Retail

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:

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Launched last year, Instacart is offering a program supporting black-owned companies by promoting their products at the point of sale through Instacart Ads. Brands can apply for a share of $1M in advertising credits that can be used on the platform.



Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America which creates tremendous opportunities for emerging brands to reach their customers as they complete their online grocery shopping.

In addition to advertising credits, brands accepted into the program will get additional resources, including a “designated team focused on supporting participating brands and a monthly training series to ensure brands maximize the impact of their advertising campaigns.”

Instacart offers a range of advertising formats on the platform, including Sponsored Products, Digital Coupons, and more. You can think of Sponsored Product Ads as increasing the digital shelf space for your products. They show on the search page results in addition to checkout and other browsing and discovery placements.



We at Marin are excited to highlight Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives by the publishers we support.  You can find the link to apply for this program at ads.instacart.com or see additional details here. Instacart also offers $100 in advertising credits to advertisers getting started with Sponsored Products.

If you need help with your Instacart Ads campaigns, or increasing exposure on other retail marketplaces, set up time to learn more about how MarinOne can help maximize the performance of your marketing investments.

Brands can now optimize Target Product Ads in MarinOne’s cross-channel ad management platform

There’s a reason so many consumers shop on Target.com and the Target app: the guest experience. Target has invested heavily over the last few years in making online shopping easy, convenient, affordable, and enjoyable for its millions of shoppers.

These investments have paid off. Target added 12 million multi-channel customers in 2020, and same-day services grew by 235%. Online sales grew 145% last year, driven in part by the pandemic, but they continued to grow by 12.5% in the first half of 2021, even as many consumers returned to shopping in-store.

Target Product Ads Help Brands Intersect Shoppers’ Line of Sight

With this kind of growth, brands cannot afford to miss out on one of Target’s retail media offerings, Target Product Ads, which provides access to so many high-intent shoppers.

Target’s native, cost-per-click product ads amplify brands’ visibility and discoverability on Target.com and the Target app, which is becoming increasingly important in a now busier-than-ever eCommerce landscape. With available placements on search, browse, and product detail pages, advertisers can connect with customers with tailored ads at every step of the buyer journey.

Target Product Ads may be the solution that advertisers are looking for to address a variety of objectives, from defending market share to increasing purchase frequency. Brands can reach purchase-ready customers while making their products more visible across search and browse placements. And the best part: sales can be attributed down to the SKU-level to provide you with a granular understanding on performance.

MarinOne Optimizes Target Product Ads to Drive Incremental Sales

Marin Software’s collaboration with Roundel™ means customers will now be able to analyze, manage, and optimize their Target Product Ads directly from the MarinOne platform.

MarinOne unifies Retail advertising like Target Product Ads with other Retail Media campaigns as well as paid search, paid display, and paid social, while simplifying reporting and management of advertising campaigns across channels.

MarinOne’s Insights module automatically identifies opportunities such as Product A/B Testing in your account with estimates of potential value and easy implementation.

The automation tools in Marin make it easy and efficient to manage Target Product Ads.  MarinOne’s unified optimization suite helps identify optimal levels of spend while MarinOne Bidding delivers the best possible performance.

With the addition of Target Product Ads, MarinOne offers a complete growth solution across search, social, display, and eCommerce advertising, delivering the maximum return on investment.

Click here to get started with Target Product Ads today.

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

What Exactly Are Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Will Happen to My Expanded Text Ads?

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

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

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

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

But that being said…

Should I Pin My Top Performing Assets to Position 1?

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

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

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

How Will I Analyze Performance in MarinOne?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Will I Bulk Create RSAs in MarinOne?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The 2021 holiday rush is  upon us and advertisers are feeling pressure from the perfect storm of uncertain expectations, impacts of reduced tracking capabilities, inventory challenges, and rising costs of advertising.

McKinsey’s 2021 Holiday Report reveals that Facebook (67%) and Instagram (52%) are among the top platforms influencing holiday decision making. A whopping 87% of Gen Z shoppers surveyed derive shopping inspiration from social media, with YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram holding the top spots for platform inspiration. Social marketers will need a strategy that capitalizes on this intent while making the most of holiday marketing dollars.

If you’re still looking for inspiration to create a winning holiday strategy, we’ve prepared a few ideas to get you started. You can integrate these into your strategy with or without Marin Social, but the smart, time-saving features are a holiday gift that keeps on giving!

Boost Engagement with your Organic Content (Marin Social’s Message Booster makes this easy!)

  • Organic content is key in brand awareness, gaining new customers, and nurturing relationships with current customers. Promoting posts makes it more likely that they’ll reach your intended audiences, which is especially important for advertisers who want to spread the word about upcoming holiday promotions, new products, and new initiatives.
  • Though post promotions may not directly attribute revenue, they can be used to segment your audience to then target with direct response ads. Also not to be ignored is the long term business impact of nurturing customer relationships!
  • If you already have organic content, put it to work without lifting a finger using Message Booster for Facebook and Instagram in Marin Social. In Message Booster, you can create rules to automatically promote specific ads according to a variety of parameters.

Test Innovative Creative (Marin Social makes insights a breeze)

  • If your customers are posting content, use it! Facebook recommends testing lo-fi, customer generated content this holiday season. This means less work for your creative team and forging stronger relationships with your customers. We call this a win-win.
  • Marin Social allows you to easily spot creative winners in the “Charts” tool and create custom dimensions for creative analysis in MarinOne, giving you more time to put creative insights to work.

Dedicate Time to your Audience Strategy

  • Customers are expected to be less brand loyal than ever this year per the McKinsey Report. 62% of customers surveyed over the past 3 months were unable to purchase the item they wanted due to availability. Of this number, 39% switched brands, 32% went to another retailer, and only 13% waited for the item to be back in stock. If you expect inventory impacts, it’s especially important to invest time in your audience strategy and customer loyalty programming to retain customers.
  • Audience segmentation can help you better address your core customers and lower costs during the Black Friday - Cyber Monday time period. Marin Social’s Audience Manager provides a streamlined space to create and manage complex audience segments from multiple sources.

Ready to get started with Message Booster and MarinOne? Talk to your account manager or click here and we’ll be in touch soon.

In the few short years since it launched in 2017, CitrusAd has become the fastest growing ecommerce ad network in the US and established itself as a preferred retail media platform for both brands and retailers like Lowes, Shipt, and Petco.

In fact, CitrusAd was ranked in the highest category in Forrester’s recent report on Sell-Side Retail Media Solutions, receiving some of the highest scores possible. It’s easy to see why brands choose to spend their Retail Media dollars with CitrusAd and their network of retailers.

CitrusAd’s unique benefits

CitrusAd makes it easy for brands and retailers to work together to increase sales by launching targeted and cost-effective digital campaigns with access to sponsored products, display media, landing pages, and fixed tenancy for the best placement. Advertisers can streamline inventory across top retailers from all verticals and 25 different countries to deliver greater ROI on their Retail Media campaigns. CitrusAd provides brands with unique benefits including:

  • access to high-intent audiences: consumers shopping on these sites are browsing for specific products and ready to purchase, so placement on is low-funnel and likely to convert to sales.
  • personalization: Retailers know what their customers like to buy and by leveraging this first party data, brands can promote relevant products to the right audiences, right at the point of purchase.
  • native advertising formats: sponsored ads feel natural and unobtrusive to shoppers, helping brands make smooth connections with audiences through in-feed advertisements that are more likely to drive engagement and conversions.
  • closed-loop analytics: it’s easy to attribute ad engagement to sales with Retail Media, because Retailers are running the ad and selling the products and can make direct connections within their own platforms.

CitrusAd and MarinOne

CitrusAd’s full suite of products is now available in MarinOne. Marin has been helping advertisers advance their digital advertising campaigns for almost 15 years and has managed over $40 billion in advertising spend.

MarinOne unifies eCommerce advertising with paid search, display and social campaigns, while simplifying reporting and management of advertising campaigns across channels. Automated insights help advertisers identify opportunities to deliver growth and improve their return on the investment, and sophisticated bidding tools help advertisers plan, pace and optimize their campaigns to hit their targets.

With CitrusAd and MarinOne, advertisers always have accurate and transparent real-time campaign performance available at their fingertips and have the flexibility to make adjustments and improvements based on robust analytics. Click here for more on CitrusAd’s integration with MarinOne.

It is that time of the year again! For many people, November means shorter days, colder weather, and a countdown to the holidays - but for marketers and retailers, it's the busiest time of the year and there's a lot to do between now and the New Year. In this blog, we're looking back at last year's holiday shopping season and sharing our predictions for what's to come in the weeks ahead.

Looking back at 2020

Despite unprecedented challenges, consumers and retailers demonstrated incredible resilience throughout the 2020 holiday season. Faced with rising transmission of the virus, restrictions on retailers and heightened political and economic uncertainty, consumers chose to spend on gifts that lifted the spirits of their families and friends and provided a sense of normalcy.

Black Friday and Saturday 2020 saw tremendous growth in online activity. For the first time, the number of online Black Friday shoppers passed the 100 million mark, up 8 percent over last year. Overall, online-only shoppers increased by 44 percent for the entire weekend, spending a total of $95.7 million*.

Over 40 percent of holiday shoppers said they started earlier than they normally would in 2020, according to the annual survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

So what were people buying? Last holiday season saw year-over-year gains in six out of nine retail categories, led by double-digit increases for building materials, sporting goods stores and furniture. Let’s take a look at how 2021 may compare...

2021 Predictions

From rethinking the holiday shopping timeline to reimagining traditional sales events, retailers are actively planning ahead to ensure they are ready to meet consumers’ 2021 holiday shopping needs - despite the supply chain issues impacting the industry.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales for 2021 are expected to increase by 8.5-10.5% compared to 2020, generating between $843.4 billion and $859 billion.

Last year saw extraordinary growth in digital channels as consumers turned to online shopping to meet their holiday needs during the pandemic. While ecommerce will remain important, households are also expected to shift back to in-store shopping and a more traditional holiday shopping experience. Plans to shop online are down 3% from 2020, up 1% from 2019 (pre-pandemic) and it’s still the largest destination for consumers to make purchases this holiday season.

Over the last decade, consumers have been kicking off their holiday shopping early in order to spread out their budgets and avoid the stress of holiday shopping. This year, shoppers started earlier than ever, with half (49%) beginning to browse or buy before we even hit November. With the prospect of consumers seeking to shop early, inventories may be pulled down sooner and shortages may develop in the later weeks of the shopping season. However, if retailers can keep merchandise on the shelves until Christmas, this season could potentially shatter previous records.

To understand how MarinOne can help you scale your effort during key retail periods, reach out to your account manager or our sales team today.

*Source: National Retail Federation calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau data as of April 2021
NRF holiday spending is defined as the months of November and December.

Amazon is, of course, the leading online sales marketplace, with more than half of all eCommerce sales completed on their site and app. It’s no surprise that many Amazon sellers take advantage of Amazon’s Sponsored Products, Brands and Display formats to lead customers shopping on Amazon to the buy box. But Amazon has a large offering of advertising opportunities on the open web as well.

What is Amazon DSP?


Amazon’s Demand Side Platform (Amazon DSP) is software that provides automated, centralized media buying from multiple sources including thousands of publisher partners and data exchanges in addition to Amazon’s own sites, apps, and devices.

Amazon leverages billions of first-party consumer insights to help advertisers reach consumers who are in-market for specific products. With this data, brands can deliver customers relevant ads in display, video and audio formats. And you don’t need to sell on Amazon to benefit from DSP ad placements. These ads can link to product detail pages on Amazon or on a brand’s own website.

