People rely heavily on Google searches to discover new brands and products during their purchasing journey. Meanwhile, every business is looking to increase its visibility, reach its target audience, and get maximum return on investment. Google Shopping can play a pivotal role in a company's ability to successfully achieve their goals. 35% of all product searches start on Google. Think of how many new customers Google can help you reach and what that could mean for your business.

According to Andrew Gonzales, President of Business Loans, "Upcoming eCommerce startups must understand how to take advantage of the wide reach of Google Shopping to help get their products out there in front of those that need to see them and boost their sales."

This guide will walk you through the basics of Google Shopping, its importance, and how to leverage it to get the best return on investment.

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What is Google Shopping?

Google Shopping is a service that displays products relevant to a user's search query. With Google Shopping, e-commerce retailers can advertise their products directly on the search engine by providing key information such as; images, prices, and descriptions that will help build trust and make more customers convert.

According to Kyle Zien, Director of Growth Marketing at Felix, "Google Shopping is a great way for businesses to build credibility for their brand and drive more sales. Not all merchants are accepted into Google Shopping, so getting your product listed on the Google Shopping platform is usually an immediate trust builder."

For maximum returns, brands must understand how best to optimize their Google shopping campaigns and leverage them as a pay-per-click marketing channel and a source of organic traffic.

Benefits of Google Shopping for Businesses

Google Shopping listings present your products to customers in an information-rich visual format that help drive consumers to quick decision-making among potential customers. But this is just one of the many benefits of Google Shopping.

Here are a few reasons why many entrepreneurs and e-commerce retailers are beginning to pay attention to the amazing value Google Shopping can provide.

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Expands Your Online Presence

The biggest advantage to using Google Shopping is Google itself continues to be by far the most popular search engine. By using Google Shopping Ads to promote your products, you will be able to reach a much larger audience, attract more customers, and generate more sales.

According to Jerry Han, CMO at PrizeRebel, "Google has a reach that is second to none. Your potential customers visit Google daily to research and compare products, and your products must be there waiting for them. If you don't leverage Google for your business, you will leave a lot of money on the table."

With 51% of shoppers saying they use Google to research a purchase they plan to make online, Google Shopping can help connect you with more potential customers exactly when they need your product.

Higher Quality Leads

By providing relevant product information needed to drive customer purchase decisions, Google shopping can help increase the number of leads that will end up making a purchase from your organization. When people find your products on Google Shopping, it is because it is relevant to their search query, and these visitors usually land on your website with a high intent to purchase.

Insightful Reports and Metrics

Google Shopping has an easy-to-use feature that makes reports and metrics easy to track. After setting up your Google Shopping ads, evaluating their performance is important.

According to Nate Tsang, Founder and CEO of WallStreetZen, "Analytics is a great tool that businesses must take advantage of to measure performance. There's no doubt that companies that use business analytics experience improved productivity, better decision making, and overall better financial performance." These analytics will let you know what's working and what's not and how you are progressing toward achieving your goals.

Most Effective Tricks for Improving your Google Shopping ROI

While Google Shopping Ads are one of the most effective ways to bring traffic to your site, they can easily drain your advertising budget if not implemented properly. Here are a few best practices to ensure you get the best return on your Google Shopping investment.

Optimize Your Product Feed

Optimizing your product feed is the first and most essential step to better shopping ads. Google uses the data from your product feed to make the best ad for you. The more optimized your product feed is, the better your shopping ads will be, potentially leading to an increase in ROI.

 For best results, each of your product listings should include the following; Product title, Product type, Product Category, Description, and Global trade item number (GTIN).

Optimizing your product title and description should be the top priority, and you must ensure that these two are relevant to what buyers search for on Google. It is good practice to use simple words when writing your product feed and mention any unique features of your product.

Ensure Your Ad Is As Appealing As Possible

When potential customers come across a shopping ad, the first thing that catches their attention is the image. So you must use only attractive images with excellent quality, as this is key to increasing the conversion rate of your ads.

If you don't want visitors to skip your ads and move on to ones with more captivating pictures, then you need to make sure that you use excellent images that immediately attract their attention.

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Take Advantage Of Customer Reviews and Product Ratings

Customer reviews and product ratings are important in grabbing customers' attention and increasing sales. The majority of online shoppers look out for reviews and ratings of a product before deciding on whether to purchase it or not.

Positive reviews and good ratings will leave the right impression about your products and give buyer's the much-needed confidence they need to buy from you. You must ensure your products have high ratings to stand a better chance of increasing your sales and ROI.

Use A/B Testing

A/B testing different portions of your Google Shopping campaign is a great way to find out what works better and what will yield better returns. You should refrain from entertaining guesswork if you want a productive Google Shopping campaign.

Different aspects of your campaign you can A/B test include your product titles and images. Certain variations will always perform better than others. With the knowledge you acquire from your test results, you will know where to make necessary changes to improve your ads' performance and increase your ROI.


Investing in Google Shopping as an advertising tactic can yield incredible returns. However, if campaign optimization is not done correctly, these types of ads can quickly eat up the bulk of your budget. Putting your best foot forward in campaign management with the above-mentioned techniques will ensure you maximize your ad spend and get the best value for the company's money.

Erika Rykun is a guest contributor to Marin Software.

When retailers want the attention of a particular market segment, they use all kinds of strategies to effectively target their ads to specific audiences and increase conversions. The most effective one? A Google Adwords feature known as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA). 

You have probably visited a website in search of a product, only to leave that site to be targeted with an ad for the exact product you were just researching. This happens because of remarketing lists. Once we’ve shown interest in a product, businesses want us to keep thinking about it—and hopefully come back for a purchase. 

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What Exactly is RLSA? 

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) are a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy.  RLSA allows you to target users who have already been to your site with new ads so you can bring them back again and land a sale. This allows you to customize your search campaigns by tailoring ads and bids for related keywords on Google or other Google Display Network sites. By leveraging this tactic, you can connect with pre-qualified prospects to increase your conversion rates, revenue, and overall profits. 

How Does RLSA Work?

When shoppers are surfing the digital landscape for products, standard display remarketing catches their attention with ads. However, users are not very receptive to these kinds of placements, and many people use ad blocking technology to avoid them altogether. In fact, a study done by Statista indicates that more than 42.7% of people worldwide use ad blocking tools. 

RLSAs are different. They target audiences with search ads instead of intrusive display popups. In contrast to typical Google display ads, RLSAs only appear when a user has actively searched for a term.  

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5 Benefits of RLSA

When used correctly, RLSA ads refine your ad campaigns and help direct your ad budget into a highly valuable market. Here’s a look at some of RLSAs biggest advantages.

Compared to Other Targeting Strategies, RLSA is More Likely to Drive Conversions

Because you can customize content, you can increase customer engagement. Using search ads allows you to offer personalization and increases win-back potential. According to a ComScore study that analyzed 103 campaigns from 39 different advertisers covering seven industries, retargeting ads generated an average lift of 1,046%. 

You Will Increase Click-Through-Rates (CTR)

RLSA enables you to target people who have already shown interest in your brand. Because these leads are considered qualified, they are more likely to return, giving you a higher CTR and a better quality score. With a higher quality score, your ad ranking in the SERPs is also likely to be higher. 

RLSAs Enable You to Trial Broad Keywords

Using broad keywords can lead to more conversions by expanding your reach. By using RLSAs, you can set up different campaigns or ad groups for the keywords you want to try so you can determine whether they improve conversion rates.

RLSAs Make Ad Spend More Efficient

With RLSAs you can choose to target only valuable and qualified users, excluding those who are not providing value, thus saving money. You can also adjust your remarketing lists so users who have chosen to disable ads are not targeted, making your campaigns more cost-effective

RLSAs Improve ROI

Remarketing lists allow you to segment your audiences into lists based on their performance. As a result, it can help you stay connected with potential customers who have previously shown interest, leading to increased sales and improved ROI.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of RLSA

Do Understand Your Audience Before Beginning

For better results with your targeted ads, learn about your website visitors and their typical behaviors throughout their customer journey. Analyze the funnel steps they travel through before converting.

Do Start Slow

Conduct an experiment to see what works and what doesn’t work. 

Don’t Bid on Vague or Generic Keywords in Search Campaigns

Instead of selecting your #1 prospecting keyword, consider starting with your 2nd, 3rd, or 4th ranked prospecting keyword.

Do Reduce Your Bid Dramatically When Retargeting Past Visitors

Bid aggressively lower, not conservatively lower. Don’t be afraid to adjust your bid to be lower than what you are bidding on your current prospecting campaign. Doing so will allow you to realize the true impact of your retargeted search. 

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Don’t Use Broad Value Propositions and General Claims When Retargeting Past Website Visitors

Remember that you are retargeting visitors who have already been to your site and are familiar with your brand or product. Instead of beating around the bush, be direct, clear, and bold. Write copy that hard sells, something that will encourage people to take immediate action on your offer.  

Do Match Messaging to User Action

Make sure that the ad copy you use is relevant to the action your users have already taken that got them on your remarketing list originally. 

How MarinOne Can Help

Interested in boosting your remarketing results or improving your search ad campaigns? Implement RLSAs to see your performance increase with less time, money, and effort. 

By partnering with MarinOne, you can improve your targeting efforts and increase your financial lift. With MarinOne’s platform, you can segment and target high value customers by audience across search, social, and display to drive your next wave of cross-channel optimization. To learn more, read our article on how to use RLSA.

Ready to get started? Contact one of our MarinOne experts today for a free trial.

Recently Google announced that Performance Max campaigns would be a more significant part of the Google Ads platform and therefore a greater part of paid media strategies for marketers at large. Since then, many questions have been raised as to what exactly this campaign type is and how it differs from other campaigns. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few of the most common concerns coming up for advertisers and best practices to deal with the changes below.

First of all, what are Performance Max campaigns?

Performance Max (PMax) means you can now buy Google Ads across the entire inventory of products from a single campaign, with expanded coverage across a myriad of different placement types, including:

  • YouTube
  • Display
  • Search
  • Discover
  • Gmail
  • Maps

PMax uses a mix of automation and machine learning to help advertisers reach their conversion goals with all of these placement types all within one campaign. Performance Max campaigns should complement keyword-based search campaigns, as well as boost performance across Google's less competitive advertising channels like Gmail and Display.

If paid media marketers invest wisely, this could bring in a whole new set of customers who are not as familiar with online shopping. Previously in Beta and compatible with Smart Shopping and Local campaigns, Performance Max will be a replacement for Performance Max Offline and Performance Max for Retail by the beginning of October 2022, meaning paid specialists need to make the pivot now.

How do Performance Max campaigns work?

Performance Max helps you drive performance based on your specified conversion goals, delivering more conversions and value by optimizing performance in real-time and across channels using Smart Bidding. Performance Max combines Google's automation technologies across bidding, budget optimization, audiences, creatives, attribution, and more. They're all empowered by your specific advertising objective (for example, if you have a CPA or ROAS target) and the creative assets, audience signals, and optional data feeds you provide.

“Performance Max puts your business goals front and center, and prioritizes these above other signals by inputting your specific conversion goals,” 

-Rodney Ip, Global Product Lead, Google Ads

Performance Max are goal-based campaigns, designed to deliver the value that matters most to you. So, to get started, you choose the goals that are necessary for you to reach your marketing objective. Then Google asks you to provide a series of inputs that help the AI tool get campaigns started. These inputs include:

  • Budget
  • Creative assets (like text, imagery, and video)
  • Geo-targets
  • Optional feeds such as: 
  • Google Merchant Center
  • Google My Business
  • Dynamic Ads Feed
  • Other Business Data Feeds
  • Audience Signals
  • First party / remarketing lists
  • Google Audiences / custom audiences

PMax campaigns are then able to take those inputs and invest your budget as effectively as possible, maintaining a core focus on the initial objective you set. Google’s automation goes to work finding the best potential customers and serving those customers the most relevant ad. Bidding and attribution technology then determine the most optimal bids to meet your goals. And of course, it’s all done in real time in the auction. 

Targeting technology, machine learning, and automated bidding all culminate to a campaign with the best possible ROI outcome. In fact, Google’s data thus far indicates Performance Max campaigns average a 13% lower cost per conversion than any other campaign to date. 

How to maximize the effectiveness of PMax campaigns

Because they leverage machine learning and automation to drive performance, Performance Max can leave advertisers feeling like they have given up some control over their campaigns. But there are still some levers you can pull to maximize your PMax campaigns. 

Audience Signals

Adding audience signals to your Performance Max campaigns enhances Google’s machine learning to help you reach the best customers. Google takes your audience data and looks at the audiences for signals to identify similar buyers likely to exhibit the same behaviors and interests. You can add audiences from:

  • Your first party data (customer lists, website visitors, remarketing lists, etc)
  • Custom segments based on search activity, websites visited and apps used
  • In-market customers with interests in products like yours
  • Demographics like age, income level, and family status

Google can then use the information you have provided to inform its targeting algorithms to find customers who are most likely to convert. This is a good way to help jumpstart your Performance Max campaigns and can also continue to inform throughout the lifecycle of the campaign, especially as your first party data changes over that time. 

Offline Conversions

Consider importing your offline conversions to help improve your PMax performance. By giving Google access to offline sales data in addition to your online digital attribution channels, you will give the algorithms a more comprehensive view of what’s working. 

The system can then interpret which leads have resulted in sales and also the assets being used in the ad groups that are ultimately driving conversions. Incorporating these valuable insights will help deliver the best content to the customers most likely to convert. 

MarinOne Engine + Performance Max Campaigns

The team at Marin has been hard at work updating the MarinOne Engine infrastructure which will deliver a powerful experience for advertisers. MarinOne Engine already powers MarinOne's newest and most advanced grids and enables new campaign types, more data, more flexible reporting, and enhanced processing for scalability.

MarinOne Engine will allow us to support additional campaign types from Google including Performance Max as well as local campaigns and additional data for video campaigns. 

As you start formulating your strategy for adding Performance Max to your digital campaigns, the marketing experts at Marin are here to help. Reach out today to schedule a demo and see how MarinOne’s advanced analytics, automation, and optimization tools can work for your Google Ads programs. 

Savvy digital marketers know that Google Ads is a great way to reach more customers and bring leads to your business. 96% of brands spend money on Google Ads, so this is Marketing 101, right? But while you know it's a must, getting Google Ads to deliver can sometimes prove tricky.

You could be making common mistakes that cost you money and reduce your ROI. 

So, to help you squeeze the absolute most from your marketing spend, we'll discuss some of the most common Google Ads mistakes to watch out for. Let’s get started. 

Mistake 1: Not Targeting Ads Correctly

Let's say Bob runs a small business that sells blenders online. He's been running ads for a while now, and he’s gotten pretty good at it. But there is one mistake he keeps making: he isn’t targeting his ads correctly.

Bob’s ad with the keyword “blender” is getting a lot of clicks from people searching for the 3D graphics tool. That’s a problem—he needs to target his ads to cooks specifically. To do that, he needs to use the right keywords.

For example, he could use keywords like “kitchen blender” or “smoothie blender.” Using these keywords, he can ensure his ad is shown to people who are actually looking for what he’s selling.

Once Bob's worked out which keywords are most likely to perform best for his business, he must weave these phrases into his product descriptions, website copy, and blog posts.

Our recommendation? Hire a conversion copywriter to help you. Writing with keywords can be a bit like playing Tetris—if you can’t slot them in naturally, it won't work.

Targeting your ads to a smaller, more specific group means you’re more likely to reach the right audience. It also means you can spend less because you’re targeting fewer people (Image Source)

Mistake 2: Not Using Negative Keywords

Negative keywords are words or phrases for which you don’t want your ad to show. For example, if you sell blenders, you might want to add “software” and “3D imaging” as negative keywords. That way, your ad won’t appear when someone searches for the software development tool.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to add negative keywords to their campaigns. As a result, they waste money reaching people who are not searching for their products.

Mistake 3: Not Bidding On the Right Keywords

You need to bid on the right keywords when running a display ad. If you don’t, your ad might not show up at all. And if you bid on the wrong keywords, you could waste money.

For example, let’s say you sell women’s clothing. You could bid on keywords like “women’s clothing” or “dresses.” But if you bid on the keyword “clothing,” your ad might show up for searches like “men’s clothing” or “kids’ clothing.” And you don’t want to waste your money on those clicks.

To avoid this mistake, use Google's Keyword Planner to research which keywords are most relevant to your business. Add those keywords to your campaign and bid on them accordingly.

Go specific with your keywords for a better chance of success.

Mistake 4: Not Using Ad Extensions

Ad extensions give your ad more space and include more information—like a CTA, phone number, address, image, or video. All this information can be beneficial to potential customers, and it can help you stand out from the competition.

To add ad extensions to your campaign, go to the “Ad extension” tab in your Google Ads account and choose which extensions you want to add.

Mistake 5: Not Tracking Your Results

If you’re not tracking your results, you won’t know if your ad is working, and you could be wasting a lot of money. Check the performance to see what’s working and what isn’t. To do this, you need to set up conversion tracking.

Conversion tracking measures how many people who see your ad go on to do what you want them to do. This could be making a purchase, signing up for your newsletter, or downloading a white paper.

To set up conversion tracking, you’ll need to add a piece of code to your website. This might sound daunting, but it’s pretty simple (check out the link for a step-by-step guide).

Mistake 6: Not Optimizing With Conversion Testing

If you’re not testing and optimizing, you could miss out on many conversions. Test different headlines, descriptions, and call-to-actions to see what works best. You might be surprised by the results.

To test different elements of your ad, create two (or more) ads that are identical except for the component you want to try. For example, you could test two headlines and see which one gets more clicks.

Once you’ve created your ads, run them for a set period (usually at least a week) to collect data. Then compare the results and see which ad performed better.

Conversion optimization is a multi-step process that you should have running at all times (Image Source

Mistake 7: Search Network & Display Network Default Campaign Targeting Options

When you create a new campaign, Google will automatically set your targeting options to the Search Network & Display Network. It might not be necessary to target both of these networks (though they often work well together), so be sure to get a sense of which is best for you if that’s the case.

To change your targeting options, go to the “Networks” tab in your campaign settings. You can deselect the Search Network and/or Display Network.

Mistake 8: Not Using Location Targeting

Location targeting helps restrict your ad to people in a chosen region so you can maximize your marketing spend and have your ads seen by those most likely to respond.

There are a few different ways to target your ads to a specific location. The first is to target by country, state, or city. For example, if you only want to show your ad to people in New York, you would select “Target” and then “Location.”

You can also target by radius. This is useful if you have a brick-and-mortar store and you want to target people who live nearby. To do this, select “Target” and then “Radius.”

Finally, you can target by zip code. This is similar to targeting by radius, but it’s more precise. For instance, you might want to advertise to residents in a suburb but not in the adjacent business park. Select “Target” and " Zip code " to execute this tactic.

Mistake 9: Ignoring Regional Trends

When you’re targeting a specific region, knowing the trends in that area gives you a tremendous advantage. For example, if you’re targeting the United States, you might find that there are certain states where your product or service is more popular than others. Or maybe you sell fans, and there’s a heatwave in one part of the country. Trends can help you spot these opportunities. 

Google Trends can show you insights about a specific region. Simply enter a keyword or phrase and select a region. Google Trends will then show you how popular that keyword or phrase is in that area.

Targeting your ads via Google’s regional trends feature (Image Source)

How MarinOne can help

Display advertising is a great way to reach your target audience, while search ads are the best way to get prospects down the sales funnel and help them convert. The fight to stand out is fierce, but by avoiding these common mistakes, you have a real shot at reaping the rewards. If you want to improve your search engine marketing or display ads strategy, MarinOne can help you identify opportunities and optimize your campaigns.

There are many moving parts to a GA campaign, from targeting to keywords to ad extensions. MarinOne gives you one platform to manage all of your paid search campaigns so you can avoid mistakes and save time. It integrates with GA so you can see your analytics in one place, allowing you to track your results and make adjustments as needed. Finally, you can automate and optimize your ads with just a few clicks. To get things rolling, you don’t need to be a technical expert—our platform is designed for non-technical users.

Would you like to find out what MarinOne can do for you? Schedule a free demo to learn more.

Earlier this year, Google announced its updated partnership based on industry changes and user feedback. They fall into three key areas: education and insights, access and support recognition, and rewards. If you’re not taking advantage of Google Partners, it’s worth taking a look.

Updated Google Partner Program benefits 

Premier partner status is now offered to the top 3% of partners in each country. Premier partners can access the following exclusive perks:

  • product betas
  • advanced google ads support 
  • Premier partner awards a new 2002 premier partner badge
  • high value incentives

All google partners and premier partners get access to the monthly insights briefing from Think with Google. It contains the latest insights from Google on consumer behaviors and industry trends.

Additionally, all Partners and Premier Partners will gain eligibility for high-value offers ($500 Google Ads credits) for new clients. To qualify, the clients must spend $500 in the first 60 days. This is an upgrade from the program’s previous $100 credits and 30 day threshold. These offers will only be available for Partners and Premier partners. 

As of late February, all Partners are also listed in the new Google Partners directory, available to advertisers all over the world. With these new benefits come a new set of requirements that companies seeking partner status can meet at any time. They’re designed to help you maximize your clients' performance, identify new opportunities, and accelerate digital growth with Google Ads.

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Updated Google Partner Program requirements

The requirements fall into three categories: performance, spend, and certifications.

According to Google, Partners requested two major alterations to the requirements as a result of the global economic situation and to make badge criteria more transparent:

  1. Partners have the choice to apply or dismiss recommendations to achieve a 70% optimization score. While the optimization score requirement was due to take effect in June, it previously only allowed for the application of recommendations. However, Google listened to feedback regarding the ability to dismiss recommendations for clients in situations where it may not have made sense to accept. Allowing marketers to refuse suggestions by Google is a significant change.
  2. Spend thresholds will stay at a 90-day spend of $10,000 US across all of a partner’s managed accounts. Pre COVID-19, the Partner badge requirements were set to increase to $20,000 every 90 days. However, Google listened to marketers and kept the requirement at $10,000.

Agency Partners also communicated to Google that not every Ads Manager within their agency teams should be eligible for certification. In response, Google agreed that advertisers will be able to tell Google the number of account strategists within their business, and “at least 50% of the account strategists you’ve identified will need to be certified in Google Ads” to meet the new requirements. Either update your number of account strategists if it’s out of date or encourage more strategists to get certified on Skillshop to comply. Additional details are outlined on the Google Support Page.

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Meeting the performance requirement 

With many agencies and search marketers being affected by the pandemic, the delay of these requirements from February 2020 to February 2022 was welcomed by agency partners. Google’s response to marketer feedback was also a refreshing change of pace. Now that the revamped program is here, it’s time to snag your badge status and start utilizing the new benefits.

Competition is getting tougher in the world of eCommerce as more customers are shopping online and their expectations have never been higher. 

Here are some eye-opening web statistics worth noting:

  • 68% of consumers have much higher expectations for businesses’ digital capabilities following COVID-19
  • 88% of customers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to COVID-19 

How can brands cope with the increased pressure to perform? Google Ads has proven vital for marketers looking to reach more customers, drive traffic, build brand awareness, and create a positive image for their business. 

To help you stay ahead of the pack, here are some tips on using Google Ads to outsmart your competition.

How COVID has affected eCommerce, social, and search 

The COVID pandemic has had a massive impact on eCommerce, social media, and search—in particular, on consumer behavior and expectations. More consumers are shopping online from the comfort (and safety) of their homes.

COVID changed online shopping forever (Image Source). 

Social media usage has also increased as people turn to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok for news, entertainment, and shopping. In fact, a whopping 91% of marketing organizations now use social media as part of their strategy, the same amount using digital ads. More intangible products are also being purchased online (e.g., experiences, memberships, digital subscriptions). 

Since COVID-19 hit, we’ve also seen a massive increase in the use of Google Ads by businesses as it is now considered an essential tool for reaching more customers, driving traffic, and building brand awareness.

However, with so many businesses using paid search and Google Ads, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. This is why it’s more important than ever to ensure your Google Ads campaigns are optimized for success. 

What is Google Ads and why should you use it?

Google Ads allows businesses to create ads for their products and services. These ads are then displayed on Google search results pages and other Google properties, such as YouTube and Gmail.

The great thing about Google Ads is that it lets you target people who are specifically searching for what you offer. This makes it a much more efficient use of your marketing budget than other forms of advertising, such as TV or print.

In addition, Google Ads is a particularly flexible platform, allowing you to tailor your campaigns to your specific goals. For example, you can use Google Ads to drive traffic to your website,  increase brand awareness, and/or generate leads.

How marketers use Google Ads (Image Source).

How to get the most out of Google Ads (and outsmart your competition) 

Google Ads can be an extremely effective tool for businesses looking to reach more customers and drive traffic to their websites. However, to ensure success, it's important to understand how the platform works and optimize your campaigns accordingly. In this section, we'll discuss some tips on how to outsmart your competition.

Create a memorable ad

When creating an ad, it's important to make sure that it stands out. Use eye-catching copy and good quality images—and make sure it’s relevant to your target audience. You can do this by using specific keywords that people are likely to be searching for.

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Use Google Ads Editor to make changes faster

Google Ads Editor is a tool that allows businesses to quickly and easily make changes to their campaigns. It's particularly useful for those who are managing multiple campaigns. One of the best things about Google Ads Editor is that you can make changes to multiple campaigns at the same time.

Use ad extensions to increase your visibility

Ad extensions are a great way to increase your visibility and improve your click-through rate. They also allow you to add additional information to your ads, such as your phone number, website address, product images, or customer reviews.

Split-test different versions of your ads to find the most effective combination

One of the best ways to find the most effective combination of ad elements is to split-test different versions of your ads. Split-testing, also known as A/B testing, is a method of testing in which two or more variants of an ad are shown to users. The performance of each variant is then monitored and the variant that performs the best is chosen as the winner.

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Use negative keywords to weed out irrelevant search terms

Negative keywords allow you to weed out irrelevant search terms that are not related to your business. This ensures that your ads are only shown to people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. To find the right negative keywords, you can use the Google Ads Keyword Planner tool: simply enter a list of keywords to see a list of related terms. You can then use this information to add relevant negative keywords to your campaign.

Experiment with different bidding strategies

There are a number of different bidding strategies that you can use with Google Ads. The most popular bidding strategy is CPC (cost-per-click), which allows you to set a maximum amount that you'll pay for each click on your ad. There are other bidding strategies you can use such as CPM (cost-per-impression) or CPA (cost-per-acquisition).

Think of your bidding strategy as an iterative process: experiment and optimize as you go (Image Source).

Top tip: Set limits on how much you're willing to spend and stick with it.

Include Keywords in the Ad as well as the Landing Page

One way to speed up your Google Ads campaigns is by ensuring that they are well connected from the first engagement to the call-to-action to the messaging on the LP or product page. For example, if you have a certain keyword, then your ad copy should mention it and the landing page should also mention that same keyword. If someone searches for your eyeshadow brand on the search engine, you would want them to end up on a landing page that features only that particular eyeshadow palette.

Don’t Combine Search and Display Campaigns Together

You should make sure to only set up campaigns using a single campaign type. Some Google Ads managers will try to use different campaign types at once, but this can be limiting to your campaign’s performance. By focusing on one content type, Google will give the best AI-powered recommendations possible for mixing and matching different variables and creating the best performing ad possible. 

Keep up with what's trending 

One of the most effective ways to keep up with what's trending is to check out blogs. Some blogs provide tips on how to improve your Google Ads campaigns.

Some of our favorites include helpful tips on a wide range of topics:

  • PPC Hero: Read about keyword research, ad copywriting, and bid management.
  • Hubspot: Learn content strategy, lead generation, and sales.
  • Moz: Find ideas about SEO, link building, and content marketing.
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Track your progress 

It's important to track your progress so you know what changes need to be made along the way. Google Analytics is a great tool for monitoring your website traffic, conversions, and much more. For a more all-in-one approach, ad management platforms are a great option: get insights, manage ads, and let the software do the heavy lifting when it comes to bidding—all from one platform. 

How MarinOne can help

MarinOne is an all-in-one ad management platform that allows you to track your ad performance, conversions, and much more. It provides smart insights into how you can improve your campaigns, minus all the manual work. This makes it a valuable tool for businesses that want to get the most out of their Google Ads campaigns, and more out of their marketing team.

  • Use MarinOne’s Analyze features to understand the competition and find opportunities. 
  • Customize, optimize, and automate in MarinOne to streamline your operations and secure your number-one spot. 
  • Get more out of your marketing budget with smart insights and automatic bidding.

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

Google Sheets has changed the way people collaborate today. This web-based spreadsheet tool serves as a free alternative to Microsoft Excel, the digital marketer’s mainstay. Sheets allows you to create and edit your data within an online spreadsheet. Your spreadsheets in the cloud, meaning your data can easily stay up to date because information is automatically saved as it’s typed. Multiple team members can collaborate in real-time from their phone, tablet or computer (online and offline) and create a single source of truth for your data so that you can analyse and interrogate your data for your reporting needs. 

How can Google Sheets help my productivity?

  • Use Comments - there may be instances where you’ll question your data, formula or just want clarification on something within a Google Sheet. Instead of having to connect directly with the originator you can quickly and easily leave a comment through the applications built-in commenting feature.
  • Extending Google Sheets with Add-ons - You can extend Sheets with add-ons that build customised workflow improvements, establish connectivity to third-party systems such as Salesforce or Google Analytics, and integrate your Sheets data with other Google Workspace applications, like Google Slides or Google Forms.
  • Stay informed of changes to a Google Sheet - Create Notification Rules to send you an email when a change has been made to a Google Sheet. You’ll find it under this menu: Tools > Notification rules.
  • Create hyperlinks - It might sound simple but due to the nature of Google Sheets being online, hyperlinks are extremely useful to connect to other Google sheets / Docs / Slides within your shared Google Drive.
  • Connect to live data - Using the IMPORTHTML function, you can import your data from MarinOne by creating Web Query reports and scheduling the data to refresh on a recurring basis, saving precious hours of the day by not having to manually create reports. IMPORTHTML can also be used in numerous other ways, an example of which could be importing live weather data or exchange rates.

If you’re wanting to maximize Google Sheets’ potential and enhance your productivity, then you must get acquainted with Google Sheets. It's definitely a learning curve, especially if you’re used to using Excel, but once you start using Google Sheets to its potential you’ll quickly see it’s worth your time and effort.

Ok, so what about automation?

Google Apps Scripts is a built-in coding language based on JavaScript that allows you to extend and manipulate Google Sheets (it also works with other Google Apps, like Docs, and Gmail). We have found Google Sheets to be a great tool for prototyping new features or extending the capabilities of MarinOne to meet specific customer requirements.

What type of things can I automate?

Marin has been able to help some of the largest brands in the world automate the management of their marketing campaigns directly from Google Sheets as well as build dynamic reporting dashboards in Google Sheets using multiple Publishers (i.e. Google, Facebook, Bing, ASA etc) and 1st / 3rd Party revenue and conversion data captured by Marin. Below are some of the Google Apps Scripts and solutions we have created to help support our customers’ day-to-day workflows. With these shortcuts, you can easily aggregate data in new ways. This is particularly effective when partnered with the MarinOne tool, as there is quite a bit of data that can be directly imported into, exported from, or copy/pasted bi-directionally between Google Sheets and MarinOne.

Templatize daily workflows to increase efficiency

As a marketer, it can be very time-consuming to add objects (such as keywords or creatives) to multiple different publishers at the same time in a collaborative manner. Think of Google sheets as all of your offline publisher editors rolled into one with a direct connection to our platform, negating the need for using multiple siloed tools such as Google Ads editor, Bing editor etc. Using a Marin - Google Apps Script, you can create or edit hundreds -- or even thousands -- of campaigns, groups, keywords, or ads with just a single click of a button directly in Google Sheets for multiple different publishers at the same time.

Cannibalization insights

When a search query pairs with multiple keyword match types, and there are various ads supporting these keywords, the flow of regular traffic for the original search term will markedly diminish as your control over the matched keyword behaviour becomes severely hampered. Using a combination of data imported into Google Sheets directly from MarinOne and a Google Apps Script we have created to analyse the data, we can quickly surface those keywords that are cannibalizing your search paid media traffic.

Create foreign language ads using your native language

If you are planning to expand your marketing activity to additional markets or regions across the globe and do not have the support internally with creating foriegn language adcopy, fear not, we have a Google Apps Script that will take your current AdCopy and create new Ads in the language of your choice.

Why should you automate tasks in Google Sheets?

There’s the obvious reason that using Google Apps Scripts can save you a serious amount of time, allowing you and your colleagues to focus on higher value activities such as optimising your marketing campaigns. But there’s plenty of other less obvious reasons like: 

  • Avoid mistakes by minimizing manual effort and letting AI-powered tasks automatically fire
  • Quickly summarize and aggregate your data
  • Universally apply styles and formatting
  • Create completely new spreadsheets or tabs
  • Use any Google Sheets function, feature, menu or toolbar
  • Translate foreign language text en masse (but always be sure to have a native speaker review the translation for accuracy)
  • Manipulate your spreadsheet to your liking with a single command

Once you've recorded a macro or created your Google Apps Script, you can link it to a keyboard shortcut in the form Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Number or even create a button directly within the spreadsheet to execute the task.

How can Marin help?

These are just a few of the solutions we have created, there are many other ways to save time and increase efficiency using the MarinOne tool in conjunction with other easily accessible tools.  if you are an existing customer of Marin and are interested in the above or have other mundane tasks that you would like us to support in automating within Google Sheets then reach out to your account manager today. 

If you're new to Marin, contact our sales team to get an analysis of how our platform can fit your needs.

If 2022 passes as quickly as the past two years have, it’ll be gone in the blink of an eye. Advertisers are paying close attention as Google is under pressure from regulators to meet its 2023 goal for deprecating tracking cookies. 

