is no one right answer to this question. However, a CPC of $0.50 or less is generally considered to be good.
  • What is a pixel? A pixel is a small piece of code that allows you to track conversions, or specific actions people take on your website. Pixels can be used to track a variety of things, such as whether someone has added to a cart or initiated the checkout process.
  • What is an ad set? An ad set is a group of ads that share the same targeting, budget, schedule, and bid type. Ad sets allow you to control how much you're willing to spend on a daily or lifetime basis, as well as who will see your ads.

Wrap-up

While it's always best to experiment with different strategies before making any major decisions, there are some criteria that your ads should meet to be considered successful. Meeting the criteria of your chosen social media platform, and using MarinOne’s ad management platform, is the best way to run a successful campaign. 

MarinOne is an all-in-one ad management platform that helps marketers create, manage, and measure their display ads. It's a powerful tool that provides insights into what's working and what's not, so you can make adjustments and improve your results.

Learn more about MarinOne’s automation tools today. Get in touch and speak to one of the team.

As the online space becomes more competitive, brands are going to new and greater lengths to ensure they stand out ahead of the competition. One promotional route that many are choosing is display ads. 

When well-executed, display advertising is an excellent way to capture your audience’s attention. Display advertising allows you to effectively convey your product and messaging. The ads are designed to entice the reader to click through and learn more. 

However, some expertise is required—poorly implemented display ads can negatively impact your business. When they miss their mark, users might find them intrusive and irrelevant, and you could waste a lot of money. 

But what exactly is a display ad, and how do they work? What are some good examples of display advertising? Let’s find out. 

What Is a Display Ad? 

Display ads are a common form of online advertising. There are several kinds of display ads; you’re used to seeing them in emails, and they’re also common on websites and social media

Display ads can serve multiple purposes. Some businesses use them to build awareness of new research, for example, while others will utilize them to promote the company’s products and services. 

How Do Display Ads Work?

When you implement display advertising, you start by choosing the platform you want to promote yourself on, as well as the ad size and positioning. 

The pricing varies depending on what you pick. You can choose several pricing models for display ads, such as cost-per-mille (CPM) and pay-per-click (PPC). When you run an advertisement of this kind, you can choose how long you want the campaign to run and select other parameters—such as the audience segments you’d like to target. 

Examples of Excellent Display Ads, and Why They Work

To help you create an excellent display advertising campaign of your own, let’s look at these real-life examples. Below, you’ll find eight display ads that have worked in the past. We’ll discuss why they’ve enjoyed success. 

Spotify

Music streaming giant Spotify has become well known for its innovative and quirky advertising. The company has run several paid online campaigns, each featuring its instantly recognizable branding. 

Image Source

This is a promotion for Spotify Premium. If you use the free version, you know all too well that the ads can be intrusive to the in-app experience; this ad works because it gets to the point. What they are directly and indirectly saying is, “You can wave goodbye to ads and try the full version of Spotify for 30 days, after which you probably won’t want to return to the free edition.” 

What makes this ad work? It addresses a pain point that customers using the free service all have, and offers an immediate, free (for a time) solution. The text is clear and not cluttered, and the green-means-go action button stands out. Single or two-tone color schemes with vibrant tones are also very effective statistically as they tend to pop out to the user on a desktop or mobile device.

MailChimp

MailChimp is one of the world’s most popular email marketing tools, and its marketing strategy is a key factor. 

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Why does this particular ad campaign work? Well, there are several reasons. Rhyming is a powerful way to make your message stick, and each ad is equal parts funny and absurd—inviting connection through humor. Moreover, the colors are simple and appealing. 

Klarna

Klarna has taken the fintech world by storm, and its advertising campaigns challenge the assumption that the financial services industry is drab. 

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This pay-later service originated in Stockholm, Sweden—where it still has its headquarters. And in the ad you see above, it has dug deep into its Scandinavian roots. Klarna isn’t actually Swedish for “smoother shopping”, so it’s added a bit of humor for users, as you can see with the two characters that pay homage aesthetically to playful Swedish stereotypes. 

The ad also works because the copy is simple—only four words in a unique font—and both the colors and textures suggest the smoothness they’re talking about. 

HP

HP is one of the largest tech companies in the world and is perhaps best known for its printers. How do you make printing seem a little more interesting? Create ads that are fun to view and read, of course. 

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Anyone who has had to file their own taxes knows that tax season can often be stressful. HP’s ad works because it offers a promise—that its product will make your job more straightforward. 

The ad also works because the colors are simple and the printer is at the focal point of the image

Adobe 

Adobe is one of the world’s biggest software companies. Adobe’s solutions primarily focus on helping creatives achieve their goals. Photographers, designers, and podcasters use several tools (e.g.,  Lightroom, InDesign, and Audition). 

Image Source

Any photographer will tell you that what they saw in real life often doesn’t look the same on camera. Editing software is useful for improving color quality and creating a unique style, as this ad shows. 

The ad is successful because it sums everything up in four words; you take the picture, before bringing it to life with one of Adobe’s editing tools. The company has also used complimenting colors, making the ad more eye-catching. 

Samsung

Samsung is a global manufacturer of various consumer items, including smartphones and tablets. It's one of the fiercest competitors to Apple. As such, the company needs to ensure that its advertising game is on point. 

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Upon releasing the Galaxy S6 tablet, Samsung produced a campaign with a simple message: you can create work regardless of where you are. The ad appealed to people who might need to create quick prototypes for clients on the go, along with those either traveling or working remotely. 

In addition to the messaging, the ad also works because the colors are simple – and the tablet is the main focal point for the viewer. 

Huawei

Huawei is a smartphone manufacturer headquartered in China. For a recent Christmas campaign, the company put together the following ad campaign.

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The ad encourages people to be present with their loved ones aside, but it’s clever because you can still see the main product that Huawei is trying to sell. Moreover, the candy cane adds to the Christmas theme – as do the shades of red. 

Huawei’s ad was also effective because it played on viewers’ emotions. Christmas is a time to create memories with people you care about, and the messaging reminds people about the importance of disconnecting from the virtual world now and then. 

Puma 

Puma is one of the world’s best-known sports clothing manufacturers. While it isn’t as big as Nike or Adidas, the company still has a huge presence and following – with several major partnerships. 

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Puma has created several memorable display ads in the past, but the ad above is one of the best. It uses the term “we’ve got sole” to describe the fact that puma shoes often have comfortable and sturdy soles, but also that its products have a sense of character. 

Unlike some of the other ads on this list, the Puma campaign features a wider variety of colors. However, they remain pleasing to the eye and work together without looking disjointed. 

4 Ways to Create Your Own Successful Display Ad Campaign

Now that you’ve seen a couple of display ads in action, we can discuss the top factors that will help your own campaigns stand out. 

Set a Clear Goal for Your Ads

Before you start creating copy, you must have a clear goal in mind for your display ad campaign. You can use display ads for several types of goals. Below are three to get your creative juices flowing: 

  • Generate more leads 
  • Increase email subscriptions 
  • Offer a free trial for a premium version of your product 

Consider the action you wish readers to take, and select your words carefully to connect with your audience demographics.

Use Interesting Visuals 

Each display ad example in this article uses interesting visuals. The images are simple and tell the story with minimal complexity, making it easy for the viewer to understand what’s going on.

Color is a critical factor to convey mood and personality, so choose carefully. Warm colors like red, orange, and yellow generally convey a sense of energy and enthusiasm. Blues and purples more often connote poise, wisdom, and stability. Green, of course, makes people think of action and growth.  

Think About Your Fonts

Your text will be the first thing that most people look at when engaging with your display ads, and you should have fonts that appeal to them visually. 

Your fonts should match your branding; using something modern if you sell antiques probably won’t work. Be creative; we recommend trying at least two or three different kinds to see which ones bring more engagement.

Carefully Pick the Platform for Your Ads

Since you can create display ads on several platforms, place them wisely to get the highest return on your investment. Younger customers are often found on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, while more mature audiences can be found on Twitter and Facebook.  

How to Write Copy That Gets People Clicking on Your Ads

Once you’ve chosen your display ad campaign’s goals and visuals, you’ll need to consider the copy itself. Below are some pointers to help you out. 

Understand Your Audience

When you create ad copy, it’s crucial that you understand your audience. How they speak is especially important—tone and style matter. If you’re struggling to write copy that resonates with your audience, consider outsourcing this part to someone from the same demographic. 

Keep Your Copy Short

In each of our display ad examples, the copy is short and gets to the point. People won’t read lengthy ad texts online. Long paragraphs will turn them off. 

You might find it helpful to write a few versions and A/B test them to see which works best. 

Inject Some Humor 

People love laughing, and humor is one of the best ways to connect with your target audience. Don’t be afraid to go a little left-field with your visuals and copy. The payoff is huge if you get it right. Just ensure that it feels authentic and acknowledges a common experience they’ll recognize.

Solve the Audience’s Problem

What’s in it for them? At the heart of all advertising, you need to ensure that you communicate how you will solve your audience’s problem. The reader must want what you are selling, so be sure to communicate your solution clearly and immediately.

How MarinOne Can Help

Display advertising is an excellent way to reach your target audience, and you can have a bit of fun planning your campaigns. The fight for online attention is fierce, but the rewards are big if you successfully portray yourself in the best possible light. 

We hope you are inspired by some of the best display ads of 2022, and that our tips help you create the best ads possible. If you would like to improve your display advertising, MarinOne can help you identify opportunities and optimize your campaigns across Amazon DSP, Yahoo! DSP, and Criteo Marketing Solutions

Schedule a demo with one of our display advertising experts to find out how a display-driven strategy can innovate your marketing strategy.

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. 

Unique formats

Yahoo! DSP offers advertisers many engaging ad formats to connect with customers.

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. 

Reporting

  • Advanced analytical grids provide flexible reporting within and across Yahoo! DSP campaigns with unlimited data retention. 
  • 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. 

Campaign Management

  • 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. 

This is a guest post from Sophia Fen, Mobile Account Manager at 3Q Digital.

As a digital advertiser, you most likely spend the majority of your digital media dollars on Google and Facebook. It makes sense—eMarketer forecasts that together, the two tech giants will make up more than 46% of global digital ad spend this year.

However, once those platforms are set up and optimized, where do you go from there? What else should you test?

In the mobile app world, a next step and expansion opportunity is running on mobile ad networks and DSPs. These offer scale, additional inventory, and targeting capabilities to help take your campaigns to the next level.

What is a Mobile Ad Network?


A mobile ad network is a collection of multiple ad inventory sources (includes both in-app and mobile web inventory) that allows advertisers and agencies to reach broad audiences relatively easily through targeted buys.

What Is a DSP?


A DSP is a demand-side platform. This is where you can run real-time bidding (RTB) campaigns, accessing a large amount of inventory by plugging into multiple ad exchanges and ad networks.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Working with Mobile Ad Networks?


Pros:

  • Large amounts of inventory
  • Wide variety of inventory types—inventory grows and changes daily
  • Usually an untapped growth channel for advertisers
  • Many ad networks will let you buy on a guaranteed cost per install (CPI) or cost per action (CPA)
  • Most ad networks have sophisticated machine learning algorithms that learn your campaign and objectives over time. They also maintain databases with millions of unique device profiles.


Cons:

  • Often there is less transparency
  • Traffic volume can be sporadic, and pacing has to be adjusted frequently
  • There is a lot of fraud and distrust in the space. However, more advanced fraud protection tools and guaranteed pricing models are helping to mitigate that.


What Types of Ad Units Can You Run on Ad Networks?


Most ad networks run banners, interstitials, video, native, and offer walls. [Offer walls should be reserved for incentivized burst campaigns only, as the user is likely not highly qualified since they’re downloading the app to receive something in return (coins or points for a game, for example).]

How Is Targeting Done on Ad Networks?


Targeting capabilities vary between ad networks, but most have some type of algorithm that uses a variety of data points to determine valuable users and audiences. These data points can include types of apps installed on the user’s phone, how the user engages with their apps, demographic and behavioral information, and location data.

Once a campaign has a substantial amount of valuable converters, you can then generate lookalikes for targeting for scale. You can also target by category (e.g., serve ads for a financial advertiser in other finance apps) or whitelist based on inventory sources that have performed well for other advertisers in similar categories.

If you decide to test into the ad network space, make sure you’re asking the right questions to ensure you’re set up for success. The below checklist is a good starting point.

