Optimization

Market segmentation is the foundation of a successful marketing campaign. There are likely many different types of consumers that could be interested in your products, and sending the right message to each type of customer is key to acquiring new users. Whether it be targeting customers based on their age, or understanding that different types of customers value different aspects of your product or service, you’ll want to deliver unique, personalized messages to different segments in order to foster enthusiastic brand loyalty.

Let’s run through the 5 different types of market segmentation in detail so that you can understand which is right for you.

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Demographic Segmentation

This is usually the first type of segmentation we think of when starting to define our different customer personas. These are basic defining characteristics such as age, gender, race, income level and education level. Demographic targeting can be anything from advertising high end products to those with higher income levels, to a clothing company advertising gendered clothing to women and men separately.

This is mostly used in B2C marketing efforts, as these traits focus on the individual. The B2B counterpart is firmographic segmentation.

Firmographic Segmentation

Firmographic segmentation is the most basic form of market segmentation for B2B marketing efforts. Firmographic traits of a company include size, location, industry, structure and financial performance. For example, you’ll want to use different messaging when marketing towards a small business than when reaching out to an organization with hundreds of employees.

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Geographic Segmentation

A subset of demographic segmentation, geographic segmentation entails segmenting customers by their location. You can segment by city, country, zip code or even language region. The most straightforward example of this is trying to drive foot traffic to a brick and mortar store by targeting people who live within a certain number of miles from the store. But even for online businesses, it’s important to analyze which geographic areas your website traffic is coming from. Sometimes these answers may seem obvious, like a company selling cowboy boots targeting states in the south. But you may be surprised what other regions are interested in your product, beyond the most obvious opportunities. Often market research brings about data that cannot be acquired by intuition alone. Who knows, there could be a lot of cowboys in Vermont…

Behavioral Segmentation

This is the most complex and arguably the most valuable type of segmentation. Behavioral segmentation is the ongoing process of tracking and targeting users’ behavioral trends. As you collect data about your target market over time, you’ll be able to segment your audience into groups based on things like purchasing habits, brand interactions, buying history, website visits and interactions with competing brands. This form of market research is very valuable because it brings to light users with intent to buy, allowing you to target your most interested audiences.

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Psychographic Segmentation

This form of segmentation attempts to understand the consumers’ motivations. It’s not the what, or where, but the why that psychographic segmentation strives to make sense of. Why do customers buy your product, or choose your competitor's product over yours? Is it their values? Their political beliefs? Their interests? This sort of segmentation is extremely valuable for media companies, for example. News stations will market towards those with aligned political beliefs. Gossip magazines will target those interested in celebrity content. This form of segmentation can be difficult to nail down, but is very powerful.

Now that we’ve got an understanding of the different types of segmentation, let’s discuss how to begin segmenting your market. 

Start with testing

The first step is market research. You’ll want to cast your net wide with broad targeting, then see what content appeals to different segments of users. Once you’ve identified segments based on engagement with your different categories of content, you’ll understand what sorts of products or services they are interested in. Then you can hit those segmented audiences with more specific retargeting ads.

It’s important to set a measurable goal when testing. Let’s say you’re trying to understand if your products appeal more to women or men. Send ads to both groups equally, and measure performance with a metric such as click through rate or conversion rate. If women seem to drive a higher conversion rate for a particular product, break men and women out into separate audiences and allocate proportionately more ad spend to the female audience. This is one simple example; but there are countless ways to run this same sort of test based on the segmentation factors you believe could apply to your particular campaign.

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Never stop analyzing

It’s important to continually analyze these different sorts of user trends, as things can change over time and new segments may emerge. Moving forward, allocate a small portion of your marketing budget to testing ongoing so that you can make sure you're capitalizing on emerging segments and keeping your audience fresh.

Streamline analysis with MarinOne

If you create strong audience segments and send the right message to each segment, you’re sure to win in performance marketing. With so much data to navigate when analyzing the unique performance of your various market segments, it's best to bring it all together in a powerful tool like MarinOne. MarinOne makes your life easier by enabling you to optimize campaigns in bulk, pivot bidding types on the fly, and get a holistic view of all your paid media campaigns in one place. Start your journey to better market segmentation and great advertising performance with MarinOne today. Our team of experienced marketers is ready to help you achieve your goals.

The global e-commerce market reached a value of $13 trillion in 2021—and is forecasted to rise to $55.6 trillion by 2027. What are some of the major factors that led to this growth?  There was an explosion in demand for smart devices like smartphones and tablets, making it easier than ever for people to shop online from anywhere. COVID was another big factor: when stores closed, consumers  all went online—and they liked it.

In this article, we'll share some of the benefits of the current e-commerce landscape, then give you some tips on getting your e-commerce site to perform at its best this year and beyond.

Reasons to Ramp Up your E-comm Presence

There's no doubt that online sales are more important than ever, regardless of your company structure. With a growing population of e-comm shoppers and a marketplace that's constantly expanding, it's essential to have a strong e-commerce presence if you want to stay competitive and meet customers’ demands. Here are five reasons you should focus your efforts on e-commerce: 

Meeting Consumers Where They Are

Since the onset of the pandemic, consumer behavior has dramatically changed, shifting more towards digital shopping habits. A study done by Pew Research states that 79% of U.S. consumers shop online, indicating that this new habit is here to stay. And for good reason: it’s far more convenient than having to step foot in any physical retail store. It saves time, gives consumers the flexibility to shop for the best prices, and allows them to choose from a wider range of products.

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Unrestricted Store Hours

Having an e-commerce site means your store is theoretically open all day, every day. With 24/7 access consumers can browse whenever they want, be it 1 AM or 1 PM. Not only does this make digital shopping more appealing for customers, but it also increases sales opportunities. 

Manage Your Business From Anywhere

As opposed to a traditional brick-and-mortar storefront, using an e-commerce site allows you to run your company from anywhere. Whether you prefer to sit in an office, work from home, or even your local coffee shop, you can watch your business grow without being tied to a physical space. 

Extend Your Reach

As an e-commerce company, your number one priority is to get the word out about your products and services. It is possible to advertise in different ways and improve traffic to your site. However, this is easier said than done. It's always hard to get noticed online with so much noise and competition shouting their message out. By honing in on the right niche messaging for your target demographic, and utilizing an omnichannel marketing approach with SEM, email marketing with proper authentication protocols, influencers, and more…you can "find your people" on a global scale. Once the right brand message is identified, the opportunity to extend your reach to a wider target audience is virtually limitless.

Reduce Your Costs

If you were at all hesitant to start an e-commerce site because of the cost, think again. Launching a site is more affordable than owning a store, and it minimizes infrastructure, communication, and other overhead costs. 

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Tips for Creating a Profitable E-commerce Site

Follow the Latest Trends

With e-commerce best practices constantly evolving and changing, it’s vital to keep your e-commerce site current and your business competitive. By keeping up with the latest trends, you'll find new and innovative techniques that will offer your business huge value, while identifying the tactics that may not be suitable for your specific company needs. To determine which trends are worth pursuing, know your customers and competitors well so you can make the right move. 

Understand How to Optimize your E-Commerce Presence

Adopt advanced conversion tactics and push your organization to improve your baseline goal. Routinely examine bounce rates, exit rates, click-through rates, and average session durations. It is also wise to invest in e-commerce tools that can help analyze your current conversion rate issues. Some other strategies for boosting conversion rates include using high-quality images and videos on your product pages, providing limited-time coupon codes, and tweaking your store checkout process. 

Develop Strategic Shipping Policies and Options

Offer your consumers free shipping on orders over a specific amount and offer expedited delivery options like three-day shipping or two-hour delivery windows for customers who need their items immediately. An effective product delivery strategy will help to differentiate your business from competitors.

Include Customer Reviews on Product Pages 

Without a storefront, customers can’t physically experience an item before purchasing it. Give them the confidence they need to make informed decisions about products by providing them with easy access to online product reviews. By helping them navigate your business’s digital space, you maintain a positive reputation and a strong brand name, leading to happy customers and returning business. 

Create Social Media Profiles for Your Brand 

Having a social media presence allows you to connect with existing customers and reach out to potential new ones. Statista data indicates that users spend an average of a whopping 147 minutes per day on social media. Using social media to market your e-commerce store allows you to reach shoppers directly, advertise new products, or engage them with attractive promotions. According to BigCommerce statistics, businesses with an active and unique social media presence have at least 32% more sales than those without one. 

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Integrate your Point of Sale and Inventory Management Systems for Best Results 

Consumers prefer a seamless shopping and purchasing experience, with expectations that their products will arrive at their doorstep as fast as possible. Backend integration can help streamline e-commerce operations like inventory management, so that your customers remain satisfied and get what they want, when they want it. Integrating inventory management allows your organization to track its stock so you can balance the quantity of products on hand while meeting customer demands. By being able to analyze trends and sales patterns, you can also successfully maximize sales margins. 

Make your Site Mobile Friendly

Making sure your e-commerce site is mobile-friendly is the key to driving more sales and ensuring a smooth customer journey. A mobile-friendly design leads to more page views, stronger customer loyalty, increased online purchases, and many more benefits. 

Site Speed Matters

The last thing you want is a slow-loading website that will irritate your visitors. If your site can’t move fast enough for your customers it will negatively impact the user's perception of your brand, increase bounce rates, and encourage buyers to look elsewhere. In fact, studies prove that if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 40% of users will quickly give up and leave.  

Conclusion

Not only is centralizing your business to an e-commerce website cost-effective, it’s also been the preferred way for customers to shop for several years now. To stay competitive, it's essential that you get your website running like a well-oiled machine.

Not sure where to start? MarinOne can help by streamlining your advertising efforts and give your website a jumpstart in sales and traffic. This will buy your team time to get the web backend exactly how you want it while we build your front-end brand through advertising on marketplaces, paid search, and social. With MarinOne, you can gain an edge over your competition, maximize performance across all channels, and utilize impactful retail marketplace advertising features to set your e-commerce site up for success. 

Learn more about how MarinOne can help. Get in touch and speak to one of our team experts or schedule a free demo today.

Is your business struggling to make a digital impact despite having a fully developed and designed website? The problem could be that your website is not as dynamic as it ought to be with UX-driven software and plugins. Whether you are dispensing information or selling goods and services online, marketing automation beyond your basic CMS is necessary to bring your audience to your website the first time and keep them coming back for more. 

Here are some of the best integrations you should be using for a functional website that captures your audiences' attention while giving your marketing team the transparency needed to reach those audiences ongoing.

Lead Generation

Instapage

A quick way to identify lead quality is by having customized landing pages for every type of lead coming into your sales funnel. With Instapage, you can develop unique landing pages quickly and efficiently for every client category you serve. Its compatible nature enables you to connect with other software and applications to funnel the generated leads to your CRM, and you can plug LPs into your CMS and domain without much hassle.

Instapage has also taken some of the guesswork out of landing page design; as they have provided hundreds of high-converting templates, ready for you to test. You can customize the template as you please with Instapage's drag-and-drop functionality; and with easy-to-use duplication, a/b variant, and mobile-friendly editing tools…you'll have dozens of great landing pages in no time, without ever touching raw code directly. Pricing starts at $199 per month, or you can contact their biz dev team for a custom quote, depending on the needs of your website.

MailChimp

There is no thorough lead generation campaign without email marketing. To enable a winning strategy, you will require an email marketing automation platform. While there are many behemoths in this space, such as Marketo and Pardot, for those just starting out…our recommendation would be MailChimp. The software is great for novices, it has a surprising number of drip funnels ready to go, and it easily integrates with dozens of other tools and platforms. 

Depending on your needs and existing contact list, MailChimp offers both free and paid subscriptions to their service. You can send emails to up to 2000 contacts for free; beyond that point, there is a sliding scale of premium plans ranging between $9.99 for 500 contacts and $299 for 10,000 contacts. Like so many others, they also offer enterprise account quotes through one of their sales consultants.

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Support

Intercom

If you want to keep potential customers entering your website engaged, incorporate conversational marketing into your website experience. Intercom is an excellent tool for ensuring current and potential clients get a live and personal touch. The application is fast, and you can set it to ensure customers are directed to the right pages for their needs, with various triggers based on multiple choice responses or keywords. It can also track return customers and create a more natural experience for them with different messaging. When needed, the site visitor will be routed to a live individual who can answer their questions in real-time as well. The monthly rate for Intercom varies quite a bit depending on which of their packages your business needs, but to test out the chat functionality only you can get started with just $74 per month.

Helpjuice

For knowledge base software and FAQ directories, there is no better option than Helpjuice. This highly-rated software helps you organize help articles, user tutorials, and more into categorized, functional workspaces for your customers. If the support section of your website is taking over the marketing content that actually leads to new business, you need to make a shift in the balance of power and make that help-related content digestible and simple to navigate. Helpjuice can make that possible. Their packaging starts at $120 per month for 4 users, and goes up to $499 per month for unlimited users.

Data & Analytics

Marin Software

While we may be a bit biased on this one, it is undeniable that Marin has been an industry leader in cross-channel advertising management and data analysis for almost two decades, which is about three times longer than most of our competitors have even been in business. As one of the pioneers of the modern digital data space, we have one of the best analytics tools available for people seeking comprehensive omnichannel summaries. The product development team at Marin is constantly re-designing and elevating the software to focus on what’s essential, so your team can be focused on innovation, not number crunching. We work hard to simplify data into insights while simultaneously hiring the best marketing consultants in the world who can help you turn those insights into action. Pricing is customizable according to your unique business needs.

Google Analytics

This is the go-to web analysis tool to understand your user behavior, source, demographics, etc. Google Analytics is excellent in providing user segmentation, website optimization, and key website metrics like the number of visitors and average bounce rate. It has influential audiences you can use to boost ads campaign and intelligent user tracking and privacy features. When paired with a paid media management solution like MarinOne, your ability to know who your audience is, where they're coming from, and what they want is virtually limitless.

Payment & E-Commerce

PayPal

One of the reasons businesses are turning to online operations is to increase transaction efficiency. PayPal is a great tool for this as it is almost universally accepted as one of the safest and most user-friendly digital payment platforms. Both business owners and consumers like PayPal as it is easy to use on both sides of the transaction. For brands, it seamlessly integrates with dozens of online shopping carts and e-commerce platforms. On the customer side, PayPal offers quick payment options that put the user in charge of their security preferences. This tool is safe, tested, and popular across the globe, making it a reliable choice for almost any business.

Shift4Shop

While Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce are certainly the leading powerhouses in the online checkout market, what is sometimes limiting with those platforms is how inherently tied they are to your website's CMS. Shopify and Magento are all-in-one solutions, meaning your entire site needs to build on those platforms directly. WooCommerce is a great plugin but is primarily paired with WordPress sites. So if you already have a CMS on anything besides WordPress, and you don't want to go through the trouble of rebuilding your entire site, Shift4Shop is your next best option. They are considered a top choice due to the tools' ability to transact and retain data on the customer, invoices, and other financial transactions. Notable benefits include a smooth UX for the shopper, order transparency for administrators, and ease of integration with other business software applications.

Customer Relationship Management

Bitrix24

If you are hoping to enhance communication and collaboration among your employees, Bitrix24 is an excellent choice. The tool has top-notch data management and cloud storage abilities. Automating marketing and sales processes boosts teamwork, thus enhancing customer care through service delivery. 

Whether you want a digital assistant to handle your project management or want to just catch up on the day's tasks, this is a great tool for overseeing productivity and task management. All the features you need to start your own project are available on Bitrix24 in the free version. The paid plan, starting at $43 per month for 5 users, includes advanced functionalities and customization for bigger companies with bigger needs While Bitrix24 comes with many features, here are some of the best task management tools for increased productivity.

  • Create tasks, indicate the priority level, and evaluate your progress.
  • Bring all your team's interactions and projects into one single shared space.
  • Automate tasks to save time and grow faster by centralizing your workflows. Doing so allows you to eliminate repetitive tasks and focus on the big picture.
  • From a central access point, you can get to all of your files and documents.
  • Share directly with others with real-time collaboration, discuss in forums, and make use of a variety of communication options.
  • You can set plans for short-term, medium-term and long-term deadlines and make sure you don't miss any of them.

Nimble

A relationship-focused CRM for your entire team, it is best known for customer prospecting. With Nimble, you enjoy reduced data storage costs, low business risks, optimized business performance, and easy integration with other software apps. Besides, Nimble can “scale up” and “scale out,” thus enhancing performance capacity. It's easy to use; and it works in your Outlook/Gmail inbox, social, web. You can tap into every part of your contact's interaction history, so you don't miss anything the team does when you step away. You can also make comments on a record, update deal status, and keep an eye on social handles. Nimble starts at $19 per month per user, and it's value is well worth the cost.

In Summary

Even if you’re not a professional web developer, many CMS tools combined with the right plugins, have made it easy enough to get the results you want. No matter what you're looking for in terms of business goals, it's important to have a website that attracts your audience. Refer back to this list as you refine and revise your site to keep testing new integrations and determining what would be most compatible with your particular setup.

Once your business starts to get solid footing with a fully optimized site, our Marin team of paid media experts are ready to help you launch things to the next level with digital advertising. 

Reach out when you’re ready to get started promoting your now streamlined and well-functioning website.

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When it comes down to it, your users are the only ones who know what brings value to their lives. When you deliver on that value, sales and customer satisfaction rates soar. Companies often get caught in the trap of outrunning competitors, making products bigger and better without stopping to think about what “better” actually means to their unique audience. In this post, we’re covering how to define and measure user value to help you meet your customers’ wants and needs with a product that actually brings value to their lives. 

Define value for your audience

The first step here is to determine what value is for your audience, which requires actually talking to your users about what their goal is when using your product, how they are currently accomplishing that goal, and what problems they face throughout the whole process. 

You can’t just survey customers on what is valuable to them. It’s difficult to put that into words. Instead, you have to use specific questions that draw out that customer’s definition of value in relation to the problem your product solves. 

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To define user value, you have to follow the steps below:

Identify the value proposition

The value proposition is what your product offers to its users. For example, Uber’s value proposition is “The smartest way to get around”. They offer a convenient mode of transportation. Budgeting tool Digit’s value proposition is “Save money, without thinking about it.” The tool optimizes your spending habits and automizes saving for different goals. Each of these value propositions clearly illustrates how the tool benefits its users.

Defining your value proposition starts with identifying the problem statement. Use these five prompts to brainstorm:

  • I am…
  • I’m trying to…
  • But…
  • Because…
  • Which makes me feel…

An example using Uber might be: I am a traveler trying to visit a location but can’t because it is out of walking distance which makes me feel like I need to spend money on renting a car or finding alternate transportation. 
The value proposition above is the perfect solution to this problem statement. Do this correctly, and yours will be too. 

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Identify the core action

For every value proposition, there is a core action that must be taken for the customer to experience the value. If the user does not connect their bank accounts to Digit and start spending, the product will be useless to that user. The core action needs to be easy to do within the app if users are going to follow through.

Measuring user value by interviewing customers

The information in steps one and two will then be used to interview users about the product and its value in this step. 

First, prompt users to complete the core action. Once they’ve done this, ask them to rate the experience in reference to your value proposition. Keep questioning to identify why that score was given as well as what specifics about the product contributed to their decision. Ask about competing products that also help the user with your value proposition, gathering information on how your experience holds up in comparison. 

Listen to your audience

By defining and measuring user value, you gain visibility into what your product should be accomplishing and whether or not it is meeting that goal. Use this data to make adjustments so that your product continuously meets customer expectations.

While the financial cost of the product does play a role here, there are also intangible costs that impact user value. Here are some examples:

  • Customer experience
  • Time to purchase 
  • Core action

User research might reveal that your core action is not intuitive enough, meaning customers cannot figure out how to use your product after opening it. Or maybe the core action requires more effort than its perceived value. In this case, updates are necessary to clearly define the core action and make it effortless so that customers will know exactly what is required for them to get value out of the product and will take the action necessary to do so. 
Prioritize the customer experience so that users can get value from your product without friction. The higher the customer costs, the lower the user value. The overall user value is comprised of the benefits minus the costs. So if your value proposition is ranked 10 and your customer costs are 5, your overall user value can only be 5. To increase your user value, you need to think about knocking out some of those customer costs– which brings us right back around to understanding and improving the product’s user value. 

At the end of the day, products and services that don’t offer value to the customer are a waste of time for everyone involved. The most successful products are the ones that fill a need and do it well. Speak to a Marin consultant on how our tools can help you identify the right customer for your products or services and the best moment to engage them. Learn more now.

Launching a new product is exciting, but expecting things to go well without any prior preparation would be naive. The vast majority of product launches aren’t successful—not because of the product, but because the business hasn’t thoroughly considered how to showcase the products’ value to the right customers. 

There’s a lot to consider when you’re getting ready to release a new product. The list includes determining who you want to sell to, identifying your competition, and deciding how you will set yourself apart. 

Why You Need a Product Launch Checklist 

Even when teams identify a need for their product, a lack of preparation can result in unforeseen obstacles and delays. For example, Gartner found in 2019 that 45% of product launches get put off by at least one month. 

Meanwhile, research published by Marketing Charts revealed the most important factors separating product launch failure and success. Pre-launch testing, authentic messaging, and data monitoring all contributed to better results: 

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A pre-launch checklist helps you get the branding right for your product, which makes it easier to target the right people and prevents any disconnect between what customers expect and what they get. 

9 Steps to Include in Your Product Launch Checklist 

Define the Audience 

Before you create a product, you must define your target audience. For most products, there is a focused demographic to advertise to—and it will be clear what the main pain points are that you can solve. 

Dig deep when defining your audience. Create detailed buyer personas that consider demographics such as age, gender, job role, daily challenges, and why they should purchase your product. 

Identify Your Competition 

Regardless of the industry and niche you serve, you’re probably not the first company in that particular area. You will have competitors, many of whom have years of experience and established brand names. You must prepare for your product launch accordingly. 

Look at the top companies in your field and note what they do well. Identify their weaknesses and think about where you can fill those gaps. Once you’ve fully understood who you’re competing against, you can spell out your USP—unique selling proposition—to let customers know how and why your product is the best choice.

Develop a Marketing Plan 

Once you’ve completed the market research phase and you know who your target customers are and why they need your product, you need to start thinking about how you’ll promote your product. Be sure to consider both organic and paid advertising. 

When developing a marketing plan, make sure you answer the following questions:

  • Which channels will you advertise your product on? 
  • How frequently will you market your product? 
  • How will you measure your success? 

You should also set SMART goals:

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A robust plan will give your team better guidance when putting together the final strategy for your launch. 

Clarify Your Branding 

Your product needs to appeal to your target audience, so you must get your branding right. Think about aspects of branding such as the colors you use and the messaging style to align with your brand’s target audience. 

Your branding will vary depending on how you want others to perceive you. Brighter colors should prevail if you want customers to see you as playful and approachable, for example. But if you want to appear sophisticated, you might opt for more of a minimalistic theme instead. 

Develop the Product’s Pages on Your Company Website 

If you want your product to sell, dedicating space on your company’s website is non-negotiable. Create engaging copy that communicates what the product can do for the customer and be sure to include product images, details, and specifications.

Build Your Product’s Online Presence

Did you know that 55% of consumers discover new brands on social media? If your product isn’t being mentioned on social media, you risk going unnoticed by the people you want to purchase your products. 

When creating an online presence, consider the social channels your target audience will frequent. Hint: they’re probably on the channels where your company already has profiles. Select the top one or two to start talking about the product and its launch. Once you have the ball rolling, you can expand to other networks if you notice a demand.

Gather Testimonials 

Social proof is one of the best ways to convince others to buy your product, and gaining trust is crucial. As part of your pre-launch process, you must gather feedback from happy customers. Consider offering product samples to some of your existing customers in return for their feedback. 

You can use your testimonials in your ads to show how potential buyers will benefit from investing their faith in you. Similarly, you can add them to packaging as well.

Have Enough Inventory for Your Demand 

Many entrepreneurs worry about not selling enough of their product, but the opposite—having ready sales and no inventory—is also a problem. When you launch your product, you must ensure you have enough supply to meet the demand. 

If you sell a digital product, like an online course, this won’t be an issue. But for physical items, ensure your inventory exceeds your sales predictions by at least a small margin—and have a handle on the supply chain to know how long subsequent production may take.

Track Your Results 

After completing the above steps and beginning your launch campaign, you’ll need to measure progress. Over the following days and weeks, you’ll receive feedback from your customers—and you’ll know whether you’ve met your sales projections. Be agile and ride the momentum forward, adjusting your sales strategy as needed.

How MarinOne Can Help 

Launching a successful product requires a lot of preparation, and getting things right from the beginning will make the whole process much easier and much more likely to succeed. The primary focus areas are to create a product that will meet a customer need, build a solid brand, and make sure the target customer knows about it.

Once you’re ready to advertise, thinking about the channels that’ll maximize your profits is equally important. After each campaign, refine your efforts and adapt your strategy based on what you’ve learned. 

MarinOne offers several advertising management tools, including automation and analytics that will make your product launches more successful and help you improve sales as you go. Schedule a demo to learn more.

In 2021, more than 250 million items were purchased by Prime members worldwide over the two-day timeframe. This year, preparations for Prime Day should be well underway by now so that your brand can be ready when millions of consumers shop during one of the most significant retail events of the year. Here are a few tips so you can be prepared ahead of time.