After drawing criticism from privacy advocates, Google recently walked back FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), a form of interest-based tracking that identifies users based on their shared interests, or “cohorts”. The concern from critics around FLoC was that it could make it easier for advertisers to identify users with “browser fingerprinting”, which shares information about user devices, browsers, and potentially demographic information. 

Topics API is the latest proposal from Google for replacing third-party tracking cookies. Per Google, under Topics the browser identifies a user’s top interests for that week (things like “Fitness”, “Travel & Transportation”, etc) then shares them with participating sites and advertising partners. Topics are kept for three weeks on user’s devices and removed after that time. Google makes it clear that user’s Topics information will not be stored on external servers, including Google’s servers. 

A bonus for user privacy advocates: in Chrome, Google is giving users the ability to view the topics associated with them, remove topics if they wish, and even the ability to disable Topics altogether.

Google goes into more detail about how this works in their recent announcement.

While most would agree that this is a good move by Google for user privacy, where does this leave advertisers?

The general consensus is (justified) concern from advertisers, especially those who confronted Facebook’s deprecation in targeting capabilities post iOS14.5 adoption. Broader targeting inevitably means more challenges in reaching the intended users, so growing pains should be expected. 

In particular, marketers have raised concerns about Topic availability as a hurdle to targeting accuracy. The Topics API Github page lists only 350 “topics” so far, which some feel might not contain enough nuance to accurately target customers. Google maintains that this list is in an early stage of development, so this issue may be addressed in the coming months.

As compared with FLoC, Topics gives users more control and flexibility over how they receive targeted advertising. Both FLoC and Topics represent a step down in precision targeting, so advertisers will need to adapt.

Despite the uncertain future for Topics API and Cookie deprecation, there are steps advertisers can take to prepare:

  • Prioritize First Party Data - Advertisers should maintain focus on collecting first party data which can be used to target customers directly or create lookalike audiences. Prioritizing strategies for developing brand-customer relationships can help with this.
  • Leverage Cross Channel Audiences - Marin Software also offers proprietary audience targeting options such as Social Intent for Search, which seamlessly integrates social audiences to power search campaigns. Options like this that leverage existing intent will be valuable to adaptation.
  • Keep Clients Up to Date - Nobody likes unhappy surprises, especially not advertising clients. Start communicating and developing a plan of action now and stay flexible as Google releases more information around Topics API in the coming months.

Test Marin Software for More Performance Power - MarinOne’s bidding algorithm consistently outperforms publisher bidding AND gives advertisers greater visibility into bidding. Advertisers will appreciate the transparency we offer as so many publishers reduce available optimization levers.

You’ve likely heard that Google is sunsetting the Expanded Text Ad (ETA) format in favor of Responsive Search Ads (RSAs). It’s Google’s next big push for automation in its advertising platforms. While this may seem like a big change, it’s nothing to worry about as long as you prepare. Luckily, the sunset isn’t happening until June of 2022, and Marin’s industry experts are here to answer some commonly asked questions:

What Exactly Are Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)?

Traditional Google text ads consist of static headlines and descriptions, so advertisers provide specific headlines and descriptions which remain constant within an ad. Google then rotates that version with your other static ad versions according to your campaign settings.

When creating an RSA, you’ll input a variety of different headlines and descriptions. Google and Bing will then rotate through different combinations of assets, serving the combination that seems best based on the demographic data of the person who is searching. The purpose of RSAs is to improve the personalization of search ads through automation. This personalization should lead to improved performance, and eliminate the need for you to run lots of ad copy tests as the engines are basically doing the testing for you.

How Many Headlines and Descriptions Can I Include in an Ad?

You can input at least 3 and no more than 15 potential headlines.

You can input at least 2 and no more than 4 potential descriptions.

The publishers recommend using at least 8 Headline Assets and at least 3 Description Assets.

What Will Happen to My Expanded Text Ads?

You will not be able to create new ETAs. Your current Expanded Text Ads will continue to serve, but you won’t be able to edit them. You can still play, pause, or remove them, but the ad content will be unchangeable. Reporting for your current ETAs should not be impacted in MarinOne or the platforms.

Will I Have Any Control Over Which Headlines and Descriptions Serve?

Yes, you have the option to pin assets to certain positions in the ad. For example, if you have a top performing headline that you’d like to display as Headline 1 every time your ad serves, you can pin that headline to position 1. You can also pin descriptions.

For example, if you pinned “Low Prices” to headline 1, the every time that ad serves, “Low Prices” will be the first thing people see.

But that being said…

Should I Pin My Top Performing Assets to Position 1?

My natural instinct was to pin top performing headlines and descriptions from my ETAs to my RSA positions 1 and 2. However, this often hurts the ad’s quality score, sometimes even knocking a ‘good’ ad down to ‘poor’ quality, therefore limiting its ability to serve in the SERP.

In order to avoid a decrease in quality score while still maintaining control over your ads, Google recommends pinning 2 or 3 headlines and descriptions to each position. This allows Google to rotate those assets, and may prevent decreases in quality score.

For example, if you pinned “low prices” and “shop now” to headline 1, Google will rotate through those options, so every time the ad is served people will see one of the two headlines in position 1.

How Will I Analyze Performance in MarinOne?

MarinOne users are already accustomed to the performance benefits the platform provides for all their search programs, and RSAs will be no different. The digital marketers at Marin have already made changes to help you measure, manage, and optimize your RSAs and are always prepared for future changes from the publishers.

Responsive Search Ads should flow seamlessly into any workflow you currently utilize for analyzing ad performance. These ads will be automatically added to any automated reports just like expanded text ads are.

We have also added two new columns to our creative grids, titled Headline Assets and Description Assets. Select these columns in the column selector to see a list of all headlines and description variations for an RSA.

Note that in the Headline column in the grid, you can see a preview of what your RSA might look like in its completed form. This does not necessarily represent all Headline or Description Assets that have been entered. You will simply see the first three Headline Assets in the order they were entered. This is the same behavior as in the publishers.

You will also see the ads’ creative type listed as Responsive Search, and you can filter for Responsive Search in the Creative Type column if you want to see a readout of performance for RSAs only.

If you export your ads grid into a report, you will see separate columns for each Headline and Description asset, with Headline 1 simply called Headline and the remaining Headlines numbered 2 through 15.

How Will I Bulk Create RSAs in MarinOne?

You can create RSAs in bulk in much the same way you do for other ad types in Marin. To specify the creation of an RSA in a bulksheet, you should include the value Responsive Search in the Creative Type column.

You can edit your RSAs in bulk by including the Creative ID column. To find your creative IDs, simply run a report from the main Creatives grid with the relevant columns included.

When building your bulksheet for either creation or editing of RSAs, you can use the following bulk headers:

  • [Headline 1] through [Headline 15]
  • [Description Line 1] through [Description Line 4]  
  • [Headline Pinned to Position 1]
  • [Headline Pinned to Position 2]
  • [Headline Pinned to Position 3]
  • [Description Pinned to Position 1]
  • [Description Pinned to Position 2]

I hope this all eases your mind about the transition from ETAs to RSAs. The idea behind RSAs is basically constant, dynamic AB testing and ad personalization, which sounds great in theory. I expect this shift to lead to improved ad performance and easier management through automation.

The paid search experts at Marin are always eager to help clients, new and old, navigate the ever-changing search landscape. Click here to schedule a demo with us and learn more about what Marin can do for you!

Have you noticed a change to your Google search results on your phone or tablet? Google has just finished rolling out continuous scrolling for mobile devices for English users in the U.S. This means instead of having to tap the “See more” button at the bottom of the page, Google automatically loads another page of results. Pages continue loading for four pages, as Google says most people typically browse up to four pages of results.

It sounds like a subtle change, but you’ll notice it is a huge difference in user experience on your mobile device. This update makes it easier for people to access more search results which could mean finding what they’re looking for faster. And depending on the nature of the search query, users who enter limited keywords or broad phrases may be looking for a wide range of results (think: chicken recipes). So continuous scrolling eliminates a lot of friction in the user’s search for content.

What continuous scrolling means for advertisers

But what does this mean for advertisers?

First off, this change does not affect how the ad auction works or the way Ad Rank is calculated. Your Ad Rank (where ads are shown on a page relative to other ads) will still be calculated using:

  • your bid amount
  • your auction-time ad quality (including expected clickthrough rate
  • ad relevance
  • landing page experience
  • the competitiveness of an auction
  • the context of the person’s search (location, device, time of search, the nature of the search terms)
  • the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats

Ad Rank will also continue to be eligible to show on multiple pages since Google calculates Ad Rank for each page.

With that said, there are some other considerations to be aware of with continuous scrolling.

Google will now be redistributing the number of text ads that can show between the top and bottom of pages. So, text ads can show at the top of the second page and beyond, while fewer text ads will show at the bottom.

And some users who previously used to go back to the top of the search results in page one may continue to scroll down to page two. So some campaigns may see more impressions from top ads and fewer impressions from bottom ads. Google does expect clicks, conversions, average CPC, average CPA to remain relatively stable.

How MarinOne can help manage this change

The Search experts at Marin recommend monitoring your prominence metrics which will give you more information on where your ads are appearing on the page.

  • Search top impression rate “Impr. (Top) %” is the percentage of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
  • Search absolute top impression rate “Impr. (Abs.Top) %” is the percentage of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Search absolute top impression share “Search abs. top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
  • Search top impression share “Search top IS” is the impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

In addition to monitoring performance, consider using an automated bid strategy to dynamically adjust keywords bids based on prominence metrics. For Example, Smart Bidding for Impression Share, set at the Campaign Level or Marin Awareness Targeting, set at the group or campaign level, and capable of targeting an Impression Share range or Impression Rate (intraday).

The marketing experts at Marin are always here to help you navigate the quickly evolving digital landscape. Click here for more on how MarinOne can optimize your Google campaigns.

This week, we disclosed that Google and Marin have entered into a new 3-year revenue share agreement. The agreement supports innovation and choice in paid search management and optimization. Google has agreed to make revenue payments to Marin based on the total paid search spend Marin’s customers are managing on our platform across Google and other search publishers.

Independent solution providers like Marin improve the ecosystem and help advertisers succeed. With the revenue share payments, Marin will further develop and enhance our MarinOne platform to serve the needs of the world’s leading search advertisers.

Our goal with MarinOne is to complement the tools built by the publishers, expanding advertising abilities to analyze, automate and optimize their digital marketing campaigns. As an independent third-party, we help advertisers leverage their data and make better budget allocation decisions and deliver better results across all publishers.

This agreement provides an additional source of revenue and will support Marin’s investments in innovation and delivering value to our customers.

Digital marketing is an ever changing industry and we are in a great position to help our customers deliver more growth and maximize the return on their digital marketing investments.


Chris Lien

Say what?

Yes, you read that correctly. Since the start of digital advertising, there has been a thin line between organic and paid search data. There have been many tests and studies conducted on how organic data can influence paid search data and vice versa.

With MarinOne, you can add a bit of control to the mix by automatically bringing in organic metrics alongside your paid search keywords. These include ; organic average position and organic clicks, which come from the Paid & Organic Search Results report in Google Ads.

Off the back of that data, you have the ability to leverage MarinOne’s powerful bidding solution, which lets you automatically assign custom bid modifiers based on factors outside of the auction (in this case, organic data), and thus increase or decrease bids based on the criteria specified by you.

Lucid Software Innovates with Marin Bidding’s Custom Modifiers, Boosting Registrations by 20%

You can set up specific rules, such as:

Dynamic Actions

Similarly, if organic position is better than 2, then lower bid by 35%.

Imagine all the possible strategies this approach could introduce and how it could boost your paid advertising efficiency, improve your keyword coverage, and reduce ad spend waste.

Last but not least, from a reporting perspective, Marin has got you covered.

When adding organic data to the mix and having it alongside your paid search data, Marin’s powerful dashboards and reporting capabilities can help you find synergies and let you slice and dice your data however you see fit.

If you would like to find out how this strategy could work for your business, get in contact and one of our account team members is more than happy to help.

Google recently announced that the current Google AdWords API will sunset on April 27, 2022. Anyone using this API will need to migrate to the Google Ads API by that date. While the new API has a lot of benefits, this upgrade requires a major overhaul for advertisers, brands and agencies using the current API.

We have been working closely with Google on this change for over a year and have tips and suggestions for making the transition as smooth as possible. This post is intended for a technical audience, but if you need help with your upgrade strategy, let us know and we’d be happy to help.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the change:

  1. Finally Some REST: The legacy Google AdWords API supports a SOAP client library, while Google Ads supports a RESTful API backed by a client library implementing gRPC.
  2. Restructuring Ahead: While Google has strived to reach functional parity in the Ads API, there is not a 1-to-1 correspondence between AdWords and Ads service endpoints. This means you will likely need to restructure how your application interfaces with the API.
  3. Out With the Old, in With the New: Some long-supported paradigms, such as single-attribution, will be dropped in favor of multi-attribution, which should yield more accurate attribution reports. Another example is the RichMediaAd ad type, which will not be migrated to the Ads API. You’ll want to make sure you understand the latest ad types and metrics.
  4. Don’t Forget to Stream: In order to get the best performance out of the gRPC streaming protocol, you will need to use the “searchStream” request instead of the “search” request.
  5. You Need to Warm Up: In order to enhance the startup time, you will need to send some warm up queries before firing your regular queries. Reference documentation
  6. We Can Coexist: To make the migration path easier, Google has allowed AdWords and Ads to coexist in the same application so that you can mix and match AdWords and Ads objects.
  7. Avoid Wrappers: Creating a wrapper that converts the Ads API to the current AdWords interface to minimize code changes is not recommended. We tried that and it didn’t work well.
  8. Better Smart Bidding Support: The Ads API supports the Smart Bidding features very well compared to AdWords API.
  9. A New Way to Paginate: Pagination support has been changed in Ads API. Google now supports pagination by the pagesize and pageToken fields of the SearchGoogleAdsRequest object.
  10. Better Error Handling: Error Handling has been changed in the Ads API, especially in handling Partial Failure.

Of course, this change also presents an opportunity to revisit the build vs. buy decision for your company. Having a custom solution tailored exactly to the needs of your business may seem attractive, but you are likely making serious trade-offs when compared to a platform that can spread its innovation over a large customer base.

Here are a few reasons to consider switching to a third-party platform to manage your Google Ads vs. building your own:

  1. You don’t have the time and energy to understand the nuances between the Google AdWords SOAP and Google RESTful APIs nor the expertise to take advantage of the performance improvements offered by the gRPC streaming protocol.
  2. You don’t have a dedicated engineering team that can undertake the (substantial) migration effort and keep up with maintaining and upgrading your custom code that uses the Google Ads API.
  3. The upgrade is likely to be larger than originally anticipated.
  4. Platforms like MarinOne offer an amazing degree of flexibility and customization, and a purely bespoke solution is often no longer necessary.
  5. With increased use of Smart Bidding, your needs have probably changed. Being able to work across channels and think about budget planning and optimization are common needs in 2021.
  6. This change isn’t the last time you’re going to have to upgrade.
  7. You want to work beyond Google.

If you need help with the upgrade or if you want to revisit whether using a third-party platform like MarinOne makes more sense for your company than a custom build, please let us know.

Today, Google announced that going forward, Responsive Search Ads (RSA) would be the default option for newly created ads in Google ads and Google ads editor. Here's a breakdown of what we know about the change and what you can do to your account to make sure you're ready.

We don't see this as a major change, rather it is a continuation of a trend towards increased automation that we've been seeing from Google for a while. Responsive Search Ads, and recent match-type changes, in a lot of ways make our lives easier as marketers. We don't have to worry about having every combination and variation of creative or keyword. We don’t need to do extensive A/B testing because Google’s machine learning takes care of the work for us.

As a marketer, it’s another sign that it is time to embrace the automation.

Remind me, what are Responsive Search Ads again?

Launched about three years ago, Responsive Search Ads allow the marketer to input multiple headlines and multiple descriptions. The ads are dynamically created at the time of serving for each user’s query and context. As a result of this customization, Google claims up to 5-15% higher click-through rates vs standard Enhanced Text Ads (ETAs).

Each ad can contain 3 to 15 headlines and 2-4 descriptions that are combined on the fly. Here’s more about the format from Google.

Should I expect a change in performance?

With this change, Google is not adjusting the auction dynamics. As a result, you should not see any change in performance. However, Google does expect that RSAs perform better than enhanced text ads and so you should ensure you have full coverage with responsive search ads.

Here's an analysis we did about the performance of responsive search ads that aligned with Google's claims of increased clicks and conversions compared with enhanced text ads, especially on non-brand terms.

What do I need to do to my account?

You don't need to make any changes to your existing campaigns. That said, Google recommends each ad group have at least one responsive search ad for best performance so you should take a look at your ad groups and make sure that you've got complete coverage.

Looking at our customer base, the majority of spend is still running through enhanced text ads so there's still plenty of room for adoption which is also probably why Google is making this change.

Marin can help you with an audit of your account to determine which adverbs need additional responsive search ads.

How do I write a good RSA?

We've written a whole white paper on the topic and have additional suggestions here but I can summarize the top tips:

  • Variety Is good: The benefit of RSAs is to provide the right message to each user, so make sure you have many different messages for the system to choose from not just close variations on the same theme
  • Use pinning sparingly: Pinning allows you to ensure that a headline or description is always shown but it takes away flexibility for Google's machine learning to do its thing. We recommend only using this when you have strict regulatory or compliance reasons to do so.
  • Review performance regularly Google doesn't offer as much visibility on the performance of individual elements as we would like, but you can get an idea of what's working and what's not. Be sure to review performance regularly and swap out underperforming assets.

Last year Google enhanced responsive search ads, giving you the ability to use add customizers like countdown timers and location extensions as part of the elements in responsive search ads

But I like control, do I have to use RSAs?

No, you can still create enhanced text ads. Google has not provided a Sunset date for the creation of new ads nor do we expect this format to be deprecated anytime in the near future.

Need help navigating these changes? Click here to get some help.

Over the last few years, Google has been tinkering with match types. In July 2019, Google announced that Phrase match and Broad Match Modified would start matching queries with the same meaning (rather than words) as your keywords. Then in February 2020, Exact Match and Phrase Match were expanded to cover plurals, misspellings, and abbreviations.

What is happening this time?

On February 4th 2021, Google announced that the matching of Phrase match will be further expanded, and more closely resemble the behavior of Broad Match Modified, and they therefore will be sunsetting the ability to add modifiers (+) to broad match keywords. Current Broad Match Modified keywords will continue to serve, with slightly different matching, but from July 2021 you will no longer be able to create new broad keywords with modifiers (+) in the string.

Why is this happening?

As mentioned above, Google says it has been getting better at learning the intent behind a query, and is therefore more confident it can correctly map advertisements to queries. As that ability improves, the differences between Phrase Match and Broad Match Modified diminishes.

Moving forward, there will be three match types, each with specific benefits:

  • Exact match: for precision
  • Broad match: for reach
  • Phrase match: in Google’s words, to combine the best of both

What now?

Your Phrase Match keywords can start matching against queries in a different word order, meaning that if you are currently bidding on keywords in Phrase Match, you can expect an increase in impressions, clicks, and hopefully conversions.

Conversely, if you are bidding on Broad Match Modified keywords, expect a decrease in volume, as Google will now take into account word order. For example, the BMM keyword +train +London +to +Paris will now no longer match against the query ‘train Paris to London’, as the search engine understands the direction of travel is different.

What do you have to do?

While the move signals Google’s confidence in correctly matching query and ads, there’s still a couple of things you need to do. We list some of them below, but definitely get in touch with your account representative for more tailored recommendations.

If you currently have phrase match keywords

Your keywords will now be eligible to cover much more queries, and so you can expect an increase in volume. Consider the following:

  • Review your negative keywords: as Phrase match keywords can cover more searches, you might want to review your negative keywords to avoid appearing against queries you do not want to cover. Remember Marin One Insights provide you with performance based negative keyword recommendations, so keep an eye on those!
  • Review campaign budgets: if you split out campaigns by match type, and you have specific campaigns for Phrase Match, review the budgets of those campaigns as they can now cover more ground. Again, Marin One insights will automatically flag campaigns limited by budgets, so the Marin One insights tab is here to help you with the transition.
  • Create alerts to keep track of spend increases: if you are currently bidding on Phrase match keywords, consider setting up an alert for keywords with strong changes in volume, as those may highlight opportunities for negative keywords, or for expansion!
  • Bidding on Phrase match: with regards to bidding, three things are important:
  • More volume on Phrase Match will allow the bidding engine to react quickly to this change. If required, the algorithm will leverage data from Broad Match Modified keywords to further improve bid calculations.
  • Keep an eye on your cost per click: we expect advertisers to quickly start adding Phrase Match keywords, meaning that competition and hence CPCs could increase. Negative keywords (see above) and high quality creatives (see below) will be paramount, but also consider adding an Impression Share cap to avoid CPCs increasing too much. An Impression Share cap stops the algorithm from increasing bids, even if from a CPL/ROAS perspective that may make sense, and is a great way of limiting CPCs.
  • Marin allows you to set match type specific boosts. Consider switching these off in the short term while figuring out if additional negatives are required with the wider matching

  • Review Dynamic Keyword Insertion: dynamic keyword insertion allows you to insert the user query in your ad copy, which usually results in higher CTR and better quality score. While you adjust to the additional matching, and potentially add negative keywords, carefully consider if you want Dynamic Keyword Insertion creatives to be live.

If you are currently predominantly using Exact and Broad Match Modified

The good news is, your Broad Match Modified keywords will continue to serve, even after the creation of new Broad Match Modified keywords is no longer possible after July.

  • Create alerts: opposite to the alert for your Phrase Match, set up alerts for volume decreases on your Broad Match Modifier keywords. This will allow you to identify where the new matching is impacting your spend, and take action accordingly. Also keep an eye on the MarinOne history tab, where you can see account wide performance over time filtered by match type. A great place to see the impact of these changes.
  • Start adding phrase match keywords: your Broad Match Modified keywords will continue to run, but might match against fewer queries. Consider adding Phrase Match keywords to maintain volume. The Marin One insights provide performance based recommendations of well performing Broad Match Modified keywords you are not currently buying in Phrase Match.

If you are using Marin Bidding

Marin Bidding will adapt automatically: it’ll see volume and performance shift from match types, and automatically adjust your bids to account for that. There’s a couple of nuances to be aware of though:

  • If you are using Awareness Targeting for Phrase Match, keep in mind that volume and competition may increase, so keep an eye on your average cost per click. To limit fluctuations, either widen your target Impression Share, or consider setting up a bid cap. Especially when using Awareness Targeting, reviewing your budgets will be important.
  • If you have match type specific bid strategies, consider adjusting the targets and settings of your Phrase Match bid strategies closer to those of your BMM/Broad Bid Strategies, as they’ll start picking up volume from those match types. Also consider setting an Impression Share cap to limit the increase of CPCs.
  • Consider removing match type boosts in the short term. While match type specific boosts offer great flexibility, with search volumes shifting between match types, we’d recommend switching them off, or limiting their values, in the short term.

What’s next?

As usual, we expect other publishers to follow suit. The continuous changes to match types also makes you wonder what is next, and for how long we will continue to have three different match types. Whatever changes Google throws at advertisers, we’re here for you. Click here if you need help with this change.

This is our final blog post on Prime Day ahead of the day itself, and here we’ll focus on the practicalities of getting the most out of the Prime Day opportunity.

Learn From the Past

Have you been advertising on Amazon for more than a year? Then review what worked for you before and incorporate it in your strategy for Prime Day 2020:

  • Which products performed best?
  • What verticals saw the largest increase?
  • What promotions worked out well for you?

Go beyond ROI/ROAS and take into account products with positive reviews, but also have a look at how your current stock compares to what you have historically shipped on Prime Day. Take into account all factors that contribute to winning the Buy Box in getting your campaigns ready and your products selected.

It’s easy to focus on products and categories, but you should also investigate what messaging has previously worked in your Sponsored Display activity in particular.

Because Prime Day focuses a lot on increasing sales, it is also important to investigate what has historically not worked. The Prime Day marketing environment is really different from the everyday, so your normal top performers might not be the products you want to put forth for Prime Day.

Marin Software is a great place to start this process, as we aggregate data from many sources to surface details about your advertised products. Marin allows you to see an overview of all your products, targets, and keywords across all accounts, so you don’t have to drill down into each campaign/group to see product performance.

Assure your Presence

Prime Day means an incredible increase in volume of impressions, clicks, and sales, not only on Amazon, but on other channels as well. While it is important to be present on each of these channels, you need to be tactical to get the most out of your budget. Here are some tips:


  • Identify your top performing products and ensure that budget is allocated to those top products in your Sponsored Product and Sponsored Display campaigns.
  • Be tactical and budget-aware:
  • Leverage product targeting to target competitors, either to win their customers by promoting your own products, or cross-selling with complementary products. Go very specific by targeting specific ASINs.
  • Leverage Marin’s Keyword Expansion to identify both keywords to add to your targeting, as well as negative keywords.
  • Use macro figures to identify categories to aim for, with the goal of being present where most volume is expected. As we wrote previously, while Electronics is the main category, Toys and Games along with Beauty & Personal Care are expected to see a rise in volume in 2020.

  • Ensure your Product Detail Page is updated to drive relevancy for advertising on certain targets and keywords.

Budgets & Bids

  • Increase your budgets to avoid lost impressions and sales due to budget constraints
  • Increase bids across the board: Amazon estimates that simply maintaining your visibility might require bids that are twice as high as usual. Marin allows you to do this very easily, and come back to your usual levels quickly post-Prime Day as well
  • Capitalize on Intraday Bidding & Ad Scheduling: Prime Day means Lightning Deals! Make sure you get the most out of those opportunities by temporarily increasing your bids even further.
  • Set up automated rules based on inventory, making sure you only put your budget where you have a good amount of stock. Learn from the past, as the sheer volume of sales means low stock will be very different on Prime Day than almost any other day of the year.

Next up in this series, don't miss our upcoming webinar Delivering for the Holidayswith Amazon Attribution. Join Amazon and Marin to get ready for a challenging Q4 Retail season.

Who Are the Big Four?

The digital marketing landscape has become more and more consolidated into “The Big Four” publishers — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

These entities have a vested interest in keeping each other at arm’s length and they will continue to silo their data from each other. This means if you are relying on publisher-owned tools (Like Facebook Ad Manager, or SA 360) for your digital marketing management and bidding optimization, you will not be able to connect the dots for activities that jump from one silo to another and will be missing conversion data as a result.

Marin is able to work with, and across, all technologies in the space. This allows us to create cutting-edge features — like our Marin + Amazon Attribution feature, in order to provide advertisers a consolidated view of their Search, Social, and eCommerce activities alongside conversion data — regardless of where that conversion occurs.

If you have any tracking challenges or want to discuss how Marin can ensure you are effectively reporting and optimizing to a complete ROI for all your digital marketing initiatives — don’t hesitate to reach out today to speak with a Marin Expert.

Consumer behavior has been forced to immediately change as a result of COVID-19, and change on a massive scale. The transformation in consumer consumption is fluid, and we can expect it to continuously evolve over the coming weeks and months. For us marketing professionals, it poses the opportunity to shift and re-align to meet the needs of our ever-changing customers.

A seasoned advertiser is familiar with how to roll out a new digital strategy in “normal” times. That said, very few do so at the scale and the speed suddenly required by the new world we live in today.

As restrictions are lifted, and we begin to settle back to the hustle and bustle of our familiar routines, we will continue to see consumer behavior evolve. The fluidity in the unchartered waters we’re all sailing in will require flexibility, control, reactivity and transparency across all aspects of our digital programs, optimization and budget allocation in particular.

And while many advertisers will look to Smart Bidding to execute on their campaign optimization and budget allocation, it’s important to consider the restrictions that Google’s automated bidding solution presents--including the prerequisites that we’ve laid out above--flexibility and control, reactivity and transparency. Not to mention, budget pacing and scenario forecasting is unavailable with Smart Bidding, so advertisers are unable to evaluate new optimization opportunities before testing them out in the real world. See below on what we mean.

Flexibility & Control

One of the most widely-known and influential thinkers on management, Peter Drucker, once said, “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” This statement, now more than ever, is very true. Consumer behavior is changing by the day, and the search auction is a highly dynamic environment. Advertisers can benefit from flexibility.

Marin Software’s technology solves for this challenge through Device Adjustments, Exclusion of Date Ranges in Bidding Calculations, and Malleable & Bespoke Optimization Bidding Targets. And rather than only catering to Google, Marin Bidding can also be applied to an advertiser’s Bing, Amazon, Apple Search Ads, and LinkedIn campaigns. Our solution optimizes for you, the advertiser, and not the publisher, and works across many different channels.


As markets and industries shift, advertisers will need to react to sudden adjustments in the marketplace. For an e-commerce advertiser, this could be a sudden increase in a product category that you had not anticipated. For marketers in insurance, it could be reacting to the sudden change in profitability across a vertical. Such shifts require prompt and agile adjustments, and Smart Bidding is not equipped to handle this.

The MarinOne platform was designed with just this in mind. Within MarinOne, advertisers have the ability to layer custom modifiers in bulk, at scale to tailor any adjustment grand or slight. Couple this with the fact that Marin is open-stack and easily able to ingest any first-party or third-party business intelligence data to automate and streamline such adjustments to ensure you never miss a trick!

Transparency & Publisher Independence

For many years to come, we will be reflecting on the spring of 2020 as the time of perplexing changes in our lifestyle. The effects for many businesses will be great, and the financial leaders of these organizations will be mindful of every investment made as they return to growth. With this in mind, we expect a wider call for transparency and publisher-agnostic partnerships. A true evaluation of marketing investments will carry an even greater weight in understanding publisher performance.

The Marin Software ethos is to deliver the best performance for our advertisers, regardless of publisher. In doing this, our technology offers absolute transparency into all areas of optimization and budget allocation - an area we increase to invest in with exciting things to come this year. Without access to the complete bid history of any keyword or any individual auction, like that of Smart Bidding, there’s no way for an advertiser to unpack the selection criteria, optimization signals or decisioning systems for their campaigns.

What to do...

According to a recent McKinsey publication on how to navigate Digital Transformation in a Crisis, now is the time to act. Playing it safe now, understandable as it might feel to do so, is often the worst option.

As we emerge, and consumer behavior continues to evolve, agility will be forced upon us. As marketers, we’ll need to use everything in our power to control shifts, react and be flexible to our surroundings. Marin is here as a partner to equip advertisers with technology, insights and support to guide them through the journey ahead.

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between Marin Bidding and Smart Bidding, check out our dedicated page.

Most search marketers are familiar with Google’s “Labels.” They’re a great visual reminder for keeping track of all sorts of things, such as your account’s keywords, ads, ad groups, and campaigns, so that you can quickly and easily filter and report on the data that is most important to you. Account organization is an extremely important element to a successful PPC campaign.

Marin Software’s version of Labels is called “Dimensions.” Similarly, advertisers can tag different objects for easy filtering, and then use those filters to monitor performance. They keep you organized by allowing you to easily aggregate data across an ad group, campaigns, keywords, or the entire account—faster and easier than exporting to Excel and running a pivot table.

However, there are a couple of unique ways in which Marin’s Dimensions can help make the life of a search marketer much easier, giving them a more enhanced functionality than Google’s Labels.

Dynamic Actions

There are a lot of unique factors that impact your performance as a business that are outside the auction–such as ratings, social media buzz, and new product launches. The machine-learning that is calculating your bids knows about these things so it can accurately predict changes in conversion rate and conversion value. In Marin’s world, these external factors are known as Dynamic Actions and can easily be leveraged with Dimensions to enhance your bid optimization via Marin Bidding.

It’s really up to your imagination, but here are some of the things our clients frequently do using Dimensions:

  • Load product stock information on a dimension, and use this as an additional lever for Marin Bidding by increasing bids for products where stock is high and lowering bids where stock is getting low.
  • Push/pull a particular vertical by specifying a boost on keywords that have a certain value on a dimension.

Smart Bidding (Google’s automated bidding solution) is unable to incorporate external data into its calculated bid, limiting the use of Labels.

Omnichannel Reporting

This is the most common use case of Dimensions--allowing detailed performance analysis across multiple channels for a search marketer to take action on and optimize. This can be done in the platform by filtering for different dimension values at various levels, but also in the Dimensions grid where you can see the aggregated performance for all objects with a particular value on a dimension. This use case of Dimensions is particularly powerful as it allows:

  • Cross-publisher reporting: Dimension values can be applied to all publisher accounts in Marin, so you can measure the effectiveness of each marketing channel.
  • Cross-channel reporting: Dimension values can be applied to all your search, social, and e-commerce campaigns, resulting in a unified performance view of all your digital marketing campaigns, side-by-side.

Google’s Labels are limited to the Google ecosystem, making it difficult to get a holistic view of your digital marketing investments.

Augmenting Your Cross-Channel Strategy

At Marin Software, we encourage our clients to leverage Dimensions to enhance their cross-channels marketing efforts through Automated Search Intent. This allows advertisers to create high-value user segments and reach people on another channel as they are making a purchase decision, ensuring the highest audience quality. How advertisers segment their campaigns/groups/keywords into intent buckets is only limited by the imagination, but many of our clients use (a mix of):

  • Brand vs. Non-Brand
  • Product Categories
  • Customer Lifetime Value

These dimension values are then passed on to Marin Social, where Facebook remarketing audiences are automatically created based on intent demonstrated through search engine activity. While users can manually create search intent audiences in Facebook, it works in silo from Google Ads, and there’s no way to automatically generate that list from a single workflow or platform (like that of Marin Software’s).

Auto-populating Dimensions

Convinced of the benefits, but you don’t like maintaining Dimensions? At Marin Software, we love automation! Based on your rules, we can set up automated dimensions and automatically make sure objects have the right dimension value set--a real time-saver! You can set rules on keyword text, campaign structure, or any performance metric, giving you flexible and powerful control over your reporting. And that way, you don’t have to worry about keywords, ad groups, or campaigns that you may have accidentally missed. They will automatically be populated.