Checklist: Discuss/Ask about these items when evaluating an ad network:

  • Main differentiators
  • Pricing models and minimums: Do they offer a fixed CPI model? Do you need a certain amount of spend to run a campaign?
  • Out clause terms: Usually these are 48 hours
  • Targeting and re-engagement capabilities
  • Operating system scale: Do they skew more heavily toward Android or iOS?
  • Geo-targeting capabilities: Can they target down to the zip code level?
  • Level of transparency: Will they share site/app level data and provide dashboard access?
  • Customer Support: Will you have a dedicated account manager?
  • Inventory overlap: Are they buying from other networks?
  • Types of ad unit: Do they run video, interstitial, banner, native etc.?
  • Type of inventory: Do they skew more toward in-app or mobile web?
  • Fraud: What are they doing proactively to combat fraud? What’s being done if fraudulent activity is detected? If you’re interested in learning more about mobile ad fraud in general and best practices for preventing it, take a look at this useful target="_blank">blog post.


How do you measure the impact of influence? More importantly, what’s the best way to measure such a fuzzy concept using an analytical approach?

As marketers have been complementing their bread-and-butter search advertising efforts by adding new tactics into the marketing mix—whether it’s social media native ads, rich media banners, mobile in-app interstitials, or desktop and mobile video ads—it’s increased the spotlight on the sticky issue of attributing conversions properly across different channels. It’s especially relevant for the aforementioned tactics, because none of them are particularly well suited for measuring via click-through conversions alone.

Measuring view-through conversions has quantifiable benefits on the bottom line


There are three powerful reasons for making a proper view-through attribution model a high priority:

  1. View-through conversions are a better representation for upper- and middle-funnel performance than click-through conversions. Display ads are renowned for their epically terrible click-through rates. But rather than dismiss the medium as a poor performer, it’s important to understand that most display ads are typically served further up the conversion funnel to help move the customer closer towards making a decision. Measuring them on click-through conversions alone is akin to measuring search ads solely on how many customers it drives to the store. It’s important to use the right metric for the right situation.
  2. Proper view-through attribution can lead to increased search lift. The positive impact of display and social advertising on search activity and conversions is undeniable. It’s been proven by a number of different studies over the past several years. Accordingly, if we understand the assistive impact of display and social on search, then it’s important to properly measure their impact in order to make the right investment across the different channels. If $1 spent on a Facebook ad leads to an extra $5 within the search channel, that’s something you’d definitely want to know.
  3. Measuring view-through conversions improves optimization efforts. What if the very small percentage of people clicking on your display ads didn’t represent your very best customers? What if half the clicks on a mobile ad were from people with fat finger syndrome? And what if you optimized all your future spend on trying to acquire all these wrong types of people? Advertisers who optimize based on click-through conversions alone find themselves in this conundrum.
  4. This is just the beginning. While view-through attribution doesn’t have to be complex (on the contrary, it’s actually quite straightforward to set up properly!), it does require an understanding of its business rationale and some of its limitations. To learn more about view-through attribution, including the two-step process for how you can set them up for maximum success,
    download the white paper
    or
    view the webinar archive
    .

This is the final post in a series on transparency. In today’s article, we look at data transparency, why it’s important, and the elements of a transparent data model.

We’ve reached the last article in our series on transparency in programmatic display advertising. For those of you just tuning in, let’s quickly recap:


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.

This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content Manager
at
Boost Media.

The holiday season is here! To launch successful holiday display ad campaigns, marketers need to be thoughtful about the creative, the offer, and the timing. Here at five tips to catalyze your holiday display ads through the New Year.

1. Use holiday-specific imagery and creative



Spruce up your ad creative, landing page, and site navigation for the holidays to demonstrate to consumers that you’re excited about the gift-giving season. Incorporate reasonably agnostic holiday symbols such as wreaths, snowflakes, evergreen trees and candles into creative.

2. Get the timing right



40% of consumers begin their holiday shopping by Halloween, according to an NRD study. You likely already know this, but campaigns should launch as early as mid-October. So, if you haven’t launched yet, better late than never—now’s the time! Promoting your holiday campaigns early allows you to take advantage of the Thanksgiving rush, and spread awareness of your brand for Cyber Monday through Christmas and New Year.

3. Avoid creative fatigue



To keep your ads looking distinct and fresh, update your creative once or twice a month. Changes can be low effort, like tweaking old concepts with new colors, buttons, borders, or images.

4. Use last year’s data



According to a McKinsey study, campaigns that rely on data improve marketing ROI 15-20%. Look at last year’s holiday campaign and sales figures to determine what products were the most popular. What channels were display campaigns most successful on? The results will help you focus your efforts on the highest-performing channels and highest-converting customer bases.

5. Be clear with discounts



Create urgency with shoppers by stressing the importance of short-term sales during the holidays. Be clear about the expiration date for discount deals, coupons, and promotions.

Follow these tips and get ready for your most successful year yet. Have a joyous holiday season.


About the Author


sarah

Sarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.

About Boost Media


Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

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.

From our team to yours—happy holidays!

Digital advertisers are worried about ad viewability. How worried are they? According to a survey that Mixpo conducted this year, 69% of them are “extremely concerned” or “very concerned.” That’s the bad.

As we mentioned in our post on programmatic buying transparency, the environmental transparency of an ad is as important as the campaign’s message or who’s being targeted. By “environmental,” we mean viewability, ad fraud, and brand safety.

We also stated that there’s no consensus on how viewability is even defined or how to determine the tradeoffs between measurement, accuracy, and associated costs.

Still, the debate continues. As viewability becomes a greater concern for digital advertisers and vital to the success of their campaigns, solutions and standards continue to be defined and refined. In this article, we look at guidelines, outline what to consider, and recommend a few tips for ensuring your ads are viewable.

Current Verdicts: What Determines if an Ad is “Viewable”?


The Media Rating Council (MRC) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) basically define viewability as who sees your ad, how much was seen, how long they saw it, and where the ad showed up. Further, the IAB states that viewability “is not about ad effectiveness nor ad engagement. It is simply the delivery of ads that render on the screen. In other words, the opportunity to be seen.”

What does that mean?

Specifically (according to MRC and IAB guidelines), a display ad is viewable if 50% or more of its pixels appear on-screen for at least one continuous second. On the other hand, GroupM believes 100% of pixels need to be in view for at least one second. Like GroupM, other large holding companies also have their own standards.

The reasons for these discrepancies often lie in creative technologies. For instance, moving from Flash to HTML5 can slow down page loads, making verification pixels time out, which can then prevent accurate measurement. And, according to the MRC, bandwidth and network speeds make load times even worse for mobile ads.

The various viewability definitions are a way to get around these speed bumps, allowing for a departure point to effectively measure viewable versus unviewable ads. Meaning, there are standards, but they depend on the governing body or other constituents determining the guidelines.

What About Brand Safety?


Brand safety is easier to define, but it’s just as important in ensuring your brand is creating a positive user experience and maintaining your brand image. Simply put, your brand is safe not only if your ads are showing up in the right context, but also when the right ads appear on your website. For instance, if not-quite-safe-for-work ads suddenly appear on your site, your brand image will likely suffer, causing buyer-seller trust to erode.

Once again, the IAB and its standards can help. Its Content Taxonomy identifies when companies are brand-safe based on a two-tier system:

  • Self-certified
  • Certified by an independent third party


Third-party certification providers offer a list of DSPs that filter bought inventory according to IAB’s taxonomy. In this way, programmatic guidelines and technologies can be established, automated to safeguard against risky ads and hazardous placements.

The Difference Between Viewability and Fraud


Remember there’s a difference between viewability and fraud. Integral Ad Science (IAS) defines ad fraud as “the deliberate practice of attempting to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user.” However, a positive trend that IAS reported reveals that overall programmatic ad fraud dipped by 20.9% between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016. Still, the U.S. has the worst rate of ad fraud when compared to Australia, France, Germany, and the U.K., the countries the IAS profiled.

This is part of why digital marketers in the U.S. are so worried.

Something to note, however, is that the same study showed that viewability is actually up, presumably because publishers and other players in the industry increasingly have stopped getting paid for inventory that’s fraudulent—so they’re more motivated to increase viewability and reduce fraud. An article in the Journal of Advertising Research, however, states that global advertisers are expected to waste roughly seven billion dollars in 2016 on unviewable ads. Whether the forecast is sunny or gloomy, all sides are working harder to reduce fraud and increase viewability.

Why is there as much fraud as there is? In a word—bots. Specifically, bots that mask as a user and click fraudulent ads, making it seem like your website’s getting more clicks and click-throughs than it actually is.

Marketers are right to be concerned. They must continue to be vigilant about and aware of both unviewable ads and bots’ calculated attempts to muddy the ad pool. To make matters (and your measurement efforts) worse, bots don’t use ad blocking software like humans do. So, if you’re trying to measure campaign effectiveness through the average ad blocking rate and optimize accordingly, you have your work cut out for you.

Why Is Viewability So Important, Anyway?


It’s obvious that you’d like people to actually see your ads. And, you’re no doubt interested in measuring the effectiveness of these ads and adjusting as needed.

A third angle to take into account—many new vendors are trying to monetize viewability, assigning costs to only those impressions that are viewable. Here, however, there’s a tradeoff between the page actually loading, the time it takes, and how these measurements will or should affect cost.

For brand awareness and to know your true cost of doing business, viewability is essential. As we mentioned in our post on the programmatic supply chain, if your impressions aren’t viewable, you should get a credit toward them. We’ll add here—if your impressions aren’t viewable, not only did a tree fall in the forest and no one heard it, no one has any idea what the tree looks like. So much for lifting your brand awareness.

Who Measures Viewability, and How?


First off, as far as measurement goes, who should bear the burden of proof? Publishers, vendors, and agencies are working together to measure and combat viewability issues. Each of these entities, however, has a unique motivation for ensuring viewability is maintained and measured:

  • Publishers: want to optimize yield and inventory management and ensure a positive user experience
  • Vendors: want to increase brand awareness, leads, clicks, CTR, and ROI
  • Agencies: want to increase viewable impressions and customer satisfaction


As mentioned earlier, there are issues gleaning accurate viewability metrics—such as latency and the creative technologies that cause it. Third-party measurement vendors can also be problematic, since they use tracking pixels that can, ironically, result in longer page loads and add to the murkiness of precise measurement.

The answer lies in adopting standards to level the playing field. In its Primer for Publishers on Improving Ad Viewability, IAB recommends that publishers establish performance benchmarks, and have a remediation plan in place to determine what happens should an ad placement miss the benchmark by more than 10%.

The landscape’s not perfect, but the outlook’s positive. That’s the good.

The Cost of Being Seen


What factors go into determining the cost of viewability? Viewability tracking, brand safety tracking, and brand lift studies are paid by either side in an effort to run cleaner campaigns. Ad verification and brand safety tools also come with a cost, and have their own issues, but they go a long way in creating environmental transparency. These all play a role in ensuring ads get seen, but marketers must determine how these weigh against their budget and how much are overkill.

What about the costs of the future? Will all ad formats be bought on a viewable impression basis, i.e., vCPM? Time will tell.

Tips for Making Sure Your Ads are Viewable


Now that we’ve gone over definitions, standards, and budgeting considerations, here are best practices you can use to combat viewability issues and maximize the likelihood of your ads getting seen:

  • Share information: As quality/ad fraud companies continue to work with the MRC, IAB, and other groups to develop standards, advertisers and publishers should rally around recommended guidelines, so that standardization can lead to equity and visibility.
  • Experiment: Bring on one vendor at a time, make sure they’re MRC-accredited, and measure the results.
  • Have frank discussions with verification partners. Ask them how they measure viewability or what they’re doing to control for fraud.
  • If you’re a publisher: Work out any discrepancies with your advertising partners. Make sure there’s agreement between what each side says about what was viewable and what wasn't.
  • If you’re a vendor: Regularly check your tags in order to determine whether an ad was in view or not. Note, however, that doing this chews up data and power—be careful not to degrade the user experience for the sake of viewability measurement.


Better Ad Viewability Is on the Horizon


If the virtual nail-biting is any indication, viewability will continue to occupy its high-anxiety, top-of-mind position until the major issues get smoothed over. Take heed, though, that help is not only on the way—the conversation has expanded to video and audio. In the long run, continued standardization will result in better guidelines and (more) common practices.

In the meantime, remember the tradeoffs between viewability, practicality, and the costs of measurement. Do what’s appropriate for your business and budget, with the understanding that better days await you.

Between the distant frenzy of the Q4 shopping season and the rising calm of midyear, Q2 tends to be the quietest quarter. However, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening. Among other things we found in our research, mobile display played a larger role this Q2—but overall, the ubiquitous move to mobile is actually slowing down. And, tablet usage continues to drop.

