Keywords

Businesses often go to great lengths to build their brand, decide on a brand message, and craft a narrative around that brand message. This time and effort are only rewarded when that narrative is effectively communicated to a brand’s target audience. Businesses spent over $238 billion on internet advertising in 2021 and this number is projected to grow significantly in the coming years. 

Targeted advertising is the best way to ensure that the brand message reaches the right customer—but how do you make sure that you are paying a fair price to reach those customers? Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising allows business leaders to spread their message far and wide but only pay when engagement is registered. Here is how you can use PPC to amplify your existing brand message online. 

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What is PPC and how does it work?

Pay-Per-Click marketing refers to an advertising practice where advertisers pay a fixed fee each time their ad is clicked by a visitor. This helps businesses to direct visitors to their website in a cost-effective manner. Companies typically use this method of advertising to drive visitor traffic to their website or social media page through search engines and social media share pages.

Why you should use PPC for your business

Improved brand recognition and recall

One of the major reasons to advertise on the platforms where your target audiences spend the most time is to improve brand awareness. PPC advertising on the appropriate platforms ensures that the advertising brand is always top of mind for the customer when it is time for them to make a purchase.

Search engine ads that appear on generic product searches can encourage customers to associate the advertising brand with the products that they search for, making it easier for them to remember and search for the brand the next time they wish to make a purchase. 

Works in tandem with existing brand material 

To ensure that marketing campaigns are effective across every platform and channel, marketers must create ad copy that amplifies the brand message consistently. PPC advertising allows brands to amplify existing marketing material such as posters and infographics on social media and search engines. 

Can attract new customers to the brand

Almost 60% of shoppers research a future purchase online before pulling the trigger. However, search engine results and social media pages are often saturated with marketing messages from competing brands. Successful brands can use PPC to ensure that their ad rises above their competitors’ by appearing at the top of their customers’ search results.

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5 tips to help your business manage a successful ad campaign

  1. Consider the keywords you want to optimize for and set your budget accordingly

The popularity of PPC advertising has led to numerous brands using the strategy to make their presence known online. To rise above the crowd and reach the right audiences efficiently, brands must choose the right optimized keywords to direct customers to the appropriate ad. 

Once these keywords are decided, brands must choose the right budget for their marketing efforts. Brands should consider increasing the frequency or reach of ads that serve a general audience to ensure that the ad receives the airtime that it deserves ahead of competing brands. 

  1. Use ad extensions like sitelinks, location, callouts, etc., to make your ads more appealing

Ads should always be designed with the customer in mind. This is why it is important to make online ads as engaging as possible. This can be done by adding extensions to your ads. Extensions can come in many forms ranging from sitelinks to store locations and more. These extensions increase the likelihood of a customer engaging with the ad once they have read the accompanying copy or viewed the accompanying graphic. 

  1. Include a clear CTA in your ads so people know what action you want them to take

In addition to extensions, brands should make it as easy as possible for a customer to continue engaging with the brand. Call-to-actions (CTAs) are a crucial part of this engagement. Clear CTAs allow brands to control the way customers interact with their ad by directing them to the appropriate platform or site that can help them receive a cohesive experience across marketing channels. 

  1. Create different ads with different CTAs based on the audience you are targeting

A common mistake that marketers tend to make when drafting ad copy is creating generic CTAs that are copied across different ads and platforms. However, customer actions can differ greatly from platform to platform. For example, customers who click on a search engine ad are more likely to visit a website that is related to their search. On the other hand,  a customer who interacts with a social media ad might need more incentive to interrupt their browsing and interact with an ad. 

  1. Track how well each ad is performing to stop or change ads that aren't working as well

Online advertising is a dynamic activity and businesses must be prepared to react to changing customer preferences promptly. Brands can track each online ad using a variety of engagement metrics and adjust ads that fail to generate the expected response from key customer demographics. Consistent evaluation of ad performance also allows marketers to optimize ad spend on ads that seem to resonate more with the appropriate target audiences. 

How MarinOne can help you effectively spread your brand message online

MarinOne helps businesses keep track of how each PPC advertisement is performing and presents this information through an easy-to-understand graphical interface. Businesses can receive a bird’s eye view of how their ads are performing across platforms or highlight individual ads to assess their effectiveness in reaching their target audience.

If you would like to learn more about how you can use software to reach your customers more effectively, contact us. We will be happy to schedule a no-strings-attached demo of our solution for you.

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.

What are Automated Insights?


There are a lot of moving parts to a digital marketing campaign. So many that it’s hard for even an experienced marketer to know what they need to do to get the best results from their campaign. Collecting data, recognizing the trends for optimization and other paid search strategy efforts often do not come as quickly as advertisers would like. That’s where we come in.

Marin has been providing account insight to our customers for over 10 years and now we are delivering these powerful, actionable recommendations directly in the MarinOne platform.

Insights are automatic, tailored recommendations that help advertisers get more out of digital marketing campaigns and provide them with the tools needed to quickly implement those recommendations.

Automated Insights in MarinOne are designed to

  • uncover opportunities to reduce wasteful spending
  • capitalize on additional volume in high-performing areas
  • Implement learnings from one channel to another


How Insights Work


Each Marin Insight is a customized, cross-channel recommendation designed to increase your campaign’ performance. Unlike recommendations from the publishers, Marin Insights look across channels to identify the most efficient areas of improvement or to highlight where a learning in one publisher can be implemented in another. We also focus on recommendations that align with your business goals, not just increasing spend.

To help you prioritize your work, Marin Insights are always presented with a corresponding performance change. With this information you can easily tell how your account may change as a result of implementing and insight. These performance forecasts are built by analysing recent performance of campaigns, ads, keywords, and products and benchmarking that against the overall account performance.



If your account is tracking revenue data the forecasts will be reflected in terms of predicted change in Revenue and Spend. If your account does not currently track revenue, the prediction is in terms of Conversions and Spend.

Insights are updated daily based on performance data over the most recent four weeks so you never have to worry about wading through old materials.

What Insights Help You Do


Each Marin Insight is presented along with a downloadable report that enables you to go from insight to action. Each report can be uploaded back into MarinOne to apply the recommendation. This workflow gives you flexibility and the ability to accept or reject each recommendation at the most granular level.

Examples of our Insights Include:

Ad Copy Optimization - Identifies the individual word with the most clicks across an ad group's keyword set and determines if that word is included in the highest-traffic creative.

Ad Optimization - Identifies underperforming ads using the KPI and statistical confidence in your A/B test settings.

Budget Capped Campaigns - Identifies high performing campaigns limited by their daily budget.

Keyword Expansion - Identifies non-exact match search terms performing at a lower cost-per-conversion than their parent campaign based on Google conversion tracking.

Keyword Match Type Expansion- Identifies high performing keywords that do not exist on more specific match types.

Keyword Publisher Expansion - Identifies top-performing keywords that are not being leveraged in Bing.

Negative Keyword Expansion - Identifies non-converting search terms based on Google conversion tracking with a statistically significant amount of clicks.

Single Keyword Ad Groups - Showcases which keywords have significant mobile performance to move each into their own ad group so it can get its own mobile bid.

Top Performing Products - Identifies shopping products performing above average within their product group and should be moved to a dedicated product group for additional control.

Key Benefits:


Highly Qualified Recommendations - Volume and performance criteria result in recommendations that are expected to provide meaningful impact to your bottom-line performance.

Performance Predictions - Incremental spend, conversion, and revenue estimates allow you to prioritize your time on recommendations that will have the most impact.

Platform-Ready Exports - Downloadable reports allow you to review Insights at the most granular level. We've also made it easy to implement the recommended changes using a bulk upload.

Click on the Insights tab in MarinOne to see your personalized recommendations today!

If you aren’t yet a Marin customer, reach out today to learn about everything Marin has to offer.

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.

Conclusion


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!

From spend monitoring to ad ranking, keeping tabs on your campaign performance across your different marketing channels can be a lot of work. And because optimization is the key to a successful campaign, it’s good to stay in the know. However, most of us are not on our computers all the time, so we need an easy and efficient way to stay on top of it all, and be notified of any major changes immediately.

With Marin’s Automated Alerts, you can stay in the know with automatic monitoring and notifications for all your marketing campaigns. These alerts bring changes directly to your inbox, so that you can be notified as soon as they happen. This means timelier analysis and action, so that your campaigns can continue running smoothly even while you're away.



Check out these 5 alerts that you can set up in Marin to stay productive, optimize strategy, and make the most out of each advertising dollar.

  1. Monitor CPA


This may feel pretty standard. But as a reminder, the cost of an acquisition or conversion is important to ensure not only that our ads are converting, but that they are doing so at a profitable rate. It is important to modify an alert like this one with an impressions count to be sure that an ad or campaign has reached enough users to properly determine an ideal CPA.

Example: Alert me if impressions are greater than 1000 and CPA is greater than X.


  1. Getting Close to Spend Cap


This can help you monitor your budget pacing, and view the rate at which your campaigns spend. Take action before your cap is hit so that you make adjustments to achieve your performance goals.

Example: Alert me if total spend > $950 (where spend cap = $1000).


  1. Impression Share is Dropping


If your strategy includes top or absolute top impression share, this alert is for you. By receiving a notification when an ad’s impression share drops below your target, you can take the appropriate action (improve ad ranking, evaluate keywords, expand budget) before falling too far behind.

Example: Alert me if the impression share drops by more than 10%


  1. Check Keywords


If you’re testing out some new keywords for your campaigns, use this alert to monitor their performance and iterate when necessary. This alert is great for keyword strategy

Example: Alert me if CTR is less than 3% for selected keywords.


  1. Ads Not Converting


Your ads may not be converting because of audience targeting, ad copy, or user-experience on your landing page, you want to be notified about ads that don’t lead consumers to the end goal of a purchase or sign-up. This helps you save money and optimize your campaign for success.

Example: Alert me if I’ve spent more than $1000 and conversion rate is less than 10%.

Once you’ve created these alerts, you can breathe a bit easier knowing that if something dramatically shifts in a campaign, you’ll be notified and can take action immediately. Automated alerts in Marin are customizable and can be set up in just a few minutes. Schedule time with an account representative today to learn more!

These are unprecedented times. Whether you have cut your advertising costs and are making tough budgeting decisions, or are gearing yourself for an unexpected increase in traffic and conversions, the marketing programs you need today are different from what you were running last month.

According to eMarketer, 38% of US Agency and Marketing Professional’s advertising efforts have been paused until later in the year.



The answer to the question “What should I be doing now?” is going to be different for every company. We want to help you make the right decisions by asking the right questions about your business, your marketing programs, and your customers.

We’ll be joined for this conversation by Jake Renter, Chief Operating Officer for Intertwine Interactive. Jake has seen a broad range of impact across the companies he helps manage and he’ll be sharing what he’s hearing from his customers.

Together we will help you answer the ten questions that will make sure you’re continuing to get the most out of your marketing investment, including topics like:

Is my messaging correct?

It’s a sensitive time for creatives, you might need to review and refresh your existing copy and revise anything that may be misconstrued as insensitive given the current climate.

Should I change my bidding strategy?

Paid search is very measurable, the first thing you need to look at is if your conversion rate has changed? We’ll elaborate on that during the webinar but as a start, one way to save yourself a lot of time and worry as long as circumstances continue to change day by day is leveraging tech for alerts. Demand and volume shifts for products can be dramatic, swinging up or down.

Should I be reducing my budgets and how should I be spending?

First, you may want to shift budgets into those products or services that have more relevance during this national emergency. Now might be a good time to do some incrementality testing and see the impact, especially at the top of the funnel.

Are there strategic projects I can be working on that will set me up for success?

If your mandate is to essentially “keep the lights on” now may present a good time to do the deep cleaning.



Sign up today to join us on Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 at 9am PST | 5pm BST

These are challenging times. Fortunately, as a group of experienced performance marketers, we have a set of tools that we can rely on when supply and demand greatly change. Whether it is Black Friday, National Pizza Day, or the CEO emailing you a screenshot of Google search results with your ad nowhere in sight, we can help you make quick adjustments.

COVID is certainly a unique event, with no clear timeline--so how do you adapt? The answer uses the same techniques as any other promotion or event. The following list of strategies and tasks will help update your account for the current climate. Get the fundamentals right and your search campaign should stay healthy.

Campaigns


  • Automated Alerts - Performance changes daily. Receive an email from Marin showing Campaigns/Groups/Keywords that have realized a significant change in spend and conversions across all of your channels Google, Bing, Amazon, Facebook.
  • Negative Keywords - New events can trigger new searches. Ensure to keep a close eye on Search Query Reports. Marin provides your Google and Bing search query results in the same view and allows you to add negatives to both publishers at the same time. Go to the Keyword Expansion tab in Marin to view and manage.
  • Day Parting - People’s schedules have changed, which may also impact online behavior. Review recent data and implement a day-parting strategy or revisit any pre-existing bid multipliers. Marin will make a recommendation with a click of a button.
  • Scheduled Actions - New announcements are made daily, often days before they go into effect. Stay tuned into events affecting the geo locations your campaigns are opted into. Schedule the Activation or Pausing of Campaigns/Groups/Creatives.
  • Sitelinks - The most efficient way to adjust your messaging or highlight a new offering is to add a new sitelink. These can quickly be added across campaigns.
  • Budgets - Because search patterns have been changing, you might be running into budget limits on parts of your accounts. Please keep an eye on campaigns maxing out their daily budgets and make adjustments where necessary.


Bidding


Marin bidding will consider the most recent data and calculate bids for each keyword based on the recent performance performance accordingly, allowing for quick responsiveness during this volatile climate. The following detail bid strategies and features we can leverage if anticipating significant changes in performance:

  • Targets - Marin bidding will automatically adjust for changing conversion rates, but if a conversion today is not worth the same as it was yesterday, you should also consider adjusting your targets to match the current environment.
  • Boost - Set a bid multiplier across the folders. This will allow you to quickly bid down or bid up KWs in the folder while keeping your original bid in place. When the event is over, simply remove the boost and bids will return to normal. Calculate the boost by calculating the difference between the historical conversion rate by the anticipated conversion rate ((Historical CVR - Anticipated CVR)/Historical CVR).
  • Folder Forecasting - You may have been asked to reduce spend for the month or next. Marin will recommend and implement performance targets based on budget. If reducing spend, use Marin's What-If feature to input your budget and Marin will make recommendations on how to change the target and hit your target spend. You can then select "Apply Recommendations" to quickly apply those targets. This can be found in the Optimization>Select "Forecasting" slider button area.
  • Dynamic Actions - Similar to boost, a unique bid multiplier can be applied to a Campaign/Group/KW by assigning values to a Dimension and applying a bidding rule. This can be useful for making targeted adjustments on specific parts of your account without having the change your folder structure.
  • Bid Override - If there are certain keywords to be managed manually, a keyword can be placed on bid override from the key tab while the remaining keywords in the campaign or group remain on automated bidding.


In addition to all of these strategies, Marin is happy to announce our “Expert Assist” offering, providing our customers with account audits that will provide 50+ insights and health checks. Whether your marketing program has cut budgets, adjusted your headcount, is in the middle of re-evaluating your strategy, or in some cases, is seeing new trends with your sales, please consider us an extension of your team. Our decades of digital marketing experience can help you navigate through this unprecedented time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need further help!

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



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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 years now, digital marketing experts have touted the unshakeable duopoly of Google and Facebook. Now, Amazon has gatecrashed the party with its digital advertising platform’s display and sponsored ads.

With Amazon’s $900B+ market capitalization, it’s hard to name what Amazon isn’t doing these days—content and streaming video, grocery delivery, smart home hardware, and home services are simply bullet points in its all-encompassing “eCommerce” label.

How Big is the Amazon Opportunity?


The breadth of its offering indicates that Amazon is a key focal point for consumers and marketers alike, having had a projected 50% lift in advertising spend in 2018 alone. Studies are also showing anywhere from 50-60% of product searches beginning on Amazon. And, when search queries begin on any eCommerce site, those are high-intent and generally high-converting searches.

Consider these other aspects of the Amazon ecosystem:

  • Saved credit card and shipping information reduces lower-funnel, path-to-purchase friction.
  • Amazon is considered a brand-safe environment, with its primary focus on eCommerce and not user-generated content.
  • Amazon customers, and in particular Amazon Prime members, are loyal, repeat customers, maintaining that highly valuable user pool.


It’s no wonder, then, that many retail brands are eagerly optimizing their media mix to include Amazon. Just like when Facebook started boasting its 50 million daily active users in 2007, this is an important time in eCommerce and a huge opportunity for brands to get in front of this high-intent audience.

Tips for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands Ads


What makes Amazon’s Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands ads so great for seasoned biddable search media practitioners is that they both use keywords to target users. Because of this, you can bring over keyword learnings and your own skill set from other search platforms to get in front of a fresh and valuable new audience on Amazon.

However, since consumer behavior on Amazon and traditional engines differ, the way to drive maximum success is to stay aware of these differences when honing your keyword strategy—even if you don’t have years of pay-per-click experience under your belt.