This sort of automation is currently unavailable with Google’s Labels, and any keywords, ad groups, or campaigns missing a Label would need to be added to manually.

Actions by Dimensions

Actions by Dimensions are all about scale. It’s about doing what a search marketer often ends up doing, but in a much quicker way! Once you have tagged items in your account with Dimension values, you can use the Actions by Dimension feature to carry out a number of time-saving bulk operations. Imagine that a retailer has created a dimension named ‘Shoes’ that they have used to tag thousands of Groups. They can use the Actions by Dimensions feature to automatically:

  • Update the prices of all their ‘Jogging’ and ‘Running’ ads.
  • Pause/temporarily stop bidding on any Groups tagged 'Walking.'
  • Remove any prices previously set on keywords within Groups tagged 'Walking.'

While this feature is in parity with setting up automated rules for Google’s Labels, with Marin, you can Action on campaigns across multiple channels. So that when you have, say, a promotion that spans across your entire digital marketing portfolio, you can Action on all ads with the promo/offer corresponding to the sale, even on Facebook and Amazon.


To sum it up, Dimensions can greatly augment your search marketing campaigns, either by more granular reporting, simplifying workflows, or introducing advanced optimization possibilities, and this is accessible across all your marketing channels. With Marin being able to automatically set up dimensions for you, there’s never been a better moment to get started! Schedule a demo with one of our account representatives to learn more!

Last week, Google announced on its blog that moving forward “search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.” This change is a major shift for Google as the company looks to expand its marketplace play as an alternative (dare we say, “competitor”) to Amazon’s dominance.

What do we expect to happen next:

More shoppers - COVID-19 and a surge in online shopping likely forced Google to make this move sooner than it was planning. As Amazon found itself struggling to keep up with order fulfillment, shoppers really took to exercising their shopping options across the internet, comparing to see who had what and how soon they were able to get it. As a marketer, now is the time to evaluate messaging, put your best foot forward, and meet new customers at the marketplace.

Impression share will be a key metric to focus on - Take a snapshot of where you were prior to the advent of free listings and keep this in mind as a benchmark or target to work toward. With a huge influx of new listings (and impression volume), impression shares for existing Shopping advertisers are most likely going to drop. Using impression share as an optimization goal is a wise option once you know what the adjusted range is.

Product feed optimization will become more meaningful - Now that Google Shopping is not “pay-to-play” only, there is a more important emphasis on having really high quality product content. With a growing field of competition, relevance is paramount. Listed below are a few of the more important must-do’s to get the most out of your feed:

  1. Building out strong, relevant product titles
  2. Ensuring your products are indexed into the most accurate categories
  3. Including high quality, clearly formatted product images
  4. Presenting current prices for products and promoting discounts

Learn More

It’s a unique time to be in online retail, and any business that advertises products on Google should evaluate its own response to this change. If you are confident that your business can satisfy fulfillment with an expansion to Google Shopping, see Google’s help center for more details on how to get started. Google’s Shopping Insights page can also be a useful resource to understand trends and benchmarking numbers. Maybe it makes sense to expand step-by-step by listing select products or categories and adding more over time. It really depends on your goals and priorities.

As a reminder, you can always subscribe to our blog to get more tips on how to stay ahead of the game with your advertising efforts.

We are in uncharted waters. The changes from Covid-19 are already widespread and they will be long-lasting. Like many other companies, we at Marin have been dealing with working from home, canceled travel plans and figuring out distance learning. I just got off a conference call with 30 kindergarteners and I have to admit it was pretty amusing.

Most countries are significantly restricting social contact to avoid medical system overload. After the initial shock of these restrictions, things will adjust to the new normal, a dramatically accelerated version of the “Stay at Home Economy” trend.

The first priority needs to be the health and safety of our families, the elderly, and our communities at large. As people adjust to the new routines they've been forced into, they will look to fulfill even more of their needs online. And digital marketing will be on the front lines.

I think there are two questions that, as marketers, we should all be asking of our companies:

  • What can I do to help? Are there things that we can be doing that will make staying at home easier or better? Can I reduce friction for my customers in these challenging times?
  • How should I adjust my marketing programs? The impact of this is widespread but not even. Some industries will be hit hard, while others will benefit (see Zoom). As a digital marketer, what adjustments should I be making to my marketing programs?

What can I do to help?

  • Be Generous. Many companies with tools to help people work remotely are offering their services free during this time. Newspapers are lowering paywalls to make sure that people can stay informed. Zoom is offering its service free to public schools. Yogaworks is offering its online workout classes free until further notice (promo: ONLINE) to enable people to workout remotely.
  • Be Flexible. We are all going to be changing plans, canceling trips, adjusting schedules. Let’s make it easy for our customers to do the right thing and help to reduce the severity of this by reducing the friction of making these adjustments. Airlines are waiving most change and cancellation fees. Airbnb has followed suit, and so have Disneyland and Disney World Resorts. Vail Resorts is offering full refunds to international reservation-holders, and free rebooking to domestic reservation-holders. How can your company help?
  • Be Patient. Hourly workers are going to be especially hard hit as schools start to get canceled. Parents will need to stay home, meaning they can’t work (in many cases they can’t work anyway because their workplaces will be closed). Companies (and the US government) are starting to relax deadlines and late payment penalties to help people. Is this something that your company could do?

How will my industry be impacted?

You’re probably already seeing the impact in your volumes and conversion rates. You know your business better than we do but obviously travel/hospitality is already heavily impacted. Anything related to events will be similar. Companies offering products that make it easier to stay at home could benefit, including eCommerce, meal delivery, and streaming media. People are less likely to be making purchases that require longer consideration cycles at the moment, so we expect lower volumes and conversion rates in automotive and education. Sectors like financial services are less clear. With interest rates coming down and a recently-volatile stock market, expect a lot of activity in this sector.

How should I adjust my marketing programs?

  • Bidding: It’s key to remember that you should think about changes in volume and changes in conversion rate separately. If volumes are going down but your conversion rates aren’t changing, you might not need to adjust your bids. But if conversion rates are changing you’ll want to change your bids. If you are using an automated bidding system (Marin or Smart Bidding), your bids will automatically adjust; however, you might want to temporarily add a boost to account for a step-change in performance. On Marin, you can use excluded dates to focus the sampling period.
  • Budgets: For those advertisers seeing an increase in demand, make sure you aren’t hitting your budget caps and limiting the potential of your campaigns.
  • Messaging: Review your messaging and make sure it’s relevant in the current environment, especially if you have changed your services or policies. This impacts your website first and foremost, but your ads should match. Sitelinks can be a great way to communicate such changes.
  • Channel Impact: If you are a multichannel retailer, you may expect to see a shift from offline to online for conversions as consumers try to buy more online. If you sell through Amazon, your Prime support will be critical to “own the buy box” as more households will sign up for Prime. You can now send consumers directly to third-party retailers from ad sitelinks or headlines, which is important to test for effectiveness (Marin is working on an attribution tool with Amazon to connect Amazon purchases to ads on other publishers-- contact us for more info).

Be Thoughtful

Focus on how you can help and protect your community of co-employees and customers, not just shareholders. Review your plans and messaging within and outside your team to ensure that you are being responsible to the business, but not look like you are “taking advantage” of the situation. How would you feel reading about your marketing tactics on the front page?

Need more help?

At Marin, we want to help as much as we can. Our team of experts can support you during this time of uncertainty. As with many companies, we are encouraging employees to work from home to reduce the spread of the virus. We won’t be traveling or meeting in person, but our teams are fully equipped to support you remotely. If you need anything, please reach out to your account manager or click here and let us know what we can do.

Let’s all remember to stay safe and healthy, and to be kinder than necessary as we all try and figure how to adjust to and help in this new world.

While we may live in a digital world, offline sales still drive the bulk of the consumer economy. To be successful in today’s hyper-saturated world of search, marketers must optimize not only for what happens online, but also for those highly valuable online to offline conversions.

Here are some tips on how to drive more high-quality calls and in-store visits that result in sales

  1. Create an ideal online-to-offline customer experience

You can use your customers’ behaviors and preferences to personalize their purchase journeys. Many retailers are starting to combine online and offline experiences, in that you can order a product and check if it’s available at a store near you for pickup. Similarly, online retailers are also toying with the idea of opening up physical stores at select locations for their customers who prefer to pick up the products themselves.

2. Incorporate social media

Social media is a great way to generate awareness about your company’s products or services. expand your marketing efforts across other channels, and attract new buyers. Sharing images, posts, promotions, and other giveaways are great ways to garner more interest. By responding to your customers’ concerns and asking for their opinions, you can enhance satisfaction while getting more traffic for your site, which further promotes in-store traffic for your brick-and-mortar business.

3. Localize your branded content

Location data gives advertisers the ability to tailor ads to respond to people’s unique experiences and behaviors—where they are and what’s happening in their world. Highly targeted audiences result in better ROI and more personalized ad experiences that make people feel like a business is speaking directly to them.

Location data isn’t just about delivering highly targeted ad experiences. It can also help retailers figure out how to better attribute revenue to the right marketing channel. After pushing an ad to a mobile device, advertisers can track whether a person actually visits a store by using location data that their mobile app provides.

Some tips on how to localize your branded content include:

  • Mention specific locations in metadata, headlines, and body content.
  • Write unique, targeted content that provides information relevant to each location.
  • Use images specific to locations.

4. Remember that mobile’s influence on offline sales continues to grow

In many cases, we find that while most consumers make purchases on desktop, most of the in-store visits come from people who first engaged from a mobile device. Search engines are making it easier for mobile users to quickly access the kind of information they’re typically looking for, from store locations and coupons to comparing prices and looking up product information. Because of this, it’s important to make both your website and content mobile-friendly.

Learn More

Marketers have many opportunities to drive more, higher quality offline leads from their search marketing campaigns. For more extensive guidance on Online-to-Offline conversions, along with real-world examples, download our guide, The Online-to-Offline Search Marketing Playbook.

Our aim is to help companies with both large and brick-and-mortar footprints understand:

  • How Search Marketing Influences Offline Sales
  • Tactics for Growing Online-to-Offline Conversions
  • Store Visit Tracking
  • The Benefits of Tracking Calls for Marketing Campaigns
  • Leveraging Phone Conversations to Gain Insight for Smarter Marketing
  • Effective Inbound Call Strategies

As a reminder, you can always subscribe to our blog to get tips on how to stay ahead of the game with your advertising efforts.

Conversion Tracking Is Getting Harder

It's clear that conversion tracking is vital to your digital advertising. It ensures that advertisers know where an install or purchase (or really any other data point) originated from, which helps determine the quality of the source. It also offers a better understanding of campaign performance for future optimization. But, challenges abound, as the advertising landscape is undergoing a sweeping transformation. For instance:

  • Both Safari and Chrome are limiting its cookie use, restricting companies’ abilities to track people around the web.
  • More and more people are using ad blockers, which can be problematic for businesses trying to reach their audiences, and tech platforms looking to demonstrate the value of their ad tools.
  • Data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA are becoming the norm, which stops companies from mining a consumer’s personal data.

People now have more control over their data—which is great—but the marketer’s task has also gotten harder.

While there are many approaches to this problem—including publisher tools, such as Google Analytics, or third-party analytics providers--they’re either costly to implement, require a complex setup, or don’t have a multi-channel view. To succeed in this challenging regulatory environment and understand the true behavior leading up to a purchase, you need a configurable solution that can track multiple events throughout the funnel.

Introducing: Marin Tracker--A Comprehensive Conversion Tracking Solution for a Post-GDPR and ITP World

Marin Tracker is a conversion tracking solution with built-in optimization tools that allow you to understand stages that matter in your buying cycle. By unifying your campaign data with sales outcomes and machine learning, you can make data-driven marketing decisions and have a holistic view of all revenue impacts from digital marketing efforts—including in-store purchases and call conversions. You can save time managing tracking codes and spend more time driving your campaigns with rich insights.

  • Benefits of Marin Tracker Include:
  • Unified reporting: Our configurable dashboards make it easy to track users across multiple channels and devices, and gain a unified view of the ROI impact from all your paid digital advertising efforts.
  • Real-time insights: The MarinOne dashboard is responsive and “always on,” providing near real-time insights, conversions, and revenue data.
  • Automated Tagging: Save time with our simple tracking link creation wizard, and track consistently across all channels.
  • Offline Connect: Tie digital ad spending to in-store foot traffic and purchases, with the added ability to remove cancelled or refunded orders from the analysis.
  • Call Tracking: Segment phone calls and track the number of call conversions that are a result of your digital marketing efforts.
  • ITP Analysis Impact Tool: Marin Tracker will estimate missing data in Safari as a result of Apple’s ITP update, and offer support for deploying solutions to account for lost conversions.
  • Attribution: Marin Tracker creates a unique model of value allocation for each interaction in any given conversion, on mobile and web, to understand the true impact of your acquisition and engagement efforts.
  • TruePath: Apply unique values to each interaction across search and native to better understand the path to conversion and intelligently allocate budget to top-performing tactics.
  • Mobile App Tracking and Attribution: Attribute every app install to the marketing campaign and media source that drove it.

Marin Tracker helps you make smarter decisions to get more out of your marketing with performance and ROI insights that are tailored to your business. By automatically connecting and combining siloed marketing data from thousands of sources, you can understand the impact of your marketing at both high and granular levels.

Ready to know your best-performing tactics across the consumer’s journey and optimize every marketing dollar? Schedule a demo and learn more about setting up Marin Tracker!

In the world of search marketing, we are all very familiar with Google’s Smart Bidding. It combines machine learning and contextual signals to optimize bids at the auction level, and incorporates billions of data signals to calculate the likelihood of a conversion, based on the performance targets that have been set.

There are also a number of reasons why Smart Bidding works well for a business--it analyzes search queries rather than keywords, it leverages auction-time signals that are available exclusively via Google (browser, language settings, operation system, app, actual query, ad creative), and it incorporates a user’s historical behavior, like click and conversion rates, to determine bids.

This often prompts the question…”Well then why should we use Marin (or frankly any other bidding algorithm) when Google already has such a mature bidding solution in place?”

Well, here are a few limitations you should consider before putting all your eggs in the Smart Bidding basket:

  • Google Only. Are you only advertising on Google? Didn’t think so. Don’t you want a bidding solution that works across multiple publishers and channels?
  • Doesn’t leverage External Signals. There are a lot of unique factors that impact your performance as a business that are outside the auction--think ratings, social media buzz, and new product launches. Shouldn’t the machine learning that is calculating your bids know about these things?
  • Struggles with advanced metrics and longer sales cycles. Are you optimizing to all downstream events or merely focused on “leads”?
  • Lacks budget pacing or “what-if” forecasting. Creating accurate forecasts empowers you to evaluate new optimization opportunities before testing them out in the real world, reducing wasted ad spend.
  • Limited control and transparency. Without access to the complete bid history of any keyword or any individual auction, there’s no way for an advertiser to unpack the selection criteria, optimization signals or decisioning systems for their campaigns.

See in detail how Marin differentiates from Smart Bidding below:

Marin’s proprietary bidding algorithms stay agile and reactive to market changes, and are more flexible to meet the needs of your business. We ensure optimal allocation of your advertising dollars, and are entirely transparent in how we calculate our bids. Not to mention our solution optimizes for the advertiser, not the publisher, and works across many different channels.

Want to learn more about our premium bid management solutions? Schedule a demo with one of our dedicated account representatives today!


Over a year ago Apple’s Safari browser stopped advertisers from following you from site to site with their Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature. Last week Google’s Chrome update announced their intention to do the same thing ...within the next two years!

Why is Chrome following Apple’s lead getting so much attention? Chrome is the dominant browser in US and Europe, and also owned by Google, the dominant force in serving and measuring online ads, which means this behavior will now affect nearly all of the ads on the internet. Advertisers were previously in denial regarding the Safari change because it is perceived as having a low market share, but now understanding the impact is essential for digital advertisers.

What is the impact from this update?

Measurement & Attribution - High

Google’s announcement will mean that 3rd Party Cookies will eventually be rendered obsolete, meaning 3rd Party view-through measurement will be obsolete. View-through measurement refers to granting revenue credit to ads that were merely seen and not clicked on. For example, Google Display & Video 360 won’t be able to track when people are seeing ads they serve outside their own web properties (i.e. outside This change benefits the search business, which won’t have to give up much credit to display ads. Click-based measurement can continue as normal for search ads. Marin uses first-party cookies today and will be unaffected by the Chrome change.

For view-through conversion measurement, as well as incrementality measurements (the value of running ads in the first place), Marin has been advocating for a while the return to ongoing, automated split testing for adjusting attributed metrics. These tests will tell advertisers the true value of their media investments -- and they don’t depend on cookies at all.

Retargeting / Remarketing - High

This announcement probably portends the end of retargeting ads based on tracking your behaviour across the web (At least on a 1:1 basis). For Criteo, AdRoll, DMPs and even Google and Facebook, the removal of support for third-party cookies means their retargeting / remarketing systems based on sites you’ve visited will no longer work.

Whilst surprising, It seems that even the big ad publishers have now deemed these lucrative ads not worth the privacy headache; Facebook have followed this Chrome announcement by just announcing a tool that will allow users to remove all this 3rd party data from Facebook retargeting today.

Redirects - Medium

Despite the Safari changes, URL redirection, where a user’s click takes them first to a tracking server before reaching their intended page, is still commonly used for ad measurement (Google Display & Video 360, Sizmek, Kenshoo etc.). However, with these changes this will no longer track on chrome. We should see redirects disappear completely (Marin has moved away from redirects over the last few years). The end of redirects serves another objective of Google’s which is faster page loads.

How realistic is their timeline? What do we know so far?

We don’t know much about how they will make 3P cookies obsolete right now, and two years in the browser world is a long time.

The only significant updates we have so far are:

  1. Chrome has recently introduced a new setting which if enabled by a user after Chrome 80 (Releases early February) would stop these cookies from working instantly - the first time this sort of control has been possible on Chrome. But don’t fret as its current default setting is disabled (for now) meaning no change.

  1. Up until now Advertisers have also been able to get a “fingerprint” of your device on Chrome to target you based on characteristics like your browser configuration, and fonts and plug-ins you’ve installed. Chrome has also just announced a feature to stop this, by only sharing a simplified browser profile with the websites you visit making it even more difficult for data companies to identify you (I.e. not impacted a 3P cookie, but along the same lines).

The Future and How To Prepare

  • Make sure the ad measurement data you are using is using 1st Party (and implemented in a way that won’t be impacted by Safari Intelligent Traction prevention which can limit 1st Party data too). Multi-touch click-based attribution is still alive and incredibly useful at indicating where to spend your ad dollars.
  • Lift tests continue to increase in importance, especially to understand how your display and social advertising is driving sales in a world where you can’t measure view engagement.
  • From Google Ads Management, we expect to see tracking templates deprecated in the next 2 years (As they are for redirects / tracking beacons which will no longer work). Also expect to see remarketing tags shuttered, and a full push for audience tailored ads based on 1st party data connections (I.e. customer match, and Google audience data).
  • Chrome’s timeline creates a window for its Privacy Sandbox – the privacy-safe API first unveiled in August - to re-enable some of the key marketing use cases delivered by 3rd party cookies today. Google suggests “Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete.” If you’d like to get more involved in the industry standards process, you can take a look at the proposals that the web standards community is producing now. Given the impact to google’s bottom line is big, Google released a study last year showing that removing third-party cookies reduced publisher ad revenue by 52%, its likely some of the impacts we’ve talked about in this article will be mitigated by this initiative.

If you have any questions on this or want to engage Marin to see how to get ahead of these changes please get in touch. Marin has Marin Audience Hub for streamlined 1st party audience connections to Facebook, and Google, or Marin Tracker, A 1st Party, Safari ITP Proof tracking and attribution system to continue to track your users!

Now that we’ve hit 2020, there will no doubt be many metaphor-infused mentions of vision, sight, and awareness.

In the world of advertising, foresight is just as important as hindsight. Being able to predict future innovations and consumer behaviors means keeping on top of not only late-breaking industry news and cutting-edge innovations, but also knowing what lies further ahead in the digital advertising space.

We’ve taken the pulse of the industry and identified five things that every retail advertiser should know this year.

Eye exam not required.

1. Gray Markets

A gray market is the legal sale of a product outside of the manufacturer’s preferred distribution channel—as just one example, a retailer selling to other retailers. This is in contrast to a black market, where a product’s very creation is outright illegal.

While the sale of gray market products isn’t prohibited, as a retailer, you’d probably like to ensure that your competition’s playing fair and according to industry customs and standards.

Furthermore, gray markets are simply bad for retailers, for a few main reasons:

  • Lost revenue
  • Lack of full oversight and control over who sells your products
  • They can drive prices down in different regions (i.e., no pricing control)
  • They can affect your brand image—if there’s a product issue you’re not aware of, you can’t fix it, which can lead to loss of consumer trust

Although completely eliminating global gray markets is an ongoing battle, you can take certain steps—outside of costly and timely litigation—to minimize the impact of gray market sellers.

Follow the rules

Determine the rules for your region. Also make sure you know the local, international laws so that you’re not breaching them.

Implement smart tracking practices

Assign different model numbers to the same item in different countries, even though the functions of the item are identical. This way, you can more easily pinpoint when something’s being sold on the gray market.

As an additional tracking measure, use supplier codes. (Note that in the U.S., you must use supplier codes; not using them is illegal.)

Understand publisher options

Google, eBay, and other platforms allow you to submit a request to remove ads for a gray market product that violate copyright or trademark laws. Act quickly to ensure the gray product is on the market for as short a time as possible.

Other things you can do to minimize gray versions of your products:

  • Have a single cost policy for your product catalog.
  • Increase distribution channels to make gray markets less attractive.
  • Inform your sales teams and retail partners of gray market practices.

For more information, check out the work of The Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA), a California-based non-profit group of IT companies on a mission to raise organizational and governmental awareness of gray markets.

2. Reviews and Ratings

Most businesses know that online reviews are important. What’s a bit more challenging is how to maximize the number of positive reviews and ratings, and to keep them once you have them.

How to increase positive reviews

Soliciting feedback isn’t just a way to boost your business—it’s an opportunity to create a human connection with someone who could eventually be a big fan of your brand. To encourage positive reviews, be sure to:

  • Know where the reviews are. The big players include Yelp, eBay, Facebook, and Amazon, but burgeoning sites like G2 Crowd (for B2B companies) offer an important niche for greater visibility. Make sure you have a presence on all of the sites that are relevant to your business and monitor them regularly. Also be sure your profiles are continually up to date.
  • Ask your existing customers. There’s a reason they bought what you’re selling. Be direct and create a campaign designed to generate positive feedback. Include a tracked link to the review page to make it easy for them to find you and so you know where the clicks are coming from.
  • Incentivize it. Offer a gift card, a cup of coffee, or company swag. Use season-appropriate messaging to sway them with the possibility of extra funds for their holiday gift-giving.
  • Share positive reviews to social media. Social proof is business cachet. Positive feedback is a great way of boosting brand awareness and presenting your company in a good light. If possible, tag the reviewer and encourage them to share, too.
  • Quickly respond to negative reviews. You may be inclined to ignore the haters. But, getting back to them with a positive message shows them (and anyone looking at your response) that you take customer satisfaction seriously. Answering with understanding and compassion can often calm an irate customer, and they may even delete their negative post. According to Google, responding to reviews—whether positive or negative—also improves your local SEO.
  • Test to see what works. As with all things in digital marketing, test, improve, and repeat. Whether you’re requesting reviews via email or social ads, A/B test subject lines, email copy, images, and any other variable that could lead to increased open rates, clicks, and responses.

How to maintain high review numbers

To ensure your reviews are timely, relevant, positive, and plentiful, be sure to maintain regular contact with your customers and continually provide top-notch service. This may seem like a no-brainer—but how often can you boast of nailing all of the below?

  • You provide your customers with same-day assistance.
  • You approach everything you do with a “customer first” attitude.
  • You regularly reach out to your customers to ask for a review.
  • You measure, test, and continually improve to maintain customers and attract new ones (and you have the data to prove it).

Given today’s many product choices and much more discerning consumers, your brand is a reflection of how focused you are on the customer.

3. Your Cross-Channel Strategy

Once you have a solid plan of attack against gray markets and your positive reviews are flowing in, it’s time to implement or rethink your cross-channel advertising strategy.

There are three basic components to stellar cross-channel ad campaigns:

  1. The when: Determine the best time to launch a product. You’ll definitely want to create ad campaigns around a product that’s new to market, but also be sure to consider seasonality, your competition, and any news about a similar product that may have been negative. Should you hold off or be more aggressive against your competitors?
  2. The what: Make sure your product listing is a good, strong one. Be explicit and concise about your product’s specifications and pricing, and include a clear set of images with a few different angles. Write a great product description, including attributes such as color, gender (or unisex), and how many are in left in stock. In short: Be clear, concise, complete, and captivating!
  3. The how: Create a strategy that has your ads appearing on all platforms where your existing and potential customers are searching and shopping—Google, Facebook, Amazon, and eCommerce websites. The easiest way to do this is with a solution like MarinOne, which automatically allocates budget to your best-performing ads and allows you to measure your performance holistically.

By setting up your ad campaigns to work in tandem and across channels, you’ll see a “multiplier effect” that will bring you significantly more consumers who are not only more likely to convert, but also likely to spend more.

4. Your Delivery Practices

When Veruca Salt said, “I want it now,” she was onto something.

With Amazon and Walmart under pressure to deliver products in one day, and the sharing economy expected to grow by an astronomical 2292% by 2025, “fast” for consumers is no longer an expectation but a given.

With 88% of consumers willing to pay for it, is your business set up to provide next-day or same-day shipping? Are you on board with BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store)?

To complement your delivery practices, be aware and constantly attuned to price wars. Do you know “how low can you go”? To ensure the price is right, consider freebies and VIP incentives such as loyalty programs, special promotions, and cost adjustments for new or “veteran” customers. Highlight your premier products, or add features to a lagging product to make it more enticing.

5. The Latest Innovations

As we start the New Year, retailers continue to question whether voice commerce will be the “next big thing.” Our take is that “next” is “now.” As eMarketer reports, the vast majority of voice assistant users are already speaking up and researching products. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to take this technology seriously.

We’re also having an “all wrists on deck” moment. Wearables are making some noise, and if Facebook’s recent acquisition of CTRL-Labs is any indication, this space will only get louder.

Retail—and especially eCommerce—is also rapidly growing, with more and more consumers flocking to sites like Amazon, Walmart, and others. Each Amazon Prime subscriber alone places 60 orders a year.

Automated solutions for dayparting, reporting, and other tools can improve your eCommerce advertising performance, and allow you to more easily adapt to the latest eCommerce innovations.

Stay aware of the latest technologies and breakthroughs, assess what works for your business, and flex accordingly.

The Upshot

If there’s a maxim retailers can live by, it’s, “With great innovation comes great responsibility.” Every year—or, every month—brings a new way of doing business or a novel way a competitor has to gain an edge. As a result, retailers and eCommerce advertisers must stay several steps ahead.

Use these tips to spruce up your product feed, crank up the volume on your products’ time to market, and bravely venture forth to discover and try out potentially lucrative opportunities.

May your vision be 2020 this year.

This is a guest post from Shane Danaher, Senior Data Technology Analyst at 3Q Digital.

When the California Consumer Privacy Act (or CCPA) comes into effect on January 1, 2020, companies’ use of consumer data will change dramatically.

With a broad definition of personal data and an extensive legal reach, CCPA will touch most digital businesses — especially those in the marketing space. Because CCPA foists broad restrictions on the sale and transfer of personal data, it will make third-party data both less reliable and harder to procure. In light of these changes, businesses will have to rely more heavily on first-party data, as well as tools designed for procuring the same.

Having a strategy in place to migrate away from reliance on third-party data will allow your business to maintain its engagement with customers, and avoid running afoul of the law.

Note: This article is not meant to be taken as legal advice; rather, it provides info that can serve as a starting point for your journey toward CCPA compliance.

First of all, what is the CCPA?

The California Consumer Privacy Act is a piece of legislation designed to give citizens of California better control over how their data is shared on the internet. Although many consumer-facing businesses fall within its purview, CCPA takes an especially aggressive tack toward dealers in third-party data.

The legislation targets businesses that meet any one of the following three criteria:

  1. Produce annual gross revenues greater than $25 million
  2. Annually buy, sell, or share consumer information of more than 50,000 Californian consumers, households, or devices
  3. Earn at least 50% of its revenue from the sale of California consumers’ personal information

Even if none of the above apply to your business, chances are they do apply to your third-party data provider, creating potential problems for how you target new customers.

First vs. Third-Party Data

Simply put, first-party data is information you gather yourself; third-party data is information procured from somewhere else.

Examples of first-party data would be information gathered through customer purchases or surveys; an example of third-party data would be an audience purchased through a data exchange.

Typically, businesses use third-party data for new customer acquisition, whereas they use first-party data to gain insights into their existing customer base.

Third-Party Data and CCPA

CCPA is designed to aggressively target third-party data providers. Not only does the legislation threaten significant penalties for companies that deal in third-party data without consumers’ consent, but it also obligates companies to decorate their websites with a “clear and conspicuous” link titled Do Not Sell My Personal Information, which gives users the right to restrict how their personal data is used.

Assuming that many users will avail themselves of this opportunity to restrict the sale of their data, we can infer that third-party data sources, never renowned for their quality, will likely diminish in usefulness.

CCPA also ensures that anyone selling data into a data exchange exposes themselves to great risks. The law obligates companies to delete user data at the user’s request, not only from the company’s internal records, but also from any downstream locations to which the data has been sold. This effectively puts whoever gathered the data at legal risk for the behavior of any party the data's sold to.

With third-party data likely to become more difficult to acquire, less trustworthy to use, and more risky to create, companies should pivot away from relying on it, and instead focus on building a robust, first-party data collection system.

The First-Party Alternative

Not only does using first-party data limit your legal risk under CCPA, it also ensures that you’re using quality information to inform crucial business decisions.

By using tools like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Segment, you can gather a host of insights about your users, personally monitoring the data collection to ensure accuracy and compliance with user wishes.

Analyzing your first-party data can provide you with good information about who is using your service, and partnering with services such as Google’s Similar Audiences tool will allow you to find new users based on the data you’ve collected concerning your current audience.

With other states likely to soon adopt legislation similar to CCPA, now is the perfect time to start weaning your company off of third-party data, and relying completely on info you’ve gathered yourself.

We all know by now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) smashed records once again as digital commerce continues to grow domestically and across the globe. What we found by looking at Marin customer data echoes this growth, but also highlights some key differences from this year compared to last during the five days between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday—now known in the industry as the "Cyber Five."

For one, Cyber Monday was in December this year, which may have influenced BFCM advertising budgets—spanning two months as opposed to a typical BFCM that has both dates in November.

eCommerce data, led by Amazon Advertising, was indexed across Marin’s customer base for 2019 and 2018. Our methodology takes the mean of the first week of November and uses that as the baseline (100). Data for each day shows whether that day was higher (100+) or lower (100-) versus the baseline.


ROAS trended down

On Black Friday, conversion rate and revenues per click were up, but not by as much as the costs per click. As a result, Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) was down. This implies high competition around peak seasonality. It stresses the need to place bets wisely and plan ahead so that you’re well-positioned to withstand the bid wars.

2019 ad spend increase lags into late November

The ad spend climb this year was more modest and sustained compared to last year, which saw sharp increases. Again, this was likely due to the higher number of days leading up to Black Friday this year, with the day falling on the 29th.

It’s noteworthy that in 2018, the four days in the lead-up to Black Friday had 2x the mean spend, whereas in 2019 only one day, the immediate day prior to Black Friday (Thanksgiving) saw a 2x increase before Black Friday.

Spike in pre-Black Friday CPCs

As the graph below shows, advertising CPCs rose sharply in the three days leading up to Black Friday. Black Friday CPCs were slightly higher than on Cyber Monday. Though the increase (1.5x the baseline) is consistent with 2018, this year it took advertisers only a couple of days to get there, versus last year’s steady, two-week ramp-up.

A boon for Google Shopping

Google Shopping CPCs were up 17% YoY through the “Cyber Five” period, perhaps due to new additional placements on YouTube that may have driven CPCs higher.

More trends ahead

We’ll continue to monitor the year’s ad trends through the holidays—it looks like with growth across Amazon, Google, and others during the 2019 season as a whole will set records.

As digital marketers, we know that Google has implemented a lot of machine learning features into its bidding platform in recent years. We’re at a point where you can create campaigns in Google Ads and the search giant will pretty much optimize everything for you.

Smart Bidding, in particular, optimizes your bids to maximize conversions, tapping into Google’s vast tank of signals—including user search query, browser, and language settings; location; and a user’s historical behavior to predict the likelihood of a conversion. From there, Smart Bidding increases your bids when a conversion appears more likely.

But which tools can you leverage to gain an even bigger advantage with Smart Bidding?

Get the basics right

When thinking of ways to be more strategic with Smart Bidding, the first thing to consider is your data integration. Marketing needs to be data-driven to be effective. There’s a lot of data you can generate in today’s world, and the data you’re pulling will be the core of a successful marketing strategy.

If you know your target user’s behavior, goals, pain points, and challenges, you can develop marketing campaigns that cater to their specific needs. Some of the data you could be collecting includes:

  • Web analytics
  • Social media data
  • Email marketing
  • Blog and content creation
  • Lead generation
  • In-store sales

Marketing analytics and data are playing a larger and larger role in strategizing your business forward. The more insight you have, the better, more strategic decisions you can make. Which begs the question: are you incorporating all the data you have available?

Once you have the right data integrated, it’s important to assess your KPIs, or choose what to measure. You should always measure quantifiable metrics that align with your organization’s goals.

We often see brands optimizing to a CPA. However, this approach is far from ideal if you have different margins for groups or categories of products, and doesn’t follow the logic that “not all orders are created equal.” It’s always good to occasionally review KPIs—you can often realize huge gains by adjusting to a more granular KPI.