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report. For Q2 2016, key findings include:

  • The move to mobile is slowing down. Across search and social, the shift away from desktop has been slowing for the last two quarters. Device share is decelerating and seems to be approaching a stability point. Display is the only channel that’s still seeing strong shifts toward mobile over the past quarter for both advertisers and users.
  • Smartphone and desktop are the devices of choice. The tablet revolution never took off and continues to shrink. Instead, it was co-opted by its sibling device, the smartphone. For the foreseeable future, smartphone and desktop are the two largest winners.
  • Advertisers should continue to prioritize cross-channel, cross-device targeting. In order for advertisers to employ a robust cross-channel, cross-device marketing approach, they should continue to learn the strengths and weaknesses of these channels and devices.


For detailed information on Q2 2016 search, social, and display mobile performance and strategy recommendations, download our Performance Marketer’s Benchmark Report Q3 2016 – Vital Search, Social, and Display Performance Data by Device.

Last year, we forecast that 30% of all retail paid-search spend would be on a shopping ad, and 45% of all product ad clicks would be on a smartphone—and smartphone click growth ended up being even stronger than we predicted. Looking forward, where do we see shopping ads this holiday season?

We took a look at month-over-month variations and factored in seasonal shifts in performance to forecast where we’ll be by December 2016:

  • 40% of all shopping ad dollars will be on a smartphone
  • 37% of paid search clicks will be on a shopping ad
  • Social clicks and spend share should flatten out over the year and remain at current levels


shopping-2016-blog-the-future-body-image



For more results sampled from the Marin Global Online Advertising Index—composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform—read The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. With data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and strategy recommendations for the 2016 holiday season, be sure to download your copy today so that you’re prepared for the Q4 rush.

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 that 55 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.

  • Data/Targeting
  • DMP technology
  • DSP technology
  • Ad serving (advertiser side, publisher side)
  • Exchanges and ad networks
  • Publisher
  • Verification
  • Ad blocking
  • Managed services fees through an agency or media buying partner (or lower fees if you’re accessing a SaaS platform)


In case you need a quick primer on each supply chain partner, read our blog post on the eight main players in the programmatic ecosystem.

Determining Cost


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.)

Programmatic Infographic_R5


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.

Remember, if you already know your partner spend and have the time, you can add it all up with IAB’s Programmatic Fee Transparency Calculator.

Shoppers are already prepping their lists for the holidays, and retail advertisers are close behind, on the mobile-focused, ad spend case. If smartphones were big-box retail destinations, they’d be the new “mad rush” of holiday sales.

Thankfully, when shoppers are looking for deals and information, they can now easily turn to their mobile devices.

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Our research uncovered some surprising things about what to expect for social advertising this 2016 shopping season.

  • Advertisers are investing big on smartphones and tablets: During Q1 2016, social ad spend on mobile devices represented 90% of ad spend.
  • Shoppers love social ads on mobile: Those ads were popular, with 95% of all clicks happening on social by way of a mobile device during the same time period.
  • This bodes quite well for Q4 2016: Social clicks and spend share should flatten out over the year and remain at current levels.


shopping-2016-blog-social-body-image



Happy shopping—and spending—in 2016.

For the full results of our research, including data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and recommendations for how to stand out during the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

Facebook offers several great options for retargeting, allowing you to segment and remarket to people who’ve engaged with your product. These tools include:

  • Website Custom Audiences
  • Video remarketing
  • Dynamic Product Ads (DPA)


These features let you granularly segment your audiences, ensuring you’re targeting users with the right messaging and products.

Adding Search Intent to the Mix


What happens when search teams up with social? Combining search intent with Facebook retargeting allows you to segment and target users on Facebook, based on the search ads that drove them to your website.

How can you fit this tactic into your overall retargeting strategy, and how is it beneficial to your campaigns?

Let’s tackle that last question first.

search-intent-graphic


It provides clear intent.


Since search is an intent-oriented channel, you can retarget users based on what they’re looking for. With this knowledge, you can drive them to a conversion by offering them exactly what they want.

It increases audience quality.


Once you know your audience’s intent, you can align this information with your goals to create high-value user segments, then target accordingly. This affords you the opportunity to target larger audiences using lookalikes, then scale even further from there. No matter the size of the audience, using precise, tailored segments ensures the highest audience quality.

And, if your goals change and you no longer want to target a specific audience, you can always exclude it from your campaigns.

lookalikes


It improves your optimization strategy.


Search intent allows you to adapt creative elements on Facebook—by knowing what the user wants, you can show more appealing images and messaging to increase CTR. You can also apply tiered bidding and budget, concentrating on higher-value audiences.

consumerPreferences


How to Incorporate It


There are an infinite numbers of ways you can segment audiences based on your overall strategy and goals, or even for a particular event. Here are a few use cases.

A TV Campaign


A large brand is planning to launch a massive TV campaign, and wants to engage with people, via search and social, who possibly saw its TV ad. Since users are most likely to search for the brand after seeing the ad, the brand splits its search campaigns into brand and generic segments. This way, the brand can understand its audience and target them with specific messaging, across channels.

An Ecommerce Site


An ecommerce site is trying to attract users based on search criteria for its fashion styles. It tags the keywords romantic and classic to reach those users on Facebook, showing them relevant content. The site complements this tactic with its Facebook DPA campaigns.

ecommerce-FacebookDPA


Direct Response


A direct advertiser is looking to improve its social optimization strategy based on search activity. It segments search campaigns according to users who search for high ROI and low ROI keywords, allowing it to target those users on Facebook, and adjusting bids and budgets accordingly.

Travel


A travel website wants to lower CPAs for search and social channels. It creates a 100% bid RLSA group for very expensive but high volume keywords, tags the users who’ve clicked these keywords, and excludes them from repeated searches. To achieve lower costs, the website targets those users in social.

travel



Want to see a real-life example of how it works? Read about how a loan comparison website cut its cost per acquisition by 3.5x with Marin’s search intent retargeting on Facebook.

How do you get your product feed in front of as many eyes as possible? Are you using Facebook Dynamic Product Ads? Just Google Shopping? Do you have an effective social prospecting strategy? Do you know how to get your product ads in front of people who’ve never seen them before?

If your answer to any of these questions is “meh,” then this blog post is for you.

How to Get More People to See Your Product Feed


There are two ways to get your products in front of potential customers on the web today:

  • Paid placement (cost-per-click)
  • Marketplace (revenue share)


If you're a retailer, it's in your best interest to blast your product feed far and wide to make sure your product is available whether a potential customer is searching for it on Google or Amazon, or browsing the Yahoo News feed. Heck, maybe they just need a reminder that they didn’t complete their purchase of those cute red pumps.

The obvious next question is—how do I ensure my product is reaching all my potential customers across the many channels and publishers on the web? Full-blown shopping capabilities allow you to get your products in front of millions of customers through all the major paid avenues—and all the leading marketplaces like Amazon and eBay—from a single product feed. This is the easiest way to execute a true “omni-channel shopping campaign.” (Request a demo to find out how we can help you do this.)

Facebook DPA: The Value Proposition


Facebook Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) help you promote relevant products to shoppers browsing your product catalog. Once they’ve visited your website or mobile application, you can retarget them on Facebook with the specific products they showed interest in, dynamically displayed with information from your product feed (price, name, in stock or not, etc.).

There are several great things you can do with DPA:

  • Upsell or cross-sell campaigns to increase the chances of selling complimentary, relevant products to your customers.
  • Show your products to people who haven’t seen them.
  • Reach audiences no matter what channel, publisher, or device they’re on.


Here’s how this works.

Upsell and Cross-sell


Suppose a shopper buys a pair of designer shoes online, and then they see an ad for handbags from the same designer. By showing products related to what a customer orders, you increase your average order value and customer lifetime value. Upsell and cross-sell campaigns automatically extend the reach of your campaigns, and increase the chances of selling relevant incremental products.

Prospecting


With a prospecting campaign, you can offer products from your catalog to new audiences most likely to use your products (by way of a Facebook algorithm or dynamic ads across the web). This feature is meant to give you an optimal workflow—one that allows you to bulk-edit ads and duplicate DPA campaigns for retargeting, upsell, or cross-sell, all in one function.

So, for example, instead of having four separate campaigns and workflows, you can create just one workflow that handles everything you would’ve included in those disparate campaigns.

A small number of Facebook partners (including Marin) can edit product sets, add URL tags, choose creative templates, and see full previews as you make selections. These features have excellent workflow capabilities, so they deliver both fantastic targeting and ease of use. Contact us to learn more.

Shopping


Having shopping campaigns on both Google and Facebook catapults the power and performance of your product feed. Do you have the time and resources, though, to manage your shopping campaigns on two different platforms?

If you do, you should definitely include your product feed on both channels to extend your reach. If you don’t, Marin’s Smart Sync for Shopping feature automatically clones and syncs your shopping campaigns from Google to Facebook, eliminating the need for lengthy IT support. With Marin Display, you can use your same product feed to run prospecting campaigns to those outside Google and Facebook.

About Those Omni-Channel Campaigns....


Even more powerful than Google Shopping or Facebook DPA alone, omni-channel distribution allows you to advertise across a wide array of channels and publishers—native, search, social, eBay, Amazon shopping...the list of both paid and non-paid platforms goes on.

Distribution1



Distribution2



To wring every last drop of value from your product feed, you should showcase it through as many online venues as you can. You should also make sure you’re constantly optimizing your feed for the greatest possible returns.

A Word on Cross-Channel Advertising


Retailers who combine all of the above functionality with display retargeting can boast of having a full cross-channel solution, one that automatically puts in overtime to expand your reach and boost revenue. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all channels, and heighten your brand effectiveness in time for back-to-school and the Q4 holiday season.

Digital advertising is a fast-evolving organism. For retailers, this means constantly looking for new ways to meet and exceed business goals. Promoting your product catalog across channels is a powerful way to upsell existing customers and for finding new ones. To learn more about how Marin can help, request a demo.

Global mobile trends all point to the same conclusion – operating in channel-specific silos no longer works, and now’s the time for marketers to implement a strong cross-channel marketing strategy.

If you subscribe to this blog (and if you don’t, see that second little box on the right), you already know we’ve been evangelizing the message of “cross-device, cross-channel.” There’s a good reason for that.

Data Are Fundamental to Consumer Engagement


As we approach the halfway point of 2016, it’s more important than ever that marketers not only use data to understand customer behavior, but also to act on that behavior to deliver engaging, personalized experiences.

On May 25, Nitin Rabadia – our Director of Audience Marketing EMEA, APAC – will explain how to use data to win the online battle for attention and revenue. Gleaning insights from our 2016 Global Mobile Report (available with webinar registration), Nitin will field your questions and discuss:

  • How consumer behavior is affecting desktop and mobile spend
  • Recommendations for optimizing advertising across channels
  • Tactics to take advantage of customer signals
  • How to improve budgeting, bidding, and targeting decisions with full transparency


Register for the webinar today.

When we looked at performance marketing data from the first quarter of 2016, one thing became clear: cross-channel, cross-device targeting remains the most powerful differentiator for profitable marketing strategies.

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report. For Q1 2016, key findings include:

  • All mobile, all the time. Advertisers and consumers are continuing to shift towards a more mobile ecosystem.
  • Cross-channel and cross device remain important. It’s important for marketers to adopt and maintain a more holistic and complete approach to digital marketing that targets across all channels and devices.
  • Every channel has its strengths and weaknesses. Not only should marketers become adept at recognizing each channel’s weaknesses, but even more importantly, they should start using all three channels and devices to their best strengths.


For detailed information on Q1 2016 search, social, and display mobile performance – including detailed data charts with YoY performance and up-to-date recommendations – download our Performance Marketer’s Benchmark Report Q2 2016 – Vital Search, Social, and Display Performance Data by Device.

Mother’s Day is almost here! With flowers, cards, and family visits close at hand, many brick and mortar retailers are gearing up for the shopping spike. The season of maternal appreciation extends to online retailers, who are also gussying up their search, social, and display campaigns to attract consumers around the world.

How did online retailers do in 2015, and what to expect this year?

Mother’s Day 2015 – Clicks, Spend, and Conversions



In the week leading up to Mother’s Day 2015 (May 10th), clicks increased an average of 15% across retailers as click-through rates rose 6%. In addition, spend increased 9% during the same time period, peaking a few days before Mother’s Day.

Most notably, conversions saw a bump of 12%, peaking on the 5th at 18% above the monthly average. This noticeable bump for all retailers was more pronounced among those specialty retailers that Mother’s Day particularly impacts.

CPCs actually dropped slightly during this period, except for two days where they spiked, the 4th and 5th. The 5th proved to be a particularly important day for consumers and advertisers, showing abnormal surges along all metrics.