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Amazon Prime Day Tips:

  • View your historical performance of past Prime Day events
  • Create a ‘Prime Day’ page within your Amazon Store
  • Start planning your budgets NOW. Remember, traffic to Amazon’s website is increased exponentially during the Prime Day event, so you want to capitalize on this. If you don’t have enough budget for your campaigns to stay visible throughout the day(s), your ads will be paused until the next day.
  • Build brand awareness ahead of the event with Sponsored Display Ads and Sponsored Brand Video ads. Shoppers are more likely to purchase a product during Prime Day that they discovered during the lead-up to the event.
  • During Prime Day, use Sponsored Display and Sponsored Product ads to engage with shoppers browsing similar products or even remarket to audiences that visited your product detail pages before Prime Day to stay top of mind on the day of the event.
  • Use negative targeting to help prevent your ads from appearing on shopping results pages that don’t meet your performance goals.
  • Check your inventory levels for your products, as well as understand your top-selling and least-selling products, so you know where to focus your efforts.
  • Create and choose strong products to focus on in your Sponsored Product campaigns. Ensure their product detail pages are informative, have high-quality and detailed descriptions, and include four or more high-resolution images with a strong title.
  • There are many more solutions for brands to reach audiences you might not be aware of. Consider diversifying your content before Prime day by streaming a video game on Twitch, listening to music through Amazon Music’s ad-supported tier, or streaming video via Freevee (formerly IMDb TV) and Fire TV…all of which are available via Amazon DSP ads.
  • Use Sponsored Display Ads to target other products in your category to help reach new customers, or consider targeting your product detail pages to introduce shoppers to other products you sell. Let’s take ‘Computers & Office’ as an example: to engage new customers and ensure that your laptops are top of mind, you can target similar product pages within the Computers & Office category, or you can target your own product pages to promote your complementary products (e.g., laptop cases or external hard drives).
  • Lastly, don’t forget, there’s the lead-up (- two weeks) and lead-out (+ two weeks) of the Prime Day event. Brands that advertise throughout all phases of Prime Day can better build brand presence with shoppers. According to Amazon’s internal data, “Brands that advertised leading up to and during Prime Day showed a 216% increase in awareness and 214% increase in considerations, compared to the week before.

Amazon Prime Day Deadlines

Keep the following deadlines in mind for Prime Day as they are right around the corner, and some have already passed.

Prime Day Deals Deadline (for consideration):

  • April 29

Lightning Deals Submission Deadline:

  • April 29 (U.S. and Canada)
  • May 13 (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the UK)

Coupon Submission Deadline:

  • June 10 (U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, and the UK)

FBA Inventory Cutoff Deadline:

  • June 20 (U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Portugal)
  • June 29 (Japan)

Inbound Shipping Cutoff Deadline:

  • June 2 (U.S. and Canada)
  • June 22 (Mexico and Portugal)
  • June 29 (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the UK)

Prime Member Promotions Deadline:

  • April 29 (U.S. and Canada)
  • May 13 (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Australia, Japan, India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates)

Prime Exclusive Discounts Deadline:

  • July 8 (the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Australia, and Japan) 
  • July 19 (India, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates)

Prime Day:

Image Source

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

How can Google Sheets help my productivity?

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

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

Ok, so what about automation?

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

What type of things can I automate?

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

Templatize daily workflows to increase efficiency

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

Cannibalization insights

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

Create foreign language ads using your native language

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

Why should you automate tasks in Google Sheets?

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

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

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

How can Marin help?

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

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

It seems that the Facebook Reels revolution is here to stay as Meta recently announced the expansion of Reels on Facebook globally. This announcement introduced new opportunities for creators to make money with their Reels and with that (of course) new ad placements for brands to leverage.

Instagram Reels ad placements have been around since Q2 2021 as an opportunity for brands to leverage their vertically-crafted creatives to a wider audience. The expansion of Reels to Facebook indicates Meta’s continued path down the road of video-focused experiences. 

This move won’t come as a surprise to advertisers. We’ve seen TikTok reach new heights in usership and revenue, YouTube has recently introduced YouTube Shorts with massive success, and both offer opportunities for creators to be compensated for their time and content. Meta is reading the room and following suit.

How to Use Facebook Reels

New product means new ad placement opportunities. In their announcement, they outline two new ad types that come with this launch: Overlay Ads and Full Screen Immersive Ads. We reached out to Facebook for more detail to share and received the following:

  • Overlay Ads appear directly on top of Facebook Reels content – enabling people to connect with brands uninterrupted within a Reel, while also allowing creators to earn a portion of the ad revenue. To start, Overlay Ads will be available in two formats: banner ads and sticker ads.
  • Banner ads render at the bottom of Facebook Reels content in the form of a single static image ad that can appear after 1 second of the Facebook Reel elapsing.
  • Sticker ads are compressed single static image ads that can be opted into and placed anywhere by a creator or partner within their Facebook Reel content. Sticker ads can also appear after 1 second of the Facebook Reel elapsing.
  • Overlay Ads are now available to all advertisers in the US, Canada, Mexico and India, and we hopes to bring this to more countries in the coming months. And once available, advertisers will be able opt-in to Overlay Ads by selecting ‘Facebook overlay ads in Reels’ under ‘Reels Overlay’ in Ads Manager Placements or via Automatic Placements.
  • Full screen immersive ads are 9x16 video ads that appear in between Reels. As with organic Reels content on Facebook, ads may be up to 30 seconds and people can comment, like, view, save, share and skip them.
  • We began testing full-screen immersive ads in between Facebook Reels in October of last year, and currently we are testing in US, India, Mexico, and Canada with a small percent of advertisers. Over the coming months, we will further expand this test to more advertisers and then move from a test towards a phased roll-out to all advertisers globally.

Examples of the new banner ads and sticker ads

Optimize Facebook Video

If you’re using Marin Social and would like to test Reels, you can access the new Reels placements by either:

  • Using Automatic Placements in campaigns built with Marin Social (after opting in within Facebook Ads Manager)
  • Building campaigns in Facebook with Reel placements, then importing them into Marin Social

If you want to see how your Reels are performing as compared with other creative, Marin Social makes it easy with our Charts feature. Here advertisers can see their best or worst performing ads by a variety of metrics at the touch of a button. Even better, our charts can be shared externally with a simple link for easy reporting workflows. 

Deciding between Instagram Ads and Facebook Ads can be tricky when dealing with a tight budget. You could always split your ad spend between the two platforms, but you’ll get a better return on investment from allocating your full budget to the most effective platform for your business’s target audience. Not sure which platform that is? In this post, we’re covering how to choose a social media advertising platform, every step of the way.

Where is your audience

The audience is likely the biggest factor to consider when choosing a social media advertising platform. After all, advertising on a platform your target audience doesn’t frequent is like throwing dollars to the wind. 

Analyze your target demographic to find out which social media platforms they use most. Most brands have the best chance of finding their target audience on Facebook, as it's more than twice Instagram's size. Instagram users also tend to be younger, but that is changing. 

Another factor to consider— Facebook’s audience targeting is a bit more detailed than Instagram’s native targeting features. Since Facebook offers more audience refining tools, brands with hyper-specific target audiences might find more success with Facebook Ads. 

Which suits your content better

The platforms share the same available content formats for the most part. Options include:

  • Carousel: two or more images or videos 
  • Single media: one image or video
  • Boosting existing content

What’s noteworthy here is that Facebook captions can include clickable links, while Instagram captions cannot. On Instagram, you have to use the included call-to-action buttons. These get the job done, but you can only direct viewers to one link. 

Your content needs to align with your advertising goal, so it’s important to consider the purpose of your content on each platform. Facebook is suited for sharing information and interacting with loved ones, while Instagram is extremely visual (and leaning more into video with every passing algorithm update).

With that said, compelling visuals should go on Instagram, while copy-heavy ads should be reserved for Facebook. 

Your target goals

Your advertising goal should also impact your choice of platform. Facebook is best for getting website clicks or views/engagement for written content. Instagram is great for boosting brand awareness with visuals. 

Some advertisers claim that Instagram is best for brand awareness and that Facebook is best for lead generation and sales. Really, it depends on the industry and the audience. 

Instagram is capitalizing more on e-commerce these days through features like Instagram Shopping (where users can complete their purchase from start to finish without ever leaving the app). 

The best way to figure out which platform best suits your goals is to test and review the analytics. 

Your industry

If your industry doesn’t have a strong presence on a certain platform, advertising there might be less expensive. This is only a good option if your audience uses that platform. 

You might find that certain industries are better suited to one platform because their audience uses it more. Plus, some industries can easily create visual content, while others rely heavily on longer-form content. 

Facebook offers community building, like groups, that help advertisers create communities within their target audiences. This makes Facebook the better choice for brands that rely on building a community to make sales. Analytics and automation help drive performance 



Analytics and automation help drive performance

When it comes down to it, both advertising platforms yield high ROI and most businesses can find success with either. When identifying which is more effective for your business, MarinOne has the tools to help you analyze Facebook and Instagram performance side-by-side and even makes daily recommendations to grow revenue and decrease costs. Your data will reveal which platform, placements, and content types are most effective for your target audience. 

Message booster can automatically convert high performing organic content to paid ads on either Facebook or Instagram to help you leverage content that resonates well with your audience. And MarinOne’s flexible rules engine optimizes bids based on your criteria.

Click here for more on what MarinOne can do for your Facebook and Instagram campaigns.

The Rise of TikTok

If you’re not advertising on TikTok, you’re missing out on an audience of 1 billion monthly active users around the world who are highly engaged and passionate about the brands they interact with on the platform. In fact, according to a recent TikTok survey, 56% of users and 67% of creators feel closer to brands they see on TikTok, and 43% of users and 53% of creators try something or go somewhere new after seeing it at least once on the platform. TikTok is clearly influential with consumers.

While TikTok certainly appeals to a younger, “video-first” audience, 40% of adults in the US over age 30 report using TikTok, and TikTok has a variety of targeting options to help you reach the right customers. 

And with 4.7/5 stars in the App Store  and 4.5/5 stars in the Google Play Store, the platform is wildly popular with users. Not bad for an app that’s barely four years old.

“It Starts on TikTok”

Part of this early success is due in part to the cultural influence of the platform, catapulting little-known musicians to stardom, launching trend phenomenons, and giving users a sense of community and shared experience. 

TikTok has also transformed the way brands interact with audiences with engaging and interactive content. With TikTok, advertisers gain a full-funnel marketing experience from driving brand awareness at the top of the feed, to native in-feed engagement, and even the opportunity to jump in on branded hashtag challenges.

With the launch of Spark Ads last year, brands can even leverage user-generated content to promote their products by choosing from an extensive library of content uploaded by influential TikTok creators.

MarinOne + TikTok

Brands using MarinOne are now able to add the unique value of advertising on TikTok to their digital campaigns. The MarinOne integration with TikTok means advertisers have better insights and improved performance of their TikTok campaigns.

With our powerful analytics capabilities, you’ll be able to: 

  • Run flexible reports within and across TikTok campaigns
  • View TikTok campaigns side-by-side with other paid social channels as well as search, display, apps, and e-commerce
  • Customize the KPIs, data roll-up, and dimension tagging in your reports
  • Export the data to spreadsheets, cloud platforms, and BI tools
  • Sync your campaigns with offline and downstream conversions events 
  • Get automated alerts on changes in account performance

MarinOne’s advanced optimization suite uses machine learning to deliver:

All this adds up to improved performance of your TikTok campaigns together with your other digital programs. Ready to learn more about how MarinOne can expand your reach and drive growth on TikTok?

Click here for more info. 


CLV is how much money a customer spends with your business for the duration of your relationship. It’s an important—yet overlooked—metric: rather than looking at a sale as simply a one-off exchange, CLV considers how valuable a customer is over time

Understanding this can help you spend your marketing budget more wisely and keep your customer acquisition costs low. After all, it costs more to attract a new customer than it does to close an existing prospect or keep an existing customer. 

Keeping your CLV high is vital to the long-term success of your business. 

What is CLV?

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) refers to the profit you expect to make from a customer over time.



For some businesses, this may mean that your profitable customers make larger purchases or many repeat purchases, thereby increasing their value to your business over the lifetime of their relationship with you. 

However, for many industries with long sales cycles, that profit may come months or even years after you’ve established the awareness of your business with the customer at the top of the funnel (think: buying a car, applying to a university, procuring new software, or purchasing a home). These are big decisions and consumers need time to evaluate their purchases. 

5 Reasons to Measure CLV for Your Paid Search Advertising Campaigns 

Regardless of the nature of your customers’ CLV, optimizing your marketing campaigns to CLV is good for business. Here are five reasons CLV matters:  

  1. It helps you keep valuable customers

If you can identify and target high CLV customers, this should translate into higher ROI and could be a good way to improve your campaign performance. 

You may find that there are segments of the market who value your product but have a lower than average CLV/CAC ratio, meaning you're spending too much on acquiring individual customers. If so, it may be worth exploring ways in which you can acquire these new customers at a lower cost or perhaps look for marketing activities where you might get more exposure for the same budget (e.g., by increasing reach).

  1. It decreases CPA costs

Customer Cost-Per-Acquisition (CPA) is the amount of money a company spends on acquiring new customers divided by the number of new customers acquired during a given period. 


You'll notice that different customer types have different CLVs, which means they contribute more or less than others towards paying your CPA. You can use CLV to compare campaigns and determine which ones are performing better, resulting in improved return on investment (ROI).

It's important to monitor this metric over time, as you may find you can reduce CPA while maintaining or even improving your bottom line. This is because the lifetime value of certain customer segments will increase with time on your platform, resulting in an overall decrease in acquisition costs.

  1. It allows you to optimize your bids to different stages of the funnel

Full-funnel bidding allows advertisers to use top of the funnel conversion types for bidding while also factoring in final sales as a second bid factor. This bidding solution enables advertisers to grow efficiency and revenue from the sales funnel’s final stage while maintaining reactivity to recent market changes. Bids stay reactive to market changes, while efficiency targets are based on latent conversion metrics. 

  1. It helps you calculate campaign effectiveness

CLV will reveal which paid search campaigns are more successful, allowing you to optimize your total marketing spend. 

You can compare campaign effectiveness by sub-segmenting customers by their CLVs. For example, instead of just looking at conversion rates for all traffic sources as a whole, you could break down the conversion rates by each campaign. This will make it easier to understand which traffic sources are most effective at converting.

  1. It helps you grow in the long run

CLV isn’t something you need to track all the time, but ignoring it could spell trouble. Keeping an eye on CLV helps you spend your marketing budget more wisely, engage with your customers more effectively, and keep your CPA costs down through better loyalty—all of which helps your bottom line. 

How to Calculate CLV

The simplest formula is as follows: 

CLV = Customer Value (average order spend x number of orders in a year) x Average Customer Lifespan (in years) 

To calculate CLV, you need to track customer metrics over time and calculate your customer churn. This will allow you to determine CLV across any given timeframe.



You may want to deduct CAC (customer acquisition cost) from your total to give you a deeper understanding of the true value of a customer. 

Using a comprehensive reporting suite like MarinOne, you’ll be able to Identify which channels are driving revenue to your business. You’ll then need to track offline sales and interactions back to their source with a conversion tracking solution like Marin Tracker. Make sure to continue tracking touchpoints beyond the initial click-through, all the way through conversion. 

How to Improve CLV

Here are some tips on improving your CLV. 

  • Optimize onboarding. As soon as possible, the user should be able to get value from your product or service (e.g., signups, downloads).
  • Don't focus on customer acquisition alone. It's important to make sure users are retained over time.
  • Optimize CLV by marketing based on customer behavior. If people aren't making repeat purchases or converting to long-term high-value purchases, consider investing in marketing efforts to increase retention.
  • Look for ways to improve value. If customers are joining, but not staying around or buying after a certain period of time, focus on improving user experience and product features.
  • Over-deliver. If your product and service are great, people will come back.
  • Boost user experience. If you can provide an improved user experience, make sure to communicate this benefit in all your marketing efforts. Consider advertising on social media platforms that offer the opportunity for strong engagement.
  • Increase average value order. If customers are buying, but not purchasing many items per order, then there is room to boost sales.
  • Gather market research. If you can gather unbiased opinions about your product or service from potential customers, use this data to create marketing campaigns that will appeal directly to your target audience.
  • Uncover business drivers. You may need to modify your business plan based on what customers are saying.
  • Improve customer service. If you’re not delivering great customer service, customers will avoid dealing with you in the future. Not only that, but they’ll likely share their experiences on social media—which could turn away potential new customers.

Conclusion

Measuring CLV plays an important role in determining ROI, optimizing your advertising spend, and keeping your CPA low—all of which means less budget spent on search campaigns. Optimizing your CLV can provide valuable insights regarding whether or not there is excessive spending on your search campaigns. CLV allows you to evaluate the financial impact in order to re-strategize regarding how various programs are measured and attributed.

How MarinOne Can Help

MarinOne’s powerful self-serve platform connects your offline conversion data to the ad clicks that ultimately drive the sale, making it easy to see which customers are the most valuable and which campaigns have been effective in closing customers. From analysis and reporting to advanced bidding algorithms—analyze the most valuable shoppers, optimize your bids to revenue, and focus your efforts on your best customers. This leads to extending your marketing spend while attracting high-value customers to your brand.

Learn more about the benefits of MarinOne’s full-funnel optimization.  

Ensure that the 2021 holiday season will be even more successful with these last minute tips!

Managing Bidding during a Sales Event

Before the sale:

  • Find out Revenue-Per-Click or Conversion-Rate uplift from historic sales as a percentage.

On the day of the sale:

  • Apply your historical percentage uplift calculated as a boost on day of sale.  
  • Remove all bid change limits. Preserving bid change limits only allows your bids to change up to the limited amount, possibly restricting a number of keywords.
  • Ensure campaign budgets are set appropriately and will not be overly restrictive.
  • Once the sale has begun, check hourly spend rates in the publisher accounts. Compare your spend trend in the current sale with previous sales to confirm bidding configuration is not over or under-spending.
  • Assess the number of terms hitting bid caps

After the sale:

  • Add previous and latest sales periods to Excluded Dates.
  • Set bid change limits to pre-sale setting.
  • Revert Boost to historic level.

Effective Tips and Tools

Ad Scheduling/Flighting

Flighting is a technique where you schedule your ads to run for a period of time (called a flight) followed by a period where you pause all ads for the advertised product or service. A smart way to leverage flighting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday is by offering progressive promotions. This means, you can start your campaign offering a promotion with low percentages off, and as the days/weeks go by, increase the percentage off.

Power Words

To increase relevance, CTR and Conversion Rate, consider including in your ad creatives words such as: Discount, Deals, Promotions, Savings, Offers, Free, Black Friday, Cyber Monday.

Sitelinks / Promotion Extensions

Include these special sales and offers with your ads to make your promotion stand out so potential customers can spot great deals and generate new sales for your business.

Countdowns Timers

Let potential customers know about sales or special events by adding a countdown timer to your ad text to create a sense of urgency.

Increase Budget Caps

To cover the increase in traffic, you must consider increasing the budget of your campaigns to capitalise on the increase of impressions and clicks.

Good luck! Marin Software has got you covered. We’ve put everything in place to provide above-and-beyond customer service, particularly during the critical Black Friday and Cyber Monday events, for our retail customers in the midst of their busiest time of the year. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager or our sales team today.

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.

Marketers know the importance of an optimized conversion funnel and its impact on a business's profit. However, complex conversion funnels with long sales cycles are typical in many industries.
Buying a car, finding the right university or procuring a new piece of software can often take months (and sometimes years) from initial research to completion.

When it comes to paid media optimization for a business with these complex and often lengthy conversion funnels, marketers often face a crucial question: Which stage of the funnel should I use for my bid optimization?
Well, what if you didn't have to pick and you could factor in multiple stages of a conversion funnel into one bid calculation? This concept is known as full funnel bidding.
This blog will explore full funnel bidding and why it is so important.

Let's start with the basics: good bid optimization requires useful data, so tracking each stage of the conversion fully is key for funnel optimization.
Sometimes an ad doesn't lead directly to a sale but instead starts a customer down a path that leads to purchase later on. The aim here is to measure each action (stage of the funnel) a user took in both an online and offline world and then tie it back to advertising spend. Although it can be a challenge, fortunately, there are numerous methods of connecting data from the offline world back to online activity. Connecting CRM actions through a unique identifier, matching order ID data or leveraging dynamic phone numbers are a few methods for measuring offline conversions and/or lifetime value.
This data will help advertisers better understand their conversion funnel to target and optimize their marketing campaigns for increased profit.


Why Not Just Optimize to the Final Sale?


So once tracking is in place for each stage of our conversion funnel, shouldn’t we optimize our marketing campaigns to our final sale or LTV?
Well, there are several reasons why this might not be the best solution:

Data sparsity – Due to the nature of conversion funnels, downstream conversion events will have fewer data points than upper funnel conversion events. Data sparsity can make it more challenging to optimize your bids.

Data accuracy - For many sales cycles, there are weeks, months or even years between a click on an ad and the final conversion. Latency can lead to situations where you have advertising cost, but you won't know if it will lead to a conversion.

Reactivity – Advertisers want their bids to stay reactive to market changes. Due to latency, this is not always possible if you are optimizing for your final sale.

So how do we solve these issues? That’s where full funnel bidding comes in.

Full Funnel Optimization – Getting the Best of Both Worlds


Full funnel bidding allows advertisers to use a top-of-the-funnel conversion type for bidding while also factoring in final sales values as a second bid factor. This approach enables advertisers to grow efficiency and revenue from the sales funnel's final stage while maintaining reactivity to the recent market changes in upper funnel conversion points. Bids stay reactive to market changes, while efficiency targets are based on latent conversion metrics, giving the ability to optimize simultaneously to upper funnel leads and to lower funnel value defined as revenue or customer lifetime value.

Take the below example:



We're looking at two high-volume keywords with the same number of clicks.

You can see that keyword one drives a lot more leads than keyword two. Given it has a higher conversion rate, it makes sense to reward the first keyword with a higher bid.

However, as we moved down the conversion funnel, keyword two, with fewer leads, drove significantly more revenue than keyword one. Keyword two, with better lead quality than keyword one, is boosted with a 2x bid adjustment, while keyword one, the driver of a large number of leads but with low quality, is adjusted downward. This adjustment results in very different bids than were previously calculated, focusing strictly on leads.

Marin Software provides an automated full funnel bidding solution - called Marin Full-Funnel Bidding - as part of our new industry-leading bidding algorithm, and which also works with the publishers’ own bidding solutions. If you would like to find out how this could work for your business, get in contact and one of our account team members will be in touch shortly.

The search for better performance never stops. To help our customers get the most out their digital marketing dollar we have upgraded our optimization tools. MarinOne Bidding is our newest bidding solution that delivers peak performance, improved accuracy, faster bid calculations and increased scale.

Customers upgrading to MarinOne bidding from the previous version saw a 10-20% performance improvement and bidding times reduced by up to 95%.

MarinOne bidding automatically incorporates over 75+ signals for incredible responsiveness and accuracy across audiences, devices, geos and more. MarinOne Bidding is simple to set up but flexible enough to meet the needs of your business.  It is especially well suited for advertisers with third-party revenue tracking and longer sales cycles.


Accuracy, Speed and Scale


No need to choose, with MarinOne bidding you get all three:

  • Faster Run Times: The bid calculation job for large clients can be up to 90% faster than Marin search.
  • Increased Scale: MarinOne bidding can effortlessly handle accounts with 10M keywords.
  • Improved Accuracy: Dynamic Clustering algorithms improves predictions on lower-volume terms by strategically sharing across similar keywords via a decision tree clustering technique. The result: an average 28% lift in performance vs. Marin Search.
  • More Reactive: Flexible lookback periods efficiently use the right amount of historical data to improve reactions to changing market conditions.
  • Powerful Forecasts: In MarinOne’s Optimization page, users can forecast time into the future and explore trade-offs between volume and efficiency for each bid strategy.
  • Better Control: Advertisers can specify separate targets by device and MarinOne bidding will optimize based on device-specific performance.
  • Better Guardrails: In addition to max Users can set either a Top, Absolute Top, or Search Impression Share Cap.
  • Automation of Bidding Target Changes: Scheduled boosts simplify management of changes in bidding targets and can be set globally or segmented by device and publisher, MarinOne bidding can automatically exclude data from data from boosted sale periods. bidding.


Getting Started


Our existing customers using bidding are being upgraded to MarinOne bidding. If you are a Marin Customer looking to get started with bidding, please connect with your account manager.

If you are interested in learning more about MarinOne bidding getting started with Marin, click here to schedule a conversation.

In the world of pay-per-click advertising, the (often) multi-million dollar questions you’re always trying to answer are: What should I be spending on different parts of my programs? What will I get in return? How should I assign these budgets to each campaign?

Answering these questions can be challenging. Often, this involves looking at historical data and summarizing the volume available for various scenarios -- building mathematical models of volume versus efficiency. Such models can be used to predict future performance (or forecast, if you will), providing the marketers with suggestions on where to allocate budgets. The more accurate the forecasts, the better the budget decisions. This requires more investment in complex mathematical models, which creates additional maintenance and work as new data points come in the form of the latest performance metrics.