In addition to the above, “not all customers are created equal,” either. At Marin, we believe that customer lifetime value (CLV) remains one of the best metrics to understand the overall impact of your performance advertising campaigns. Your customers aren’t just worth the amount of money they spend on your business today. They have future value if you’re able to retain them as customers.

Smart Bidding can only reach the next level of maturity when it works on conversion data that differentiates between the first transaction of a new customer and repeat purchases. Typically, only a CRM system can tell which of the two happened. And while connecting conversion tracking to CRMs presents a challenge to digital marketers, it’s possible with the right development resources.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about how you can improve performance with signals that matter to your business.

Align to your business needs with custom modifiers

Using Smart Bidding means relinquishing control across different market segments to what Google interprets as the most likely to convert. That’s fine in a vacuum, but an advertiser will commonly know more about their business than what’s reflected in historical online conversion metrics.

Still, there are many unique factors and trends that impact you as an individual advertiser that publishers aren’t aware of, such as seasonality, ratings, new product launches, coverage in the media, or social media buzz. Incorporating extraneous or contextual data into bid optimization can help you gain a competitive advantage and understand consumer intent—meaning more sales and revenue.

Weather and television-based contextual marketing are some of the more prominent examples of contextual marketing, but there’s no shortage of additional opportunities.

To give you an idea of how online KPIs can sometimes not match the real world, imagine a car rental company. If a particular location has very little inventory left, it might be worth considering bidding down, since a high percentage of traffic wouldn’t be able to rent.

Similarly, if a location has excess inventory, consider bidding up!

Modifiers can also be very useful to help handle promotional adjustments. Many brands have a calendar of sales or promotions, and while some of these happen at the same time every year, it’s likely that many are ad hoc, occur for different product lines, and happen for varying lengths of time each year.

Since all bidding engines leverage historical data, there will always be a delay from when a promotion begins to when bids are adjusted. Therefore, it’s important to modify your bid on the day the sale begins to capitalize, and likewise when a sale is over and conversions get back to ‘business as usual’—applying a negative modifier helps prevent overspending on bids while the bidding engine adjusts.

This is far more difficult to achieve with Smart Bidding, but easier by leveraging Google Ads scripts or a tech partner like Marin.

Full-funnel optimization

Once you’ve covered the basics and started to apply adjustments for your specific business data, another challenge that many brands face is optimizing to multiple stages of a conversion funnel.

There are many options for how to look to optimize in the most efficient manner. You could look to optimize to the point highest up the funnel—or the ‘lead.’ Or you can optimize to final sale.

However, if you have a long latency period from initial lead to final purchase, this limits how reactive bidding can be to current conditions, especially if you change targets. While it’s best practice to remove the days of latency from bidding decisions to make sure you’re using accurate data, it’s important to remember that it’s not current data.

So...what is the best bid strategy to optimize to downstream revenue in the bid calculation?

In the above example, we have a number of users who see an ad for a performance marketer. Some of the users will click the ad and decide it’s not a good fit for them, others will register, fewer others will continue to pay for a trial after being contacted, and finally even fewer will decide to buy the full product/service.

At Marin, we recommend trying to find the ‘best of both worlds’ to account for every step of the funnel, which requires making multiple bid runs. First, run bid calculations to the highest point of the funnel, or the ‘lead’, and then additional bid runs to calculate for the other points in the funnel or final revenue.

In this example, one keyword creates lots of leads, and therefore an accurate bid optimizing to leads equates to $5.

The second keyword creates far less leads, so a bid calculation for this keyword equates to $1.50.

However, the first keyword results in far less revenue from all those leads than the other keyword, and therefore a second bid run would need to calculate the adjustment required.

The first keyword is adjusted -50% to create a final bid of $2.50. The second keyword, which creates more revenue overall and far more revenue per lead, is adjusted by +500% to give a final bid of $7.50.

Marketers can leverage Marin’s full-funnel bid strategy to stay reactive and make sure the top of funnel is optimized.

Budget allocation

These days, a data-driven marketer has to answer many budget allocation questions. Where should I invest my next dollar? Am I going to hit my revenue goals? Will I spend my entire budget? Plus, today’s online customer journey isn’t as simple as it used to be.

Consumers switch between channels (and devices) as they move down the purchase funnel, from inspiration and product discovery to more focused product research and comparison, and finally to conversion.

The million dollar question is always how and where to spend your budget. While we’re not going to touch so much on attribution, it’s important to note that leveraging predictive models to correctly allocate budgets across different campaigns and channels can help drive overall uplift.

With tools like Marin’s Budget Optimizer, marketers can forecast, monitor, and automatically reallocate budgets across their most efficient campaigns and marketing channels with ease.

Take this WorldFirst customer example.

Using historical performance, Marin’s algorithm paced the budget across search and social to achieve the best results per the customer’s business objectives. As a result, WorldFirst has seen conversions increase by 107%, and has a much better understanding of which campaigns drove more sales and where budgets were best allocated.

This kind of financial modeling can be applied on top of your bid strategies to have a continuous view of investment opportunities and high-potential returns.

Leverage technology for better automation

Finally, let’s finish with thoughts of technology.

To recap the above: while Smart Bidding does offer a quick answer to some common PPC challenges, Google’s broad data doesn’t necessarily reflect your target audiences, which are unique from the average user.

More importantly, Smart Bidding gives you no visibility or control over the data being used, which means an advertiser has no access to the complete bid history of any keyword or any individual auction. For advertisers looking to analyze granular performance, the possibilities with Google are limited.

To truly maximize your campaign performance, you need to take control of your own bids and the data being used to optimize them, and do so in an automated fashion.

Leveraging a third-party advertising technology tool like Marin can help you coordinate with Smart Bidding. Marin works as a performance layer for those who want a powerful bidding solution to automatically scale their accounts while maintaining a certain degree of control.

eCPC is a smart bidding strategy that allows you to continue to place the base bid outside of Google, while still allowing Google to make the ‘Auction Side Adjustments’ based on the data they hold. This is almost the “best of both worlds” and allows you to capitalize on some of the strategies we’ve discussed, without giving up Smart Bidding as your automated bidding solution.

By using this hybrid approach, Marin continues to help brands outsmart Smart Bidding, or more accurately, work hand in hand with Google to get an edge over their competitors.


We’ve talked about several areas you can focus on to drive uplift:

  • Getting the basics right with accurate data, correct KPIs, and data driven targets
  • Aligning your online KPIs to real business needs by leveraging Custom Modifiers
  • Considering a full-funnel bid strategy if you have a multi-conversion funnel to optimize to what matters most, while still remaining reactive to auction or real-world conditions
  • Knowing the true value of all your digital marketing activity across different campaigns and channels to maximize your return and drive incremental lift, with better budget allocation
  • And finally, leveraging technology that can help you easily implement and automate these strategies

Want to learn more? Join our webinar, How to Outsmart Smart Bidding, on Wednesday, December 11th at 10am PT / 1pm ET.

Google launched Shopping ads on YouTube a few years ago. However, earlier this month, they announced they’ll be expanding these ads to the YouTube home feed and YouTube search results.

This product-based ad type not only matches to users’ keywords in searches, but can also match to user’s “expressed interests.” These interests are likely indicated by the user’s viewer video history and video content itself.

Shopping ads in general remain a powerful option and source of growth for retail advertisers. According to our latest benchmark report, retailers spent 40 percent of their budgets on Shopping ads in Q3 2019. And, the number of clicks on Shopping ads increased 14 percent quarter-over-quarter, all pointing to continued opportunities for marketers.

Video Drives Sales

Why is YouTube, in particular, so important for retail advertisers? Well, according to Google, “Nearly two-thirds of shoppers say online video has given them ideas and inspiration for their purchase,” and of those people, “90% say that they’ve discovered new products and brands via YouTube.”

Now, by expanding its YouTube ad offerings, Google is providing retailers a new way to reach consumers when and where they’re most likely to “shop around.”

Who Can Run YouTube Shopping Ads

Advertisers who are already using standard Shopping campaigns today and are opted in to YouTube on Display Network will be automatically eligible to run YouTube Shopping ads. Advertisers who are not opted into the campaign-level setting to include Display Network will need to opt-in in order to surface their Shopping ads on YouTube.

A Few Tips for Optimizing YouTube Shopping Ads

To stand out and get noticed in YouTube’s home feed and search results, be sure to:

  • Correctly categorize your products within your product feed—this way, they’ll show up in the right context.
  • Draw attention by including captivating, high-quality product images.
  • Test performance to see what kind of new results you’re generating by opting into YouTube versus Display network.
  • Stay on-brand and consistent, and think about similarities between this ad type and, for example, product ads on Instagram.

If you’re a Marin customer and need help with these ad placements, get in touch with your account representative. If you’re new to Marin and would like to learn more, schedule a demo today.

This article first appeared in TotalRetail.

In an attempt to capitalize on the lucrative and competitive digital ad market, social platforms are positioning themselves as the answer for every marketer’s needs.

In the early days of social media, advertisers flocked to Facebook and Twitter because of their huge numbers of daily active users and amount of time they spent on each platform. Such metrics are no longer sufficient now that advertisers focus more on the bottom line, i.e., the return on investment that these platforms are able to yield.

For a platform to thrive in the mature, highly competitive market, it's faced with a challenge of not only getting ads in front of the intended audience, but also delivering tangible financial growth for advertisers. The attempt is to be a one-stop shop for everyone.

Drawing Advertiser Attention

There are a few approaches that platforms employ to broaden their appeal to advertisers. The classic is introducing new ad formats that solicit meaningful actions from the target audience. This move is designed to attract more direct response advertisers.

With posing a formidable threat as the third-largest advertising platform in the U.S., Google-owned YouTube tested shopping ads that allow users to shop directly in Google Express. It provides a seamless experience similar to how Amazon users never have to leave Amazon's app between clicking an ad and purchasing a product.

YouTube also recently tested augmented reality (AR) ads with selected brands in the beauty industry, where consumers generally have an affinity for selfies and AR lenses. Earlier this year, Reddit launched cost-per-click ads, its first performance-based ad format.

Continuous Innovation

Some platforms explore new territories and figure out ways to make them fit into their existing infrastructure. Facebook, which has become the staple of social advertising thanks to various ad offerings across campaign objectives and verticals, is heavily pushing one of its newest ad placements, Instagram Stories.

By presenting usage statistics—"inspire the 500 million that use Stories every day"—as well as educating advertisers and partners on how Stories ads yield great results, Facebook attempts to dispel the notion that Stories will drive up cost per acquisition as many skeptics believe.

Spotify, which has aggressively invested in podcasts, overhauled its app to feature podcasts more prominently. Its Spotify for Brands article highlights the direct response pull of podcast advertising: “A staggering 81 percent of listeners have taken action after hearing audio ads during a podcast.”

The Bottom Line Is the Bottom Line

For advertisers, seeing the social platforms’ shiny new objects is definitely exciting and helps reinforce the notion that these companies are committed to investing in innovations. It's important, however, to remember that the best interests of all platforms with an ad-supported business model eventually lie on maximizing their own revenue through ad sales and hitting the targets for which they're held accountable by their investors.

Every advertiser, not unlike a platform itself, has unique business goals and achieving them should always be the highest priority. Leveraging advertising channels and platforms that are already proven to be effective and constantly testing new techniques to optimize for better performance is a great place to start.

If there's room in the budget for testing new platforms or features, researching thoroughly about them while focusing on the compatibility with your brand is a necessary step to help cut through the noise and land on the candidates that can potentially generate incremental lift at scale. When it comes to shopping for advertising partnerships, there's no such thing as one size fits all.

This is a guest post from Carolanne Hornung, Senior Account Manager at 3Q Digital.

Q4 is here. Advertisers are wondering, “How can I beat last year’s holiday sales?” In this article, we focus on how you can gain the upper hand using Google Ads, Customer Match, and Similar Audiences to meet your holiday goals.

What They Are and How They Work

Customer Match is a Google Ads tool that utilizes your customer email file. By uploading a file with your customer emails, you can target these users when they’re signed into their Google account.

After you upload your customer email file, Google will create Similar Audiences if your list meets the required criteria. Similar Audiences allow you to reach people who share characteristics with the users in your Customer Match file.

Customer Match is currently available for Search, Shopping, YouTube, Google Display Network, and Gmail campaigns. Similar Audiences for Customer Match is available for YouTube, Google Display Network, and Gmail only.

There are several strategies and use cases for Customer Match and Similar Audiences to boost brand awareness and increase revenue. Here are just a few things you can do to get started.

Create Customer Segments

To maximize the benefits of Customer Match, create customer segments based on user behaviors. Depending on how much information you collect from people when they provide their email address, the segmenting possibilities are endless. A few strongly recommended list segmentation examples include:

  • Prospects vs. customers
  • Customer purchase frequency
  • Product or category affinities

Increase Bids for Past Purchasers

An effective way to target your past purchasers is through remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA). With these users being higher quality than those populating other remarketing lists, you can test utilizing higher bids when they search non-brand or competitor keywords. Since these users already trusted your brand and purchased, you can stay top of mind and drive more sales.

Target Broad/General Keywords

Explore targeting very broad or general non-brand keywords with your Customer Match list. This can be done by updating your targeting settings.

For example, a department store could test targeting general keywords such as “shoes.” This may be a risky move under normal situations, but using the “Target and bid” feature limits the reach to people already familiar with your brand. This lets you get in front of your customers again (when they may not be thinking of your brand) and potentially drive more revenue.

Develop New Ad Copy

Use Customer Match to implement unique ad copy that makes use of what you know about the people on your email list by updating your targeting settings, Gmail Sponsored Promotions, or YouTube. Test different ad copy for frequent purchasers versus customers who haven’t made a purchase in over a year. A steeper promotional discount could entice past customers to come back and make another purchase.

Cross-Sell and Upsell

You can use Customer Match to cross-sell or upsell to existing customers to drive incremental revenue. For example, if a department store has a customer file segmented with a list of people who frequently buy children’s clothing, you can target that list of users with ad copy relevant to holiday gifts specifically for children. This may encourage customers to make another purchase: children’s shoes, backpacks, toys, etc.

google ads

Expand Acquisition Efforts

Similar Audiences is a great tool to expand your acquisition efforts with Gmail Sponsored Promotions or YouTube. When you’re looking to acquire new customers, Similar Audiences is a great place to start, as it allows you to target users who share similar characteristics and traits with your most loyal customers. Google has a lot of back-end knowledge about users, and leveraging this feature can help advertisers get in front of a new audience and drive more sales.

In Summary

Customer Match and Similar Audiences present advertisers with many great targeting strategies. Get started on building and segmenting your customer lists (and creative/ad copy to test) now. Then, build your strategy and get ready to drive more revenue this holiday season!

Earlier this year, we released The State of Digital Advertising Report 2019—the result of our annual survey of over 450 digital marketing professionals in the U.S. and U.K. across several key industries. While these marketers face many common challenges regardless of industry, we noticed that responses often varied slightly from vertical to vertical.

Retail is one vertical experiencing unique setbacks and opportunities in an evolving digital ad landscape. According to eMarketer, the U.S. retail industry will increase its digital ad spending by 19.1% to $28.33 billion in 2019. As the holiday shopping season approaches, what are some of the top priorities for retail marketers this year and beyond?

Let’s take a look at retail by the numbers, according to The State of Digital Advertising Report 2019.

Search Leads for Retail

Search is by far the most popular channel for retail marketers. eMarketer recently named search as retail’s fastest-growing ad format, so it’s not surprising that 90% of retail marketer survey respondents said they allocate digital ad budget to paid search. And, 86% said they expect budget to increase in this category this year.

So what are retail marketers paying most attention to when it comes to search? 77% said they expect to increase their use of audience targeting this year, and 91% said they’re using or plan to use responsive search ads—the AI-driven format first introduced by Google last year and now being tested by Microsoft.

31% of retail marketers also perceive voice search or smart hubs (i.e., Amazon Echo, Google Home) as a trend or challenge they’re keeping their eye on.

eCommerce Ad Spend on the Rise

44% of retail marketer respondents allocate digital ad budget to eCommerce, driven mostly by Amazon spend. Of those respondents that spend on eCommerce, 82% said they started using Amazon in the last year and 71% except budget to increase this year. However, all the talk about Amazon taking budget from Facebook and Google may not be true, at least for retail marketers—100% of respondents in this vertical expect that increase to come from incremental budget.

31% of respondents who started using Amazon in the last year said the main reason was to capture people starting their purchase journey. After all, several studies have shown that more and more product searches now start on Amazon. The most popular format on the channel for retailers is Sponsored Brands, which can help drive more clicks and better post-click customer interactions.

Social Advertising – Untapped Opportunity?

Just 41% of retail marketer respondents allocate budget to paid social, but 81% plan to increase budget in the category this year. While 44% of respondents say video is the most effective social ad format, the rise of eCommerce-related formats across Instagram, Facebook, and others are adding to this increase in spend.

In fact, 81% of respondents also anticipate an increase in use of Shoppable images or Shopping ads/images on social. 63% say paid social spend on Instagram will increase this year, with 80% expecting that money to come from incremental budget.

Despite Facebook’s privacy challenges in the past year, just 13% of respondents said they reduced spend on the platform as a result.

Performance Matters

Whether they’re allocating budget to search, eCommerce, social, or all of the above, one priority remains consistent for retail marketers: the ability to prove performance. 36% of respondents said the top priority for their business marketing function this year will be establishing effective metrics, the starting point for measuring results and ROI.

This is the first blog post of a series that will explore key priorities, challenges, and opportunities faced by marketers this year across verticals like retail, travel, healthcare, and more. To see the complete report and compare against your organization’s goals, view The State of Digital Advertising Report 2019.

With the rise of Shopping ads campaigns and other dynamic ad formats, feed automation is now a crucial aspect of maximizing performance on search marketing programs.

Once you've prepped your product feed and inserted all the right keywords, there's an important next step: making sure your feed is optimized for peak performance.

Here, we discuss a few common optimization issues and how you can tackle them.

Common Optimization Issues

Before you start digging deeper into your product feed concerns, it’s important to identify problems and answer a few common questions from the get-go:

  • Is there rogue HTML in your title or description fields?
  • Are there titles that don’t contain important keywords like brand, color, or size?
  • Do you have duplicate product titles?
  • Do you have duplicate IDs?

By resolving these types of issues, you can make sure your product data—especially your titles—are as optimized as possible to run clean feed-based ad campaigns.

Optimization Tips and Tricks

Next, let’s dive into taking your high-quality product feed and building it into conversion-friendly ad campaigns.

First, a general rule of thumb is to apply the 80/20 rule:

  • 20 percent: Break out item ID product groups for your highest-performing products.
  • 60 percent: Use broader groupings like brand, category, and custom labels.
  • 20 percent: Build an “All products” or “Auto campaign” to use as a catch-all or for exploratory purposes

Once you've set up this system, it'll be much easier to manage your product feed. The workflow becomes simple to extract or segment from the 60 percent into the top 20 percent, as you’re constantly finding high-performing products and breaking them out individually.

shopping ads

Also, your 20 percent catch-all allows you to maintain a good level of coverage for every product that’s shown in your catalog. (This is similar to keyword-based campaigns that have keyword and match-type combinations like broad, phrase, and exact.)

This structure is simple to use and supports smooth, clean product management for your feed-based ad campaigns.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to automating and optimizing your product feed. For other great tips, tricks, and information—including establishing the right bidding model, addressing data issues, handling cross-channel product feed challenges, and more—download our guide, Product Feeds Unleashed: Automating Your Ad Campaigns.

shopping ads


Feeling overwhelmed by your advertising campaigns? Donate 15 minutes of your time and we’ll show you how MarinOne allows you to easily manage, measure, and optimize all of your ad campaigns from a single location. Request a demo today.

Starting in October, Google will no longer be offering average position as a metric. Read on to learn more about transitioning to the new impression share and impression rate metrics and what Marin can do to help.

So...What Are Impression Share and Impression Rate?

By definition, impression share is the percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number that your ads are eligible to get in the top five ad positions on the search engine results page (SERP). Impression share is a great way to find out how much more you can be doing—it shows you any missed opportunities by indicating how often a particular ad showed up in the top search results.

Average position didn’t accurately measure if ads were showing up above the organic results or not, only the order versus other ads. This left advertisers guessing.

Impression % (or rate) shows you how often your ads are showing at the top of the SERP. In other words, for each of the top five ad positions, you can see the percentage of appearances that your ad is making. This addresses another shortcoming of average position, as even an ad in position 2 might be at the bottom of the page.

Impression share metrics

The three versions of impression share all measure your impressions divided by the total eligible impressions for your ads, based on different locations on the SERP:

  • Search absolute top IS: The impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location. This is a new metric.
  • Search top IS: The impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location (also a new metric).
  • Search impression share: This is an existing metric that measures impressions anywhere on the page.

Impression rate metrics

These two metrics are only based on your impressions, not the total number of eligible impressions.

  • Impr. (absolute top) %: The percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Impr. (top) %: The percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.

A quick way to remember the difference between impression share and impression rate: impression share is the percentage of total possible impressions in the top five SERP slots; impression rate is the percentage of impressions for each of these five slots.

How Do I Optimize for Awareness?

Advertisers who are more focused on driving awareness than ROI can focus on impression share or impression % (rate).

We recommend advertisers be careful with Google’s new impression share options in Smart Bidding. The impression share data isn’t available the same day, so it’s hard to monitor performance—setting a high target may significantly increase your spend by making you eligible for additional, unwanted auctions.

What Metric Should I Target?

The easiest way to set your targets is to use your recent performance for campaigns across the impression % (rate) metrics and use this as a starting point. This will ensure the smoothest transition from targeting a position to targeting impression share.

The table below shows our default mapping from a position target to impression %. This should only be used for advertisers with limited historical data.

impression share

How do you make the switch from average position to impression share?

Marin’s Awareness Targeting

Marin now offers a bid strategy known as Awareness Targeting, which targets impression rate instead of target position for Google campaigns. Think of this as automatically setting bids to achieve your awareness goals.

For existing Marin advertisers, impression rate targets for Google are automatically set based on recent performance. All current customers can login to MarinOne to view their new awareness targets.

The benefits of Awareness Targeting include:

  • Goals-by-device: Marin optimizes devices independently because user behavior varies a lot between desktop and mobile.
  • A responsive intraday bidding engine: By running every four hours using the latest prominence signals, Awareness Targeting ensures that advertisers are hitting their targets and maximizing reach, especially on high volume, highly competitive terms. This is a great way to stay ahead of competitors.
  • A holistic account strategy: You can apply bid strategies across multiple Google accounts within the same workflow, instead of individually.
  • A single bid strategy: One that’s compatible with position-based bidding for non-Google publishers and impression share metrics for Google.
  • Immediate setup and launch: Advertisers can dive right in and begin targeting to impression share. No historical data needed!

impression share

Maximize Your Search Reach

Google has been making changes to depreciate the value of ad position metrics for quite some time, and has been encouraging advertisers to focus on targeting impression share. Now that Awareness Targeting is readily available in Marin, it’s easy for our advertisers to drive campaign goals that maximize the reach on the search results page.

Want to learn more? Schedule a demo, or if you’re a current customer, reach out to your dedicated account representative today!

In our latest digital advertising benchmark report, we found a 40 percent ad spend increase in eCommerce as Amazon maintains its healthy lead. Shopping ads represented 37 percent of total search spend share, as Google Shopping continues to be a key source of traffic and online orders for many retailers.

A few other key takeaways:

  • Engaging Stories Format Pays Off: 45 percent of all Instagram spend occurred on Stories as advertisers and consumers embrace the ad format. Features like Instagram Story Links and Highlights are keeping social audiences engaged as Instagram becomes more of a direct selling tool.
  • Search Click Volume Rises: With 13 percent YoY growth, paid search click volume has shown solid growth globally. Specific industries have seen more dramatic YoY click growth, led by Healthcare rising 30 percent, Technology up 25 percent, and Retail growing 24 percent.
  • Search CPCs Dropping Across All Industries: Retail at $0.38 and travel at $0.44 recorded the lowest CPCs this quarter. Notably, healthcare saw a sharp drop, with the lowest CPCs in five quarters at $1.08. As the healthcare industry becomes more customer-centric, marketers can find good value for clicks by boosting their paid search budgets accordingly.

To learn more and see how your ad campaigns compare, view our Q2 2019 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report. You can analyze current cross-channel advertising trends by region, industry, and publisher.

benchmark report

Each quarter, we aggregate advertising performance across our customer base, and share our results with digital marketing professionals to compare against their own initiatives. In addition to global industry trends, we explore the most compelling findings in key areas of digital marketing.

Access the report for actionable insights you can apply to your digital ad campaigns.


Feeling overwhelmed by your advertising campaigns? Donate 15 minutes of your time and we’ll show you how MarinOne allows you to easily manage, measure, and optimize all of your ad campaigns from a single location. Request a demo today.

For our latest State of Digital Advertising report, we surveyed over 400 high-level digital marketers across 12 industries to find out their current goals, strategies, and concerns.

What are some of their top priorities for this year and beyond?

Combine the Strategic and the Tactical

Advertisers are working hard on key strategic goals like increasing brand awareness and reducing friction for their clients. They’re also eager to win new business by adopting more tactical plays like running omnichannel campaigns and optimizing performance. Brands who deliver on both strategic and tactical goals will outpace the competition.

Maintain the Old (and Reliable), Embrace the New

Although paid search still dominates digital advertising, other channels are taking their share. Despite ongoing controversies and people leaving for greener (Instagram) pastures, advertisers still have a massive Facebook audience—and can also take advantage of surging video and eCommerce advertising opportunities.

Win and Maintain Consumer Trust

With regulations like the GDPR and the upcoming CCPA requiring advertisers to implement entirely new strategies for ensuring data privacy, publishers have continued work to do to win and keep public—and advertiser—confidence.

To see the complete report and compare against your organization’s goals, view our State of Digital Advertising Report 2019.


Feeling overwhelmed by your advertising campaigns? Donate 15 minutes of your time and we’ll show you how MarinOne allows you to easily manage, measure, and optimize all of your ad campaigns from a single location. Request a demo today.

This is a guest post from Will Cozart, Labs Analyst at
3Q Digital.

Advertisers were somewhat skeptical of the new Responsive Search Ads (RSAs) when they were first announced at Google Marketing Live 2018, as the format represented one more step into an automated search marketing world. So, what are RSAs (see this article with the full 411), how do they work, and what kind of performance have we seen now that the ad type is fairly mature?

Responsive Search Ads: a Quick Refresher

Google’s RSAs simplify the ad copy creation process by allowing machine learning to manipulate a single ad, containing multiple headlines and description assets, to serve the best possible combination for each user in each individual auction. More details on implementation and specs in the link above.

What We’ve Seen

In early testing comparing RSA performance to existing expanded text ads (ETAs), 3Q account teams didn’t see very encouraging results. While our holistic agency testing confirmed these results, evidenced by one of the test accounts below (an 18% lower CTR for RSAs? Yikes!), we realized that it didn’t paint the full picture of the ad type’s impact on an account’s performance. So, we changed up the testing methodology.

responsive search ads

We decided to look not only at the performance of the different ads next to each other, but the overall metrics of campaigns with both RSAs and ETAs in every ad group, to those with ETAs only, all else being equal. We tested with RSAs containing only existing ETA assets to negate any impact from the copy itself, and used Google’s Drafts and Experiments tool to split auctions between the control and experiment campaigns.

The findings were now much more promising, and in line with Google’s claim of “up to 10% more clicks and conversions when using with Expanded Text Ads.” This test included 15 accounts in different verticals, and included nearly 40 different campaigns. It’s also important to note that all accounts were tested using the “optimize” ad rotation setting.

responsive search ads

responsive search ads

You’ll notice RSAs tended to provide the most benefit on the Non-Brand side. As the ad type is able to adapt to individual auction dynamics, advertisers are eligible for additional impressions they might not have had by using ETAs exclusively. Perhaps a combination of assets available only through the RSA format gives your ad just enough additional relevance to win an impression not possible with the existing ETAs.

On the Brand side, advertisers tend to capture a much higher share of available impressions already, so our accounts didn’t see much of a performance improvement from RSAs when looking at volume deltas for the median campaign. Some of the accounts saw extraordinary results with RSAs on the Brand side, skewing the average numbers.

Overall, our campaigns saw traffic lifts from RSAs that came in close to Google’s claims, and even improved efficiency slightly. By allowing Google to manipulate our RSA assets and choose the “best” ad to serve to each user, in each auction, in conjunction with the “optimize” ad rotation setting, our search accounts are bringing in more traffic to our clients’ sites. RSAs take very little time to get up and running, so why turn down these gains?

How to Test and Optimize

Curious about RSAs and want to try them for yourself? Have you tested them in the past, but analyzed performance at the ad level and decided ETAs still reign supreme? Have no fear! It’s never too late to get started and go after those incremental performance gains for your account.

Start by adding RSAs using your existing ad copy into each ad group of a campaign (or multiple, or all of them), and look at the performance of the campaign in question in sum. This can be done a couple of ways:

  1. Use the Drafts and Experiments tool (preferred) to evenly split the auctions. You’ll also get the nifty performance comparisons and statistical significance calculations right there in the UI.
  2. Look at ad group performance before/after adding RSAs (if you don’t expect any major outside shifts in performance, like promotions, competition, or budget changes).

While we’ve established that adding in an RSA per ad group, alongside ETAs, is a best practice for search campaigns, your work doesn’t stop there. Check out your RSAs’ asset performance to see which ones are serving most, and least, often. Consider replacing low-serving assets with new, meaningfully different ones.

I’m not talking about swapping out a single word, but the entire line of copy. Don’t be afraid to go in a new direction—you might be surprised! RSAs are powered by machine learning, so they might need a bit of time to ramp up, but we typically saw performance normalize around one week after launching. Good luck testing!

This is a guest post from Maddie Davis, co-founder of
Enlightened Digital.

Technology has disrupted a variety of traditional business methods, including marketing. As social media continues to be a fact of life for billions of people, more businesses are looking to social platforms to reach their target audiences.

With more than 30 million visitors per day, YouTube is the marketing tool savvy businesses are using to broaden their reach and improve customer engagement. Here are some tips businesses can use to successfully leverage the platform.

Viral Isn’t Always Better

The first thing brands must recognize about YouTube marketing is that going viral isn’t always the optimal result. Of course, it would be great to produce a single video and rack up a million new followers, but that won't necessarily hold the same amount of value as a well-established channel.

Rather than obsessing over how many hits your videos can get, focus on what’s important to your company and to your customers. Work toward a goal of producing valuable and engaging content. Your videos will resonate with your audience and contribute to sustainable, steady growth.

Find Your Voice

Successful brand marketing begins with establishing a brand voice. To determine the tone and style best suited for your channel, it’s important to identify your YouTube marketing goals and target audience.

Once you’ve established the theme of your channel, maintaining consistency is key. Your audience is more likely to develop a loyal viewership if they know what to expect. Additionally, maintaining a consistent tone and content schedule improves your channel’s professionalism. Sporadically posting content that doesn’t follow a general theme can turn viewers off and give the impression that you’re not dependable.

Cater to Your Audience

Attempting to broaden your reach across too many interests can have a detrimental effect on the success of your YouTube marketing efforts. If you do have a wide range of customers that are interested in different types of content, don’t be afraid of creating multiple channels to best suit the needs of your varying audiences.

Oracle is a great example of this multi-channel strategy in action. Aside from their main Oracle channel, the tech company offers a selection of additional channels dedicated to various disciplines such as customer experience, brand partnerships, industry developers, and even thought leadership from CEO Mark Hurd. This sort of strategy is highly effective for larger organizations with a wide selection of offerings.

Although it does require a greater amount of maintenance, presenting multiple channels allows for more focused content and a larger potential audience.

Offer Some Variety

Regardless if you’re managing one or multiple branded YouTube channels, it’s important to offer some variety in your content. A well-organized channel that includes different video formats, topics, and objectives will contribute to a more engaged and responsive following. Here are a few content examples other brands have found success with:

  • How-to videos: Demonstrate to customers how to use your product or services. IKEA offers entertaining and helpful decorating how-to videos featuring their stylists, as well as interactive product assembly guides.
  • Staff and office highlights: Company leadership and employee interviews offer viewers special insight into the inner workings of your company and the people who work there. Pinterest shared their team’s mission and company culture through an employee testimonial video.
  • Sneak peeks: Preview videos of upcoming product launches are a great way to engage customers and create a sense of exclusivity for your subscribers. Apple introduced the new Apple Card with a video highlighting the card’s features and when it would be available to consumers.
  • Branded series: Ongoing company and consumer events can make for great series-style content your fans can follow over time. Red Bull hosts a Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series event each year and houses the footage on the company channel.

[caption id="attachment_12850" align="alignnone" width="500"]


Source: IKEA[/caption]

Optimize for SEO

To ensure all of your hard work doesn’t go to waste and your video content is search friendly and attracting as much traffic as possible, SEO optimization is essential.

YouTube video optimization begins with keyword and content idea research to ensure there’s a substantial search demand. Once you’ve decided on a topic idea and keywords and phrases, you should include your keywords in three main categories:

  • Video titles: These should be descriptive in nature and contain approximately five words.
  • Video descriptions: Use your keywords within your video descriptions and try to stay close to 250 words.
  • Video tags: Use keywords as tags for your videos to increase the chances of them appearing as suggestions for relevant searches.

Another tactic to incorporate into your overall strategy is to fill out the About Us page. The first 48 characters in your About Us page show up in the YouTube search results. Make the space count by filling out this section with useful information on what your channel offers to subscribers.

Video watch time is arguably the most important ranking factor. Videos around 10 minutes long will generally earn the best audience-retention rates, as opposed to shorter videos, which often attempt to cram in too much information. The average length of a first-position YouTube ranking video is 14 minutes and 50 seconds.