Amazon DSP + MarinOne Reporting


With the addition of Amazon DSP, MarinOne customers now have a comprehensive suite of tools to activate and amplify their entire Amazon Advertising campaign portfolio. MarinOne’s advanced analytics tools provide advertisers with intelligent dashboards and customizable reports. Automated insights identify opportunities to improve performance, and alerts provide real-time updates on changes in activity.

MarinOne supports 140 DSP metrics including detailed page views and new to brand metrics. Advertisers can use marketplace signals to tie their DSP performance to reviews, ratings, inventory status, and price. And MarinOne never deletes data, allowing for simple year-over-year or quarter-over-quarter analysis.

Holistic View of Advertising Performance


In addition to viewing Amazon DSP results alongside Amazon Sponsored Products, Brands and Display Ads, MarinOne customers can also analyze paid search and social advertising as well as other marketplaces, retail media, and shopping campaigns, delivering a cross-publisher and cross-channel view of performance.

To start gaining the benefits of MarinOne reporting on your Amazon DSP account, reach out to your account manager or our sales team today.

Did you know that 2 out of 3 online product searches start on retailers’ sites? Are you reaching high-intent shoppers at the point of sale?

Brands now have the unique opportunity to promote their products directly on leading retailer websites and apps. Don’t miss our upcoming webinar on Thursday, September 23rd | 10am PT - 1pm ET for a chance to listen to a panel of industry experts shed light on how to expand your eCommerce advertising reach this holiday season.

We’ll be joined by three fantastic panelists:

  • Morgan O’Hara, Director, Brand Partnerships at Instacart
  • Michael Greene, VP, Growth Portfolio at Criteo
  • Jeremy Brown, Customer Success Manager at Marin Software


In this panel, our three experts will discuss and debate:

  • Tips for advertisers getting started with Retail Media
  • What types of products is Retail Media most effective for
  • How can Retail Media complement your cross-channel ad spend with search, social and other eCommerce
  • Will consumer privacy concerns have a negative effect on retail media as well
  • What are some things you can do to prepare for Retail Media campaigns for the upcoming holiday season


This webinar is a “must-attend” for every digital marketer interested in Retail Media, Sign-up now!

With the unprecedented growth of eCommerce in the last few years, it’s no surprise that advertisers are rapidly increasing their digital marketing allocations towards this channel. Some estimates predict global retail ecommerce sales will exceed $6 trillion in 2023, an 84% increase over just 4 years. It’s clear that you must be able to navigate eCommerce in order to stay competitive going forward.

Marin Software customers now have another tool to drive eCommerce performance with the recent integration of Criteo’s Commerce Media Platform. Criteo leverages commerce data and intelligence so advertisers can deliver relevant ads to the right audience at the right time. With a full product suite including Marketing Solutions and Retail Media, Criteo helps brands connect with customers at the top of the funnel and leverage signals of intent to stay with them through conversion.

Increase Conversions with Marketing Solutions


Criteo’s Marketing Solutions enable display ads across thousands of the best publishers on the open web. Using data insights, brands can leverage dynamic retargeting to engage shoppers across publishers, deliver tailored video and display ads, and bring shoppers back to your site to purchase. All this adds up to better performance and more sales and profitability.

Own the Digital Shelf with Retail Media


Criteo’s Retail Media solutions give brands the ability to execute retail advertising campaigns at scale, promoting your products on hundreds of the world’s leading retailer websites and connecting with customers at the digital point of sale. With first-party data behind your campaigns, you’ll be reaching high-intent shoppers with relevant ads to boost product sales.

MarinOne + Criteo



It can be tough managing your commerce media spend across multiple products and retailers. MarinOne makes it easy for digital advertisers to manage, measure and optimize eCommerce campaigns with a comprehensive view across publishers and simplified reporting to view overall performance. Automated Insights help identify opportunities to deliver growth and improve return on investment, and sophisticated bidding tools help plan, pace and optimize campaigns to hit targets.

With access to Criteo’s suite of Commerce Media products, MarinOne helps you run campaigns against the world’s latest set of commerce data. And the MarinOne platform unifies commerce advertising with paid search and paid social campaigns to measure holistic, cross-channel performance all in one place.

Ready to get started with MarinOne and Criteo? Talk to your account manager or reach out to our sales team today.

Raise your hands if you shopped on Instacart in the last year? Keep your hands up if you advertised with Instacart last year? Well, if you’re a CPG brand I’m sure you’ve still got your hand up.

Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America. The company has partnered with more than 600 beloved national, regional and local retailers, including unique brand names, to deliver from nearly 55,000 stores across more than 5,500 cities in North America. Instacart offers self-service and managed ad services for more than 2,500 CPG brands, including 100% of the Top 25 CPG companies.

Instacart launched self-service advertising in May 2020 allowing advertisers to promote products to appear at the top of their search results and throughout their buying journey. And now MarinOne is here to help.

Our self-serve MarinOne platform unifies lower-funnel Instacart advertising with paid search and paid social campaigns to help generate additional demand. Marketers can align their efforts across channels to ensure they are working seamlessly across the customer journey.

Ad Formats


The flagship Instacart Ads offering, Sponsored Product, helps advertisers secure premium digital shelf space across several discovery surfaces throughout the online grocery shopping journey. Consumers discover sponsored items, much like they would in store by being on the right shelf, on an end cap or in the checkout lane.



Sponsored Product placements mirror these in store opportunities and more – whether consumers search, browse and discover, or buy again, Sponsored Products puts relevant products in their sightlines.

One notable difference with Instacart is the geographic considerations: your ads will only be shown to users if there are stores selling your product in that user’s area.

MarinOne is Here to Help


Starting a new ad platform is a big task and it takes a while for the tools to manage and optimize campaigns to mature, especially for larger advertisers with lots of products. That’s where MarinOne comes in.

With Instacart supported in MarinOne, advertisers have the advanced reporting, automation and optimization capabilities we have been refining over the last 15 years. Interactive analytics let you ask questions of your data, flexible charting helps you spot trends or change in your account.

MarinOne’s Insight module automatically identifies opportunities such as Product A/B Testing in your account with estimates of potential value and easy implementation.

The automation tools in Marin make it easy and efficient to manage Instacart Ads campaigns. The optimization tools help identify optimal levels of spend while MarinOne bidding delivers the best possible performance.

Talk to your account manager today to get your Instacart Ads account linked to MarinOne or reach out to our sales team with any further questions.

We’ve added nine new bidding and setup Insights to help advertisers get the most out of digital marketing campaigns and provide them with the tools needed to quickly implement those recommendations.

Here are the new recommendations:

  • Enhanced CPC Identifies Google campaigns using Marin Bidding or Manual Bidding without Enhanced CPC and allows you to easily enable the Enhanced CPC setting
  • Bid Caps: Identifies keywords, ad groups, product groups, and placements performing above the bid strategy efficiency goal whose bids are limited by the Bid Cap setting. Users can then disable or raise the Bid Cap setting unless there is a specific business case to maintain a maximum bid
  • Bid Floors Identifies keywords, ad groups, product groups, and placements performing below the bid strategy efficiency goal whose bids are artificially raised using the Bid Floor setting. Users can disable the Bid Floor unless there is a specific business case to maintain a minimum bid
  • Keyword Bid Overrides Identifies keywords on Bid Override that are in active Bid Strategies. Users can disable these Bid Overrides unless there is a specific business case for manual bid optimization
  • Bidding Reactivity Identifies Marin Bidding Strategies that are not using the Limit Bid Changes under X% setting. Users can enable the Limit Bid Change setting and set it to 25% for affected folders.
  • Keyword Count Identifies ad groups with more than 100 active keywords. Advertisers should segment keywords into multiple ad groups to improve keyword/ad relevancy
  • Ad Count Identifies ad groups with less than 3 active ads. The publishers recommend maintaining at least 3 active ads in each ad group.
  • Invalid Credentials Identifies publisher accounts that require a password update in Marin.
  • Sync Errors Identifies campaigns that have fallen out of sync with Marin.


All Insights are available under the top-level Insights tab, next to your Home tab. For more details about Marin’s Automated Insights check out our original launch announcement.

We’re well underway in the holiday season now with just about a week left until Christmas. Here are a few quick tips to make the most of these last days before the holiday and prepare for the days following.

Budget Planning


Budget planning using the What-If functionality has been around in Marin for a while. We have now improved the tool to allow you to forecast and scenario plan at the bid strategy level. This means that at the individual bid strategy level, you are able to see the total spend you are trending toward for the end of the month, as well as the total number of conversions and revenue.

The What-If functionality is a great way to keep track of your budget, but an even better way to make sure you’re getting the most out of that budget. You can leverage What-If to see what would happen to your conversions or revenue if you were to increase or decrease spend, and the platform will automatically recommend updated targets for your bid strategies. After that, you can just sit back and enjoy the holidays! You can read more about it here

Scheduled Actions


While you may be off from work in the coming days, your search activity will probably continue to run. Marin allows you to schedule work that still needs to get done while you’re off using Dynamic Actions. Scheduled Actions enable you to pause or resume campaigns, groups, or creatives at a specified date and time in the future. This means that you can take your Christmas ad copy offline and reactivate regular creatives through a scheduled task, rather than having to come into the platform to make adjustments. Need to change landing pages once Christmas is over? Schedule a bulk upload over email to process changes while you sit back and relax.

Bid Override


Christmas shopping has been underway for a while--and now it’s crunch time. A great way to increase volume is by looking for keywords or product groups similar to your historic/current top performers, and pushing the bid for similar keywords. Using change columns and filters, look for keywords and product groups that performed well for you last year but are seeing little traction now, and increase their bid:



Don’t think a simple increase will suffice? Switch the keywords to Bid Override for a couple of days, allowing them to gather data with a static bid before Marin Bidding takes over and sets the optimal bid for your targets.

Want to track the impact of what you’re doing? Create a Dimension and tag the keywords so that once the holidays are over, you can analyze how your actions contributed to your results and learn for next year!


Scheduled Boost


Scheduled Boosts are another great way to control and optimize your campaigns from your couch. A boost is a percentage increase or decrease of your bids, meant to align with sudden changes in the market. Depending on your industry , you can probably expect traffic to be less competitive from the 24th through the 26th, for example. Marin allows you to schedule a decrease in your bids to account for that lull.


Excluded Dates


Marin’s algorithms work hard to optimize your advertising spend every day, making sure you get the most for your budget. But sometimes even the algorithms could use some help. Excluded Dates are your way of telling the algorithm which data to disregard.

See that tick box next to Excluded Dates in the above screenshot? This means that we're able to tell the algorithm not to consider certain dates for future bid calculations, based on the dates that were set for a boost. Excluded Dates are important around the holidays when performance varies more than usual. Enter them through a bid strategy, at either the strategy- or account level! You can even set future Excluded Dates, so it’s something you can do ahead of the holiday break.

Automated Alerts


Automated Alerts are another great way to stay on top of your account activity without having to sign into the platform! Alerts allow you to receive an email notification of, for example, campaigns with a strong increase in cost week-over-week, keywords with large drops in conversions day-over-day, or any other change you’d like to be notified of. Alerts rely on filters and recurring reports.

Setting these Automated Alerts up is now easier than ever, as many of the filters required are already built out for you in Marin and available in the Marin subcategory when looking at your saved views.


We want to wish a happy holiday break to all of you and don’t worry, Marin Software has got your back!

It’s time to switch from “work from home” to “celebrate at home.” Although for many of you, this time of the year is also “peak season” at work. Rest assured that Marin Software has put everything in place to provide above-and-beyond customer service, particularly during the critical Black Friday and Cyber Monday events.

Our focus is, of course, our customers in the retail industry that usually reach their highest shopping spend during this exciting time of the year.