We want to make that process easier, so we developed MarinOne Bid Strategy Forecasts to arm search marketers with the information to make better budget decisions. The tool also leads to valuable time savings, as marketers no longer have to build their own models using historical data. With access to years of historical data, including customer downstream realized revenue, Marin’s forecasting engine can predict publisher metrics, such as click and cost and data-warehouse tracked revenue data, while taking into account any seasonality specific to your business. These complex calculations a



What do the What-if Charts display? The chart summarizes the relationship between publisher cost and revenue or conversions within a bid strategy, thereby displaying the tradeoffs between volume and efficiency. Volume is how much you’re willing to spend, and efficiency is your KPI -- CPA, ROAS, budget. A bid strategy is a collection of campaigns that share the same business objective, such as hitting an efficiency goal. Campaigns in a bid strategy are already highly optimized given they’re leveraging MarinOne Bidding, and targeting a higher volume will likely result in sacrificing efficiency. Similarly, targeting a higher efficiency will result in loss in volume. Using the chart, I can ask that very question “What-if?” and get an immediate response from the chart gods.

Depending on the type of business, the answer may be different. A lot of in-house SEM teams have strict goals to never underperform from an efficiency standpoint. Lead gen performance marketers having relationships with lead buyers can ensure they can hit their monthly lead quota by targeting spend that will satisfy the monthly conversion volume. E-commerce advertisers will get directives on allocated budgets that change month to month. Using the What-if analysis, they can forecast projected revenue and efficiency (ROAS) for spend targets.

MarinOne Bid Strategy forecasts are available to all Marin customers today. Check it out in your account or contact a sales representative for more details.

Apple Search Ads is a fast-growing marketing channel seeing increased adoption and greater chunks of advertising budgets. Did you know that MarinOne offers reporting and bidding for Apple Search Ads?

In this article, we’ll spell out some of the more advanced and automated ways our advertisers optimize their Apple Search Ad budget.

Full Funnel Optimization


As an open platform, MarinOne integrates with a wealth of tracking solutions, including in-app tracking such as Adjust, Appsflyer, or Tune. Our Full Funnel Bidding solution enables you to leverage this information in bid optimization. In practice, this means Marin can calculate bids based on the cost-per-download, allowing our advertisers to be highly reactive due to the volume and short latency from click to download. Remember that 65% of app downloads occur right after a search.

These initial bids are then adjusted up and down based on lower funnel events that can be tracked with third party solutions, such as sales, subscriptions, or customer lifetime values—data that typically has longer latency and less volume.

Combined, Full Funnel Bidding will get you the best of both worlds: it’s highly reactive to the cost-per-download and download-per-click ratio while taking into account the lower funnel value these downloads represent for your company!

Time of Day Bidding


At what moments do you find yourself with a smartphone in your hands? There are often very specific points in the day that we reach for the screen, and even more so for apps that relate to specific events, such as sports!

Marin Bidding allows you to set scheduled boosts for your Apple Search Ads activity, increasing your bids during times of day when you expect performance and volume to increase, and decreasing bids during times that may be less relevant. This means concentrating your budget where it matters most!

Dynamic Actions


Dynamic Actions are an extremely powerful feature of Marin, allowing custom modifiers based on almost any data source and used in combination with Marin Dimensions for big optimization. This means tagging objects (keywords/groups/campaigns) with a value on a dimension, and then specifying rules to be taken into account in bid calculation. Here’s just a couple of ideas for using Dynamic Actions to enhance your Apple Search Ads campaign:

  • Adjust bids for seasonal events: Increase bids by 10% on all keywords that contain “basketball” across all markets when game 7 of the NBA Finals is on, increasing volume.
  • Leverage external data: The options here are almost unlimited, but two ideas are:
  • Upload the organic position of your app on the results page, and increase bids where your position is poor and decrease bids where your position is great. Again, it’s a way to make sure you put your advertising dollars where they matter most.
  • When targeting specific geographic regions and your results depend on the weather, leverage Dynamic Actions to increase your bids when one of your target regions has a high likelihood of rain or sun.


Interested in integrating your Apple Search Ads into your MarinOne application? Contact your account representative for more information, or request a demo today!

Who Are the Big Four?


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

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

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

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







“How can I improve the quality of leads for my sales team?” It’s a question I hear in nearly every conversation with a lead-focused marketer. Coupled with measuring ROI and longer sales cycles, difficulty obtaining enough quality leads is an ongoing battle for marketers in the automotive, real estate, B2B, insurance, and finance industries.

The balancing act between lead volume, lead quality, and lead cost is the triad we’re all trying to solve for. Each business is unique and needs to figure out the optimal equilibrium for these crucial metrics while, at the same time, focusing on optimizing them.

Whether your business is predominantly focused on Volume, Quality or Cost, Marin Software is equipped with solutions that can increase the performance of your B2B Lead Gen activities in each of these areas, so that you can generate a higher ROI and reduce wasted time and financial cost

Solving for Long Sales Cycles & Multiple Touchpoints


A study by Miller Heiman Group, leveraging data stretching back to 2014, comments on how three-quarters of B2B sales to new customers take at least 4 months to close, with almost half taking seven months or more. This timeline of course varies on industry, product, price and on-boarding cost for the product or service; however, the sentiment is there: the challenges with a longer decision-making process are much higher.

As a marketer, you are likely familiar with a purchase funnel and the various touchpoints in a customer journey. The stages vary per business, but typically include awareness, interest, desire, and action. So whether it’s the initial Contact Us or White Paper Download, the single or many phone conversations for additional information, or the final purchase, it can be challenging for marketers to combine these touchpoints into a holistic strategy.

Marin’s Full Funnel Bidding addresses this challenge. Marin’s full funnel approach allows for a bespoke bid strategy to accommodate the latency and multiple touchpoints we often see in the purchase cycle. This allows advertisers to dynamically set more aggressive CPA targets for leads that have higher propensity to convert to a sale.

Marketers are tasked with optimizing to the volume of leads coming into the top of the funnel while also managing the revenue or value of the lead. With MarinOne’s Full Funnel Optimization, touchpoints can receive revenue credit no matter where in the funnel.

Analytics to Action


If your business is not already capturing a Lead Score, I highly encourage you to start leveraging this methodology. This means ranking leads in order to determine their sales-readiness. You score leads based on the interest they show in your business, their current place in the buying cycle, and their fit in regard to your business. Understanding the quality of your leads by working on your internal metrics is pivotal.

In addition to that, it’s often the case that some PPC keywords or certain social creatives will drive a higher quality lead. Advertisers should be capturing this level of granularity, and then passing it into their optimization engine to capitalize on incremental lift and performance.

For example, an enterprise-level SaaS business may be leveraging two keywords: “ERP Software,” and “ERP Enterprise Solutions.” In this instance, both keywords are upper-funnel, and in many ways very similar. However, let’s imagine the term “ERP Enterprise Solutions” drives a higher revenue value per subscription and a higher renewal rate, thus increasing its Lead Score. Advertisers should be capitalizing on this granularity by applying agile modifiers. In this example, we recommend applying a Bid Boost Modifier to increase the bid value by 10%.

The lead generation game is fluid. The campaign structure we take today may not be successful tomorrow. Thus we need to be agile and flexible with the ability to automate optimization modifiers on the fly.

Marin Software can layer bid modifiers across any data point or signals, including Lead Score.

Budget Allocation & Forecasting


As marketers, we may often be tasked with “driving more calls” or “generating more downloads for the whitepaper.” Our partners in Sales & Operations often don’t understand the intricacies of simply driving more of a certain touchpoint.

On top of optimization modifiers, we at Marin Software have developed Budget & Forecasting techniques to support you during these demands for shifts. They help you evaluate new optimization opportunities before testing them out in the real world, and help you invest more of your marketing spend into campaigns and channels with increased upside potential. No more over-allocating to the wrong channels or tactics that don't produce qualified results. This information is not only helpful to us as marketers, but can also support advertisers’ conversations with internal stakeholders.

Conclusion


Understanding how to improve lead quality for your PPC campaign isn’t always obvious. Yet, there are simple ways in which Marin Software can provide support:

  • Consulting on your internal Lead Scoring process and ingesting that into your Bid Calculations.
  • Evaluating your consumer journey and feeding any latency expectations into the algorithmic engine to ensure total efficiencies across channels.
  • Layering agile and bespoke modifiers across channels to optimize toward the areas of your campaigns that drive higher quality engagements.
  • Leveraging advanced forecasting and scenario-planning tools to help you respond quickly to changing market conditions.


Ready to take action on generating higher quality leads? Schedule a demo with one of our account representatives today!

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

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

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

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

Flexibility & Control


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

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

Reactivity


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

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

Transparency & Publisher Independence


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

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

What to do...


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

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

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

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!

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



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

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

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

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


What can I do to help?


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


How will my industry be impacted?


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

How should I adjust my marketing programs?


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


Be Thoughtful


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

Need more help?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



See in detail how Marin differentiates from Smart Bidding below:





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

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

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



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

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

Get the basics right


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Align to your business needs with custom modifiers


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

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

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

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




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



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



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

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

Full-funnel optimization


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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Budget allocation


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

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

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



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

Take this WorldFirst customer example.



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

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

Leverage technology for better automation


Finally, let’s finish with thoughts of technology.

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

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

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



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

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

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

Conclusion


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

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


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

Automation should be a key part of any marketer's toolkit, reducing time spent on repetitive tasks and avoiding missed opportunities. Marin’s automation features will help free up your marketing team’s time from performing mundane work, and give them the capacity to brainstorm new ideas and boost productivity in other areas. These tools do a lot more than just making sure you don’t forget things—they make the existing workflows in Marin even more powerful.

For over a decade, we’ve been making it easier to manage the complexity that goes into digital marketing. Here, we highlight three ways our advertisers automate their efforts to simplify their work.

Keyword Resuscitation


Over time, any automated (or manual) bidding solution will bid down underperforming keywords. Generally this is a feature, not a bug—if they’re not converting profitably, you want to minimize wasted ad spend, even when those keywords have generated a decent number of clicks.

However, some of those keywords may be relevant to your organization and perform as your business evolves or competitive conditions change. If you shut off these “low-performance” keywords altogether, you may miss out on some conversion-ready traffic. This is especially true for keywords with low impression share.

With keyword resuscitation, Marin automatically increases your bids temporarily to ensure you’re not missing any click opportunities. If the keywords keep underperforming, Marin bids them back down.

Auto-populating Dimensions


If you find yourself working on Google Ads accounts with hundreds of active campaigns, keeping track of what’s happening where can be a pretty daunting task.



Marin’s Dimensions help keep advertisers organized, by allowing them to easily aggregate their data across an ad group, campaigns, keywords, or the entire account—faster and easier than exporting to Excel and running a pivot table. You can also use Dimensions for tagging your different objects for easy filtering, and then using those filters to monitor performance.

How are your brand campaigns performing against your non-brand campaigns? How are your experimental keywords performing? Do you have promotional ad copy you’re closely monitoring? Do you have different bidding rules you want to manage across your keywords? Dimensions help you tag and streamline all these views.

What about the keywords, ad groups, or campaigns you’ve missed? Manually having to set dimensions for a lot of ads or keywords requires a lot of time and resources.

Now you can auto-populate dimensions based on rules you specify. You can set rules on keyword text, campaign structure, or any performance metric, giving you flexible and powerful control over your reporting.

Automatically Pause Your Losing Ads


Always be testing. Your creatives shouldn’t have to have a long shelf life, and you should continually look to improve performance with new messaging ideas.

If you run multiple versions of a creative in a group, Marin can automatically pause the underperformers when there’s statistical significance so you can add a new challenger creative. Even better, with rules-based adjustments, you can replace the loser creatives with new ads, further automating your ad testing experience.

Get Creative


This was just a taste of three automations we frequently see with our customers. We don’t want to limit you just here, however. Marin’s platform is flexible, and it’s easy to get creative to meet your specific business needs.

Whether it’s using performance criteria to automate the movement of your ad groups into different bid strategies, auto-populating objects with missing data, or scheduling ads for special promotions or events, the custom parameters are entirely up to you. Just talk to your account representative and we can get the ball rolling.

Or, if you’re new to Marin and would like to start powering your ad campaigns with easy, time-saving automations, get in touch today.

Amazon’s Sponsored Products ads are one of the fastest growing ad types in the industry. Marketers who’ve eagerly joined the party may wonder: how do I maximize results and continue to scale?

As Amazon adds to its native optimization features and evolves its offering, marketers can leverage Marin’s patented automated bidding algorithm on Amazon Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands. Here are just a few ways how.

Marin’s Foldering Structure


Marin’s foldering structure is independent of the Amazon campaign hierarchy. Marketers can implement the structure to combine ad groups with similar business targets or characteristics.

What does this mean? Well, if you’re new to advertising on Amazon, you can borrow data from your history-rich Google and Bing keywords to inform your Amazon bids and ramp up quickly without a learning or “burn-in” period. Alternatively, you can group Amazon keywords into their own folders as a divider for business targets or performance.

Both of these options are available for all business needs with Marin’s flexible foldering structure.

Flexible Bid Modifiers and Rules


You can apply flexible bid modifiers and rules on top of Marin’s automated bidding algorithm to accommodate your business needs—whether those needs are seasonal or unexpected. For example, you may need to exclude an outlier like a big Amazon sale date when conversions are extraordinarily high. Or, you can apply a bid boost to help ramp up spend if you’re under-pacing against your allocated Amazon budget.

You can and should combine rules to react to market changes—such as a competitor’s sale or unexpected, negative press—or to help spend ramp up or down.

Combine these Marin “time of calculation” modifiers with Amazon’s “time of auction” modifiers for a strategy that combines the best of both worlds. And, be sure to implement bid caps, floors, and/or maximum bid changes by percentage to ensure you have safety nets in place.

Contextual Signals


You can bid towards various goals and layer in ACoS with contextual signals. You can also optimize towards Cost Per Lead, layer in profit margin goals, or bid towards a portfolio target. You can even optimize towards custom blends of goals with what’s important to your business and assign percentage or flat value weights to certain conversions or Share of Voice.

Forecasting


Marin’s Amazon optimization tools allow you to forecast predicted spend and various budgeting scenarios on performance. Use Marin’s forecasting tool to predict future trends of Amazon clicks, conversions, revenue, cost, and profit. Make better-informed decisions by anticipating spend levels at daily, monthly, or quarterly levels, visualizing the effects in real-time of reducing or increasing Amazon budget to forecast incremental gross profit returns.

The Sky’s the Limit with Amazon Advertising


As marketers on Amazon continue to ramp up sales velocity and make use of rich customer data, the next step is diving deeper into your ad campaigns and automatically making adjustments based on real-time performance. To learn more about Marin's optimization tools for Amazon, get in touch with your account representative. Or, if you're new to Marin, contact us for a brief demo.

When I first started working in digital marketing, part of my training process was learning about best practices, campaign structure, and all kinds of additional tools provided by publishers and third party vendors to drive success for brands.

As discussed in my previous posts, it’s important to know your brand and your customers, and to understand what makes them tick (and click) to convert on your website.

One way is to continuously run tests on your activity and learn what works and what doesn’t. Or, you can switch on and off tools like audiences and bid adjustments, explore new campaign types and channels, etc.

This article is dedicated to bidding—automated bidding, to be more precise. However, it would be wrong to look at this topic separately from everything else that’s happening in your accounts.

Much like in your home, wi-fi wouldn’t work with no electricity. Or, how can you enter the living room without a front door?

Let’s walk through our house together from room to room to see how every component makes our environment cozy and inviting to our guests—in other words, our customers who we’re driving to convert and come back for more.

Let’s start with the hallway (a.k.a., data source)


When thinking about your account optimization and bidding (whether it’s manual or automated), it’s important to identify your trustworthy data.

Some advertisers have developed their own tracking and attribution systems in-house. These systems provide them with first party data, and all the insights they opted into their product to track user journeys and interaction paths with the brand.

Another option is to pick a third party vendor or publisher tools to execute tracking for you. Here, it’s important to review the packages vendors offer and understand which ones suit your business needs the most.

Remember, the digital world is changing every day. Online customer behaviors simply aren’t the same as they were five to 10 years ago.

For instance, social networks now have more influence on a consumer’s decision making process. When someone’s in their exploration phase, reviews and feedback are important. This assigns higher revenue share from sales to publishers like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.

The question here: as an advertiser, are you taking cross-channel user interactions into account, and is the value you assign to your social media or affiliate advertisement fair?

There are various vendors that consider these factors in their attribution model and share the conversion data between the channels fairly—whether it’s a click from Google or impression from Facebook that contributed to a conversion.

Marin Software has developed an attribution model called TruePath, which helps advertisers see the impact of other channels on their search campaigns and vice-versa. This allows you to better understand the value of campaigns that don’t necessarily convert on their own (e.g., prospecting), but play a key role in the user journey.

Sugar, spice and everything nice (a.k.a., audience
kitchen prep)


In past posts, we discussed the importance of understanding your audiences, how they affect performance, and what it takes to bring home that extra conversion.

When you’ve identified a list of audiences that convert better than others, you can add these and their similar audiences to specific or all campaigns. As these are best performers, you can add specific bid adjustments to these.

With one of my clients, we created audience rules to cover their top product categories and certain pages—like What’s New? After running these audiences for a month, we saw that after visiting the What’s New? page, people were 32% more likely to convert on the website, even if they purchased long-existing stock. The next step was obvious: increase the bids on audiences that visited the page and reap the results.

There are tools that offer automated bid adjustments for audiences tagged across campaigns. For instance, the Google eCPC model takes audience behavior into account (Google conversion pixel data only) and adjusts bids for you based on audience performance in the campaign/group.

Marin Software also measures audience performance when it comes to automated bidding. Here, however, the app can use your preferred source of truth. You can select a list of conversion types that are important when it comes to bid adjustments and performance and the app will do the rest—calculate and execute.



At Marin, we’ve also come up with the concept of search and social intent. Here, we help our clients to reach social prospects and leads in search engines and vice-versa.

For example, we ran a test on social campaigns using search data. The result: CPA for these campaigns was 65% lower in comparison to traditional social campaigns, while conversion volume spiked by 388%. The client also saw a 100% increase in their daily appointment requests.

The living room (a.k.a., device performance
and adjustments)


According to many marketing sources, every year is The Year of Mobile. :)

And yes, every year, we witness how mobile search share is growing, as mobile devices become more versatile and occupy every part of our lives. This may or may not be the case for you, but I feel lost without my phone, as it’s such a huge part of my life—all of my contact information is there, not to mention the easy ability to call for food delivery or an Uber in just a couple of swipes/taps.

And yet, when it comes to conversion rate and return on investment, desktop keeps showing higher, better results.

Why is that?

SmartInsights and many more research companies compiled research on this topic to prove that even though most of the initial searches on the product/service/ideas are coming from mobile, conversions are more likely to happen on desktop.

A key takeaway here is that it’s important to review device performance not only against each other, but also from a cross-device perspective.

Marin has created a special solution for this—you can set separate targets to devices. Then, based on the targets and their performance, our solution adjusts bids to meet the desired goal.


Home office (a.k.a., additional rules in Marin bidding)


Marin bidding equips you with a list of additional rules to augment your usual strategy. You can apply these on top of your target. These include:

  • Bid cap
  • Bid floor
  • Minimum daily bid change
  • Match type boost
  • Publisher boost


Is your new promotion about to start outside of your working hours? You can set up your schedule to boost bids for a fixed time period.

Or, is your finance team keen to stay on top of the maximum bid values? Not a problem—just set up a bid cap and Marin won’t assign bids above your desired value.

The app uses these rules as advanced triggers to keep your performance in check. It also provides the calculation used for every object on bidding to show what was used in the process, and why.

When it comes to adjusting your target/strategy, the app makes everything very transparent and easy to understand.

Behind closed doors—what else can we do with our campaigns?


Device, audience, geo-targeting, time-of-day and day-of-week—these are the first adjustments that come to mind when reviewing a bidding strategy. But can we do more?

You bet! Our Marin analytics and product teams have worked hard to bring extra zest to your mix-and-match bidding approach.

For instance, do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • Your top-selling shoes are out of stock but your campaign is live
  • Impression share has dropped but you’re trying to stay ahead of competitors
  • A list of objects needs an extra push because of a new product launch or seasonality


Who you gonna call? In this case, not Ghostbusters—but, feel free to pick up a phone or email account and contact your Marin team.

Marin’s Dynamic Actions is your secret weapon when it comes to bid adjustments based on your unique situation.

With Dynamic Actions, you can tag objects in Marin with certain labels, whether it’s product stock or a certain performance metric. Marin will then recognize this tag, and based on your preferences, bid down or up for selected objects. Or, you can even stop the bidding altogether if you run out of stock.

This comes in handy when you have additional metrics you want to consider for bid optimization.


Making the place comfy (a.k.a., the importance of
bidding target)


Whether it’s revenue or exposure, every organization works towards certain goals, and it’s important to hit them to grow your business.

With automated bidding, your main responsibility is to identify the desired target and to experiment with adjustments and data points. This maximizes the benefits of machine learning for an optimal bid calculation.

When you’re assigning a target to a group of objects, bear their current performance in mind. For example, is the target too aggressive? If so, perhaps it’s best to start +/-20% of the current performance and adjust the target every couple of weeks. This allows the final bid to change smoothly over the given time period, and avoids performance spikes.

If you use the bid adjustments above wisely, they’ll bring great value to your advertising programs. To test them out, start with one to measure the impact, and then add or remove as you go.

As we mentioned in our audiences article, it’s important to have statistical proof that a certain element is bringing your performance to the next level before you add it to your initial target. Also, remember the importance of your budget—sometimes, a higher bidding budget for your test can bring in incremental revenue at a low extra cost.

For instance, during a bidding test with one of our clients, Marin managed to increase lead volume by 600%, while the average CPL in their account dropped by 20%. The team also saved 25% of their day-to-day time by letting the app handle bid optimization.

If you have a little extra budget on hand for the test, it can lead to excellent results.

Last but not least—cleaning house (a.k.a., bidding can’t work on its own)


Some advertisers ask us: why is it important to continue optimizing campaigns, when automated bidding is switched on?

Even the most modern and automated house—where Alexa and Google Home answer the door and adjust the lights—needs a human touch.

Automated bidding can indeed help you save tons of time when it comes to keeping tabs on performance and updating bids. However, we have to remember the world around us is constantly changing. Therefore, digital campaigns continually need fresh ad copy and images. And, with our ever-expanding vocabulary and trend shifts, search engines see +15% new search queries every year.

So, dust the surfaces, make them shine, and be able to show off your best performance to date.

P.S. look at our beautiful garden (a.k.a., bidding
test example)


Hope you’re still with us on our home maintenance metaphors!

Like any other top performance marketing company, at Marin we continuously run bidding tests with our clients. Let’s take a look at a test we performed against Smart Bidding, where the goal was to maximize leads to a set target cost per lead/acquisition (tCPL).

Within Marin’s bidding folders, the team activated portfolio bidding functionality. This functionality allows the app to use Bayesian data blending to help the algorithm identify the best bid for the given keywords. On top of this, automated mobile bid adjustments accommodate performance differences across devices. They also ensure placement on the first page of the SERP, and a high position and impression share at competitive levels.

In Google Ads, the client set the Smart Bidding tCPA model for a set of campaigns they used in the test.

During the test, the client didn’t create any new creatives or updated keywords. This kept the data as fair as possible across the campaign buckets that were in competition.

A month after the test started, the team compared results to the time period before the test. We ran the test during a low seasonality timeframe to avoid any external factors that might interfere with the results.

The post-test results were stunning—while running pure automated bidding activity in the account, both solutions showed an increase in conversion volumes MoM +51% with Marin’ bidding solution and +44% with Google Smart Bidding. The CPL also dropped, meaning that not only did the client gain incremental conversions from the automated bidding, but they also did so at a lower cost.

CPL in Marin dropped -47% MoM and -28% in Google Smart Bidding.





When all is said and done, when it comes to bidding, it’s important to evaluate all tools an advertiser can and should use. Once you identify areas of performance, you can use them as a layer to your bidding strategy. Automated tools help with the process of calculation and execution for hundreds or even thousands of keywords—with no time or effort from your team.

So, agree on the strategy, set it up, sit back and relax, and let the machine deliver the best bids possible.

Now that you have the perfect automated bidding home—go take that much-deserved vacation!

In the highly competitive travel booking space, Kiwi wasn’t hitting their goals. The Kiwi teams were also spending countless hours analyzing campaign data to determine the appropriate bid strategy based on campaign targets.

Marin’s performance marketing experts provided extensive guidance and consultation to ensure MarinOne Bidding—with its “always-on” responsive algorithm—delivered what Kiwi wanted.

The results?

  • 28% increase in conversion volume
  • 50% decrease in cost per conversion
  • 21% increase in conversion rate


Learn more in our case study.

Premier Farnell faced the constant challenge of operating its paid search and shopping campaigns at scale. With over 40 markets selling over 900,000 electronic components, it needed to ensure the best possible performance from their digital marketing campaigns.

Thanks to MarinOne's bidding technology, Premier Farnell identified opportunities for increasing account performance, with immediate improvements in two markets, Germany and the Netherlands.

The results?



Read all about it in our case study.

You’ve heard about the value of testing. You may even incorporate testing every now and then into your digital advertising campaigns. But, is it a routine part of your “doing business” as a digital marketer?