Thanks to technology's accessibility, succeeding with video marketing doesn’t require massive budgets or fancy production equipment. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to add visibility to your already established brand, YouTube marketing can make a positive impact on your business.

Audience targeting is much like cooking—with the right ingredients, a few adjustments, and seasoning to taste, you can create something hearty and enticing. Like any good online recipe, we’ll start broad and dive into the details, and cover the options you have for building an excellent mixture of audience-enabled advertising campaigns.

And, while you can look at the faces of your dinner guests to assess the success—or failure—of your culinary handiwork, we recommend a more analytical approach for your ad campaigns.

Read on.

What Is Audience Targeting?

Audiences are buckets of your users or customers, grouped based on your preferences. As an advertiser, you can create these buckets across every publisher where you sell your ads (Google Ads, Bing, Yandex, Facebook, etc.).

Once you build audiences, you can utilize them in different ways:

  • Reporting: This allows you to better understand consumer behaviors, e.g., which web page is driving the most traffic/revenue.
  • Bidding: Based on the data you’ve gathered, you can adjust your CPCs for advanced bidding.
  • Prospecting: You can create similar audiences based on your existing lists to target new users.

In this article, we focus on Google Ads audiences—however, you can use this audience approach across all search publishers. The main difference is usually the naming convention across Google Ads, Bing, Yandex, etc.

Where Do I Start?

Option one—RLSAs

If you’ve never worked with audiences before, the best way to start is to create Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) and add these to all or top campaigns in Observation mode. This will allow you to gather data on your audiences, while keeping reach open for everyone performing a search query on your keywords.

You can set up RLSAs for specific pages of your website and based on rules—for example, a customer added items to the shopping cart, but didn’t complete the transaction in the last seven days. Generally, it’s a good practice to retarget your cart abandoners with a slightly higher bid, to remind them about their incomplete purchase.

Another good set of audiences are ones based on your top/desired web pages, for example:

  • New arrivals
  • Sales
  • Specific category / product line
  • Blog sections like “what to wear,” ”inspiration,” or “what’s trending this season”

Look at your website structure to determine the audiences to create.

Option two—category audiences

If you don’t know which pages to target or your business is still very new, publishers have an option to use pre-created audiences based on user interests. These are called in-marketaudiences, and represent the people interested in something specific such as travelling, cars, a particular industry, etc.

There are also demographic audiences that allow you to focus on gender and/or age range.

Option three—Customer Match

If your business has been in the market for a while and you have a list of loyal customers you’d like to retarget, all you need to do is upload your CRM list to the publisher and apply these audiences to your search campaigns.

Note that for legal and confidentiality reasons, all publishers encode user data upon upload.

Okay, I Have My Data—What’s Next?

Once you’ve identified which audiences deliver the most revenue for your campaigns, you can:

  1. Start using them in bidding: Based on the most successful conversion rates (CVR), you can add bid adjustments for these audiences proportionally in your campaigns/groups.
  2. Create specific retargeting campaigns: You can duplicate your existing campaigns, while adding top audiences to your campaigns and setting them in Targeting mode instead of Observation. This will restrict who sees these campaigns to people who fall into your audience buckets.
  3. Create similar audiences: The publishers generate these audiences—they include people whose behavior is similar to the one identified in your existing audiences (RLSAs or CRM).

Piece of Cake… Or Is There More?

There’s always more! ;)

You can create and retarget audiences based on the people who spend above your average order value (note that this requires additional analytics tools like Google Analytics or Yandex.Metrica). Or, you can retarget search users who interacted with your social campaigns. Yet another option is combining your audiences with “competitors” campaigns, to drive people back to your website when they enter a competitor’s search term.

Good luck! If you have any questions or want more information, reach out to your Marin CS team. Or, if you’re new to Marin, schedule a demo today.

Google’s responsive search ads (RSAs) have been up and running since mid-2018, and several best practices are emerging that focus on a few key areas:

  • Strategies for getting started
  • Creative variety
  • Pinning
  • Optimization

Here, we detail each of these ways search advertisers can create effective and high-performing RSAs.

1. Just Get Started

The first step is to stop procrastinating—add a few RSAs to existing search campaigns alongside text ads. In the search ads app, there’s a recommendation link on the upper left side of the page that brings up the RSA ads that Google suggests adding to ad groups. If you opt to not use these recommendations, focus on a few high-volume ad groups, with a minimum of 100 weekly impressions.

It’s important to provide Google’s machine learning with enough impressions to test and understand which ads work best with which users. Choose headlines both with and without keywords, either by using dynamic keyword insertion or static headlines that use a variety of terms. When creating headlines and descriptions, think across the funnel—users search differently when they’re top of funnel versus about to make a purchase.

2. Variety Is the Spice of Search

Be sure to max out the assets for RSAs and provide 8-10 headlines and 3-4 descriptions. Include a variety of creative that focuses on products, services, problems solved, benefits, types of users, and calls to action.

Remember that users respond differently to different approaches—one person may be looking for discounts, while another may be focused on luxury brands. The more varied the assets, the more Google’s machine learning can predict which messages will appeal to which users.

3. Pin... sparingly

RSAs are designed to use machine learning to fully customize ads to meet user need based on what Google knows about them. Although pinning may be necessary for legal compliance within the organization, it also constrains the machine-learning algorithms to do what they’re meant to do. When using pins, maintain a variety in each spot. For example, pin two or three variations of a headline or description to each position to let the machine learning work.

4. Optimize for High Performance

RSAs may need fine-tuning or pruning of any low performers. Look for ‘0’ impression assets and see if they’re too similar to other assets (i.e., not enough variety in the headlines and descriptions). Remember to use dynamic and static keyword insertion to leverage great keywords.

And, don’t forget to make sure RSAs are compatible with campaign extensions. RSAs show up just like any other search ad—users don’t see a difference. To measure RSA impact, set campaigns to ‘auto rotate’ for an apples-to-apples comparison with text ads. As data accumulates, tweak and fine-tune RSA assets to continue to improve performance.

RSAs: Part of the Modern Marketer’s Journey

Many machine-learning innovations like RSAs are providing marketers with a valuable advantage: the opportunity to focus on being creative rather than being spreadsheet jockeys. The goal of all marketing is to connect with customers in a meaningful, personalized way. RSAs are one more touchpoint on that journey.

For more information on using RSAs to gain a tactical and competitive advantage, download our guide, Getting Started with Responsive Search Ads.

responsive search ads


Feeling overwhelmed by your advertising campaigns? Donate 15 minutes of your time and we’ll show you how MarinOne allows you to easily manage, measure, and optimize all of your ad campaigns from a single location. Request a demo today.

This is a guest post from Charlotte Haab, Account Lead at
3Q Digital.

Voice and visual search methods are quickly becoming more mainstream. There’s our Amazon ambassador Alexa, of course, our old pal Siri, the lesser-known Cortana—we even have voice assistance available in our refrigerators these days. Search marketers are starting to notice an influx in queries starting with “hey google”—but how do we address these in our strategy?

Then there’s visual search, a lesser explored but potentially very powerful eCommerce tool. Major advertisers like Pinterest and retail giants like Target are increasingly starting to embrace visual capabilities.

Here’s what you can do right now to start preparing for increased voice and visual searches.

Write Conversational Content

When people are conducting voice searches, it’s often in the form of longer tail detailed questions. These types of queries are important because they represent a very strong and very specific intent. While there’s no way to optimize ads to this yet, you can better your chances of serving an organic result by optimizing your SEO.

Make sure you have plenty of conversational content on your site. For example, if you’re a retailer, your pages should include phrases like, “where you can buy xyz…” or “to buy xyz near you.” This will make you more likely to get picked organically as the answer or first result to one of these questions, bolstering your brand and likely increasing traffic.

Update Your Paid Search Structure Accordingly

No voice ads are currently being served. However, advertisers are starting to notice voice commands in their normal search queries.

voice search

Note that many of these are long tail. Voice queries on average are at least 5-6 keywords. Voice queries are also typically very local—usually asking for nearby locations or directions.

To get ahead of this trend, advertisers can mine their search queries for voice commands and build out campaigns specifically around them. Depending on how they perform and what your goals are, you may want to bid higher or lower on these types of queries—or even exclusively target more local areas.

Another option is to exclude them completely using negatives. Simply negate “hey google” to stop showing here.

Update Your Structured Data Specs

Recently, Google made a new specification available, that if set up correctly on your backend will indicate to various voice assistants if a section of your website is particularly “speakable.”

Having this configured properly in your backend will allow easy text to speech conversion when voice assistants start reading results—making your brand more likely to be chosen as the answer. Again, while this isn’t monetized in any way, it’s valuable for brand recognition and traffic to your site!

Advertise on Applicable Platforms

Lastly—and this largely applies to the lesser sought after visual search—it’s important for brands to stay ahead of the technology and for advertisers to be where that technology exists. For instance, visual search isn't a bigger deal at the moment because brands need to adopt technology to use it well.

Some brands are ahead of the curve here, like Target or Pinterest. On Pinterest you can simply snap a picture in the search bar and the results will return hundreds of Pins that match your photo. I tested this out with a random tube of lip balm on my desk, and it sent me right to a shoppable Pin!

If you want to show up in visual searches, you’ve got to be where they exist, which right now is largely just Pinterest. Visual search is sure to gain more traction as more companies adopt the advanced technology, but for now, it’s somewhat few and far between.

voice search

Stay Current on the State of the Market

While the technology for visual search hasn’t been widely adopted yet, and there’s currently no clear way of monetizing voice search, there is speculation on how advertisers like Google and Amazon might achieve this in the future.

The conversational language in voice searches often makes intent super clear—so while the perfect ad may exist, it’s a pretty awful user experience to sit through an audio ad before getting an answer to your question. Experts believe users would likely revolt against such a concept.

As a workaround, it’s been speculated that ads may serve after organic results from voice searches, offering people an option to hear the sponsored content. If they say yes, they’ll read an ad and potentially have the link sent straight to their smartphone to encourage conversion.

The other major roadblock is that people are very unlikely to buy in an eCommerce setting without some sort of visual. The latest products, like Echo Show, and Home Hub—available with screens—have the potential to upend that, by combining voice and visual browsing capabilities to make a sale.

Ultimately, these are all very new technologies that have yet to fully catch on in a major way. While we’re not quite there yet, there’s no doubt in my mind that advertising giants will find a way to monetize voice and visual search.

Before you begin to investigate tactics for implementing an effective cross-channel advertising strategy, it's important to take a broad view of your goals, data, and business. In this article, we look at the necessary elements you should have in place before getting tactical with your cross-channel ad campaigns.

Understand Your Goals

What are your digital advertising goals? Is the aim to drive awareness and exposure for an emerging brand or product? Are you selling commodity products, and aiming to get them in front of buyers before your competitors? Is it a longer sales cycle, with a high purchase value consideration that requires many touchpoints and a patient approach? Before you spend your first advertising dollar, get to know your business and clearly lay out your objectives.

Build the Foundation

Now that you know what you want to do, look at what you have. Does your site function well? Do you have quality landing pages that load quickly on desktop and mobile? Create strong content and write descriptions that resonate. Take the steps needed to get your program in the best place possible before spending money on cross-channel digital advertising campaigns to promote growth. At the end of the day, driving traffic to an unsatisfactory experience can damage your brand and derail ROI.

Capture the Data

Not every tactic is going to work well across every channel. As a digital advertiser, it’s important to be flexible, but more importantly, to be informed. As your program expands in breadth and volume, take advantage of all the insights you glean from your paid efforts across channels.

Unified reporting and analysis surfaces the opportunity areas both in terms of driving more sales or pulling back spend to increase efficiency. Take a product-first approach, for example: widget launches on the first of the month, and we’re tasked with promoting the widget with campaign assets across Google, Facebook, and eCommerce marketplaces.

Which channel did customers use to research their purchase? Where was the best return in terms of conversions? Where was our competition more assertive? At Marin Software, we believe companies need to think “big picture” by taking the holistic view across channels, segmenting audiences, and revisiting performance regularly.

Refine and Optimize

Too often, advertisers start strong and move along, failing to actively measure, manage, and optimize cross-channel campaigns. Sadly, digital advertising isn't as easy as putting up a billboard on the highway and waiting for responses as traffic snarls by.

Your audience is a moving target, and the battle for their attention is complicated and dynamic. Compound that with things like rotating inventory and promotional periods and it can be pretty overwhelming. However, sticking to the basics and doing things like search query analysis and product segmentation are core to program growth and improvement. Take the time to reallocate budgets and seize opportunities, and do so often.

Get Tactical

Once you have these pieces in place, you're ready for specific actions to coordinate your Facebook, Google, and eCommerce campaigns and deliver growth. We're here to help. Download our Search, Social, and eCommerce Guidebook to learn everything you need to know to create revenue-boosting digital ad campaigns.


Feeling overwhelmed by your advertising campaigns? Donate 15 minutes of your time and we’ll show you how MarinOne allows you to easily manage, measure, and optimize all of your ad campaigns from a single location. Request a demo today.

Google announced that they’ll eliminate the “average position” metric in the third quarter of this year. New metrics to give advertisers more control over their “race to the top” of the SERP will take its place. In this article, we review what these metrics are, how they work, and how marketers can prepare.

1. What's Changing?

Google will be sunsetting its “average position” metric in September. Instead, advertisers looking for information about search ad positions now have four “prominence metrics” that were launched in November:

  • Impr. (Absolute Top) %: The percent of your ad impressions that are shown as the very first ad above the organic search results.
  • Impr. (Top) %: The percent of your ad impressions that are shown anywhere above the organic search results.
  • Search (Absolute Top) IS: The impressions you’ve received in the absolute top location (the very first ad above the organic search results) divided by the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.
  • Search (Top) IS: The impressions you’ve received in the top location (anywhere above the organic search results) compared to the estimated number of impressions you were eligible to receive in the top location.

The first two metrics show the percent of your impressions that are above the organic results. The IS metrics show what percentage of the total available metrics your impressions represent.

2. Why Is Google Making This Change?

Average position let advertisers know where their ads stood in ad auctions compared to other ads—not necessarily on the SERP. In this old system, a position of 1 didn’t necessarily mean you were maximizing opportunity. Since this doesn’t really give you the best read on how your ads are truly performing—and, with an increasing share of searches coming from mobile and new ad formats—position isn’t as easy to define as it once was.

The new metrics aim to provide a better measurement of the reach of your ads across eligible impressions, and a more accurate view of your position in the ad auction.

3. What’s Next for Advertisers?

Advertisers will no doubt need to give themselves time to get used to the new metrics. We see it as a natural evolution that’ll give you more control over your true performance on the SERP.

If you’re a Marin customer, we’re here to help you with the transition. The new metrics will be available in Marin in Q2, pending final API changes from Google.

The existing average position metric will continue to be reported as it is today—the additional metrics provide further detail. We’ll continue to maintain the average position metric in Marin Bidding until we fully migrate to the new system by Q3—at that time, we’ll shift to Impression Share. As we get closer to the transition date, we’ll provide instructions for migrating to the new solutions.

We called time on The Big Bang 2019 recently in London’s Science Museum, but plenty of good memories abound from the conference. The agenda included several big themes swirling around the digital advertising world, including artificial intelligence, feed management, big data, and the future of search.

Our opening session was a lively slam down debate about the impact of artificial intelligence on both marketing and our world at large. Charles Radclyffe claimed that AI is just “fancy maths plus data plus computational power,” whereas Sera Miller asked if AI can “help you unlock a strategy or help you get the creative solution to where it needs to be? If you don't ask those questions, AI will be like the emperor’s new clothes.”

Anita Caras from Verizon took the stage to talk about the strength of native advertising to drive more engaging user experiences. She described how difficult it is for a digital brand to survive, when some research shows that 75% of brands could disappear tomorrow and people wouldn't notice! That’s a long way from the brand love that advertisers crave.

Our shopping panel was a big hit (despite being interrupted by a museum fire alarm—thanks, kid!) with guest speakers from Facebook, Google, Bing, Marin, and Feedonomics. Panelists agreed that AI, feed management, and online/offline closed loop advertising are all important advances in advertising. But Michael Wicks, a shopping specialist at Google, seemed to capture the panel’s mood with his comment, “Retailers have got to remind themselves that the customer comes first and must be at the heart of everything we do.”

Ian Carrington, Google’s Managing Director of Performance Advertising Solutions, treated our audience to a fascinating keynote on the future of search advertising, which pivoted on a single fundamental concept—technology’s role in being helpful to users. “Understanding the customer journey and being aware of it is the first step in giving that customer what they want. All companies are finding their way through this. No one knows the answer yet. It's an exciting time.”

Wes MacLaggan, Marin’s SVP of Marketing, followed with an in-depth look at how data can provide advertisers with a huge competitive advantage, particularly when it’s used to leverage performance across multiple channels. Wes took the example of Google’s translation efforts, moving from rules-based to semantic, AI-driven translation techniques to get ever closer to the holy grail of natural language processing.

The conference ended with a truly inspiring talk by Doctor Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science at Durham University. Sue shared her riveting life story—starting as a single mother in her 20s with three young children to becoming a successful academic and public speaker. “Coming from very difficult circumstances, I never ever would have believed I’d become who I am. Education and technology have changed my life. It’s changed my family’s life. I love technology. If I can do it, so can you.”

Sue’s uplifting talk led us into a cocktail party in the Science Museum’s flight gallery (think champagne reception with large aircraft dangling overhead) followed by science-themed fun in the amazing Wonderlab space. We ended the day with tesla coil demonstrations, a gin lab, and controlled explosions—going out with a big bang indeed! Until next year...

In Q4 2018, paid search continued its upward trend, growing 10% YoY. As inventory gets more expensive, however, more spend doesn’t necessarily mean more clicks—there was a modest 10% increase year-over-year in Retail, less than the search spend for the vertical.

Instagram Stories and Dynamic Product Ads ruled, however—Instagram received 18% of total Facebook spend, with 34% of that spend allocated to Instagram Stories, a 36% increase from the previous quarter. Dynamic Product Ads accounted for 35% of total Facebook spend in Q4.

See more insights in our Q4 2018 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report. Our interactive format reveals the latest cross-channel advertising trends by region, industry, and publisher.

dynamic product ads

Each quarter, we aggregate advertising performance across our customer base, and share our results with digital marketing professionals to compare against their own initiatives. In addition to global industry trends, we explore the most compelling findings in key areas of digital marketing.

Other highlights for Q4 2018 include:

  • eCommerce on the Rise: Google Shopping Ads captured 36% of search spend for all verticals. Shopping Ads remained retail advertisers’ bread and butter, as eCommerce search engines increasingly join the quest to deliver relevant, targeted experiences. According to Marin Software data, monthly spending on eCommerce channel ads increased 5x since January 2018.
  • Paid Search Up, CTRs Down: Paid search spend grew 10% globally year-over-year. Q4 remained the strongest quarter, with Financial Services (+25%) and Retail (+12%) leading the charge. As inventory gets more expensive, however, more spend doesn’t necessarily mean more clicks—there was a modest 10% increase year-over-year in Retail, less than the search spend for the vertical.
  • Search CPCs Vary by Vertical: Travel clocked the lowest global CPC in Q4 at $0.45, followed by Retail at $0.48. Education and and Technology represented the highest CPCs in Q4, at $2.92 and $1.51, respectively.
  • Mobile Search Holds Steady: Mobile accounted for 36% of search spend share in Retail and 41% of spend share across all verticals in Q4. Mobile continued to be a crucial touchpoint for product purchasing decisions, especially during the fast-paced and competitive holiday season.

View the report for actionable insights for your digital ad efforts.


Feeling overwhelmed by your advertising campaigns? Donate 15 minutes of your time and we’ll show you how MarinOne allows you to easily manage, measure, and optimize all of your ad campaigns from a single location. Request a demo today.

From the birth of the search engine through 2016, advertisers worked hard to make their SEM ad messages concise enough to fit into the strict character limits of a standard text ad. Every ad had 25 characters in a headline and 35 characters in each of the two description lines.

Also, advertisers could get beyond these limitations and increase their ad real estate—they could proactively create ad extensions such as enhanced sitelinks, callouts, price extensions, structured snippet extensions, and the like.

In search marketing years, doesn’t 2016 seem like a long time ago? In just the last two years, the search engine results page (SERP) has seen a massive amount of change.

Walking Upright: Expanded Text Ads

In late 2016, Google (and other publishers shortly thereafter) introduced shiny new expanded text ads (ETAs).

ETAs added an extra headline and increased the headline character limit from 25 to 30. The new ad type consolidated two description lines into one and topped it with 10 additional characters. Overnight, ad text space expanded by 45 characters.

Early testing proved that ETAs brought more exposure, a higher click-through rate, and more visitors to advertisers’ websites. Consequently, over the last couple of years all advertisers have been slowly, surely moving toward ETAs.

Creative Changes

Creatives also had to evolve, as devices we use every day got bigger. Also, since people now make more precise and educated search queries, advertisers can communicate with them using more specific messaging and visuals to drive more clicks.

The Modern Search Age: More Space, Dynamic Ads

The evolution of search continues, and won’t stop any time soon.

Last year, Google launched two new ad types allowing advertisers to expand and experiment with their search advertising campaigns even further:

  • Expanded text ads improved (ETAi) allow advertisers to have three headlines (30 characters each) and two description lines (90 characters each). This means creative ad text has increased by 130 characters since 2017 and by 175 since early 2016.
  • Google’s responsive search ads have the same character specifications as ETAi, but advertisers can add up to 15 headlines and four description lines to one ad. Google Ads then shows all possible ad combinations to best match a user’s search query. Advertisers can preselect one specific headline and one specific description line to always appear in the first position within the creative.

New Formats, New Benefits

The search engines suggest spreading, separating, and adapting your messages to the new ETAi and RSA formats instead of simply adding additional lines of text to your existing creatives.

The new ad types allow users to see headlines—that is, the most important, relevant message—in bold blue text. This helps you grab attention and entice people to continue to your website.


Note that using all the available characters may truncate your ad on smaller screens, leaving viewers with incomplete messaging and possibly no call to action.

The great thing about RSAs is that they alleviate advertiser headaches due to constant A/B testing. A/B test no more! This is a useful solution for teams juggling several channels and looking to automate.

If you prefer greater control over the message structure and update frequency, ETAi is an excellent solution, because it allows you to use the new format and update the creative test as you see fit.

Be Part of the Next Phase

The SERP looks very different today than it did just three years ago. If you haven’t used the newer ad formats yet, it’s a good idea to start, as your competitors are likely already getting their feet wet. Know that whether you go with RSAs or ETAi, testing is your key to success.

Marin supports both new ad formats—in MarinOne, you can see all three headlines and two description lines in your creatives tab. You can also single- and bulk-create/edit your ads.

If you haven’t tried them yet, be an early adopter and gain a competitive advantage—touch base with your Marin representative or schedule a demo today to learn how to simplify, amplify, and evolve your SEM campaigns.

As we jump headlong into 2019, the digital advertising industry continues its exciting journey through new ad formats, breaking news, and shifting ad budgets. To dive deep into the state of the industry and anticipate what the New Year will bring, we dove into industry data and the Marin Advertising Index—which represents billions of dollars of annual ad spend on the Marin platform. These 10 trends in digital advertising indicate new possibilities, persistent challenges, and ongoing turf wars among major industry players.

1. Blurred Lines: Google, Facebook, and Amazon

As the triopoly rises to the top and competes fiercely with each other for digital ad dollars, the worlds of search, social, and eCommerce will continue to blend together. Amazon is essentially a massive search engine now, Google has seen great success with Shopping Ads, and now Facebook, through Instagram, is becoming a major player in eCommerce. How can marketers optimize spend?

The Opportunity: Marketers will need to work hard to connect the dots across all these different channels and seek out an independent view of the entire customer journey, especially as lines are blurring across publishers and devices.

2. The Rise of Instagram and Facebook Stories

During its Q3 2018 earnings call, Facebook reported that more than one billion Stories are shared daily across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. And where consumers go, marketers follow. Marin Software’s Q3 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report found Stories represented 25% of their total Instagram ad spend, up from just 8% a year earlier—that’s a 212% increase YoY and rising.

The Opportunity: Because Stories are such a rich, immersive ad format, there’s plenty of opportunity to experiment with engaging creative. But brands are at the mercy of users’ thumbs clicking through the story quickly, since Facebook hasn’t yet implemented unskippable ads like Snapchat. So, it’s more important than ever to get the creative right, especially since Facebook is still working out the kinks of the format.

3. The Chatbot and Messenger Brand Advantage

The number of mobile messaging app users in the U.S. will reach 171.3 million by 2022, according to eMarketer estimates. Advertisers are only just beginning to realize the true potential of the channel.

The Opportunity: Messenger apps present an opportunity for brands to move conversations forward in a way unlike any other format. Brands can have asynchronous conversations—where they can pop in and out of the app—at various points along the customer journey (when a user abandons the shopping cart, for example).

4. Brace for Impact: CCPA Is Just the Beginning

Brands should be prepared for more states, and possibly the federal government, to follow in California’s footsteps with GDPR-like regulations. As industry leaders and government officials continue to take strides toward privacy requirements, marketers need to understand their data infrastructure and make preparations now, anticipating that new regulations will go into effect and shake up ad strategies.

The Opportunity: While these changes may seem daunting now, it’s important to remember that it’s still possible to reach consumers in a courteous way, respecting those who choose to not have their data shared and honoring those who do share their data but still want it protected. This mutual understanding and promise of transparency will keep companies in a good light, and shouldn’t deter them from continuing to create meaningful, engaging, and relevant advertising and marketing experiences for customers and prospects.

5. Data, Data, Everywhere

Google’s search query report tells you exactly what people have searched for. That’s a fire hose for any company to see what their customers are really seeking. Users often search for something much broader than a specific product, and beyond shaping marketing strategy, such marketing-centric data will increasingly be utilized across the organization.

The Opportunity: The smartest marketers will keep mining search and other types of data to stay competitive, whether it’s to improve the customer experience or inform product, services, and merchandising decisions. For example, marketers can use search intent to uncover valuable insights across channels, and take advantage of specific terms and user behaviors to fuel ongoing brand strategies and tactics.

6. The Digital Is Political: New Rules for 2020

The 2018 midterm elections changed the rules for political ads. Between shrinking TV ad influence, growing digital ad spend, and general public distrust in social media, candidates had to get creative and fork out some major cash in order to come out on top.

Much of this spend was directed towards social ads, with some estimates showing “60 percent of every digital ad dollar goes toward social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram.” This was only a glimpse into the political ad frenzy that we’ll begin to experience in 2019 as the next presidential election approaches.

The Opportunity: Political advertisers are entering a new landscape—one that’s harder to break through with all the digital noise and distrust. Candidates must be diligent about utilizing data and understanding which channels are generating the most impact, and maximizing spend accordingly.

7. eCommerce Joins the Advertising Party

2018 was the year of Amazon, as it turned the duopoly into a triopoly and officially became the third largest digital advertising platform in the U.S. behind Facebook and Google. But Amazon isn’t the only retailer seeing major success in eCommerce—other major players are bound to follow suit by monetizing their websites.

The Opportunity: As eCommerce rises as an advertising channel, expect to see other giants like eBay and Walmart mimicking Amazon’s success to turn their own websites into advertising channels. After all, Amazon leads U.S. companies in nearly half of total retail eCommerce sales, but eBay and Walmart are not far behind at no. 2 and no. 3.

Looking beyond the U.S., it’s interesting to note that Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent all take a significant share of the Chinese ad market, according to eMarketer’s Global Ad Spend Update.

8. Next-Gen Search: Visual and Voice

Google, Facebook, and Amazon are all players in the voice search game. According to Chatmeter, more than 50% of consumers own a smart speaker and use it daily. Amazon reports fielding an average of 130 million questions a day via “Alexa.” The opportunity for this next-generation version of search is huge—and visual search is on the horizon, taking search to an entirely new level.

For example, Snapchat recently announced a partnership with Amazon to offer users a new image-based shopping feature—users snap a photo of a product and Amazon will ring up a menu of store purchase options.

The Opportunity: Both voice and visual search are poised to be game-changers for marketers, and the opportunities for brands are still in the early days. One thing is for certain: voice and visual cannot be approached in the same way as traditional search. In fact, if Google and Amazon focus on capturing value from the transaction, Alexa and Google Home could be surprisingly free of traditional “ads.” The value is in the query and brands will need to figure out how to rise to the top.

9. AI’s All Over Search, but Creative’s Not Dead

A/B testing is dead, thanks to the introduction of technology like responsive search ads that put Google’s machine learning capabilities into the hands of advertisers. But with less time testing and more time to come up with smart and innovative campaigns, it’s certainly a time for marketers to ramp up the creative ingenuity.

The Opportunity: The rise of ML/AI in advertising will open up new doors for marketers to focus on their customer, deliver relevant and engaging ads, and spend more time thinking about what goals really matter. Spending less time in the trenches testing multiple creative will allow advertisers to focus on the real deliverables of any marketing initiatives.

10. Influencers Go Cross-Channel

A study conducted earlier this year found that 62 percent of marketers were planning to grow their influencer marketing budgets in 2018. Meanwhile, 61 percent of influencers said they had more sponsored partnership opportunities in 2017 than they had in 2016, and that number will surely rise in years to come as Instagram and other platforms gain popularity.

The Opportunity: Expect to see influencer marketing being incorporated into broader cross-channel campaigns and strategies. As influencers become an increasingly important part of the customer journey and continue to “influence” purchase decisions, the industry must work toward better attribution models for this fairly new form of engagement.

This is a guest post from Charlotte Haab, Account Lead at
3Q Digital.

As we get into the meat of Q4, there’s only one thing on advertiser’s minds—sales and how to maximize them. Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the biggest sales days of the year, but it’s possible to extend that momentum and maximize your sales well into the New Year.

If you’re looking to keep sales strong even after the holidays, check out the tips below.

Use your first-party data from the holiday season

Just how huge were Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year? Black Friday raked in $6.2 billion in sales, while Cyber Monday set yet another record with $7.8 billion. It’s estimated that more than a third of the country—174 million people—hit the internet between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, presumably to shop for gifts.

So once all those people buy, what happens to them? This is where first-party data strategies come into play. All that online spending really fattens up customer lists! Tap your or your client’s CRM software to get lists of shoppers sent to the various search engines.

You can get as granular as your backend setup allows. Popular segments include people who:

  • Purchased on Black Friday or Cyber Monday
  • Purchased on Thanksgiving
  • Spent a certain dollar amount
  • Abandoned their carts
  • Purchased certain products

The list could go on. You can use these segments to remarket down the line, or even create similar audiences or lookalikes on certain platforms going into the New Year.

For instance, if you’re able to create an audience of people who purchased Kitchen Aid Stand Mixers during a Cyber Monday sale, you can retarget them in the New Year with various attachments—maybe a veggie spiralizer to help them with their New Year’s resolution to eat healthier! Or, if you have a wider array of products for sale, you can create a list of users who had a higher than average order value, and retarget them more aggressively on your most expensive or luxury items.

Think about New Year’s resolutions

The New Year is a fresh start for many—why not capitalize on that mentality? In almost every industry there is a New Year’s resolution or related seasonality that applies to your vertical.

For example, for wedding purveyors, New Year’s Eve is a night of proposals—you can count on a spike in sales the next day. Most people resolve to get fit or healthier in the new year, and for retailers this means higher demand for activewear, kitchen, or food-prep supplies. Gyms see a sharp bump in memberships, and even banking institutions see increases in search volume as the population resolves to finally get their finances in order.

Think about which resolutions apply to your business, and be prepared with keyword expansions, increased inventory, or exclusive deals.

Make your job easier: embrace dynamic search and AI

Despite being “the most wonderful time of the year,” the holidays and surrounding dates can be among the most stressful for anyone who works in marketing. Make your life a lot easier by embracing dynamic capabilities and automation features that seem to be constantly rolling out.

Ensure total coverage and keyword mine with DSA campaigns.

Being prepared for the New Year may sometimes means a keyword expansion. For example, a retail client who typically sells beach gear wants to expand into activewear in anticipation of increased sales in the New Year.

While you can research and craft your own keyword lists, another great way to ensure coverage is to set up a Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) campaign in Google. Through these campaign types you can target broader categories based on your site structure or product categorization.

Once you set up the campaign you can really sit back and let Google do the keyword harvesting for you. Review queries on your DSA campaigns to find super high quality, longer tail, or unexpected new keywords to bid more aggressively on as the year progresses.


Use dynamic and responsive ad capabilities to target the most relevant customer with the most relevant language.

You can take even more work off your plate by embracing dynamic and responsive ad types in Google. You can use dynamic keyword insertion to make sure your headlines are totally tailored to each and every query that comes through. You can even take some of those first-party data lists and write specialized ad copy just for those people to be dynamically applied in-auction.

For instance, those stand mixer customers might respond well to, “Enjoying your new stand mixer? Check out this new attachment.” Or on Facebook, use the automated audience segments to target newly engaged couples with specific pointed language like, “Just engaged? Check out our wedding planning checklist!”

If you’re willing to surrender even more to Google’s algorithms you can stick some responsive search or responsive display ads into the mix. You can theoretically set and forget these ad types—Google will format them in each auction to serve in the most enticing way possible with the goal of driving clicks or conversions.

Use automated bid strategies tailored to your goals.

Make sure your account is set to “Optimize” for ad rotation to give Google full control over who gets served your ads in auction. Their robust algorithms serve your ads to the most qualified searchers in every auction, maximizing performance and eliminating the need to orchestrate clunky, antiquated A/B tests.

You can also test the waters with various bid strategies to achieve your specific performance goals, whether that’s a target ROAS, target CPA, certain impression share, or certain competitor you want to outrank.

Google is also constantly refining these bid strategies, so if you’ve tried them in the past to no avail, don’t be afraid to test them again! I would also encourage advertisers to stay up to date on new betas across all platforms.