The most fundamental difference with Amazon is that the majority of searches there are specific to a product (“sunscreen”) or brand (“Covergirl sunscreen”), and not informational (“should I be using sunscreen”), navigational (“drugstore”), or laden with superlatives or modifiers (“best sunscreens 2019”).

So, while “targeting relevant keywords” is a broad umbrella concept, breaking it down more granularly—and coupling this concept with the underlying mindset of Amazon searchers—will help brands achieve maximum return on their Amazon Advertising goals.

At Marin, we have a deep bench of Amazon tips to drive your success, but for starters you can try these three tactics to fine-tune your keyword strategy.

Conquest Competitively

What this means: Target keywords of your competitor brands and products.

Play offense with your keywords, and target your competitor brands and products to capture users searching for the competition. Be strategic about how you bid on your competitors’ brand versus products. A product that’s in direct competition to yours is worth a higher bid, as opposed to an entire brand that has a number of out-of-category, non-competitive products.

Protect Your Brand

What this means: Target your brand name and product name or some variation of it.

Safeguard your brand from competitors and retain loyalists. There’s a school of thought that says you can win brand terms for free through organic listings. However, dominating Amazon’s search results with your brand not only plays defense against your competitors who are likely bidding on your brand terms, but strengthens your brand with a ubiquitous presence.

Test and Harvest

What this means: See what works and run with it.

Use the remainder of your keywords to prospect and build your upper funnel. Target complementary product keywords and out-of-category keywords to grab users who are active in other, related purchase cycles.

Once you can start intelligently “targeting relevant keywords,” be vigilant about analyzing your data. Scale up your best performers while throttling back your low performers, but be mindful of external factors that could change your keyword performance over time—such as seasonality, the release of competing products, sales or promotions on other channels, or positive or negative PR.

This is just a taste of the Amazon advertising expertise that Marin can bring to your performance marketing efforts. Check out our many case studies to learn how we’ve helped clients like you succeed on Amazon (and other channels). If you’d like to see our Amazon Advertising solution in action, simply contact us and we’ll set up a short demo.

This is the second article of a three-part series on Amazon’s Sponsored Products ads. Be sure to check out our previous post on building the right structure.

What’s in a Search?


Amazon ads use keyword targeting that surfaces results based on words and phrases that customers search with. In order to make sure your ads reach the right customers at the right time, it’s important that you understand and properly leverage the targeting methods Amazon offers.

Amazon Targeting: Manual and Automatic


There are two targeting options you can use when you create an Amazon Sponsored Products campaign: manual and automatic. Manual targeting lets you apply your own keywords to the campaign. Conversely, automatic targeting doesn’t require you to input any keywords—Amazon automatically collects and targets relevant keywords for the products you want to advertise, based on the information in your product detail pages.

When to Use Manual Targeting

Manual targeting is ideal for advertisers who prefer full campaign control. It allows you to set bids at the keyword level, letting you bid more competitively on keywords that perform well. If you already know what keywords your customers search with and can supply a list, this targeting option is for you. Additionally, you can use Amazon’s suggested keywords to help inform your keyword strategies.

Note: Manual targeting is available for both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands ad types.

When to Use Automatic Targeting

Automatic targeting can be great for expanding reach beyond your existing customer base. For example, it may be perfect for an advertiser who plans to launch a product in a new category. Since you don’t have to enter keywords by yourself, it helps save time when you create a new campaign. If you’re new to the digital advertising world, this targeting option will be a great starting point for you. It also allows you to discover new keywords that generate clicks and sales.

Note: Automatic targeting is available for the Sponsored Products ad type only.

Your Customers Are “Always On”


You should leverage an always-on approach of running your campaigns with both manual and automatic targeting. Be sure to select the appropriate targeting methods for your campaign goals and products. For example, run a manual targeting campaign using high-performing keywords with best-selling products, and run an automatic campaign to launch new products.

You can use both targeting methods in concert by running an automatic targeting campaign to gain insight on what keywords generate higher clicks and sales than others, and then applying those keywords to a manual campaign and setting more competitive keyword-level bids. Diversify your targeting methods and keep optimizing your campaigns based on what you learn from the performance, so that you reach as many customers as possible, as effectively as possible.

This is a guest post from Oscar Chow, Senior Paid Search Analyst at Wheelhouse DMG.

An ongoing challenge for digital marketers is managing their paid search keywords as efficiently as possible. With the oldest accounts reaching two decades old, it’s not uncommon to find campaigns with unwieldy structures expanding over time. In this post, we’ll go over techniques that can help you optimize your keyword lists for high performance.

Give It Your Best Shot


Let's step away from marketing for a moment and share some words of wisdom from a branch manager from "The Office" who advises, "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take."



In paid search, keywords are the shots that digital marketers take. If a keyword isn’t being bid on but has relevance and conversion potential, that’s a missed opportunity. Much like a star athlete who creates the best chances for their team to score, a fundamentally sound SEM campaign will bid on keywords that have compelling ad copy matched with a high-quality landing page to generate results.

In SEM, having the right keyword in auction at the right time is still a key element to success, even with new search ad formats and campaigns assisted with machine learning becoming more commonplace. Should we keep spending on this keyword that hasn't converted? How much longer can we wait? Can spend be more productive on this group of keywords?

We've heard real concerns like this from many of our clients at one point or another. Rightfully so, the keyword list is often an area where many apply a fine-toothed comb to find opportunities that could spur growth or create efficiencies.

The Process


Let’s take a look at how we can make sense of keyword performance. To aid in the analysis, we’ll address an approach that makes headway but does have a few lurking pitfalls to be wary of. Let's look at an example.

We pull a performance report that screens out keywords that have charged spend over the past 30 days but no conversions. We can title the spreadsheet ‘Inefficient Keywords’.

For starters, we can safely mark (and later remove) keywords that went by previously unnoticed with really high spend and traffic. Obviously, these are poor performers.

As for the others with traffic here and there, doesn’t it seem prudent to remove these "bad" terms and send them to keyword purgatory as well? After all, when you add it all up, it’s a non-trivial amount of spend that didn’t lead to conversion.



But let’s be careful here—by coming to that conclusion, we’re effectively creating a low-light reel. It’s guaranteed that we’ll be disappointed from cherry picking undesirable parts of the data.

Still, it might feel compelling to X-out these keywords. However, because of low sample size and statistical noise, swinging the axe could be premature without further consideration.

To gut-check this reaction, ask the following questions:

1. Has the keyword been given enough of a chance (clicks) to perform?

“Enough of a chance” is going to vary by industry CPC and account. As a rule of thumb, the lower the value per conversion, the lower the spend tolerance should be and vice versa. Stop if the answer is "yes" on this question. You have the confidence to deem the keyword unfit.

2. If there hasn't been sufficient traffic, does performance look any better over a longer period of time?

Time doesn't only heal all wounds—a conversion could be tucked away right outside your set time frame. While you shouldn’t make exceptions common, it’s probably okay to keep a keyword that’s been productive in the past, especially if the window is arbitrary.

3. Would a few conversions drastically improve the keyword's results?

There might be a few keywords on the cusp that would go from stinker to star with just two to three conversions. Keywords with low sample sizes often see high volatility over short time frames because one conversion can drastically skew their conversion rate.

Troubleshooting through these questions should inform whether keeping a keyword active or paused is the right move.

The Solution


To make this type of keyword analysis more scalable, Marin comes built-in with a proactive solution to managing low volume terms—the Dimensions tool. Dimensions allow campaigns and ad groups to be categorized based on intent. The dimensions can span multiple campaigns, allowing for more data aggregation.

Great categorization has three elements:

  • Consistent definitions
  • A depth of attributes for each dimension
  • A breadth of dimensions that encompass the account


Marin’s offering provides all three. Adding descriptive meta-data allows you to cluster low-volume data points into a more representative group, providing a powerful way to make better decisions about keywords on a programmatic scale. In simple terms, we can still make smart decisions with less information than we’d ideally have. Here’s an example of ways you can categorize a long tail, typically low-volume keyword into dimensions to provide more clarity around its value:



Grouping keywords into meaningful clusters, these customizable, client-specific dimensions give us more data to judge. The keyword [garden pruners with 1 inch cutting capacity] may have only spent $10 and not driven any orders over the past 30 days, making it difficult to value. However, if we look at other pruner keywords with no brand name, that have intent for use at home, we can aggregate much more data and assign a relevant bid to this very specific long tail keyword.

Closing Thoughts


The strongest SEM keyword campaigns use practices that put keywords in positions to succeed. You should frequently evaluate your keywords for their ability to be productive at driving results. From time to time, making decisions at the keyword level is warranted to maintain or achieve peak performance. These decisions are best backed by data-driven practices.

This is a guest post by Stephanie Hyland, Search Content Specialist at Intertwine Interactive.

What time is it? Where is the closest movie theater? How many ounces are in a gallon? Regardless of what you may be looking for or wondering about, consumers of all ages are now turning to voice searches for information instead of physically typing their query into a search engine.

“We weren’t surprised to find that teens—always ahead of the curve when it comes to new technology—talk to their phones more than the average adult,” according to voice search survey Google conducted in 2014. “More than half of teens (13-18) use voice search daily—to them it’s as natural as checking social media or taking selfies. Adults are also getting the hang of it, with 41 percent talking to their phones every day and 56 percent admitting it makes them feel tech savvy.”

With more and more people using this hands-free type of search method to find what they’re looking for online, how do SEO experts stay on top of this growing trend? With the voice search method only gaining popularity, the SEO industry has to now look outside text-based search queries and start thinking along the lines of making everything more conversational.

Here are four tips that are important to consider if you want to continue to appeal to those who are looking for quick information in a more conversational tone.

1) Focus on Long Tail Keywords



Since many consumers don’t articulate in the same way when they use voice search as they do when they physically type a query into a search box, it’s important to focus on natural phrases. By making these long tail keywords more conversational, they’ll be found easier when a consumer’s using voice search to find a particular service, product, or location.

2) Become Familiar With Schema Markup



To make sure you’re as successful as you can possibly be in your particular industry or product promotion, be sure you’re well-versed with schema markup. Schema markup is a powerful SEO tool. This semantic vocabulary, when applied to your website, will index all of the information and will help search engines return the most useful results to the consumer.

Being familiar with this HTML add-on will help search engines make sense of the context of your content. If you have high-quality content that can be easily interpreted, you’ll not only rank better in traditional searches, but it’ll also help your content be recognized as a reliable source through a voice search.

3) Be Sure to Optimize Your Website’s Microdata



When consumers are using voice searches, they’re typically looking for a quick answer, such as directions or how close they are to a particular product or service. Be sure to optimize your website’s microdata by ensuring that information such as the address and directions to your location are accurate. If this information isn’t correct on your website, you run the risk of not showing up within search results and missing out on potential business opportunities.

4) Create Useful FAQs Pages



When consumers are using voice search to ask general questions, they’re typically framing their questions with “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” or “how.” In order to stay competitive within the search results for such requests, create or adjust your FAQ pages to be more conversational. By framing your FAQ pages in a more conversational tone, it’ll help your content show up as a reliable source within a voice search.

With advancements being made every day with voice search technology, consumers should expect to see new and improved aspects of this search method over the next few years.

“Though it’s already helping a lot of people save time and simplify their days, there’s also potential for voice search to do a lot more in the future,” according to the Google post.

To learn more about voice search technology, see Intertwine’s blog post that compares voice search and traditional search.

If you’ve stayed up to date with Google Shopping optimization techniques, you may already be doing a stellar job of creating effective and engaging campaigns. But, are you covering all bases to ensure the highest possible yields? Here are three tips and strategies to fine-tune your efforts.

1. Ensure Your Products Include Ratings


plas



One of the most effective ways to make your product listings stand out is to enrich them with product star ratings. This will add to your brand’s credibility and help attract qualified visitors.

In order for your ads to be eligible to show ratings, you must have a minimum of 50 reviews across all of your products and an individual product must have at least three reviews. You can source these ratings from a number of different review aggregator sites. If your products meet these requirements, you must then send an interest form to Google in order to enable ratings.

The fact is, as survey research indicates, customer reviews factor heavily into consumer buying decisions in this increasingly competitive online shopping landscape. Make sure your products are equipped to keep up.

2. Include Unique Product Identifiers


In 2016, Google instituted the requirement that all Merchant Center products that have a manufacturer-assigned GTIN must have them included in their data feed. According to Google, this decision was made because including GTINs helps them to better identify the product, and therefore to better facilitate the delivery of ads for those products in more relevant ways to users.

While this requirement was only put in place for products with GTINs, the logic still applies for including other types of unique product identifiers that aren’t included under that umbrella term such as MPN (Manufacturer Part Number) and Brand. So, if the products you’re selling use any such identifiers, from a performance standpoint it makes sense to include them in your product feed. In fact, as part of their rationale, Google notes that merchants who added GTINs to their feeds saw conversion rates increase up to 20%.

3. Silo Shopping Campaigns Based on Intent


In a previous post about optimizing shopping campaigns, we emphasized the importance of using negative keywords to filter out unqualified traffic. But you can also use negatives, combined with campaign priority settings, to create intent-targeted campaigns with what is sometimes referred to as a negative keyword “waterfall.”

Here’s the idea:

With our standard search campaigns, we can actively bid on keywords to aid in our Shopping campaign targeting and adjust bids according to each keyword’s level of search intent. Not so with actual Shopping campaigns—but there’s a great workaround. We can instead rely on keyword negatives, and take advantage of the Shopping campaign priority setting to funnel search queries to trigger ads from the campaigns of our choosing. In this way, we can effectively set optimal bids on our products based on search intent.

We start by setting up multiple, identical campaigns in which the only differences will end up being their negative keyword inventory, campaign priority settings, and bids. Since there are three campaign priority settings (High, Medium, and Low) we can break out up to three campaigns, each of which will correspond to different levels of intent.

The campaign priority setting works such that whenever you have products across campaigns that can be triggered by the same search query, the product whose campaign has the higher priority will be shown, regardless of their bids. This is where strategically added negatives come in, as this would otherwise result in only the High Priority campaign delivering ads. These negatives will correspond to different levels of intent and, since we’ve designated three levels of campaign priority, we’ll also need to designate three levels of keyword intent to our negatives. Just like we do when we structure our traditional search campaigns, let’s think of these levels of intent in degrees of specificity—we’ll call them generic (e.g. “shoes”), product (“running shoes”), and brand (“Nike shoes”).

The campaigns should end up looking and functioning like this:

  • The high-priority campaign will be designated, inversely, as the Low Intent campaign. This will contain negative keywords that include both the product and brand levels of specificity. This campaign will therefore only be triggered on generic search queries. Accordingly, we want to set bids low on these products since we expect these search queries to have the lowest conversion rate.
  • The medium-priority campaign will be designated as the Brand Intent campaign. This one will contain negative keywords that include only the product level of specificity. This campaign will therefore be triggered on branded search queries with product-level queries excluded and because the generic keywords will be captured by Low Intent campaign due to priority. The bid level on these will depend on whether the brand is your own (in which case, keep bids low as you’ll already have an advantage) or not (in which case, bids should be set higher as there will likely be more competition).
  • The low-priority campaign will be designated, inversely, as the High Intent campaign. This one will contain no “waterfall” negatives (only negatives for filtering out unqualified traffic). This campaign will therefore be triggered on product-level queries only since the and brand and generic queries will be captured by the higher-priority campaigns. The bid level on these should be set higher since they describe a specific product.


More and more advertisers making use of PLAs in their digital marketing programs with increasingly sophisticated technologies like feed management tools and bidding automation. It’s more important than ever to make sure that yours are able to stand up to the competition.

This is a guest post from Laura Stiles, Manager of Digital Advertising at Wheelhouse DMG.

Did You Know


According to the National Retail Federation, by October, 55% of consumers will have already begun researching their holiday purchases. So, if you’ve been scouring the internet looking for new strategies to adopt this holiday season, look no further—now is not the time to change your SEM strategy.

The most successful clients during holiday are the ones who do the same thing they’ve been doing all year, only bigger. Spend more money, get more clicks, see more orders and higher revenue, but do it the same way you’ve been doing all year.

If you’re not sure you can plan and execute a mobile-only PPC strategy this season, then don’t! If you don’t think you have time to flesh out a new shopping campaign structure before Cyber Week, don’t! Save testing for Q1, when the stakes aren’t so high (more on that in the coming months). Use your tried-and-true methods on a larger scale, and I’m willing to bet money you’ll see great results.

Holiday Prep List


All this is not to say you shouldn’t be investing time now to prep for the holidays. Even though I’m suggesting you shouldn’t change your strategy, here are a few steps to ensure this holiday will be your most effective yet.

Check Your Keyword List Twice

  • Ask yourself, is there any new merchandise coming in for the holidays or gifting this season? If so, do we have keyword coverage for these brands or products?
  • Secondly, what key products were popular this time last year? Do you have expansive coverage around them?
  • Finally, once your keyword coverage is in place, are the keywords above first-page minimums so they’re eligible to show ads?
  • Pro-tip: Avoid generic gift keywords (gifts for mom, Christmas present, etc.) unless you have significant budget to spend with low ROAS goals. These terms get very expensive (high CPCs) around the holidays and don’t have specific intent (low conversion rate).