If you’re just now hopping onto the testing bandwagon or want to make it a regular thing but don’t know where to start—we get it. There are so many features, products, and opportunities out there, that sometimes it might be a struggle understanding how to test and the impact it can have on your ad account performance.

In this article, we hope to shed some light on the darkness of ad campaign A/B (“split”) testing, and provide a simple and effective split testing framework.

When to Test


To have the most impact, you should incorporate testing at each stage of your ad campaign. Be sure to always perform testing at the project level. Although it may feel like all of these A/B tests can gobble up time and budget, this isn’t necessarily the case—when it comes to split testing, some platforms make the process easy, and allow you to quickly see the results without eating up all of your campaign budget.

To make things even easier for you and your team, plan to complete your testing campaign in three phases:

  • Targeting and delivery
  • Creative
  • Messaging


Let’s take at these phases, and the most common A/B test scenarios for each one.

Targeting and Delivery


Objective test (traffic versus conversions)

With targeting and delivery, a common use case is measuring traffic versus conversions. This is a good test to conduct if:

  • Your main objective is striking a balance between volume and cost
  • You sometimes struggle with increasing your conversion volume
  • You optimize for link clicks and aren’t confident about switching to conversions, since it may negatively impact your KPIs


Test setup

To set up this type of test, create two campaigns: one with a ‘traffic’ objective and the other with a ‘conversion’ objective. Make sure you have identical creative, number of ads, and targeting.

Conduct the split test, making sure you’re allocating enough budget for each ad to deliver at least one conversion per day. Run the campaign for a set period of time (e.g., one to two weeks) or until you can clearly see which campaign performs best.

Optimization window

What if your campaigns are generating conversions, but you want to make sure you’re optimizing toward the best-quality ones? You can test the optimization window, typically one day versus seven days.

The conversion window allows you to tell Facebook’s algorithms what data to consider when deciding whom to show your ad.

Test setup

Create two campaigns or one campaign with two ad sets. Make sure that all segments that are part of the optimization window are identical, and, like the traffic versus conversions test, that you’re allocating enough budget for each ad to deliver at least one conversion per day. Run the campaign for a set period of time (e.g., one to two weeks) or until you can clearly see which campaign performs best.

Ad formats (static versus video)

Does this sound familiar? You’ve always used static images for your conversion campaigns, reserving video for brand awareness. But, you recently noticed that static images limit your scale, so you’re looking to identify a new best practice. Video it is!

With ad formats, you can A/B test single formats or a combination.

Test setup

  • Single format: Create one campaign, including different formats in different ad sets, making all other segments identical. Run the split test at the ad set level.
  • A combination of formats: Create one campaign that includes a combination of formats to different ad sets, for example:





















Ad SetLink Type1Static link ad2Video link ad3Static link ad and video link ad
Targeted audience (interest versus lookalike)

Although you should always target combinations of audiences, you can A/B test to identify some best practices. For example, if you’re looking to identify another set of audiences that’ll bring value to your campaigns, or reduce audience overlap without including a long list of exclusions, testing can help.

Test setup

Depending on your reporting preferences, you can set up your test at the campaign or ad set level. Create one campaign with several ad sets targeting:























Ad SetAudience1Interests21% lookalike of your most valuable users3Campaign (pixel) lookalike41% website custom lookalike audience
Make sure your audience size is sufficient to deliver. All other segments must be identical.

Creative


For many advertisers, creative can be challenging, especially if you don’t have an in-house creative team. Still, there are a few things you can test to improve results, without the need for a ton of resources.

  • Video length: A/B test different video lengths, for example, five seconds versus 10 seconds or longer, to determine which one drives better results.
  • Opening frame: Test different opening video frames. Your ad needs to capture attention as fast as possible, so identify which opening frame does the job.
  • Aspect ratio: Test different ratios, for example, landscape versus vertical video.


Messaging


Different messages can drive different results, and determining the messaging that has the most appeal to your audience can be a quick win. Try testing:

  • Subject matter: Test different stories to communicate your value proposition.
  • Character limit: Try testing copy length, i.e., shorter ad text versus longer.
  • Emoji: Depending on the product you’re advertising, it might be interesting to include an emoji in your test ad copy, and see how it performs against an ad that doesn’t use it.


Wash, Rinse, Repeat


By making testing a basic part of your digital campaign life cycle, you’ll be able to continuously identify best practices, adapt to publisher changes, and scale your account. If you’d like to learn how to implement an A/B test strategy into your accounts, speak to your Marin team. If you’re new to Marin, contact us to learn more.

When it comes to PPC campaign management and optimization, A/B testing is key.

In my past life working for agencies and directly with brands, we tested new creatives every two weeks. By constantly running these tests, we were able to better understand which exact wording drove people to click ads (given all the competition on the SERP) and identify the best combination of ad elements when it comes to CTR and CVR.

To put our plan into action, we went through these phases of every A/B test:

  • Preparation
  • Execution
  • Analysis
  • Preparation for the next test (based on learnings)


Preparation


Measuring Success

It’s crucial to outline measurement KPIs to understand what a successful test looks like. For example, is the end goal to drive incremental conversions and/or revenue, a specific ROI that the test objects have to hit, or traffic growth (impression share, clicks, etc.)?

Having a clear picture of success will make analysis a lot easier, and help you quickly identify your test winner.

Test Elements

When you create a new test, review what you used in the past. What worked and what didn’t (for creatives)? How does performance look right now (for bidding)?

Always test one element at a time. Including several unique elements into your test may compromise the results. The goal is to identify the exact element that drives your performance to the next level.

Execution


Once you’ve solidified your methodology and elements, it’s time to set up the test.

While you have various implementation options at your disposal, one way to run a PPC test is with Google’s drafts and experiments. According to Google, using drafts and experiments “lets you propose and test changes to your Search and Display Network campaigns.”

Drafts and experiments campaigns mirror selected campaigns and create a complete duplicate (draft), where you can change test variables.

Once you’re happy with the changes and testing object within the campaign, convert the draft into an experiment and make it live.

There are a few thing to keep in mind when you’re launching an experiment campaign for A/B tests.

Gather Historical Data

Since experiment campaigns are created from scratch, you won’t have any historical data (i.e., quality score). So, to make sure you run an accurate test against the existing setup, allow at least two weeks for the experiment campaign to gather historical data.

Use the Right Parameters

Depending on the tracking solution you’re using, review the elements you track and attribute on. Experiment campaigns are created by mirroring existing (i.e., control) campaigns, and objects like keywords and creatives will have duplicate publisher IDs.

Some advertisers use the {creative}Google ValueTrack parameter for the creative ID to attribute conversion data at the creative level. In this case make, sure you ‘recreate’ your ads for the experiment campaign before launch, to generate unique publisher IDs.

Select the Right Budget Split

Google Ads allow advertisers to select a budget split between their control and experiment campaigns. While many advertisers select a 50/50 split, keep in mind that various factors may affect the actual split during your test.

For instance, impressions / clicks / cost data will never 100% match the selected budget split, since the settings allow you to only split spend and not the SERP auction. Also, campaign settings won’t cap your campaign budgets, and in some cases the traffic split may shift toward one of the tested campaigns.

By way of example: one of our clients decided to test two different bidding strategies in their accounts. While we initially selected the campaign’s budget split as 50/50, over time, traffic (impressions, clicks, and cost) shifted to the experiment campaign, since the LTV assigned to conversions in the campaign was much higher. This resulted in higher bid calculations and higher traffic volumes.

Analysis


Well done—you’re now on the finish line of your first test!

If you prepared well, this step will be nice and easy. You already know which metrics you’re aiming to improve, so simply download data for your control and experiment campaigns and review the results based on your KPIs.

The next step: prepare for your next test, analyze the results, and keep improving your accounts. ;) Ready, set, go!

Testing with Marin


Here at Marin, we’ve have built a feature that allows you to seamlessly track and accurately attribute conversions at all levels, without the need to recreate publisher IDs for any of the tested elements. Contact your Marin Customer Success team to learn more. Or, if you’re new to Marin, just get in touch.

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

Summer’s finally here. For most of our weekends that means one thing—weddings.

Spring through summer is well known as wedding season in the US, and for digital advertisers, the industry can be a lucrative one. But how about for those of us who aren’t peddling save the dates or bridesmaid dresses?

The average wedding has about 100 guests, each tasked with getting a gift to celebrate the new couple. If the average person spends $116 on a wedding gift, that’s a lot of revenue to be had! The question then becomes: How do we tap into those fringe markets—like gifts—during the peak of nuptial season?

Here are seven things to keep in mind to get the most out of your marketing this wedding season.

1. Be on the right channels


If you want to capitalize on the summer wedding eCommerce runoff, being on the right channels is key. It’s no lie that weddings are all about aesthetic. As such, having a presence on visual wedding-oriented channels like Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram is extremely important. Seventy-two percent of people getting married start on Pinterest, and 33% connect with brands through Instagram. Those numbers grow each year.

As a new wedding-goer myself I know I’ve turned to Pinterest for gift-giving etiquette. Have fun with it! Create a “gift guide” pin featuring your top giftable products, and use keyword targeting to hit people like me, perusing Pinterest for wedding gift cost guidance or trending items. Or, target users with marriage-aged friends on Instagram with romantic product shots of this season’s latest gifts—bonus if they’re shoppable!

2. Hit the right demographic


Considering who will be buying wedding gifts is important. You’ll want to apply age targeting segments wherever possible. The average newlywed couple is 25-34, which means their friends are, too, so be sure to target that segment the most aggressively.

Also target ages 45-64 to hit parents and family members of the new couple. The older the demographic the more money they tend to have—making the higher age ranges ideal targeting for bigger ticket items.

Lastly, while it may be archaic, most people actually buying wedding gifts are women. So consider gender-specific targeting to better get at this key group of buyers. Similarly, if you’re selling a bigger ticket item—like appliances or furniture—think about applying some household income targeting to exclude the users who can’t afford your products.

3. Get creative with customer segments


In SEM there are a lot of targeting options that lend themselves perfectly to gifting. You can play around with the best combinations of In-Market or Affinity audiences to expand your reach. Some are even specific to weddings, such as In Market for Gift Baskets or Personalized Gifts, or even an affinity for Luxury Shoppers or Home Decor Enthusiasts.

You could even craft your own custom affinity audience and target people interested in specific topics or domains, like theknot.com, Zola, or just straight up “wedding gifts.” They sky's the limit.

Beyond this, you could also try your hand at some customer list targeting. Create a list based off of users who purchased your gifts around the holidays, and remind them of their pleasant past purchasing experience this time around!

4. Whittle down your keyword targeting


I would also recommend implementing an RLSA keyword strategy. Keywords like “wedding gifts” or “gifts for couples” might get you where you want to be, but they’ll be incredibly competitive and likely carry some pretty high CPCs.

To get around this, create a campaign of those top of funnel keywords you wish you could afford, and slap some audience lists on top of them to narrow their reach to your existing customers! This is another place creative customer lists can come in handy. If someone who purchased with you last year is now looking for a wedding gift, they’ll likely recall your brand, and may even be willing to purchase from you again. The stronger the intent of your customer lists, the higher you should bid up.

5. Use the right creative


Like I said earlier, weddings are all about aesthetic. In order to inspire the right people you need to have proper creative. For events like weddings people respond well to notions of sentimentality. Include language around getting your loved one the “perfect gift.”

When using image creative, it’s important to stay on trend, and tell a story as much as possible. Weddings are about friends and families coming together to celebrate—if you can capture that in your imagery, you'll have a winning ad, like this great Zola example!

wedding


6. Update your site to match


If it’s within your means, update your website during wedding season to encourage new users to purchase. I would suggest an on-site “countdown” to wedding season, or even better a dedicated “gift guide” to steer users to your top selling or biggest ticket items. At the very least there should be a clear path from your homepage to the items you consider gifts.

7. Consider lesser-known wedding expenses


Lastly, if you’re not a home goods or traditional gift retailer, fret not—there is still plenty of the wedding cash cow to go around. If you’re marketing formalwear, hotels, transportation, beauty, or entertainment services, you can still capitalize on all those bells and whistles that come with a wedding.

As cross-channel advertising becomes more competitive and marketers continually look for ways to gain new business, it’s more important than ever to maintain a high ranking in the search engine results page (SERP). Marin’s Position Lock tackles this challenge head on, allowing you to stay in front of your potential customers.

Position Lock is an intraday, position-based bidding solution for Google and Bing. It’s designed to allow search keywords to maintain a desired position throughout the day. You can set position targets by device (desktop or mobile) at the folder level.

When To Use Position-Based Bidding


If your keywords include highly competitive terms, you should use position-based bidding to make sure you achieve your position goals throughout the day. If a competitor enters the auction, Position Lock and its robust bidding algorithm can react and bid to the desired position.

You should also use position-based bidding if you have separate targets by device. For example, for desktop it makes sense to target positions 2-3. However, having the same target for mobile may result in fewer impressions. In this case, Position Lock allows you to specify a mobile position of 1-2.

How It Works


Position Lock grabs the current position for desktop (desktop + tablet) and mobile directly from intra-day cost reports. It takes the difference between the two latest cost reports and determines the keyword-level impression weighted position by device.

The rules-based engine then bids up or down by a percentage each hour based on the most recent data. Bids are only changed for keywords that have received impressions in the last hour.

Position Lock doesn’t require tracker implementation or URL tagging. There’s also no limit to how many keywords you can bid on.

Try It Out


If you’re a Marin customer and you’d like to maximize your SERP results throughout the day, just ask your representative to enable Position Lock. Or, if you’re new to Marin, request a demo.

Like all algorithms, Facebook’s collects a certain amount of data and analyzes it before stabilizing performance and delivering the best results. So, while your ad sets are in this “learning phase,” you may see fluctuations in performance, which might make it tempting to stop your ads before they’ve had a chance to work most effectively.

In this article, we cover the basics of the Facebook algorithm and things that can impact the learning phase.

More About the Learning Phase


Facebook wants to ensure a flawless user experience and that you’re reaching the people that matter the most to your business. To this end, they’ve introduced the learning phase.

During this time, Facebook’s algorithm shows ads to different types of people in your audience, and tries to feed the delivery system with more conversion data for the most stable and best results after the phase ends. The algorithm decides who gets served ads.

Facebook has different requirements depending on the optimization timeframe:

  • Day: Facebook has a minimum requirement for an ad set of five optimized conversions. You should aim to get at least 10.
  • Week: For a week, the number of conversions has to reach 50 for optimal optimization.


What Happens Once the Learning Phase Ends


After an ad set reaches 50 conversions, the learning phase ends. This means the Facebook algorithm has collected the necessary amount of data and you should start seeing stable performance.

If you’re using a different attribution model than the Facebook default (one-day post-view/28 days post-click) the learning phase can be longer. For example, for one-day post-click it’ll take longer to get 50 conversions.

In addition to the recommended number of conversions, be sure to not pause ads or make any drastic changes to the ad set, especially by editing creatives, updating targeting specs or the optimization timeframe, amending bids and budgets, and firing the pixel conditionally. Also, note that the oCPM algorithm needs at least 24 hours, with no changes at all, to effectively learn.

After the learning phase, you can start optimizing your ad sets to get the best performance. However, make sure that your budget/bid changes aren’t higher than 20%, as this will most likely restart the learning phase.

It’s important to gather enough of data for the algorithm to collect learnings and stabilize performance. So, be sure to allow the algorithm to reach the time thresholds before trying to optimize your campaigns.

Most digital marketers with retail responsibilities are looking to run Shopping campaigns that consistently outperform their peers. In our Marin Software Retail Guide, we draw on our expertise managing global ad campaigns to unpack what you need to know to succeed with Shopping ads.

Shopping Ads Continue to Boom


Whether you’re starting out or you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll benefit from learning more about the fastest-growing ad type on the web. We cover several key ways to boost your Shopping campaign performance:

  • Taking control of your product feed
  • Establishing a campaign structure for seamless workflow
  • Optimizing performance to deliver business results


Shopping Ads Versus Text Ads


Shopping ads are fundamentally different from text ads, because marketers must maintain dual visibility into both product feed and campaign performance. This speaks to the dependent relationship between feeds and campaigns—a change to one directly impacts the other.

With this complexity in mind, marketers must approach Shopping campaigns holistically to generate positive results. Your product feed is a great place to begin—our guide includes instructions for cleaning up your product feed and making sure it contains all the right elements for winning campaigns. From there, it details how to fine-tune your campaigns, optimization, advanced strategies like mobile and RSLA, and more.

To learn how to create successful Shopping ad campaigns download our Marin Software Retail Guide today.

Marketing on Facebook is as much an art as a science. Most importantly, it’s an opportunity to curate a marketing program for full-funnel success, using a variety of ad formats and optimization tools. Among the myriad tools available to advertisers, creating relevance is a key component in achieving optimal results for your budget.

In this first article in a three-part series, we’ll explore the basic concepts of the Facebook auction. In our last two posts, we’ll describe a framework advertisers can adopt to help create and execute A/B tests (ad studies) aiming to improve campaigns for relevancy—and in turn, drive better return on investment.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Facebook Auction


Basic Concepts


Facebook ads are paid messages from businesses that are written in their voice and help reach the people who matter most to them.[1] Ads (or orders) are placed into an auction within campaigns, and the auction works to create the most value for advertisers in response to objectives and goals. The auction also supports the best experience for people browsing on Facebook properties.

To start building and launching Facebook ads, you need:[2]

facebook


  • Business Goal: campaign objective (Brand Awareness, App Installs, Product Catalog Sales, etc.)
  • Audience Reach: core audiences (age, gender, etc.), custom audiences (first-party data)
  • Budget: Lifetime and Daily budgets pace daily allocations differently
  • Bid: target maximum amount advertisers are willing to pay per result
  • Creatives: variations such as video ads, Instagram Stories ads, Carousel ads, etc.


Once you submit your ad, it goes to the ad auction, which helps get it to the right people. At a high level, Facebook describes the ad auction in these terms:

“We try to show your ads evenly throughout the day so that the people most valuable to you in your target audience are more likely to see them. The more relevant we predict an ad will be to a person, the less it should cost for the advertiser to show the ad to that person.” — Facebook Blueprint

Total Bid


When marketing on Facebook, every auction opportunity to serve an impression to someone is won or lost in response to the Total Bid—a combination of:

  1. The bid value + expected rate of action (results) (eCPM)
  2. Ad Relevance


The Total Bid applies across all campaign objectives using the formula:

facebook



An ad that's high quality and very relevant can beat an ad that has a higher bid, but is lower quality and has less relevance.

To put it another way, Ad Relevance determines winning ad impressions within a balance of two things:[3]

  • Creating value for advertisers by helping them reach and get results from people in their target audiences
  • Providing positive, relevant experiences for people using the Facebook family of apps and services


Putting It Together


We’ve covered several key concepts, which we can sum up in a few points:

  • Create value for advertisers’ outcomes by helping them reach people who matter most in response to specific goals
  • Positive and more relevant experiences are rewarded with higher ROI


And, the most important: an ad that's high quality and very relevant can beat an ad that has a higher bid, but is lower quality and has less relevance.

Determining the Total Value


As we’ve learned, the auction is supportive of producing the most results for advertisers, and ads that win in the auction and get shown deliver the highest total value—in other words, the highest Total Bid.

Total value isn't how much an advertiser is willing to pay us to show their ad—the bid alone doesn’t win the auction. It’s important to note that it’s a combination of three major factors:[4]

  1. Bid
  2. Estimated action rates
  3. Ad quality and relevance


High relevance and quality is as much an audience targeting challenge as it is an ad creative one.

For example, advertisers can cast a wide net and target nearly everyone on Facebook and Instagram. Not everyone wants what the advertiser is offering, however; as a result, Ad Relevance will likely be negatively impacted.

This negative impact can come from two possible sources:

  • An algorithmic calculation, as Facebook reviews the advertisers goals vs. target audience and message, and then downgrades the ad because it’s not very relevant to targeted people
  • Actions by people on Facebook signalling that they’re not interested in the ad served to them (e.g., hiding the ad or not engaging with the ad)


Creating a campaign is fairly simple, from a workflow perspective. Creating a relevant campaign, however, is what requires the most attention and care.

How to Check Your Work


To empower advertisers to success, our Customer Engagement teams encourage building and incorporating an A/B testing framework which scientifically validates audience, optimization actions, and ads—a Scope of Test.

When advertisers design and implement such a framework, the ROI results are typically positive and improved over the long term in comparison with advertisers that don’t take opportunities to A/B test and refine their strategies.

In our next article, we’ll lay out exactly how to conduct a proper Scope of Test. Stay tuned!

[1]Prepare to Advertise on Facebook

[2] Getting Started with Ads

[3]About the delivery system: Ad auctions

[4]About the delivery system: Ad auctions

If your Facebook ads aren’t quite reaching all the people you’re looking to influence, there are several things you can analyze to solve the problem. Here are a few tactics to ensure your ads are delivering the way you want them to.

Is your bid too low?


In order to run competitive campaigns in an increasingly competitive Facebook auction market, make sure you’re entering your ads in the auction with a realistic bid that reflects your CPA target. However, if the initial bid doesn’t get you delivery at some point, don’t be afraid to test higher values to get back on track. Facebook’s market is ever-changing, so be sure your bids keep pace.

Is audience overlap too high?


If ad sets in your ad account have a high overlap, Facebook will try its best to keep you from bidding against yourself in the auction. However, in order to do so one of the ad sets will miss out on impressions and subsequently suffer from under-delivery.

To combat this, try excluding the audiences from each other. If this result sin small audience sizes, try testing broader audiences (such as increased lookalike threshold) and apply the exclusions then.

Your promoted object may not have enough data


Generally, if you’re optimizing towards one of your pixel events, it’s recommended to be as specific with your promoted object as possible. By setting your promoted object, you’re telling Facebook what you want your final conversion to be so that Facebook can help you achieve it.

Some advertisers may struggle with generating enough conversions to feed Facebook’s algorithm to have the required delivery. Facebook recommends having 50 conversions per ad set per week so that the algorithm has enough data to optimize delivery.

If you’ve concluded that your promoted object doesn’t reach this target, try adjusting the promoted object to an event before the final conversion. The volumes there are likely to be considerably higher and therefore can improve delivery.

Are you using the right bidding type?


Facebook offers various bidding types to suit your objective, audience type, and audience size. While oCPM bidding can be very powerful, it’s not always the right bidding value. As a rule of thumb, we suggest using oCPM only with larger audiences whom you know relatively little about (i.e., prospecting audiences). Keep the audience size over 100k.

Consider seasonality


Sometimes seasons, holidays, and major retail days (such as Black Friday, Christmas, and Back to School) can increase the demand of ad space for particular verticals. If you’ve historically noticed increased competition during those periods, consider increasing your bidding to stay in the game.

Is your budget realistic?


Make sure your budget expectations are realistic for the audience size you’re targeting. For instance, if you’re retargeting a high-value custom audience of 500 users, you might not be able to spend the whole allocated budget. To set realistic audience targets for your team and your client, follow this simple calculation.

Audience size x 5 (frequency)
____________________________ = Anticipated budget
CPM that you’ve historically seen
for such small audiences


With this calculation, you’ll get the total number of impressions you’re able to deliver with a recommended maximum frequency of 5. By dividing it with your historical CPM for a similar audience, you’ll get the expected budget you’ll be able to spend.

Check the Relevance Score


Lastly, Facebook is always looking out for its audience as it’s aiming to provide a pleasant user experience. If your ads have received a lot of negative feedback (hint: the tiny x button in the top right corner of the ad) Facebook will scale down the delivery of the ad as it’s seeing that it’s not resonating well with the audience. So, always make sure to target the relevant audience with the best possible creative most likely to resonate with them.

“With Shopping, you can’t just bump bids up. Great Shopping results begin with feed design and optimization.” — Kevin Wetherby, Google Shopping Commercial Lead

According to Marin’s Q4 2017 benchmark report, Shopping ads saw 8% more clicks and 31% more click share from Q3 to Q4 2017. Given the strong adoption of Shopping campaigns by retailers, we believe this trend is only set to continue in 2018.

How do top advertisers run Shopping campaigns that consistently outperform their peers? With the industry constantly evolving and so many moving parts, how can retailers optimize their digital shopping campaigns to gain more clicks?

The Almighty Product Feed


Shopping success starts and ends with the product feed. The first step is verifying that all of your feed’s values are accurate and that the feed is structurally organized so you can confidently build campaigns that map to value groupings within the feed. In other words, you can only build product groups that correlate exactly with your feed—so, this is your top priority when it comes to Shopping.

There’s just no substitute for domain expertise when setting up Shopping campaigns; using a combination of quality feed setup and proven campaign structure will improve the likelihood of each product showing for related customer searches.

A Clean and Organized Shopping Campaign Structure


Once the foundation of your feed structure is set, the next step is establishing an effective campaign structure. This basic structure addresses two of the most common challenges when it comes to Shopping:

  • Establishing a fluid optimization workflow for growth
  • Increasing overall product visibility


The best way to ensure Shopping success is to use a multi-pronged approach. Heavy reliance on broad segments (All Products or Everything Else) leads to inefficiencies, while an overly granular structure (all item ID) can bottleneck volume and impede performance. The trick is to find the right mix through a combination of continuous testing and optimization.