Some of the key service enhancements include:

  • Weekend and holiday on-call support: Technical support will be ready to assist via tickets to answer your most pressing platform questions and ensure your holiday campaigns are running smoothly
  • Increased account team availability: Account teams will be available to review setup, strategy and bidding needs specific to your peak seasonality plan
  • Additional application operations: Application monitoring and alerts are in place to ensure timely and accurate data and reporting
  • Custom integration alerts: Data integration checks that confirm conversions and revenue are consistently available and reliable in the application


We want to wish a happy Thanksgiving to all our US-based advertisers! This year has been very challenging and we all deserve some quality time with family and friends, whether via Zoom or together around the dinner table.

Don’t worry, Marin Software has got your back!

Shopping campaigns and managing the feeds that power them is often cumbersome, time consuming and resource intensive. To help with these challenges, Marin has developed an innovative solution called Smartfeed which manages your feed and also updates your account’s structure -- the Marin platform serves as an intermediary which automates the build based on your feed.

So, what is it? How does it work? And how to use it to the fullest?

What is Smartfeed?


Marketers are always looking to improve their feed and shopping activities’ performance, and most solutions available are expensive and solely feed-focused.

By including Smartfeed within your Marin account, marketers not only have the ability to optimize, create and maintain their feed automatically based on their business’ needs, but they are also able to do this in combination with optimizing, creating and maintaining their own shopping structures, with the aim to maximizing reach and efficiency.

While having all this activity in one place saves marketers’ time, Smartfeed also tailors optimizations for each channel’s requirements (such as Google Shopping or Facebook Marketplace). This allows marketers to use rules and other optimizations to apply to the feed at scale, before they are submitted or scheduled to multiple shopping platforms on an automated and recurring basis.

Marketers will also be able to analyse their feed’s structure and performance, report on those numbers and receive alerts based on product performance to understand when and where optimizations are desirable.

What does it solve?


Many of the challenges faced by marketers today revolve around time consuming setups and maintenance of low quality feeds, which also then need to be maintained and optimized in each shopping or marketplace platform.

As seen before, Smartfeed deals efficiently with the time consuming piece as everything sits under the same platform, while low quality feeds can be enhanced by using multiple and new sources to upgrade your feed’s data. Finally, building out and managing your shopping structures will happen straight within Marin on a daily basis, allowing you to tweak your feed’s information and see this change reflected into the Shopping campaigns shortly thereafter.

Maintaining a clear and consistent shopping campaign structure can be tedious and time consuming. Marketers need to spend a lot of time creating all the different objects, only to then spend additional time optimizing the structure itself, as well as maintaining it and removing and adding objects as relevant in order to improve performance.

With Smartfeed, Marin Software takes the heavy lifting out of a marketer’s day to day workflow by automating the build and edition of shopping campaigns as well as automating their optimization.

Smartfeed can use a feed to build out entire shopping structures to include all or specific SKUs in the feed. Multiple level objects can be built, such as campaigns, ad groups, product groups and creatives. Building out the campaigns, for example, can be as simple or complex as required, with Smartfeed’s ability to adjust settings such as budgets, device modifiers or status to name a few.

In addition, Smartfeed integrates fully with Marin’s dimensions feature. This allows marketers to assign dimension values to specific objects, such as ad groups or product groups, with a view to adjust the bids via our Dynamic Actions feature or simply run a granular report across multiple publishers such as Google and Bing.

Finally, ad groups and product groups can be automatically assigned to bidding folders based on information within the feed such as custom labels or product categories. Smartfeed can be set up so that if these are modified, the changes are reflected automatically in the structure in order to make optimizations as precise, custom and easy to implement as possible.

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

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

Learn From the Past


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

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


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

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

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

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

Assure your Presence


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

Targeting


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

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


Budgets & Bids


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


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

Prime Day is a great example of a “rising tide” lifting all retail “ships” - if you are focusing your Prime Day activities exclusively on Amazon Advertising you are likely missing out on a lot of great traffic.

Google search trends highlights how customers are not always starting their Prime Day shopping on Amazon. Instead, we see a healthy amount of people who are still using Google as their starting point - even if they end up converting via Amazon.



Retailers should be ready for an increase in their search impressions as consumers are executing Prime Day focused searches on channels like Google. To take advantage of this increase in traffic, retailers should enable Marin’s Amazon Attribution feature. This feature allows our advertisers to easily see the advertising impression and cost information alongside the purchases that occur on Amazon. This insight allows Marin customers to explore some Prime Day tactics that would otherwise be impossible to measure.

Consider sending non-branded search terms directly to Amazon


During normal time periods, consumers are more likely to buy a product on Amazon.com than on another eCommerce site. Our advertisers have seen this even more strongly during Prime Day for New to Brand shoppers. With Marin and Amazon Attribution configured you have a full view of the search costs and Amazon purchases tied together in MarinOne. Take advantage of the increased search traffic and the “ready to buy” attitude of a Prime Day shopper to achieve higher ROAS on these non branded terms, even after accounting for the higher fees of selling on Amazon vs your site.

Advertise your Prime Day deals on social channels


Highlight your sales, coupons, or lightning deals via social media and retargeting. Prior to Marin’s Amazon Attribution support this tactic would have resulted in social expenditures but zero visibility into the return. Now our advertisers can take advantage of Prime Day buzz and proactively drive customers to their deals and track every step of the way!

Add Prime Day Sitelinks


For Branded terms, advertisers might not want to direct all traffic directly to Amazon, however a Prime Day specific sitelink could be a great opportunity to allow consumers to self select if they prefer to go directly to Amazon. Consider directing the sitelink to your Amazon Store for a more brand focused approach.

Prime Day 2020 is a great opportunity to think outside the box - now that advertisers have access to Amazon Attribution in Marin there is no excuse not to experiment with your search and social traffic on Prime Day.

In the past, Prime Day served to increase demand during an otherwise uneventful buying season, but in 2020 Prime Day is so much more. This year Prime Day is - Prime Day, Back to (in person) School Shopping, a prelude to Cyber 5, and the beginning of the retail holiday season.

That is a lot to pin on an event that has just been officially announced on October 13th and 14th.

With so much uncertainty in the world and around this event, let’s focus on a few things we know for sure:

Prime Day 2020 will see an increase of traffic on a wider range of products than in a normal year.


In previous years, 49% of Prime Day shoppers said they were planning to use the event to shop for the holidays. However as Prime Day is now nearly 3 months later than it was in 2019, retailers should expect that percentage to increase. An increase in gift focused shopping will lead to a shift in the type of product categories that traditionally fare well on Prime Day.

In a typical year Electronics are the biggest seller but in 2020 I would expect some of the lower categories like Toys and Games along with Beauty & Personal Care to move up the ranks as shoppers are buying less for themselves and more for others.





































































RankBrandPurchasesYoY Growth1Electronics4.43M–2Home & Kitchen3.72M+15%3Health & Household2.80M+28%4Amazon Devices2.789M+26%5Beauty & Personal Care2.05M+27%6Clothing, Shoes & Jewelry1.73M-8%7Sports & Outdoors1.56M-4%8Tools & Home Improvement1.52M+19%9Toys & Games1.16M+18%10Grocery & Gourmet Food897K+26%
Source: Hitwise, US. www.amazon.com. July 15-16 2019 vs. July 16-17 2018.

Tip - To ensure you are prepared for the traffic increase on a wider variety of products, use Marin’s Amazon Keyword Expansion feature to ensure complete coverage prior to Prime Day then be sure to use again after the event to bulk up your targeting for the rest of 2020 shopping or to add negative keywords to increase efficiency of your campaigns.

Prime Day Success is Not Measured in Same Day ROAS


Prime Day will obviously increase sales for many advertisers, however this year more marketers are moving away from measuring success in terms of ROAS. The unique timing of the event is resulting in many brands willing to target a lower ROAS in exchange for expanding top of funnel reach in preparation for Cyber 5.

Tip - Amazon suggests increasing bids significantly (they recommend up to 2x) in order to remain competitive during Prime Day. This can be a labor intensive process in the Amazon Console and requires you to manually execute the adjustments. In Marin you can easily achieve this result with a few clicks and reverting to the previous level is even easier.

Prime Day this year will not be the usual “Buy in July” but it will be seen as the official start of the 2020 Holiday Buying Season. Take advantage of this timing to look beyond Prime Day performance and instead use it as a building block for your future Cyber 5 and Holiday activities.

What are Automated Insights?


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

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

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

Automated Insights in MarinOne are designed to

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


How Insights Work


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

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



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

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

What Insights Help You Do


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

Examples of our Insights Include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Benefits:


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

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

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

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

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

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.







We recently wrote a blog on The Power of Web Queries, a type of scheduled report in MarinOne that is hosted on a URL and automatically updated with the most recent data. These are fully customizable reports, right down to the date range, activity type and even how often the data is refreshed.

The flexible nature of Web Queries means that marketers can automatically import their data directly into Microsoft Excel instead of having to manually download their data and then import into Excel, saving you endless hours of time spent generating reports manually. You can even create dashboards and templates in Excel, which get updated with the most recent data at the click of a button.

The New and Improved Web Query Reports


Since our earlier blog post, we’ve made further enhancements to our Web Query reporting capabilities to not only allow data to be automatically imported into Excel, but now into Google Sheets too.

You’re probably asking why use Google Sheets? What’s the benefit? Well, here’s a few…

  • Due to the cloud-based nature of Google Sheets, collaboration between multiple users makes a marketers workflow easier and faster
  • Built-in revision history
  • No need to constantly press “Save” due to Google Sheets’ auto-save functionality
  • Real-time chat window with colleagues
  • Access to your Google Sheet and data from any computer/device
  • Refreshing of data is automatic on an hourly cadence - no manual intervention needed
  • Ability to control access levels to the data, i.e. Read-Only, Edit or Comment access
  • Share the data easily with management and stakeholders
  • The data can also be synced into big data tools from Google Sheets for enhanced customization and reporting i.e. Google Data Studio
  • Pricing – Google Sheets is completely free to use


Setting Up Web Query Reports for Google Sheets


Once you’ve generated your Web Query report from MarinOne, copy the URL and open up a Google Sheet then follow the steps below.

Click into a cell and type =IMPORTHTML(

  • This function / formula imports data into a Google Sheet from a table within a HTML page such as Marin’s Web Query reports that are hosted on a URL


The syntax format is =IMPORTHTML("url", "query", index)

  • url – The URL of the page to be examined, including protocol (e.g. https://).
    This is where you paste the Web Query report URL that you generated in MarinOne

  • The URL must be enclosed in quotation marks


  • query – Either "table" or "list" can be used, depending on what type of structure contains the data
    For Marin’s Web Query reports, it will be the query "table", and make sure to also enclose it in quotation marks


  • index – The index, starting at 1, which identifies which table or list (as defined in the HTML source) should be returned
    For Marin’s Web Query reports, there are three tables to choose from (as shown in the image below)




Your formula should look like the example below. Make sure that each syntax is separated with a comma.

=importhtml("https://one.marinsoftware.com","table",3)

  • Once you hit enter, the data will be imported into the Google Sheet from the Web Query report
  • Once you have the data into the spreadsheet, you’ll need to set the criteria for the data to be refreshed;Click File >> Spreadsheet settings >> in the pop up, click Calculation >> change the recalculation to ‘On change and every hour’ >> click Save Settings




Google will now automatically refresh the data on an hourly cadence, so you can be sure that the most recent data is up-to-date - There’s no need to manually refresh like you have to in Excel

Why not give it a try and enhance your workflow with our latest update? And if you haven’t already, check our earlier blog on Web Query reports: The Power of Web Queries.



Reporting is often a mundane and repetitive task. How much time do you spend on reporting? If that answer is too much, then keep on reading.