Shopping Campaign ‘Til You Drop

  • As you bid up on your product groups this holiday season, do you know what kinds of search queries you’re receiving? Scan Search Query Logs, and add negatives for any irrelevant traffic that may spike when you increase bids on your popular product targets.
  • Make sure you’re separating your trademark traffic utilizing engine priority settings. Need a refresher on how this works? Check out our Shopping structure post.
  • Pro-tip: Optimize your feed with relevant titles and descriptions. Is your “Gingerbread Birdhouse” a great gift for bird watchers? Add “Bird Watcher Gift” to your product title to help the engines match a user’s intent to your perfect product.


Make Your Message Jolly and Bright

  • There are lots of ways to make your copy stand out. Experiment with countdown copy and IF statements that target user device or audience segments to make your message super-targeted.
  • If you’re using the new AdWords UI, then you have access to Promotion Extensions. This feature allows you to add Black Friday and Cyber Monday specific extensions to your ads.
search ads
  • Pro-tip: If you have physical locations, use ad copy or extensions to promote extended hours to help drive users in-store this season.


Invest Early

  • Shoppers start researching early for purchases they plan to make on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Make sure you’re allocating budget to days based on click date revenue per click, as opposed to purchase date.
  • Don’t rely on your existing time of day or day of week rules through Cyber Week. Keep in mind shoppers may be searching at odd times (like 3am on Black Friday while they’re in line at Best Buy) and your current bid pullbacks may cause you to miss good opportunities.
  • Pro-tip: Use the custom holiday audiences you hopefully created from converters this time last year to retarget as they shop this holiday season.


search ads



As you prepare, ensure the best practices you’ve been refining all year are in place, and don’t change your overall approach. Happy (almost) holidays!

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.

Conclusion


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.

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.

Conclusion



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.

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
net-loss.

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.

Evolution


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.

This is a guest post from Jacob Ehrnstein, Search Account Manager at 3Q Digital.

One of the search marketer’s best weapons is a Dynamic Search campaign. As you may or may not know, Dynamic Search campaigns rely not on keywords for targeting, but instead use your site’s content to create and target your ads based on a user’s search behavior.

There are many great things about Dynamic Search campaigns. First off, you can be precise about the scope of the pages that you target from your site. And, even more interesting and useful, there’s the Dynamic Search Ad (DSA).

A Powerful, Automated Tool for Ad Creation



With Dynamic Search campaigns, Google dynamically generates a portion of the ad. For DSAs, you don’t provide a static headline—rather, Google dynamically generates it for you. As Google states, “The headline is dynamically created from each matching phrase entered in Google Search, and from the title of the most relevant landing page used for the ad.”

dsa-example



Additionally, Google states that “Dynamic Search Ads can have longer headlines than other search ads, which improves their visibility.”

A Nitty-Gritty Test of Dynamic Headlines



That all sounds great. But, what does a search marketer need to know to make best use of DSAs? For instance, how long are dynamic headlines? And, how often does a user’s search match the headline, or the headline match a user’s search or the title tag?

To answer the question of DSA headline length, I looked at the results of DSA campaigns targeting nearly 20,000 unique pages, with unique content that generated nearly 400,000 queries.

I broke the results into three areas:

  • Headline length
  • CTR analysis based on headline length
  • Source of dynamic headline


Let’s dive in.

Headline Length of Dynamic Search Ads

When looking at the headline length, I broke out the analysis into three categories, and here’s what surfaced for each category:

  • Shorter than standard text ads: 8% of the headlines generated
  • Longer than standard text ads, but shorter than the combined length of expanded text ad headlines: 60% of the headlines
  • Longer then expanded text ads combined headlines: 32% of the headlines


The lengthiest headline I found was 90 characters long. This appears to be the longest that a dynamic search ad headline can be.





























Number of ImpressionsHeadline LengthPercent of Impressions12,448,010Total Number of DSA Impressions100%1,009,327Headline Length < 25 Characters8%7,504,566Headline Length > 25 Characters and < 61 Characters60%3,934,117Headline Length > 60 Characters32%


CTR Analysis

Next, I looked at the click-through rate (CTR) by headline length to see if there was a correlation between the length of the dynamic headline and the CTR.
























Headline LengthCTRTotal Number of DSA Impressions11.44%Headline Length < 25 Characters12.12%Headline Length > 25 Characters and < 61 Characters11.21%Headline Length > 61 Characters11.70%


While it doesn’t appear that having longer headlines necessarily yields you the highest CTR, one segment that outperformed the rest was when the character length exceeded 70 characters.















Headline LengthPercent of ImpressionsCTRHeadline Length > 70 Characters11%18.81%


So, the true efficiencies appear to happen when you’ve far exceeded the normal ad headline length. Even Google’s Expanded Text Ads, with its new combined headlines, would max out at 60 characters.

The data here shows that as the headline moves into this longer territory, the CTR shoots up. This may be because when an ad gets this long, it blends in more with organic results (which have a character limit of around 77 characters).

Dynamic Headline Source

Last, I looked at the source of the headline for the Dynamic Search Ad. Google documentation states that the headline will either come from the headline of the page or the keyword, but I wanted to know what percentage of the time either situation happens. Here’s what I found:











Percent of Headlines that Match Title Tag60%Percent of Headlines that Are Variations of Keyword Searched40%


Here, 60% of the time the dynamic headlines exactly matched the title tag. What this means—if you’re going to be a heavy user of Dynamic Search Ads, it’s best to pay close attention to the pages being targeted and ensure the title tags on those pages are high-quality. Keep in mind that other variables—such as description lines and the pages being targeted—play into the performance of the ads I’ve analyzed.

Hopefully, this information helps you better understand your Dynamic Search Ads and how to improve their performance. Here’s to successful campaigns.

In PPC, there are two main approaches when it comes to bidding workflow—manual and automated. Over the years, there’s been debate among search marketers on the pros and cons of each approach. Search marketers have differing opinions on which yields the best outcomes.

The Great Manual Versus Automated Debate


One of the main arguments in favor of manual bidding focuses on the control that it affords the search marketer, in contrast to the hands-off nature of automated bidding inherent with publisher bidding—like AdWords “Smart” bidding and most (but not all) 3rd party proprietary bidding algorithms.

In nearly all automated bidding approaches, the search marketer sets a goal and the bidding algorithm reviews historical performance, and then calculates a bid with limited transparency from start to finish.

The apprehension some search marketers feel towards automated bidding derives from the opaque nature inherent in most approaches. This fear is realized when a campaign is underperforming, and the search marketer becomes at a loss for what’s amiss, or how to improve it.

Putting that fear aside, let’s reflect on the many benefits of automated bidding, which is the reason for its proliferation.

Here are just a few.

Efficiency

Automated bid management is a huge time saver. Think about it—how long would it take you to manually change a million keyword bids? How confident would you be that each bid is optimized to maximize your return?

If you’re being honest with yourself, the answers to those questions should naturally steer you towards automation as the optimal solution. Automation augments the search marketer by executing repetitive tasks, serving as an ‘enabler’ for the search marketer to focus on growth opportunities or account strategy while keeping tabs on daily performance.

Accuracy

Automated bid management platforms produce accurate bids through regression modeling that looks backwards to predict future outcomes. With millions of dollars at stake, these algorithms are typically built with risk aversion at their core to produce low error rates. By their very nature, they make changes at scale that’s quite literally impossible for any individual, or even team, to compete with.

The reality is, sophisticated marketers with material budget use an algorithm to bid on their media today. If you aren’t, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Flexibility

Automated bid management platforms allow advertisers to define the goals and milestones for the algorithm to work towards. The marketer remains the operator and the brains of the operation, with the bidding algorithm working as his proxy.

Machine Learning

Learning from massive datasets to create better future outcomes is at the heart of bidding algorithms. Today, this type of mathematical analysis is popularly called “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence.” Most ad tech companies have years of experience with these techniques, but largely fly under the radar in popular press, with newfangled applications like self-driving cars getting the headline coverage.

So, how do you get the best of both worlds? Simple—employ automated bidding with full transparency. That’s not an oxymoron. That’s a real thing offered by a few leading independent marketing partners (not to toot our own horn, but Marin Software is one such example).

What’s in a Fully Transparent Bidding Solution?


Fully transparent bidding solutions (i.e., the bidding system shows you the step-by-step logic of the bidding algorithm) allow users to see all the details behind their bid calculations for each keyword. This includes the bidding model(s) employed, the details of the dataset used, performance bumpers activated, and any other pertinent details behind the decision-making. If automated bidding is fully transparent, many of the arguments opposed to automated bidding lose their heft.

Information Available in a “Fully Transparent” Bidding Solution

The level of information available for each keyword in a “fully transparent” bidding solution varies. That said, at Marin Software, we show the logic of our algorithms “line by line,” which allows users to see a full breakdown of bidding decisions, including:

  • Date ranges and data sets used
  • Metrics used
  • Predicted metrics
  • Auction and volume models
  • Data blending
  • Bid headroom
  • Learning models
  • How the optimized bids are calculated
  • External rules applied
  • Excluded dates and thresholds
  • Existing bid
  • Final calculated bid
  • Constraints on the algorithm


Contrast this to the information displayed in a “black box” bidding solution:

  • Existing bid
  • Final calculated bid (sometimes this is obscured, too)
  • User-defined bid rules


Clarity and Confidence in Transparent Automated Bidding


Fully transparent bidding solutions allow PPC managers to review the logic used to reach a bidding conclusion. In addition, the search manager has the option to overlay bidding rules to ensure the algorithm behavior is consistent with their risk tolerance and strategy to hit certain goals and milestones.

The best fully transparent bidding solutions also allow you to preview bidding calculations before they’re pushed to publishers, and manually override bids on specific keywords if needed. This gives PPC managers the full control of manual bidding with all the time saving, efficiency, and data processing power of automated algorithms.

If automated bidding isn’t currently part of your strategy, we hope this post helps break down the nuances of different approaches. Although it also explains the pros and cons, it advances the argument that if you aren’t using a transparent bidding algorithm in today’s environment, you’re hamstringing yourself, because it’s near-certain that your competitors are employing an automated method of bidding to try and out-compete you. If you’d like to learn more about Marin Software’s approach to bidding, click here.

With school out and warm weather in, we traditionally think of the summer months as the best time to take a vacation. However, is it actually prime time for search advertisers to ramp up their ad campaigns?

To answer this question and others, we took a look at travel advertisers on Google and Bing. We examined 2014 and 2015 to locate any trends in advertiser spend and performance for the travel vertical across quarters, and to assess the state of consumer behavior. Google and Bing dominate the global search market, which made them ideal for our study—other search publishers have regional presence at best, so they were excluded.

We found a few interesting things:

  • Summer searches, but fall clicks. Although, on average, consumers searched for travel terms (flights, lodging, auto rentals, etc.) almost 20% more during summer than winter, clicks on travel-related searches didn’t peak in summer as expected. Instead, their highest point was in autumn, right after the summer months.
  • The great smartphone migration. Over the past two years, travel advertisers have steadily shifted spend away from desktop and tablet towards smartphone. While smartphone made up under 10% of search spend in early 2014, by end of 2015, that number grew to almost 30% of all search budgets.
  • Native is restless. The travel ad format that’s seen significant growth is native advertising via channels such as Yahoo! Gemini. Starting in late 2014, investment growth in native ads by travel companies grew almost 5x by mid to late 2015. While this format is one of the newer ones, it’s been growing consistently in both advertiser and consumer adoption over the past year.


For more great information on search advertising in the travel industry—including cross-device performance data and campaign recommendations—download The State of Travel Search Advertising: Trends, Formats, and Paths to Success.

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

One of the reasons advertisers choose the Marin platform is for the flexibility it provides. It grants advertisers the ability to track conversions through the standard publishers (Google, Bing, Gemini), via Marin’s own platform tracking, or by importing conversion goals from Google Analytics. Each method of counting conversions has benefits and should be considered when you’re first setting up on the account.

If you have multiple conversion actions, one method I believe is very powerful and should be considered is integrating Google Analytics and Marin.

Who Should Consider This?


While this type of account setup could benefit most advertisers, those who judge performance based on the revenue or goal completions reported in Google Analytics—over publisher metrics—will find this setup most useful. The reason is that Google Analytics aligns publisher performance metrics (clicks, impressions, etc.) with the goals that impact your business the most.

I personally manage an ecommerce client that likes to monitor publisher conversions and reported revenue, but primarily cares about driving transactions and revenue as reported in Analytics. So, setting up my Marin account to import this data from Analytics allows me to look at total performance as it matters to my client and build a strategy based on the bottom-line numbers.

Bidding


As you may have guessed, the biggest benefit to importing this data is in bidding. Revenue and conversions can be tracked from Google Analytics back to the keyword level from each publisher platform. With this data now imported into Marin, any bidding folders you have in place are now able to execute bid adjustments based on the data that’s most valuable to your business. This makes their adjustments more accurate than if they were based on the reported revenue data from any publisher platform alone.

Setup


To make Marin integration with Google Analytics simple, a Setup Wizard guides you through the process. To set up the wizard, go to the Admin tab, and click the Revenue sub-tab.

01-admin



From the RevenueTracking setting, select Google Analytics.

02-revenuesettings



If you’d like to use the imported goal to be added to the platform, select the Bidding Eligible box. Before moving forward with this option, be sure the Google Analytics goals are reporting correctly.

03-googleanalytics



Granularity and accuracy are key for all advertisers and particularly critical in high season. If you’re an ecommerce advertiser heading into Q4, put this strategy into play ASAP, test, and refine as needed. Good luck!

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

Digital marketers love automation. No secret there. With as many different target markets and key metrics as we have to monitor, any rules or reports that we can automate to save a few minutes here and there add up over time and help us breath easier.

Bidding is one area that’s seen great improvements in automated technology. There are tons of new strategies and technologies to implement automated bidding (with Marin’s bidding folders being a fantastic option).

That said, there are times when you still need to roll up your sleeves, get a little dirty, and crank out some manual adjustments. To make that process less stressful, here are four tips for getting the most out of your manual bid adjustments.

1. Use Consistent Date Ranges


Generally speaking, I make adjustments once a week using a seven-day lookback period. This allows me to view keyword performance since the last time I made adjustments and see if the adjustment had the desired effect. If I happen to make large-scale adjustments in between those two seven-day periods, I pull my data from the date of the last adjustment.

DateRanges



The purpose of using consistent date ranges and pulling from the date of the last adjustment is to keep your data "clean." If you're making multiple adjustments and using inconsistent date ranges, it makes it much more difficult, if not impossible, to understand how certain adjustments affect keyword performance.

This is because you’re viewing data from both before and after the last keyword adjustments. Ultimately, you could end up pushing your bids too far up or down and not achieve the CPA you want. So, for simplicity, keep your date ranges consistent and make sure there’s little overlap.

2. Don't Increase Bids for Top Position Keywords


This is very simple: don’t boost bids for keywords in the top position. When bidding, it's better to boost keywords in lower positions than keywords at the top, because only the former will lead to increased impression volume. Raising the bids for top positions will only increase costs, not improve performance.

3. Keep High Quality Score Keywords Competitive


Once, I worked with an ecommerce client who had struggled for some time to get non-brand search CPA and conversion volume. Their account wasn’t helped by the multiple budget-capped, non-brand campaigns this client had active.

After some thought, I decided to increase all non-brand keywords with quality scores (QS) of 9 or 10 while pausing low-QS keywords. I especially pushed those keywords that had been struggling with below-first-page bids. As a result of the adjustments, non-brand conversion volume took off.

QualScore



Why? Well, Google wants to serve keywords with high QS. Therefore, when I pushed up the bids for my top QS keywords, impressions greatly increased even though I paused a ton of poor keywords that were eating up spend. Not every top QS keyword will be a home run, but make sure the bids for these terms are always competitive and that low QS terms don't make up the bulk of your spend.

4. Check for Bleeders


Bleeders are keywords that have little spend on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, but add up to large costs over time. Because of this limited spend, the bids for these keywords are often left unchanged during normal bid adjustments. If left unchecked, these can cause CPC/CPA to stagnate. Every so often, use an extended lookback period to identify and bid down or pause bleeders.

With just a few adjustments, you can be on your way to improved performance and more clicks. Happy manual bidding!

What’s the saying? There is no rest for the weary? Just when it feels like summer’s just begun, it’s already time to switch up your marketing campaigns for back-to-school shoppers.

According to Google Trends, interest in “Back to school” is on the rise since early June. But summer isn’t over yet, which makes this the perfect time to take advantage of this level of interest before we hit peak season.

Here are the top 6 things to make sure you check off your list to ensure you’re prepared for this year’s back-to-school season:

Understand your competition.


Don’t be so quick to start changing bids. A little research on your competitors goes a long way. Identify the gaps and move quickly on those opportunities. Look for top and direct competitor ads, and don’t forget online tools that can assist in finding out what competitors are doing with keyword bids. We recommend arming yourself with competitive information now so that your account is prepared for the next big retail shopping season.