Learn More in Our Shopping Webinar


There are even more great things you can do to ensure your Shopping campaigns are meeting and exceeding your revenue goals—feed optimization, scaling your campaigns, advanced strategies like mobile and RLSA, and more.

For in-depth tips on positioning your Shopping campaigns for success, join us on Thursday, February 22nd at 10 am PST (1 pm EST) for Shop ‘til You Click: Creating Shopping Campaigns at Scale. During this 60-minute webinar, we’ll offer expert advice that includes:

  • Establishing a foundation for seamless workflow and campaign management
  • Making the most of your product catalog and maximizing visibility
  • Tips for success with Google Shopping and Facebook Dynamic Ads


Our Product Marketing Manager for Search, Patrick Hutchison, will present with Brian Roizen from Feedonomics and retail industry leader, Ginny Marvin, from Search Engine Land.

Speaker Bios




Ginny Marvin



Ginny Marvin, Associate Editor, Search Engine Land

Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including search, social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions.




Brian Roizen



Brian Roizen, Co-founder and Chief Architect, Feedonomics

Brian oversees all of Feedonomics’ automation processes and loves taking the most annoying manual tasks and automating them. He has founded a series of AI-based websites reaching tens of millions of users per month and landing in the top 1,500 websites on the internet. His latest company, Feedonomics, helps automate feed-based advertising for some of the largest agencies, brands and retailers.




Patrick Hutchison



Patrick Hutchison, Product Marketing Manager, Marin Software

Patrick is a Product Marketing Manager at Marin Software, with a specialty in search. Previously, he held roles in Sales, and Professional and Client Services at Marin Software. He got his start in online advertising back in 2007 with Vizu (acquired by Nielsen).



Audience targeting gives marketers a powerful tool to tailor their message and build highly relevant ad campaigns for different customer segments. Layering “Audiences” on top of keywords drives better results than using keywords alone.

Consider a few results:

  • eharmony averaged 220% ROI after adopting an advertising strategy based on personalization and audience segments.
  • Ancestry’s smart audience utilization continues to increase its ROI and drive high-performance remarketing campaigns.
  • MoneySuperMarket discovered that delivering the right message at the right time was key to keeping customers happy and retaining their business.


Breaking Down Barriers to Success


Most marketers underutilize audience products today. In our conversations, we hear a number of recurring themes when we explore why this is happening.

Many advertisers say that “We don’t have a retargeting pixel installed” or “I don’t know where to start or how to test audiences.” The good news: After you set a baseline with Google Analytics, audience targeting is easy to implement and test to find the best configuration for your organization.

Start Your Audience Targeting Efforts Today


To get started with audience targeting and ensure the largest yields from your advertising budgets, download our free guide, Finding Your Ideal Audience: Advertisers Get Smart About Customer Acquisition. With its practical advice and hands-on tactics, you’ll be able to begin using audience targeting right away.

audience targeting

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

Everyone’s opted into the new AdWords UI, and not everyone is excited about it. Remember when Facebook changed its UI in 2010 and people were outraged?

Here are two screenshots: one of Facebook when I joined in 2007 and the other after the 2010 redesign. Can you imagine going back to either of these versions, now that we have the Facebook we know and love today?



People hate change, but change is good.

In five years we’ll look back and laugh about how resistant we were to the new Google AdWords UI, but in the meantime, I wanted to provide you some tips to ease the transition.

  1. Be intentional about using the new UI. Set aside an hour a day or designate a project, and commit to going start to finish in the new UI. For me, I was recently transitioning agencies and getting all new clients, so I dedicated a few clients that I solely managed in the new UI.
  2. Submit feedback. The benefit to trying to transition yourself before the old UI goes away: there’s still time to submit feedback if there were features in the old UI that no longer exist! If there are missing features, your fellow marketers will thank you for bringing them to Google’s attention.
  3. Don’t throw in the towel. My first instinct when I can’t find something in the new UI is to revert back to the previous UI. We’re all busy and I know it’s quicker to go backward and access the data the old way, but take an extra minute and figure it out. So far I haven’t found anything I could do in the old UI that I can’t do in the new UI. (Shocking, right?) Below, I’ve shared a couple of tricks to accessing the views you’re comfortable seeing.



Google AdWords New UI Overview


There are now more options in the top nav, which is now the side nav. For example, ‘Device’ now lives on its own, as opposed to being tucked away under the ‘Settings’ tab. I’ll let you explore the side nav on your own, and focus on the seemingly hidden features in the new UI—the features that took me a little more clicking around to figure out.

These features include:

  1. Dimensions
  2. Menu features
  3. Campaign/Ad Group/Keyword screen features
  4. Keyboard shortcuts


Dimensions


Most notably different, in my opinion, is the elimination of my beloved ‘Dimensions’ tab. Luckily, I’ve found that all of the features I normally use still exist; they’re just more intuitively tucked away within tabs to which they’re relevant.

Geographic/User Location Reports

  1. Navigate to the ‘Locations’ tab.
  2. At the top of the screen, look for the ‘More’ option.
  3. Choose either ‘Geographic’ or ‘User Location’. As a refresher, the ‘Geographic’ report shows the location that triggers your ad, while the ‘User Location’ report shows where the searcher was physically located when your ad was triggered.
  4. To view more granular data, click into a particular country, and then you’ll get a list of location segmentation options.
  5. Finally, if you need a more comprehensive view across countries, click the graph icon in the top right of the screen. Next, click the option for ‘Predefined Reports (formerly Dimensions)’, then choose from ‘Geographic’, ‘User Locations’, or ‘Distance From’.


By Hour Performance

I use this all the time for intraday budget pacing, so I panicked when dimensions disappeared in the new UI.

  1. Click the graph icon in the top right of your screen.
  2. Select ‘Predefined Reports (Formerly Dimensions)’.
  3. Choose ‘Time > Hour of Day’.
  4. Change your date range to compare two dates to see a by-hour breakdown of performance.


Access Menu Features


This is also known as, “Place where you go to revert to the previous AdWords.”



Keyword Planner

  1. Click the three vertical dots next to the graph icon.
  2. Under ‘Planning’, you’ll see an option for ‘Keyword Planner’.
  3. Click this, and it’ll open the normal keyword planner to which you’re accustomed.


Shared Library

  1. Clicks the three vertical dots next to the graph icon.
  2. Here you’ll find the ‘Shared Library’, which gives you access to:
  3. Audience manager
  4. Portfolio bid strategies
  5. Negative keyword lists
  6. Shared budgets
  7. Placement exclusion lists


Bulk Actions

  1. Click the three vertical dots next to the graph icon.
  2. The third column from the left features the ‘Bulk Actions’ menu, including:
  3. Rules
  4. Scripts
  5. Uploads


Campaign/Ad Group/Keyword Screen Features


Auction Insights—Two Ways to Access

  1. To view this across all campaigns, ad groups, or keywords, select ‘More’ at the top of the screen, then select ‘Auction Insights’.
  1. To view this across select items, check ‘Specific Items’. You’ll see options to edit, label, or go to Auction Insights.


Segmenting Data

  1. Click the donut icon next to the filter icon. Select ‘Segmentations’ from the dropdown list. The same rollups by segment still exist at the bottom of the page.
  2. Options include:


Include Paused or Removed Items

  1. Click the on the ‘Additional Features’ next to the columns icon, then select ‘Additional Items’ to add to your current view. This is a little more intuitive to understand based on what view you currently have open. Showing ‘Paused’ but not removed is the same view as ‘All but removed’ in the previous UI.
  2. Similar to the old UI, this setting trickles down through your other views. For example, by selecting ‘Show Paused’, you’ll now see data from paused campaigns in the ‘Device’ tab.



Keyboard Shortcuts


Include Paused or Removed Items

  1. When you’re in the new UI, if you simply enter a ‘?’, then just the key command ‘shift + /’, you’ll be able to view all the keyboard shortcuts available in the user experience.
  2. Learning these shortcuts early will help save time, and even limit having to learn where your favorite views and dimensions are hidden.




As you get more used to the new AdWords UI, you’ll find more features that best suit your advertising needs. Here’s to change!

On October 23rd at this year’s International Performance Marketing Awards (IPMA) in London, Marin Software took home the gold, winning Best Paid Social Campaign for our innovative work with The Economist. The IPMA is the largest and most prestigious ceremony in the world for paid advertising.

With Marin’s experts leading the way and tapping into our social campaign management technology, The Economist boosted new subscriptions by 66% through a highly targeted Facebook video campaign. The results shattered targets while generating a 72% lower CPC than image-based ads.


How We Did It


The goal of the campaign was to increase the number of subscriptions to The Economist across 24 countries, including the UK and the US. Along with boosting new signups, The Economist wanted to improve the outlet’s profile as a trusted source of news within social platforms, and to keep conversion costs as low as possible.

The strategy was to focus on converting those who had expressed interest in The Economist by continuously engaging with them. We used two specific ad types—Facebook link posts and animated video ads—to engage readers and encourage them to subscribe.

The team’s tactics ensured a prizewinning campaign:

Dynamic Product Ads

The Economist used Dynamic Product Ads (DPA)— traditionally used only in e-commerce—to target people who’d read an online article on Economist.com. The reader would then receive subscription offers based on the themes of the article. This was an industry-first use of DPA in EMEA.

Unique to Marin: Managed Social Advertising Rules and Ad-level Bidding

The Economist used automated ad pausing to maintain a below-target cost per subscription. The Marin platform automatically paused ads that spent over a set threshold without converting, resulting in more efficient budget allocation.

With managed rules and automated bid management, The Economist increased the reach of its video ads in strong-performing markets, and paused under-performing video ads in other markets. This strategy delivered the maximum number of subscriptions within a target cost per acquisition. In fact, it reduced cost per subscription by 12%.

With ad-level bidding, The Economist achieved granular bidding capabilities on the ad level on Facebook—as opposed to the ad set. This allowed for maximum control over delivery and optimization to meet results.

Video and Animated Covers

The industry is currently mad about video. To ride this trend, ad creative included animated magazine covers and video that provided a much higher engagement CTR of 1.24% on video ads compared to 0.51% on link posts. The Economist also used video carousels to showcase multiple covers in one ad format.

Learn More


We’re proud to have partnered with The Economist to achieve not only record-breaking performance but also a big win at the IPMA! To find out more about how Marin can help your team realize similar results, get in touch today.

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!

Brand awareness campaigns on Facebook are great—they allow you to improve the visibility of your brand and products, and enlarge your fan base.

But, when it comes to driving users to perform specific actions on your website or app, conversion campaigns are your best allies!

Unlike branding campaigns, conversion campaigns usually need not only a more detailed plan and sophisticated structure—they also require a more specific and timely optimization, along with an impeccable bidding strategy.

Every situation and project has its own peculiar characteristics, and needs to be considered carefully in developing the right strategy. But, you can follow some basic steps that serve as a mini-guide on how to master conversion campaigns on Facebook.

Tracking


Before you launch a conversion campaign, always make sure you’re able to properly track your conversions. You should only have one Main KPI—which we’ll discuss in the next section—but you should also have perfect visibility of the whole conversion funnel, in order to be able to answers questions like:

  • How many users left the website right after viewing a product without converting?
  • How many “add to cart” events did your campaign generate?
  • What’s your bounce rate on each step?


You can answer these questions with intermediate, specific events that you track along with your main KPI.

Main KPI


Choosing the right Main KPI enables you to accurately evaluate your campaigns, and optimize them towards your central objective.

Pick the Pixel or In-App event wisely. Main KPIs that generate poor volume—like the purchase of a very expensive product—or metrics that will most certainly be performed outside of the attribution time frame, may complicate campaign optimization. If you don’t achieve enough conversion volume, you won’t be able to analyze your campaign results properly and take the right course of action to optimize them.

CPA Goal


Make sure your desired cost per conversion is achievable, and that it ensures a transparent analysis of your campaign.

If you’re new to the publisher or launching in a new market—or simply unsure of the best cost per conversion you can get with your campaign—start by optimizing on CPC or other delivery metrics.

It’s easy to estimate the average CPC and CPM, so use this as a good starting point for your new digital advertising activity.

Bidding


Conversion-focused optimization is the most precise way of bidding in conversion campaigns. But, you may want to start with a CPC or CPM optimised bidding model, especially with small audiences.

Once you get your first conversions and a decent volume (and your audience is ample enough), you can switch to oCPM and let Facebook’s algorithm optimize your bidding towards your Main KPI.

For More Information


If you’d like more information on setting up the best conversion ad campaigns for your business, just get in touch.

Digital marketers continually pursue optimal performance. This is especially true for ad budgets—the foundation on which audiences and creatives are built.

The more efficiently marketers can allocate budget towards performing audiences, the more likely they’ll see positive returns on investment. That said, monitoring and managing audience budgets is a manual task that can quickly grow to drain valuable marketing time and resources—especially considering the volume of campaigns that are typically created and active at any given time.

How can digital marketers improve their ability to efficiently identify and scale opportunities for optimizing budgets?

We designed Marin Budget Allocation (MBA) to solve this dilemma.

What is Marin Budget Allocation?


MBA is a proprietary algorithm that automatically adjusts budgets within your campaigns based on top-performing audiences.

How MBA Helps Advertisers


When activated for a campaign, MBA:

  • Saves time
  • Drives efficient performance of your main KPI
  • Maximizes conversions
  • Rewards the lowest CPA


Typically, marketers build ad sets in campaigns around a number of different target audiences. Performance for each target audience can vary depending on demographics, interests, and engagements with a brand, and products or services.

As a common best practice, advertisers will often look to monitor ad sets and their performance, checking them multiple times a day, and manually reallocating budget towards the best-performing main KPI.

This practice can be very time-consuming for advertisers managing a large number of campaigns at scale, and across business objectives that can span both branding and direct response goals.

Marketers have a finite amount of time and attention they can devote to active campaigns, which can potentially lead to missing out on key budget reallocation decisions.

To solve this, MBA improves the performance review and budget allocation practice by continuously monitoring ad set performance, and automatically reallocating the campaign budget towards ad sets driving efficiencies in main KPI performance. Data drives the process.

ads settings



With automatic budget reallocation, a marketer can more comprehensively account for performance of multiple campaigns at the same time. Missed opportunities for optimization? MBA minimizes these moments or eliminates them altogether. Main KPI performance improves, as does return on ad spend.

MBA Best Practices


Use Lifetime Budgets

When used in conjunction with MBA, the Lifetime Budgets option provides for more even pacing of the available campaign and ad set budgets. For example, with the Daily Budget option on Facebook, you can have spend variance, as ad sets can spend up to 125% of the allocation for a particular day in the campaign flight. If you spend more than 100% of the Daily Budget, on the next day you could see a scaling down of the total budget allocated towards serving impressions.

When you use the Lifetime Budget option, a calculation based on the remaining budget and remaining campaign schedule more evenly controls the spending limit and pacing of each day.

We’ve also observed efficiency gains in Lifetime Budgets and recommend pairing them with MBA. If you commonly use Daily Budgets and would like to activate MBA, simply multiply the number of days you expect to run the campaign by your typical Daily Budget, and set that total budget for the campaign with the Lifetime Budget option selected.

A/B Test Studies

We encourage you to set up Ad Studies to help understand performance gains, using a scientific approach to A/B testing.

For example, activate MBA in one campaign, allowing it to make budget allocation decisions for the campaign. In the other campaign, continue budget allocations manually. Be sure to keep only one variable—budget allocation actions—as the differentiator.

Alternatively, you can run a campaign without MBA, comparing performance versus a campaign with MBA active.

We recommend creating at least three rounds of A/B tests. Our account managers can collaborate with you to recommend best practices for modeling Ad Studies, reporting on results, and incorporating effective tactics.

Summary


MBA is designed to help advertisers address common pain points, including:

  1. Yielding the most efficient results from budgets allocated to an audience
  2. Minimizing missed opportunities for optimizing budgets
  3. Supporting enterprise marketing efforts at scale


To get started with MBA today, just ask your account manager. Or, if you’re new to Marin and have additional questions around improving your marketing strategy and identifying opportunities for optimization, get in touch with us.

This is a guest post from Ashley Aptt, Account Director at 3Q Digital.

With Q4 right around the corner, the big question is, “How can I drive more sales this holiday season?” Everyone wants to increase revenue, plus look for new and efficient ways to do so. Today we’ll focus on how you can leverage AdWords Customer Match and Similar Audiences to meet your holiday goals.

Brief Descriptions


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

If your Customer Match audience meets eligibility criteria, Google automatically creates Similar Audiences. Similar Audiences allow you to reach people who share characteristics with the users in your Customer Match file.

Customer Match is currently available for Search, Shopping, YouTube, and Gmail campaigns (not the Google Display Network). Similar Audiences for Customer Match is available for YouTube and Gmail only.

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

Create Customer Segments


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

  • Prospects versus customers
  • Customer purchase frequency
  • Product or category affinities


Increase Bids for Past Purchasers


Use Customer Match as a remarketing list for search ads (RLSA) audience in search campaigns to adjust bids for users who’ve previously purchased from your site. Experiment with higher bids when your customers perform non-brand or competitor searches to stay top of mind and drive more sales during the holiday season.

Since past purchasers are familiar with your brand, it’s less risky to aggressively bid on non-brand search queries, because these users are more likely to convert compared to users who haven’t previously visited your site.

Target Broad/General Keywords


Explore targeting very broad or general non-brand keywords with your Customer Match list. This can be done with the RLSA Target and bid feature.

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

[caption id="attachment_10021" align="alignnone" width="500"]

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(Click image to enlarge.)[/caption]

Develop New Ad Copy


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

Cross-Sell or Upsell


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

Expand Acquisition Efforts


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

In Sum


Customer Match and Similar Audiences present advertisers with many great targeting strategies. Get started on creating and segmenting your customer lists now. Then, build your strategy and get ready to drive more revenue this holiday season!

You may have noticed the trend towards Facebook flexible placements (i.e., placement optimization). Are these worth incorporating into your account?

In this article, we cover the main advantages of placement optimization and why you should include it in your marketing strategy. The benefits sound a lot like common business goals: timesaving, efficiency, and expanded reach.

Timesaving


Saving Time Through Predictable Performance

When you run your campaigns only on what you consider to be the best-performing placement or split individual placements, you’ll most likely see fluctuating performance. And, it may be challenging to achieve low CPA or delivery in a specific placement. Manual adjustments become an ongoing struggle as you try to get the most out of your campaigns.

Optimizing for more placements, on the other hand, will save you some time when you create and refine your campaigns. This produces better delivery, enhanced performance, and expanded reach.

Saving Time Through Robust Tools

There are duplication and mass-editing tools that allow you to clone ad sets or campaigns, automatically make changes to placements, and run Facebook and Instagram campaigns independently. With these tools, there’s no need to create everything from scratch or reinvent the wheel.

However, what if you’re running full-funnel activities, from branding to retention? What if you’re also advertising in multiple markets, plus variations for those audiences?

Here, placement optimization can help save you tons of time. Instead of targeting and setting up every placement, you can let Facebook do it for you, clearing more time for strategic planning, optimization, and further testing.

Saving Time Through Insightful Reporting

As for reporting, Facebook provides the option of seeing the placement breakdown, allowing you to determine which placement drives the best performance. But, don’t rush to divert all of your budget to the best-performing placement by separating placements again, as Facebook will optimize for the best performer, anyway. Which leads us to efficiency.

Efficiency


When you’re developing your strategy and creating your Facebook ad campaigns, one aim is to provide as much information as possible so that Facebook algorithms know your goal and optimize for it. This includes indicators like objective, promoted object, and bidding type.

Why should you let the algorithms deliver ads in placements that bring low CPAs? Because they’re flexible, serving your ads on Facebook, Instagram, or Facebook Audience Network (FAN) when there’s the greatest likelihood of the cheapest CPA and highest volume.

[caption id="attachment_9878" align="alignnone" width="500"]

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How placement optimization works (Source: Facebook)[/caption]

Expanded Reach


Audience size plays a key role in achieving the cheapest CPA, meaning that if there’s a possibility to increase reach, it’s always a good idea to do it.

With placement optimization, you have the opportunity to reach more users with the same budget, which can solve cost effectiveness and single-placement delivery issues.

How does placement optimization work? Easy—it takes advantage of Facebook’s algorithms that dynamically search and serve your ad to the placement that’s most cost effective at any given time, whether it’s on Facebook, Instagram, or FAN.

Conclusion


More time, better use of resources, more brand awareness and revenue. Placement optimization is one of the best strategies for putting your marketing dollars to effective use.

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

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

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

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

What is a Mobile Ad Network?


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

What Is a DSP?


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

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


Pros:

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


Cons:

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


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


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

How Is Targeting Done on Ad Networks?


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

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

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

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

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


Over 1,300 people and 60 exhibitors traveled to Seattle from June 12-14 to attend SMX Advanced. This year’s event kicked off with a rooftop networking reception for SEO and SEM professionals. An overcast sky and arctic winds couldn’t dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm for topics like bidding strategies, attribution models, and audience targeting.

Search and social combined


You can tell a lot about a conference by its premier sponsors—Google and Bing had a big presence at SMX, but the absence of social media sponsors was notable. While SMX is largely billed as a search marketing show, the lines between search and social are blurring across the industry. Multi-channel marketing is poised to emerge as a winning proposition, as industry leaders like Marin Software demonstrate the value of managing and optimizing both search and social advertising in tandem.

Tales of the expo hall


Like most expo halls, SMX had a mix of established companies like Moz in slick and spacious booths alongside scrappy startups like OnCrawl (visiting from Bordeaux). I did notice a cohort of vendors focusing on inbound call tracking, including Invoca, CallTrackingMetrics, LeadGiant, and Marchex. These click-to-call advertising solutions promised motivated prospects dialing into your business with clear purchase intent, which could make your white paper campaigns turn green with envy!


Google talks mobile at the keynote


Danny Sullivan led the SMX Advanced keynote, and interviewed Gary Illyes from Google. While somewhat light on product announcements, their discussion delved into topics like Google’s expanding mobile index, long awaited improvements to featured snippets, and the potential of combining Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) with Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Gary noted that the PWAs could overcome the install hurdle for native apps, which he described as “freakishly difficult” for most companies.

Bringing out the mad scientists


An SEM track called “The Mad Scientists of Paid Search” lived up to its promising title by offering good content depth and entertaining conclusions. Andreas Reiffen from Crealytics presented some keenly observed Google Shopping data.

In one hypothetical test, Andreas used controlled experiments to prove that a more granular account structure actually improves campaign performance. His data showed that splitting products into separate product groups increases the total number of impressions received. This finding is at odds with Google’s recommendation not to split products too soon so that the algorithm has time to fine-tune performance.

In another experiment, Andreas showed that impressions and clicks are highly sensitive to price changes in Google Shopping campaigns. Using an Asics sneaker example, he demonstrated how a 5% increase in price can trigger a 60% decrease in clicks. His findings also demonstrated that products priced “cheaper than the competition” generate far more traffic than more expensive products. The art and science of pricing is alive and well, clearly!

Thoughts for SMX 2018


If I learned one thing at SMX, it’s that the future of paid advertising is shifting towards combining search and social channels—and everyone at Marin is thrilled to be part of it. Let’s see how the industry evolves over the coming year, and I expect we’ll see new sponsors and an increasingly multi-channel agenda at SMX 2018.

On March 17th, Google announced its intention to expand close keyword variation matching for exact match keywords to include additional rewording and reordering. In other words, exact match keywords would be eligible to match to more search queries.

Google argues that this update will assist advertisers in finding the right keywords to bid on, saving them from the trouble of building out exhaustive keyword lists. However, for advertisers who utilize single keyword ad groups (SKAGs), this update will fundamentally change how they build and maintain AdWords search campaigns.

This post examines how the close variant update will affect SKAGs and offers some best practices for adapting to the new exact match.

The Old Way


Before Google’s announcement, close variants included misspellings, singular forms, plural forms, acronyms, stemming, abbreviations, and accents. For example, the keyword [donut] would match to the search query [donuts]—more or less an ‘exact’ match.

The update expands exact match close variants to include additional forms of rewordings, synonyms, and word reordering. Additionally, it ignores function words, such as “prepositions (in, to), conjunctions (for, but), articles (a, the) and other words that often don’t impact the intent behind a query.”

This last point has many advertisers worried as ‘function words’ can often change the core meaning of a keyword/search query. However, Google claims it’ll ignore function words only “when it won’t change the meaning of your keyword.”

For example, if someone is searching for [wax for surfboard], it could trigger the exact match keywords [surf wax].

The Difference with SKAGs


As the name implies, SKAGs are ad groups with just one keyword in them. This campaign structure gives advertisers a granular level of control over which ads and landing pages are served to specific keywords.

For example, for the keyword [pet hotels], an advertiser can create ad copy that includes the keyword a couple of times. Because Google will bold any instance of the exact keyword in the ad text, keyword-specific ads will appear more relevant to a searcher, and are likely to drive higher click-through rates and lower CPCs. An advertiser can also drive to a custom landing page for that keyword, which should result in higher conversion rates.

The New Way


With this new update, however, advertisers who utilize SKAGs will lose some level of control as more ‘close variant’ search queries will match to exact match keywords. This update should not degrade the benefits of a SKAGs campaign structure, but it will require advertisers to make a few adaptations.

Here are a few possible issues and adjustments to resolve them.