Every marketer's dream is to spend as little time on reporting as possible. The fact is that the less time you spend on reporting, the more time you have to spend on your marketing strategy, campaign optimization or perhaps testing something completely new.

One of the key benefits of using MarinOne is its web query functionality.

In a nutshell, web queries enable you to pull data from a website's URL straight into Microsoft Excel. The web query format creates an automated report that is posted to a static URL every time the report is processed.

Web query reports in MarinOne are designed to let users take advantage of their existing reports and have the application update the data on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, saving you literally hours a week by not having to pull reports manually.

As you can imagine, the possibilities with web queries are endless. Below we have outlined a few examples of the web query alerts and reports that we tend to recommend.

Performance-based alerts and reports:


  • Poor performing campaigns, groups, creatives or keywords
  • Strong performing campaigns, groups, creatives or keywords
  • High potential keywords and search queries
  • Campaign, group, keyword coverage change
  • Low CTR/conversion rate creatives, keywords
  • Performance by match type
  • KPIs that have been achieved by certain objects in a given timeframe
  • Mobile vs. desktop performance


QA-based alerts and reports:


  • Disapproved creatives
  • Missing Google Analytics parameters
  • Active groups with less than two creatives



Example: Cross channel Dashboard build by using Web Queries



Setting Up Web Query Reports


Now that you know when to use web queries, how can you create one?

If you are using Windows, you can follow the below steps:

  1. Create a recurring report in MarinOne and select Excel Web Query as the format
  2. You can then run your report and click save.
  3. Right-click on the URL for the Excel link and select Copy Shortcut.
  4. In Excel, open the workbook where you wish to import the data. From the Data menu, select From Web under Get External Data.
  5. Paste the link you copied into the address bar and your report will be loaded into the window.
  6. You can choose which section of your report to import by checking boxes placed next to each table in the report.
  7. Click Import and you will be asked to specify the location for the report and you will have to enter your Marin credentials when prompted. If you wish to have the data in the report, refresh automatically when the file is opened, click Properties and select the Refresh Data When Opening File option.
  8. Click OK and your data will be imported into the workbook at the location you specified. This data range will be refreshed whenever you select Refresh All from the Data menu (or automatically, if you choose that option). Simply link your existing output report to this data section and your report will be updated.


As mentioned, web queries will help you save time and hopefully enhance your day-to-day workflow. If there are any questions or you would like to know more, don't hesitate to contact us.

Increasing the reach of your Facebook campaigns can be challenging due to a variety of factors outside of your control as a digital marketer, such as spending more money, changing your end goal, or altering the Facebook algorithm. Since updating campaigns based on those components is usually unrealistic, you can consider these five recommendations--all of which can be used immediately, and in any combination, but do not replace testing each element of your campaigns on a regular basis.

Expanding Audiences


It’s easy to get tunnel vision around your top performing audiences and run those until the wheels fall off. But when your remarketing audience and your favorite prospecting audience are fully taxed, you will eventually be unable to pull any more value out of them. When the reach of your campaigns grows stale and the cost for reaching that next potential customer is not sustainable, it’s time to find new relevant audiences.

There are three easy avenues for uncovering new audiences that have endless possibilities. First: lookalike audiences. Even if you are already running one lookalike audience, you can still adjust the percentage of similarity to find new prospects. If you are concerned about moving too far from that initial high-value seed audience, you can use banded lookalike audiences and combine multiple levels; for example, a 3-5% banded lookalike audience.

Second: brainstorming additional interests to include in prospecting. Don’t limit yourself to just one way of thinking. Set up audiences around competitor targeting, complimentary companies, or demographic specific interests.

Finally, Marin Software offers a program called Automatic Search Intent. By breaking down that barrier between Search and Social, we are able to automatically build campaigns based on similar keywords to expand your retargeting and lookalike options.

Auto-Placement


It is possible to be too hands-on with your campaign mix. Checking daily on performance-by-placement and making decisions to eliminate the lowest performing ads by clicks, spend, or impressions will take a negative toll on your reach. Facebook wants your campaigns to be successful because, after all, the better you perform, the more you’re likely to spend on new ads. Because of this, placements that are under-performing already receive a fraction of the stronger placements. Additionally, there’s a limited amount of ad space inventory available. The option for your ad to run isn’t necessarily a Right Column ad vs. a Newsfeed ad; it’s typically that Right Column ad vs. not serving at all.

Reducing Text in Images


Gone are the days of your ads being denied if text filled more than 20% of the image. However, that doesn’t mean you are free to fill the image of your ad with an overabundance of text. If your ad is more than 20% text, Facebook will reduce the reach of your ad, driving the cost of doing business up. Avoid this problem by using text sparingly throughout the image of the ad and fully utilizing the text fields available. If you really have a lot to say about your product or service, provide that on a landing page. Those who are interested in your offering will click to learn more.

Creating Relevant Ads


Last year, Facebook phased out its metric of Relevance Score and replaced it with: Quality Ranking, Engagement Rate Ranking, and Conversion Rate Ranking. These three rankings specifically factor in the audience used, comparing your performance to those targeting similar audiences. Ad relevance goes beyond these scores, since Facebook is often the first time a potential customer has heard of your business. Being vague or misleading to drive traffic to your website, or misrepresenting your offering on Facebook, will begin to limit the number of people you are able to reach. When building your ads, think about what solution you are looking to provide and whether every piece of your creative aids in that goal.

Include High Funnel Activity in Your Ad Mix


We recently posted a blog about how to build a social media marketing funnel. In that blog, we discuss the importance of including top-of-funnel objectives, so that not every ad is pushing for those more expensive conversion goals regardless of where the prospective customer came from. Including a top-of-funnel objective, like video views or engagement, can dramatically increase your reach. The average number of times a prospect needs to see an ad before becoming a customer, but regardless of what that number is, it’s rarely the first time your ad is served. By making the first couple touches a $0.01 video view instead of a $1.00 link click, you can build that reach without breaking the bank.

Conclusion


Using these five ways to improve the reach of your campaigns opens up the ability to thoroughly test your ads, reduce the cost of getting in front of your audiences, and maximize down-funnel events. Facebook campaigns reward innovation, and running the same ad to the same audience for any extended period of time begins to provide diminishing returns. Instead of waiting for your ads to dip in performance, start implementing these tips to add growth and longevity to your Facebook ads.

Finally, Marin Software has a managed service offering. Included in that, our team will review existing campaigns and set up new efficiencies to increase your reach. Learn more about our Managed Services offering and schedule a demo today!

In recent months, brands and retailers have had to adapt to a pandemic that no one saw coming, and one thing is for certain: engagement on sponsored content is increasing with more people at home and on social media. And while the pros of influencer marketing were prevalent to brands prior to COVID-19 (building trust and credibility, expanding your brand’s reach, etc), this new landscape requires both brands and influencers to adapt quickly to a market where priorities have shifted, consumers may be more sensitive, and actions may be more highly scrutinized.

Let’s take a look at how influencer marketing has evolved in recent years, what has changed during the COVID-19 crisis, and what brands can do now to stay impactful and relevant.

The Old and the New


In a 2019 benchmark report by Influencer Marketing Hub, 92% of consumers believed that influencer marketing was an effective form of marketing. Due in part to features like Checkout on Instagram, which allows consumers to select from various options such as size or color and proceed to payment without leaving Instagram, 83% of consumers surveyed claimed to purchase items that are advertised by influencers.

The influencer marketing platform market is also growing at incredible scale as brands and agencies look to foster deeper connections with consumers being “influenced.”. With over 300 new influencer marketing-focused platforms and agencies entering the market in 2019, brands can now easily discover potential influencers, develop relationships with influencers, and run campaigns.

And while Instagram continues to dominate influencer marketing, other digital platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn increasingly play a pivotal role in extending a brand’s reach to engaged audiences.

Upon the introduction of COVID-19, the average screen time has increased and consumer habits have shifted, meaning that brands need to be vigilant about hitting all digital platforms more than ever. During this unprecedented event, trusted social media influencers continue to be a reliable source of information and an effective, authentic way to communicate with target audiences.



Here are some best practices for influencer marketing in the wake of COVID-19.

Best Practices


  • Understanding Data Trends: How have social mentions of your brand or category (i.e. skincare, cereal, workout clothes) changed? Make sure to keep track of your website traffic, likes, and consumer engagement with videos, etc. across all social platforms. This information can help determine your content strategy, so you can continue building strong relationships with your followers.
  • Adjusting the Distribution of Content: In the past two months, brands have transitioned to more video and live stream campaigns than pictures. With everyone working from home, brands should take advantage of the time people spend on their computers, TV’s and smart phones during the day with these more dynamic forms of content.
  • Staying Adaptable and Sensitive: The term “home-influencer” is making its mark, as brands adapt their products and messaging to fit the needs of the “stay-at-home” consumer. Consider hosting virtual events with your influencer of choice, and co-host a cooking class, a make-up tutorial, or a live Q&A. Many brands are also showing their solidarity by including messaging pertaining to “stay-at-home” orders, highlighting their commitment to employees, shipping policies, and customer experience. At the end of the day, you always want to ask yourself, “How can I continue helping our employees and customers?” and make sure that notion is conveyed in the co-marketing efforts with influencers.


A good example of a brand effectively using influencer marketing is Alo Yoga. With spin classes, weight rooms and other fitness venues closed temporarily, health & wellness brands are creating unique ways for people to continue their daily workout routines during COVID-19 to stay active at home. The team at Alo Yoga entered into a partnership with influencer Callie Gullickson, who helped promote a workout series called Sweat & Tone (hosted on Instagram Live). Not only did Callie help increase awareness of the brand with her extensive following, but Alo Yoga also increased customer engagement with highly intensive workouts, which resulted in more traffic to its website, and better brand recognition and loyalty in a highly competitive space.


What to Expect in 2020 and Beyond


With demands shifting, and as both brands and influencers need to output the right kind of content in order to strive in a post-COVID climate, we can expect a lot more storytelling, with influencers showing their followers how they adapt to life at home and how different brands play into their new routines. Live content will also continue to become more popular, as professionals from all industries look for safe ways to stay connected, from athletic trainers to business consultants to live performers. Not to mention the element of authenticity and humanity Instagram Live brings to users.

The most human brands will continue to come out on top, especially the ones that invest in building long-lasting connections with their customers and partake in cultural conversations that are considered important to their target demographic. And, as the near-term effects of the coronavirus outbreak continue to be felt across the global economy, businesses and creators in the influencer marketing industry will continue to adapt to the new “consumer state of mind” by developing strategies with active listening of their consumers’ needs and determining how their brand fits into people’s new routines under #socialdistancing.

What is Amazon Attribution?


Amazon Attribution allows advertisers to measure the impact of non-Amazon search, social, display, email, and video media channels that drive searchers to buy your products on Amazon. Examples include third party search ads that lead directly to Amazon product pages, keywords with sitelinks, and social media advertising that directs users to purchase directly on Amazon.

Amazon Attribution reports contain publisher metrics such as impressions and clicks, as well as Amazon conversion metrics, such as detailed page views, add to carts, and purchases.

Why does Amazon Attribution matter?


If you are selling on Amazon, some of the customers you are reaching with other paid media may be converting on Amazon and this is almost certainly a blind spot when you are measuring the ROI of that media.



Amazon Attribution allows advertisers to better understand the impact of their paid search, social and eCommerce channels together. This reporting also provides a holistic view of how each marketing tactic contributes to a brand's shopping activity on Amazon.

How does Amazon Attribution work?


Amazon Attribution requires adding attribution tags to the click-through URL of your third party search ads (or other media to be tracked). Once you’ve implemented your attribution tags and your ads are being measured, Amazon Attribution is then able to report which campaigns, channels, ads, or keywords help to drive conversions for your brand on Amazon. Advertisers can decide where they place attribution tags to determine the level of their reporting output.