Target back-to-school focused search queries.


Most back-to-school shoppers include parents and college students—as they prepare for back to school, they’re also searching online for deals. Marketers can benefit from this by creating campaigns that are focused specifically on back-to-school keywords and deal searches. Some examples of this are:

  • back to school supplies
  • back to school sales
  • cheap school supplies


Be sure to give these campaigns a healthy budget, plus either an end date or a scheduled pause to ensure they don’t continue to run post-season.

Create relevant, compelling ad copy and landing pages.


Parents and college students are often price conscious, but also want the products they purchase to last. Also, shoppers are often looking for sales to save money. Marketers should focus their ad copy around these consumer needs to incentivize shoppers to click their ads.

If a consumer doesn’t see a phrase that indicates there may be a good deal on the landing page that comes after their click, they may select a competitor instead. Helpful phrases include the obvious “back to school,” but also things like:

  • sale
  • clearance
  • an additional X% off
  • durable
  • lasting
  • all school year long


And more. We suggest using discount-focused terms for smaller ticket items like colored pencils, and durability-focused terms for larger ticket items like backpacks and athletic shoes.

Put together a bidding strategy


Make sure your strategy is informed by previous years’ data and this year’s goals. This also goes in line with understanding your competition, as we mentioned earlier. Take note of when the cost-per-click in your campaigns rose last year, and by how much, and adjust bids accordingly to ensure you’re pacing well with market demands throughout the season.

Don’t forget to include your shopping campaigns in your bidding strategy planning as well, especially for larger ticket items. Many consumers do a lot of research on items such as backpacks prior to making a decision, and may choose to purchase these items online in order to get exactly what they want.

Stay top of mind using retargeting.


Retargeting is another area where you may be able to better keep the attention of consumers who do a lot of price comparison shopping before making a purchase. Create a separate retargeting campaign specific to, again, higher-dollar items such as backpacks and athletic shoes, targeting users for several days after viewing your product.

When creating these retargeting ads, we recommend showing the products viewed previously in the ad, and potentially offering a coupon code to incentivize the consumer to purchase this product from your business specifically.

Remember mobile!


Parent and student purchase decisions are heavily influenced by mobile. According to Google, in 2014 over 40% of back-to-school searches were done via mobile devices. These searches are typically performed on the go by busy parents and students trying to get back-to-school shopping done in between all the other things they need to do.

What are these roving shoppers doing? They're performing price comparisons, checking product availability, and searching for the closest store to their current location to sneak in a quick trip and check items off their list. You can capitalize on this by using location extensions and prominently displaying inventory availability for products at nearby stores on their easy-to-navigate mobile site.

If you’re strapped for time and can’t roll out a new back-to-school strategy, keep this checklist on hand, since these best practices are also applicable during the holiday shopping season. Want to learn more? Join the Center of Excellence for our back-to-school webinar on Thursday, July 21st!

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

By now, you’ve heard about Google's Expanded Text Ads. This is big news for search engine marketers. Initial Google reports cite click-through rate increases of up to 20% for some advertisers. With more than nine billion ads impacted by Google’s change, a massive amount of copywriting is required to adapt.

All advertisers will have to react quickly, and spend more marketing dollars to adjust and profit—or else miss out on a huge opportunity. What can you do now?

Start planning early


Advertisers who move fast and adapt to the new format stand to benefit in two ways:

  • Leveraging the additional creative real estate allows you to weave in new messages as you communicate to your customers, resulting in more clicks and purchases.
  • Ads in the new format will look more aesthetically appealing, compared to the older ads that advertisers who don’t switch over will have to settle for.


Don’t rely on the traditional methods


The new format allows for an extra headline with more characters, a longer description line, and a customizable URL. Don’t waste the extra space by employing Excel spreadsheets or ad templates to update ads. The traditional methods won’t work for a seminal shift of this scope.

Mashing description lines one and two together will leave you with a confusing and disparate message. Most advertisers write the two lines of text as separate ideas, and when they’re pushed together, they don’t flow as a logical and cohesive message.

Where to go from here


Advertisers need a solution that makes it possible to write and rewrite ads in the new format with speed, quality, and scale. Through an exclusive partnership with Boost Media, Marin Software has an automated tool that can rewrite your ads to be ETA-compatible. If you’d like to get up and running on ETA ads today, you can get started here.


About the Author


sarah

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

About Boost Media


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

Google has made a historic change to its creative format with the introduction of a mobile optimized format called “Expanded Text Ads” (ETA). In this post, we provide information to help you understand what’s changing, why it’s a positive thing, and how to automatically make your existing ads ETA-compatible. (Pro tip: Skip to the end of this article if that last point is what you’re after.)

What Are Expanded Text Ads?


Expanded Text Ads are a mobile-optimized ad-format designed to maximize an advertiser's performance in mobile search results. This is accomplished by providing the advertiser significantly more ad copy to highlight their product or service. Expanded Text Ads also apply to desktop search results.

This change is a big deal because it’s a fundamental shift away from the legacy AdWords text ad format that’s existed for well over a decade. As such, this change will require every AdWords advertiser to rewrite their ads to be ETA-compatible. To learn how to automatically do this, skip ahead to the end of this post.

What’s Changing, Exactly?


Advertisers now have two headlines instead of one, and these headlines are joined with a hyphen. The good news – this copy expansion allows ads to occupy 50% more space on the search results page. Early results indicate that this increased presence improves CTR, which makes sense when you compare the old format (left) to the new format (right):

ETAs



Here are the nitty-gritty details:

  • Headline 1 and headline 2 are 30 characters each. This is a 240% increase over legacy text ads, which historically had just one headline and a 25-character maximum.
  • For the description line, the character count is also increasing. Instead of two 35-character description lines, there’s just one that’s 80 characters.
  • The display URL will now be automatically extracted from your destination URL. You can set up to two path fields like “golf” and “shoes”.


As marketers, we’re excited by all of these updates, and think that the addition of a new headline is only going to help performance, especially in a mobile world.

A Positive Change, for Multiple Reasons


Why is this change a net-positive for advertisers?

  • You gain a new, second headline.
  • More characters for longer messaging increase the odds of connecting with your target audience.
  • We’re seeing better overall performance in our early results.


Why is Google Making This Change?


A couple of obvious questions are: Why is Google making this change? And why now?

The short answer: Consumers have shifted to mobile as their primary method of accessing the Internet. And, advertising dollars are following in rapid succession. eMarketer estimates that in 2016, over 60% of all digital advertising spend will go to mobile. It’s also expected that mobile will continue to gobble up market share through 2020.

Google is staying ahead of this trend by shifting to mobile-optimized ads, which is consistent with the elimination of right-hand ads back in February. In the next 12-24 months, we should see more mobile-centric changes from all major publishers, as they train their attention on perfecting mobile monetization.

How Can I Automatically Make My Ads ETA-Compatible?



Stay tuned for more details, insights, and data as we continue to report on Expanded Text Ads.

A few months ago, Google veered course from how it’s historically served desktop ads. Right-hand ads were removed, while a fourth ad slot was added above the organic search results. This change aligned mobile and desktop search results, and is regarded as Google’s acknowledgement that mobile search — not desktop — is key to the company’s continued growth and success.

Google’s Initial Response


Last month, Google’s new CEO, Sundar Pichai, penned Google’s annual Founders Letter. His opening two paragraphs reinforce the importance of mobile to Google’s mission:

"When Larry and Sergey founded Google in 1998, there were about 300 million people online. By and large, they were sitting in a chair, logging on to a desktop machine, typing searches on a big keyboard connected to a big, bulky monitor. Today, that number is around 3 billion people, many of them searching for information on tiny devices they carry with them wherever they go.

In many ways, the founding mission of Google back in ’98 — 'to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful' — is even truer and more important to tackle today, in a world where people look to their devices to help organize their day, get them from one place to another, and keep in touch. The mobile phone really has become the remote control for our daily lives, and we’re communicating, consuming, educating, and entertaining ourselves, on our phones, in ways unimaginable just a few years ago."


For a visual representation of this shift, Andressen Horowitz put together this great chart:

Horowitz Chart


Our Initial Reactions


When news of Google’s ad format change broke in mid-February, we offered our first reactions in a post titled, “Google’s New Ad Layout: Pros, Cons, Ins, Outs.” Our hypothesis used basic economic principles to argue that with tightened supply and constant demand, the average CPC could increase for some advertisers.

Secondly, we predicted that with fewer distractions (e.g., right-hand rail ads), advertisers with a strong product-market fit —typically in positions 1 through 3 —would have an easier time connecting with current and future customers.

What Does the Data Say About Google’s Ad Layout?


Now that some time has passed, we decided to take a look at our dataset — the Marin Global Online Advertising Index — to confirm or reject our early predictions. For this blog post, we compared performance immediately before, and immediately after, the changes went into effect.

The results were interesting. We’ll start by laying out the findings and then provide some closing thoughts.

Positions 1-3 saw little change in competition, as CPCs on these top positions declined marginally for the period. The slight dip in CPCs may be attributable to the increase in consumer propensity to click on these top positions without the distraction of ads on the right rail. This is consistent with our prediction that fewer distractions would yield better brand engagement.

Meanwhile, click-through rates (CTR) for positions 1 and 2 were largely flat, while CTR for 3 and 4 increased by +10% and +13%, respectively. Movements in positions 5 and 6 were particularly noteworthy. Position 5 had significant increases in CTR +10% and CPC +6%, while position 6 had material declines in CTR -20%, yet CPC increased marginally.

An Analysis of Our Predictions


So, how did our predictions stack up?

We were delighted to see economic theory in action (and our hypothesis confirmed) with observed CPCs increasing on tightened supply, and the revised layout of prime real estate favoring established brands.

In this new frontier, positions 4 to 5 appear to be the proving ground for new market entrants. Our secondary hypothesis — that less distraction would increase advertisers’ ability to connect with their (potential) customers — played out by the significantly higher engagement rate on top ad slots.

Other useful takeaways from this analysis pertain to advertisers fighting for position in the lower ad slots. In particular, position 6 appears to be a questionable strategy given the significantly lower engagement rate, while position 4 and position 5 are clearly the most competitive positions for advertisers who don’t have the quality score or brand recognition to lock in the top positions.

The Bottom Line


These results provide a teaser of things to come. As mentioned, we’re looking at two small datasets to give you a quick pulse on the immediate before and after results. Check back for future follow-up posts, as we dig deeper into the Marin Software Online Advertising Index to understand the more nuanced effects of Google’s ad format change on particular industries and geographies.

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

When you sign up to be a search account manager, you’re making the decision to test yourself to find new strategies for account growth. Whenever identifying growth opportunities becomes challenging, a strategy I rely on is launching Dynamic Search campaigns.

If you’re unfamiliar – Dynamic Search Ads match your ads to search queries based on the content of your website. This removes the need to manage lists of keywords or landing pages. AdWords automatically generates a headline most appropriate to the search query and sends traffic to relevant landing pages.

The benefits can be huge. Dynamic Search helps managers of mature and new accounts find new, profitable long tail keywords or new high volume terms.

The setup for this campaign type is simple, but it can really take some time to set up your dynamic targets to give you the optimum performance you’re looking for. To speed up the process, here are five optimization strategies to cut down on the trial and error and start things off on a high note.

1. Segmentation


Proper segmentation is critical to getting the best possible performance from Dynamic Search. When creating a new ad group in a Dynamic Search campaign, you have three options for how to define targets. The least appealing option is to target the entire website. This is less than ideal because of the lack of control you have over where traffic is sent and what search queries the campaign picks up.

Dynamic_Targets



For example, if you run a luxury jewelry website, it makes sense for visitors to go to a page where they can view products and start the sales process. Sending them to a part of the website where traffic can’t start a sale, like the website’s blog, isn’t as ideal. Poor targeting can result in a high bounce rate and wasted ad spend.

I recommend targeting specific topics or webpages instead. By doing this, you narrow the type of search queries that can be matched to your website targets, resulting in more qualified traffic and less wasted spend.

2. Website Coverage


When starting a campaign from scratch or adding in a new Dynamic Search target, pay attention to the target’s estimated website coverage. Simply put, website coverage is the percentage of a website covered by an individual target.

If you’re having a problem with your Dynamic Search campaign not generating high traffic volume, the problem could be that you have too small of a target. Try expanding and see if that opens things up. Or if the opposite is true, switch to a target with a smaller website coverage to cut down on the junk clicks.

3. Exclusion Targets


Dynamic targets can be excluded from your campaign to prevent traffic from reaching pages you don’t want to be used for ads. Much like the different targeting options available, dynamic exclusions gives you control over when Dynamic Search ads appear and where they send traffic.

Exclusion_Targets



Exclusions can be made at the campaign or the ad group level. When creating dynamic targets, try applying existing targets as exclusions for other dynamic targets. Sticking with the luxury jewelry website, let’s say you have a target set up for watches, but you want to create another target for Rolex watches in particular.

After creating the new Rolex target, exclude that from the larger, general watch target. Proper segmenting and exclusions should work to create a structured Dynamic Search campaign where there is little, if any, overlap between targets.

4. Negative Keywords


If you aren’t using negative keywords in either a shared list or attached to your Dynamic Search campaign, you need to take action immediately. Negative keywords should be applied just like any other search campaign.

Depending on the dynamic targets, you could make the argument that negative keywords are more crucial for Dynamic Search campaigns because queries are matched to website content and not keywords. When first launching, check your search queries report frequently to make sure you’re not burning budget on irrelevant queries.

Negative_Keyword


5. Remarketing Lists


Like any other search campaign, remarketing lists can be attached to your dynamic search campaign with the option to just bid on these audiences or to target and bid. This is useful if you have a remarketing audience specifically interested in a dynamic target.

Let’s go back to our luxury jewelry example from earlier and imagine we have an audience of people that have previously purchased a Rolex watch. We can attach that Rolex audience to our Rolex dynamic target with a positive bid modifier to raise bids when members of this audience search Google for products we have in our inventory. This modifier will allow us to bid up, obtain better ad position, and ultimately put us in a better place to make a sale.

When applying remarketing lists, it’s important to remember the difference between settings. Bid Only allows you to apply a bid modifier only when members of our audience enter a query. It has no effect on bids for people not in the audience. Target and Bid finds members of that audience only. Non-audience member search queries will not be matched to your targets.

Dynamic Search campaigns have the ability to really blow the doors off performance by finding new, profitable search queries that you otherwise may have missed. But it’s important to regularly update and tweak targets and exclusions to get the most out of performance.

Also, don’t be afraid to step outside the box with your segmentation and test new things out. No matter the size or maturity of the account, Dynamic Search is an effective strategy that should bring success to whoever uses it.

With spring rapidly approaching, this is a great time for search marketers to start preparing for an annual account audit. What are some of the top areas of focus for spring cleaning your account? Marin's Center of Excellence has created a process for identifying key ways accounts can be improved through structural and performance-based changes.

Step 1: Identify pain points in the account to narrow
your focus


Before you dive into cleaning up your account, identify the main areas where you’d like to focus your time. Chances are you don’t have a lot of bandwidth to dedicate to anything but day to day management tasks -- so to save time, start by asking yourself some questions to help narrow the focus of your audit and cleanup.

Some of these questions might include:

  • Where does the account fall short of meeting its goals?
  • Does the account have unutilized objects (things like past promotional creatives)?
  • Do you regularly perform A/B tests?
  • Have you had issues with revenue attribution?


Step 2: Perform an audit


The second step is to perform an audit of your account. You should focus your time on two major areas of opportunity: account structure and performance.

Tip: When performing the account audit, pull data in a format that allows you to make bulk changes. This way, once you’ve identified issues, you can easily take action and save time.

First, take a look at your account structure to make sure it follows search marketing best practices. This’ll make your account easier to navigate and ease day to day management. Second, analyze your account for performance issues that require action. The Center of Excellence recommends looking for the following:

Account Structure

  • Duplicate keywords
  • Conflicting negatives
  • Past promotional creatives
  • Missing active keywords/creatives
  • Misspelled creatives
  • Campaign setting alignment
  • URL tracking issues


Performance

  • Underperforming objects
  • Optimal use of negative keywords
  • Quality Score analysis
  • Landing page content
  • Keywords
  • Ad copy


Step 3: Implement changes


The third step is to take corrective action based on insights you discover during the audit.

Be sure to keep track of any changes you make and a record of the audit -- this is essential, since it’ll allow you to effectively measure future performance.

Step 4: Measure


Use your record of changes to measure the impact of your spring cleaning efforts. Compile this information into a visual representation of the improvements to share with your colleagues or clients.

If you’re a Marin customer interested in partnering with the Center of Excellence on an account audit, contact your account representative, who’ll connect you with a Center of Excellence consultant today! Or, if you’re new to Marin, request a demo.

When homebuyers bemoan the high prices commanded by desirable locations, real estate agents often reply, “location, location, location!” With Google’s recent confirmation that they’ll be serving fewer ads per desktop search result, we expect search marketers to become more acutely aware of "location, location, location."