Perhaps consumers took account delivery times and the looming holiday date into account, giving themselves a few buffer days in case of delays in delivery and arrival.

These numbers dropped dramatically on Mother’s Day itself, and returned slowly to roughly average afterwards. Click-through rates remained elevated for Mother’s Day and a few days afterwards before returning to seasonal norms.

Recommendations for 2016



For retailers looking to maximize their Mother’s Day sales, here are a few key takeaways:

  • Start campaigns at least a week before Mother’s Day to capture the online shopping market, especially those looking to have a gift arrive in time for the occasion.
  • In particular, focus attention on five or six days beforehand, as this is when consumer interest peaked last year.
  • Expect similar trends to 2015, as people power down for the actual day to celebrate a mom!

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
  • DMP technology
  • DSP technology
  • Ad serving (advertiser side, publisher side)
  • Exchanges
  • Publisher
  • Verification
  • Ad blocking
  • Managed services fees through an agency or media buying partner


Not surprisingly, there are also several cost models:

  • CPM-based fees
  • Percent of media fees
  • Flat fees
  • Arbitrage


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.
  • To make adding it all up easier, use IAB’s recently released Programmatic Fee Transparency Calculator.


Next time, we’ll dive deeper into the programmatic supply chain and how it affects cost.

2015 was a banner year for mobile.

Continuing its ascent into the status of omnipresent being, global smartphone adoption reached an all-time high last year and shows no signs of slowing down. Thanks to this rapid expansion of smartphone usage around the world, advertisers now have an opportunity to reach consumers even more easily.

We sampled the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, to analyze data from around the world to create our latest annual benchmark report.

We uncovered three key findings:

  • Clicks and spend have gone mobile. In 2015, mobile devices represented the majority of consumer online usage for the first time. Consumers are now spending more time and attention on mobile devices than desktop – as a result, advertisers have been shifting spend away from desktop towards smartphones and tablets to catch consumer attention and generate clicks. We predict this trend will continue.
  • Desktop is becoming more like mobile. As the mobile format gains traction with consumers and advertisers, publishers are innovating. While mobile ad formats formerly took cues from desktop, publishers are now swapping the formula, making desktop ad formats and pages more similar to mobile.
  • Mobile conversion is gaining traction. Desktops are still the primary conversion-driving device; however, within the past year, conversion rates have been growing on mobile devices. While mobile devices have historically been used for product research or upper-funnel activities, this is changing, as better mobile attribution and ad formats are released. Expect this trend to continue.


For detailed information on 2015 search, social, and display mobile performance – including detailed data charts with YoY performance and further recommendations for 2016 – download our Mobile Advertising Around the Globe: 2016 Annual Report.

2016-mobile-report_cover

General conversion metrics about your visitors only tell part of the story. In reality, there are many steps a visitor might have taken before converting on your site. How do you measure the value of your upper-funnel prospecting campaigns, and determine whether they’re providing incremental benefit and driving last-touch attribution and conversion?

What Are Assisted Conversions?



Assisted conversions help give you better insight for how other campaigns may have contributed to your final conversion. This insight is important, since it helps you make better decisions on your campaigns and immediately illustrates the value of your top-of-funnel marketing efforts.

How It Works



Suppose you’re running a campaign where you’re targeting people who visited your website. You have another campaign that targets people who looked at a specific product page on your website, a much more focused group. You’re probably measuring how well you’re targeting website visitors, but you may not be crediting this campaign with any conversions that come from your product page.

In other words, your website targeting campaign alone looks like it’s not providing any value, although it’s pushing customers along
the funnel.

Here’s another example: Suppose your visitor sees or clicks a Facebook News Feed ad, and then clicks a web ad to convert. With general standard conversion metrics, the web ad gets the credit for the final conversion. But, in this scenario, your Facebook News Feed ad should get an assisted conversion credit, since it contributed to the “slam dunk,” as it were.

To read more about assisted conversions and how they contribute to accurate attribution, see Understanding Assisted Conversions.

“It makes my job a lot easier, and now I don’t have to spend all day combing through spreadsheet after spreadsheet, trying to figure out where a booking value came from because it’s nowhere in
my system.”

– Kevin High / Digital Marketing Manager, IBC Hotels

IBC Hotels had a retargeting problem. Not only were they unable to easily attribute conversions – they were having a hard time even implementing their existing solution’s dynamic tracking code, and considered their vendor’s service team “unknowledgeable and nonexistent.”

IBC Hotels prides itself in introducing travelers to unique, locally owned hotels all over the world. Since IBC makes commission on each acquired booking, it’s crucial for them to accurately attribute the source of their conversions and revenue.

If they were going to lower cost and increase ROI, they needed a platform that would make their jobs easier, not more burdensome and clunky.

Enter Marin Display


IBC implemented Marin Display – with its Site Tracking Tag – to build audiences for retargeting across channels and devices. IBC found Marin Display’s tracking solution worked flawlessly and was easier to implement than their previous retargeting solution.

The Site Tracking Tag allowed IBC to automatically collect important information such as order ID and revenue, and to easily attribute conversions. IBC could then effortlessly access this data and
export it.

From here, they were able to optimize their retargeting funnel, attribute conversions accurately back to their own internal reporting, and ultimately lower CPM and improve ROI.

Learn more and see full results in our IBC Hotels case study.

With the steady rise in remarketing as a digital advertising strategy, audience segmentation and activation has become a key tactic for digital marketers. What are some things that display advertisers should take into account when defining and streamlining their strategy?

Understanding Audience Segmentation


Audience segmentation can be defined as a process of dividing people into homogeneous subgroups based on defined criteria such as product usage, demographics, psychographics, communication behaviours, and media use. Audience segmentation is now a major tool advertisers can use to tailor messages, improve targeting accuracy, and drive performance.

Defining the Strategy


For display remarketing, a sound audience strategy is the foundation for a successful campaign, and has three elements:

  • A meaningful audience segmentation approach
  • A clear feedback loop to validate this approach
  • The ability to activate the segmented audience


To create a truly meaningful audience segmentation strategy, advertisers need flexibility in the tools they use to segment their audience. Segmentation methods also offer increased flexibility in what an advertiser can count as a user conversion, creating an extra dimension to audience creation.

Streamlining the Strategy


Let’s explore four key segmentation methods that allow advisers to go beyond path-based segmentation or a one-size-fits-all remarketing vendor approach.

Query string

Query string is part of a URL that contains data that doesn’t fit conveniently into a hierarchical path structure. The query string commonly includes fields added to a base URL by a web browser or other application. This opens up a huge number of possibilities when it comes to audience segmentation. For example, here’s a query string generated after a user searched on a fictitious travel comparison website.

http://www.example.com/searchresults.html?checkin_monthday=13&&checkout_monthday=27& year_month= current -2&dest_id=United%20Kingdom& group_adults=2&group_children=2&no_rooms=1

Looking at this query string, we know the user is:

1. Looking for a two-week holiday from February 13to 27, 2016

checkin_monthday=13&&checkout_monthday=27& year_month=current-2

2. Interested in a UK holiday

dest_id=United%20Kingdom

3. In a party of two adults and two children

group_adults=2&group_children=2

4. Looking for one room

no_rooms=1

Based on this information, we can now create audience lists based, grouping users based on urgency, demographics, and interests. And, our 1st party data set is fresh and reliable.

We can also count a conversion anytime someone visits a page with a specific URL query string: http://www.example.com?page=thank-you-new-user. In this case, we only count conversions from new users.

JavaScript event

Use the "event" remarketing audience method to add users to an audience when they perform an action triggering a specific JavaScript event on your site. These events could include but are not limited to number of clicks, partial form completion, time on site, hovering over a button, expanding an image, or filtering to view products (such as. from high to low).

For example, suppose a user filters to view products from high price to low. It’s normal for these users to have a higher average order value per product than a user who filters from low to high. This may affect not only the amount we’re willing to pay to acquire these users, but also the type of creative we want to show them and which publishers we might want to target.

Conversions can also be counted anytime a specific JavaScript event is fired in the browser. This allows huge flexibly when it comes to defining conversions and reduces the reliance on thank you pages as conversions.

Recency

Recency refers to how recently a user last left your website or app. Creating remarketing lists based on recency enables a range of remarketing tactics.

It’s common for conversion rates to be high when a user sees an ad in the first few minutes after they leave your website, so make sure you’re highly visible during this time. Recency segmentation also allows different creative, offers, or calls to action based on how long it’s been since someone last engaged with your website.

Recency also allows for interesting cross-sell tactics. Say a travel agent knows that certain users are most likely to purchase travel insurance 30 days after they’ve booked their flights. Advertisers could use recency targeting to show travel insurance ads around this time.

Regular expression (regex)

A regular expression is a special text string for describing a search pattern. This allows advertisers to set up complex audience lists, such as one that matches multiple web pages, query strings, or products. Regular expressions also allow you to set up complex conversions, for instance, ones that match multiple-goal pages.

Say for example you want to create a list for users that go to the Caribbean section of your website as long as the subdirectory is in the second position. You can’t use ends with, or starts with, or contains; however, you can create this list with a regular expression.

^/.*/ Caribbean/.*

^ A caret in a regular expression forces the expression to match only strings that start exactly the same way your regular expression does.

.* The dot could match any letter or digit. The star right after it matches the ability of the dot to match any single character, and keep on going so that it ends up matching everything.

Combining segmentation methods allows you to create sophisticated audiences that matter. By combining numerous segmentation methods, you can create an almost endless number of audiences to activate through remarketing.

Conclusion


To run the most successful remarketing campaigns, advertisers need segmentation tools that allow them to slice their audience in an almost unlimited number of ways. Currently, the number of advertisers using simple, path-based audience segmentation or a remarketing vendor’s standard segmentation approach is surprising. With tools that create and activate a meaningful audience segmentation strategy, you can build the foundation of a truly successful remarketing campaign.

This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
3Q Digital.

When building out a fully functional PPC account, it’s important to utilize remarketing lists in addition to your standard campaigns. Remarketing lists allow you to target individuals with ads that are already familiar with your brand because of a past interaction, generally an ad click leading to a visit.

These visitors are valuable because they’re usually further down the sales funnel. Remarketing is a great way to retain these past visitors, capture incremental volume, and shorten the gap between time of click and time of purchase.

If you’re advertising on a pay-per-click network (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc.), you’ve more than likely utilized remarketing lists to improve account performance. You can also improve your remarketing lists, specifically your Google and Bing lists, by segmenting your audience based on time of last interaction.

Why Segment by Time?


There are a few benefits to segmenting your audience by time. The first is that it breaks apart a very large audience into multiple audiences of very manageable sizes. This then allows you to bid more or less aggressively depending on the audience.

For example, you may want to bid very aggressively to get an audience of users that last interacted with your website one to three days ago back to the website. You may not want to bid as high for the people that last touched the site 25-30 days ago.

Using this method, you can place a bid on each audience that’s most appropriate. However, be conscious of the size of the main audience you’re trying to split. This practice is usually a better fit for more general touchpoints that generate larger audience lists. It isn’t always the best to break apart a very small audience pool because at that point, the lists can become too small to employ.

How to Create Your Audiences


1. Create a new remarketing list

2. Select who to add to your list

Generally, I select page visitors. But there are options to select page visitors who did/did not visit another page, visitors of a page during specific dates, and visitors of a page with a specific tag.

If you’re more advanced, definitely utilize the custom combination option. I’ve used this capability to refine my segmented lists even further in the past and to block past converters from my lists.

3. Set the rule

Enter the page URL that you want to build your audience around.

4. Set the membership duration

Here’s where you can get creative. Go to the Tools drop down, then select Conversions and take a look at your attribution data. How long is the time lag from click to conversion? Use this information to set your membership duration for your audiences.

If you’re unsure, just use common sense to create reasonable durations. For this example, let’s assign the first audience a five-day membership duration.

5. Repeat

After creating the first audience, repeat the process and extend the membership duration with each additional audience. Using the five-day example above as a starting reference, we can create three more audiences with membership durations of 10, 20, and 30 days.

In the end, instead of one very large audience, we have one broken up into chunks based on the account’s specific conversion history, which gives us more control over bidding and ultimately better performance. Using this method, we don’t bid the same amount for someone that last interacted with the website 30 days ago as a person who last interacted with the website one day ago. Try it out and see how it performs!

This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at

3Q Digital.

Customer Match is an exciting new feature that Google recently unveiled that can greatly strengthen your ability to connect with an existing customer base. You now have the option to upload the email addresses of past customers or email subscribers directly to AdWords. You can then target that audience through Google Search, Gmail, or YouTube. Similar features are already available through AdRoll and Facebook. With Google’s newest addition, you can now leverage 1st-party data across yet another network.