How should I use Amazon Attribution data?


Now that Amazon Attribution conversions are available for third party search and social ads, advertisers can use this reporting as part of their search and social workflow and optimization strategies.

In summary, Amazon Attribution provides an excellent tool for brands to understand how non-Amazon media is helping to drive sales for their brand on Amazon. It also allows advertisers to develop optimization and budgeting strategies across paid media channels that will ultimately increase efficacy and ROI. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo with one of our account representatives today!

Setting up a funnel for your social media channels is a vital step for sustainable, long-term growth. For marketers, it's valuable to understand the path that your customers move through at each point of the user journey, from the moment they become aware of your brand, to their first purchase, to their evolution into a repeat and loyal customer. In this article, we will cover why you should build a funnel, what to consider while setting it up, and how to monitor the funnel’s success. The objectives referred to will be Facebook-specific, but this model can and should be implemented on any social channel that can incorporate retargeting.

Why You Need a Funnel


It’s convenient to build a set of campaigns to help achieve your ultimate goal of conversions or purchases. The strategy makes reporting easy to navigate and gives you a clear view of which campaigns are performing well, and which ones need to be fixed. But when performance begins to lag behind, there isn’t enough data available to make an informed decision, or your prized retargeting audience starts to outpace your organic traffic, a funnel can help change your trajectory.

The primary goal of a funnel is to feed your favorite retargeting audiences, while weeding out those unlikely to convert. Wasting money on clicks from those that don’t know who you are, who don’t trust your website, or have no intent to use your product or service, does not lend itself to growth. And while increasing social media spend exclusively for lower-funnel conversion campaigns is the obvious thing to do, you also need to think more strategically and guide prospects through a series of steps to get them to take the actions you want. A good marketing funnel will nurture its prospects with relevant messaging at every stage, resulting in incremental performance, more brand loyalty, and less wasted ad spend.

The Four Stages of a Funnel


In its early days, social media was primarily known as a brand awareness tool. However, more recently, and especially in light of COVID-19, its power to influence individuals and build their relationships with brands has become more apparent. After all, someone may become a brand advocate of your company through various touchpoints and interactions.



With today’s customer journey being more multi-dimensional, the marketing funnel is as applicable today as it has ever been. Social media’s ability to influence every single part of the funnel makes it a powerful tool for today’s businesses, particularly those in the consumer market.

Creating a Funnel for Your Facebook Campaigns


Facebook advertising presents a perfect example of how social media can be used throughout the customer journey. Facebook’s ad objectives are already categorized by the different stages we’ve highlighted above, and its ad types are specifically used for engaging users at the various stages.

Your social media funnel will likely start off as a simple structure with only 2-3 steps in the user journey. Things to consider when structuring your funnel are the difficulty and likelihood for the potential customer to complete an action. For example, watching a video on Facebook is easy and frequent, but taking out your credit card to buy a product on a website off of Facebook is difficult and rare (comparatively).

For this example, we will also include a step in the middle: Landing Page Views, which are less common than video views, but more common than website purchases.

So, we have our customer journey:



However, we don’t quite have that funnel shape. If we target the same audience for all three of our campaigns, the cost will be similar to if we never set up a funnel, and we may actually drive up costs by bidding against ourselves. To prevent this issue, we need to use Custom Audiences. The top of the funnel should be as broad as it can be, while still being relevant to your goal. The middle should be targeted to audiences that have shown some interest, like watching 25% of the video, while the bottom of the funnel should be reserved for those that have made it to your website and taken action.



Building these audiences take time and, in many cases, requires advertisers to start from scratch. You will also want to ensure that the potential reach of your audiences is sizable (Ads Manager provides audience summary information about the Audience Reach) and that you’ve set the right ad budget by evaluating product margins and monthly revenue goals.

Ongoing Success with a Social Media Marketing Funnel


Having diversified campaigns and audiences will now provide stability to performance and open a greater opportunity for testing. In addition to having a social media funnel setup, your reporting will likely change too. If your initial goal before was to increase revenue, that still remains the same, but remember to factor each step of the customer’s journey into your success metrics. The key to ongoing success is making sure your retargeting audience is always being updated and that you are always reevaluating your tactics to make sure they align with the objective of each stage.

Marin Software has an in-house Managed Services team that can help you create your social media marketing funnel, optimize your audiences, build a set of recurring reports to ensure your goals are met, and much more. Learn more about our Managed Services offering and schedule a demo today!

For many of us, our shopping habits have been forced online. The stay-at-home orders, radical shifts in demand, undersupplied distribution channels, and difficulties with supply chains have disrupted our usual behaviors and required us to shop in new ways, and away from brick-and-mortar locations. .

Even before the dramatic changes from COVID-19, online shopping was overtaking a major part of retail. With the introduction of a global pandemic, home delivery has become a serious competitive advantage, and brands all over the world are searching for ways to enhance this game-changing strategy that will most likely continue – perhaps even flourish ­– long after this crisis is resolved.

While many marketers may see home delivery as purely operational, primarily for a company’s logistics and supply-chain teams, there are ways that advertising technology can help and contribute to a more ideal user experience for the end-customer.

Inventory Data & Integrating Business Intelligence


The most powerful weapon performance marketers have is their own data. For eCommerce advertisers, specifically tied to delivery and operation logistics, inventory is a pivotal data point that should be ingested into all aspects of digital programs. The inclusion of inventory data allows for the changes of creatives and bid adjustments to align with the availability of certain products.

This can support the quest for seamless home delivery through the ability to sunset campaigns for certain products that are running low in inventory and will sell organically. As consumers, we all know there is nothing more frustrating than clicking an ad only to realize the product is out of stock, or that delivery will take an additional few weeks to complete.

Marin Software is an open stack platform so we can take full advantage of all your available data sources —including your inventory, CRM, data warehouse, publisher data, and additional third-party signals. Marin’s SmartFeed product automatically activates or pauses your campaigns based on inventory levels. Furthermore, it also automatically compares your optimized feed with actual converted search terms, so that you can see missing words from the title and split test to improve performance.

Ad Creatives


Estimated delivery time is set to become a unique selling point and competitive advantage, particularly as smaller, independent retailers try to compete with Amazon Prime. A simple way to convey your delivery times is within your ad creatives. By structuring your programs with geography in mind, you can control the information within the ad creatives to indicate an estimated delivery time to the user.

Additionally, creatives should include delivery cost and/or any import duties a consumer may need to pay, in order to keep it entirely transparent with potential customers (this also helps with brand loyalty in the long run). If you can, include inventory too!

With Marin’s Dynamic Campaigns, you can automatically build keywords and creatives from a product feed and campaign template, so that all the pertinent information we just covered is seamlessly populated.

Optimization


As many advertisers shift their attention from acquisition to retention, securing any revenues they have, the user experience is becoming an increasingly important element for purchase consideration. For many businesses, it’s possible that certain products or geographies can’t render as competitive a delivery service. It’s important to use this logic in your optimization and budget allocation strategies across your digital activity.

In the areas you are more competitive, be aggressive with your bids and budget allocation--you’re a champion in this sphere. This can be done easily through applying modifier logic within your AdTech tool, or leveraging a partner like Marin Software, whose platform has built-in forecasting and budget allocation tools to do the work for you.

Communication


Once an order has been made, the fulfillment experience begins. As customers, we all like to know when our purchase will arrive, thus communicating fulfillment progress is pivotal. The integration of order fulfillment and email marketing technology is an important component in this process.

Offering services such as free tracking and text updates is a great way to keep customers up-to-date. As we focus on retention and customer experience, these regular updates demonstrate that your operation is a business that cares about more than a simple transaction.

One, perhaps extreme, example comes from the mainstream pizza delivery brands like Dominos, which have an order tracking app to keep customers informed of each stage of their pizza’s journey to delivery. Updating regularly through order-received, including the preparation, cooking quality control and out for delivery, the platform makes sure customers stay up-to-date on exactly when their meal will arrive. This, of course, is a level of detail that not all brands will need, or have the resources for, however it shows what can be achieved.

Conclusion


To summarize, ad tech can support your quest to champion online delivery by automating the ad creatives to dynamically update per the user’s specific criteria. Within your creatives, your customer should clearly be able to understand the delivery time, cost and terms straight off the bat. Furthermore, you should leverage first-party inventory and shipping data, combined with audience data, to give you the biggest advantage over your competitors.

Should you want to have a conversation on how Marin Software can help you champion your online delivery strategy, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our account management team by scheduling a demo today!

Digital technology is available in its many forms to help you work faster. For marketing in particular, technology can improve the quality of your marketing output and ultimately help you generate more revenue and leads.

With that said, today’s unprecedented shift is creating the urgent need for brands and their partners to think outside the box and pivot quickly. Furthermore, it also surfaces a time to evaluate different tech stacks and see which tools can help increase their performance and efficiency.

Evaluating the right advertising technology for the job will come down to many factors, and reaching the best decision for your organization will take considerable time and effort that will likely involve you engaging in substantial research in order to get it right.

It’s important to ask yourself the right questions so you can narrow down your search. Think about questions such as:

  • What level of visibility or reporting does the product provide for forecasting versus actual results? Is it able to integrate with any of the advanced data visualization tools that I use on a day-to-day?
  • Does the vendor support multiple channels? Does the platform integrate with all major search engines and ad exchanges?
  • What support does the vendor provide for audience activation, and for which channels?
  • What level of integration does the solution have with our organization’s current technologies? How does it integrate with different data feeds or analytics solutions?
  • Does the platform enable dynamic delivery of personalized ads for the end-customer?
  • What level of support would they provide for any account escalations or questions?


Once you’ve answered these questions, and the answers are suitable to your company’s needs, it’s time to trial your options. Going back to the dawn of humankind, when it comes to problem solving, trial and error has always been one of the fundamental methods. Cavemen would test which weapon would kill Benny the mammoth most efficiently, while our old friend Julius Caesar would stage many different kinds of gladiator fights in order to see what the Roman people enjoyed most.

Full-service tools can get expensive quickly (even if you’re just trial-and-erroring), and most digital marketers are limited on budgets. Luckily, there are many instances in which you can get a free taste of what a product can offer (also known as the freemium model). There may be limited usage of the product, but you’ll likely get a solid understanding of its core value and if it addresses the needs of your business.

At Marin Software, we offer Marin Go, which helps you experience the power of MarinOne (our flagship product), without committing to a platform fee. You can then upgrade to MarinOne at any time.

With Marin Go you can:

  • Aggregate data from multiple channels into a single comprehensive dashboard. Marin Go can link up to accounts from 10+ publishers, including Google, Bing, Facebook, Apple Search Ads, LinkedIn, & Amazon. You can schedule reports to be collected, curated, and sent straight to your inbox in CSV format (or linking back to the platform).
  • Track budget pacing for the month and preview capabilities from our premium tool, MarinOne, including automated budget allocation and machine-learning bid optimization.
  • Ask questions of your performance using powerful, interactive reporting with change columns, flexible date ranges, saved views, and more.
  • Automate the preparation of polished executive-level and client-ready PDF reports.
  • Improve campaign performance with actionable suggestions and insights from our Account Performance Audits.
  • Automatically A/B test creatives.


If you are interested in trialing an enterprise-class reporting tool for free, and evaluating a tech stack that can incorporate data from all your different marketing channels, sign up now with Marin Go! We believe every advertiser should have the tools to break down publisher silos. Simply link in your accounts to start enjoying the benefits 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.