More Predictions


Less inventory and constant demand could create an uptick in average CPCs for high demand queries (if you’re curious about locking in top ad spots, check out PositionLock).

While this update (and our prediction) may be distressing for some advertisers, we anticipate this change will be net-positive for the industry.

From a user perspective, “less is more.” As we’ve observed with Google mobile ads, which this update emulates, a clean user experience free of distraction creates high click-through rates for top position ads.

Furthermore, if higher CPCs do come to pass, it could stomp out competitors bidding in auctions where they’ve historically had weak product-market fit. With fewer distractions, we expect advertisers will have an easier time connecting with current and future customers. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the performance and user experience.

Shopping Ads


We anticipate this update to be the most meaningful for ecommerce advertisers. Since Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are exempt from the right-rail exclusion, retail advertisers will be the only tenants on this coveted real estate which moves PLAs into Park Place territory.

If you’re an ecommerce advertiser, it’s paramount that your feed be optimized and that your bids are on target (if you need help, check out Marin Shopping). As both users and marketers on Google, we’re excited for this change - we’re happy to speak with any marketers seeking bidding, PLA, or general best practice advice.

Impression share (IS) is one of the most misunderstood data points used in search. Metrics used to maximize revenue or conversion volume are pretty straightforward to understand, since the numbers speak for themselves.

You should periodically revisit the question, “What metrics should I maximize to increase brand awareness on my search campaigns?”

What’s IS, Anyway?


You can be forgiven for thinking that the most important metric to increase brand awareness is IS. In theory, the higher the IS, the more times your ads are served, potentially providing greater exposure.

In fact, IS is simply a measurement of how frequently your keywords appear in auctions for which they’re eligible. It’s easier to achieve a high IS when you target smaller audiences with little competition. The larger your target audience, the greater the competition, making it harder to achieve the desired 100% IS.

The IS Formula


IS is calculated by dividing served impressions by the estimated number of impressions that you’re eligible to receive. Google uses several factors to calculate which keywords should win an auction:

  • Targeting settings
  • Approval status
  • Bids
  • Daily budgets
  • Quality Score


Increasing IS doesn't always mean you’ll increase the amount of people who’ll see and interact with your brand. It should be used to monitor the frequency of your keywords appearing in auctions for which they’re eligible. It’s a brilliant metric for identifying keywords that aren’t performing as well as they could.

If your keywords are eligible to receive the maximum impressions targeting your specified audience, a 100% IS means you’ve reached this limit. However, this can come at a cost, overinflating daily budgets. Achieving a 100% IS means your keywords will be entered into all eligible auctions regardless of the cost.

Optimize to Improve Clicks and Impressions


Optimizing a campaign for clicks disregarding IS can improve both the click and impression volumes while maintaining or reducing spend. This method involves bidding down on keywords with low-click volume that have high CPCs while increasing bids for keywords with high-click volume and low CPCs.

ClickVolume



It's important to understand the relationship between aggregate IS and impression volume. Aggregate IS is weighted impressions, so there could be a scenario where there’s lower aggregate IS but higher impression volume. However, click volume, impression volume, and aggregate IS tend to be positively correlated, so maximizing clicks should be a sound strategy in most cases.

How are you using IS? Are you using it to monitor brand awareness, share of voice, or impression frequency? Whatever your optimization objective, it’s important to use the correct KPIs to monitor performance.

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

At some point, an SEM account manager will have to restructure part of or all of a search account. There are several reasons why this sometimes frustrating and exhausting exercise must be completed. Most commonly, it’s related to subpar account performance and the metrics that suffer as a result. Other times, it has to do with poor account organization.

A great example is when the same keywords are being housed in multiple campaigns, which target the same geographic locations. It’s also not unheard of for an account manager to restructure an inherited account because the current structure is a poor fit for his or her managerial style. No matter what the reason, there are steps you can take to make the restructuring process simple.

Before jumping in, make sure you’ve exhausted all other options for improvement. There’s no need to put a ton of extra work on your plate if you don’t have to!

1. Identify Why a Restructure Is Needed


First, take a step back and examine the issue. Why do you need to restructure the account? Chances are, if you’re thinking of a restructure, you’ve already identified the issue. But if you haven’t, really take some extra time to examine the current setup. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Are there keywords you can pause to improve performance?
  • Can you change some bids?
  • Can you add some new campaigns to plug the gaps?


Again, don’t create a ton of work if you can avoid it. If you choose to continue down this road, make note of why this current structure didn’t work and do not repeat the mistake!

2. Identify What Worked


Not everything can be bad! Even in the most bloated of accounts, there are successful components that can be salvaged and used another day. Dig in and find those highly relevant, high volume keywords and use them as your foundation. Continue to use the same landing pages if that’s worked well for you.

Make note of the best performing geographic targets and include those targets in your new campaigns. Use anything and everything to your advantage to make the new campaigns successful.

3. Slowly Phase Out


If your old campaigns are already paused, then congratulations! You can skip over this step. If your old campaigns are still active, you’ll need to slowly phase out those legacy campaigns.

An abrupt switch will be a traffic killer and cause a massive conversion volume loss in the process. Instead, launch the new campaigns, slowly drop legacy bids, and increase the new bids. This allows for those new terms to gain some traction while the legacy terms still bring in some volume. Once you’re satisfied with the volume the new campaigns are getting, pause out the old ones.

Restructures can be daunting, but if you realize where the key issues are in the current structure and strategically plan out how to correct those issues, the process becomes much less complicated.

In sum:

  • Take some time to figure out why you need to restructure.
  • Identify what worked in the old structure and apply that to the new campaigns.
  • Slowly phase out those old campaigns and be sure your new campaigns don’t suffer from the same issues that plagued the last.


Finally, be confident. Have faith that you’re going to get things turned around in no time.

This is a guest post from Johnathan Dane, Founder of KlientBoost.

Have you ever thought your Google advertising account should be performing better?

You may be following the advice of many that say that the more time you spend in your account, the better.

But what if it’s all backwards?

What if it only takes you 10 minutes a week to improve your Google advertising performance?

If your Google campaign performance hasn’t been improving month over month like the table below, then keep reading.

01-GoogleCampaignImprovement



It’s about to get interesting. Let’s get started.

Automatic Placement Extraction


If you’re running any type of display or remarketing campaign, you might find that your display ads are showing up on websites, apps, or even video overlays that aren’t performing well.

Overall though, you might be decently happy with your display performance, but always wondered if it could do better.

[caption id="attachment_7076" align="alignnone" width="500"]

02-DisplayPerformance

Take a look at your Automatic placements under your Dimensions tab[/caption]

To start the “performance pruning”, see which Automatic placements either have a cost per conversion that’s too high, or better yet, which placements are actually bringing in sales (not just conversions) by equipping your Google advertising Final URLs with ValueTrack parameters.

This will then help you get more conversion volume out of those specific placements when you extract and target them exclusively through a new campaign.

Search Term Extraction


Search term reports are such an important part of regular Google advertising maintenance that it’s not uncommon that some people do this more frequently than brushing their teeth.

When looking at your search term report, get as close as possible to making sure your search terms and keywords have no discrepancies between them.

In other words, your Added / Excluded column from your search term report should have the green “Added” label going down the list for as long as possible, just like this:

[caption id="attachment_7077" align="alignnone" width="500"]

03-SearchTermExtraction

This gives you a much stronger control of what you’re paying for[/caption]

When that happens, you can make your ads specific to not your keywords, but your search terms and see higher click-through-rates from your efforts.

Let’s say you look at your search term report and find your search terms and keywords don’t match. The first thing you should do is extract your search terms with the most impressions and create what are called Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs).

Just like the name implies, SKAGs are ad groups that only allow one keyword per ad group, that then have corresponding ads that are extremely specific to that keyword.

Time Lag and Attribution Reports


Did you know that the last keyword and/or ad clicked always gets to lionshare of conversion credit?

What if there were seven other touchpoints (impression and ad clicks) that happened before the final conversion? Wouldn’t you want to know what helped assist that conversion?

I know I would.

If you don’t care, there’s a good chance you’ll pause keywords and placements that don’t get the conversion credit. But, when you do, you’re strangling your account at the same time, without even knowing it.

Let’s take a look at your Google advertising attribution.

Inside your account, go to the top of your Google advertising interface and click Tools > Attribution.

Once you’re there, take a look at the Time Lag report on the left side. Here, you can see how long it takes people to convert from either first impression, first click, or last click.

[caption id="attachment_7078" align="alignnone" width="500"]

04-ImpressionConversionDelay

Here’s a look at first impression conversion delay of 6.19 days[/caption]

This will help you make your nurture and/or retargeting campaigns more of a priority to test.

Geographic Granularity


Are you a local, statewide, nationwide, or even an international advertiser?

No matter how big an area you’re targeting, every geographic hill, slope, mountain, and valley performs differently. The same thing goes for individual states and cities.

And, because you can’t target people who live on just a hill (yet), the next best thing is to understand the performance of each state or city that sees your ads.

[caption id="attachment_7079" align="alignnone" width="500"]

05-GeographicGranularity

To see this report, go to your Dimensions tab, then View -> User locations[/caption]

As you can see above, the state of New York may be costing more per conversion than others. So, you may want to add in negative bid modifiers at the state level, like this screenshot shows.

06-States



You can then drill even deeper and create new campaigns with state level campaign targeting, and give bid modifiers to individual cities within that specific state to get your closer to your cost per conversion goals.

You can take it even further and start utilizing city specific ad copy and landing pages with area code specific phone numbers, to appear more local to visitors and increase your conversion rates.

Device Targeting


As I’m sure you’re already aware of, Google advertising doesn’t allow you to separate devices in their own campaigns like they used to.

These days, you have to group desktop and tablets together in the same campaign. And while Google may say that both those devices perform similarly, there are thousands of Google advertising accounts out there that say something completely different.

Here’s the truth: Desktops and tablets will never perform the same way.

I’m not just speaking from a conversion rate standpoint, but also from a sales standpoint.

When Google told the world that devices don’t matter, but user context does, they certainly never thought of every single industry, but more so of a blanket band-aid that would apply to “most advertisers”.

Believe it or not, there are some workarounds you can use to get desktop, tablet, and mobile campaigns in their own campaigns and still target the search and/or display network.

But first, let’s look at how we find current device performance differences within your account.

[caption id="attachment_7082" align="alignnone" width="500"]

07-PerformanceDifferences

Here’s how you find that info[/caption]

First, go to Segment then Device in the dropdown.

[caption id="attachment_7083" align="alignnone" width="500"]

08-SegmentDevice

This will expand your view with three extra rows[/caption]

As you can see in the screenshot above, our mobile devices are giving us the lowest cost per conversion while tablets are sucking it up and being the most expensive.

Now let’s say for a minute that your tablet performance is just as good as your desktop performance (like Google says it is), but your mobile performance sucks.

You can quickly add in what’s called a negative bid modifier between 1 and 100%.

[caption id="attachment_7084" align="alignnone" width="500"]

09-NegativeBidModifier

Go to Settings -> Devices and increase or decrease in the red square[/caption]

If you never want to target mobile devices, then you can set a negative bid modifier of 100%.

Day of Week Targeting


Just like keywords, ads, and landing pages perform differently, so does Monday compared to Thursday, and Saturday compared to Wednesday.

Inside your Google advertising account, you can see this day of the week granularity in a snap. Just head over to Dimensions ->View: Day of the week.

[caption id="attachment_7085" align="alignnone" width="500"]

10-DayOfWeek

In this case, Saturdays and Sundays are doing really well[/caption]

Having these kinds of numbers doesn’t mean that you should stop advertising on Thursdays (because it has the highest cost per conversions). But, it could mean that you should start considering “day of the week” bid modifiers like we did for our devices earlier.

Some industries tend to be very predictable in their weekly trends. If your company falls into a category like that, then take advantage of the control you have and get more aggressive with your bids on great performing days, and taper back on the not so great-performing ones.

Time of Day Targeting


Just like we saw how your days perform differently during the week, so do your hours within the day.

11-TimeOfDay



And, just as we can create bid modifiers for 24-hour day targeting, we can also take advantage of the same thing with bidding blocks of hours within a certain day of the week, to break it down even further.

[caption id="attachment_7088" align="alignnone" width="498"]

12-BiddingBlocks

In this screenshot, late mornings and afternoons tend to perform better than mornings[/caption]

If you already have the data and insight that allow you to use this type of granular bidding, then definitely do so.

You might even find that Google or other bidding platforms are restricting how many bid modifications you can make on a daily basis. If that’s the case, I suggest you try using Brainlab’s 24 hour bidding script that allows you to take it one step further, and then some.

In Closing


Now before I let you go, please keep this in mind:

“With great control, comes great responsibility.”

Having access to all of this data is great, but only if you can be actionable with it to improve your performance.

I see time and time again that people spend countless hours trying to tweak and prune things with modifiers, rules, and even scripts that change bids depending on the weather.

While all of this is great, most of it becomes entirely obsolete as soon as you have a landing page test that improves your conversion rates by 50%. When that happens, all the things you’ve put into place need to be redone.

One thing that will always help you out, no matter your goals, is to extract and target things in a granular fashion that makes sense.

Use the dimensions tab and its reports to your advantage and keep on making progress :)

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

Metrics that matter


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

Rethinking holiday KPIs


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

Holiday media budget framework


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

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

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


About the Author


sarah

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


About Boost Media


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

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

Today’s retail advertisers have to constantly deal with many different factors simultaneously - direct competition, changes in consumer behaviors, and staying on top of industry innovations and trends, just to name a few. All of this can be quite overwhelming, especially with the holidays quickly approaching.


To alleviate the stresses of the season for retail advertisers, we’re excited to announce the general availability of PositionLock™, an intraday, position-based bid optimization solution designed to help marketers maximize visibility, traffic, and conversions throughout the day. Using PositionLock, retail advertisers can rest a little easier this holiday season, especially during peak online shopping days and hours of the day.


PositionLock relies on a new, patent-pending algorithm that leverages ad position data captured throughout the day to intelligently set optimal bids and bid boosts to keep advertisers’ ads in desired ad position ranges.


For example, using PositionLock, a retail advertiser whose sales come primarily from mobile devices can opt to have their best-selling product terms appear between positions 3-5 for desktop and 1-2 for mobile.


Marin is the only digital advertising platform that allows advertisers to automatically optimize preferred position ranges, by device, throughout the day.


With the holiday shopping season already starting to ramp up, Marin’s PositionLock™ is an excellent solution for helping retail advertisers ensure they’re visible in the top ad positions for their best-selling product terms or important brand terms.


If you’re a retail advertiser looking to improve brand awareness, visibility, or traffic quality over the holiday shopping period, we’ve highlighted five example use cases to show how using PositionLock can help you meet your goals.

Maximize visibility over the holidays


Most retailers have product terms on seasonal items that PositionLock can maximize visibility on during peak shopping season days. With PositionLock’s intraday bidding capabilities, you can adjust these positions throughout the day, and especially during peak online shopping hours. Additionally, as inventory comes and goes, you can easily adjust bids to promote certain inventory over others more aggressively through higher ad placements.

Stay ahead of the competition


Competition for the top ad positions on search isn’t going away anytime soon, as it’s been shown that consumers on search are more likely to click on higher-ranked ads. To help you achieve your desired positions, PositionLock lets you take your non-branded terms and ensure that they outrank competitors. This is especially useful when it comes to advertising popular seasonal items that face a lot of competition.

Increase brand awareness


According to a study by Google, search ads lifted top-of-mind awareness of brands an average 6.6 percentage points. This study highlights the clear opportunity for retail advertisers to effectively create the perception that they’re leaders in a particular product category, by appearing in a top ad position for the related product terms.

For example, a retail advertiser who wants to be known for selling “high-end fashion apparel” could use PositionLock to improve brand perception for these types of products by appearing in a top position for this term.

Highlight promotional products


When it comes to launching new products, PositionLock can be beneficial to businesses across all verticals, but especially retailers this holiday season. With PositionLock’s ability to achieve top ad positions, you can easily drive visibility for new product terms with a relevant promotional message in the copy.

Customize desired ad position by device


Today’s consumers have an average of three devices and studies have shown that each device type is used differently. Consumers on desktop devices tend to do more detailed research, whereas mobile users are often looking for fast and quick pieces of information (e.g., phone number, address, etc.)

With PositionLock, you can bid to the optimal ad position for each device to help achieve maximum ad performance across devices for a particular search term. For example, if you know you can achieve optimal performance by appearing between positions 3-4 on desktop but must appear between positions 1-2 on mobile, with PositionLock you can easily customize device-specific preferences and achieve your device-specific ad position goals.

PositionLock



These are just a few examples of the many scenarios in which Marin PositionLock™ can help advertisers gain better position-based performance results across devices. For information on this feature, reach out to your Marin Customer Success Director. If you’d like to learn more about how Marin Software can help you implement an intraday optimization strategy, feel free to get in touch.

We continue to get closer and closer to the busiest time of year for e-commerce businesses and the most festive for online consumer traffic. Our teams at Marin Software have even more tips and tricks for making sure you’re amply prepared.