For instance, this time of year can be difficult or slow for B2B companies—but implementing Google’s new pay-per-conversion beta allowed for one B2B client to finally find success through GDN acquisition and only pay for efficient conversions. The best part? The targeting is 100% in Google’s hands—barely any work for a very strong yield. Be sure to ask your account reps across all channels for updates on the latest and greatest performance tools/opportunities.

Don’t discount brick and mortar too quickly

This year has marked a shift in how Americans shop. For the first time, more than 50% of Americans say they prefer to shop online. It’s also no big secret that the industry in general is consistently moving in the direction of eCommerce over in-store shopping. Each year on Black Friday foot traffic falls by a few percentage points while online sales soar.

It’s important to note that brick and mortar stores are evolving into a valuable supplement to the ever-growing digital landscape. No matter how easy it is to shop online, humans love instant gratification. That’s why e-tailers and retailers alike are developing symbiotic relationships.

For example, this year Amazon partnered with Kohl’s to serve as a center for processing returns. Numerous big box and department stores are adapting a similar strategy by offering in-store or next-day pickup. This has the benefit of encouraging the online sale while also luring foot traffic to physical stores. In fact, this year in-store pickup on Black Friday increased nearly 75% from just one day before, that Thursday.

You can keep up with these trends digitally and still help your store business by taking advantage of some of the in-store-geared tools cropping up across online advertising platforms. For starters in Google, if your company meets certain requirements, you can set up tracking to measure store visits attributed to your digital efforts. This can help you best inform where/how to spend digitally to best support your in-store business. You can do something similar through Facebook by using their offline conversion API integration.

In addition to all of this, you can set up Google My Business and link to Google Merchant Center to prominently display in-store pickup where it’s available in your Google Shopping listings.

A note about in-store returns

Offering in-store returns after the holiday season is a great way to lure in customers. While it may be easier to buy online, returns are a pain, and customers are more likely to return in-store if it’s a possibility. Once they’re in your physical store, they’re more likely to buy something else or make an exchange rather than a full return.

Furthermore, when completing a transaction of any sort in the store, ask for an email address. Take email addresses captured from your POS system to retarget (or exclude) on digital platforms. Capitalize on the post-Christmas rush and get people through your doors!

In sum: Brick and mortar isn’t dying—it’s just evolving.

Get creative

In short, the best way to extend your holiday momentum into the New Year is by taking the tips above, and thinking outside of the box to effectively use the massive influx of data from the cyber holidays to your advantage. Fuel your customer lists and get creative with seasonal targeting segmentation. Hit your customers with pointed ad copy and achieve success on a more granular level by embracing the new dynamic and automated tools available to us.

Lastly—while trending down—don’t discount your brick and mortar stores just yet! Take what they still have to offer and use them to your advantage. Work these tips into your strategy to keep your sales as strong as possible as 2019 approaches.

To help search advertisers understand and implement Google responsive search ads (RSA), we've created this quick tip sheet. Use it to get your RSA campaigns up and running today.

(Click to enlarge.)

This is a guest post from Charlotte Haab, Account Lead at
3Q Digital.

A few months back I gave you the scoop on Google’s latest ad type: responsive search ads. How have these ads been performing since their release?

Refresher: The Lowdown on RSAs

Responsive ads essentially mix and match from a variety of pre-written ad assets. In other words, you can write up to 15 headline variations and four description variations, and Google will determine which combinations are most relevant to each individual auction. It’s also worth noting that each ad can show up to three headlines in the SERP, with extended 90-character descriptions.

responsive search ads

Early Positive Results

At this early stage, the consensus is mixed. Google’s research shows that advertisers can get up to 15% more clicks or conversions by adding a responsive search ad to their ad groups.

Our own research shows that some clients saw nice improvements to click-through rate (CTR) and conversion rate (CVR) using RSAs, while others didn’t.

Why was this the case?

For one eCommerce client, the challenge was expanding branded keyword efforts when we were already at 100% impression share. With responsive search ads, we were able to grab about 10% more impressions that we weren’t getting previously.

One thing to keep in mind, in this instance, is that RSAs had just been released. A few weeks after their release, Google announced updates to standard ads that included three headlines, and two 90-character descriptions. This inherently puts less tailored RSAs at a disadvantage when comparing.

For this same retailer it’s also worth noting we saw a nearly 15% increase in CTR and a 12% increase in CVR. That’s because RSAs give Google the freedom to use their algorithms to decide which combination of copy is most likely to drive a conversion for each individual auction. The more conversion volume your account has, the better Google can learn what works for who. As a trade off, there’s a limitation to how query-specific your ads can be.

If your account has ample conversion volume and uses largely generic or branded copy—you can probably expect some improvements to performance and impression share from implementing RSAs.

In Contrast….

In a contrary example, another similarly sized eCommerce retail client implemented RSAs and saw the opposite happen. CTR dropped by about 15%. While this account had similar levels of traffic, they sold a more specialized product and had a longer time to conversion, thus smaller amounts of volumein which case the query-specific headline structure in standard ETAs were able to outperform Google’s RSAs.

Another client who couldn’t find success with RSAs cited overall low volume. The new ad type just didn’t get enough traction and barely servedmaking any learnings or results negligible. In the same way the new SERP inventory was beneficial for our first example, it ended up being detrimental for our last example.

If you have very limited volume, and your copy hinges on very stringent customization, or brand restrictions, RSAs might not be for you.

While adopting RSAs early gave some advertisers access to additional inventory volume, now that standard ads have been updated to match, all text ads are now serving in the same auctionso increased impression share is no longer a benefit you should expect.

Conclusion: Give It a Try

In sum: RSAs are still pretty new. Google continues to encourage automation/machine learning strategies, and will likely continue to do so. In the meantime, it’s always good to try something new to see if it works for you! So if you haven’t implemented RSAs yet, I suggest you do— but monitor them closely until you know how they perform for your accounts.

The right campaign structure is the foundation of a successful Shopping campaign. The trick is to get a strategy in place—once you have a process it often builds on itself, leading to even greater successes.

There are three elements to effective Shopping Campaigns: strategy, optimization, and the tools or platforms to automate and analyze your campaigns.

Strategy: Consider the 20/60/20 Rule

Retailers can use a version of the 20/60/20 rule when planning their Shopping strategy. The top 20% are high priority stock keeping units (SKUs)—individual top-performing products that drive a disproportionate volume of the top line of revenue. These products should each be placed in single-product product groups leveraging the item id criteria. This allows bids to be set based on each product’s performance.

The middle 60% accounts for the heart of the SKU count. These should be placed into product groups organized by category and/or brand in a structure that aligns with your company’s brand strategy. The objective is to have enough granular control without getting overwhelmed with too many product groups. Advertisers should regularly graduate top-volume products to single-product ad groups when appropriate.

Consider your business and how it approaches selling products. If you regularly run sales by product line (for example, All Running Shoes 30% Off), then having a corresponding product group using Category or Product Type criteria is going to be helpful to manage with. If you work with vendors and incremental budgets, having campaigns with Brand product groups will allow for easy management of those fluctuating ad dollars (and allow you to easily set campaign budget constraints).

The bottom 20% is the catch-all for new or low volume/exploratory products. A broadly targeted product group ensures coverage for everything else in your catalog. As data accumulates for these products, retailers can move them up into the middle section, and eventually promote the all-stars that stand out into the top section.

Pro tip: Exclude your “Everything Else” items across the other campaigns and concentrate them in a single Catch-All. This makes it easy to monitor performance and if too much volume spikes here, dig through it and break it out into prescribed campaigns.

Return on ad spend (ROAS) is a typical way for retailers to analyze performance. To figure out which SKUs are the top performers, product groups can be split into those that produce a high ROAS and those that have a low ROAS. Users can achieve this split manually in Google Ads, which is both time- consuming and error-prone, or they can automate it using Marin Software.

Optimization: Use Marketplace and First-party Signals

Retailers can optimize their Shopping campaigns by leveraging both first- and third-party data to enhance their decision making. Bringing in additional data helps retailers to be more aggressive when they expect the best returns, and to decide when to pull back on products that aren’t selling well.

For example, analyzing inventory quality could influence how a retailer is bidding. If certain products are in stock, but only in very large sizes such as XXL and XXXL, that can be considered low-quality inventory. The retailer may want to decrease the bids or back out of the auction until supplies are replenished.

Inventory quality goes beyond just whether or not a product is in stock, which is what many retailers focus on. Failing to assess the quality of inventory can drive conversion rates down if consumers are clicking product ads only to find the product isn’t available in their size.

Rather than getting hung up on the false- positive of whether products are in or out of stock, retailers should try and get a deeper understanding of high- and low-quality stock to make smarter decisions around which products to bid on.

Automation Can Lead to Better Bidding

Retailers can also use feed and competitor data to make better bidding decisions. Working with an independent platform like Marin, users can track up to 10 competitors in every auction they’re bidding on, to understand if their products are overpriced or underpriced relative to the market. If they discover they’re overpriced compared with their competitors, retailers might not want to bid as heavily on those auctions, because a lot of today’s consumers are driven by price points.

Conversely, retailers may want to double down in auctions where their price is better than competitors’. Retailers are often surprised to find out their prices are less competitive than they thought. This insight can strengthen their decision making and allow retailers to make smart pricing adjustments.

Automated bidding is critical for large retailers managing millions of SKUs, as it enables them to separate the top performers from the rest. Doing this at scale and bringing in data outside of what’s natively available in Google will set them apart from their competition.

Learn More

To discover other key tips to apply to your Google Shopping campaigns to increase clicks and revenue, download our guide, Shop ‘Til You Click: Creating Shopping Campaigns at Scale. Also be sure to set up a demo to see how Marin’s bidding engine leverages first- and third-party data to automatically adjust bids and keep users ahead of the curve.

By now, most search advertisers have heard about Google’s responsive search ads. Still, SEM aficionados are still getting their heads around this latest ad type. How does it work? Will it bring more clicks? How does it compare to text ads?

Responsive ads choose the best-performing combinations from a search advertiser’s ad copy and assets. Advertisers can write up to 15 headlines and four descriptions, and Google’s algorithm automatically serves the best combinations in auctions based on which ones are most relevant to users, ultimately driving conversions.

With responsive search ads, advertisers can boost relevance and streamline performance across Google Ads campaigns. Now, you can create ads that automatically adjust to show the most effective ad copy to your audience.

Learn More

At Marin, we’re getting a lot of questions from our advertisers about this new ad format. We decided to partner with Google to shed some light on this important topic for search advertisers. Sign up for our webinar on Thursday, December 6th at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET and hear answers to such questions as:

  • How do RSAs work?
  • Why do RSAs matter to advertisers?
  • What are best practices and tips for optimizing campaigns?

Sign up today to secure your spot.

Speaker Bios

Sylvanus Bent embraces a growth mindset, and looks forward to continuing to learn everything he can about successfully taking products to market. He works closely with design and engineering colleagues to ensure that Google is building the right products for its customers.

Wes MacLaggan has over a decade’s experience developing and delivering analytical enterprise SaaS applications, including four years with Applied Predictive Technologies working on the company’s platform to help retailers maximize the return on their promotional spending. He is currently Head of Marketing at Marin Software, and has been with the company since 2008.

The holiday season is upon us and it’s always fun to analyze the aggregate performance of our advertisers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Each year when we “read the tea leaves”, some existing trends are reinforced while a new pattern jumps out at us. 2018 is no exception.

More Clicks, Higher Spend

As expected, we see a marked jump in clicks and spend on paid search in the U.S. this holiday season. Clicks and ad spend were up 53% and 81% respectively on Black Friday this year when indexed off the monthly pre-holiday average. Cyber Monday also posted 40% growth in clicks and 105% growth in ad spend for the U.S. market.

CPCs Rise Up

We also observed a large gulf between click (40%) and spend (105%) growth on Cyber Monday this year, which means CPCs have increased. A combination of greater click volume with increased competition means higher CPCs for advertisers. If conversion rates increase accordingly, then advertisers can justify this higher spend and this is where an ad management platform like Marin can excel by delivering sterling return on ad spend (ROAS) to match your increased investment.

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Go Global

Although both events originated in the US, data from Marin’s ad management platform shows that advertisers in the United Kingdom and Europe are rallying around Black Friday and Cyber Monday too. While the US leads in overall ad spend for Black Friday (81%) and Cyber Monday (105%), the UK runs a close second, followed by Europe.

What better indication that the shopping season is now global than robust ad spend growth across all three regions in 2018. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of this holiday period from Marin as we roll into December.

For more in-depth analysis of trends across search, social, and eCommerce channels this year, check out Marin’s Q3 2018 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report.

The October 30th deadline for parallel tracking is fast approaching. If you’re running paid advertising campaigns on Google Ads, consider these stats:

  • 53% of mobile users leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • Parallel tracking will speed up landing page load times—by up to five seconds—for users coming from your Google Ads.

The math is clear: When Google’s parallel tracking rolls out on October 30th, many advertisers will gain more visitors and see a bump in campaign performance as a result.

But how does it work, exactly?

Learn More

Sign up for our webinar on Wednesday, October 24th at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET to learn about the implications of parallel tracking. We’ll discuss how parallel tracking:

  • Helps load your landing pages more quickly
  • Reduces lost visits due to slow page load times
  • Improves ad performance and conversions

Sign up today to secure your spot.

Speaker Bios

Prashant Nair is a Product Manager at Google. He has extensive experience across all areas of digital advertising including demand side, supply side, ad network, data platform, and analytics. At Google, he’s led product operations for AdX and YouTube Ads, and helps develop the vision that fuels innovation for AdWords, AMP, speed, scoring, reporting, and more.

William Hartley-Booth is a Marin Senior Product Manager who oversees Marin’s conversion tracking products, among other responsibilities. He joined Marin in 2010 after holding positions at other advertising technology companies specializing in optimizing digital advertising across search, social, and display.

First it was Google, then it was Amazon, then it was Oath.

Out with the old, in with the new, as they say—and in this case, 2018 seems to be the Year of the Ad Platform Rebrand. We took a look at what changed and why.

What’s in a Name?

While most of the rebranding included simple name changes, others provided advertisers with consolidated or new solutions to streamline their advertising platforms—often bringing disparate products under a single brand identity. (Click to enlarge.)

google adwords

Why Rebrand?

As the major ad platforms continue to grow and develop new features and services, so does the potential learning curve for advertisers hoping to take advantage of these platforms. In Amazon’s case, the goal is to attract more brand advertisers. Across the board, however, these rebrands make the case for simplicity, and for ensuring the services are as easy and intuitive as possible for advertisers.

With one potential barrier to success lifted—multiple advertising solutions with disparate messaging and features—the hope is that brands can focus on driving more brand awareness, customer engagement, and revenue.

Your move, Bing.

Let’s Talk

Here at Marin, we think the easiest way to run your digital advertising campaigns is from a single location. Our independent platform unites advertising across search, social, and eCommerce, connecting you to customers wherever they are. We think the only way to see better results from ad spend, every day, is to run your channels in concert, such using search intent signals to power your social advertising and to integrate, align, and amplify all of your digital advertising efforts.

Whether you’re using Oath, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or Bing, we’re here to help. To learn more, feel free to schedule a demo.

For further reading:

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Google and Facebook want half

The “duopoly” are marching toward making up half of the U.S. ad market, as video, TV, and politics bring in big media dollars.

Read the article

Is this the end of the Ad ID Consortium?

With AppNexus leaving the Ad ID Consortium and only one founding group remaining, what happens next?

Read the article

Snapchat links visual search to Amazon listings

Snapchat users can now scan their mobile phone over a physical item to bring up the item’s associated Amazon product listing.

Read the article

Mobile likely to dominate holiday shopping

According to a new OpenX and Harris Poll survey, most consumers think the U.S. economy is doing okay, so plan to spend the same or more on gifts this holiday season.

Read the article

Amazon’s making the duopoly a triopoly

New projections say that not only is Amazon gaining ground on Google and Facebook—it’s poised to surpass them.

Read the article

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Instagram expands shopping features

To make it easier for people to buy products they see on Instagram, the social platform unleashed two new features.

Read the article

What advertisers are spending on social video

eMarketer provides a new forecast for social video advertising, and examines what’s driving the projected growth.

Read the article

Amazon hits third best in the US

Although it still trails behind its Google and Facebook rivals, Amazon’s a contender, making up 4.1% of all US digital ad spend.

Read the article

Google plans to loosen control over AMP

Decisions about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages will now be made by committee, its ongoing attempt to enhance the mobile web.

Read the article

90% of consumers report being brand-loyal

Surprise! People are connected to brands. And, by a large margin, most people interact with their favorites via Facebook.

Read the article

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

What 100 days after GDPR looks like

Over three months after rollout of the new GDPR regulations, how are digital advertisers faring? As might be expected, all’s well for the major publishers.

Read the article

Podcasters turn to measurement and attribution

When companies gathered at the fourth annual IAB Podcast Upfront, content wasn’t necessarily king. Instead, discussions centered on how to attract brand advertising dollars.

Read the article

With low CPMs, Facebook Stories draw advertisers

As people eliminate or reduce their Facebook usage, advertisers continue to experiment with the latest Facebook ad formats, with Facebook Stories poised to attract ad dollars.

Read the article

Mobile commerce to overtake eCommerce by 2019

According to 451 Research, mobile commerce is about to have its moment, as online retail growth continues to outpace in-store sales.

Read the article

Vertical video ads are coming to YouTube

To enable brands to “provide a more seamless mobile experience,” YouTube unveiled its vertical video offering at this year’s DMEXCO.

Read the article

When it comes to PPC campaign management and optimization, A/B testing is key.

In my past life working for agencies and directly with brands, we tested new creatives every two weeks. By constantly running these tests, we were able to better understand which exact wording drove people to click ads (given all the competition on the SERP) and identify the best combination of ad elements when it comes to CTR and CVR.

To put our plan into action, we went through these phases of every A/B test:

  • Preparation
  • Execution
  • Analysis
  • Preparation for the next test (based on learnings)


Measuring Success

It’s crucial to outline measurement KPIs to understand what a successful test looks like. For example, is the end goal to drive incremental conversions and/or revenue, a specific ROI that the test objects have to hit, or traffic growth (impression share, clicks, etc.)?

Having a clear picture of success will make analysis a lot easier, and help you quickly identify your test winner.

Test Elements

When you create a new test, review what you used in the past. What worked and what didn’t (for creatives)? How does performance look right now (for bidding)?

Always test one element at a time. Including several unique elements into your test may compromise the results. The goal is to identify the exact element that drives your performance to the next level.


Once you’ve solidified your methodology and elements, it’s time to set up the test.

While you have various implementation options at your disposal, one way to run a PPC test is with Google’s drafts and experiments. According to Google, using drafts and experiments “lets you propose and test changes to your Search and Display Network campaigns.”

Drafts and experiments campaigns mirror selected campaigns and create a complete duplicate (draft), where you can change test variables.

Once you’re happy with the changes and testing object within the campaign, convert the draft into an experiment and make it live.

There are a few thing to keep in mind when you’re launching an experiment campaign for A/B tests.

Gather Historical Data

Since experiment campaigns are created from scratch, you won’t have any historical data (i.e., quality score). So, to make sure you run an accurate test against the existing setup, allow at least two weeks for the experiment campaign to gather historical data.

Use the Right Parameters

Depending on the tracking solution you’re using, review the elements you track and attribute on. Experiment campaigns are created by mirroring existing (i.e., control) campaigns, and objects like keywords and creatives will have duplicate publisher IDs.

Some advertisers use the {creative}Google ValueTrack parameter for the creative ID to attribute conversion data at the creative level. In this case make, sure you ‘recreate’ your ads for the experiment campaign before launch, to generate unique publisher IDs.

Select the Right Budget Split

Google Ads allow advertisers to select a budget split between their control and experiment campaigns. While many advertisers select a 50/50 split, keep in mind that various factors may affect the actual split during your test.

For instance, impressions / clicks / cost data will never 100% match the selected budget split, since the settings allow you to only split spend and not the SERP auction. Also, campaign settings won’t cap your campaign budgets, and in some cases the traffic split may shift toward one of the tested campaigns.

By way of example: one of our clients decided to test two different bidding strategies in their accounts. While we initially selected the campaign’s budget split as 50/50, over time, traffic (impressions, clicks, and cost) shifted to the experiment campaign, since the LTV assigned to conversions in the campaign was much higher. This resulted in higher bid calculations and higher traffic volumes.


Well done—you’re now on the finish line of your first test!

If you prepared well, this step will be nice and easy. You already know which metrics you’re aiming to improve, so simply download data for your control and experiment campaigns and review the results based on your KPIs.

The next step: prepare for your next test, analyze the results, and keep improving your accounts. ;) Ready, set, go!

Testing with Marin

Here at Marin, we’ve have built a feature that allows you to seamlessly track and accurately attribute conversions at all levels, without the need to recreate publisher IDs for any of the tested elements. Contact your Marin Customer Success team to learn more. Or, if you’re new to Marin, just get in touch.

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

AT&T blasts new California privacy law

Stating that internet communications are “geography-agnostic,” AT&T raises the concern that tailored services will be more challenging across different U.S. regions.

Read the article

Mobile sales to hit $117B in 2018

A Forrester report predicts continued mobile ascendance, with mobile influence expected to impact $1.3 trillion in retail sales.

Read the article

What’s wrong with "50% by 2020" voice search

Econsultancy writer Rebecca Sentance brings nuance to the oft-repeated projection for voice search usage.

Read the article

Brand posts up, organic engagement down on Facebook

As Facebook faces increased competition, boosts content quality, and pushes paid content, organic takes a continued hit.

Read the article

Google introduces new relevance metric, 'ad strength'

The new metric lets marketers know the quality of their ad content, plus the relevance, quality, and diversity of ad copy.

Read the article

eCommerce product feeds are jam-packed with information advertisers can use to refine and enhance their campaigns. And not only that—advertisers can add information from a huge range of sources to build data-rich feeds. Despite this, many advertisers continue to underutilize the information in their eCommerce feeds.

In this article, we take a look at ways advertisers can use product feed data to optimize ad spend.

Inventory Levels

Inventory level is a required field for nearly all publishers and a standard metric in most product feeds. Once inventory levels hit zero, most publishers stop showing ads for those products. It makes perfect sense to stop paying to advertise products that are currently out of stock.

However, there are many more ways to use this data. An advertiser may want stop bidding on a product if they have less than five in stock or to increase bids when stock is readily available. For example, with Marin, advertisers can dynamically integrate inventory data into the platform and then leverage this data to automate optimization for keywords or product groups with high or low inventory.

Product Titles

Product titles are one of the most important factors that can influence the performance of your shopping ad campaigns—and a vital part of your feed. A shopper will scan through pages of results in search of the right item, and the title is one of the first things they see when they come across your ad.

It’s at this critical point that a person determines whether they’ll click through to find out more. These few words are your opportunity to stop them in their tracks and convince them not to go any further. You don’t want wasted clicks, after all! To get the shopper as qualified as possible before they click your ad, it’s important to highlight the most important information right away. Your product title provides this opportunity. This also prevents shoppers from being disappointed or frustrated when they click through.

Make sure your titles are unique enough. If they’re not, it could affect your visibility. Customize them with important, distinguishing attributes such as size, color, gender, etc., to more accurately describe and differentiate each product.

How do you know the best optimizations to make to your product titles? The answer is to run statically significant tests. Using feed optimization techniques, you can optimize your product titles using different logic (such as including different types of information or changing the order it appears in) and then run a test to see which one performs best.

Price Competitiveness

Price competitiveness is an important ranking factor for the Google Shopping algorithm and for many other publishers. This is because Shopping ads display the price and therefore impact click-through rate.

Price competitiveness also has a significant impact on the conversion rate. Competitor price tracking in Google Shopping results ensures that retail advertisers can track their competitors’ strategic price moves across their entire SKU portfolio. Once this data has been added to a product feed, you can use it to adjust strategies based on the price competitiveness of each product.

Performance Data

Adding performance data to your feed allows you to group products together based on their marketing performance. This data also allows you to optimize campaign structure. You can automatically separate individual products into their own product groups when they hit specific volume thresholds and products can be automatically split to segregate top performing SKUs.

Feed-Based Ad Formats Are on the Rise

The tips above are just four ways advertisers can use the information in their product feeds to optimize ad spend. The good news—since you can add custom data to a product feed, you have a huge range of other tactics at your disposal.

The market share of feed-based advertising formats for eCommerce advertisers is increasing on both Google and Bing. Combined with the fact that many advertisers are exploring newer publishers such as Amazon, it’s increasingly important to explore new ways to optimize shopping spend and increase efficiency.

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Facebook’s new and revised video metrics

Facebook is changing the way it measures news feed videos. This is good news for advertisers wanting more insights into how their video ads are performing.

Read the article

Facebook brings playable ads to the news feed

Wait, there’s more: Facebook also announced that developers can now use playable ads in the news feed to advertise games. Gamers can experiment before downloading a game from an app store.

Read the article

Amazon to merge its ad businesses into one platform

Amazon is quickly and frequently streamlining and building up its ad business. Amazon advertisers will be able to buy campaigns from the same place, whether selling directly to the site or to shoppers.

Read the article

WhatsApp moves to monetize

WhatsApp is stepping up to a new challenge: make money. This podcast dives into the strategies and tactics WhatsApp plans to launch to drive revenue.

Read the article

Google to remove blanket exclusion from mobile app ads

Lastly, Google plans to remove a feature that lets advertisers put a blanket exclusion of mobile devices on ad campaigns. How will it affect the in-app advertising market?

Read the article

This is a guest post from Charlotte Haab, Account Manager at
3Q Digital.

It’s no secret that Google AdWords has been undergoing some big changes lately—most of them pushing users toward automation. Over the past few years, advertisers have noticed many other Google ad types that encourage automation, especially ones on YouTube and the GDN.

Google’s most recent addition aims to accomplish the same thing, but on the search network. Announced at this year’s Google Marketing Live, responsive ads are here for search, and they show promise as the best thing since Expanded Text Ads launched back in 2016. So what are they? How do they work?

Optimizing Your Search Ads

Responsive ads allow you to serve more targeted ads by allowing Google to mix and match from a variety of pre-written ad assets. In other words, you can write up to 15 headline variations and four description variations, and Google will determine which combinations are most relevant to each individual auction. It’s also worth noting that each ad can show up to three headlines in the SERP, and they’ve extended descriptions to 90 characters!

responsive search ads

If the extra real estate isn’t enough to convince you to try them, Google claims advertisers who implement responsive ads in non-branded ad groups on average have seen a 5-15% uptick in clicks.

The Plan for Responsive Ads

It’s definitely scary for some advertisers to surrender control to Google’s algorithms like this, but in the future Google has plans to introduce some new features specifically for responsive ads to increase their customization and flexibility, such as specific asset reporting and “pinning.”

Through asset reporting, users will be able to view which exact headlines or descriptions performed compared to others. From there, users will be able to “pin” their top-performing assets to customize their ads even further. These features haven’t been released yet and there’s no word on when they’ll be available. So keep an eye out in your accounts!

More to Come

This ad type is still pretty new, but most advertisers should now have access to them through the new AdWords UI. Marin also has beta support for responsive search ads, so be sure to check with your account rep for further info.

So far, Marin has seen increased performance among its customers who’ve tried responsive ads. And, with Google’s major pushes towards automation, it wouldn’t be surprising if these ads catch on!

Didn’t have time to catch the keynote from Google Marketing Live? We’ve got you covered. Here are highlights from this year’s event and what they mean for digital marketers.

Safety First

Given the current hot topics of data privacy and brand safety, it wasn’t surprising for Google to focus on the value of advertising, transparency, and trustworthiness. Keynote speaker Sridar Ramaswamy pointed out that you can opt out of personalized advertising across all Google services, proactively reminding the audience that Google is committed to a safe, secure user experience.

How Can We Help You?

Ramaswamy also focused on Google’s shift from providing answers to offering assistance. This involves understanding what people need in the moment and helping them get things done. In his words, “Google is where the world turns to for assistance."

Key Goals

Across Google’s set of advertising solutions, the company is driving for better results, simpler experiences, and stronger collaboration. From more and better advertising automation to capturing more attention during shopping “moments,” online advertisers will have new opportunities to optimize ad delivery and improve results.


As they announced a couple of weeks ago, Google’s advertising suite is getting a slight makeover—or, at least a new name.
Google Ads now includes Search, YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Play. This is a good reminder that there are probably places and ways to reach your customers that you might not be taking full advantage of today.

As for the Google Marketing Platform, it’s still being managed by Google, and brings advertising and measurement into one place. This begs the question, however—do advertisers want Google making decisions around their budget and spending choices?

Talking Shop

The 2,500 attendees (up a whopping 2400% from the 100 who dropped in just five years ago) were treated to the highlight of the day—a rundown of Google’s new advertising products and features, including:

YouTube product formats

Maximize lift will help advertisers reach people most likely to consider their brand after seeing a video ad. Along with TrueView for Actions, this will make it easy to use YouTube at every stage of the funnel.

Responsive Search Ads

You heard it here first—Google is going to own ad creation. Responsive Search Ads will make life easier for marketers by automatically delivering relevant ads based on people’s stated wants and preferences. However, we think this will come at the expense of control. By handing the keys to Google, advertisers may find themselves locked out of the car.

As beta partners, we’ve seen increased performance with this ad format. But, it’s unclear if this simply translates to taking up more SERP real estate at the expense of organic results. Ads are getting cluttered, though, so it’s ultimately a good thing that machine learning is doing the heavy lifting.

Smart Campaigns

Smart Campaigns are now focused on SMBs, replacing AdWords Express. If you’re not familiar with AdWords Express, that’s probably okay. However, Google did mention cool tools to automatically build a website for the half of small businesses that don’t currently have one set up.

Advertising for All

When all was said and done, there was one main takeaway from Google Marketing Live—advertising should work for everyone. As Google seeks to democratize—and monetize—more automated, secure offerings, the search advertising future is looking bright, transparent, personalized, and helpful.

The “big three” publishers—Google, Facebook, and Amazon—operate as walled gardens by design. Sadly, they have zero incentive to share data across channels. This siloed approach is totally at odds with your goals as an advertiser—you need a single view of performance to run effective cross-channel ad campaigns.

There’s an answer—our next-generation advertising solution, MarinOne, unifies your search, social, and eCommerce advertising. Within a single platform, you can:

  • Get a unified view of your true customer journey
  • Amplify your search, social, and eCommerce campaigns
  • Gain campaign insight with a single, customizable dashboard

We’d love for you to see it in action. Sign up for our webinar on Tuesday, July 10th at 10am PT / 1pm ET for a preview and to learn how our customers are using MarinOne to save time and increase conversions.

Speaker Bios

Wes MacLaggan has over a decade’s experience developing and delivering analytical enterprise SaaS applications, including four years with Applied Predictive Technologies working on the company’s platform to help retailers maximize the return on their promotional spending. He is currently SVP of Marketing at Marin Software, and has been with the company since 2008.

Rob Emery has been part of the product team at Marin Software since 2015, where he has honed and delivered features serving Search, Social, and Optimization. He’s currently Director of Product Management and taking a lead role in the development and release of MarinOne. Prior to joining Marin, Rob worked in digital marketing for brands including Hilton Worldwide and Bonnier Corporation.

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

How to Map and Make Sense of Engagement Metrics that Matter

Building an effective customer engagement plan can be daunting. eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher spoke with Jennifer Zeszut, co-founder and chief customer officer of Beckon, on how to set up an effective customer engagement framework.

Read the article

Microsoft matches Google Lens with AI-powered visual search for Bing

You can ‘Bing’ a picture now. See how Google’s main competitor is entering the world of visual search.

Read the article

Facebook starts showing all ads a Page is running

In its continuing efforts towards greater transparency, Facebook has introduced an “Info & Ads” section on Pages. It lists all ads the page has run across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and partner networks.

Read the article

Google streamlines ad products, winding down AdWords, DoubleClick branding

Google has rebranded its advertising products and consolidated them into Google Ads. Marketing Dive digs into the rationale behind the changes.

Read the article

We Have Reached Peak Screen. Now Revolution Is in
the Air.

“Tech has now captured pretty much all visual capacity,” writes New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo. In this new phase of what he calls “Peak Screen,” what comes next?

Read the article

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting digital marketing industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Google Clears Up Confusion Around Mobile-First Indexing

A recap of Google’s tweets deciphering the most common misunderstandings around mobile-first indexing.

Read the article

Magna upgrades global ad growth forecasts, with Facebook and Google as drivers

Global ad revenue is expected to grow beyond expectations this year, to $551 billion. You guessed it—Facebook and Google are leading the way.

Read the article

US brands remain 'mediocre' when it comes to CX, Forrester finds

The field is open for a CX leader to emerge in sales in marketing, according to research by Forrester, while some industries are doing a better job than others.

Read the article

Facebook is testing paid subscription options for private groups

Although free Facebook groups aren’t going anywhere, the company’s testing a program to allow group administrators to charge for content.

Read the article

Keeping Up With Change: How Marketers Give Customers What They Want

With rapid industry change and new trends emerging even faster, customers are coming to expect constant innovation.

Read the article

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Would You Pay for an Ad-Free Facebook?

Despite Facebook’s headline news and recent data privacy speed bumps, only 23% of consumers would pay for an ad-free version of the platform. Read more via eMarketer.

Read the article

Fortnite’s Explosion in Popularity Is Opening New Doors for Marketers

Gamers are serious about their passion—and marketers are clueing in to the advertising opportunities. A few great ideas from Adweek on how to capture the attention of avid gaming audiences.

Read the article

Employee advocacy outweighs influencer marketing

Move over, online celebrities—employee advocacy is more scalable, cost-efficient, and effective. A recent Sprout Social survey uncovered the numbers and trends.

Read the article

Commemorating 20 years of Google

Google turns 20 this year. Check out Search Engine Land’s retrospective and how Google became synonymous with “internet search.”

Read the article

64% of live streamers have engaged with ads, IAB finds

Lastly, happy World Cup day! Marketing Dive digs into the data around live-streamed soccer matches, online versus TV ads, device usage, and more.