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

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



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

Dynamic Actions


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

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

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


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

Omnichannel Reporting


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

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


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

Augmenting Your Cross-Channel Strategy


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

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


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

Auto-populating Dimensions


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

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

Actions by Dimensions


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

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


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

Conclusion


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

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



What do we expect to happen next:

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

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





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

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


Learn More


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

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







Due to COVID-19, many businesses have been forced to suspend operations or drastically shift their models to endure. With government officials now talking about re-opening the economy, marketers are starting to think about what that “new normal” might look like and how it’s going to evolve in the weeks ahead.

What marketers should be doing now differs from what they should be doing when economic activity restarts. In this webinar, we’ll explore both sides - during and post-pandemic - to equip you with short-term practical tips to address your current challenges as well as best practices to consider when your business returns to growth.

Five Successful Strategies


In our webinar, we’ll cover on the how-to’s and benefits of each of the following advertising tactics:

  1. Dynamic product data updates and safeguards
  2. New to Brand optimization
  3. Inventory based bid adjustments
  4. Amazon Attribution
  5. Automated bidding and Dayparting


We’re excited to share with you the means and methods being used by some of the world’s largest brands to drive success in digital commerce.

Learn More


Sign up today to join us on Wednesday, May 20th, at 10am BST.

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

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



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

  1. Monitor CPA


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

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


  1. Getting Close to Spend Cap


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

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


  1. Impression Share is Dropping


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

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


  1. Check Keywords


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

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


  1. Ads Not Converting


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

Is my messaging correct?

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

Should I change my bidding strategy?

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

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

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

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

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



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

We’ve recently decided to do an experiment to see whether an On-Demand webinar would attract more viewers than the typical approach of picking a date and broadcasting the webinar live.

Marin regularly hosts “live webinars” and we typically get thousands of participants, but only about half the viewers attend the live session, the rest view the webinar when we send out the recording. In a Netflix world, our hypothesis was that people would prefer to have the content right away and by offering immediate access to the webinar, we would get better results. So we decided to do a test.

During this tough time for everyone, we wanted to share our results as they might be helpful for you to engage with your audience by hosting webinars while most of us are working remotely and self-isolating. Now is probably the best time to create more digital content to reach out to your customers.

Evaluating Engagement Metrics

First and foremost with a test, you want to define how you measure success. We have two goals for webinars: 1) Generate new leads who might be interested in our digital marketing platform 2) Build our position as thought leaders in the market by presenting amazing content that delivers actionable suggestions for digital marketings.

With these two goals, the key metrics are registrants and attendees. Moving forwards, two more important metrics are “Audience Retention” and “Audience Engagement”. In order to really measure the success of our webinar, we firstly view how many people started watching our content and how many dropped off during the session. Finally, did the audience engage with us during the Q&A session?

The Test

The test methodology was straight forward, we split our audience randomly into two groups, half received a series of emails inviting the users to a live webinar approximately three weeks from the first email. The second group received the same emails, but the call to action was to view the webinar on demand at their convenience.







Which One Wins?

We pulled out the results and here is what we’ve got:







So more registrations, more attendees and deeper engagement with the content for the live approach. We were shocked, clearly our hypothesis was wrong and people are more attracted to a live event. While the test was done in a pre COVID-19 world, we would expect the results to hold up as people are looking for opportunities for social interaction to break up their solitary days at home.

Ready to learn more?

Whilst we are all at home in isolation, now is the perfect time to get free training on Digital Advertising content. Marin has a list of webinars with the best practices in Digital Advertising, starting from Outsmart Smart Bidding to Amazon Advertising to Developing a Successful Marketing Strategy with Instagram Stories. Get Started Now!

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

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

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


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

2. Incorporate social media

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

3. Localize your branded content

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

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

Some tips on how to localize your branded content include:

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


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

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

Learn More

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

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

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


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

We all have our own online shopping styles. Some of us like to shop on our morning commute, some on the soccer sideline on Saturday mornings, others in the evening, glass of wine and credit card ready.

Where are many of these shoppers turning their online attention to these days?

The short answer: Amazon.

Giving Amazon the Time of Day


Amazon now has over 90 million U.S.-based Prime subscribers. What do these subscribers do? They order from Amazon. A lot. On average, Prime users places 60 orders a year.

Today, advertisers know their peak selling times and can act on that information. It's safe to say that most advertisers are happy to pay more for customers who are more likely to purchase. This is where digital advertisers can greatly benefit from having a dayparting strategy in place.

What Is Dayparting?


For those not already in the know: dayparting is a term that broadcast programmers created. It essentially refers to scheduling broadcasts during optimal times of the day.

In pay-per-click advertising, the term refers to scheduled increases or decreases on search keyword bids. This way, advertisers can increase their bids/visibility during peak converting hours or promotions.

dayparting


Dayparting with Amazon Advertising


Since Amazon Advertising is so new, it doesn’t yet have dayparting functionality. However, Amazon advertisers experience changes in sales based on time of day and day of week, and should consider layering a keyword bid multiplier. The bid multiplier reflects the expected change in keyword performance for a given time of day or day of week.

This is where Marin’s dayparting tool for Amazon automates bid change strategies, based on conversion data, to ensure an advertiser has the right bid at the right time.

Advertisers who manage their Amazon accounts via Marin’s platform can view, create, edit, and delete bid schedules of a single Amazon campaign or across multiple campaigns. You can make bid schedules different for each hour or set them up in blocks. You can also set them up separately for each day, or make them different for weekdays compared to weekends or the same on all days.

In Marin, setting up dayparting for bidding is user-friendly and easy to decipher:

dayparting


Learn More


If you’d like to learn more about this feature and Marin’s bidding support for Amazon, please reach out to your account rep. Or, if you’re new to Marin and would like to start getting the most out of your Amazon Advertising, schedule a demo today.

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

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

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

Findings


ROAS trended down

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



2019 ad spend increase lags into late November

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





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

Spike in pre-Black Friday CPCs

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



A boon for Google Shopping

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


More trends ahead


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

According to Amazon, last year’s Cyber Monday was the biggest shopping day event in history. It was part of a record-breaking holiday season that included Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the weekend, i.e., the "Cyber Five."

Marin’s ad management platform showed that during last year’s Black Friday weekend, clicks and ad spend were up in the US by 53% and 81%, respectively. Cyber Monday also posted 40% growth in clicks and 105% growth in ad spend for the US.

Although both events originated in the US, Marin’s data shows that advertisers in the UK and Europe are rallying around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, too—while the US leads in overall ad spend for Black Friday (81%) and Cyber Monday (105%), the UK runs a close second, followed by Europe.

It’s clear that for brands Black Friday weekend is simply to good an opportunity to miss. So, to help you maneuver through the upcoming spending sprees and plan for a successful holiday season, we’ve put together some advice.

Advertising on Amazon is a Must-Do


Are you selling products online either via your website or a third party? If the answer is yes, then Amazon Advertising is a must!

Advertising on Amazon can be an easy way to promote your listings and get your products noticed when people are shopping for similar items. There are three advertising solutions:

  • Sponsored Products for promoting individual listings
  • Sponsored Brands for registered brand owners to promote their brand and product portfolio
  • Sponsored Display, a newer ad type bringing over the legacy Product Display Ads from the Amazon DSP


These solutions can give your products a visibility boost and maximize sales by highlighting your products to a new audience.

Sponsored Products

Amazon Sponsored Products ads are a type of paid advertising where you’re only charged when a consumer clicks your ad (pay-per-click). Keywords trigger the ads, and they also drive the consumer to a product detail page within Amazon. The ads can be displayed on top of, alongside, or within search results and on product pages, and can appear on both desktop and mobile.

Sponsored Products ads can help you grow sales on Amazon by reaching consumers searching for products like yours and driving them to your product page. This ad type can increase eligibility and placement status for your top Buy Box offers, and help grow your new and low-exposure Amazon Standard Identification Numbers.

Sponsored Brands

As with Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands are a type of paid advertising where you’re only charged when a consumer clicks your ad. Note that this ad type is only available for professional sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, vendors, booksellers, and agencies. You can display your ads at the top of, alongside, or within search results, on both desktop and mobile.

Sponsored Brands ads can help drive discovery of your brand. They’re great for generating awareness of a new product, promoting seasonal items, or creating more demand for a bestseller. They also allow you to drive consumers to your Store page, custom URL, or a bestselling product page.

Three Tactics to Fine-tune Your Amazon Keyword Strategy


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

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

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

Conquest Competitively

What this means: Target keywords of brands and products that are similar to yours.

Play offense with your keywords, and target complementary brands and products to capture users similar to your buyers. Be strategic about how you bid on these terms versus your own. A product that’s in parallel with yours is worth a higher bid, as opposed to an entire brand that has a number of out-of-category, dissimilar products.

Protect Your Brand

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

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

Test and Harvest

What this means: See what works and run with it. Use the rest of your keywords to prospect and build your upper funnel. Target complementary product keywords and out-of-category keywords to grab users who are active in other, related purchase cycles.

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

Good luck with your Amazon Advertising and this year’s Cyber Five!

As many holiday shoppers tie the last few ribbons on their gifts this year, the last-minute stragglers (no shame here) are planning to catch eleventh-hour sales and deals.

Here are a few advertising tips that provide a quick digital nudge to the season's procrastinators.

1. Amazon: Show Up at the Holiday Party


More consumers than ever before are heading to Amazon to perform product searches. If you’re not already advertising on this retail behemoth, it’s not too late to start! Having an Amazon presence will make it easier for shoppers to find your products by highlighting the ones they’re most interested in buying. Bone up on Amazon’s ad formats to identify the ones that are right for your business.

For advertisers already using Amazon’s Sponsored Brands Ads, make sure you’ve tested your campaigns to ensure they’re delivering top-notch performance. Even one, small improvement can make a difference in clicks and conversions with last-minute holiday shoppers.

For more tips on advertising on Amazon, read our info-packed blog articles:


2. Online and In-store: Spike the Eggnog


Who likes plain old eggnog, anyway?

Shoppers love convenience, especially as the Christmas “deadline” draws near. This is the time when it either may be too late for timely shipping, or when people might prefer not to pay extra for expedited delivery. Have you made store pickup available in the days leading up to Christmas? Is this reflected in your shopping ads?

Also, to entice them once they’re in your store—does your mobile strategy allow for an impulse buy? Do your ads let shoppers know how late your stores will be open?

Sweeten the holiday deal by making it easy for people to find and purchase the products they want, when they want them.

3. Deck the Halls with Festive Photos


Bring on the upbeat visuals—reindeer, decorated trees, boughs of holly, you name it. Work in a non-denominational message to attract shoppers across religions and belief systems.

For the best results, limit text on images and have the picture do most of the talking. That said, be sure to clearly present eye-catching, wallet-friendly deals in your ad copy.

4. Go Cross-Channel or Go Home (for the Holidays)


According to Harvard Business Review, customers using multiple channels spend 4% more in-store and 10% more online than those on a single channel. Someone on their laptop in the morning may be checking their smartphone in the afternoon, and then swinging by a store in the evening after work. (We, too, have been in the shoes of the frazzled, pre-vacation shopper!)

Increase your ad spend across channels and make sure you have a strong strategy in place for the days leading up to Christmas. You should be using search intent to fuel your Facebook and retargeting campaigns, and leaving as little as possible to chance. That perfect gift someone’s looking for will hopefully be yours.

Happy Holidays


As always, test, test, and test some more, and then optimize based on what’s working best. To learn more about holiday ad strategies and tools that’ll help you go the extra mile all year long, schedule a demo with us today. From Marin’s family to yours, have a very merry holiday and a revenue-boosting New Year!

As more advertisers flock to Amazon for its revenue-generating ad capabilities, the competition continues to heat up.

Subscribe to our blog to get tips on how to stay ahead of the game with your Amazon advertising efforts. In the meantime, in our latest post, we offer five quick pointers for fine-tuning your campaigns.