To help you prepare your accounts for the holidays and top your competitors, we've put together five key action points you can start to implement today, directly in Marin.

1. Identify Your Target Audience and Determine Key Dates


There are several holidays between November and January. However, not every holiday is relevant to your customers – so, it’s important to focus and prepare for the dates and audiences that matter.

First, identify your customers. Are they discount shoppers looking for online bargains? Or shoppers looking for that special present for a loved one? Depending on what’s relevant to your business, bucket your strategy into interest-based audiences. For example:

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


Next, plot the dates that could influence them to search and purchase online. Here’s a short list of eight dates that have the most impact on consumer behavior, and who the holiday appeals to most. Be sure to add these dates to your calendar!

  • Black Friday, 27th Nov: Bargain hunters
  • Cyber Monday, 30th Nov: Bargain hunters
  • Hanukkah, 6th Dec – 14th Dec: Gift buyers
  • Christmas, 25th Dec: Gift buyers
  • Kwanzaa, 26 Dec – Jan 1: Cultural purchasers
  • Boxing Day, 26th Dec: Bargain hunters
  • New Year’s Day, 1st Jan: Event purchasers
  • January sales, 1st Jan – 31st Jan: Bargain hunters


Review your target audience - will any of these dates affect their purchasing decision? In some cases, people might be interested in a holiday just to benefit from the special promotions that come with it. Instead of including the holiday name in your copy, try organizing by interest. To increase CTRs, tailor your creatives to match the holiday that appeals to your customers.

2. Implement Scheduled Actions


Creating ad copy for every holiday can become difficult to manage. Having a Christmas creative active on New Year’s Day can reflect poorly on your company. It’s important that a mechanism is in place to prevent this from happening.

Scheduled Actions in Marin enables you to schedule campaigns, groups, and creatives at a specified date and time. So, if you’re planning on ringing in the New Year on a beach in Mauritania, you can schedule your seasonal campaigns in advance and let Marin pause and activate them while you’re out of the office.

3. Use Ad Extensions


The top positions for your main keywords are prime real estate. With your competitors throwing compelling ad copy and offers into the ring, competition can be fierce. Just your presence alone in the top spot is not always enough.

To expand the size of your creatives and improve visibility, add Ad Extensions to them. This can increase CTR and brand awareness.

Leverage from your existing creatives’ quality score and add Ad Extensions to:

  • Sitelinks: Drive customers to holiday promotion pages
  • Location Extensions: Show your holiday opening and closing times
  • Call Out Extensions: Add a non-clickable festive message or promote an offer like ‘Free Shipping’


4. Exclude Dates from Bidding


Excluding dates from bidding allows you to leave out cost and conversion data for specified dates and date ranges. This is useful during seasonal periods where accounts experience unusual performance, which can skew bid calculations.

If the data is not a true reflection of normal performance, bids will be calculated based on this inaccurate data. To prevent this, exclude the relevant dates.

5. Retarget


Your additional holiday marketing efforts will very likely attract new visitors to your site. These new visitors may have gone to several sites before and after yours. With so many online holiday bright lights, it’s understandable how they could forget where they found that perfect product.

Use retargeting to help jog their memory, bringing them back to the original page where they first saw your offer. Whether you decide to use them or not, there’s no cost in building retargeting lists in AdWords and syncing them with Marin.

Each holiday attracts different search intent. Converting customers on Cyber Monday and Boxing Day could be listed as ‘Bargain hunters’, and customers converting on Christmas can be listed as ‘Gift Buyers’. Building retargeting lists around your target audience will enable you to promote offers across audiences through Display and Search.

We hope these tips get you well on your way to clinching the holiday gold. To learn more about how you can stand out this season, take a look at some of our recent content:

This is a guest post from Jonathan Levey, Digital Marketing Manager at OneSky.

Google AdWords location ad customizers represent a pay-per-click (PPC) way to target a specific audience in a specific location. With location ad customizers, you can change details in your PPC ads dynamically, whether it’s color details, price, size, dimensions, countdowns, sales events, or seasonal sales. If, for instance, you’re managing a large number of ad campaigns, the ad customizers let you make quick changes to a central spreadsheet.

After making these quick changes, you can upload the spreadsheet changes to Google AdWords and watch as all the updates are incorporated across your various campaigns. This makes the customizers completely automated, since after updating your central spreadsheet, the other updates are instantly propagated. (Yay, no time-consuming changes by hand!)

Precision is a great marketing strategy. Location ad customizers allow you to target your audience in a minute, specific location.

There are many ways you can make use of AdWords location ad customizers to achieve superior results. If a user meets the criteria you’ve specified on your array of ad campaigns, your ad text can be updated accordingly. Based on location, here’s how you can use AdWords location ad customizers to do this and more.

Shipping Times


AdWords location ad customizers include shipping times; so, if your ad shows that your shipping time is less than your competitors’, then you’ll gain more customers. With location ad customizers, you can include the places you deliver your products to in your ad text. This can be very enticing to potential customers who reside in the locations that you specify in your ad campaigns.

These kinds of ad campaigns enable you to have a targeted conversation with your prospective customers, since they’re drawn in by the fact that you have the exact shipping time for their specific location. This aspect of your ad will appeal to audiences who end up purchasing your products due to the confidence that they’ll be delivered on time.

Mention the User’s Location in the Ad Text Campaign


Users often include their desired locations when they search for products and services. So, if you include the users’ locations dynamically in your ad text, they’re more likely to click your ad. Not only does the dynamic inclusion of location into your ad text campaign save you a lot of time – with good content in your ad text, your conversion rate is set to increase exponentially.

The time you save by auto-including location would’ve otherwise been used to create distinct campaigns geo-targeted to each of the areas where you deliver your products. In addition to time savings, location ad customizers maintain all of the key information of your ad campaign, despite generating different text for the specified, unique locations.

Address, Duration, and Offers


Suppose you’re wildly successful with your location extensions. In this case, you can increase the effectiveness of your ad even more, by including address and working hours of the location that’s nearest to your user in your ad text. And, to appeal to more potential customers and beat your competition, you can add offers and discounts that are specific to those nearby locations.

The ad customizers allow you to update your closing and opening times or offers depending on the day of the week. This kind of ad campaign guarantees an increase in the number of people who’ll show intent to purchase your products and services.

Include the Cost of Service for a User’s City


Finally, location ad customizers can also include different pricing for different regions. Price is an important factor whenever sale of items and services is involved – every buyer considers the price of your product. Make sure that you include the most competitive prices for your products in your ad campaign. Delivery of top quality products at affordable prices will enable your Google AdWords marketing campaign to be the most successful.

You can include dynamic pricing in your text ads. These prices should match your users’ spending capacities to make sure that you have a large return on investment and a reliable conversion rate to drive your sales exponentially. Inclusion of prices in your location ad customizers will increase the percentage of pre-qualification of your clicks.

Follow these fundamental methods when you use AdWords location ad customizers, and watch your PPC marketing campaign benefit as a result.

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

Businesses kick their marketing efforts into high gear during the holiday season – which is technically from Thanksgiving until the New Year, even though I’ve seen people hanging Christmas lights from their windows before others start carving pumpkins. Many times, businesses depend on strong sales during the holidays to take them from the red to the black. As such, there’s extra pressure on the online marketer with e-commerce clients to drive the strongest performances of the year during this time.

Without strategic planning and execution, delivering on these expectations can be next to impossible. But by following these five outlined tips, you’ll be primed for success.

1. Establish Budgets Early


This should be a no-brainer. Use the performance history of the account as well as current trends to determine what a realistic budget for the holiday season should be. Work with your client to come up with a total budget and stick to that number. If you think the budget will be insufficient, try to create a plan to move spend from one or more low-performing campaigns into a high-performing campaign.

2. Determine KPIs


Imagine it’s January 2016 and you’re looking back at Q4. How will you determine success? Of course it’s important to hit established goals, but if there’s an opportunity to make a push for greater revenue and sales, would a possible increase in CPA be acceptable? Speak with your client before the season kicks off to figure out where you can be most flexible and what targets can't be sacrificed.

3. Plan Promotions in Advance


Way in advance. Seriously.

The fewer last-minute adjustments that need to be made to accommodate promotional messaging in search ads, sitelinks, or Merchant Center Promotions, the better. Request a promotional calendar from your clients. Review all promotion details about a week or so in advance with your client if possible, just to iron out the details. When it comes to launching promotional creatives, use automated rules whenever possible to schedule future actions and remove any chance for human error.

4. Thoroughly Review Merchant Center and Shopping Campaigns


Because the last thing you want to see before the start of a big seasonal push is a high percentage of disapproved Shopping products, do a quick review of your Merchant Center account and make sure all feeds are in excellent condition. Review your feed schedule. And, make sure your Shopping campaigns are structured in a way that makes sense for your business.

Remember: An item placed in the High, Medium, and Low Priority campaigns will automatically revert to the bid set at the High Priority Level. This is true regardless of whether the bids set in the Medium or Low Priority campaigns are higher.

5. Use Auction Insights


Auction Insights won’t tell you how much a competitor may be bidding for a select term. But frequently examining Auction Insights will tell you if any competitors are creeping up on you (or beating you) in Google’s auctions. One of the more overlooked features is being able to segment Auction Insights by device type. This provides a useful look at who the key players are in your auctions and where you could be getting the most pressure – on desktop, mobile devices, or tablets.

Bonus: Add in Targets with No Set Bid Adjustment


Because this can’t hurt and you may come away with some real learnings to report to your client, try adding in new targeting criteria, such as average household income, to your campaigns with no set bid adjustment before the holiday season kicks off. As time progresses, periodically check in on these new targets and see how they perform. At worst, you’ll have no real actionable data and can simply remove the new targets if performance merits. But at best, you’ll have a better understanding of a new target audience and the ability to increase or decrease marketing efforts to that audience by applying bid modifiers.

Depending on who you ask, some search marketers will tell you that dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) hurts conversions. DKI is designed to be an advanced feature, one that can help you dynamically modify parts of your ads to include the keywords that trigger the ad in question. Still, according to the general feeling out there, marketers who rely on DKI end up detracting audiences with irrelevant ads, generic messaging, and keyword misspellings and capitalization errors.

However, very rarely is something universally good
 or bad in search marketing. Depending on campaign goals, customer segment, historical performance, and several other factors, SEM tactics usually perform differently depending on the context. Boost Media has tested DKI extensively across every vertical, and on nearly every type of campaign. Here’s what we learned.

DKI Works Best in Long-Tail Ad Groups



In an intensive analysis of retail advertisers, Boost found that long-tail ad groups tend to derive both click-through rate (CTR) and conversions-per-impression (CPI) lifts by using DKI, while head-term ad groups tend to see a drop in CPI. This is likely because head-term ad groups are optimized more frequently, and typically have a high degree of textual relevance. Long-tail ad groups are neglected and have more to gain from dynamic insertion.

DKI Works Best on Exact Match Keywords



DKI inserts the triggering keyword into the ad, not the query typed by the customer. As a search marketer, you’ve probably seen your fair share of funky search queries matching to broad keywords. Inserting broad keywords into the ad often doesn’t make your ad more relatable to the user. Sometimes it simply creates ads that don’t make sense.

DKI Can Increase Volume



Time and time again, we’ve seen that using DKI increases the impression volume of an ad. Direct response search marketers might argue that increased impression volume is a bad thing because it doesn’t necessarily lead to more revenue. But, consider this: an impression is not generated just because the search engine enters the ad into the auction. An ad has to win the auction to gain an impression. If the ad loses, no other ads are entered into that particular auction. As a result, using DKI to win more auctions and gain more impressions might be what you need to improve the bottom line by increasing volume.

It’s unfair to say that DKI is universally good or bad. When used in the right context, it can help you gain impressions you might not otherwise win, improve your user experience and quality score in ad groups you don’t have time to optimize, and lead to performance gains.


About the Author


sarah

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

About Boost Media


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

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

Each year, the US Search Awards recognizes the best and brightest brands among the world’s leading search and digital agencies and professionals. We compiled advice from eight of this year’s judges on what every brand should do to optimize their PPC campaigns.

This year’s awards will take place at Paris Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 7th. For more information and to enter, visit the US Search Awards website.



Diane Pease

Inbound Marketing Manager, Cisco Systems | @DPease

Monitor Your Extension Performance

With all the hype around ad extensions, we can sometimes get caught up in “extension excitement” – putting site links, callouts, and location extensions on our ads to provide a better user experience. But it’s important to monitor the performance of your extensions, to ensure they’re really working for you in the way you want them to. Create a reminder – and check on a bi-weekly basis. If you have an extension that’s not performing, make adjustments or try removing it. Extensions are a great way to expand your ad, but they need to be monitored.



Matt McGowan

Head of Strategy for America’s Advertising, Google | @Matt_Mcgowan

RLSA. Do it. It amazes me how many clients don't add the tag to their sites. For free, you can bring together intent, context, and audience to help your business drive sales and leads with great ROI. With remarketing lists for search ads, you can modify bids, ads, and keywords for past site visitors. For example, people visit your sports apparel site to check out available styles, and look at the shoe section of the site. You could add these shoppers to a "Shoe category" list. Then, the next time they search for running shoes on Google you could bid more for them. More here.



Richard Gregory

UK Industry Expert | @Smartrich

You absolutely have to be leveraging Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) these days. At a recent SAScon event, Larry Kim highlighted the low CPCs that early adopters of the format have benefited from. One great tip is to run a campaign targeting Gmail accounts containing newsletters from your competitors, remembering to negative your own keywords to avoid upsetting existing customers.



Jim Banks

Global Head of Biddable Media | @Jimbanks

Anticipate the device your users will be on and have ads that reflect that context. If someone is on mobile, then having the CTA as "Call" or "Tap" will get higher CTR (TTR - Tap Through Rate) than "Click". Dayparting is now a 168-hour a week function, and device, location, and time of day/day of week will help or hurt more than keyword, bid, or ad.



Lisa Williams

Digital Marketing Strategist, Author, Speaker, Networker, and Columnist; Sustainable Digital Marketing | @SEOPllyAnna

Look at the performance of high-volume, general PPC ads and test the content for titles and meta descriptions. For example, the shipping message "same day shipping" performed better in Paid than the message "fast shipping". Test the better performing message CTR and conversion to see if you get lift in Organic Search the same way you did in Paid Search.



Matt Umbro

Senior Account Manager, Hanapin Marketing; Founder of #PPCChat | @Matt_Umbro

In order to quickly find keywords that are costing too much and not providing enough (or any) conversions, create an automated rule. I'll generally create a rule that runs weekly and looks at the last 30 days’ worth of data. I'll set the rule to identify all keywords that have seen at least 50 clicks and zero conversions. I'll have these keywords emailed to me so I can choose whether to change my bids, pay particularly close attention to the search queries, and/or pause the keywords all together. You can adjust the filter as you see fit, but this rule helps to easily find poor performing keywords.



John Gagnon

Bing Ads Evangelist | @Jmgagnon

To bid or not to bid? Bid. And, there’s finally concrete data. Bing Ads completed a study measuring the number of clicks a brand received when they were the top organic spot alone, versus the top organic spot plus the top paid ad.

After looking at three million impressions on brand searches for retail during 2014, the study found advertisers saw an incremental 31 clicks for every 100 brand searches when a paid search ad was used in combination with the top organic result. That’s huge!

Only 11 of those clicks would have been received anyways. Adjust your CPA lower by about 18% to account for the overlap – and you have a concrete strategy for bidding on your brand terms.



Jonathan Beeston

Owner, Beetsonomics | @Beeston

If you're a retailer, then of course you're running Shopping campaigns. But your campaigns will only be as good as the product or inventory feed that powers them. Spend as much time optimizing your feed as you would any other part of the campaign, making sure you have the right imagery and search-friendly titles. As you can use the feed with Bing Shopping Campaigns (now in beta), Facebook Product Ads, and Google Shopping, the optimization will pay off more than once.

The deadline for submitting an entry to one of the 22 categories in the US Search Awards is the 17th of July, so download the entry form today and you could be a worthy winner at the glittering Las Vegas event in October during Pubcon!

display2

This is a guest post by Jana Fung of MixRank.

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

google display network keywords contextual

This is a guest post by Jana Fung with MixRank.

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

BoostCTR Account Performance Grader

For many search marketers, identifying opportunities for optimization within paid search campaigns is challenging. Monitoring and maintaining top performing ad groups, keywords, and ads is a standard best practice; but as campaigns grow, keyword lists expand, and creative tests multiply, this approach fails to scale and provide incremental improvements in paid search performance. With so many optimization opportunities hidden in an ocean of data, how can search marketers give the required attention each campaign deserves? Where do you even start?

To help search marketers answer these questions, Marin Software is thrilled to announce our partnership with BoostCTR to offer a free paid search diagnostics tool that not only provides insight into account performance, but also opportunities for optimization. The Account Performance Grader is designed to analyze historical performance across keywords, ads, quality scores, and ad groups for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns. Simply sign up and enter the required information to receive your customized report.