Note: Keep in mind that Google is staggering the rollout of the close variants update, so you won’t have to make changes immediately. At the time of this writing, Google has applied the update to 10% of all ad-eligible search traffic.

1. Remove Newly Duplicate Keywords/Ad Groups

Let’s assume you’re bidding on the keywords [speakers for living room] and [living room speakers] in your SKAG campaign. The close variants update eliminates the differences between these keywords because it’ll ignore “for” and the fact that they’re ordered differently. Consequently, these two keywords would now be duplicates and competing in the same auctions—which can drive up CPCs.

So, it’s important to remove prepositions, conjunctions, and articles from your keywords and delete any duplicates. However, if function words/reordering significantly change the meaning of the keywords, you should consider keeping them if you want to ensure coverage. Work with your AdWords rep if you’re not sure whether the close variants update will affect specific keywords.

2. Revise Keyword-Specific Ad Copy Where Relevant

As previously mentioned, keyword-specific ad copy can perform better than generic counterparts. If any of your keywords became duplicates due to reordering or function words being ignored, you may want to consolidate ad copy between the two ad groups.

3. Preemptively Add Negative Keywords, Closely Monitor SQRs

Reordering and ignoring function words could cause your keywords to serve for irrelevant terms. For example, [orange bag] isn’t the same as [bag of oranges]. We’re not sure if Google’s algorithms will know the difference between these keywords, so it doesn’t hurt to have your bases covered.

If any of your exact match keywords are at risk of serving to irrelevant search terms, you should preemptively add that search term as a negative keyword to prevent wasting budget. It’s also important to closely monitor search query reports and negate any irrelevant traffic early.

Greater Complexity but Better Results


Overall, the close variants update will complicate how advertisers think about exact match. And, many are skeptical that the update will function as Google explained in its announcement, fearing that AdWords will start to match queries to keywords that don’t have the same meaning or intent. That said, search advertisers should take heart, since close variants is a positive change, as Marin explained in a previous post.

The English language is constantly evolving, and it’s also full of exceptions, nuances, and contradictions. Because of this, there will undoubtedly be a ‘machine learning’ curve as Google rolls out this update. For now, advertisers should keep a close eye on any new updates from Google regarding close variants, be prepared to adapt quickly once it applies to all search traffic, and get ready for the opportunities the change will open up.

We’re currently running a closed beta of Marin Budget Allocation. With this new feature, Marin Social’s data science team has developed a proprietary algorithm that allows you to automatically adjust budgets within your ad sets based on top-performing audiences.

When paired with CPA bid rules, the budget algorithm increases efficiency of your Facebook campaigns by achieving maximum scale of your ad spend, while keeping the cost per action at or below your target CPA across your ad sets. You can also use the algorithm’s suggested budget recommendations as indicators for budget planning for future campaigns.

facebook bidding



facebook bidding


Key Benefits of Marin Budget Allocation


Algorithmic-based budget optimization should have a tremendous impact on your business and the overall performance of your campaigns. As a Facebook Marketing Partner (FMP), Marin Social offers enterprise-grade budget management solutions and exceptional service to assist teams with implementation of complex rules.

Here are the top reasons to take advantage of Marin Social’s algorithmic-based budget allocation:

  • Increased ROI
  • Countless hours of saved time checking in on your campaigns and identifying the best audiences to allocate dollars to
  • Works with all objectives, including support for Dynamic Ads for Retail and Travel
  • Activation is as simple as a switch of a button (see below)


How Does It Work?


The algorithm looks at historical data and continuously monitors performance of individual ad sets within a campaign to determine optimal distribution across each one. The algorithm only monitors active campaigns where automatic adjustments will occur in four-hour cycles throughout the day.

As a best practice, you should pair algorithmic budget optimization with bid management rules to automatically pause any ad sets that aren’t meeting your target goals. Once the algorithm is turned on, you’ll see a column within your media plan called “Suggested Budget” with a recommended total. The budget adjustments that occur automatically to ad sets will never surpass the budget you’ve specified within a campaign.

In terms of algorithmic-based solutions, this is just the beginning, with other great innovations in the works. Our longer-term vision includes expanding across publishers and channels to provide best-in-class, cross-channel performance.

Read about how Spacebar Media used Marin Budget Allocation to increase first-time depositing players by 51% for its Magical Vegas online casino.

"Prior to Marin Social, we were spending countless hours in managing Facebook ads with manual means of optimization using the Power Editor tool. The Marin Social team delivered beyond expectations by successfully increasing the volume of first-time depositing players and lowering costs. I highly recommend Marin for not only their expertise in Facebook advertising but also their innovative optimization features that set them apart from the competition."

- Gidon Jacobs / Digital Marketing Manager/ Spacebar Media

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.

Easter spending is on the rise. Is your 2017 Google Shopping campaign ready?

If you’re a Marin customer, here are some advanced tips to help you get the most bang for your buck with your Shopping budgets.

1. Dimension Synergy Across Shopping and Search



Ever wonder how your Shopping campaigns are performing compared to search? With a solid understanding of how your account is structured, you can readily implement this reporting with Marin Dimensions.

Create a dimension for All Networks, and then tag corresponding ad groups with respective products. For example…

Campaign: Shoes (Search) > Ad Group: Running Shoes and
Campaign: Footwear (Shopping) > Ad Group: Shoes > Product Group: Product Type = Running Shoes

…would get the same tag Running Shoes. This allows you to see how Running Shoes are performing in aggregate, and also to pivot the two against each other (campaign vs. campaign).

Consider ways you can apply these to identify opportunities. Is a product category performing exceptionally well on Shopping but not search, or vice versa? Identify and rectify this by adding objects or tweaking bids. The flexibility of Marin Dimensions makes this an easy project.

2. Remarketing with Shopping



You can use Google remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) in combination with Shopping. Plus, it’s supported to the same extent as RLSA for search.

Create lists in Google, and then use campaign management functionalities in Marin to link them to campaigns or groups to manage the audience boost.

There are some neat ways to remarket with Shopping. For instance, if you have a list for Returning or Existing Customers, you could define your product groups so that you’re only showing these customers a preset list of products. Similarly, if you have a list for Shoe Buyers, you could set up product groups for socks or shoelaces for customers to re-engage with.

3. Clone to Facebook Dynamic Ads



If you’re comfortable using Google Shopping campaigns and want to increase your reach, check out Facebook’s Dynamic Ads (DAs). Facebook is growing rapidly, with 61% of advertisers planning to increase their Facebook spend over the next 12 months. Marin has a tool to clone existing Google Shopping campaigns to Facebook DAs, and we can help you set the program up for success.

If you’re interested in further details on any of the above, we’re happy to discuss. Just get in touch. Here’s to a nice spring and happy Easter.

In midsummer 2016, Facebook rolled out the ability to add an advanced extra layer onto their Website Custom Audiences. This additional layer now means you can capture users by the number of times they visited a certain web page, or the amount of time spent on your website or web page.

This has given advertisers the ability to capture those actually interested in their products. For example, setting up a retargeting audience based on people in the top percentile of time spent on a website indicates a certain level of interest and intent with those customers.

The Setup


The setup is similar to any Website Custom Audience. From your Business Manager:

  1. Click the Audiences tab.
  2. Click Create Audience.
  3. Choose Custom Audience.
  4. Choose Website Traffic.
  5. Click the drop-down to reveal the Website traffic options.


facebook custom audiences


Time Spent


Facebook allows you to create an audience based on the amount of time spent on your website, Top 5%, 10% or 25%.

facebook custom audiences



Marin Tip:
Marin Social lets you capture audiences by minutes. For example, you can capture those who spend one minute on a page.

Custom Combination | Number of Visits and Device Specification


Facebook also allows you to create an audience based on the number of times someone has visited your website. For example, if somebody visited your website at least three times in the last seven days, we know there’s a certain level of intent. You can act on this, offering a slight discount or up-selling an alternative product.

Putting It to Use


I call these custom audiences Qualified Audiences. There is a natural level of high intent in these audiences. To date, I’ve used them on three accounts, across three verticals, and the results have been excellent!

Each time, I’ve created a custom audience containing those who’ve spent more than 50 seconds on a product category page within the last seven days. (Note: This was done within the Marin Social app. If you’re using the Facebook UI you can only choose the top percentile of visitors.) I used a carousel creative type, showcasing a handful of products within the named category. This audience is naturally quite small and similar to that of a DPA audience.

I started with a small daily budget, around €25, and bid CPC. Every second day I reviewed the CPA, CTR, and CPC. The results were amazing. I increased the budget by €10 on each review until I saw ad fatigue. (Once you see ad fatigue, you know you’re overloading it with budget!)

When you find the ‘sweet spot’ budget allocation for a campaign of this nature, it can act as an ‘always-on’ retargeting campaign that needs little optimization. Because you’ve chosen a small retention window, your audience should consistently refresh. A good tip to keep things on track is to check the frequency—if the campaign accrues a high frequency score, you’re over-showing your ad. In this case you may need to lower your budget, increase your retention days, or decrease the time specification.

Results


The results across three accounts were amazing, and needed little optimization and management. Across three accounts, I observed an average CPA decrease of 40%, and an average CVR of 26%.

Give It a Try


I recommend that every social advertiser test this type of campaign. It’s important, however, to remember that this style of targeting can only be done on a small scale, due to the nature of the narrow retention window and criteria specifications. However, it acts as an extra net to catch conversions. Happy retargeting!

Episode 3: Tracking and Optimization


This is the third and final part of a series that explores all the things social marketers should do when setting up their social ad campaigns. In our previous posts, we discussed account structure and creative, and targeting and bidding.

Without conversion measurement and continual improvement, your Facebook campaigns won’t realize their highest potential. Read these tips to make sure your Facebook ad campaigns are working their hardest for your bottom line.

7. Implement the Facebook Pixel


The Facebook Pixel tracks conversions, automatically bids for conversions, and enables remarketing. Be sure to implement the pageview event of the Facebook Pixel on all the pages of your website so that you can populate your Custom Audiences and Custom Conversions. You’ll also need the Facebook Pixel to implement each standard event on a single page of your website.

To double-check that the pixel is firing properly, use the Facebook Pixel Helper.

FacebookPixelHelper



Lastly, follow the user’s journey down the conversion funnel. This will help you identify exactly where your customers are dropping off in the journey.

funnel



Marin Tip
For an extra layer of reporting in Google Analytics, apply dynamic tags at the Media Plan level.

8. Optimize on a Daily Basis


As a Facebook best practice, you should optimize your campaigns daily, but no more than two times a day. For oCPM bidding, it's even recommended to optimize only once a day, as the algorithm needs stability to learn from and to find conversions for you.

To understand the optimization that’s working best for your campaigns, do one at a time and assess the results.

Another rule of thumb—avoid making any drastic changes to bids, since reducing your bid by more than 5% could damage the delivery. If you change the bid type of your campaign due to bad performance, duplicate the campaign so that the algorithm refreshes.

Be sure to refresh your creative every few weeks to fight audience fatigue and ad blindness.

Marin Tip
Use the Refresh button so that the campaign can start from scratch with the new bid type. Set up Rules to automate daily optimizations. For example, you could set a rule that if your CPA is greater than $10, or the frequency is greater than four, or the CTR is lower than 0.4%, then pause the ad.

9. Keep an Eye on the Relevance Score


Facebook wants to make sure the paid advertising campaigns that appear on its platform don’t damage the user experience. To that end, it has the Relevance Score.

The Relevance Score is an algorithmic calculation that takes into account your targeting’s relevancy and your ads’ engagement. The important metrics to look at here are CTR, engagements, feedback, and conversions.

When your audience begins showing less interest, your Relevance Score will decrease. As a result, Facebook lets your ad participate in fewer auctions. Moreover, if your Relevance Score is lower than the other advertisers competing on the exact same targeting, they’ll win the auction, no matter how high your bid is. Consequently, your reach and impressions will drop.

To fight against a bad Relevance Score:

  • Always make sure your targeting is relevant and specific by using custom audiences, lookalikes, and high-intent interests.
  • Make sure your creative is relevant and engaging.
  • As soon as you see any sign of ad fatigue, refresh the ad or the targeting. Sure-fire signs of fatigue include a CTR drop, a CPC increase, or an impressions decrease.


Essentially Strong Foundations


Social advertising isn’t quite rocket science, but it’s indeed an art. But, with a strong foundation that takes advantage of all the great and evolving features Facebook has to offer, you can maximize positive user experiences and see positive results for the KPIs that matter most to your organization. As always, if you’d like to find out how Marin Software can help with all of the above, just reach out.

Episode 2: Targeting and Bidding


This is a three-part series that explores all the things social marketers should do when setting up their social ad campaigns. In our second post, we look at best practices to target effectively and bid for the greatest ROI. For the first three tips see our previous article on account structure and creative.

One of the main goals of the social marketer is to consistently target wider and more precise audience segments, while making smart bids based on a solid bidding model. Follow these best practices to ensure your social advertising campaigns are fine-tuned for the highest performance possible.

4. Target Wisely


When it comes right down to it, Facebook is mass media, and its algorithm performs better with large audiences. A best practice is to keep the target size above 100,000, especially for your prospecting campaigns. A few other rules of thumb:

  • Always keep an eye on your reach.
  • Avoid campaign overlap—competing against yourself will lower your relevance score and obstruct spend. Use the detailed targeting feature to refine your audience.
  • Make use of email-based targeting and Website Custom Audiences.
  • Use lookalike audiences, the Facebook conversion pixel, and
    Fan Page.


You may also want to use split targeting, depending on:

  • How recently users have shown intent using the inclusion and exclusion feature
  • The level of intent (beginning of the sales funnel vs. the end)
  • User behavior
  • The purchase value


Marin Tip
Thanks to Marin's Lookalike feature, you can create high-intent lookalike audiences based on conversions from your best performing campaigns or ad sets.

5. Choose the Appropriate Conversion Window


The conversion window tells Facebook how far back in time to look at conversion data, so that it can optimize appropriately and find the right people to deliver your ad to.

You can use the conversion window for Website Conversions, App Installs, and App Events objectives. You can break them into 1-day, 7-day, and 28-day post-click windows.

In order for Facebook’s algorithm to have enough conversion data to learn from, set up your conversion window to get at least 15-25 conversions per ad set and per week. If you use the longest conversion window but don't get enough conversions, change the promoted object to a step higher in the conversion funnel (for example, add-to-cart rather than purchase).

6. Let the Audience Size Determine Bid Type


When the target size is above 100,000, bid oCPM. This’ll allow the algorithm to look for the users more likely to convert. Optimize for clicks and pay for impressions when your audience is between 80,000 and 100,000. For target sizes below 80,000, use the CPC bidding type.

On small and highly qualified audiences—for example, Website Custom Audiences of lower-funnel stages—you can even bid CPM (optimize and pay for impressions), since your aim here is to make sure that everyone in your audience sees your ads.

Marin Tip
Bid as granular as possible at the ad level in order to push the best performing ads within an ad set. Change bids across ad sets and campaigns in two clicks by clicking the Selected or All buttons.

We all know the two most popular websites in the world right now—Google and Facebook. On any given day, people are performing close to 3 billion Google searches, and over a quarter of the world’s population use Facebook. Bing is also growing fast and is now a major SEM contender.



[caption id="attachment_9017" align="alignnone" width="500"]

GoogleFacebookTraffic2016

Image source: Parse.ly, 2016[/caption]



Advertisers have much to gain from an integrated search and social advertising approach. But exactly how much?

To answer this question, we conducted a study of more than 200 enterprise advertisers managing Google, Bing, and Facebook campaigns. With billions of dollars in annualized ad spend managed on the Marin platform, we work with many of the world’s largest and most sophisticated advertisers.

Here’s what we found:

  • Customers who click search and social ads are more likely to buy. Users who click both an advertiser’s search and social ads had an approximately two times greater conversion rate than users who click the search ad only. Users who click both the search and social ads have a click-through rate approximately four and a half times higher than users who only click social ads.
  • Customers who click search and social ads spend more. Users who click both a search and social ad contribute approximately two times more revenue per click than users who click search ads only. Users who click both a search and social ad contribute six times more revenue per click than users who click a social ad only.
  • Search campaigns perform better when managed alongside social campaigns. Search campaigns managed alongside social advertising campaigns have two times more revenue per click than search campaigns managed in isolation. An integrated search and social management strategy also benefits an advertiser’s revenue per conversion—advertisers have almost 10% higher revenue per conversion from their search campaigns when managed together with social advertising campaigns.


For full research results and actionable tips for cross-channel success, download The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search and Social Advertising.

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

Product listing ads, or PLAs, are an incredibly successful strategy for e-commerce companies to promote available product inventory on Google and Bing. Unlike standard search ads, PLAs incorporate a visual image over a text description to show the user the product they’re searching for.

There are plenty of reasons why you should be adding a PLA strategy into your advertising mix. Cost-per-click (CPC) will generally be below what you’ll see across search ads. As a result of showing the user an image of the product they’re searching for, click-through-rate will usually be pretty strong. Once the user clicks the ad, they’re taken directly to the product page, making the user journey simple and leading to a higher conversion rate.

Additionally, it’s quite easy to set up and manage campaigns. Both Google and Bing provide product level reporting, so you can also see how each product is doing individually.

With the holiday season in full swing, let’s take a look at some tips to drive great results from your PLA campaigns.

Segment


The first and most important step in improving PLA performance is to have the proper product group segmentation. Product group segmentation is vital to drive traffic efficiently. If all of your products are lumped together in a single product group sharing the same bid, you’re not maximizing your PLA campaign potential. In this case, you’re bidding the same amount for your best performing product group as your worst. This will lead to wasted spend and a poor return on ad spend over time.

A well-managed PLA campaign should have a structure that allows for isolation of product groups. Look to each product’s category, type, or brand to figure out what level of segmentation works best. In some cases, it may be best to separate each product entirely.

01-segment


Bidding


After viewing your product category report, you’ll have a good idea of what type of product group segmentation will work best for your campaign. In order to optimize the new structure, look at the average CPC for each product group and the ROAS. If the ROAS is below account target, you should start bidding with a CPC below the average. Likewise, if you have a ROAS that’s well above target, you can start that product group with a bid above the CPC to maximize returns.

Try to make use of your conversion rate, ROAS target, acceptable CPA, and average order value to back your way into a starting bid. Let’s imagine the AOV for an account is $50, conversion rate is 1%, and ROAS target is 200%. For this imaginary product group, a $0.25 bid is suitable.

Device Performance


PLA campaigns are very likely to drive more traffic from mobile devices than desktop or tablet devices. Generally speaking, this increase in traffic comes at a price, meaning lower conversion rates and ROAS. Look at how your campaigns are performing across devices, and be sure to use negative mobile modifiers for mobile devices and tablets if it makes sense.

02-device



If you’re already bidding down on mobile devices, be sure to take a look at your desktop CPCs when placing starting bids on your new product group structure. It may be possible that the cheap mobile clicks are driving down your average CPCs. If that’s the case, then base your new bids on the desktop CPC to avoid a loss in traffic.

Negative Scrubs


An often-overlooked aspect of PLA campaign management is mining for negatives. Just like a search campaign, PLA campaigns need to be scrubbed regularly for negative terms to prevent wasted spend.

03-negativescrubs



There’s still time this holiday season to maximize your PLA performance across Google and Bing! See if you can utilize some of these tips to drive great results.

Holiday shopping’s in full swing. If you’re running retargeting campaigns, make sure they’re as prepared for the season as you are. Online sales are forecast to increase between seven and 10 percent over last year to as much as $117 billion.

We made your list, so check it twice, and take these steps to boost campaign performance during the holiday season.

Increase your budgets to win more impressions


You’re likely going to see a boost in site traffic (especially if you sell anything that can be given as a gift), which means you’ll see a boost in impressions served and in advertising funds spent. Make sure your campaigns have a proper budget set to guarantee you have enough ad money available for the day, so that you don’t miss out on these potential new customers.

We recommend a 25 to 50% budget increase for the holidays, but you know your site traffic best. Whatever percentage of traffic increase you’re expecting, boost your budget about that same percentage.

Raise your campaign bids


Almost all advertisers will increase their spend for the holidays, so you’re going to have serious competition.

With so many advertisers fighting for ad space, it’s not uncommon to see your CPM costs rise during this time of year. To prepare for this surge, make sure you increase your CPM bids across your campaigns. Bidding higher will make your campaigns more competitive and will give you a better chance of serving more ads by winning more impressions. We suggest increasing your CPM bid by 50-100% of the current average CPM cost for the campaign.

Use holiday-themed ads and landing pages


Holiday-themed advertising only gets people’s attention during one time of the year, and you should join the conversation your customers are having. Using ads that mention specific events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any of the major holidays can grab a visitor’s attention.

Send a happy holiday message, mention that there are only X number of shopping days left, and give them a reason to click your ads. Use the holidays as a chance to create urgency and you could see a boost in clicks and conversions.

Two Quick Steps You Can Take Right Now


  • Create landing pages and content on your site for these holiday events, then create audiences that capture visitors of these pages.
  • Run campaigns to serve your holiday ads to your holiday page visitors. If they’re coming to your site looking for seasonal deals, they’re more likely to respond to holiday-themed ads.


We hope these suggestions are helpful and lead to a profitable holiday season for you and your business. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.

From our team to yours—happy holidays!

We’re headed into another peak retail season, which runs from now through Christmas Day. Considering not-so-recent trends in Shopping and mobile, many marketers are hedging their bets on this being the biggest online retail season yet. Preparation is key, and understanding what went well and what didn’t last year—and when it did and didn’t—will help guide decision-making in the coming weeks.

When the volume is so high, each day could make or break the quarter. Here are three things you should be doing on a day-to-day basis to increase the likelihood of favorable outcomes.

1. Monitor Top SKUs


Your buyers should have a list of products they expect will be major sellers this season. These could be products where inventory is so deep no one can compete, or buyers purchased at a bulk rate and can offer the best pricing.

Work with your buyers to understand what these products are, and optimize them on a per-item basis with SKU-level product groups in a High Priority campaign. Monitor these daily and keep an eye on inventory—when they start to sell out, pull back so that you don’t end up aggressively pushing nearly sold-out products.

2. Segmentation


In addition to the proactive management of products you’re bullish about, the high volume is going to yield insights of its own. Monitor your broader product groups—defined by Category, Brand, Custom Labels, etc.—for segmentation opportunities.

You’ll start the season with a single bid for a Brand product group. But, as volume dictates, some products or sets of products within the group will warrant segmenting and assigning a new bid based on how they’ve performed to date. This is a crucial step to optimizing and hitting performance goals on an ongoing basis.

3. Bidding


As you structured your campaigns, you established the levers and switches you’re going to use to effectively manage your product mix and hit performance goals.

The most important pieces of all this will be to understand how you want to bid these levers and how to stay on top of everything. Be considerate of sales, key dates, top products, and inventory / stock levels. A combination of proactive strategies (e.g., Brand X is 20% off next week) and reactive strategies (e.g., Brand Y is selling amazingly well over the past week) will be necessary to generate the best results.

Be aggressive where you expect the best returns and don’t hesitate to pull back on things that aren’t producing. Good luck!

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

The Great Manual Versus Automated Debate


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

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

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

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

Here are just a few.

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.

If you’re an enterprise search marketer, you’re likely managing thousands to millions of keywords. To automatically improve performance, increase brand awareness, get back valuable time, and attain those magic revenue numbers, Marin Search and its bidding folders can help.

If you’re already using Marin Search, follow these tips to make sure you’re maximizing value. Or, if you’re looking for a search platform that makes keyword and account management easier, these tips provide a glimpse of what our leading advertising solution can do.

Automated Bidding


Marin Search uses a patent-pending algorithm to automatically adjust keyword bids to meet target KPIs. This automated bidding feature optimizes keyword bids within folders. For accounts following PPC best practice structure (organizing groups into targeted themes), bidding folders should fall in line with account structure.

adgroups2



If you’re unsure of which ad groups should go into what folder, think about the KPI you’re trying to achieve. All keywords within a folder should have the same target KPI.

Tagging Sub-Categories with Dimensions


The above bidding strategy will optimize all ad groups and category keywords to one KPI. However, each category could contain sub-categories that might not preform the same.

With dimensions, you can pull reports at the sub-category level. Not only can you use this to create granular reports, but it can also help you improve optimization.

For example, the folder ‘Dining Tables’ is set to achieve a CPL of £75—however, a dimension report reveals the actual category-level performance.

table



‘Wooden tables’ is performing 20% below the folder CPL, while the ‘folding tables’ CPL is 20% above. Use the percentage difference as bid boosts for keywords in each category, reallocating spend to the better-performing category. The average folder spend and CPL will remain the same, but the conversion volume will increase.

Dynamic Actions


Once you apply dimensions, Marin can analyze the data to calculate bid adjustments for each sub-category dimension.

To automate dimension bid boosts, use Dynamic Actions. With this feature, bid modifiers simply sit on top of bidding folder calculated bids, and folder settings remain unchanged.

Using dimensions to optimize bidding cross sub-categories, our customers have seen some amazing results:

  • CVR increases up to 80%
  • Revenue increase by 30%
  • A reduction in CPA by 38%


If you’re a Marin customer and would like more information on how to optimize sub-categories within bidding folders, contact our CoE team for a bidding consultation. Or, to see it in action, sign up for a free trial.

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!

You’re in a relay race and this is what you have to do—run with a bucket of water to your next team member, without spilling any of the water. The next player does the same, and so on, until the last player finishes the race.