Protect Your Turf


As in the paid search world, brands need to make sure they’re bidding on their own brand terms. If they don’t, competitors may see it as a conquest opportunity and muscle in on your territory.

Review Search Queries


Use the information in Amazon’s search term report to create new manual campaigns using keywords that aren’t covered in their automatic campaigns. You can add irrelevant queries as negative keywords, or even add negatives to specific ad groups if queries are showing up in the wrong ad group.

Build a Store


Brands must have a strong landing page for customers and potential customers being directed from external sites or from a Sponsored Brand ad. Like a corporate website, this may not be the responsibility of the person running paid media, but it’s important to make sure the advertising investment performs well by making sure customers have a solid brand experience on Amazon.

Rev Up Your Product Details Page


This is an important part of the conversion funnel, with plenty of space for brands to put quality content in front of shoppers—but there’s also room for Amazon to place things like a table comparing similar items. Brands are now investing in their own comparison charts, which show up a little higher on the page.

If a shopper is looking for a printer but the one they initially clicked isn’t right, the vendor can show its other printers in a chart comparing price and specifications—before the shopper gets to Amazon’s chart—which may lead them to a competitor’s product.

This also may not be the domain of the digital marketer, but brands should ensure a quality landing page experience to get the best ROI on their Amazon ad spend.

Test, Test, Test


Does it make more sense to show the brand logo or an image of the product? What should the wording in the headline be? Which products should be shown and how do the products line up with the keywords? As in all areas of digital marketing, testing is key.

Learn More


For more extensive guidance on setting up and optimizing your Amazon ad campaigns, along with real-world examples, download our guide, Ramp Up Your Amazon Ad Game: 5 Tips for Success. It covers:

  • An overview of Amazon’s advertising solutions
  • Setting up Amazon ad campaigns
  • All about automatic campaigns


And more.

advertising on Amazon



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

Findings in our latest digital advertising benchmark report show that marketers increased their eCommerce spend 115 percent year over year, driven by more Amazon advertising. Mobile search also continues to dominate, with nearly half (47%) of total search spend dedicated to mobile ads.

Our key takeaways:

  • eCommerce Continues to See Significant Growth: The 115 percent year-over-year increase in eCommerce spend is largely attributed to Amazon Advertising growth and seasonality around Prime Day. The cost per eCommerce click was up 10.5 percent compared to Q2 2019. In total, retailers spent 40 percent of their budgets on Shopping ads, and the number of clicks on Shopping ads increased 14 percent quarter-over-quarter, all pointing to big opportunities for marketers.
  • Mobile Search Drives Search Spend: Nearly half (47 percent) of total search spend was dedicated to mobile advertisements. Local search queries from customers are more frequently occurring on smartphones, driving advertisers to examine how to best capitalize on the trend.
  • Overall Search Click Volume Up: Search click volume has grown 14 percent YoY, with a big jump in ad clicks for healthcare (85 percent). Today’s digital advertising landscape has more of a “real-time” approach in that it can connect doctors and patients more immediately. Healthcare brands are able to reach potential customers with discretion, often when they’re actively searching for information about their health problems.


To learn more and see how your ad campaigns compare, view our Q3 2019 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report. You can analyze current cross-channel advertising trends by region, industry, and publisher.



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

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

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

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

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

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

Search Leads for Retail


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

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

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

eCommerce Ad Spend on the Rise


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

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

Social Advertising – Untapped Opportunity?


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

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

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

Performance Matters


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

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

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

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

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

Common Optimization Issues


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

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


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

Optimization Tips and Tricks


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

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

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


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

shopping ads



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

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

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

shopping ads



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

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.

We’re excited to announce that Marin Software has been included in the Amazon Advertising find-a-partner directory.

MarinOne eCommerce provides retailers and brand advertisers the campaign management and automation tools they need to drive sales and grow profitably.

The stunning growth of Amazon Advertising is noteworthy for any advertiser—in July Amazon announced in its Q2 earnings report that sales were up 20% compared to last year. At Marin, we’ve seen 40% YoY growth in eCommerce activity on our platform in Q2 2019, so advertisers are clearly turning to Amazon Advertising as an important driver of sales.

Most recently, our enhanced support for Amazon Sponsored Brands is enabling brands to scale with ease, leveraging bid automation and performance alerts. Sponsored Brands ads showed 13% QoQ growth in sales and impressions, with a 17% rise in CPCs. These keyword-targeted ads appear in Amazon search results, driving customers directly to a product detail page or Store on Amazon.

Here are some of the other success stories we’ve been proud to publish on behalf of our customers:

  • Intertwine Interactive Increases Amazon Advertising Attributed Sales by 191% for Specialty Retailer with Marin Bidding (link)
  • Path Interactive Grows Revenue 60% & Lowers ACOS by 14% Using Marin to Bid on Amazon Sponsored Products (link)
  • Buyagift Increases Exposure 79% Optimizing Amazon Advertising Bids with Marin Software (link)


Let’s find the right solution for you and your valued customers. Contact us for a personal demo and to learn more about our performance guarantee with MarinOne eCommerce.

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

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

How Big is the Amazon Opportunity?


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

Consider these other aspects of the Amazon ecosystem:

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


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

Tips for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands Ads


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

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

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

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

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

Conquest Competitively

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

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

Protect Your Brand

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

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

Test and Harvest

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

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

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

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

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

A few other key takeaways:

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


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

benchmark report



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

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

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

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

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

Combine the Strategic and the Tactical


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

Maintain the Old (and Reliable), Embrace the New


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

Win and Maintain Consumer Trust


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

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



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

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.

One of the biggest online retail events of the year is looming on the horizon and fast approaching. Amazon Prime Day 2019 will be the fifth annual event, taking place July 15th and 16th.

Amazon introduced Prime Day back in 2015 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its founding. It was a one-off sales event offering more deals than Black Friday, exclusively for Prime members.

Prime Day 2018 may have only lasted a day (and a half), but it was Amazon’s biggest shopping event in its history—sales surpassed Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and Prime Day 2017 over a 36-hour period. Retailers offered over a million deals worldwide and sold over 100 million products. For any retail company, that’s a staggering growth opportunity.

Prime Day 2019 holds the potential for you to reach a colossal number of shoppers and drive incremental revenue.

Here’s what you need to know to advertise on Amazon.

Advertising Solutions


Advertising on Amazon can be an easy way to promote your listings and get your products noticed when people are shopping for similar items. There are two advertising solutions: Sponsored Products for promoting individual listings, and Sponsored Brands for registered brand owners to promote their brand and product portfolio. These solutions can give your products a visibility boost and maximize sales by bringing those products to a new audience.

Sponsored Products

Amazon Sponsored Products ads are a type of paid advertising where you’re only charged when a consumer clicks your ad (pay-per-click). Keywords trigger the ads, and they also drive the consumer to a product detail page within Amazon. The ads can be displayed on top of, alongside, or within search results and on product pages, and can appear on both desktop and mobile.

amazon prime day



Sponsored Products ads can help you grow sales on Amazon by reaching consumers searching for products like yours and driving them to your product page. This ad type can increase eligibility and placement status for your top Buy Box offers, and help grow your new and low-exposure ASINs.

Sponsored Brands

As with Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands are a type of paid advertising where you’re only charged when a consumer clicks your ad. Note that this ad type is only available for professional sellers enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, vendors, booksellers, and agencies. You can display your ads at the top of, alongside, or within search results, on both desktop and mobile.

amazon prime day



Sponsored Brands ads can help drive discovery of your brand. They're great for generating awareness of a new product, promoting seasonal items, or creating more demand for a bestseller. They also allow you to drive consumers to your Store page, custom URL, or a bestselling product page.

Should I Advertise on Amazon?


Are you selling products online either via your own website or a third party? If the answer is yes, then Amazon Advertising is a must!

If you’re reluctant, start small. Only sell your top selling product(s) online, and then once you see the value, begin to increase your Amazon inventory. If you need additional help, then a third-party ad management platform like Marin is the solution for you.

We may be biased, but Marin was able to increase exposure by 79% for Buyagift (a leading provider of gift experiences in the UK) by optimizing bids with our leading ad management platform. We were also able to increase click volume by 36%, with a 7.4% lower cost-per-click than before. This grew awareness and engagement, and ultimately helped Buyagift boost revenue on Amazon by 17%. See the Amazon case study for more information.

Take a leap of faith and reap the rewards this Amazon Prime Day!

Just as they do with Sponsored Products, Amazon advertisers also have access to impactful placements with Sponsored Brands, which can help drive more clicks and better post-click customer interactions.

The prominence of these ads at the top of the page highlights the importance of testing. With so many variables (products, copy, images, etc.), advertisers have lots of testing options—and lots of ways to optimize for better performance.

Marin Tip: MarinOne supports reporting, automated bid management, and intuitive ad creation via Amazon’s API (beta) for Sponsored Brands campaigns.

Amazon



Let’s craft some testing hypotheses particular to Sponsored Brands. Note that you can choose to run campaigns concurrently (one test and one control), or iteratively (week one control, week two test).

If you go with iterative, be aware of an apples to oranges scenario that may happen if volume is different for reasons beyond your control—for example, a sitewide sale that runs during the test week but not the control week. For reasons like this, this approach can be more difficult to qualify.

ASIN Selection


For a Sponsored Brands ad, you can select up to three products to showcase. Be aware of your keyword selection when deciding which products to advertise together. If you’re including broad, generic terms this might be a good campaign to include proven-winner products or bestsellers. If the keywords selected are brand-driven, consider including products that are new to market.

You should be able to easily measure performance by ASIN to see which should be featured in the Sponsored Brands ad and which shouldn’t. Promote products that have good reviews and images. Keep the other variables consistent and test to see which products get to stay.

Amazon


Image and Ad Copy


The ad creative components for a Sponsored Brands ad require a custom message and a 400×400 pixel image. These elements open up lots of opportunities to test! Make sure the messaging copy lines up with your keyword selection and find out what messaging, in 50 characters or less, resonates with searchers.

Similarly, what image encourages shoppers to click the ad? There are the three images of your product selection, but how do you make the best use of the header image? You could use a logo or potentially a fourth product. Be mindful of Amazon’s creative acceptance policy, too, and the approval process these changes (and the aforementioned) all need to go through.

Store or Product Detail Page


When you create a Sponsored Brands you have the option to drive clicks to your Store or to an aggregate page. A Store is a way for vendors and sellers to provide customers with curated content and a tailored experience on Amazon. Building a Store allows for a multitude of uses—including driving traffic via Sponsored Brands.

If sales is the primary goal, set a test to see where returns are strongest. A Store may provide a fuller, more immersive experience with your brand—to the point that no other brands or products will be featured. It’s all you. With headline copy, image, ASIN selection, and keywords all left static, which landing page experience produces the best outcome?



With this in mind, you should be ready to test. Remember to set the right parameters and frame your test before launching anything. You can get very precise and technical but the aim is more or less to change one variable, keep everything else consistent, and evaluate the impact that a single change has on performance. Now get out the lab coats and beakers!

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

What’s in a Search?


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

Amazon Targeting: Manual and Automatic


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

When to Use Manual Targeting

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

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

When to Use Automatic Targeting

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

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

Your Customers Are “Always On”


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

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

Amazon is on a mission to help advertisers increase awareness and drive sales on its platform. To this end, they’ve made a suite of ad types available that more and more advertisers are embracing, including the focus of this three-part series—Sponsored Products.

With the Amazon Sponsored Products ad campaign type, you can create innumerable combinations of keywords, products, and other targets to advertise your product catalog. As Prime Day approaches and to get you up to speed with this robust ad type, let’s take a look, in our first article in the series, at some structural examples of Sponsored Products ads and the benefits of each one.