Among other best practice recommendations, this report will provide actionable insights for pausing poor performing keywords and ads, as well as reveal quality score trends that identify areas where keyword relevance can be improved. With the Account Performance Grader, search marketers can remove the guesswork out of campaign optimization and focus their time on more strategic, high impact tasks.

Sign up here and start optimizing your campaigns today!

Of all the search publisher metrics available, Quality Score seems to always receive the most attention; yet search marketers have the least amount of visibility into how to effectively improve it and its impact on performance. What we do know is that every time a user conducts a search that triggers ads, a Quality Score is calculated based on a number of factors, including:

  • The keyword's past click-through rate (CTR)
  • The display URL's past CTR
  • The account history
  • The quality of the landing page
  • The keyword/ad relevance
  • The keyword/search relevance


Notice that the first three factors on Google’s list reference performance history, even though the history of a keyword’s Quality Score is unavailable within the AdWords interface. Instead, rather than showing different Quality Scores across time, Google displays a single Quality Score that provides an estimate of that keyword’s overall quality.

For the most part this is adequate—search marketers analyze Quality Score at individual moments in time to understand keyword relevance and performance issues. However, this one-off-style approach to analyzing Quality Score fails to provide insight into how search marketers’ continuous efforts to optimize campaigns impact Quality Score, either positively or negatively.

Whether it’s testing brand new creative or introducing additional negative keywords, improving a keyword’s Quality Score can lead to a lower cost-per-click (CPC) and a higher ad position. Changes in these two metrics can subsequently impact, among other things: CTR, costs, and return on investment (ROI). Unfortunately, the influence each of those best practices has on keyword Quality Score is frequently lost with time, especially within larger accounts. Imagine having to record the daily Quality Score for two million keywords affected by new creative messaging.

Marin Historical Quality Score Chart


To understand the impact of optimization efforts on Quality Score, search marketers need the ability to trend historical Quality Score, against other performance metrics, over time.

For example, by trending Quality Score and average CPC over a 3 month period, search marketers can understand the exact impact on cost that comes from an increase in Quality Score from 6 to 8. Trends that include other metrics like ROI and conversion rate highlight the indirect impact that Quality Score has on conversion and revenue goals. Though the concept of trending Quality Score over time appears basic, many search marketers are unable to do so.

To see a demo of historical Quality Score and other advance metrics in action, please contact Marin.

Mouse Click

Before writing this post, I performed a few web searches to scout out my competition. Based on that research, there appears to be one thing that everyone agrees upon about increasing paid search click-through-rate (CTR), the benefits:

  • Increased Quality Score
  • Increased ad position
  • Lower cost-per-click


However, given the title of this post, I figured just about everyone has their quick ways for increasing CTR—and I was right. There’s about 20 “quick” ways to increase your CTR, but not all of them are quick. Create granular keyword groupings? Restructuring campaigns and resetting Quality Score is a long term strategy. Give something away for free? Let’s choose to ignore that one. Look for assisted conversions? I personally don’t enjoy swimming in an ocean of data. Include pricing? And if prices change, it’ll be a fun week. Though all of these tactics and more do plenty to increase CTR, my goal today is to present five ways search marketers can increase CTR without breaking a sweat.

1. Implement Ad Sitelinks

This is unanimously the number one way to quickly increase CTR. Sitelinks provides up to six additional deep links to specific and highly relevant content on your site. These links not only expand your search engine results page (SERP) real estate, but they also enable search marketers to point users towards high-value landing pages, such as form fills and store locators. Keep in mind that up to six links can be added per campaign, which was increased from four in 2011. So if you haven’t touched your sitelinks in a while, it’s time to go back and ensure you have six updated links available.

Google Ad Sitelinks Example


For more information on sitelinks and how to enable them, click here.

2. Pause Poor Performing Creative

Remember that creative test you were running way back when? Well it’s still running, and one or more of those creative is hurting the entire ad group. As you prioritize ad groups for CTR optimization, be sure to evaluate the performance of existing creative. Though some poor performing creative will be easier to spot than others, be sure to reach some level of statistical significance before cutting ties and pausing those creative. It’s important to remember that poor performing creative represent an opportunity cost. By weeding them out of your account, you can drive more traffic through more relevant and engaging creative.

For additional best practices on creative testing and optimization, click here.

3. Leverage Differentiating Text

There are so many elements search marketers can test when it comes to differentiating their creative from their competitors. Let’s use a short list with simple explanations:

  • Call-to-Action: a staple for all advertisers, a simple, yet strong call-to-action encourages users to engage with a purpose. For example, “Register for free today!” or “Shop early and save”.
  • Unique Selling Point: incorporating free shipping, price match guarantees, promotions, and other unique selling points into creative not only sets you apart from competitors, but makes your creative that much more compelling.
  • Numbers and Figures: to break the repetitiveness of words and sentences, use numbers and figures (i.e. &, ®, ™) as an effective way to bring attention to creative.
  • Display URLs: there are a number of ways to arrange your display URL and incorporate keywords into them to increase relevance. For example, “keyword.example.com” or “example.com/category/keyword”. However, keep in mind that some users copy and paste display URLs into the navigation bar, so be prepared with a redirect or an effective 404 page.


4. Mine for Negative Keywords

Most search marketers know how to mine for negative keywords, but the tune changes when discussing how often. Generating a search query report is simple; with some enterprise class solutions generating them automatically. Identify keywords that have received impressions, but very few clicks. But also take note of irrelevant tokens that appear often in queries. For example, tokens like “free”, “reviews”, and “used” often appear alongside relevant keywords. Add these and those irrelevant keywords to eliminate unwanted impressions and clicks.

Negative Keywords Create A Virtuous Cycle


For more information on developing an effective negative keyword strategy, click here.

5. Use High Volume Tokens

Keyword tokens within creative will appear in bold whenever they match or closely match a user’s search query. To improve the relevancy of your creative to the keywords within an ad group, include tokens with high impression share within creative text. For example, if users are more likely to include “clothing” in their query, rather than “apparel”, generate creative that includes the token “clothing”, even if both tokens appear in multiple keywords within the same ad group. Using the most relevant tokens within your creative will increase the relevance for a larger share of impressions and help increase CTR.
Incrementally increasing CTR takes testing and continuous optimization of keywords and creative. This involves using both short term and long term strategies. Hopefully, with the tactics I’ve imparted, you can begin increasing your CTR today…quickly and sweatband-free.

Will Ferrell Sweatband

Keyword expansion can take many forms. Larger paid search programs that lean heavily on click volume tend to expand on and add keywords in bulk, favoring scale over micro-managing. For smaller programs, or when expanding keywords based on a prioritized list, taking a more methodical approach often makes more sense. To ensure effective keyword expansion and proper search query matching, search marketers should leverage modified broad match keywords, create separate ad groups, and implement a focused negative keyword strategy.

1. Limit Irrelevant Queries with Modified Broad Match

For the longest time, search marketers relied on broad match keywords to capture converting traffic from long tail queries. Historically, this was how a keyword like “hiking shoe” would lead to expanded keywords like “mens hiker shoes” or “black shoes for hiking”. Then Google introduced modified broad match, which provides search marketers with the control of phrase match and the reach of broad match. You can now maintain keyword relevance and scale negative keyword research, without sacrificing the ability to drive conversions through longer tail queries.

Modified Broad Match Type Chart

To leverage modified broad match, add the modifier (+) to your broad match keywords*. As a result, each keyword token that uses this modifier must appear in the search query exactly or as a close variant; this includes misspellings, plurals, abbreviations and acronyms. Though click and conversion volume may dip slightly compared the same keyword on broad match, clickthrough-rate (CTR) should drastically improve. Furthermore, spend due to irrelevant clicks will decrease as Google will stop matching your keywords to synonyms and “relevant” searches. As always, continue to generate and mine publisher search query reports for irrelevant queries and add them as negative keywords. With modified broad match keywords, you should notice a significant drop in the number of irrelevant queries found in these reports.

*As a best practice, when adding modified broad match keywords, pause existing broad match keywords (rather than delete) and create new modified broad match versions. This will allow you to maintain historical Quality Scores should you need to revert back to broad match in the future.

2. Improve Quality Score with a Separate Ad Group

As you discover new longer-tail, converting queries, add them to new ad groups. For example, if the modified broad keyword “+hiking +shoe” expands to “mens hiker shoes”, add the new keyword on exact match type to a new “Mens Hiker Shoes” ad group. This allows you to generate ad creative specific to men’s hiker shoes, rather than relying on the fairly generic hiking shoes ad creative. Always generate new ad creative and incorporate the keyword into the ad as much as possible. If a higher quality landing page exists, be sure to leverage that as well to improve Quality Score. Introduce new keywords with an aggressive initial bid. A high average position and CTR will go a long way in establishing a strong Quality Score.

Modified Broad Match Expansion Example

As more keywords convert, and are expanded upon and placed into their own ad groups, the original modified broad match keyword will become less and less profitable. Keep this in mind as part of your bidding strategy. Set appropriate goals for these modified broad keywords and continue to leverage them more for keyword expansion rather than hitting business targets.


3. Shape Traffic with Exact Match Negative Keywords

The most critical step when adding expanded keywords to a new ad group is remembering to add the exact match negative of that same keyword to the original ad group. In our example above, the new exact match keyword “mens hiker shoes” was added to the new “Mens Hiker Shoes” ad group. As a result, the exact match negative keyword “-mens hiker shoes” should be added to the original “Hiking Shoes” ad group. This forces Google to match the query to the exact match keyword, rather than the modified broad match keyword. In other words, a search for “mens hiker shoes” will match to the “mens hiker shoes” exact match keyword, and not “+hiking +shoe”. If the exact match negative keyword isn't added to the old ad group, it’s possible that Google will incorrectly match queries to modified broad keywords based on a number of factors, including max cost-per-click (CPC) or Quality Score.

For additional best practices on keyword expansion and how to maximize keyword opportunities, click here.

For an introduction to competitive keyword analysis, click here.

SEM SEO Teamwork

Last month I highlighted the importance for SEM and SEO managers to communicate their findings to one another during keyword research and analysis. By keeping the lines of communication open and providing positive feedback, both teams can benefit from more aggressive, but mutually beneficial, strategies. When implemented correctly and optimized effectively, the two strategies that I mentioned—leveraging SEM keywords to drive traffic to SEO-challenged landing pages and using SEO to absorb the cost of expensive SEM keywords—can pay big dividends.

Addressing SEO-Challenged Landing Pages

For certain pages on a website, like product pages or conversion pages, even the most die-hard attempts at SEO fail to drive traffic. For example, deeply buried product pages, which often lack linking and original content, are notoriously difficult to deliver organic traffic. However, with the proper paid keywords and ads, SEM managers can help their SEO mangers drive their target audience to these pages. Not only does this increase traffic, but allows both managers to capitalize on the increased relevancy and higher conversion rates associated with landing customers on product pages. Furthermore, the ability to report on and analyze performance provides SEM and SEO managers with the transparency needed to fine-tune keyword lists, polish ad creative, and optimize campaigns to achieve business goals and objectives.

To begin building out a list of potential SEM keywords, generate an on-site search report. This analytics report is a quick and easy way to begin discovering SEO-challenged landing pages. In many cases, an on-site search report can reveal the pages your customers are searching for that they couldn't find either through a search engine or your website’s navigation. Keep in mind that any new keywords added to your SEM campaigns should have an appropriate and specific landing page—the goal here isn't necessarily to find new keywords, but to drive additional traffic to the deeper and less visible pages of your website.

Subsidizing Expensive SEM Keywords

Expensive SEM keywords are typically characterized by high competition and heavy search volume. These are the popular keywords that everyone wants to rank organically on and are more than likely already a part of your SEO strategy. However, there are plenty of SEM keywords out there that consistently generate clicks and conversions, but at an unprofitable cost per click (CPC). These keywords should be presented to SEO managers as secondary, or “nice to have”, keywords within the overall SEO strategy. It’s important to back up each keyword suggestion with performance metrics, such as impressions, clicks, average position, average CPC, conversion rate, and revenue per click. Keywords with higher values should be prioritized for SEO.

But let’s be honest, ranking on the first page for these “nice to have” keywords is easier said than done and is fairly difficult without the SEO machine supporting them at 100% capacity. However, if optimizing only a handful of keywords results in an increase in organic traffic, both SEM and SEO managers benefit. As increases in organic clicks occur, more SEM budget is freed up to purchase less expensive keywords or test new ones. When leveraged appropriately, these previously unprofitable SEM keywords will allow SEO managers to increase organic traffic and acquire more revenue.

Feedback

As I mentioned last month, SEM and SEO managers must continuously provide results and feedback on recommendations to remain successful. Don’t be afraid to proactively seek out feedback. Understanding what works and what doesn't will help limit losses and open the door to capitalize on opportunities. When implemented correctly and optimized effectively, the two strategies I presented here can pay big dividends and enable SEM and SEO managers to acquire more revenue.

SEM SEO High Five

Yesterday, I shared a story I commonly refer to whenever I talk about how SEM managers using keyword research and analysis can help their SEO counterparts. As I discussed, the knowledge share of mutually beneficial keywords is typically absent not because there’s a shortage of keywords, but rather because the value of sharing isn’t often realized. As part of my Roundtable Forum discussion at SES San Francisco last month, I’ll continue exploring the importance of communicating the findings between SEM and SEO managers during keyword research and analysis.

What Does SEO Offer SEM?

Natural search query reports provide an incredible amount of insight into the keywords that result in natural search clicks and conversions. Typically, since short tail keywords across a website are already leveraged within an SEM program, the keywords of interest within these reports are longer tailed. And in the spirit of storytelling, I’d like to share another one about my experiences working with a pet supply retailer.

Due to an expanded monthly budget, I was tasked with building out an extensive list of keywords that had to hit an aggressive return-on-investment (ROI) goal. Working with my SEO manager, and reviewing extensive natural search query reports, we discovered several keywords that drove an incredible amount of natural search traffic and conversions to a product page embedded deep within the website. Based on our findings, I decided to add these keywords into my SEM campaign. Because SEM competition already existed on these keywords and the cost-per-click was relatively low, the heavy influx of paid clicks and conversions was entirely incremental and highly profitable. In other words, after turning on these new keywords there was no decline in natural search performance, and I was able to hit my monthly ROI goal.

Keywords like the ones I’ve described above often fly under the radar of even the most disciplined SEM manager. Keep in mind SEO managers are constantly working within natural search query reports as well as analyzing high volume and top performing landing pages. To continue moving the needle, SEM managers need to integrate these SEO reports and insights into their keyword research and analysis.

More Feedback

As with any mutually beneficial relationship, positive feedback is critical in promoting continuous success. If a new SEO keyword is found to perform well for SEM, it’s important that the performance metrics and analyzes are shared with the SEO manager. Don’t be afraid to proactively seek out feedback. Keep in mind that keyword research and analysis is just one of the many mutualistic strategies that SEM and SEO managers can engage in. Keeping the lines of communication open and providing positive feedback can lead to more aggressive but mutually beneficial strategies, like leveraging SEM keywords to drive traffic to SEO-challenge landing pages.

SEM and SEO Manager Handshake

Last month at SES San Francisco, I was posed a question during my Roundtable Forum discussion about the sometimes non-existent relationship between search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) managers. In the case of keyword research and analysis, this is often the case. However, the knowledge share of mutually beneficial keywords is absent not because there’s a shortage of keywords, but rather because the value of sharing isn’t often realized. Today and tomorrow, as part of that roundtable discussion, I’ll be exploring the importance of communicating the findings between SEM and SEO managers during keyword research and analysis.

What Does SEM Offer SEO?

About three years ago I was managing the SEM program of a large motorcycle retailer and actively bidding on the keywords “dirt bikes” and “motocross bikes”. For SEO purposes, the landing page I was leveraging for SEM had been optimized for the keyword “motocross bikes”, since motocross was how this retailer described this particular type of motorcycle. After a couple months of keyword research and analysis, I discovered that the keyword “dirt bikes” received over twice as many paid clicks and conversions than the keyword “motocross bikes”. As a result of my findings, I submitted a keyword report to the SEO manager in an attempt to shift the SEO strategy on the “motocross bikes” landing page.

To generate more natural traffic and conversions on their “motocross” landing page, the SEO manager needed to leverage the more popular keyword, “dirt bikes”, throughout the page tags and content. Prior to implementation, this landing page had never appeared within the first five pages of natural search results for the query “dirt bikes”. A couple months after implementation, it was appearing within the top three positions on the first page of natural search results. As a consequence, natural search traffic and conversions drastically increased across this landing page.

I commonly refer to this story whenever I talk about how SEM managers can help their SEO counterparts. Sometimes SEO strategies can be limited by how businesses think about their own products (i.e. motocross bikes), rather than how customers think about their products (i.e. dirt bikes). The ability to continuously implement and test new keywords for volume and profitability enables SEM managers to discover SEO worthy keywords. When leveraged correctly, these insights allow SEO managers to increase natural traffic and acquire more revenue.