This is fantastic news for all advertisers, particularly those in possession of large lists of customer emails who are looking for new ways to utilize that data to improve marketing efforts. Every marketer I know is looking for a better way to increase marketing efficiency, so this should really benefit all of us.

Google is allowing you to take what you know about your customers and use that to drive messaging across devices and platforms. This, in turn, allows you to build loyalty and repeat purchases among an existing customer base.

Three Main Methods for Leveraging
Customer Match


1) The first, and most obvious, way to use Customer Match is to stay in front of your customers. If someone has made a purchase from your business, these audiences can be used to target existing customers and keep your brand fresh in their mind. This encourages repeat purchases and leads to incremental gains.

2) The second is to re-engage past buyers who haven’t interacted with your brand in an extended period of time. Imagine Jane Doe bought a stereo in January and hasn’t purchased from your brand since. You can now create an audience specifically to target her, and individuals like her, when they’re logged into the Google network.

3) The third method is to create a negative audience. This audience is made from a group of people whom you do not want to see your ads. (Maybe you don’t want to risk overexposure, or you wouldn’t benefit from re-engaging this audience.) Businesses focusing on generating leads fit into this category. Customer Match allows you to create and exclude that audience from your advertising campaigns. As a result, you only capture new leads.

There’s a Low Barrier of Entry


Setup for Customer Match is simple. Upload a .csv file containing hashed email addresses directly into AdWords. The larger the list the better, since audiences with fewer than 1,000 members won’t be targeted through any of Google’s networks for privacy reasons. Once processed, you have a new audience to target across devices and channels like any other remarketing audience.

The one exception here is the Display Network, since this feature is not yet compatible. For YouTube and Gmail, Google also creates a “Similar Audience” when eligible. This can increase overall lead volume by allowing you to target audiences made of new users who exhibit characteristics similar to your Customer Match lists.

Customers Come First


Google goes to great lengths to protect user privacy, and this feature is no different. All data uploaded to AdWords must be 1st-party data. All email addresses must be hashed before uploading. Once they’ve been processed and matched to Google users, all data is discarded. This process ensures that all user information remains safe and protected throughout the entire matching process.

Additionally, advertisers must provide a link to a webpage where users manage email preferences. This link is a requirement, and you won’t be able to use Customer Match without providing it. Failure to comply with Google privacy policy can result in being denied the ability to use the Customer Match feature and in some cases, account suspensions.

To summarize, if you have a large amount of 1st-party data, Customer Match is a feature you should definitely test. It’s simple to implement and can be used in a variety of ways across Search, Gmail, and YouTube. Since Google makes privacy a top priority, you don’t need to worry about putting any of your customer base at risk. Overall, the AdWords team has made a great improvement that makes it easier for businesses to enhance consumer relationships and brand loyalty.

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 support@perfectaudience.com with any questions or comments.

From our team to yours - happy holidays!

With the recent release of Google’s Customer Match, the ability to target users through their email address has finally come to search advertising. This type of targeting has been available in social since Facebook announced Custom Audiences in 2013, and is accessible to display through data onboarding. Now, because of Google’s new feature, advertisers can target users using this data across search, social, and display, and across multiple devices.

This opens up many new possibilities for cross-channel, cross-device advertising. As it stands, a large percentage of marketing CRM emails are never opened. Advertisers can’t depend on email alone to connect with high-value customers in a CRM. We recommend using your CRM data to serve ads across search, social, and the web.

How do publishers match emails or user IDs to users across the web?


First, some background. The deterministic matching method relies on personally identifiable information commonly stored in CRM systems. With this method, a linkage is made when a user in your CRM uses the same email address or social media user IDs to log into an app and a website – across browsers and devices.

As long as a user is logged in across devices and targeting is set up across channels, advertisers and publishers can use this unique identifier to target those users cross-channel, on multiple devices.

Advantages over cookie-based remarketing


Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Display Networks already allow you to serve ads to previous site visitors with remarketing lists. This is traditionally done with cookie pools. Customer Match, Custom Audiences, and display customer targeting all allow you to advertise to recognized, signed-in users wherever they are – whether it’s mobile, tablet, laptop, or desktop.

This cross-channel path is difficult for cookies to traverse. It’s also hard for cookies to move across different browsers, and users can easily delete most cookies.

The other main advantage is that CRM data can be collected from multiple offline sources. For example, retailers can ask for a customer’s email address after an in-store purchase, or a travel agent can ask for an email address after a phone booking is made.

The Best Uses of CRM Data to Amplify Cross-Channel Reach


1. Do the Right Thing for the Right Channel

When it comes to matching CRM data with users for targeting, each online advertising channel has slightly different options. Be sure to make the most of each channel’s unique possibilities.

Search
Email addresses

Google’s Customer Match is a new product designed to help you reach your highest-value customers on Google Search, YouTube, and Gmail. Customer Match allows you to upload of a list of email addresses, which can be matched to signed-in users on Google in a secure and privacy-safe way. From there, you can build campaigns in Marin with highly relevant targeting and specifically tailored messaging for your audience.

Social
Email lists, phone numbers, Facebook user IDs, Twitter IDs, mobile advertisers IDs

Custom Audiences (Facebook) and Tailored Audiences (Twitter) make it easy to target specific customers or prospects at scale. It allows you to match your customer list against Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter users in a secure and privacy-safe way. Advertisers can use Marin to target users across social platforms and devices.

Display
Email addresses, CRM, point of sale, and mobile advertisers IDs

Through uploading emails, CRM data, point of sale, and mobile advertisers IDs, data onboarding technology (such as LiveRamp) can match your anonymized data to online devices and digital IDs, and segment audiences. These audience segments can then be sent to Marin for display targeting.

CRM-workflow



2. Be Sure to Segment

Segmentation is key to the success of CRM targeting for search, social, and display. Users can be segmented by value, actions, loyalty, recency, and satisfaction, among many other options – the segmenting possibilities of your customer database are virtually unlimited. You can use all of these segments for innovative advertising, such as enhancing your strategy, target audiences, and creative based on fresh and reliable data.

3. Go Cross-Channel

Using CRM data for targeting can produce fantastic results in single-channel siloes. However, when it’s used as part of a cross channel marketing strategy, the number of creative marketing tactics becomes almost limitless.

One common example of using CRM data across channels is targeting users with tailored messages across search, social, and display, depending on whether or not they’re existing customers.

Channel exclusion lists are just as important as positive targeting lists. In addition to reaching specific audiences with your ads, you can exclude unprofitable channels but still reach the same audiences.

For example, suppose an advertiser is in an industry where search keywords are particularly expensive. But, they want to update existing customers about a new product in a more cost-effective way. They could exclude the existing users from search targeting but still advertise to them on social and display.

CRM targeting strategies also open up new customer care and support avenues outside of phone, email, or direct mail. If a customer has a specific issue, it can be resolved at the level of a search query. Using CRM data, you could automatically deliver the most relevant information and links based on the products or services your customers are using, even if they use the exact same search query to search for information.

Using CRM data and user matching addresses a number of the challenges of cookie-based remarketing. It also helps bridge the gap between offline and online marketing activities. With Google’s new Customer Match, CRM data can now be used to actively target across search, social and display. This paves the way for innovative cross-channel, cross-device advertising strategies.

In just a year, display has gone from a desktop-based ad channel to a mobile one, showing a dramatically faster shift than either search or social. Not only has the display advertising world seen huge changes this year, but even more changes are anticipated in 2016.

This is indicative of a larger trend in digital advertising as a whole, where consumers are spending more time and attention on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets instead of desktops. In response, advertisers are allocating more and more of their display budget to targeting mobile consumers.

During Q3 2015, consumer engagement with display ads moved very decidedly towards smartphones. Over half of all display ad clicks came from a smartphone, and these ad clicks resulted in the majority of conversions.

eMarketer predicts that, by end of year, 60.5% of display ad budgets will be on a mobile device, and we’re seeing the same trends within Marin. This added consumer attention has translated to heightened innovation in the mobile display ad space. New formats for display ads are coming out on a regular basis, replacing the old banner ads to help encourage more click-through and conversion on mobile display ads.

For more information about the current state of display advertising and forecasts for 2016, download our report, The Q3 2015 Performance Marketer's Benchmark Report, and check out our industry infographic below.

Infographic_3Q2015-Rise-of-Mobile_v7

It’s good strategy to periodically review your retargeting campaigns to make sure you’re hitting your volume and performance goals. An important part of that is setting the right lookback window for each of your audiences.

This post discusses lookback windows, why they’re important, and how to set or change them in Marin Display.

What is a lookback window?



A lookback window tells Marin Display how far back in time to look in an audience to retarget users. When you create a new audience, Marin Display will automatically start adding visitors to it as soon as they start hitting the pages you’ve chosen. But what if you only want to retarget visitors in this audience for 30 days? Set your lookback window to 30 days and you’ll retarget them up to that number.

Why are lookback windows important?



Lookback windows play a substantial role in your campaign’s impression volume and spend, as well as performance metrics like click-through rates (CTR), cost-per-click (CPC), and adjusted cost-per-acquisition (aCPA).

If you’d like to increase your campaign’s reach, consider lengthening your lookback windows. That’ll allow you to retarget your audience for greater lengths of time and increase your impression volume. However, keep in mind that your CTR may start to drop if you set too long of a window.

If your campaign’s reach is limited by your budget – or if you’d just like to give a boost to your CTR, CPC, or aCPA numbers – consider shortening your lookback windows. This will eliminate impressions you’re serving to your most distant visitors. As you free up budget to retarget your most recent and engaged visitors, you should begin to see more clicks and conversions in your campaigns.

How do I set my lookback windows?



When creating or editing a campaign, your first task is to select the audiences you’d like to retarget, and set your lookback windows for each audience. In the box labeled “Targeting”, look for the “Lookback Window” fields and enter a value for each audience you’d like to target or exclude:

LookbackWindow



You can set lookback windows for a specific number of hours, days, or months. If you’re new to retargeting, or have recently started retargeting a brand new audience, we recommend starting with a window between 30 and 60 days to get a feel for performance.

Lookback windows work for exclusions, too. In the example above, we’ve created a cart abandonment campaign that excludes customers who’ve made purchases. If you’d like to exclude your customers from your campaign for a specific amount of time before potentially retargeting them for repeat purchases, you can use a lookback window to achieve that goal.

For more information on lookback windows and campaign setup, check out our knowledge base.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our Customer Success Team. If you’re new to Marin Display, try it for free and get a $100 credit toward your first retargeting campaign.

Managing your holiday media budget is key to maximizing performance during the annual shopping frenzy. Without the right strategy in place, you risk over-investing in an under-performing segment of your program, while leaving opportunity on the table in another area.

Metrics that matter


Before planning your holiday media budget, understand metrics. CPCs and CPMs increase substantially during the holiday season. Research indicates you should expect to pay at least 2.5x your normal CPC or CPM to show Facebook ads on Black Friday. To add to the mix, Black “Friday” is stretching out to last a month, according to Google. Although CPCs increase during the holidays, keep in mind that the potential for revenue growth is substantial.

Rethinking holiday KPIs


You might have been able to hit your 3-to-1 ROAS goal in July when CPMs were $5. However, come November, this may be unrealistic as CPMs increase by 2 or 3x. Proactively adjust efficiency expectations to avoid missing out on the increased order volume opportunity. Instead of aiming for a strict efficiency goal, consider optimizing to a volume target, perhaps with a cap on minimum ROAS, or cost-per-engagement you’re willing to accept for any given segment of your program.

Holiday media budget framework


Most of the year, digital media budget pacing can be fairly consistent. However, during the holidays there are major shopping days, promotional events, and changes to customer behavior. The goal for holiday budget pacing should be to optimize spend for the highest revenue-per-impression (RPI) days, rather than to spend the budget evenly from day to day.

Further, the fewer constraints placed on budget allocation, the better performance will be. Rather than enforcing strict budgets between ad networks, regions, brands, or products, set targets and enable your team to make investment decisions based on performance in real time.

Holiday shopping behavior is unlike any other time of the year. We hope these well-thought-out rules can provide a budget planning framework to gain maximum traction this holiday season.


About the Author


sarah

Sarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.


About Boost Media


Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

Click here to schedule a free demo of the Creative Optimization platform today.

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:

  • Bargain hunters
  • Gift buyers
  • Cultural purchasers
  • Event purchasers


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.

5. Retarget


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:



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.