The object of the contest is to not only preserve as much water as possible, but also to know exactly how much water you lost throughout the course of the game. Oh, and another thing—the buckets are different sizes, you’re playing at night, and you’re blindfolded, and so are your team members. And, you’re playing against a lot of other teams.

We call this race “the programmatic supply chain.”

The Role of Programmatic Intermediaries


As we mentioned in our first post in this series on programmatic transparency, the programmatic supply chain is made up of intermediaries that may or may not disclose their pricing model. We also mentioned that a recent ANA/Forrester study revealed that 55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain. This is up from 21 percent just two years ago.

Like our shot-in-the-dark relay race, advertisers often have to settle for hidden bid prices, secret media value, and even kickbacks. What if the increased concern was translated into clear, actual dollars? How do you get bottom-line clarity? If you haven’t asked your programmatic partners what they’re charging you, now’s the time.

Let’s look at the intermediaries, then assess the average take rates of each one.

Anatomy of the Supply Chain


Here’s roughly how the typical supply chain flows. Note that there’s lots of bi-directionality, and the model changes dramatically depending on the services included.

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


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

Determining Cost


We’ve estimated it would take you one to two hours to determine what you pay each of your supply chain intermediaries using IAB’s programmatic calculator. And, that’s if you already know what you’re spending with each partner.

Although it’s challenging to pin down exact cost amounts for each intermediary in the supply chain, it’s not impossible. Knowing the average take rates and ranges allows you to establish benchmarks you can use as a guide. We strongly recommend taking the time to measure what you really spend so you can improve your bottom line. (Click the image to enlarge it.)

Programmatic Infographic_R5


Fine-Tuning the Fees


The various cost models you might encounter will alter your numbers, so here are some additional aspects to consider as you complete your appraisal.

  • CPM-based fees: Before you buy any media, make sure you understand the nature of any fixed fees charged for a thousand ad impressions. How are the fees determined?
  • Percent of media fees: If you’re working with an ad agency, ask them for access to their spending model. Find out how your money’s being allocated.
  • Flat fees: Figure in any fixed costs exchanges collect from you.
  • Arbitrage: After purchasing media, some agencies mark up the cost before they sell it back to you. If you’re working with an agency, make sure it discloses this amount.
  • Viewability: If any of your impressions aren’t viewable, you should get a credit toward those wasted impressions.


Gaining Clarity in Your Cost Model—ROAS to ROI


Digital marketers, and agencies that support them, are on chronic overwhelm with the choices of platforms, programs, vendors, and the consistent pressure to improve return on ad spend (ROAS). But with deeper understanding of the supply chain and an increasing availability of advanced attribution and offline measurement, closing the loop on profitability is a worthy and attainable goal.

True ROI is within reach, so long as media agencies and ad tech vendors evolve to become more transparent and focused on driving business performance, not just advertising performance.

We hope these tips make it easier to achieve greater transparency in your specific programmatic supply chain, and that the path becomes more of an easy route planner than a blind relay race.

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

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

Google’s Expanded Text Ads are officially live. The new, longer ad format is rolling out across all devices alongside the existing standard ad format. But as of October 26, 2016, advertisers will no longer be able to create or upload standard text ads.

While Google has not yet released an official date when standard ads will no longer run with ETAs, eventually standard ads will be phased out from the search results page entirely. If you haven’t already begun making changes to your account, you should start. The key to implementing ETAs is a thoughtful testing strategy.

As the top testing platform for search marketers, Boost Media has analyzed hundreds of ads in the new, longer format. Our data suggests that simply expanding ads without a well-thought-out testing plan or detailed creative strategy in place won’t guarantee success.

In one test Boost ran for a large travel advertiser, we compared standard text ads versus custom and template ETAs across 34,000 impressions. Here’s what we saw.

StandardVsEta



What did we learn from testing?

Break up your account strategically


It’s impossible to apply custom copy across your entire account made up of hundreds of thousands of ad groups. Instead, segment your account strategically into areas that can use a template-based approach, and areas that need custom copy.

Rewrite your entire creative


Adding copy to the end of a headline doesn’t guarantee that the entire ad will make sense or drive clicks. As Google’s Director of Performance Ads Marketing Matt Lawson said, “Use this update as a chance to re-evaluate your entire creative. This is a chance to craft something new and more compelling than ever before.”

Don’t miss out.

Test one thing at a time


Focus on testing one variable at a time to have a better chance of understanding the results and deciding what to do next. If you run too many tests at once, you risk passing up clear, actionable results.

To learn more or start creating ETA ads today, get in touch with us.


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.

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!

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

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

How to Get More People to See Your Product Feed


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

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


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

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

Facebook DPA: The Value Proposition


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

There are several great things you can do with DPA:

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


Here’s how this works.

Upsell and Cross-sell


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

Prospecting


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

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

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

Shopping


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

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

About Those Omni-Channel Campaigns....


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

Distribution1



Distribution2



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

A Word on Cross-Channel Advertising


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

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

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.

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

When I start an engagement with a new client, the first thing I do is an audit. As the working account manager, I need to get a good sense of how the account’s been set up and how it's performed to date, to assess where the past success and difficulties have been and to plan for the immediate future.

As anyone who’s completed multiple audits will tell you, I often notice the same mistakes happening time and again. One of the more common, and avoidable, mistakes is stuffing multiple keywords into a single ad group.

At 3Q Digital, we’re firm believers in implementing single keyword ad groups. Also known as SKAGs, this structure offers so many benefits to advertisers that I’m shocked it’s not used more. I understand why, though, since AdWords still suggests that advertisers group keywords by themes. Conceptually, it makes total sense to do that.

Ultimately, advertisers suffer from a serious lack of control when piling keywords together. Here are five reasons why I use SKAGs (and you should, too).

1. Control Over Bidding


Possibly the most important reason to use SKAGs is the benefit to bidding. Placing bids at the ad group level for a set of 10-20 keywords is simply inefficient, because you’re bidding the same amount for the worst performing keyword in that set as you are for the best performing keyword in the set. This makes bid optimization more difficult than it needs to be.

2. Control Over Ad Messaging


Ad messaging should be as relevant as possible to generate a high click-through rate. But, imagine you have six broadly related keywords housed within a single ad group. Just for fun, let’s also image these keywords are broad match type. Because they’re within the same ad group, they share a common ad.

How can we have a highly relevant ad shared by six broadly related keywords that can pull in a wide variety of possibly unrelated search queries?

AdGroup



Imagine the ad group in question is “men’s shirts” and the keywords include “t-shirts,” “button down shirts,” and “red shirts.” Sure, you can use a general ad that speaks to the types of shirts available, but it makes more sense to have an ads speaking to each type of shirt for the best CTR instead of a generic ad. For this reason, breaking out the ad group into SKAGs is your best bet.

3. Control Over Landing Page Experience


To build off my last point, why would you send a user searching for athletic compression shirts to a landing page featuring not only compression shirts, but also sweaters and tank tops? To me, that sounds like a landing page with a guaranteed high bounce rate, because you’re putting all the work on the user to then filter for the type of shirt he’s looking for.

Expecting each user to take the time to look for what they want is wishful thinking. Even using keyword level URLs in this example isn’t a perfect fix, because then there’s still a disconnect between the messaging and the landing page.

4. Ad Delivery


Continue to imagine you run an ecommerce website selling men’s clothing. After some deep analysis, you see that past website traffic converts well on search terms related to button-down shirts, but not t-shirts or athletic shirts. Being the smart advertiser you are, you want to increase bids for past website traffic looking for button-down shirts to get better position for your ads and ultimately convert more.

The problem – remarketing audiences are applied at the ad group level. Unfortunately for you, applying a positive modifier on your selected audience will result in the bids for all keywords within that ad group being increased, not just the button-down shirt keyword.

If this campaign utilized SKAGs, remarketing audiences with positive modifiers could be applied to specific keywords via the single keyword ad group structure, therefore selectively raising bids instead of pushing everything.

5. Organization


Finally, single keyword ad groups are great from an organizational structure. If you’re like me, you like to have a very clean, structured account. I know that each campaign is made up of any number of ad groups that have one keyword and one ad (two if we’re running an A/B test). I often find that when ad groups have large numbers of keywords inside an ad group, one ad group may have a single keyword while others have a lot more (I’ve seen as many as 100+).

Organization



While performing audits, I’ve also found the keywords duplicated across multiple ad groups due to the lack of organization involved with this ad group structure. Ultimately, this makes an online marketer’s job more difficult, as the lack of clear structure impedes optimization.

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.

According to eMarketer, over 70% of U.S. paid search spend will be mobile by 2017. And yet, optimizing mobile advertising and seeing significant ROI on it remains a crucible for many in the digital advertising world.

We joined our technology partner DialogTech at the end of April for
a webinar about how search marketers can adopt new mobile-first optimization strategies to drive PPC conversions and customers.

One of Marin’s very own search marketing experts, Patrick Hutchison, teamed up with Kelley Schultz, Digital Marketing Lead at DialogTech, to share proven mobile optimization and attribution tactics digital marketers can use to drive more clicks, calls, and customers from Google AdWords, Yahoo, and Bing.

In order to achieve their mobile advertising goals, digital marketers need to understand the customer journey and all of the touch points prior to sale. To that end, here are five strategies for optimizing your mobile game plan that we learned from this webinar.

1. If your business gets mobile traffic, then you need to be      setting a bid adjustment



You want to get into a top (1-2) position for mobile devices to ensure visibility, so set up campaigns with an initial +25-30% bid modifier. You can adjust and optimize based on the types of conversions and traffic you see.

2. Optimize for calls



Incorporate call conversion tracking to ensure you’re optimizing for all conversions. Without measuring call leads, you miss out on a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracking and understanding the source of your leads.

3. Segment search query reports by device



When you perform search query reports, add a device segment. This will allow you to see what keywords are getting the most mobile conversions and traffic. Within your reports, sort by conversions and then adjust your bids for your highest performing keywords to ensure top position.

Next, sort your report by clicks that don’t drive conversions, and adjust bids or add negatives as necessary for these keywords that are driving up both clicks and spend.

4. Remember that mobile-targeted ad copy is key



Create mobile-preferred search ads with mobile ad extensions and CTAs. Remember to take advantage of call extensions, since as Google reports, 70% of mobile searchers use call extensions to call businesses.

5. Incorporate remarketing bidding strategies



Set up remarketing lists into your campaigns, so that you can adjust mobile bids for the top position.

Remember the importance of not only bidding up for mobile traffic, but also increasing bidding for your custom audience lists. If users showed interest once, capture them again on their next query with a different message in the top position.

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.

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

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

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


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

This is the first in a series of posts on transparency. In today’s post, we lay out the many ways transparency is elusive in digital marketing today. We also include some best practices for stamping out the fuzziness prevalent in the programmatic landscape.

Most marketers will admit transparency in media buys sounds like a good idea. So why don’t we have it all the time? Inertia, circumstances, or legacy business practices are the usual culprits. Knowing about the types of programmatic transparency is a good place to start.

The Problem with Buyer/Seller Blindness


You may have read about the recent survey on programmatic buying by Forrester and the ANA. Although we know intermediaries carve up a media dollar along the ad delivery path, a surprising 33 percent of survey respondents in this study have turned a blind eye while knowingly opting into an undisclosed programmatic model.

Not knowing the true value of your media obscures your true ROI. This buyer/seller blindness stands in the way of programmatic growth and success.

Let's dive in and take a look at the three types of transparency: intermediaries, environmental, and data.

1. Intermediaries: What is the True Cost of the Programmatic Supply Chain?


According to the ANA/Forrester study, 55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain, up from 21 percent two years ago. No advertiser is immune to the supply chain realities, but seeing how the budget is allocated should be as natural as homebuyers scrutinizing loan origination fees from their mortgage broker.

There is a host of intermediaries in today’s programmatic supply chain including:

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


Not surprisingly, there are also several cost models:

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


The advertiser pays most of the fees, while in some cases the publisher, or both the advertiser and publisher, pay them.

It’s common to have an agent buy media on the advertiser’s behalf, only revealing the final price of a campaign, total margin, and fees. Just as common is the masking of the closing or winning bid prices. Yet this transparency in bidding is precisely what’s needed for optimization. This practice is especially prevalent among black box vendors, as is straight-ahead arbitrage. Without transparent insights into what improves targeting and conversion, marketers are flying blind.

So, what’s the average take rate of each partner? It varies of course, depending mostly on targeting strategies and pricing/profit models. But asking your supply chain partners exactly what they’re charging you is the first step in achieving total transparency.

2. Environmental: Ad Viewability to Detect Fraudulent or Unviewable Inventory


Certainly one of the hottest issues in ad tech today, environmental transparency of an ad is as important as the campaign’s message or who’s being targeted. There are more mysteries than answers focused on who sees your ad, how much was seen, how long they see it, and where the ad showed up, but help is on the way.

In the early days of RTB, fraudulent or unviewable inventory was a common problem. Although challenges remain, there is an increasing number of new tools available for advertisers, publishers, and ad servers to detect bot fraud, fraudulent inventory, or unviewable ads.

Still, there’s no consensus on how viewability is defined. Standard bodies like the IAB and MRC are driving clarity on this issue. Many new vendors are trying to monetize viewability. Large holding companies have their own standards as well.

Advertisers are increasingly demanding that publishers bear the burden of proof by complying with imposed measurement of viewability-centric campaigns. Viewability-tracking fees, brand safety-tracking fees, and brand lift study fees are paid by either side in an effort to run cleaner campaigns. Although far from being solved, the use of ad verification and brand safety tools goes a long way in solving environmental transparency.

3. Data: Data Transparency = True ROI


It seems logical that any data used in an ad campaign that you paid for would be accessible to you. But that isn’t always the case. Publishers could block the intent data or other data sets you would normally have access to with more transparent partners.

You may prefer to pay a black box provider because your only KPI is sales - this can work for some who don’t insist on understanding their true ROI. However, for data-driven marketing to work, seeing all your data for future learnings or to calculate your true ROI is essential.

Irresistible pricing models are as tempting as a timeshare in Tahiti. We get that. But regardless of whether you use a DSP or publisher tools for your programmatic buys, the more you know, the more you can improve outcomes - that is, if you want to know exactly how to improve outcomes rather than relying on your black box vendor to give you numbers devoid of margins or analysis.

Data are collected at every turn, every segment of the customer journey. CPC, CTR, and impressions are table stakes. For more intelligence, you need the eCPM and in-view impressions. Getting site-level reporting helps you blacklist/whitelist and improve targeting.

If you’re striving to get to your true ROI, knowing how the data points were calculated is certainly also part of the equation. Since we’re talking numbers, understanding the logic, math, and algorithms behind a bidding process is another must-have.

Guidelines for Getting Clarity on Transparency


You should be able to decide exactly what success looks like for your brand. This means choosing your own KPIs, publishers, and the data you want to bring, buy, optimize, or analyze. Here are some best practices for how to bring more transparency to your programmatic initiatives.

  • Insist on seeing the media cost on an impression-by-impression basis, as well as breakouts of all other costs contributing to the total price.
  • Pick the exact sites, formats, devices, and audiences you want.
  • Utilize business rules within your RTB programmatic buys and with your brand safety to ensure a URL is present or that it matches where your ad eventually runs - if you can’t prove your URL, your programmatic partner shouldn’t bid on the impression.
  • Request detailed campaign guidelines from your agency or DSP.
  • Use third-party verification tools to detect bot traffic and sourced traffic, as both of these contribute to fraud.
  • Evaluate and utilize tools from new fraud and viewability measurement partners.
  • Assign in-house team members to focus on media by having them dig into agency and tech partner contracts to determine fraud and viewability practices.
  • To make adding it all up easier, use IAB’s recently released Programmatic Fee Transparency Calculator.


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

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.

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.

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

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

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

Why Segment by Time?


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

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

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

How to Create Your Audiences


1. Create a new remarketing list

2. Select who to add to your list

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

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

3. Set the rule

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

4. Set the membership duration

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

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

5. Repeat

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

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

This is a guest post from 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 :)

Pumpkin spice lattes. Cold weather. Football on TV. That can only mean one thing - the holidays are here!

While you’re busy planning your holiday vacation, family meals, or gift shopping plans, remember to schedule a few minutes for your retargeting campaigns. Consumers are ready to spend billions over the next six weeks (especially online!) so make sure you adjust your campaign settings to capitalize on the holiday rush.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to boost your campaign performance for the holidays:

Increase your budgets


With all that holiday shopping going on, you’re likely going to see a boost in site traffic, which means you’ll see an associated boost in impressions served and advertising funds spent. Make sure your campaigns have a proper budget set to guarantee you have enough ad money available for the day, so that you don’t miss out on these potential new customers.

We recommend a 25-50% budget increase for the holidays, but you know your site traffic best. Whatever % of traffic increase you’re expecting, boost your budget about that same %.

Raise your campaign bids


Consumers will be spending a lot of money on products, but that also means advertisers are spending a lot of money on ads. You’re going to have competition! With so many advertisers fighting for ad space, it’s not uncommon to see your CPM costs rise during this time of year. To be ready for this, make sure you increase your CPM bids across your campaigns. Allowing your campaigns to bid a higher amount will make them more competitive and give you a better chance of serving more ads. We suggest increasing your CPM bid by 50-100% of the current average CPM cost for the campaign.

Use holiday themed ads and landing pages


Your potential customers are thinking, talking, and singing about the holidays this time of year. Join that conversation! Using ads that mention specific events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday can grab a visitor’s attention. Send them holiday cheer, mention that there are X number of shopping days left, and give them a reason to click on your ads. Use the holidays as a call to action, and you could see a boost in clicks and conversions.

Create landing pages and content on your site for these holiday events, then create audiences that capture visitors of these pages. (Information about audiences is available here.)

Finally, create campaigns to serve your holiday ads to your holiday page visitors. If they’re coming to your site looking for holiday deals, they are more likely to respond to holiday themes ads.

We hope these suggestions are helpful and lead to a profitable holiday season for you and your business. As always, please feel free to contact us at support@perfectaudience.com with any questions or comments.

From our team to yours - happy holidays!

Marin Software recently participated in the E-Commerce Paris trade show, the largest cross-channel event in France. During the three-day event, we had the opportunity of presenting with our customers as guest speakers. One such opportunity was a workshop on 'the relevant criteria to choose your digital media buying platform'. Thibaut Vouloir, Acquisition Manager at financial services company Cofinoga, detailed the main things every agency or advertiser should care about when looking for a solution.

1. Independence



First off, he insisted that the provider must be independent from any media selling business. To guarantee a fair arbitrage of the bid recommendations on any campaign, the platform can’t be owned by a specific publisher, whoever that publisher may be. An independent platform helps advertisers to optimize their media investments on different channels, across search, social, and display.

2. Local Support



For Thibaut, it should be a given that he has access to a local and experienced service team – in his case, based in Paris who speaks French – who understands his needs and gathers his feedback to improve the product. One of his needs is the ability to integrate his DMP tracking system, with customized specifications. The strength of a local team is its capacity to contact the DMP solution, then work collaboratively with the customer to deliver a needs-based solution that drives results.

3. Flexible, Automated Bidding



In particular, Thibaut mentioned the absolute flexibility of Marin’s automated bidding tool considering the different objectives of Cofinoga’s financial products. Using the three different bidding strategies that Marin offers (position, CPA, and ROI) – within the same campaigns or across multiple campaigns and publishers – allows Cofinoga to effectively control and monitor the costs of acquisition. The time an advertiser saves with automated bidding can be reallocated to other tasks, such as A/B creative and landing page testing. “The keyword marketer is freed up from the repetitive task of manually changing bids every day,” said Thibaut.

To find out more about how Marin Software can help you achieve your cross-channel advertising goals, contact us today.

The holidays are a busy time of year for retail advertisers. Outside of work, their lives are packed with relatives, shopping, menu planning, and social events. Add launching holiday promotions, bid management, and budgeting to the agenda and they have an even longer to-do list in the middle of an already stressful holiday season.


To help our retail advertising customers succeed during the critical holiday shopping season, we’re happy to introduce Marin’s Center of Excellence. This is a new division of the Marin Customer Success team that combines marketing expertise and mastery of the Marin platform to help grow your business. The team provides consulting and tailored offerings for Marin customers to address business needs and help them get the most out of the platform.


While consumers are editing their shopping lists in October, you’re editing keyword lists and writing endless variations of holiday ad copy. And, if you’re asking yourself, “What am I missing?” or “How can I better optimize this?”, the Marin Center of Excellence team is here to help you through these and other common challenges.


Having managed campaigns themselves once upon a time, the team has compiled a list of step-by-step recommendations to keep handy as holiday promotions begin to kick off in the coming weeks.



Step 1: Prepare Your Campaigns for Success by Leveraging Key Retail-Focused Marin Capabilities


Start by loading holiday focused objects into Marin early (e.g., keywords, creatives, sitelinks, and mobile-preferred creatives) and keep them paused until you’re ready to launch. This will allow enough time for creatives to go through review on the publisher’s side, for you to submit any exemption requests, etc. Don’t wait until the last minute or you risk forgetting important objects (like sitelinks!) and hitting policy violations.


In addition, make sure you have the necessary Scheduled Actions configured for your holiday-themed campaigns and creatives. Scheduled Actions are essential during promotions and sales and help you take back those long holiday hours by automating the pausing and activation of select campaigns and creatives. If you know that certain days or weeks see an increase in traffic, set up rules so you’re always showing top-performing ads at the most opportune times.


Marin Dimensions are another great time-saving tool. For example, if you have different promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, tag them with a Dimension. Once tagged, you can quickly filter for those objects tagged with a “Black Friday” dimension to pause them and take the same steps to resume your Cyber Monday ads. This workflow works great for those time-sensitive campaigns you’ll be switching on and off across publishers.


Finally, you should consider an account audit ahead of the holiday. This will ensure you have an account structure in line with best practices, help identify specific performance issues, and allow enough time to prioritize any issues requiring implementation. The Center of Excellence is offering holiday focused account audits to improve account performance and better optimize your program this holiday season. Contact your Marin account representative for more details.



Step 2: Review Your Bidding Strategy and Objectives


In anticipation of the expected increase in traffic and competition, the Center of Excellence recommends setting up a schedule for any bid changes that need to occur throughout the holiday season. Take a look at your historical data for previous years. Do you notice a year over year rise in historical CPCs? Did traffic increase significantly? Pair this data with your goals to set up an ad scheduling or boost schedule.


These two features allow you to make faster adjustments to bids without making drastic changes to your overall bidding strategy (by changing folder targets) that could prompt unwanted results. If you want a little help crunching those numbers, the Center of Excellence is offering a Holiday Bidding and Boost consultation tailored specifically to your program that works in tandem with our bidding algorithm.



Step 3: Closely Monitor Performance Throughout the Holiday Season


Marin offers an easy way to set up and schedule automated email alerts to assist you with monitoring account activity during the holidays. The Center of Excellence recommends creating email alerts for the following:




  • Day over day cost changes


  • Sync errors for creatives/keywords


  • Average position threshold


  • Objects missing tracking


  • Creatives status = disapproved


If you manage multiple accounts in the platform, try setting up an All Clients report to review cross-client performance data. For example, set up a campaign performance report across all your clients to eliminate having to log into each Marin client account. Hint: Creating alerts across client accounts will save you time, which can be spent enjoying your holidays!



Bonus Time Saving Tips from our Top Center of Excellence Consultants!



  • If you’re a client that has many different publisher accounts within many different Marin accounts, utilize Marin’s cross-client bulk sheet feature, so you can create everything with one file rather than having to organize and upload many different bulk sheets.


  • If you plan to use ad scheduling to help manage bidding this holiday season, set this up in Marin using the multi-edit feature, which will allow you to set your schedule across many campaigns or ad groups at one time, rather than individually.


  • Prior to making changes for holiday bidding, download a report of all your current keyword bids with the columns you would need for a keyword bulk upload. Use this report to upload these same bids into the application after the holiday season is over and more quickly return to expected levels of performance and traffic.


  • When creating a scheduled report or alert, take an extra 10 seconds and also create a saved view for those same columns and filters. This way, if an alert or performance report merits investigation, you can retrieve the corresponding saved view to pull this up in the application immediately.


  • Tag all of your holiday objects in Marin using a Dimension. This will make it easier to apply setting changes and scheduled actions at scale so you can get back to family and fun!

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:

In the old days of advertising, the name of the game was reach and frequency. Brands preferred mass media vehicles like television and radio, because they were the easiest means to reach large audiences and build brand awareness. Obviously, this meant the most effective advertising campaigns were dominated by the biggest brands with the largest marketing budgets.

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

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

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

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.

Programmatic is hot right now. eMarketer predicts that by 2020, programmatic spending will top $65 billion, making up over 82% of all US display ad spending in 2018 alone. As quickly as it’s growing, though, programmatic has some serious terminology and conventions you have to learn if you want to consider yourself an expert. And once you get started, you may feel like you’re drowning in a sea of programmatic jargon, lingo, and acronyms.

The programmatic ecosystem is large and wide – but not impassable. A good way to start the journey is getting to know the 8 major players in the ecosystem, as well as their main functions.

1. The Advertiser

If you’re reading this, this is probably you. The advertising world wouldn’t exist without the companies that buy the ads.