Read the article

We’re excited to share some big news today: We’ve launched our next-generation platform, MarinOne, which unites your search, social, and eCommerce advertising.

Now, you can maximize the results of your digital ad campaigns with a single view of the customer. By focusing on the customer and not the channel, MarinOne gives you a powerful new way to engage with people wherever they are, no matter which device they’re using or what channel they’re on—ultimately driving more customers and higher revenue.

Check out our video to learn more, and then request a demo today.

digital advertising

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

1. Facebook’s Latest Transparency Move Is Showing You How Much Objectionable Content It Removes

Despite dramatic news headlines, Facebook is doing a good job of keeping offensive content off its platform. This Fast Company article covers Facebook’s efforts to keep its community safe.

Read the article

2. How Publishers Are Responding to GDPR

The GDPR goes into effect today. eMarketer spoke to Richard Reeves, managing director of the UK's Association of Online Publishers, to get his take on challenges that publishers face with the new privacy rules.

Read the article

3. Data Suggests Surprising Shift: Duopoly Not

However slow the pace or slight the drop—what goes up must come down. eMarketer looks at companies that are growing faster than expected, and cutting in to Google’s and Facebook’s frenetic wedding dance.

Read the article

4. Shopper Marketing Undergoes A Digital Evolution

This is an exciting time for e-commerce. According to Gartner’s, marketers now spend $178 billion each year on in-store campaigns, and $55 billion of this could shift to online ads. Read more about the current retail opportunities and challenges.

Read the article

5. YouTube channels are seeing a lift in live
video viewership

And lastly, if you’re as ready to go with GDPR as we are, you might still be looking up last-minute resources to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Here’s a handy Marketo resource. Also be sure to check out
our FAQ.

Read the article

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this new weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

1. Stories are about to surpass feed sharing. Now what?

Josh Constine of TechCrunch looks at the rise of the Stories format and how it’s set to surpass feeds as the primary online sharing vehicle this year. What should advertisers keep in mind as they seek to create meaningful—and respectful—Stories ads?

> Read the article

2. The 10 biggest announcements from Google I/O 2018

CEO Sundar Pichai’s keynote at Google’s I/O included everything from advice on social responsibility to amazing demonstrations of new AI tools the company’s been working on. We were wowed and awed. If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check it out.

> Read the article

3. Did Google Just Kill Independent Attribution?

For publishers, is isolationism the new normal? Martin Kihn, Research Vice President at Gartner, comments on the impact of Google’s decision to stop including user IDs with log files from its industry-leading ad server.

> Read the article

4. Where do marketers draw the line on data targeting as     privacy concerns grow?

Marketing Dive does a “deep dive,” looking at the need for advertisers to pay more attention to first-party data in a time of mounting data privacy concerns.

> Read the article

5. YouTube channels are seeing a lift in live video     viewership

The online video wars continue. This is an exciting space and we’re looking forward to the digital advertising innovations that will inevitably result.

> Read the article

Most digital marketers with retail responsibilities are looking to run Shopping campaigns that consistently outperform their peers. In our Marin Software Retail Guide, we draw on our expertise managing global ad campaigns to unpack what you need to know to succeed with Shopping ads.

Shopping Ads Continue to Boom

Whether you’re starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll benefit from learning more about the fastest-growing ad type on the web. We cover several key ways to boost your Shopping campaign performance:

  • Taking control of your product feed
  • Establishing a campaign structure for seamless workflow
  • Optimizing performance to deliver business results

Shopping Ads Versus Text Ads

Shopping ads are fundamentally different from text ads, because marketers must maintain dual visibility into both product feed and campaign performance. This speaks to the dependent relationship between feeds and campaigns—a change to one directly impacts the other.

With this complexity in mind, marketers must approach Shopping campaigns holistically to generate positive results. Your product feed is a great place to begin—our guide includes instructions for cleaning up your product feed and making sure it contains all the right elements for winning campaigns. From there, it details how to fine-tune your campaigns, optimization, advanced strategies like mobile and RSLA, and more.

To learn how to create successful Shopping ad campaigns download our Marin Software Retail Guide today.

Digital marketing has always been a fast-moving industry. Recent changes by the browser players are creating tectonic shifts that every advertiser and vendor should watch closely. For example, Apple announced Intelligent Tracking Prevention in the summer of 2017 and the ripples hit some ad-tech vendors hard, impacting even large vendors like Criteo.

Three key changes in the browser landscape will challenge the status quo:

  1. Apple Intelligent Tracking Prevention
  2. Google Parallel Tracking
  3. Chrome native ad blocking

Ironically, Apple’s tracking changes will actually help Google and Facebook, who continue to capture virtually all of the growth in digital ad spend. The harsh reality is that this growth will come at the expense of real-time bidding/programmatic display. The changes will directly challenge the core business model of many programmatic exchanges. (On a related note, I expect Amazon to grow and benefit from these trends in 2018 and beyond.)

If you’re not working with the larger publishers, trying to reach your target audience based purely on demographic and behavioral data will be more challenging than ever before. Advertisers should also be aware that accurate targeting and measurement across search, social, and programmatic display will be severely limited for redirect-based solutions (remember that redirects underpin the ad tech stack of many smaller publishers).

Read on for more details on these changes and Marin’s predictions about how they’ll impact the digital marketing landscape for the rest of 2018 and beyond.

Safari ITP

The Change:

At the WWDC last June, Apple announced that upcoming versions of all their operating systems would limit how long cookies would be stored. Dubbed “Intelligent Tracking Protection,” this change restricted all third-party access to cookies for purposes such as advertising and tracking to a one-day window. The cookie can still be referenced for login purposes for 30 days, but it’s no longer available for cross-site tracking. Safari is critical because although its desktop share is low, its presence on iPhone and iPad devices means that Safari’s U.S. mobile market share is over 50 percent—and skews younger and affluent as well.

The Impact:

Since traditional programmatic display is built on third-party cookies, ITP will make it harder for smaller publishers and many third-party ad tech providers to offer audience targeting capabilities based on prior web behavior or browsing patterns.

Does this mean the ads that follow you everywhere around the internet won’t be so persistent? Not really. This change isn’t a big deal for Facebook and Google in the long term, even on Safari; many users visit these sites directly multiple times within a 30-day window, where those publishers can set their own darn cookies! Advertisers will still be able to effectively retarget with Google and Facebook, both on owned and operated sites, and on third-party sites via the Google Display Network/Facebook Audience Network.

Marin has offered a first-party tracking solution for years which is compatible with Safari ITP already. Many of our customers use it, and it’s a fully tested and proven solution. We also work seamlessly with tracking from DoubleClick, Adobe, Sizmek, AppsFlyer, Kochava, Google, and Facebook. We also offer Marin TruePath, a cross-channel measurement solution that incorporates cross-device data while de-duping across publishers. To learn more about TruePath, contact us today.

Google Parallel Tracking (GPT)

The Change:

Today, clicking an ad results in at least two network round trips: the first to the publisher (let’s say Google or Facebook) to record the click, and the next to the landing page for the result. Redirect tracking such as or will incur additional round trips, slowing page loads even further. Google created a process called Google Parallel Tracking (GPT) to get visitors to landing pages more quickly once they click an ad. This may seem like a small improvement, but advertisers should be aware that a one-second delay in mobile page load can decrease conversions by up to 20 percent.

How does GPT work? It uses sendBeacon, a browser method for asynchronous payloads, to send click information to data collectors in parallel with loading the landing page. In practical terms, GPT sends users directly to your landing page after they click a search ad, rather than through a redirect. The browser processes URL tracking requests in the background, speeding up page load times and reducing mobile post-click abandonment. Check out Google’s full GPT announcement on Inside Adwords.

The Impact:

Because they are “sort-of” 1st party (the browser visits that domain) and “sort-of” 3rd party (it only visits for a few milliseconds and the user did not intentionally go to that domain), redirects have been a loophole for setting cookies as long as browsers have blocked 3rd party cookies. Like ITP, sendBeacon treats its payload once and for all based on the browser page, not the payload page. This means that cross-domain tracking and targeting is more limited for browsers that restrict third-party cookie-setting. This is a default setting with Safari but it’s also applicable to other browsers.

In combination with Apple’s ITP changes, relying on redirects for tracking has become increasingly difficult and detrimental to ad performance. Put simply, ad tech providers who rely on redirects for their tracking (such as DoubleClick Campaign Manager, for example), are using estimation rather than concrete data.

What You Can Do:

Parallel Tracking will be applied selectively at first and become standard (non-optional) over the first half of 2018. Safari owns about half of all mobile traffic in the U.S. and an even higher percentage among more affluent customers. DoubleClick is hampered by offering advertisers an “estimated” approach which says that it’ll project which Safari visitors actually converted. As an advertiser running sophisticated digital campaigns to reach customers, do you really want to guess at your conversions from iPhones, iPads, and Macs?

Here are steps you can take to mitigate the impact of GPT:

  • Find a solution like Marin that offers a first-party approach.
  • Ensure you can measure upstream Facebook views.
  • Combine with publisher tracking to better measure multi-device journeys.

Chrome Native Ad Blocking

The Change:

Beginning on February 15th of this year, Google’s Chrome browser began blocking all ads on any website that don’t meet the standards defined by The Coalition for Better Ads. With a stated goal of making online ads better for everyone, the coalition has identified four desktop and eight mobile experiences that fall below their standards.

The Impact:

The goal is to encourage advertisers to present non-intrusive ads, thus creating a better experience for the end user and encouraging fewer ad blocker installations. These new ad standards are likely to promote a “flight to quality” where publishers will look to Google and Facebook to ensure that users have an appropriate ad experience.

What You Can Do:

As an advertiser, you can allocate more budget towards social media ad formats, like in-stream video or Instagram Stories. These ad types are designed to reach users in a meaningful way and are less likely to run afoul of the new ad standards. In addition, you can enjoy the clear benefit of driving higher user engagement for your campaigns.

The Key to a Unified Experience

All three of these changes are being made ostensibly with the goal to create a better experience for users. If successful, visitors will gain increased privacy, faster load times, and better ad experiences—all positive developments from the user’s perspective. However, these improvements will come at the expense of programmatic players in a fragmented ad tech industry.

As the industry struggles to adapt to these changes, Google and Facebook are well positioned to continue capturing additional share of digital ad spend. At the same time, these publishers offer powerful targeting capabilities that can drive performance for advertisers. That’s why it’s imperative that advertisers have a strategy and toolset that enables you to work across these channels. Your customers are moving between Google and Facebook, so make sure you have a team and marketing stack that gives you full visibility into the cross-channel customer journey.

Our team at Marin understands these changes and can talk with you about your particular cross-domain, sub-domain, or retargeting requirements. Contact us today if you’d like to talk about these tracking issues further.

“With Shopping, you can’t just bump bids up. Great Shopping results begin with feed design and optimization.” — Kevin Wetherby, Google Shopping Commercial Lead

According to Marin’s Q4 2017 benchmark report, Shopping ads saw 8% more clicks and 31% more click share from Q3 to Q4 2017. Given the strong adoption of Shopping campaigns by retailers, we believe this trend is only set to continue in 2018.

How do top advertisers run Shopping campaigns that consistently outperform their peers? With the industry constantly evolving and so many moving parts, how can retailers optimize their digital shopping campaigns to gain more clicks?

The Almighty Product Feed

Shopping success starts and ends with the product feed. The first step is verifying that all of your feed’s values are accurate and that the feed is structurally organized so you can confidently build campaigns that map to value groupings within the feed. In other words, you can only build product groups that correlate exactly with your feed—so, this is your top priority when it comes to Shopping.

There’s just no substitute for domain expertise when setting up Shopping campaigns; using a combination of quality feed setup and proven campaign structure will improve the likelihood of each product showing for related customer searches.

A Clean and Organized Shopping Campaign Structure

Once the foundation of your feed structure is set, the next step is establishing an effective campaign structure. This basic structure addresses two of the most common challenges when it comes to Shopping:

  • Establishing a fluid optimization workflow for growth
  • Increasing overall product visibility

The best way to ensure Shopping success is to use a multi-pronged approach. Heavy reliance on broad segments (All Products or Everything Else) leads to inefficiencies, while an overly granular structure (all item ID) can bottleneck volume and impede performance. The trick is to find the right mix through a combination of continuous testing and optimization.

Learn More in Our Shopping Webinar

There are even more great things you can do to ensure your Shopping campaigns are meeting and exceeding your revenue goals—feed optimization, scaling your campaigns, advanced strategies like mobile and RLSA, and more.

For in-depth tips on positioning your Shopping campaigns for success, join us on Thursday, February 22nd at 10 am PST (1 pm EST) for Shop ‘til You Click: Creating Shopping Campaigns at Scale. During this 60-minute webinar, we’ll offer expert advice that includes:

  • Establishing a foundation for seamless workflow and campaign management
  • Making the most of your product catalog and maximizing visibility
  • Tips for success with Google Shopping and Facebook Dynamic Ads

Our Product Marketing Manager for Search, Patrick Hutchison, will present with Brian Roizen from Feedonomics and retail industry leader, Ginny Marvin, from Search Engine Land.

Speaker Bios

Ginny Marvin

Ginny Marvin, Associate Editor, Search Engine Land

Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including search, social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions.

Brian Roizen

Brian Roizen, Co-founder and Chief Architect, Feedonomics

Brian oversees all of Feedonomics’ automation processes and loves taking the most annoying manual tasks and automating them. He has founded a series of AI-based websites reaching tens of millions of users per month and landing in the top 1,500 websites on the internet. His latest company, Feedonomics, helps automate feed-based advertising for some of the largest agencies, brands and retailers.

Patrick Hutchison

Patrick Hutchison, Product Marketing Manager, Marin Software

Patrick is a Product Marketing Manager at Marin Software, with a specialty in search. Previously, he held roles in Sales, and Professional and Client Services at Marin Software. He got his start in online advertising back in 2007 with Vizu (acquired by Nielsen).

In our Q4 2017 benchmark report, we show that advertisers are investing heavily in Google Shopping ads, which increased 31% in click share year over year (YoY). Our data reveals that audience utilization remains low at 24%, despite the clear benefits of combining audiences with keyword targeting.

Also, social CPMs increased 44% YoY, indicating that competition for consumer attention is heating up among advertisers.

digital advertising

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest billions of dollars in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report.

For Q4 2017, other key findings include:

  • Get the Mobile Bargain While You Can: At 53% of spend, mobile CPCs increased 25% YoY. While mobile CPCs remain discounted relative to desktop CPCs, the gap is closing rapidly. Advertisers should seize the opportunity to court customers on their preferred medium by utilizing mobile bid adjustments, but be mindful that discounted CPCs on mobile will soon dissipate.
  • Social Engagement Gets More Competitive: CPMs increased 44% YoY, indicating that competition for consumer attention is heating up on social channels. Yet, click-through rates have remained relatively flat YoY, which may indicate creative personalization isn’t keeping pace with consumer expectations.
  • Too Many Ad Groups Have Too Few Creative: In Q4 2017, there was a slight shift (3%) away from creative-heavy ad groups to creative-light ad groups. Advertisers have an opportunity to benefit from Google’s machine learning technology underpinning the newly released “optimize” ad rotation setting.
  • Audience Utilization Remains Low: Just 24% of advertisers have an audience KPI, despite the strong campaign performance advantage that combining audiences with keyword targeting provides.

To find out how your ad campaigns measure up to industry benchmarks across channels and devices, download our Q4 2017 Digital Benchmark Report. In addition to global trends, we explore the most compelling areas of digital marketing today, and identify tactical opportunities to help you drive better performance.

Since the inception of AdWords and paid media tracking, Google has quickly sent users to an interim landing page, then quickly redirected to the intended page. All this occurs very quickly and is transparent to many users. We’ll call this a linear redirect tracking pattern. With recent browser support and updates, there is now the ability to go directly to the intended landing page, but still track clicks on paid ads. This is called parallel tracking, since there are two events happening simultaneously.

Here are things you should know about this update.

1. Why change?

Google recently announced that parallel tracking is rolling out. Google cites delays of “hundreds of milliseconds” that result in the current linear tracking method. This delay is literally the same as the blink of an eye but Google is adamant that it can negatively impact campaign performance, especially on mobile devices.

2. What’s the impact?

Mobile pages, especially on slower networks, will see the greatest benefit from parallel tracking. This assumes that the mobile user has an updated browser version that’s compatible with parallel tracking (more technical info below, for those interested). Some desktop users (again those on very slow networks) will see a slight improvement. However, the majority of desktop users will see almost no difference.

From a third party tracking perspective, Google has warned us that “Providers will need to make changes to their platform that could take several months to complete, so it's important to get started early. We're also working closely with key providers to help make the transition as easy as possible for all advertisers.” However, keep in mind that it’s in Google’s best interest to work with third party providers, since it will encourage greater measurement and apparently improved campaign performance.

3. Ok, so how does it work?

This is one of those situations most easily demonstrated with a diagram.

Current (linear redirect) model

Google SERP > redirected page > landing page

Parallel model


4. Should I be concerned?

Not really. Parallel tracking is already rolling out as an opt-in tracking method. Additionally, not all browsers support parallel tracking, and Google has already said that it’ll default to traditional linear redirect tracking for browsers that aren’t compatible. The only concern that marketers should have is for any third party systems that may be using their own redirect methods.

Bonus: Technical info

AdWords is taking advantage of a relatively new feature in browsers called navigator.sendBeacon. Navigator is simply a metadata object that contains data like your browser version, operating system, device type, language, and more. This is how services like Google Analytics gets device, language, viewport info, etc. sendBeacon is something that allows for background sending of network responses.

The visible effect is to land directly on the intended URL, but in the background, the redirect URLs and network calls are occurring. Instead of waiting for step 1 to complete before step 2 starting, Google skips to the last step, while executing steps 2-4 in another thread. This is directly analogous to synchronous vs. asynchronous tag loading.

Since the vast majority of devices are capable of multiple threads (you can think of these as having multiple active tabs on a browser), this is a more efficient way of handling the transmission of multiple network responses. The only thing to note is that sendBeacon doesn’t allow nonsecure protocol, as per w3 standards. Only HTTPS URLs will transmit in parallel.

This is a guest post from Ashley Aptt, Account Director at 3Q Digital.

If you’re an advertiser and you’ve ever wondered why conversion metrics are different in AdWords and Facebook versus Google Analytics, you’re not alone. As a user goes through the purchase process, it’s likely that they’ll interact with the same brand numerous times before converting. Assuming there are no tracking issues on your site, these reporting differences can be summed up in one word: attribution.

What Is Attribution?

Attribution is the science of understanding which media campaigns are driving conversions for your business. It’s very common to see data discrepancies in Google Analytics compared to media platforms, and it all boils down to differences in attribution models.

Here’s a common path a customer may take along the purchase journey with one company. We’ll return to this scenario throughout the rest of this article.

  • Day 1: The user starts their search and clicks an AdWords ad
  • Day 2: The user sees a Facebook ad and clicks it
  • Day 2: The user clicks another AdWords ad
  • Day 3: The user later converts on a Google organic listing

In the use case above, Google Analytics would assign conversion credit to the Google organic listing, Google AdWords would take credit for the conversion, and Facebook would also take credit for the conversion. As you can see, both AdWords and Facebook take credit, but Google Analytics only considers the organic listing.


Let’s dive into the attribution differences between these platforms in greater detail.

Understanding the Google Analytics Attribution Model

Many platforms use a last-click attribution model. This means that the last ad or keyword that led to a conversion gets credit. Google AdWords, for example, uses a last-click attribution model (by default). So, when a user clicks two paid search ads, AdWords assigns conversion credit to the last ad that was clicked before the conversion event occurred.

Google Analytics also uses a last-click attribution model. But an important differentiator is that Google Analytics takes all channels into account. So, in the scenario above, even though Google AdWords is applying conversion credit to the last AdWords ad that was clicked, Google Analytics isn’t giving Google AdWords any credit for this conversion. Google Analytics attributes all conversion credit to the Google organic listing. This is a key difference in understanding why Google Analytics conversion data can differ greatly compared to media platforms.

How Does Time Impact Conversion Data Discrepancies?

Another key differentiator in how Google Analytics records conversions in comparison to many media platforms is that Google Analytics assigns conversion credit on the day of the conversion, whereas media platforms typically assign conversion credit on the day of the click.

Again, looking at the example above, Google Analytics records the conversion on Day 3 (the day of the purchase). Conversely, Facebook and AdWords retroactively assign conversion back to
Day 2 (the day each of these platforms received their last click).

Depending on your business, this difference can be meaningful, especially if your purchase cycle is longer or if you have an event that drives a lot of conversions on a given day.

More Ways Facebook Attribution Is Different from Google Analytics

In addition to the differences with last-click models and the timing of conversion reporting, a few additional elements make Facebook conversion tracking unique.

First, Facebook can track impression-based conversions. The default attribution window for Facebook is 28 days post-click and one day post-view. This means that Facebook counts a conversion even if a user never clicked a Facebook ad. This is a huge difference in reporting, because Google Analytics doesn’t have the ability to track impression-based conversions.

Another difference between Facebook and Google Analytics is that Facebook has the unique ability to track users from one device to another (if the user is signed-in on all their devices). This means that Facebook can track cross-device conversions. Google Analytics only uses cookies to track users, so it doesn’t have the ability to track cross-device conversions.


There are several reasons why conversion data in Google Analytics doesn’t match conversion data that media platforms provide. Neither method is right or wrong, but it’s important to understand what the attribution differences are, because these differences can cause a huge discrepancy in the data that you see reported in each platform, especially in Facebook.

If you don’t feel comfortable using Google Analytics data as the point of truth because it greatly under-values Facebook, but you also don’t like to use the Facebook data because it’s too lenient with the conversion data it records, then using a multi-touch attribution platform is likely your best option. Multi-touch attribution platforms can look at the various touchpoints in a user’s purchaser cycle and determine a better way to assign conversion credit to each platform.

Marin's TruePath

Want one place to track all your channel activity, including every touchpoint that led to a conversion? This is where Marin TruePath comes in—a lightweight, cross-device, cross-channel measurement solution. TruePath delivers user journey reports that properly attribute revenue to all touchpoints—including search, social, display, organic traffic, and more. To learn about TruePath, contact Marin today.

Between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017, clicks on Google product ads grew by 62%, showing that more advertisers are taking advantage of Google’s latest shopping ad formats to capture first-mover advantage. The auto industry posted the largest CPC increase on Google, clocking a 35% YoY gain.

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest billions of dollars in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world. For Q3 2017, other key findings include:

  • Creative goes deeper. Because its “ad rotation” capabilities have dramatically improved, Google is signaling the end of A/B testing. They’re suggesting ad groups have at least three creatives, but nearly 50% of ad groups aren’t yet meeting this target.
  • Bing out your best. Bing presents 10-15% in additional volume for advertisers not invested there today. As Google’s market share levels out, include Bing in your search advertising mix for a more holistic approach.
  • Showcase what you got. Industries with the biggest CPC decreases include real estate (-27% YoY) and healthcare (-11%). Newly released Showcase Shopping Ads present an opportunity to get ahead.

To find out how your ad campaigns measure up to industry benchmarks across channels and devices, download our Q3 2017 Digital Benchmark Report. In addition to global trends, we explore the most compelling areas of digital marketing today, and identify tactical opportunities to help you drive better performance.

Google research shows that if you’re a search advertiser, you may be missing over 70% of potential mobile shoppers by relying on demographic targeting alone. On the other hand, if users are already familiar with your brand, they’re 20% more likely to convert.

How do you get people to discover you in the first place? And, how can you move beyond demographics to reach existing and potential customers more precisely and efficiently?

To ensure the success of your search ad campaigns, it makes sense to adopt a combination of audience targeting and smart bidding.

Tools of an Evolving Trade

There are a number of search ad formats designed to deliver specific results based on your business goals and objectives. The key is knowing how to mix and match. For instance, according to Google, advertisers using Similar Audiences in conjunction with remarketing are seeing some pretty amazing results:

  • 60% more impressions
  • 48% more clicks
  • 41% more conversions

Think of audience targeting as a toolkit—a set of ad types you can choose from to build performance-boosting campaigns. Audience targeting allows you to achieve several great benefits and capabilities:

  • Identify people interested in your products at scale
  • Reach new and existing customers across devices
  • Set the right bidding rules for maximum ad exposure
  • Use search intent to deliver ads to highly receptive target audiences
  • Deliver the right message to build relationships and drive action

The name of the game is accuracy—building the right audiences, choosing who sees your ads, and optimizing based on performance.

Join Our Audiences Webinar

Sign up for our upcoming webinar, Finding Your Ideal Audience: Targeted Ads for Customer Acquisition, to learn how to effectively use your first-party data and insights on consumer behavior to drive profitable search ad campaigns. Mike Lerra from Google and Marin’s Patrick Hutchison will share practical insights, tips, and tactics for your advertising efforts.

To make it convenient for global teams, we’ve scheduled three different times:

Speaker Bios

Mike Lerra is a lifelong Massachusetts native and the Global Product Lead for Search Audiences out of Google’s Cambridge office. Prior to this role, he was an Analytical Lead for Google’s sales teams in the Retail and B2B verticals. Mike came to Google from TripAdvisor, where he managed search engine marketing. Outside of work, Mike is an avid sabermetrician, always looking for the next great baseball statistic or analysis.

Patrick Hutchison has been on the Marin team for 10 years, filling roles as diverse as Search Manager, Solutions Architect, and Sales Engineer. In 2015 he became a Product Marketing Manager, and now helps create effective customer success stories and evangelize the Marin Brand. Patrick graduated from University of California, Davis, with a BS in Managerial Economics.

This is a guest post from Ashley Aptt, Account Director at 3Q Digital.

Influencer marketing is a powerful tactic for increasing brand awareness. Influencers typically have a loyal following and their audience base trusts what they say. When influencers promote or endorse a brand’s product, that brand can expect an increase not only in exposure, but also in conversion rates.

By coordinating your influencer marketing strategy across other channels, you’ll be able to further capitalize on the increased brand awareness. Here are four practical and effective strategies to help you support an influencer campaign via paid search.

1. Adjust Bids and Budgets

When you run an influencer campaign, prepare for instant results. It’s typical to see a large spike in branded search queries as new users become aware of your brand and begin searching to learn more about your products.

If this is your first time running an influencer campaign, you may be surprised to see how much branded search volume can increase after the campaign. Avoid missing out on this traffic by expanding your campaign budgets to account for higher search volume, and set up automated alerts to send an email if you’re nearing budget caps. It’s important to make sure you own top placement for brand terms throughout the duration of the campaign.

2. Tailor Ad Copy and Extensions

Incorporating the influencer into your branded ad copy is a great way to reiterate that a respected personage has endorsed your product. If a user didn’t see the campaign (or doesn’t know who the influencer is), then this is still a great strategy to make your ad stand out and create intrigue. If the influencer is widely known, then it could be worthwhile to test new ad copy for non-brand or competitor search queries, too.

Promoting the influencer campaign in your ad extensions is another great way to maximize exposure of the influencer via paid search. To entice these site visitors to convert, consider offering a discount or promotion. And before creating new ads and ad extensions, keep in mind that you may need permission from the influencer to use their name in your ad copy.

Since an influencer campaign can take off quickly, be sure to create the ad copy and extensions in advance and schedule them to go live immediately after the influencer makes their announcement. It’s extremely important that you coordinate strategy and timing across channels.

3. Expand Keyword Coverage

Influencer campaigns are a great way to increase brand awareness, but users don’t always remember the name of the brand that was promoted. If your brand or product was promoted on TV or radio, then you could be at a greater disadvantage because these users may not be near a computer during the moment they hear the endorsement. The good news is that if the user was really intrigued, they may turn to search engines to find the product that was mentioned by the influencer. So, you’ll need to make sure you expand keyword coverage to account for search queries they may perform.

For instance, if a well-known home designer named Jane Jones promotes a line of bedding for Brand XYZ, the user may only remember that Jane promoted a line of bedding. In this case, you would want to add keywords related to “Jane Jones bedding.”

Put yourself in the shoes of the audience and think about the search queries they may perform to find your brand. Use this as a guide when creating new keywords.

4. Implement Complimentary Ads on the Display
    Network and YouTube

Influencer campaigns can drive increased traffic to your site, so you’ll need to incorporate a strong remarketing strategy to maximize conversions. Before getting started, you should decide if you’re going to create a unique landing page for these visitors or if you’ll use URL tracking parameters.

Whatever you do, it’s just important that you’re able to segment the users who visited your site via the influencer campaign. Create a remarketing audience for this specific segment and remarket them with tailored banner ads that feature the influencer (if you have permission to do so). This is a great way to keep your new audience engaged and convert them to customers. If you have video assets, consider remarketing these users on YouTube, too.

To take further advantage of the increased brand exposure, consider allocating a portion of your budget towards an acquisition campaign on the Google Display Network. The network has many targeting options, but one method that may work well in this situation is to target users who are similar to the influencer’s audience (using Google’s Similar Audiences feature). You can also target ads specifically to show on the influencer’s website, blog, or YouTube channel.


Influencer campaigns have the power to reach a niche, targeted audience and drive new site visitors. Take necessary steps to ensure your ad copy’s relevant, you’ve added the proper keywords, and you’ve adjusted bids and budgets. Once these visitors come to your site, keep them engaged with related remarketing ads to drive conversion rates. Boost the likelihood of a conversion by planning ahead and coordinating your strategy across all channels.

Marin Masters is our annual customer and partner summit that offers attendees a deep dive into the latest digital marketing trends, including cross-channel advertising, audience targeting, multi-touch attribution, and brand safety. We’re hosting Masters at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco on September 21st and The Standard High Line in New York on September 28th.

We’ve compiled a full-day agenda of thought leadership, deep learning, and networking with top advertisers on the Marin platform. Attendees will enjoy presentations from an exciting lineup of expert speakers, each offering a unique perspective on the state of digital advertising today:

A Sneak Peek at Our Latest Cross-Channel Innovations

At Marin Masters this year, we’ll also be showcasing our next-generation platform that combines the best of search and social advertising. We’ll reveal the how and why of managing campaigns in a single place, including:

  • Viewing performance across search and social campaigns in a single UI
  • Aligning creative and messaging across channels, saving countless hours
  • Planning budgets across new and existing customer audience segments
  • Automatically pushing campaign changes out to multiple publishers

A big shout-out to our key sponsors for adding their insights to our overall agenda for the day:

Marin Masters is an exclusive, invite-only event and space is limited this year. If you’d like to join our waitlist, please use the appropriate button below.

Join the Waitlist for San Francisco

Join the Waitlist for New York

Since Google launched them as part of its extensive set of updates in July 2016, Expanded Text Ads have provided a new opportunity for advertisers to improve their search marketing performance. Clicteq’s Wesley Parker illustrates seven of the most effective tactics for writing high-performing Expanded Text Ads and dominating your competition.

expanded text ads

This is a guest post from Ashley Aptt, Account Director at 3Q Digital.

With Q4 right around the corner, the big question is, “How can I drive more sales this holiday season?” Everyone wants to increase revenue, plus look for new and efficient ways to do so. Today we’ll focus on how you can leverage AdWords Customer Match and Similar Audiences to meet your holiday goals.

Brief Descriptions

Customer Match is an AdWords advertising tool that utilizes your customer email file. By uploading a file with your customer emails, you can target these users when they’re signed into their Google account.

If your Customer Match audience meets eligibility criteria, Google automatically creates Similar Audiences. Similar Audiences allow you to reach people who share characteristics with the users in your Customer Match file.

Customer Match is currently available for Search, Shopping, YouTube, and Gmail campaigns (not the Google Display Network). Similar Audiences for Customer Match is available for YouTube and Gmail only.

There are several strategies and use cases for Customer Match and Similar Audiences to boost brand awareness and increase revenue. Here are several things you can do to get started.

Create Customer Segments

To maximize the benefits of Customer Match, create customer segments based on user behaviors. Depending on how much information you collect from users when they provide their email address, the segmenting possibilities are endless. A few list segmentation examples include:

  • Prospects versus customers
  • Customer purchase frequency
  • Product or category affinities

Increase Bids for Past Purchasers

Use Customer Match as a remarketing list for search ads (RLSA) audience in search campaigns to adjust bids for users who’ve previously purchased from your site. Experiment with higher bids when your customers perform non-brand or competitor searches to stay top of mind and drive more sales during the holiday season.

Since past purchasers are familiar with your brand, it’s less risky to aggressively bid on non-brand search queries, because these users are more likely to convert compared to users who haven’t previously visited your site.

Target Broad/General Keywords

Explore targeting very broad or general non-brand keywords with your Customer Match list. This can be done with the RLSA Target and bid feature.

For example, a department store could test targeting general keywords such as ‘shoes’. This may be a risky move under normal situations, but using Target and bid limits the reach to people familiar with your brand. This lets you get in front of your customers again (when they may not be thinking of your brand) and potentially drive more revenue.

[caption id="attachment_10021" align="alignnone" width="500"]


(Click image to enlarge.)[/caption]

Develop New Ad Copy

Use Customer Match to implement unique ad copy that makes use of what you know about the people on your email list via RLSA Target and bid, Gmail Sponsored Promotions, or YouTube. Test different ad copy for frequent purchasers versus customers who haven’t made a purchase in over a year. A steeper promotional discount could entice old customers to come back and make another purchase.

Cross-Sell or Upsell

You can use Customer Match to cross-sell or upsell to existing customers to drive incremental revenue. For example, if a department store has a customer file segmented with a list of people who frequently buy children’s clothing, you can target that list of users with ad copy relevant to holiday gifts specifically for children. This could encourage customers to make another purchase to buy children’s shoes, backpacks, toys, etc.

Expand Acquisition Efforts

Similar Audiences is a great tool to expand your acquisition efforts with Gmail Sponsored Promotions or YouTube. When looking to acquire new customers, Similar Audiences is a great place to start, as it allows you to target users who share similar characteristics and traits with your most loyal customers. Google has a lot of back-end knowledge about users, and leveraging this feature can help advertisers get in front of a new audience and drive more sales.