Positive Feedback

As with any mutually beneficial relationship, positive feedback is critical in promoting continuous success. If a new SEM keyword is found to perform well for SEO, it’s important that the performance metrics and analyzes are shared with the SEM manager. And don’t be afraid to proactively seek out feedback. Keep in mind that keyword research and analysis is just one of the many mutualistic strategies that SEM and SEO managers can engage in. Keeping the lines of communication open and providing positive feedback can lead to more aggressive, but mutually beneficial strategies like using SEO to absorb the cost of expensive SEM keywords. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at how SEM managers can benefit from the keyword research and analysis conducted by their SEO counterparts.

Competitive keyword analysis should play in integral part in your paid and organic search optimization strategy. As paid search activity continues to grow, so will the number of businesses you compete against within the search landscape. Understanding who your competitors are and the keywords they’re optimizing for is critical to staying relevant, competitive and profitable in your pursuit to acquire more revenue. In this post, I’ll be walking through several quick and easy tips for conducting competitive keyword analysis and how to apply your findings to your own optimization strategies.

Meet Your “Neighbors”

If you don’t know who your competitors are, there are a couple simple tools you can use to find out who they are. The easiest way is to search on the keywords that best describe your product or service offering. Both the organic and paid search results will give you an initial list of the visible competitors in your space. You might be surprised as to who shows up.

Another popular tool is SpyFu. In addition to providing a detailed list of your top paid and organic competitors, this search keyword tool also provides the top paid and organic keywords, the daily budget, the average position as well as the paid and organic click volume of your competitors. Simply enter a domain or keyword and start spying away.

SpyFu UI































Go Behind Enemy Lines

Now that you have a list of competitors, it’s time to start learning more about them and the keywords they use to define your space. The best place to start is their website. Go to the homepage, right click and “View page source”. Search for “<title>”, “meta name=“description”” and “meta name=“keywords””. The content in these lines of source code will give you the best idea as to what keywords your competitors are optimizing for. In addition to the homepage, view the source code for each of your competitor’s product or category pages and begin compiling a list of potential keyword opportunities.

Expand Your Territory

Though there are plenty of free keyword expansion tools available, we’re going to focus our attention on the Google Keyword Tool. This easy-to-use tool is great for determining potential traffic and competition for new keyword ideas. Take your compiled list of keyword opportunities (via SpyFu and page source) and paste them in manageable quantities into the Google Keyword Tool. Click here for a walkthrough on how to use the Google Keyword Tool.

Google Keyword Tool UI





































Consider the Competition, Monthly Search volumes and Approximate CPC (when logged into your AdWords account) metrics when exploring new keywords. Low-volume, low-competition keywords will likely come with lower CPCs, but may not result in many clicks or conversions. High-volume, high-competition keywords will likely achieve the opposite. The ideal would be high-volume, low-competition. Though you probably won’t discover the holy grail of keywords, you might discover a new set of keywords that perform well at a lower cost-per-click compared to the rest of your keyword list.

Explore Your Margins

Remember when I mentioned that you might be surprised as to who shows up in your search for the keywords that best describe your product or service offering? That’s because many of these businesses compete with you at the margins of your business. That is, they only compete against a subset of your overall product or service offering. For example, if you’re a sports equipment retailer, these competitors might only sell snowboarding apparel or basketball shoes exclusively. Since they are specialized in what they offer, these competitors can be a good source for unique, inexpensive and long tail keyword opportunities. Leverage their SpyFu and page source keywords to the extent that your product or service inventory allows.

Look In the Mirror

Apply your keyword findings to your own website. Keep in mind that your customers don’t always use the same keywords as you when searching for your products or services. If you discover a new keyword that performs exceptionally well during your competitive analysis, make it a part of your SEO strategy. Justify your decision to optimize for these new keywords based on click and conversion data and build them into your website to improve your landing page relevancy and organic search ranking.

As always, when adding new keywords to your paid search program, remember to optimize. Researching negative keywords, setting appropriate keyword bids and generating relevant ad creative are just a few tasks to keep in mind.

As keyword lists expand, they sometimes out-grow the groups that were initially created to contain them. For example, a group may have started out with a single keyword, “running shoes”. However, after some time and a little keyword expansion, that same group now contains the keywords “running shoes”, “womens running shoes”, “jogging shoes” and “black running shoes”, among others. The original creative that were generated to match “running shoes” queries are now less relevant to the newly expanded keywords. As a result, the overall click-through rate (CTR) of this group has declined. This decline in group CTR, as keyword count increases, leads to a useful metric that should be considered when optimizing creative: keywords per group.

Groups with a higher number of keywords often have lower CTRs and lower Quality Scores than groups with a concise and focused set of keywords. This is because the creative within densely populated groups can only leverage a subset of its keyword’s tokens for maintaining relevance. In our example above, the creative leveraged the token “running” rather than “jogging” to maintain relevance to “running shoes” queries.

To identify and prioritize groups for creative optimization, generate a data table containing the number of keywords, CTR and cost of each group in the account.

Keywords Per Group Data Table















Then create a bubble chart to plot the relationship between the three metrics.

Keywords Per Group Bubble Chart



























Take note of the larger circles in the lower right hand corner of the bubble chart. These groups should be prioritized for optimization. Locate and break out less relevant keywords within these groups into new groups that contain more relevant creative. In our example, “jogging shoes” should be split out into a Jogging Shoes group with creative that utilize the term “jogging” rather than “running”. Executing on these best practices will lead to improvements in CTR and Quality Score.

Keep in mind that Quality Score will reset for the keywords that are split out into new groups. Allow an initial burn-in period for these new keywords to establish their own Quality Score before evaluating performance. As a best practice, check the status of each keyword and ensure that its bid is set above the first page minimum. Give these bids an initial boost to increase ad position. A higher ad position promotes a higher CTR, which remains a significant factor in improving Quality Score.

To help generate the data table and bubble chart above, Marin users can leverage the Active Keywords metric under the Advanced group column category. Be sure to tag the split keywords and affected groups with Dimensions to monitor performance. Finally, don’t forget to optimize the newly created groups; setting appropriate keyword bids, generating relevant creative and researching negative keywords are just a few strategies to in mind.

If you’ve ever browsed through your AdWords account, you’ve most likely encountered Google’s pesky keyword status, “Below first page bid”. This estimate is based on your keyword’s Quality Score and competition, and is the bid you’ll likely need to set in order for your creative to show on the first page of search results. Though these keywords are active, they’re most likely missing out on a large chunk of impressions, and potential clicks and conversions. Since this first page bid is directly linked to Quality Score, marketers that regularly experience high first page bid estimates will likely benefit from improvements to their keyword’s Quality Score. Today we’ll review two strategies for decreasing your first page minimum bid.

AdWords First Page Bid Estimate Keyword Status









AdWords



Marin First Page Bid Estimate Keyword Status








Marin Enterprise



When adding a new keyword, you’ll notice that Google automatically assigns an initial Quality Score. Whether that score is high or low, it’s determined by the keyword’s historical performance for other advertisers who have targeted that same keyword. As a result of this assigned Quality Score, your initial keyword bid might be below the first page bid estimate. As a best practice, be sure to check the status of all your newly added keywords and ensure that you’ve set appropriate bids that are above the first page minimum. It’s critical that marketers do this, since a keyword’s initial performance will dictate whether or not its Quality Scores move above or below the assigned score. Give your keyword bids an initial boost to help facilitate a higher ad position. A higher ad position promotes a higher click-through-rate (CTR), which remains one of the most significant factors in improving Quality Score. Once your keywords have established their own Quality Score, hopefully better than what was inherited, reassess your bids. With higher Quality Scores, your first page bid estimates will have dropped, allowing you to bid less for the same ad position.

Google Quality Score Breakdown



























For keywords that have an established Quality Score, decreasing the first page minimum bid can be a long and difficult task. In addition to setting an appropriate bid above the first page minimum, marketers must take the necessary steps to increase keyword relevance to promote higher CTRs. Create an organized campaign structure that promotes granular groups containing a highly focused set of keywords. In addition, generate relevant and engaging creative to support your keyword set. Finally, assign appropriate landing pages that focus on providing the best customer experience. These tried and true best practices not only ensure that relevancy is maintained from impression to conversion, but will result in Quality Score improvements and decreases to first page minimum bids.

For additional best practices on improving Quality Score, click here.

As paid search programs mature, it becomes more and more difficult to achieve incremental increases in traffic and revenue. Consequently, search marketers lean heavily on keyword expansion to drive more traffic in hopes of acquiring more revenue. Last week, we reviewed the Google Search Term Report and Google Keyword Tool. Today we will walk through three additional keyword expansion tools and provide best practices for maximizing your keyword expansion efforts.

Organic Search Traffic Report

Keyword expansion opportunities aren’t limited to paid search traffic or existing keyword sets. Organic search traffic provides insight into clicks and conversions occurring outside the scope of your paid search program. Adding converting organic search terms into your account can garner additional clicks and provide incremental increases in conversions and revenue.

The notion that paid search ads cannibalize organic clicks is somewhat unfounded and outdated. Including paid search ads with organic search results can lead to a 50% increase in clicks, even when that ad is accompanied by a position #1 organic search result (Google study).

Conversion tracking solutions, such as Marin Tracker, have the functionality to generate organic search traffic (or search query) reports. Google Analytics is free and provides online marketers with access to such reports.

On-Site Search Term Report

The queries that visitors enter into your site’s search bar provide insight into the products and services that interest them. Mining on-site search term reports for new keywords is a quick and simple keyword expansion strategy.

Keep in mind that your customers don’t use the same words as you when searching for your products and services. Unless the appropriate broad match keywords have been added to your account, these types of words might not be captured by your paid search term report. As you make these reports a regular resource for keyword expansion, you might find that many of your onsite search terms fall outside the reach of your paid search keywords.

Your analytics package should have the functionality to generate on-site search term reports. Google Analytics is free and provides online marketers with access to such reports.

Google Insights for Search

Similar to the Google Keyword Tool, Google Insights for Search should be used in tandem with performance oriented keyword expansion tools. Google Insights for Search allows marketers to trend up to five sets of search terms to compare search volume patterns across geographic regions, product and service categories, seasonal time periods and Google properties. Simply copy and paste your new keywords into Google Insights for Search.

Google Insights for Search UI



Gauging interest using Google Insights for Search allows you to build keyword variations around popular terms and reallocate budget based on interest and demand. For example, search volume for the keyword “mountain climbing” peaks during the summer months. In addition, searches on this keyword are higher in western regions where there is more mountainous terrain. To stay ahead of competitors, you might consider increasing bids on this keyword during the summer and further increasing it across campaigns that target western states.

As paid search programs mature, it becomes more and more difficult to achieve incremental increases in traffic and revenue. Consequently, search marketers lean heavily on keyword expansion to drive more traffic in hopes of acquiring more revenue. Subscription-based keyword expansion tools can provide a quick way of generating new keywords, but still require manual effort and often lack granularity. These shortcomings make free keyword expansion tools very attractive. This two part blog series will walk through five free Google tools and provide best practices for maximizing your keyword expansion efforts.

Google Search Term Report

The Google search term (or search query) report is one of the most dependable keyword expansion tools available. Benefits of this report are twofold: marketers can add new keywords based on search terms that are relevant to and perform well in a marketer’s paid search program. Conversely, they can add negative keywords based on search terms that are irrelevant and result in unwanted clicks.
Keep in mind that your current keyword set already captures queries appearing in the search term report. As a result, a new bidding strategy, creative or both, should accompany newly added keywords.

Google AdWords Search Query Report UI













For example, the query “mountain rock climbing” appears in your report as a top search term. It’s currently being captured by the broad match keyword “mountain climbing”, which exists in your account. Simply adding [mountain rock climbing] into your account won’t likely shift performance in one direction or the other. To properly expand into the keyword [mountain rock climbing] and analyze its performance separate from “mountain climbing” you must:

  1. Create a new group and add [mountain rock climbing]
  2. Set an aggressive max cost-per-click (CPC) to garner initial impressions and clicks
  3. Add the negative keyword [mountain rock climbing] into the old “mountain climbing” group
  4. In your new group, add a creative that includes the token “rock”. This will make your new creative more relevant to the newly added [mountain rock climbing] keyword


For newly added keywords, strategies like the one above can help increase Quality Score and click-through-rate (CTR) while decreasing CPC. As a best practice, use conversion tracking, in addition to cost metrics, to prioritize your keyword expansion opportunities. Just because a search term receives clicks, it doesn’t mean that it results in revenue. Enterprise-class solutions, like Marin Software, seamlessly integrate conversion tracking data with publisher click data to help marketers scale, prioritize and automate their expansion opportunities.

AdWords Help provides a quick walkthrough of how to run a search term report.

Google Keyword Tool

The Google Keyword Tool is a great way of determining potential traffic and competition for new keyword ideas. However, keep in mind that it’s in Google’s best interest for you to add any and all suggested keywords, since this tool favors quantity of keywords over quality of keywords. As a best practice, the Google Keyword Tool should only be used in conjunction with more robust and performance-oriented keyword-expansion tactics such as leveraging organic and paid search query reports.

Before adding a new set of keywords with Google Keyword Tool, utilize some of the tool’s more advanced features:

  1. Copy and paste your keyword ideas into the Google Keyword Tool and select the appropriate match types
  2. Select the option “Only show ideas closely related to my search terms”
  3. Expand the “Advanced Options and Filters” window and configure appropriately
  4. Under the columns dropdown, select “Approximate CPC (Search)” to reveal Google’s suggested max cost-per-click for each keyword suggestion
  5. Click “Search” and take note of your “Search terms” results


Google Keyword Tool UI






























Consider the Competition, Monthly Search volumes and Approximate CPC when adding new keywords and see if they align with your expansion objectives. For example, did you expect a particular keyword to receive more monthly search volume or cost less than $2 per click? Low-volume, low-competition keywords will likely come with lower CPCs, but may not result in many clicks or conversions. High-volume, high-competition keywords will likely achieve the opposite. Use the Approximate CPC as a benchmark when setting your new keywords’ max CPCs. Enterprise-class tools, such as Marin’s keyword expansion tool, automatically combine Google’s keyword estimations with converting organic and paid search query data, providing marketers with smarter, revenue-driving expansion opportunities.

AdWords Help provides a quick walkthrough of how to use the Google Keyword Tool.

Read Part 2 of our series for three additional Google keyword expansion tools.

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

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

Breakdown Keyword Performance

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

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

Leverage Keyword Insertion

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

Review Bidding Hierarchy

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

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


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

In a post late last year, we briefly explored the importance of match type parity—expanding broad match keywords to phrase and exact match—to not only improve keyword efficiency, but lower CPCs. Today, we’ll broaden our discussion to review additional strategies for maintaining keyword parity across match types and publishers. This post will help identify where potential keyword gaps reside and provide the necessary tools for filling them.

What’s Great for Google is Good for Bing


As campaigns mature, keywords evolve from experiments to proven revenue drivers. These proven revenue drivers often perform similarly across publishers. If a newly added Google keyword achieved 100 clicks with a 5% conversion rate at a 200% ROI over the last two weeks, it makes sense to test the same keyword on Bing. Unfortunately, many advertisers fail to maintain keyword parity across publishers, even when the failure to do so can result in missed revenue opportunities.

Identifying where these keyword gaps reside can prove to be a daunting task. To promote engine parity, implement tracking when engaging in keyword expansion. (Third-party solutions, like Marin Software, can help track and report on these changes at scale.) Take detailed notes on where, when and why these keywords were added to the account. These notes are not only essential to analyzing performance, but are critical when copying top performing keywords across publishers. To retroactively assess parity, download a sorted keyword performance report and apply an Excel vlookup to compare publisher keyword sets. Take note of where the gaps are for top performing keywords.

Bring the Whole Family


Copying exact and phrase match keywords to broad match type is a simple strategy for reaching a larger audience and discovering additional keyword opportunities. However, an increase in traffic doesn’t always correspond to an increase in performance. When introducing broad match keywords, be relentless in your efforts to find appropriate negative keywords.

Driving improvements in keyword efficiency often requires the use of phrase and exact match keywords. Expanding broad match keywords to phrase and exact allows for effective segmentation of keyword traffic and performance metrics. A keyword on broad match only captures the traffic for its phrase and exact match counterparts. Consequently, the clicks and conversions are aggregated to a single keyword. With the same keyword on broad, phrase and exact match, clicks and conversions can be segmented based on match type and precise optimization strategies can be implemented for each keyword.

But Remember to Silo


Consider the following dilemma. A keyword running on Google across all three match types has a broad match bid that exceeds the phrase and exact match bids. As a result, the broad match keyword cannibalizes traffic that should otherwise be captured by the phrase or exact match keywords. To effectively expand keywords from broad to phrase to exact match types, and segment performance based on match type, you must implement match type silos.

Match Type Silos




















Match type silos not only promote match type parity but, with appropriate negative keywords, guarantee proper query-to-keyword matching. (For more on match type silos, read our whitepaper on managing negative keywords.)

Be mindful of publisher and match type gaps. Once these keyword gaps have been filled, remember to optimize. Researching negative keywords, setting appropriate keyword bids and generating relevant ad creative are just a few tasks to keep in mind. Implement these strategies and share your results with us.

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