2. The Publisher

Publishers are all the publications, web sites, and mobile apps that create and deliver the real value – the content – as well as the ad space that advertisers buy.

3. Ad Exchanges

Ad exchanges are the backbone of programmatic ad buying, and a major driving force for the display advertising renaissance over the past few years. Ad exchanges are essentially marketplaces where advertisers and publishers buy and sell ad space programmatically. Publishers make their inventory available and advertisers then bid for those ads, often in real-time, based on how much a particular visitor is worth to them.

4. Ad Networks

Ad networks are like the older, less capable big brother of the ad exchange. Like ad exchanges, ad networks aggregate inventory across multiple publishers and package it up, helping advertisers buy ads at scale more efficiently. Because they can still be a simple, efficient way to scale your media buy across a large number of publishers, they’re still relevant in this age of programmatic. Still, ad networks don’t offer the same targeting sophistication that ad exchanges do.

5. Data Management Platforms (DMPs)

Advertisers use DMPs to collect, store, and leverage their first-party audience data. DMPs also aggregate data from third parties and make it available to clients to use in their advertising.

6. Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs)

A demand-side platform is a tool that enables marketers to bid on and buy ads from ad exchanges. There are some big differences between the different platforms out there, so be sure to determine what’s most important to your business before investing in one – for example, access to data, quality of reach, transparency, etc.

7. Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs)

Advertisers use DSPs to buy ads on ad exchanges. Publishers use SSPs to sell their ads on ad exchanges. It’s basically the mirror opposite.

8. Agency Trading Desk

Agency Trading Desks (ATDs) are essentially the media buying and reselling arms of major advertising agency holding companies like WPP, Publicis, and Interpublic. ATDs reflect a mix of people and technology. While media is often bought programmatically using technology like DSPs and DMPs, it’s then resold to advertisers as a managed service.

These eight players are just one piece of the programmatic puzzle. For a more complete discussion – including how data, targeting, and retargeting figure in – download our full white paper, The ABCs of Programmatic.

Let’s suppose you’re a B2B marketer using the Marin platform. Hopefully, you’re using the more sophisticated “Revenue by Conversion Type” revenue model, and you’ve associated relative values to each conversion type in your website. If you’ve done all this…congrats! You can use Marin to bid to a lifetime value/cost ratio that’s most appropriate to your business.

However, by refining your strategies even more, you can increase the likelihood of boosting your lead generation.

Hone Your Strategy



During my first Marin onboarding, I received some pretty sage advice. My Marin rep told me I should allocate a small portion (10%, he told me) of the lifetime value from each conversion to a point earlier in the funnel. This serves as a vehicle for increasing relevant traffic diversity, which ultimately leads to more sales. If I were to assign 100% of lifetime value only to terms that converted at the bottom of the funnel, I would hinder my ability to grow the account.

What’s a good lifetime value reallocation strategy? It’s easy! Are there intermediary downloads on your site that lead people down the conversion funnel? Create a conversion type for each and assign each a value. Are there high-intent pages on your website that represent the penultimate step before conversion? Create a conversion type and assign people who land on that page some lifetime value. Are you doing email marketing with unique click-through pages? Create a conversion type for people who click on the email link and land on the site, and assign those folks a value. There are plenty more ways you can get creative with micro-conversions.

Adjust Values for Maximum Conversions



With a multi-layered micro-conversion strategy, it’s easy to either over-assign or under-assign value. You should have an understanding of how many micro-conversions each visitor typically completes, and set your values so that the “average” visitor will get assigned an “average” pre-sale value. Engaged visitors who trigger an above-average number of micro-conversions should be more likely to convert; by counting each, Marin’s bidding algorithm will favor the keywords that tend to generate hyper-engaged visitors.

Also, you can use micro-conversions as a traffic lever. If you decide a certain download has become a more valuable part of the sales process, raise its value. Marin will favor traffic more likely to download that item, and you’ll generate more downloads of that document. Whereas Marin’s Boost function will raise the bids allocated to an entire bidding folder, raising the bids on a conversion type is a hyper-specific way to impact your entire traffic flow – either within one bidding folder or throughout the whole campaign.

Marin is a wonderful platform to increase the value of your paid search efforts. And, with a little extra insight into the value of each step of your sales funnel, you can use Marin’s functionality to optimize your campaign’s performance to an even higher level.

While algorithmic bidding certainly helps advertisers meet their goals for individual keywords, it may not necessarily result in maximizing profit for the overall collection of keywords. In order to achieve maximum profit, advertisers should consider utilizing a volume-based optimization strategy that has all keywords working together. What this means is that rather than managing keywords individually, volume-based optimization has all a marketer’s keywords working together. This way, instead of depending on one keyword to help a marketer reach their ROI target, all the keywords in a set are working together to reach that target. The volume-based optimization approach is particularly geared toward driving gross profit. When there is an extra dollar to spend, volume-based optimization will determine which keyword(s) will provide the highest revenue in return.

Volume-based optimization is most effective when applied to the head terms of a given set of keywords. The large amount of historical data associated with head terms means that volume-based optimization can more accurately assess how much to invest in each keyword.

Here are some best practices for utilizing volume-based bidding strategies:

1. Don’t neglect tail terms.


While head terms are generally more visible, tail terms make up the majority of searches. Unfortunately, tail terms generally don’t have much historical data available. To overcome this obstacle, leverage Bayesian Estimation to predict performance and estimate bids for tail terms. In combination with volume-based optimization, this is the most comprehensive and insight-driven approach for maximizing overall profit.

2. Take unexpected factors into account.


Unexpected factors, such as website downtime, can have a huge impact on performance. Utilize a bidding tool that allows you to exclude any outliers from the historical data used to calculate bids, such as Marin’s excluded dates feature.

3. Plan for seasonality.


Bidding tools can also be helpful when it comes to planning for seasonality, including sales and promotions. Using a feature like Marin’s Dynamic Actions, advertisers can automatically apply a percentage boost to any campaigns or groups that fit their pre-designated criteria. This automated handling of user-specified criteria ensures that advertisers never miss a chance to increase visibility during crucial seasonal events.

4. Incorporate external data.


Knowledge is power, and the old adage is especially true when it comes to bid management. Using sophisticated tools, advertisers can harness the power of their data warehouses and third-party data feeds to build flexible rules that adjust bids based on trends in contextual data. For example, an advertiser using Marin could bring inventory data into the platform and use it to automatically boost bids for keywords with high inventory. Other use cases include setting bid overrides, bid caps, and bid floors based on fluctuations in the data. By leveraging external and contextual data, it is possible to make smarter and more informed bids.

In addition to these foundational elements of bid management and optimization, advertisers should also consider a host of newer factors. In particular, budget forecasting, audiences, and mobile have become critical components of successful search advertising programs. To learn more, check out our latest white paper, Bidding and Optimization Strategies for the Modern Search Marketer.

Additional thoughts? Leave them in the comments section below.

You put a lot of time and effort into your Paid Search advertising. You leverage Marin’s bidding algorithm to efficiently and effectively automate your bidding process based on individual ROI/CPA goals.

Your competition probably follows a similar process. So how is it that your competitor keeps showing in the first spot, even when you try to loosen the reins on your ROI/CPA targets? You enviously theorize about their amazing site conversion rates or a giant SEM budget that permits them to outbid anyone just for the sake of being number one.

In all likelihood, their reasoning is probably more scientific than you think; it’s just a different science than you are used to.

Let’s consider two competing advertisers with identical site conversion rates and AOV, both selling and bidding on the term “Acme Widgets.” Advertiser 1 is on an ROI-based model and will value that click based on what they expect to make from any orders that occurred that day. Advertiser 2 knows that on average, when a customer makes a purchase of Acme Widgets, the value extends much further. They get looped into the CRM system, email, SMS, and direct mail cycles, and tend to stay with them for about 3 years, placing several orders per year throughout that time.

Who do you think will be willing to pay more for that bid, and will constantly win the auction for that top position?
The majority of digital advertisers’ budgets fall into two categories:

  • Fixed – Get the most revenue/leads you can out of $X
  • ROI/CPA-based – Acquire as many customers as you can, but only up to a fixed ROI or CPA


When asked what the main goal of their digital marketing program is, however, a common response from the executive team is “grow the business” and/or “acquire new customers.” Deep down inside, they know that there is value that extends beyond that initial purchase, but can’t wrap their heads around the short-term cost vs. the long-term gain.

This creates a challenge for marketers who try to manage to a fixed ROI. When they optimize for growth and new customers, the CPA rises. When they optimize for ROI, the growth stops. This results in targets that are constantly moving back and forth.
To truly compete and acquire new customers in the digital landscape requires a mindset that values the entire customer lifecycle and stresses growth and profit over all else.

A Challenging Paradigm Shift


It seems obvious, but most advertisers are not thinking like this. The truth is that it is difficult to change models that have been in place for a long time and require sign-off from several stakeholders.

Understanding the lifetime value of a customer will significantly shift how you view digital media investment and should become an element of your measurement and optimization. You can streamline this process by leveraging Marin’s Custom Column feature to bring LTV calculations into your dashboards or bidding logic. If you aren’t sure how to get started, an excellent 4-part series recently wrapped up with a wealth of information on building LTV models.

Next, once you find a CPA that works better to maximize your customer growth and profits, don’t hold all digital marketing channels to that same CPA. Tactics work very differently, but work well together to help your reach your overall growth goals.

Finally, give it time – You already know that it takes a long time for a customer’s value to build within its lifecycle, so give your new model time to grow, too. You can still monitor daily or weekly like you’re used to, but don’t panic when efficiency suffers initially, because it will. Test often, but adopt a monthly or even quarterly mindset when it comes to significant trimming and optimizations. Without growth there would be nothing to trim at all.

About the Author


Dane Manning is a Paid Media Manager at Rosetta, a full-service customer engagement agency. He joined Rosetta in 2008, and has successfully led the digital marketing strategy (paid search, online display, paid social) for his clients across the B2B, Retail, and Financial Services verticals. Dane graduated from Cleveland State University with a BBA in Marketing.

Bidding can be one of the most challenging aspects of Facebook advertising. However, by making good use of proper testing and tracking methods, it doesn’t have to be. Marin Software’s new white paper provides a breakdown of Facebook’s bidding models and offers advanced tactics to make your campaigns a success.

Advertisers can buy Facebook ads on a CPM, CPC, or “OCPM” model. The majority of advertisers opt for a CPC model, taking advantage of the opportunity to pay only for clicks, rather than impressions. Under this model, Facebook provides a suggested bid range. If your bids are too low, you may not achieve optimal audience reach. If your bids are too high, you’ll likely end up eating away at your ROI. As a best practice, pick a mid-point in the recommended bid range and adjust from there based on performance.

marin software facebook bidding



When it comes to bidding, automated solutions put sophisticated advertisers at a significant advantage. Third-party bidding solutions enable marketers to create custom groups of ads based on business goals, then algorithmically leverage data from other ads to calculate optimal bids that maximize performance. Automated solutions also excel for tracking purposes. The ability to weight on- and off-Facebook conversions independently enables you to use more of your budget to drive higher-value clicks.

Top Industry Tips:

  • If you’re using a CPC model, pick a mid-point in the recommended bid range and adjust from there based on performance.
  • Consider testing the CPM or OCPM models if you are targeting a very niche audience and are facing low competition.
  • Avoid tracking solutions that treat all conversion types equally. Instead, opt for one that can distinguish between on- and off-Facebook conversions, and weight them independently.
  • Don’t forget to account for “noise” produced by short-term campaigns when optimizing Facebook creative across an entire portfolio.
  • When starting with a new ad, analyze your portfolio to find other creative with a similar message and goal, and bid based on the performance of those previous ads. Alternatively, use an automated solution to help streamline this effort.
  • To optimize your Facebook campaigns based on a complete picture of performance, deploy an automated bid solution that can integrate multiple conversion types and conversion data from multiple sources.


marin software facebook bidding


Final Thoughts: As we wrap up our series on Facebook tips and best practices, here are a few key takeaways to keep in mind. First, don’t be afraid to experiment with new targeting options and ad formats. Second, remember that Facebook advertising is often about measuring long-term engagement rather than short-term sales. And finally, consider Facebook alongside the rest of your online and offline activity for a complete picture of ROI.

For additional best practices, download our full Facebook white paper, “The Marketers’ Guide to Driving ROI from Facebook Advertising”.

Marin Software Actionable Recommendations

In a previous post, we explored the effects of seasonality and cyclical trends on revenue-per-click (RPC) and conversion rate. Today, we’ll take a look at how identifying and excluding irregular or outlying data, and accounting for conversion latency, are critical to calculating optimal bids and maintaining control over revenue outcomes.

Seasonality and Outlying Performance

During the holiday shopping season, RPC and conversion rates can double in the months leading up to mid-December, and drop dramatically thereafter. Leveraging data during these periods of irregular paid search performance can result in suboptimal bid calculations. In order to factor these types of performance shifts into their bidding strategy, search marketers must first identify outlying and irregular data and subsequently exclude those dates or date ranges from bid calculations. Using advanced filters and alerts, search marketers can manage their data by exception and quickly identify the extent to which seasonality or cyclical behavior has impacted paid search performance.

For example, you might create an alert to notify you when RPC or conversion rate has increased by more than 50% of the average over the last three days. It’s possible that a new promotion or period of seasonality is causing a significant shift in performance. Excluding dates with outlying RPC or conversion rates will prevent calculations from inflating bids even as performance returns to normal.

Conversion Latency

Looking past seasonality and cyclical trends, date exclusions are also critical in accounting for conversion latency—the time between an initial ad click and an eventual conversion or revenue. Conversion latency varies across industries and product lines, ranging from same session to several months. For certain businesses with high consideration products or services, conversions and revenue can go unattributed to click and cost data for extended periods of time. As a result, bid calculations that leverage these periods of incomplete data fail to maximize performance. To address conversion latency, search marketers need the ability to exclude the most recent days from bid calculations.

For instance, if it typically takes two days for a customer to complete a purchase after clicking on a paid search ad, a sound bidding strategy would exclude the last two days from bid calculations. This would ensure that bids aren't being calculated using click and cost data that would otherwise have revenue attributed to it after two days. Dynamically extending or shortening a rolling exclusion window (in the example above, it would be a two day rolling date exclusion), depending on business needs, enables search marketers to calculate optimal bids based on a complete picture of paid search performance.

Marin Software Rolling Date Exclusion


Informed vs. Reactive Bidding

For some businesses, high conversion latency can often warrant leveraging a lengthy rolling date exclusion. However, to remain competitive and respond quickly to shifts in the bidding landscape, carefully consider how long of an exclusion window is used. For example, let’s pretend that a business needs to wait sixty days until 98% of their revenue is attributed back to their paid search clicks. With a sixty day rolling date exclusion, it would require them to wait nearly two months before making informed bid calculations. Due to this length of time, they would undoubtedly fail to capitalize on immediate revenue opportunities. On the other hand, let’s assume that the same business can attribute 80% of their revenue after seven days. Using a seven day rolling date exclusion, they could still calculate informed bids while remaining reactive to the current bidding landscape.

Anticipated changes in paid search performance, such as increases in RPC or decreases in conversion rate, create a common challenge that all bidding strategies must address—seasonality. To account for seasonal changes in performance, like the holiday shopping season, search marketers must constantly analyze year-over-year performance and adjust bids according to identifiable trends. Whether you’re driving clicks, increasing conversions, or maximizing revenue, accounting for these types of fluctuations in performance is critical to success in highly dynamic and competitive bidding environments. By deploying boost schedules, where bids are increased or decreased over specified time periods, search marketers can optimize their campaigns ahead of expected fluctuations in RPC or conversion rate. For example, a marketer might bid aggressively or dampen bids for in-season and off-season products, respectively. A bidding strategy that doesn't adjust bids for seasonality will fail to capitalize on critical revenue opportunities throughout the year, enabling competitors to capitalize instead.

Example Boost Schedule


For more information on how to determine an optimal boost during seasonal periods, please see our tutorial on adjusting bids for seasonality.

Cyclical Trends

Cyclical, as opposed to seasonal, shifts in RPC or conversion rate can last for time periods shorter or longer than a calendar year. In paid search, these trends are typically observed as day-of-week or time-of-day fluctuations in performance. For example, an increase in mobile conversion rate during afternoons and evenings, or a decrease in desktop RPC during weekends. To account for cyclical trends, search marketers must analyze campaign performance across multiple weeks, identifying day-to-day changes in RPC or conversion rate; and in more sophisticated bidding strategies, analyze hourly changes in performance. Once these trends have been identifying, search marketers can implement dayparting strategies unique to each campaign, where keyword bids are boosted or dampened by day or by hour to maximize paid search performance.

Marin Enterprise Ad Scheduling Recommendations


Addressing Seasonal and Cyclical Data

Accounting for shifts in consumer behavior, whether it’s seasonal or cyclical is critical to a sound paid search bidding strategy. However, increases and decreases in RPC and conversion rate often results in periods of irregular performance. Consequently, bidding solutions and tools that don’t exclude this data may calculate suboptimal bids. So how do search marketers account for periods of incomplete or irregular data? Next time, we’ll take a closer look at addressing conversion latency and the importance of excluding abnormal search data from bid calculations.

Morpheus Enhanced Campaigns Mobile Bid Adjustments

On Tuesday Google announced that advertisers will soon be able to set mobile bid adjustments at the ad group level, in addition to the campaign level, for enhanced campaigns. This comes on the heels of Google’s release of two new ValueTrack parameters: {ifmobile:[value]} and {ifnotmobile:[value]}. Google also indicated July 22, 2013 as the start of the migration deadline, when AdWords will begin automatically upgrading legacy campaigns to enhanced campaigns.

These recent announcements shouldn’t come as a surprise to search marketers. Google has historically made adjustments to new AdWords features as market demands became more evident. (A recent example is last year’s update to the campaign ad rotation settings.) Sophisticated search marketers have been asking for additional enhanced campaign features to provide additional control and transparency for optimizing their paid search programs. Today, we’ll review the two recently announced enhancements to enhanced campaigns and discuss their importance to search marketers who operate in a multi-device world.

Ad Group Mobile Bid Adjustment

Before this Announcement: A mobile bid adjustment could only be set at the campaign level, which allows advertisers to boost desktop keyword bids for searches on mobile devices by -100% to 300% across the entire campaign.

The Ask from Marketers: Search marketers are used to granularity. From management to reporting to optimization, sophisticated marketers often desire to operate at the most granular levels possible, which often means making decisions down at the keyword level. The reason is that clicks, cost, conversions, and revenue data are all attributed at the keyword level; and in order to optimize bids and maximize performance, keyword-level bids needed to be calculated and applied individually.

The Updated Approach: Google will now allow advertisers to set a mobile bid adjustment at the ad group level. Once implemented, the same boost range, from -100% to 300%, can be applied to all desktop keyword bids within a given ad group for searches made on mobile devices. The campaign level mobile bid adjustment will be ignored if an ad group level bid adjustment has been set.

What It Means: The enhancement to allow group-level mobile bid adjustments provides search marketers with additional control over their enhanced campaigns and mobile performance. For advertisers that follow account best practices, where ad groups contain a small set of like or similar performing keywords, this enhancement should meet the requirements for most paid search programs. Although some search marketers may long for keyword-level mobile bid adjustments, keep in mind that the goal of enhanced campaigns is to simplify the way advertisers manage their paid search campaigns across device, location, and time of day. Group-level adjustments appear to be a reasonable and effective compromise.

{ifmobile} and {ifnotmobile} ValueTrack Parameter

Before this Announcement: Search marketers could only leverage one landing page across all devices rather than have the ability to direct users to optimized landing pages based on device. The other option was to remove keyword level destination URLs in favor of creative level URLs.

The Ask from Marketers: Screen sizes and user behavior varies significantly between desktop and mobile devices. Presenting users with a device-specific landing page is critical to improving the user experience and maximizing paid search performance. Consequently, advertisers wanted the ability to define two destination URLs at the keyword level in order to present the most relevant content and optimal experience based on the device the user is searching on.

Device Optimized Website - NY Times


The Updated Approach: The {ifmobile} and {ifnotmobile} ValueTrack parameters will enable search marketers to direct users to device-specific landing pages at the keyword level. Additionally, these new parameters enable the measurement of the effectiveness of campaigns by device for advertisers who are unable to leverage the {device} ValueTrack parameter.

What It Means: The ability to assign a device-specific landing page falls directly in line with Google’s approach to a multi-device world—helping advertisers reach consumers with the right ad experience based on device, location, and time of day. As users move across device, this enhancement will enable search marketers to remain relevant and engaging.

Google Is Listening

Clearly, Google is open to enhancing enhanced campaigns based on industry feedback. However, I wouldn’t expect any further changes to be announced ahead of the migration deadline as advertisers nail down their migration plans and establish revised best practices before heading into the holiday season. In order for enhanced campaigns to be a win-win-win solution (for Google, the consumer, and the advertiser), Google will need to continue collecting and applying market feedback, especially once all advertisers have migrated over to enhanced campaigns.

Marin Software Actionable Recommendations

Calculating and pushing keyword bids in real time is one of the most talked about paid search bidding strategies. However, this approach is easier said than done. Accounting for consumer behavior and collecting enough performance data minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour is difficult and often results in sub-optimal bids. Today we’ll discuss the challenges that online marketers face when attempting to calculate bids in real time and the requirements that need to be in place to execute a successful bidding strategy.

Consumer Behavior

Consumers often click on multiple ads before converting. In many cases, they conduct research using several different search queries over the course of days, weeks, or in some cases months. Often times a consumer will validate their decision with one final burst of research just before converting. This delay between the initial ad click and subsequent conversion is known as conversion latency. To measure this latency, advertisers rely on tracking solutions that identify each unique user and follows them through the conversion process. The conversion and any associated revenue can then be attributed across each touch point; for example, the three paid search clicks that occurred prior to a purchase. Achieving this level of visibility enables automated bidding solutions to calculate accurate and optimal bids for all keywords that contributed to the conversion.

Display Retargeting vs. Search

Real-time bidding was born in the world of display retargeting, where advertisers bid to deliver ads to specific users based on information collected about them, such as which products or pages they've previously viewed on a company’s website. In this scenario, an automated bid, calculated and pushed out in real time, enables advertisers to target their spend and impressions towards consumers who are more likely to convert. The likelihood of a conversion is estimated using large datasets; the behavior of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of visitors to a website is analyzed before implementing an optimal bidding strategy. This is a fundamental difference when approaching real-time bidding in display versus search, where the amount of data collected for display retargeting is significant enough to inform bidding decisions in real time.

Real-Time Bidding in Paid Search

In paid search, the data collected for a keyword in real time is minimal. Calculating keyword bids based on such a small dataset is extremely risky as these bids often leverage an insignificant amount of data that doesn't account for consumer behavior.


Marin Software Rolling Date Exclusion


To address this challenge, Marin developed a patented bidding algorithm that utilizes Bayesian Estimation to minimize the risk of bidding on low volume keywords. Additionally, to account for consumer behavior, Marin allows online marketers to exclude performance data from bid calculations across a custom rolling date range. For businesses that experience high conversion latency or a large proportion of latent conversions, this means optimal bids based on accurate and complete performance data. Finally, Marin analyzes time of day paid search performance across multiple weeks in order to identify significant trends. These trends are used to inform daily and hourly dayparting recommendations, which can be implemented with just a few clicks.

Execute a Sound Strategy

When making bidding decisions, online marketers must ensure that they have a complete picture of performance. For paid search campaigns that are subject to conversion latency, this means sacrificing real-time bids in favor of implementing rolling date exclusions across a significant amount of performance data. Search marketers that execute their bidding strategy with this in mind are positioned to calculated optimal bids that maximize keyword performance.



For more information on Marin’s bidding solution, please contact info@marinsoftware.com.

As online advertising budgets rise, marketers find it increasingly difficult to calculate bids across large-scale campaigns, account for conflicting business goals, and respond to seasonal and market shifts. To address these, Marin has made some significant enhancements to our patented bidding technology.

Through advanced execution techniques that include predictive analytics, KPI maximization subject to constraints, and adaptive learning methods, advertisers and agencies alike can now realize even more significant financial lift via Marin bid optimization. Specifically, our enhanced bid optimization capabilities enable marketers to maximize revenue outcomes such as clicks, revenues or profit while accounting for multiple business constraints such as spend targets and performance.

Marin Bidding and Forecasting UI



































By design, Marin bidding preserves visibility and control for the marketer. Advertisers are able to define their own portfolios, set business goals and constraints, and build a forecast of bid outcomes. Using an interactive interface, marketers can now perform a “what-if” analysis to understand trade-offs between volume, cost, and profit associated with varying bid scenarios.

The enhancements to Marin bidding are available immediately for all Marin Enterprise users, enabling online marketers to maximize financial lift. Initial results have been very promising: 77% of users who have deployed the solution have seen financial lift above and beyond their previous results, with an average lift (measured by increase in clicks, conversions, revenue or profit) of 20% or more. As an example, Symantec, one of the world’s largest software companies, keys on revenue maximization and utilized Marin’s new bidding enhancements to increase ROAS by 67%.

If your paid search program experiences an increase in volume over a seasonal period, how much should you increase your bids by to maximize performance? Sam Wilcke, PhD and Director of Analytics at Marin, talks through how to do this and dispels a common misconception.

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.

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