  • Home page
  • Category page(s)
  • Product page(s)
  • Add to cart
  • Add to wish list
  • Cart page
  • Checkout page
  • 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 old days of advertising, the name of the game was reach and frequency. Brands preferred mass media vehicles like television and radio, because they were the easiest means to reach large audiences and build brand awareness. Obviously, this meant the most effective advertising campaigns were dominated by the biggest brands with the largest marketing budgets.

If you’ve been reading our blog then you don’t need to be sold on the ways retargeting can help your business. However, putting everything together – building audiences, managing campaigns, optimizing performance, etc. – can sometimes feel overwhelming. This is especially true when retargeting is just one of the many marketing strategies that you focus on.

To help you out, we’ve teamed up with HubSpot, the world’s leading inbound and sales marketing platform, to bring you a free eBook, titled The Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting. In addition to providing context on the types of retargeting and the different ways it can help your business, we’ve collected some of our favorite tips and best practices for getting started, running your campaigns, creating good ads, and measuring and optimizing your performance.

Download the free eBook now and start learning how to use retargeting to increase leads and traffic today.

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.

As we delve deeper into audience marketing and programmatic, we often talk about this ideal scenario of delivering the right message to the right person at the right moment. However, in that scenario, often times the focus on the “right message” gets buried. Acquiring data has become easier and more automated, but the same can’t be said for delivering a compelling experience to the customer. While tools like dynamic product ads improve the efficiency of creating millions of different versions of ads, they still don’t help marketers figure out the most important part: what’s the right hook that will convince your audience to pay attention. Figuring that out is still a very manual, creatively driven process.

In working with our clients, we’ve learned that developing the “right message” requires discipline and communication between the data analysis and creative parts of the organization. Here are three basic steps you should be taking:

Step 1: Know Your Audience; Use Personas


Knowing your audience starts with being able to paint a vivid picture of each customer – knowing their needs, their aspirations, and their goals. The best way to do this is ensuring you have accurate, compelling, and useful personas of your target audiences. The best personas are an amalgam of both qualitative and quantitative insights. The Nielsen Norman Group offers a great primer on developing data-driven personas.

Step 2: Categorize Your Intent Data


Once you start collecting intent data, it won’t be long before you find yourself being deluged by it. The challenge we face constantly is figuring out how to categorize data in the most useful ways.

There are two basic ways we start categorizing intent data – the first is based on signals that indicate how likely a user is to take an action, the second is signals that show how valuable that user might be. By mapping these segments, we can start to build a narrative of where they are in the buying cycle, and what messages might resonate with them.

Step 3: Think “Personal” Not “Programmatic”


In the equation of being in the right place at the right time with the right message. Having the right message is the most important part of that equation. Studies have shown that creative quality, not targeting or optimization, is the primary reason why brand campaigns succeed or fail.

However, developing “good” creative is easier said than done. The key takeaway is that while dynamic advertising will help operationally, simply rotating a never ending stream of images, copy and colors, to try to hit upon a “winning” combination will not deliver an ideal customer experience. It is essential that any design and copy template start by speaking the right language, is considerate of where your customers might be in the funnel, and takes into account the contexts where they’re going to encounter your ads.

By leveraging intent data with your existing understanding of your customers, you can start making your data work harder and smarter for you. Optimized targeting and compelling, customer-first creative is a powerful combination that will help you drive incremental results.

If you manage retargeting, frequency caps are something you should be familiar with. They’re often neglected and never tested because they’re not straightforward, but not knowing what optimal frequency cap to use can result in poor results. Like any of the other levers within retargeting, frequency caps should be measured and tested to understand the ideal number of times a unique visitor should see your ad – otherwise, you're wasting a lot of impressions.

The last thing you want to do is cause banner blindness by overexposure, or even worst – irritate or creep people out to the point where it tarnishes your brand. Having a frequency cap in place limits the number of times a visitor sees your ad over a period of time. It’s important to find that sweet spot; otherwise, you risk running a campaign that doesn’t generate enough impressions to keep your brand top of mind.

You’ll find unproven answers and "best practices", but the reality is there isn't one number that works for every single advertiser or industry. If it were really that simple, it would be pre-defined for you. The challenge is to figure out how much is too much and what frequency cap you should use. The best frequency cap is the one that works best to drive results for your business.

Let’s walk through how to test and analyze the initial frequency cap for your retargeting campaigns, then how to optimize to determine the best frequency cap.

The Test Method


If split-testing frequency caps were easy to do, there’d be numerous articles explaining how to do it. It's difficult to truly test it simultaneously, but here's one way to approach it:

  1. Begin by setting up two retargeting lists that are similar to one
    another, but not overlapping.
  2. Set your desired cookie duration, which should be identical for
    both lists.
  3. Create two campaigns promoting the same assets, one for
    each retargeting list, and set the campaign to rotate the ads to
    serve evenly.
  4. Input your desired frequency caps in the individual campaigns
    to test against, analyze, and continue playing around with the
    different frequency caps.


You could also try testing only one retargeting list, changing the frequency cap week over week over a period of time, and then evaluating the results. However, there are many factors that may affect the results, and it won't be as clean as the method above.

Performance Results Analysis


Let's analyze the results of the tests. For this part, you'll need to know your way around pivot tables and creating simple formulas.

  1. Run and export an ad frequency report for the desired
    timeframe from your retargeting platform.
  2. The data you should have in the report is: Impressions,
    Frequency, Clicks, Spend, and Conversions or Revenue, as
    well as any other important metrics to measure success.
  3. The next step is to create a pivot table that sets Frequency as
    the row label. Sum up the rest of the data points mentioned in
    #2 under the values section of the pivot table.


Pivot_table


  1. If not present in the report, create the following calculated
    fields in the pivot table to calculate: CTR, Conversion Rate,
    and Cost Per Conversion or ROAS (whichever is relevant for
    you). You should have a table that looks like this dummy
    example:


Calculated_fields



There are two things important to monitor: click-through rate and conversion rate. If you click each frequency number and group them one by one, you'll be able to see where the majority of your conversions fall. It's clear from this table that the CTR starts to drop after the second cap, but the conversions are highest and most efficient in costs at one to two caps. Based on this example, I would set my frequency cap at two.

Happy retargeting!

The online customer purchase path has become way more complex. If marketers want to develop a relevant and efficient online acquisition strategy, they have to fully understand this new online purchasing landscape.

The online advertising world is traditionally “ad centric” – campaign performance is measured for a given format and on a specific channel. Now, it’s evolving into a “customer-centric” model, where performance is measured and analyzed at the user level (i.e., its overall acquisition cost, regardless of the channel or formats being used). The move from a silo to a cross-channel vision allows advertisers to allocate ad investments more wisely, avoiding excessive spend on a single user. If you’re a marketer who’s willing to create a unified strategy for your ad campaigns – across Search, Social, and Display channels – then audience targeting and use of first-party data are vital necessities.

The Audience Is the Glue and Cement Between Channels


Did you know that 98% of website visitors don’t convert on their first visit? To send them back to your website and directly to the bottom of the celebrated conversion funnel, you have to retarget them one way or another. This is especially important for marketers who:

  • Invest heavily to acquire high levels of web traffic
  • Want to ensure the right use of their website across diverse channels
  • Are trying to take strategic advantage of these channels – whether it’s Search (Google AdWords, Bing, Yahoo Gemini), Social (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), or Display (network and banner publishers, video)


Because of the obvious link between search intent and the related click action, until recently, no channel was able to compete with Search. However, this is changing, due to technologies that focus on audiences and are able to leverage substantial volumes of data.

Now, advertisers no longer rely solely on what customers are searching for (queried keywords). They’re also leveraging multiple behavioral and demographic data from other channels. The marketers’ goal is to identify, segment, target, and retarget the audience with the highest customer lifetime value, across different channels and devices (smartphones, tablets, and desktop) in order to maximize conversion rates.

Leverage Customer Intent and Behavioral Signals – Building First-Party Data


Your website is still the best source of information on user behavior, since you can easily analyze browsing patterns (number of page views, shares on social media, cart abandon, etc.).

This information allows you to identify trends and define various profiles according to your performance goals. For example, a user who’s seen 10 different pages has a tendency to convert more frequently than someone who’s seen only one.

You can enrich these website profiles with other data (internal or external to the site) in order to build powerful data combinations. Two types of data that always seem to be inescapable: intent (via search engine) and demographic.

Combining the windfall of useful information from search campaigns with demographic targeting insights from social campaigns, you can refine your user profiles for more optimized retargeting campaigns.

By cross-checking this audience data, you can better understand your prospective customers while improving the efficiency of your online campaigns. And, you can more precisely target your most important user segments. Indeed, these audience lists can be used across your three ad campaign types:

  1. 1. Search – Google Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)
  2. 2. Social – Facebook Website Custom Audiences (WCA) and
        Twitter Tailored Audiences
  3. 3. Display – ad exchange platforms (programmatic), Facebook
        Exchange, and DoubleClick Ad Exchange


To provide a real-world example: Someone starts his purchase journey on a search engine with the term “cheap hotel in London”. Then, he clicks the text ad without converting. You could add him to the audience list that includes people interested in the “London” destination with an intent of “cheap”. You can then implement a targeting campaign for this list by bidding differently on each channel to optimize its cost of acquisition (for instance, Search at -20%, Social at +20%, and Display at +10%).

Improved Campaign Performance, Unified Management


Looking at the customer purchase path, it’s obvious that each channel has drastically different roles and impacts on final outcomes. For example, Search is more likely to generate direct sales, while Social and Display have more supporting roles. According to a Marin Software study, Search campaigns – when jointly managed with Social – generate 26% higher revenue per click compared to single-channel campaigns. This type of unified management strategy also improves revenue per conversion – Search campaign revenue per conversion was 68% higher when managed simultaneously with Social.

Marketers who successfully leverage unified Search, Social, and Display strategies experience better managed and optimized online acquisition spend. By firmly shifting focus to your audience, you can maximize lifetime value and overall ROI. Using a flexible and transparent platform that enables you to precisely segment and target users on all channels allows you to more effectively achieve your business goals, while evolving away from a single-channel approach.

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.

Advertisers cite data quality as one of their top concerns in creating complete customer profiles. Many advertisers are still looking for ways to expand the reach and effectiveness of their campaigns with strong, quality data. Being able to effectively synthesize different sources of data is a key step in this process. While first- and third-party data are most common and have their own, unique strengths, second-party data is making a big splash – and quickly becoming the life of the party.

First- and Third-Party Data Aren’t Enough


First-party data is your data, collected from your own audience and customers. It’s unique, cost-effective, and relevant. However, it has scalability issues since – by its very nature – it’s not designed to locate and target additional audiences.

Third-party data is data from an external source, aggregated and sold to advertisers for use in display campaigns and analytics. It has equal-but-opposite issues – it provides a good overall look at a segment or market, but is not unique and less relevant.

Second-party data allows advertisers to bridge the gap between the two.

Second-Party Data to the Rescue


Second-party data is data received from a trusted source that an advertiser has a direct relationship with. Not only is it scalable – unlike first-party data – it’s also more reliable than third-party data. Second-party data allows you to expand audience reach with accurate data from a trusted partner, whereas third-party data is unreliable due to how the audiences are compiled – information can quickly become outdated.

As a modern marketer, you need to use all the tools at your disposal to best reach and target your audience. Using a healthy mix of all three data types can help you optimize your campaigns and reduce costs, while reaching larger portions of your target audience.

In the first two 'Going Mobile' posts we explored how cross-device matching works and how ads are targeted and delivered to those users. In this long overdue post, we’ll go from the theoretical to the practical and go through some best practices for getting the most from your cross-device retargeting campaigns.

1. Figure out what your goals are


This is the basic step that should kick off any marketing campaign. Determine what you want to accomplish. Cross-device retargeting can help you accomplish four general goals:

  1. Build awareness: Do you want to keep your brand in front of your potential customers at the right moments?
  2. Facilitate acquisition: Did your visitor view a category or a product on your web site? Is there a potential next step you want to encourage?
  3. Drive conversions: Did the person abandon her shopping cart? Could a little push help complete the transaction?
  4. Reengage: Is there potential for reengaging with existing customers to either cross-sell complementary products or encourage a repeat purchase?



2. Segment your audiences


Creating actionable audience segments is necessary for any retargeting campaign and it’s no different when you’re retargeting users on their mobile devices. When segmenting your audiences, there’s a balance you’ll need to strike with your audience segments – smaller audiences can perform well, but are harder to scale; large, generic audiences can be harder to optimize. For cross-device retargeting campaigns, we’d recommend starting with the following audiences:

  1. • All visitors
  2. • Visitors who have viewed a product or category
  3. • Visitors who have abandoned their shopping carts
  4. • Customers (people who have converted)



3. Choose the right ad format


If you’ve ever done retargeting, the previous two steps should be pretty familiar already. Step three is where some of the nuances diverge. There are two common mobile ad formats used in-app and across mobile web sites:

  1. Mobile Banners display the ad across the bottom of the screen. The most common size for mobile banners is 320x50.
  2. Interstitial Ads take over the screen until the user dismisses it. The most common interstitial sizes are 320x480 or 480x320.