In Sum

Customer Match and Similar Audiences present advertisers with many great targeting strategies. Get started on creating and segmenting your customer lists now. Then, build your strategy and get ready to drive more revenue this holiday season!

A leading women’s accessory retailer wanted to extend its digital advertising from search alone to a combined search and social strategy. To increase sales, the retailer tested performance of its manual prospecting campaigns against the product sets that Smart Sync for Dynamic Ads generated. The result—ROI increased
by 456%

The retailer’s tactics included:

  • Identifying top performing product categories from Google Shopping campaigns
  • Cloning these directly into Facebook
  • Using Dynamic Ads targeting to prospects, transitioning from email lookalike custom audiences to intent lookalikes on the web

Read all about it in our case study.

As savvy marketers know, it often takes multiple touches with a brand before a prospect or existing customer takes a desired action. We’ve created a sample workflow that illustrates how Google and Facebook can work together in an integrated, cross-channel way to deliver both new conversions and repeat purchases.

From Intent to Purchase

As we follow Amy through the customer journey, it’s notable that the Facebook video ad she viewed was based on the search intent from Google. Leveraging that search intent cross-channel, Marin was able to serve Amy with a relevant video ad for the particular hotel ad that she viewed. In other words, had Amy not clicked the search ad on Google, she would have never seen the Facebook ad.

This purchase is a great example of how dynamically generated micro audience segments on Facebook can deliver incremental returns from a conversion that never would have occurred had it not started with the first Google click. In a nutshell, that explains the true potential of cross-channel advertising to span the entire customer journey and drive meaningful conversions.

A Note About Attribution: Unified Versus Last-Click

As digital advertising has evolved, many advertisers have sought a more sophisticated solution than last-click attribution to track conversions. In a cross-channel world, where users see ads in different formats and often on multiple devices, it’s important to identify all the sources that influence a conversion rather than just one final conversion event.

The table below shows how a last-click attribution model compares to unified attribution in the context of a cross-channel customer journey on Facebook and Google. Instead of attributing the entire conversion to Google’s last click, you can see how a using unified attribution values all touch points in the actual user’s journey.

Here, with unified attribution, each touchpoint receives credit for the path to conversion. The total value of a conversion is one—a last-click attribution model wouldn’t give any credit to the video ad highlighting the hotel brand, which ultimately led to Amy searching on Google two weeks later and converting.

Cross-Channel Plays for Improved Performance

For more insights and tips on combining search and social for enhanced advertising performance, download our guide, Google + Facebook: A Playbook for Cross-Channel Advertising Success.


The year is halfway over but digital advertising remains fast and furious. From what we’ve seen in our blog traffic, it’s clear that marketers want to keep on top of the latest trends and channel announcements, and are also continually looking for ways to enhance their digital ad strategies.

To honor these past six months, we’re showcasing our six most popular blog posts.

Current Trends

  1. Your Google Analytics Data Will Never Match Your Facebook Data: The only way to accurately measure your Facebook data is through Facebook reporting itself. This article explains why.
  2. Cheat Sheet: Facebook and Google Ad Types Mapped to the Customer Journey: Our popular cheat sheet provides clear tactics for advertisers looking to meet specific campaign goals and objectives.
  3. 10 Best Practices for Combining Paid Search and Social: From planning to execution to measurement, this how-to article gets into the nuts and bolts of a successful cross-channel ad campaign.

Oldies But Goodies

  1. How to Determine Optimal Frequency Caps for Retargeting: Frequency caps can be a bit complex, but this article breaks it all down. You’ll learn easy ways to determine optimal frequency caps, how to test them, and more.
  2. How to Get the Most Out of Sequential Advertising on Facebook: People love a good story. Here, we explain the many benefits of sequential advertising on Facebook, and show how DS Automobiles used it to increase impressions and engagement.
  3. The 8 Players in the Programmatic Ecosystem: Programmatic has evolved from “hot new thing” to “advertising standard.” This article provides an easy reference for both new and seasoned users of programmatic advertising.

The Outlook for the Rest of the Year

As retail shifts online, search and social dominate ad spend, and Facebook usage continues to skyrocket, we’ll be there. Subscribe to our blog today to keep current on the latest news, developments, and expert opinion.

People can’t click ads they don’t see. Audience targeting is the best way to reach the right people with relevant ads and grow revenue. And, when it’s done in an integrated way across channels, audience targeting will jump-start your advertising efforts.

Google and Facebook have particular strengths that help advertisers. Google captures data on what people are looking for, and Facebook identifies who people are and what they like. The combined power of both channels allows you to reach people anywhere in the funnel.

Here are three pointers as you combine the best of Google and Facebook in cross-channel campaigns for maximum ad exposure:

  1. Find the perfect match: Use Google’s Customer Match and Facebook’s Custom Audiences to identify your existing customers, and then build lookalikes to find potential customers with similar affinities.
  2. Show up for shoppers: With Broad Audiences for Dynamic Ads, reach people in-market for your product who haven’t visited your website.
  3. Give them what they want: People are telling Google exactly what they’re looking for. Use this information to tailor the ads they see on Facebook by creating audiences based on their search query.

We live in an age of personalized experiences—your customers are open to hearing from you if there’s something in it for them. By leveraging cross-channel advertising on Google and Facebook and the potential to be laser-focused in your ad targeting, you can indeed give them exactly what they’re looking for.

Want to Learn More?

For more great tips—including how to develop a cross-channel story, grow ROI with incremental lift testing, and measure performance beyond the last click—sign up for our upcoming webinar, Facebook + Google: Bridging the Search and Social Divide.

To make it convenient for global marketing teams, we’ve scheduled the webinar at three different times:

  • Tuesday, July 11th @ 10am PT (1pm ET)
  • Wednesday, July 12th @ 10 am GMT
  • Wednesday, July 12th @ 1pm Singapore Time

Speakers include Noah Singer, Product Marketing, Monetization and Measurement Manager from Facebook, and Brett Loney, Product Marketing Manager – Social, Marin Software. Be sure to register today—we hope you can join us!

Speaker Bios

Noah Singer helps lead and manage Atlas’ and Facebook’s ads measurement solutions, bring products to market, conduct market analysis, lead policy decision making, identify and execute against operational improvements, evangelize Facebook solutions and points of view within the industry, and determine how to best partner with companies in the Facebook ecosystem. He previously helped launch and build its mobile app ads business and Facebook Analytics for Apps.

Brett Loney has managed over $50 million in paid social spend for diverse companies, from startups to the Fortune 500. Brett led paid social for Cartwheel by Target, Target’s first digital product team and internal startup. The app achieved, and has sustained, a top 5 ranking in the retail category on the Apple and Google Play stores, with over 10 million downloads in its first year. Brett has a B.S. in Marketing from St. John’s University and is a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan.

Search advertisers are having an increasingly common conversation around the importance of product feed optimizations in the context of overall Shopping performance. Truly, you can’t maximize results of your campaigns by only managing campaign-side efforts or only tweaking the product feed.

To get the most out of your Shopping endeavors, it’s important to know what’s happening on both sides of the fence. This post explores a few scenarios to demonstrate why.

1. Inventory

As long as they’re “in stock,” your products will continue to show on Shopping ads. This poses an issue when “in stock” means “only four left” or extremely limited sizes or colors. At some point, the product is no longer competitive. Be proactive by optimizing based on back-end inventory (excluding products in low supply) as opposed to waiting for performance to drop.

2. Image

A product image can have as much impact on how a product sells online as its respective bid does.

shopping ads

If you’re only looking at CTR on the campaign side and notice a shift, perhaps it’s due to an image change on the feed side. It takes a unified approach to understand product attribute testing (like an image change) and the resulting impact on performance. Note that having multiple variables will blur results and make a test inconclusive—a proper test has a single variable.

3. Attribute Change

In a worst-case scenario, a change in the feed can cause products to go offline. For example, think of an advertiser who has five product groups, all mapped out to Brand = definitions. These run for a few weeks and then, unbeknownst to the campaign manager, the Brand values for the products are all changed to something new.

This means the existing Brand = product groups would stop showing ads because there are no longer products in the feed that match that criteria. The same could apply to SKUs or any other criteria that depend on a product match in the feed itself.


Understanding that a feed attribute change can have a realized impact in a Shopping campaign is very important. Keeping this in mind allows you to test things like image variations (what’s the impact on clickthrough rate of a side image vs profile?) or titles (does adding brand name improve conversion rate?). Make sure that all the campaign-side optimizations (bids) are consistent, and you’ll get data-backed insights on what works and what doesn’t.

With Google Shopping now dominating search ads, retail advertisers who stay ahead of the game stand to gain the most clicks and conversions. Clicteq’s Wesley Parker provides expert tips for search marketers to stand out and expand your reach.

search ads

This year’s Google Marketing Next in San Francisco highlighted some exciting innovations coming out of Mountain View. Google’s advances with machine learning are paving the way for the next phases of search marketing.

We took a look at several key messages from the Innovations Keynote, and identified things you can immediately do to enhance your marketing programs.

Be Smarter with Data

Machine learning is quickly evolving. In a matter of seconds, complex algorithms can make simple determinations that enable search marketers to reach customers when and where it counts, with the right message.

To ride this wave, be sure to:

  • Build the right audiences. While machine learning does all the heavy lifting on the back end, letting it know who your actual or desired audiences are will ensure you get the right message to the right people.
  • Add more creatives to your ad groups with different CTAs. From here, the algorithm can automatically make a perfect match between your ads and your potential (or existing) customers. Best practice is to have at least three creatives per ad group to give Google’s machine learning the ability to match the message to the user.

One Step or One Second

In mobile, simplicity is the name of the game. Your audiences need an experience that’s lightning fast, with as few clicks as possible. Google estimated that for each one second increase in page load, conversion rate drops by 20%. Be sure to:

  • Keep things simple and drive performance. Make this your team mantra. Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes—would you be happy with the user experience you’re providing? Measure, refine, rinse, repeat. This may not be the responsibility of the paid search team, but you should push the rest of your company to make this happen.
  • Get users to the right landing page. Sending users to a generic page will require additional clicks and you’ll lose visitors in the process.
  • Sign up for AMP beta. Designed to make the post-click experience better and much faster, the next iteration of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will offer search marketers ad support, Facebook-like instant articles, and more. Make sure you’re kept in the loop on this feature. Check out the blog post and details, and then sign up.

Non-line Assistance

Google introduced the term “non-line,” meaning that the customer is now the channel. Shoppers move from online to offline, requiring marketers to meet them in both places seamlessly—and keep track of search ads’ impact along the way.

We’re excited to hear more about Google linking offline transactions directly back to the keywords, but there are things you can do today to better combine online and offline.

Be sure to:

  • Use extensions to engage offline. Location and call extensions give your customers a way to continue their journey offline, seamlessly from their mobile phone.
  • Geotarget your store locations. When your customer’s standing in your store (or in a competitor’s) you may want to hit them with a different message or call to action. With precise campaign geotargeting, this is easy.

This is a great time for search marketing. With new innovations and better ways of reaching customers constantly being rolled out, we’re looking forward to and keeping our eyes peeled for the latest Google developments.

On March 17th, Google announced its intention to expand close keyword variation matching for exact match keywords to include additional rewording and reordering. In other words, exact match keywords would be eligible to match to more search queries.

Google argues that this update will assist advertisers in finding the right keywords to bid on, saving them from the trouble of building out exhaustive keyword lists. However, for advertisers who utilize single keyword ad groups (SKAGs), this update will fundamentally change how they build and maintain AdWords search campaigns.

This post examines how the close variant update will affect SKAGs and offers some best practices for adapting to the new exact match.

The Old Way

Before Google’s announcement, close variants included misspellings, singular forms, plural forms, acronyms, stemming, abbreviations, and accents. For example, the keyword [donut] would match to the search query [donuts]—more or less an ‘exact’ match.

The update expands exact match close variants to include additional forms of rewordings, synonyms, and word reordering. Additionally, it ignores function words, such as “prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the) and other words that often don’t impact the intent behind a query.”

This last point has many advertisers worried as ‘function words’ can often change the core meaning of a keyword/search query. However, Google claims it’ll ignore function words only “when it won’t change the meaning of your keyword.”

For example, if someone is searching for [wax for surfboard], it could trigger the exact match keywords [surf wax].

The Difference with SKAGs

As the name implies, SKAGs are ad groups with just one keyword in them. This campaign structure gives advertisers a granular level of control over which ads and landing pages are served to specific keywords.

For example, for the keyword [pet hotels], an advertiser can create ad copy that includes the keyword a couple of times. Because Google will bold any instance of the exact keyword in the ad text, keyword-specific ads will appear more relevant to a searcher, and are likely to drive higher click-through rates and lower CPCs. An advertiser can also drive to a custom landing page for that keyword, which should result in higher conversion rates.

The New Way

With this new update, however, advertisers who utilize SKAGs will lose some level of control as more ‘close variant’ search queries will match to exact match keywords. This update should not degrade the benefits of a SKAGs campaign structure, but it will require advertisers to make a few adaptations.

Here are a few possible issues and adjustments to resolve them.

Note: Keep in mind that Google is staggering the rollout of the close variants update, so you won’t have to make changes immediately. At the time of this writing, Google has applied the update to 10% of all ad-eligible search traffic.

1. Remove Newly Duplicate Keywords/Ad Groups

Let’s assume you’re bidding on the keywords [speakers for living room] and [living room speakers] in your SKAG campaign. The close variants update eliminates the differences between these keywords because it’ll ignore “for” and the fact that they’re ordered differently. Consequently, these two keywords would now be duplicates and competing in the same auctions—which can drive up CPCs.

So, it’s important to remove prepositions, conjunctions, and articles from your keywords and delete any duplicates. However, if function words/reordering significantly change the meaning of the keywords, you should consider keeping them if you want to ensure coverage. Work with your AdWords rep if you’re not sure whether the close variants update will affect specific keywords.

2. Revise Keyword-Specific Ad Copy Where Relevant

As previously mentioned, keyword-specific ad copy can perform better than generic counterparts. If any of your keywords became duplicates due to reordering or function words being ignored, you may want to consolidate ad copy between the two ad groups.

3. Preemptively Add Negative Keywords, Closely Monitor SQRs

Reordering and ignoring function words could cause your keywords to serve for irrelevant terms. For example, [orange bag] isn’t the same as [bag of oranges]. We’re not sure if Google’s algorithms will know the difference between these keywords, so it doesn’t hurt to have your bases covered.

If any of your exact match keywords are at risk of serving to irrelevant search terms, you should preemptively add that search term as a negative keyword to prevent wasting budget. It’s also important to closely monitor search query reports and negate any irrelevant traffic early.

Greater Complexity but Better Results

Overall, the close variants update will complicate how advertisers think about exact match. And, many are skeptical that the update will function as Google explained in its announcement, fearing that AdWords will start to match queries to keywords that don’t have the same meaning or intent. That said, search advertisers should take heart, since close variants is a positive change, as Marin explained in a previous post.

The English language is constantly evolving, and it’s also full of exceptions, nuances, and contradictions. Because of this, there will undoubtedly be a ‘machine learning’ curve as Google rolls out this update. For now, advertisers should keep a close eye on any new updates from Google regarding close variants, be prepared to adapt quickly once it applies to all search traffic, and get ready for the opportunities the change will open up.

For digital advertisers, 2016 was a fabulous year. Global Internet usage on mobile surpassed desktop, plus significant strides were made in mobile-connected technologies.

Still, marketers continue to identify winners—and losers—that can affect performance and act as barriers or opportunities for growth.

In our State of Digital Advertising 2017 report, conducted in December 2016, we surveyed over 500 professionals in digital advertising—41% who are with agencies and 59% working for brands/client-side.

In addition to data charts and recommendations, the report discusses several industry insights:

  • Mobile ad spend: Marketing budgets are following the eyeball shift from traditional channels to mobile. We examine this trend and discuss the ROI potential of different mobile strategies.
  • Overlooked revenue: We explore the implications of the industry’s lack of expertise in the face of new features and products, and the opportunity this presents to those willing to learn and leverage new tools and channels.
  • Top priorities and aspirational goals: Marketers have taken notice of consumer willingness to try the newest video, voice, and augmented reality technologies coming to market. They also identified content marketing as a top priority.

To learn more, download the full report.

digital advertising

At Marin, we know that the most powerful marketing programs are ones that combine the best of search and social advertising. Marketers who unify their programs gain the opportunity to deliver incremental ROI. To actually accomplish this, however, digital marketing teams need to think less about the channel and more about locating where people are in the customer journey.

We created a cheat sheet that outlines ad formats and objectives that Google and Facebook provide for each step in this journey. Follow the guidelines so that you have the best possible chance of reaching your target audience—and clinching the sale. Click the image to enlarge it.

customer journey

To discuss Marin solutions that help you stand out online and win the battle for revenue, schedule a demo.

Tracking the performance of your social campaigns is one of the most important factors for success. The fact is that your Google Analytics data and your Facebook data will never match.

Why is this?

The only way to accurately measure your Facebook data is through Facebook reporting itself.

1. Cross Device Conversions

In this day and age, people use multiple devices throughout the user journey before any purchase is made. It takes multiple touch points before a sale is made, and this happens across multiple devices. This was all well and good when a sale happened on a single device (desktop).

For example, suppose you’re out and about and start browsing on your mobile device. You click an ad but don’t convert. Later that day, you’re sitting at your desktop computer and decide to jump onto that company's website to buy the product you saw earlier. Google Analytics would fail to attribute that conversion back to the click on your mobile device and will subsequently under-report your results.

Facebook has the unique ability to track conversions back to users instead of cookies. This means you can track the same user across all devices as long as they’re logged into their Facebook account. In comparison, Google Analytics relies on cookies, meaning all the tracking happens exactly on the browser where the cookie was dropped.

2. Impressions and Clicks

Google Analytics uses cookies to track users on a website, and doesn’t have the ability to track impressions like Facebook. If cookies aren’t enabled, you won’t be able to track those users through GA.

With Google Analytics, it’s considered a conversion when a user clicks the intended link within the ad, whereas with Facebook, a user can click any portion of the ad, convert, and still be tracked as a conversion.

If a user clears their cookies, all of that data will remain on Google Analytics. In Facebook, however, this data is cleared from your custom audiences. It’s also good to note that Google Analytics back-dates data, while Facebook collects the data from the day your audiences are set up.

3. Clicks vs. Sessions

This one is always a cause for concern with marketers. “Wait, my clicks in Facebook don’t match my sessions reported in Google Analytics? Why?” There are several reasons for this discrepancy.

  • If a user clicks your Facebook post more than once in a 30-minute window, Google Analytics only tracks this as one session. Conversely, Facebook considers this as more than one click. (i.e., one Google Analytics session and two Facebook clicks).
  • If a user clicks your Facebook post and visits your website, becomes inactive for more than 30 minutes, and then re-engages with your site after 30 minutes, Google will records two separate sessions. Facebook reports only the single click. In this case, one Facebook click equals two sessions.
  • If a user accidentally clicks your Facebook ad but jumps off quickly, Google Analytics will most likely not have had the chance to record this click, since the page hadn’t loaded fully.

4. UTM Parameters

Google Analytics uses referrer URLs to credit conversions back to ads. Facebook users browse Facebook using ‘https’ instead of ‘http’. So, if a user clicks an ad in Facebook and leaves to convert on an http website, the user can’t be recorded since they have left a secure environment. This, again, will lead to under-reporting of conversions.

5. Multiple Conversions

This is an important one to note. Google Analytics only allows a one-per-click attribution, meaning only one conversion is counted regardless of the number of conversions that actually happened. If a user saw or clicked an ad and converted multiple times, Facebook attributes multiple conversions to the ad last clicked or viewed.

6. Attribution Window

Facebook conversion measurement attributes conversions based on a 24-hour view and 28-day click-through window—so, any comparison you do against other tracking data must compare exactly the same attribution window. Google Analytics uses the last interaction model, which attributes 100% of the conversion value to the last channel the customer interacted with before buying or converting.

To update your attribution window in Facebook, click Customize Columns and choose the window that best suits your needs.

facebook analytics

facebook analytics

7. Conversion Date

Facebook reports on the time of a view or click of the conversion, whereas 3rd party tracking tools often report on the time of conversion.

8. Ad Blocker Software

Your conversion pixel may not fire if the user has an ad blocker installed in the browser. This will cause undercounting conversions, so the number may be lower than your internal data.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. As children, husbands, significant others, friends, and even extended family search for the perfect gift to shower the moms in their lives, this celebratory holiday presents an opportunity for advertisers to generate incremental sales via paid search.

While some shoppers already know what to get mom for Mother’s Day, many consumers need help finding that perfect gift—and, lots of people turn to Google search for assistance. Advertisers should develop a strong Mother’s Day paid search strategy to drive awareness of their products during this holiday.

Here are three tips to ensure a successful Mother’s Day for your search campaigns.

1. Expand Keyword Coverage Using RLSA

General gift-giving searches for the term “Mother’s Day Gift” start increasing approximately a month before Mother’s Day, with a steep incline leading up to the holiday.

[caption id="attachment_9404" align="alignnone" width="500"]

Mother's Day Ads

2016 Google trends data for “Mother’s Day Gift”[/caption]

Advertisers looking to put themselves in front of potential consumers during this key shopping period can leverage the uptick in Mother’s Day search queries by expanding keyword coverage. Adding keywords for “Mother’s Day Gift”, “Cheap Mother’s Day Gifts”, “Unique Mother’s Day Gifts”, “Gifts for Mom” and “Mother’s Day Gift Ideas” is a great way to get seen by more shoppers.

However, keep in mind that while general gift-giving keywords present a great opportunity to reach consumers, many people searching these keywords are still early in the research phase. This means that the influx in traffic from these keywords may not result in the desired uptick to sales volume.

Avoid decreasing your ROAS by narrowing your reach for Mother’s Day gifting keywords to RLSA audiences only. This tactic will limit exposure of these keywords to people who’ve previously been to your site. Limiting the reach to an audience already familiar with your brand can help drive incremental sales and keep ROAS strong.

2. Customize Ad Copy for Mother’s Day

Make your paid search ad pop by tailoring the ad copy to Mother’s Day shoppers. Include mention of finding the perfect gift, surprising mom, making Mother’s Day special, etc. Also, consider incorporating Ad Customizers with a Mother’s Day countdown feature. As Mother’s Day gets closer, the countdown element will add a sense of urgency for shoppers to make their purchase.

Ad extensions are another valuable tool to utilize. Be sure to incorporate callout extensions and sitelinks that promote Mother’s Day gifts. This is a great way to feature gift cards, top picks for moms, a Mother’s Day gift giving guide, and special offers.

3. Leverage Enticing Offers

Everyone loves a good deal! Convert more shoppers by offering a strong promotion for Mother’s Day. Traditional money-saving deals are always appealing, but you can also test more creative offers such as a free gift with purchase.

Don’t forget to leverage tactics that’ll appeal to buyers who need a gift quickly. Search volume for the phrase “Mother’s Day Gift” spikes drastically the week leading up to Mother’s Day. An offer for free next-day delivery could be a very compelling offer for last-minute shoppers who need their gift to arrive before the big day.


Making a few easy tweaks to your paid search strategy can help drive incremental sales for Mother’s Day gifts. Implement new keywords to expand your reach, customize ad copy with Mother’s Day messaging, and incorporate compelling offers.

This post is specific to search tips, but remember to also incorporate a Mother’s Day strategy for shopping, social, and display campaigns.

Every morning I read the WSJ (print edition!) and enjoy a cup of coffee. It’s typically a low-key affair.

But today was no ordinary day.

I was taken aback when I read this headline: “Google Plans Ad-Blocking Feature in Popular Chrome Browser.”

“What the heck?!” was my split-second reaction, followed by, “This is madness!! What are they thinking?? How will they make any money if they block all the ads??”

It was early. The coffee hadn’t fully kicked in yet.

If you’re familiar with Daniel Kahneman’s famous book—Thinking, Fast and Slow—this is a great example where thinking slow is a good idea.

After some reflection, some more reading, and another cup of coffee, I decided this move could be brilliant. Heck, it might just save the free web!

The Internet Commons

Advertisers spend money to capture our attention and attempt to persuade us to take some sort of action. But, no single advertiser can “own” our collective attention—that’s the commons in this story. Instead, they all compete for a small slice of it.

This has created an arms race that helps explain why ads are getting brighter, noisier, and more pervasive. In fact, they’ve become so bad that many people have installed ad blockers to try and weed them out.


A German company called Eyeo is the largest independent ad blocking company. They market a “free” product called AdBlocker+.

You may have noticed, I put free in quotes. That’s because Eyeo earns around $160M per year from AdBlocker+.

You may also be wondering, how do they pull off that magic trick?

Well, they hold their users as ransom. Big companies—like Google—can pay to be ‘white listed’ and have their ads shown despite AdBlocker+ being installed.

The Google Wager

Here are my hunches to explain why Google wants consumers to use their ad blocker instead of AdBlocker+:

Hunch #1: Google wants to send a message to future entrepreneurs that ad blocking will not remain lucrative, perhaps to folks like this: Princeton’s Ad-Blocking Superweapon May Put an End to the Ad-Blocking Arms Race.

Hunch #2: Google would become both judge and jury. They alone would decide which ads are “good” and which are “bad.” For publishers, this may create an incentive to stick with Google’s ad network and not branch out.

Hunch #3: By being able to set and enforce advertising rules, Google could stomp out bad actors running ads through non-Google networks. This sort of unified regulation of marketers could help keep the Internet open, free, and unregulated. And that’s something we should all celebrate.

Hunch #4: Google has a need for speed. Particularly on mobile, where seconds and milliseconds matter. Bad actors run ads that chew up bandwidth and slow down website and app performance. By removing these, Google will speed up everyone’s online experience.

We all benefit from a free and open Internet. I'm encouraged by the changes taking place to make sure it remains free and open for the long-term. At the same time, I’m cautious about the consolidation of power. This is a topic we all have a vested interest in keeping an eye on. I’ll continue doing my part, reading the morning newspaper headlines over a hot cup of coffee.

How do you know how well your unified search and social advertising efforts are working? To answer this question, an incremental lift analysis is a must.

What’s an Incremental Lift Test?

Incremental revenue is earnings you wouldn’t have gained without a specific campaign. An incremental lift analysis, then, assesses the average revenue from two groups:

  1. People exposed to certain variables within a test group (two segments)
  2. People in a control group

The Framework

A popular setup for an incremental analysis is testing the average revenue of the two segments of our test group. Here is an example of how you could implement an incremental lift test with Product Listing Ads on Google and Dynamic Ads on Facebook. The two formats are similar in that they are both intended for to drive sales with a product feed used to automatically generate creative.

  1. Control Group - Those who converted from a paid search campaign over a certain period and were not exposed to an a cross-sell ad on Facebook.
  2. Test Group - Those who converted from a paid search campaign and were added to a “cross-sell” audience exposed to a dynamic ad on Facebook (encouraging the purchase of a complementary item)

The hypothesis that we're testing here is that by showing a cross-sell ad of a complementary product offering on Facebook to people that converted from a paid search ad will see an increase in customer lifetime value and top line revenue. For example purposes, we could create a product set on Facebook of socks to cross-sell people who purchased shoes. We would need to create a website custom audience with a UTM parameter specifying the category of "shoes" and channel "paid search".

With the Test Group, we want to identify the average revenue impact of the group that was added to the cross-sell segment on Facebook. Then, we want to compare this impact to our control group, i.e., those who weren’t exposed to a “cross-sell” dynamic ad on Facebook after making a purchase.

The campaign should run for at least a month and you should take into consideration the sample size of your existing paid search traffic to determine which cross-sell product sets to create for a healthy population size to market to. We see a significant increase when cross-sell recent converters so make sure there is a time threshold set as to when folks see your ads.

Once the campaign has ran for a month you will want to measure average revenue per customer between the test and control group to determine what the lift is between the two groups. This should be your primary Key Performance Indicator KPI that you use to determine how to allocate your budget for additional incremental impact across Paid Search and Social. Another metric you will want to look at is Customer Lifetime Value. This metric projects how much revenue the average customer nets throughout the time period that they’re a customer. The better your customer lifetime value the lower you have to spend on acquisition costs. The calculation is simple—customer value X average lifespan. However, determining these values will greatly vary based on your type of business.

Additional Best Practices For Measuring Incremental Lift

There are several things e-commerce advertisers should consider when implementing an increment lift test. In this example, we’re using Google Analytics for attribution beyond last-click.

  1. When deciding how long the campaign should be, consider the average time to purchase for first-time buyers and repeat purchases. The campaign should run, at minimum, for the full purchase cycle to best determine impact.
  2. Simplify creative and messaging iterations, and make sure they’re consistent across both paid search and social channels.
  3. Deploy both the Facebook Pixel and the Google Pixel using a tag management solution. View conversion data as directional within each publisher, and compare to conversion events/goals within your analytics tool early into the campaign flight. This ensures there are no noticeable discrepancies.
  4. Set up revenue goals (completed purchase or pre-order request) for the products being amplified in the ads. Be sure to use a monetary value here with the funnel turned on—if you’d like to track landing page success metrics such as where people bounce within the checkout page, input URLs for each screen page the user will see.
  5. Ensure the UTM parameters within ads all have a standardized naming convention, so that you can run funnel reports to analyze the consumers path to conversion.
  6. A true measure of sales lift uses an attribution model that reveals the individual and collective contribution of each paid channel on the online (or, offline) conversion event.
  7. Select an attribution model within the analytics tool that your digital marketing team fully understands prior to launching campaigns. For the purpose of this analysis, the goal should be to view performance beyond post-click or post-impression metrics with a linear attribution model that gives each touchpoint along the path to conversion an equal weight.

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
    view the webinar archive

Search marketing is not unlike fishing. If keywords are the bait, then match types are the technique.

Google, then, is the world’s largest ocean. Millions of marketers trust it to provide lots of customers, at cost low enough to turn a profit. So, any change to this ecosystem is heavily scrutinized, and sometimes criticized, when marketers perceive the change as a

Let’s review the change Google made to exact match keywords last week. The goal of our analysis will be to determine if this is a net-positive (or, net-negative) change.

What Changed?

Last week, Google announced a change to the way it treats exact match keywords.

In 2014, Google introduced ‘close variants’ to exact match. This allowed Google to serve ads to plurals of exact match keywords. This was a major change in its own right because exact had historically meant “exact.”

As of last week, the scope of ‘close variants’ expanded, a lot. Function words —in, for, to, the— are ignored and the order of the words is no longer a factor. For example:

Your exact keyword: “mens running shoe”...

  • Will serve for traditional exact match, like: “mens running shoe
  • Will serve for a permutation, like: “running shoe men
  • Will serve for a permutation, like: “running men shoe

There’s some nuance to these changes, of course. For example, if the function word changes the intent of the query, it will not be ignored (e.g., “flight from LA to NYC”). In this example, the function word “to” changes the meaning of the query.

How’s Google able to understand the intent?

As you may recall, Sundar Pichai described Google as an AI-first company in last year’s Founder’s Letter. This update is an example of Google applying its new skills to a commercial application.

If you’d like to read about the nuances of this change we recommend you start with AdWords’ blog.

The net-net is that your exact match keywords will serve against more queries than before.

Netflix Controversy, Circa 2013

In 2013, Netflix ignited customer furor when it announced the forthcoming removal of 1,800 unpopular titles to make room for 500 new popular titles. The perceived loss felt unfair even though most people would never watch, or have even noticed, those 1,800 titles.

This is a human quirk that Nobel Laureate, Professor Daniel Kahneman, developed into a behavioral economics theory called “loss aversion.” The loss of something (say $5) is more painful than an equal gain (like winning $5). In fact, it can be more painful than even a two ($10) or three-fold gain ($15).

I share this story and corresponding economic theory because Google’s change to ‘exact match’ keywords has, in some instances, provoked ire in the marketing community. The perceived loss in this instance is “control” over when and where exact match keywords will serve.

We’d argue that, from a purely mathematical perspective, this change has more upside than downside—not unlike the 500 popular videos replacing 1,800 unpopular ones.


Here’s why we’d make that argument.

Today, Google fields queries from a variety of devices. Due to emerging technologies, consumer behavior is rapidly changing. We no longer live in the static backdrop environment, which was the norm just a few years ago, where 100% of Google’s search queries came from one source: desktop computers.

Instead, there’s now a very different SEM reality:

  • 5%: the compounding growth of Google query length
  • 10%: the percentage of consumers who exclusively use desktop computers
  • 20%: voice search on Google (estimated to reach 50% by 2020)
  • 55%: mobile search traffic on Google (Google rebranded as a mobile-first company)
  • 80%: users shopping using multiple devices

Not only are consumers using different methods to ask questions—they’re asking different questions altogether.

Out of the three billion queries Google fields every day, around
16-20% are brand new. That’s the opportunity for the enterprising marketer—discovering profitable greenfield queries. And, Google’s change is designed to help you find these new, profitable queries—and, in turn, netting new customers.

Tools of the Trade

To my surprise, Wikipedia lists over two dozen types of fishing techniques. Who knew there are so many ways to catch a fish!

In the online marketing domain, “keywords” have emerged as the best targeting criterion, ever.

The match type applied to each keyword dictates the strategy, much like different fishing techniques are employed depending on the type or quantity of fish you want to catch.

  • Broad match = drift nets
  • Phrase match = long-line fishing
  • Exact match = spear fishing

Even with this expansion of ‘close variants,’ exact match remains a spear fishing activity. There’s just going to be more fish for you to choose from, so it’ll be important to be discerning where you expend energy.

Evolve Fast

It’s been said that evolution favors those who adapt the fastest. As marketers, we’re no exception to the rule. Beyond the obvious habits (or, automation) you’ll want to implement to search query mining, we also recommend that you evaluate the effectiveness of each of your fishing methods. You just might find that your new spear fishing method is more productive than you expected.

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