Beyond the obvious difference in size, the two ad formats have distinct strengths and weaknesses.

If you want to drive volume, mobile banners are your best bet, as the available inventory vastly outnumbers mobile interstitial inventory. We’ve typically seen the number of available banner impressions outnumber interstitial impressions by 3-5x. Mobile banners are also significantly cheaper than interstitials. Mobile banner CPMs range from $.50-$2.00+, whereas interstitial CPMs range from $3.00-7.00+. On average, interstitial campaign CPMs are about 3-6x higher than mobile banner CPMs.

Of course, price isn’t the only issue. Part of the reason Mobile Interstitial ads cost more is because they enjoy significantly higher engagement rates. On average, interstitial click-through rates (CTRs) are 3-4x higher than banner CTRs. Based on the campaign and creative quality, we’ve even seen interstitial campaigns with CTRs up to 10x higher than average banner CTRs.

The takeaway here is that, as always, there are trade-offs so it's worthwhile to test different formats to see which best addresses your specific goals. For scenarios where volume is important, or you’re budget constrained, try testing mobile banner ads. If you’re trying to encourage customer action, then interstitials might be the optimal format.

4. Optimize your creative for mobile


1


Provide a clear and simple value proposition; create a sense of urgency and include vivid, strong CTAs

Creative optimization for your mobile campaigns goes beyond just repurposing your desktop banner ads. Mobile ads give you a unique chance to make an impression. The key to driving performance is simplicity and directness. You’ll want to ensure your mobile ads offer the following:

  1. A clear value proposition. The creative canvas on mobile is relatively limited, particularly if you’re using mobile banners. Keep your message simple and make sure it’s relevant to your target audiences' interests.
  2. Use strong call-to-actions with bold designs. You have a split second to capture your audiences' attention; don’t get cute with your CTAs. Use strong, directive language, and make sure the CTA design stands out.
  3. Create urgency. Mobile can be a particularly effective means to get users to take immediate action. Try including an element of limited timing or supply in your message.
  4. Rotate your creative. One of the benefits of mobile advertising is that there’s much less clutter and typically only one ad is shown on-screen at a time. The downside of this exclusivity is that your audience is likely to become tired of your creative much quicker. To minimize banner fatigue, try to create a couple different variations of each ad and rotate them liberally.



5. Measure holistically using view-through conversions


I’ve already beaten the drum pretty soundly on why you should be measuring view-through attribution here. If you’re still primarily measuring performance on a last-click model, mobile might be a good opportunity to also try testing a view-through attribution model. Tracking mobile view-throughs can be especially enlightening if your customers are more likely to convert on desktops or if your ad CTAs drive to a desktop-centric action.

Hopefully these recommendations will help you get a head start with your cross-device and mobile retargeting campaigns!

This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content and PR Manager at Boost Media.

Managing a display campaign requires a different strategy and set of tactics than managing a search campaign, even if the purpose of both campaigns is to generate new leads. It’s important for marketers to note that performance will differ by network, especially in terms of click-through rate and traffic.

While display ads tend to work well for building brand awareness, the quality of traffic and the clicks and conversions tend to be lower than search ads. Historically speaking, search ads are employed to garner clicks, and display ads are best for gaining visibility. Marketers should determine if the search or display network is best for meeting a specific campaign objective and for attracting more potential customers.

So what can you do to optimize your display campaigns for success? Here are three best practices.

1. Have a clear call to action (CTA)


For most marketers, this won’t come as a surprise: display ads must have a clear and concise CTA. This is especially important in image-based ads because customers may not know what part of the ad is clickable. Bearing this in mind, many marketers often include the CTA in the form of a button to pop from the background image. Keep the CTA brief and direct, for example: “Shop Now,” “Buy Now,” or “Sign Up.” You may also consider testing the button color as well as text to determine what works best in your ad. Help remove the guesswork for your customer by incorporating stronger and clearer CTAs into your display ads.

2. Test, test, and test again


Testing is just as important in display as in search. The testing options are vast, but start with the elements that can most impact your conversion rate: CTA, messaging, and images. Create three to four ads per ad group and test different messaging and images. Then evaluate which ad performs best with your customers and use these insights to inform your overall strategy. Build on what you’ve learned from testing by incorporating learnings into your active campaigns.

3. Manage placement of ads


Placement targeting can bring a new level of control to online marketers in their display campaigns. Third party retargeting tools such as Marin enable marketers to quickly identify high-performing placements to save more money. Accurately valuing display campaigns across the complete path to conversion can maximize your ROI.


For additional best practices and tips for optimizing your display campaigns, sign up for our co-webinar with Marin Software on April 21. Register here to learn more.


About the Author


sarah

Sarah heads up Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston magazine, The Improper Bostonian and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running and yoga.

About Boost Media


Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

Click here to schedule a free demo of the Creative Optimization platform today.

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.

display2

This is a guest post by Jana Fung of MixRank.

In my first post in this series, we looked at the 5 biggest don’ts when it comes to contextual keywords. Now let’s consider a few things you can do to make your ads a success:

  • Do: Experiment with lower bidding strategies. When you’re testing out campaigns, it is usually recommended to start with a large budget and optimize as you go. However, clicks on the GDN can be up to 75% cheaper than paid search clicks. So don’t be afraid to start a test campaign with a small budget. If you find that you’re continuously missing out on impressions due to budget constraints, increase your budget incrementally and optimize your keywords and placements as you go.


  • Do: Try targeting keywords that are outside your current product offering. Although counter-intuitive, this actually expands your reach to the right audience. For example, if you’re selling luggage, your target audience includes travelers and you would use travel-related keywords. However, you may also want to use the keyword “airport security rules.” Although not included in your product offering, this keyword will reach an audience that is new to travelling and in need of luggage. Targeting keywords that are outside your product offering works well because keyword targeting on the GDN is not like paid search where you try to match intent. On the GDN, keyword targeting and ads should be created to reach new audiences, and should focus less on exact match product offerings.


  • Do: Spy on your competitors’ contextual keywords and scale your own keywords accordingly, by using free competitive intelligence tools like MixRank. As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, you shouldn't be using a thesaurus to identify relevant keywords for your target audience. Free competitive intelligence tools like MixRank provide instant access to your competitors’ top performing contextual keywords and give you relevant keyword suggestions that you can test with your own campaigns.


  • Do: Add other layers of targeting in conjunction with keyword targeting. In addition to keyword targeting, the GDN offers placement targeting, interest targeting, topic targeting and re-marketing. With the exception of re-marketing, you should add at least one layer of targeting to increase precision for your intended audience. Keep in mind that if you add too many layers of targeting, volume may significantly decrease, so be sure to check the estimated display reach within your Display Network tab.


  • Do: Limit the number of keywords per ad group to 3-6 to increase precision, relevancy and Quality Score (QS). Because keyword targeting on the GDN only allows for broad match, it doesn't make sense to add variations of the same keyword as you would in paid search for exact and phrase match targeting. If you’re targeting too many broad match keywords that aren't thematically related within a single ad group, your QS may suffer and hurt campaign performance.


While this is just a starter list of what you should consider when building out your contextual keywords and ad campaigns, it is imperative to understand the differences between the Search network and the Display network. Display advertisers are creating ads and keyword targets to reach specific audiences, while search advertisers are creating ads and keyword targets to reach specific intentions.

What contextual keyword dos or don’ts have you had success with in the past? Share them with us in the comments section below.

About the Author
Jana Fung, guest author of this post, is the Marketing Manager of MixRank. She has managed successful demand generation programs for over 6 years. MixRank.com is a spy tool for contextual and display ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, Jana is interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter @jana_fung.

google display network keywords contextual

This is a guest post by Jana Fung with MixRank.

Contextual advertising on the Google Display Network (GDN) is often an overlooked strategy to gain additional traffic at a low cost. Although willing to test out campaigns, advertisers have had little success optimizing them due to the vast difference between contextual keyword targeting and paid search keyword targeting. With high expectations for contextual ads, advertisers are often disappointed and shocked when the ads do not perform similarly to paid search campaigns.

In this series, I’ll discuss some dos and don’ts when it comes to testing contextual keywords on the GDN. Let’s start with some watch-outs:

  • Don’t: Copy and paste your best performing long tail keywords from paid search campaigns into new contextual ad groups. The GDN only offers broad match keyword targeting, so lengthy, descriptive keywords are more likely to harm your campaigns than to help them.


  • Don’t: Group keywords the same way you would group them for paid search campaigns. Consider using shorter and broader keyword terms that you can thematically group together.


  • Don’t: Add negative keywords as an optimization strategy. Since you’re using a variety of websites to reach as many relevant audiences as possible, you’re better off noting what sites your ads are performing poorly on and excluding those from your campaign using negative placements.


  • Don’t: Expect contextual keyword performance to have similar or comparable outcomes to your paid search keywords. Even though you’re using the same ad platform, Google AdWords, this does not mean the ad channels are equal or that they should they be measured in the same way.


  • Don’t: Rely on a thesaurus to expand your contextual keyword targets and scale quickly. A thesaurus helps with paid search campaigns where you aim to expand your reach to every query that’s synonymous with your product offering. However, for contextual keyword targeting, the main goal is to reach your target audience on different websites. Therefore, instead of focusing on synonymous keywords, focus on keywords that will help you reach similar audiences. In the next post, we’ll discuss some strategies to help you expand and scale on contextual keywords.


Now that you know what not to do, join us next week with Part 2 of this series where will discuss what contextual keyword strategies to implement and how to create precise targeting for your campaigns.

About the Author
Jana Fung, guest author of this post, is the Marketing Manager of MixRank. She has managed successful demand generation programs for over 6 years. MixRank.com is a spy tool for contextual and display ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, Jana is interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter @jana_fung.

Retargeting Audiences 2

Innovation in retargeting technology has increased over the last few years. With new players, the simplification of tools, and an increase in platform integrations, retargeting has become a valuable channel for reacquiring leads and filling in the middle of the marketing funnel. Last week in part one of our two part series, we discussed why testing platforms, setting realistic call-to-actions (CTA), and segmenting visitors are all critical to a successful retargeting program. Today, we’ll conclude our discussion by reviewing the importance of refreshing ad creative, integrating geo-targeting strategies, and opting out employees from retargeting campaigns.

Refresh: Update Ad Creative Often

Ads that are used to retarget your visitors tend to follow them around as they surf the web. The constant bombardment of the same or similar ads can not only lead to ad blindness, but can also frustrate your audience. To increase the likelihood that your visitor pool will notice and engage with your retargeting campaign, consider refreshing your ad creative frequently—every week or month depending on your business needs. Consider testing new CTAs, promoting a different piece of collateral, or simply changing the look and feel of your ad creative. The more often you refresh your ads, the more opportunities there are to re-engage your audience.

Relocate: Integrate a Geo-Targeting Strategy

The scope of your business or the engagement of your audience might be isolated to a specific geography—shipping only within the United Kingdom or a contest that only includes Australian residents. If geography is a limitation or plays a significant factor for your business, it’s important to understand which retargeting vendors support geo-targeting functionality. Even if your campaigns are performing well, there are still opportunities to remove specific geographies and eliminate unwanted impression and clicks that result in wasted spend and unqualified leads. On the other hand, geo-targeting an emerging market and retargeting visitors to promote additional discover can help grow brand and lead generation efforts in strategic geographies.

Remove: Opt Out Employees

Employees who visit your company’s website often times become a bullseye for your retargeting campaigns. While the number of impressions may not make a huge impact on overall campaign performance, they still represent valuable impressions and spend that could’ve been directed towards a more qualified audience. Most platforms don’t really offer a simple solution for addressing this challenge (i.e. IP exclusion). However, you can build a segment, for example visitors to your website’s Careers page, and exclude it from your retargeting campaigns. Ask your colleagues to visit the Careers page once and they should be “opted out” of retargeting (depending on cookie settings). This is by far the most efficient and effective solution I’ve found to date (let me know if you leverage a different strategy).

Marin Software Careers Page


Retargeting remains a critical marketing channel for reaching and re-engaging your potential customers. As you manage and optimize your retargeting program, keep the six strategies and best practices in mind. They’ll help you kick-start your program and optimize campaign performance for long-term success.

“Let’s Try This Again…” – Three Strategies for Retargeting Success, Part 1

Retargeting Audiences



Retargeting has been a commonplace strategy for online marketers for quite some time. However, many companies, specifically non-retailers, overlook the value of this channel for reacquiring leads and filling in the middle of the marketing funnel. Over the last few years, the landscape for display retargeting has seen a sharp rise in innovation; new players, the simplification of tools, and an increase in platform integrations have made it easier for online marketers to kick-start and expand their retargeting strategies. In part one of this two part series, we’ll discuss why testing platforms, setting realistic call-to-actions (CTA), and segmenting visitors are all critical to a successful retargeting program.

Test Multiple Platforms

Don’t get complacent. Just because one retargeting campaign is performing well, doesn’t mean you should stop exploring other platforms. Many vendors offer very similar tools, however you may be able to amplify your message by reaching a broader audience on placements that your original platform may not have been working with. Due to the relatively low risk and ease of implementation, it doesn’t hurt to test additional platforms.

Set Realistic CTAs

With retargeting, especially in the B2B world, you often have one shot to drive a visitor back onto your website. In most cases, assume that you failed the first time in converting a visitor because they weren’t interested in what you were trying to sell. For example, I often leverage a demo or trial signup as a CTA in order to gauge if visitors are interested in learning more or trying out our software. If these visitors enter my retargeting pool, I have to assume that the original CTA was too direct the first time and that I didn’t provide them with the information needed to continue driving them down the conversion funnel. If it didn’t work the first time, it’s highly unlikely it’ll work now. In these scenarios, I try to push a more top of the funnel CTA like downloading one of our industry thought leadership whitepapers. Visitors get to learn more about Marin Software and our platform, and we get an introduction and second chance to show them our value proposition. It’s a win-win.

Segment Visitors

Segment your visitor pool into as many buckets that make sense for your business. The more buckets you create, the more targeted you can be with your remarketing efforts. If you lumped all your visitors into one bucket, you‘d miss out on opportunities to pitch different content or products based on what these visitors have indicated they’re interested in. Why promote socks when they’re looking for shoes? Why pitch a paid search white paper when they’re interested in retargeting? Many online retailers do a great job executing this strategy, and B2B companies are tuning in and following suit. By segmenting visitors, you’ll also be able to remove certain visitors from your retargeting pool. For example, if someone visited your site looking for a job, remove them from your retargeting list. Over the long run, strategies like this one will help increase cost efficiency and lead to higher click-through rates (CTR).

As you manage and optimize your retargeting program, keep these three strategies and their best practices in mind. Next week, we’ll continue our discussion and walk through the best practices for keeping ad creative fresh, leveraging geo-targeting, and opting out employees from retargeting.

Historically, a group’s theme—drawn from the keywords within the group—defined how a creative matched to similarly themed webpages across the Google display network (GDN). As a result of this keyword aggregation, cost and conversion metrics were reported on and optimized at the group level. Back in March of this year, Google announced their “biggest enhancement ever” to the display network. Combining the reach of display with the precision of search, Google’s Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting enabled advertisers to begin optimizing the performance of their contextually targeted display campaigns at the keyword level.

In a post last year, we explored a few best practices for managing and optimizing campaigns across the GDN—tightening group themes to increase creative relevance, continuously optimizing creative language and excluding poor performing placements. Today, in light of the recent changes to contextual targeting, we’ll revisit this discussion and review additional best practices for managing and optimizing campaigns across the GDN.

Breakdown Keyword Performance

The method by which Google attributes keyword-level performance differs between the GDN and Google search. Keep in mind that all keywords are considered broad match on the GDN. From there, the new algorithm selects individual keywords from the group and determines the contextual relevance of each to a given web page. The keyword that is most relevant is attributed with the impression and subsequent click and cost metrics. The contextual relevance of a keyword is determined by how strongly it matches with the web page’s text, language, link and page structure, as well as other factors.

Access to keyword-performance data enables search marketers to better optimize their campaigns across the GDN. However, separating search and display campaigns is highly recommended in order to fully leverage this level of granularity. Although keyword performance can be reported on separately, keyword bids (within campaigns targeting search and display) affect both networks. Only with separate campaigns can marketers set separate search and display bids.

Leverage Keyword Insertion

Using dynamic keyword insertion within creative is a quick and effective way to increase relevancy. Inserting {Keyword:default text} into the headline, description line or display URL dynamically populates creative to include the contextually relevant keyword that triggered the creative. However, keep in mind that not all keywords make grammatical sense when inserted. Simple keyword variations can result in an awkward-sounding creative. (For example, add the keyword “snowboard pants” rather than “snowboard pant”.) Granular and organized groups with well-written creative will benefit most from dynamic keyword insertion and result in increasing click-through-rates and Quality Scores.

Review Bidding Hierarchy

When setting keyword bids for GDN campaigns, the most specific bid available will always be used. The general order of bids, from most to least specific, is outlined below:

  • Individual placement bid
  • Managed placements bid
  • Display Network bid
  • Individual keyword bid
  • Default bid


As a result of this hierarchy, when setting keyword-level bids, don’t set a Display Network bid as Google will ignore the individual keyword bid that was set. Similarly, if no placement bids, Display Network bids or individual keyword bids have been set, the default group bid will be leveraged. As a best practice, only set individual keyword-level bids and default group bids when optimizing bids for GDN campaigns.

Yesterday, Google released its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011. On the whole, it was a strong quarter for the digital advertising giant. But Wall Street reacted in a way that seems counterintuitive. Since the earnings' call, $18 billion has evaporated from Google's market cap as share prices fell ~8%. So, what’s happening here? Is there really cause for concern? Or are Wall Street's concerns overblown?

Google Earnings





To get a more complete picture, let's look at the relevant pieces of Google's business and performance.

The Big Picture


Google's revenue for the fourth quarter was $10.6 billion, representing a year-over-year (y/y) top line growth of 25%, and marking their first $10 billion plus quarter. Though I usually don't wax poetic over corporate financials, there is something strongly significant and symbolic about having hit the rarefied $10 billion quarter club. Way to go, Googlers!

Google’s Core Search Business


Click Volume - Paid clicks were up 34% annually (y/y), implying more users are more engaged with Google.

CPC - Cost per Click declined 8% on a y/y basis, implying customers are getting more volume (clicks) for their advertising spend. This dynamic is important to keep in mind as cheaper clicks are better for advertisers, and assuming click quality doesn't decline, will lead to increased investment in Google.

Wall Street’s Reaction


There's probably more to dissect in these earnings, but this is probably a good place to pause and examine Wall Street's reaction.

To put it plainly, Wall Street didn't like any of the above. Shares plummeted ~8%. The big issue for Wall Street (based on the nature and frequency of analyst questions) was around the decline in Google's average cost per click.

But this shouldn't really be a factor because the marginal cost of a click (for Google) is zero. And assuming that click volumes are rising faster than changes in the cost per click, which they are in this case, Google's top line revenue shouldn't really see an impact.Net net, if cheaper clicks brings more advertisers on-board, than Google will more than make up on volume.

To be fair, I'm not looking at the slowdown in Europe or issues around currency (F/X) hedging in this blog post. (I'm also not looking at the positive impacts of mobile, social and display) But, those issues are a) extrinsic and b) volatile, and in retrospect, Wall Street may have over-reacted to Google's numbers.

As search marketers, I think we often overlook the importance of what a well thought out display campaign can do for your search campaigns. If you haven’t in the past, now is definitely the time for search marketers to take display advertising seriously. With recent news that Google’s display network has edged into the lead over Yahoo, isn’t it time you understood the importance of an effective display campaign, and how this added traffic can support your search campaigns?

Display advertising has always traditionally been used to establish brand awareness, but we can focus our display advertising to ensure that it also ultimately drives search activity. It’s highly important to understand what impact display advertising may have for your brand specifically, then cater your ads towards that.



Key Considerations

In order to maximise the potential output of a solid relationship between search and display, you need to take into consideration a few key aspects:

1. What role is each channel going to play?

It is really important to understand how each channel is going to perform in relation to converting. Display is often primarily used to drive awareness of the brand and product, whereas search is best placed to take you directly to your product and an immediate response. Understanding what role each channel will play and being realistic about targets will help you plan your strategy more efficiently.

2. Getting the right balance

We have already established the role each channel plays is important, but the next stage is to get the balance right in order to maximize reach and conversions. For example, whilst search drives more direct conversions, the volume may be not sufficient to generate the number of leads you need, leading you to scale up your display advertising investment to drive greater search volume.

3. Understanding performance

Spending time to identify which sites and keywords are producing a knock on effect enables you to establish areas of focus and understand any correlation between metrics. If increasing spend on certain targeted display channels appear to be driving increased click-to-conversion rates seen for display and search together, this will incentivise you to pay higher CPCs and bid their keywords to higher position, whilst maintaining the same return on ad spend.

4. Choose the right channels

It is essential that once you have understood the right channels in which your keywords and display advertising are having a positive knock on effect, that you target these channels in order to maximize your reach. If you can measure the cross channel attribution, this may help you make a more informed decision.

5. Understand the impact

Tracking your media from a centralised location will make it far easier to measure any cross channel impact. It will also help you measure and optimize dependent on results. Advertisers can lose sight of value and optimization opportunities when measuring search & display, and it can be difficult to see direct impact of a change in media and the subsequent knock on effect in another.

Display advertising is growing faster than ever, with more and more targeted streams opening up to advertisers. Use display ads wisely, using its capability to provide wide reaching brand awareness, and you can use your search campaigns to harness the response and turn these into conversions.

Reaching over 640 million internet users per month through Google’s Display Network, formally known as Google’s Content Network, is easy. Reaching those internet users that are relevant is hard, and often a seemingly daunting task. Understanding how Google manages and operates their Display Network is critical in ensuring healthy and optimized content campaigns. Google allows advertisers to target audiences through keywords, placements, categories, remarketing and topics. Our discussion today focuses on keyword targeting.

For direct response and branding content campaigns, effective campaign build-out and execution of best practices can mean the difference between millions of wasted impressions and thousands of qualified clicks.

When constructing or expanding Google content campaigns, keep these thoughts in mind:

  1. Nature of the Beast
  2. Drawing Up a Game Plan
  3. Execution is Key
  4. The Network Never Sleeps



Nature of the Beast


Before considering displaying an advertiser’s creative on the Display Network, Google first scans the publisher’s content page for repeated and emphasized keywords. Once a theme(s) or concept(s) has been determined, Google then matches the content to an ad creative based on an advertiser’s ad group theme (also known as the moment of relevance). Keep in mind that the theme(s) and concept(s) of a particular content page are continuously analyzed and reclassified.

Drawing Up a Game Plan


Think of content ad groups as you would search keywords. Adding, pausing and deleting keywords within an ad group have an impact, and change how Google assesses that ad group’s theme. Remain highly relevant by considering the overall theme of the keywords contained within each content ad group. Leave no room for Google to incorrectly assess the theme of an ad group and its intended audience.

Execution is Key


Generally speaking, content ad groups are most effective when utilizing 5 to 30 keywords (Google, 2011). Additionally, duplicating keywords across ad groups is highly effective as long as the keywords aid in establishing a common theme. Once a tight set of keywords has been generated, construct ad creative that matches the theme of the keywords and ad group. Including call-to-actions and unique selling points make for effective ad creative. Keep in mind that ad groups are keywords within the Display Network, so never incorporate dynamic keyword insertion within ad creative and always use ad group level URLs.

The Network Never Sleeps


Like search, content campaigns and ad groups require constant upkeep and optimization. In addition to refining ad group themes via keyword expansion, there are key strategies that should be deployed in every content campaign. Like establishing an ad group theme using tightly grouped keywords, negative keywords are just as important in restricting ads from displaying for irrelevant or less relevant publisher content. Consider the difference in advertising desktop computer games and console video games. In this case, a negative keyword list should be generated to block content that discusses new video game releases for the Playstation 3. Similarly, implement site exclusions to exclude your ad creative from showing on poorly performing placements. Conversely, utilize placement targeting to target and capitalize on higher converting placements. Most leading search management platforms capture site referrals and allow you to manage your site placements and exclusions. Creative testing is critical in determining what your customers are looking for. Continuously testing ad creative language (emotional, functional, promotional, etc) and formatting (text, image, video and different sizes) provides insight into what types of ads perform best.

In the ever changing landscape of Google’s Display Network, it’s critical to buy into the concepts of tightening ad group themes, increasing ad creative relevancy and continuously optimizing content campaigns. Start with these simple best practices and begin converting irrelevant impressions into qualified clicks.

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