In The Spotlight


Amazon Sponsored Products allow for a really interesting interplay between keyword and product selection. This concept is especially important when considering what products you want to pair with your high-value brand keywords. In most cases, you want to use these keywords to do one of a few different things. Add brand keywords and then select products that are:

  • Proven best sellers, representative of your brand
  • On sale or otherwise showcased in some way in the short term
  • Up-and-coming products that you want to introduce to the market


Use these keywords to your advantage and keep in mind the strategies don’t have to be mutually exclusive. With Sponsored Products, finding the right product selection can be just as important as including the right keywords.

All for One … and One for All?


How are you using the Purchased Product report? This report provides details on the actual ASINs purchased after a customer clicked your ad, whether the product was advertised or not.

[caption id="attachment_12928" align="alignnone" width="500"]

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Purchased Product report[/caption]

For a Sponsored Products campaign you’re required to selectively add products to advertise. Only those products selected will show in your Sponsored Products ad. However, that doesn’t prevent someone from purchasing a product that’s not the same as the one advertised. This is where the Purchased Product report is useful.

One strategy is to use your best-selling product or variant as a lead-in Sponsored Product. This is a more conservative approach than selecting a wider group of products and leaving it to Amazon to determine which to advertise.

With the “one for all” approach, you’re able to review the Purchased Product report and understand if more products or variants should be added to the campaign, or possibly if there are undiscovered products that are being purchased more often than the one being advertised!

Totally Automatic


A Sponsored Products campaign set to Automatic can be extremely valuable in an exploratory sense. With this setting, there is no keyword selection—you get to leave all that to Amazon. This lets you focus on product selection and removes the guesswork.

After some time, review your Search Query reports to see what terms are working well, and break these out into a new campaign with a Manual setting. Using this process enables you to make data-driven decisions—picking keywords that have already proven to work, and assigning bids based on accrued historical data.

Conclusion


These are just a handful of the strategies to consider when using Amazon Sponsored Products. Here, we’ve only looked at keyword targeting, but things start to get even more interesting and sophisticated with the newly introduced Product Attribute Targets (PATs). More on those in a future article. For now, stay tuned for the next post in this Sponsored Products series, where we’ll go deeper into the targeting methods that Amazon uses for this ad type.

Instagram recently announced the launch of its new checkout feature, allowing you to buy products directly in the app, and making it easier and more convenient to buy from some of your favorite brands.

Checkout on Instagram is currently a closed beta and only available to a handful of U.S. brands, including H&M, Nike, Prada, Burberry, and Zara.

Given the brands currently part of the beta, it’s clear this feature will be heavily focused on the beauty and fashion industries. And, we expect Instagram to open it up to more retailers sooner than later.

How exactly does it work?

The How-To


Tap on a product from a brand’s shopping post. Then as you’d normally do, choose from various options such as color and size. From here, Instagram takes you directly to checkout without having to leave the app.

The best thing about this is you only have to enter your billing and shipping details once—they’re securely saved for the next time you shop. You’ll receive shipping notifications directly in-app so you can keep track of your purchases.

The Benefits


According to Tech Crunch, Instagram “will introduce a selling fee to help fund programs and products that help make checkout possible, as well as offset transaction-related expenses.” This opens up a whole new revenue stream for the Facebook-owned app.

checkout on instagram



As for how it’ll affect advertisers, ads aren’t currently eligible for promotion with the checkout button—however, we think this will certainly change very soon, as Instagram starts to invest heavily in shopping related items. Checkout also comes at a time when Google just launched shoppable ads in Google images. Competition will heat up quickly!

Watch This Space


We’re looking forward to seeing some of the early results of Checkout for Instagram and what conversion rates will look like versus traditional website checkout. It all bodes well for retail advertisers looking to expand into another popular online channel to maximize performance and revenue.

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

This article originally appeared in MediaPost.

Amazon is quickly becoming the third advertising pillar that will effectively disrupt the established dynamic of the Google and Facebook duopoly. This is hardly a surprise, given that Amazon’s platform serves as a homepage for internet users.

But marketers are not necessarily prepared for the intricacies involved with advertising on Amazon — in fact, a recent Digital Marketing Institute study highlighted a growing level of concern among marketing professionals. Nearly three out of four professionals surveyed said they were concerned about a digital skills shortage in the industry, and 71% are experiencing that skills gap within eCommerce marketplace selling (e.g., Amazon).

So what makes Amazon advertising so different from the methods employed with Google and Facebook ads, and how can marketers ensure they have the specific skills set to build these campaigns?

What gives Amazon an edge at capturing ad dollars is the fact that the conversion — the sale of product — occurs right there on the Amazon platform after the user clicks on the ad, while Google and Facebook only direct traffic to the advertiser’s website where the conversion later takes place. (Sidebar: Google has tried to course-correct with Shopping Actions recently.) This shortcut makes advertising on Amazon extremely attractive to many direct-response advertisers, especially those in the retail vertical.

With growing interest in Amazon advertising, marketers who are equipped to efficiently manage every aspect of ad campaigns on Amazon are in high demand. Finding the right people to hire, however, proves to be a challenging task.

Amazon advertising is still new to the market — the official learning console was launched as recently as Q4 2018. Much like Google Academy for Ads and Facebook Blueprint, the learning console offers courses of study materials about Amazon advertising and an accreditation program where marketers can take a test and earn a certification. As a result, the recruitment pool for candidates with Amazon advertising experience is very small.

To combat this industrywide skills gap, brands and agencies should groom existing digital marketing personnel to fill the role.

Amazon advertising shares a number of similarities with tried-and true digital advertising disciplines. Marketers with display advertising experience are likely to ramp up with little trouble on Amazon’s programmatic ad-buying solution, Amazon DSP, while search marketers should be able to quickly learn Amazon Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands.

For these two Amazon ad types, products need to be assigned to campaigns in addition to keywords, so those who are experienced in product feed management and in Google Shopping or Facebook Dynamic Product Ads have already acquired relevant knowledge that can be used as a base for success.

Still, there are some added layers unique to Amazon Advertising, such as Retail Readiness, in which marketers have to make sure that inventory, customer ratings and reviews are high enough for the products to get listed. This requires marketers to be trained from the ground up.

While every organization has limited time and resources to train their employees — regardless of whether they’re new hires or existing ones — making Amazon advertising a priority can pay off big time.

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

Understand Your Goals


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

Build the Foundation


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

Capture the Data


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

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

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

Refine and Optimize


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

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

Get Tactical


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



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

Everyone knows what it means when you say, “You are what you eat.” Well, a product feed is (quite literally) what your ad campaigns are eating. This is the diet that’s fed into your campaign structure and eventually constitutes various ad types across the primary platforms (Google, Amazon, Facebook), as well as hundreds of others. World-class athletes don’t sustain themselves on the daily corn dog, Fritos, and frozen pizza diet—nor do top brands promote their inventory with error-ridden product catalogs.

Here are a couple concepts to keep in mind for ensuring the long-term health and vitality of your advertising efforts.

Your Feed is Your Friend


Managing product feeds was historically one of those Wizard of Oz “man behind the curtain” jobs that rarely took priority over campaign management tasks like bidding and keyword expansion. The error here is viewing these as mutually independent of each other.

In fact, the product feed and campaign relationship is a left hand / right hand one, in which synergy yields the most efficient and results-driven performance. If you don’t know who’s managing your product feed—reach out, make a friend (and vice versa, feed folks).

Work Together


As you implement best practices and consistently deliver clean, high-quality product data, the next step is understanding the performance effects and connecting more closely with your campaigns. Be sure to:

  • Run a test. See which image (for example, landscape or portrait) generates the best click-through rate for a given product.
  • Build analysis. For example, track a product’s price point over a period of time against that same product’s conversion rate.
  • Integrate your feed with your campaigns. Declining inventory can immediately (and automatically) bring about a more conservative paid effort for a non-competitive product.


These strategies require investment in effort up front but yield good dividends for the brands that take the care to do it.

Learn More


At the end of the month, Marin and Feedonomics will partner together on a webinar to discuss product feeds and ad campaigns, and give some real-world scenarios with the help of Hero Digital. Sign up today to join us on Thursday, January 31st, 10 am PT.



Speaker Bios



Brian Roizen is the Cofounder and Chief Architect of Feedonomics where he oversees all of Feedonomics’ Automation Processes. He loves taking the most annoying manual tasks and automating them. Brian has previously created several artificial intelligence websites and mobile apps that reached tens of millions of users per month. Brian received both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA, where he graduated summa cum laude.



Andrew Todd is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Marin Software where he is tasked with building innovative digital advertising functionality that helps brands grow online. His voice at the company is largely that of the customer – helping ensure that Marin delivers what the market wants. Prior to his time at Marin, Andrew worked at independent agencies in New York and Austin, focused on eCommerce and lead generation. Andrew received a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Tennessee and enjoys traveling, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends.



Emma Welcher has 6+ years of experience driving paid media strategy and performance for clients across a variety of industries and channels. From strategic planning to optimizations, Emma helps drive continued growth for lead generation and e-commerce clients. She is excited by how fast everything can change in digital marketing and the opportunity to leverage platform updates to stay ahead of the competition.

As we kick off 2019, it seems like eons since the first eCommerce transaction back in 1979, when entrepreneur Michael Aldrich invented online shopping. Since then, the space has exploded—with tens of thousands of eCommerce sites in existence today. In her 2018 internet trends report, Mary Meeker estimated that eCommerce accounted for 13% of total U.S. retail sales last year.

We’re now at a point where clear leaders and laggards have emerged in the eCommerce marathon. In this article, we take a look at the state of the industry, the developing competitive landscape, and things to watch out for in 2019 and beyond.

The Ascendancy of Amazon


At the moment, when advertisers think eCommerce, they likely think, “Here comes Amazon.” As of 2018, Amazon has risen dramatically to third place in the ad industry, experiencing “faster than expected growth” and giving Google and Facebook a run for their money. In fact, according to eMarketer, Amazon is poised to keep growing at a rapid clip—with revenue on track to double this year alone, growing to $5.83 billion. Wall Street Journal expects Amazon’s ad sales to soar to $28.4 billion over the next five years.

With Amazon now being so huge—representing almost half of the U.S. eCommerce market—what does it mean for eCommerce as a whole? And, what does it mean for the ‘little guy’ trying to infiltrate the triopoly’s ad turf?

eCommerce Is Booming in General


All in all, eCommerce is experiencing a Golden Age, as consumers flock to online deals and convenience, and retailers adopt more sophisticated digital ad offerings. As Mary Meeker reported, U.S. eCommerce sales grew 16 percent between 2017 and 2018, an even larger rate of growth than 2016’s 14 percent. This success is expected to continue indefinitely, as more companies expand into eCommerce and existing ones continually innovate to stay ahead of the competition.

For example, in 2018, Google expanded into eCommerce with Google Home Ordering. Amazon Stores offers brands a place to showcase and sell products on Amazon. Facebook Shop allows advertisers to create a product catalog on the platform to promote and sell their products there. Facebook also has plans to add a shopping function to livestreams. As Tech Times Reports,

“In this trial, the company is letting merchants demo and describe their items for viewers. Customers can then screenshot something they want to purchase and reach out to the merchant via Messenger, who can then start a payment transaction directly within the app.”

Still boasting 1.74 billion mobile active users—despite recent scandals and government run-ins—Facebook has the continued potential and incentive to further expand its offerings. Include ad formats like Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, and WhatsApp advertising—and it appears the company opens several doors for every one blocked by another distressing news headline.

Outside of Amazon, Google, and Facebook, what other players are contributing to the eCommerce field day?

The “Little Guy” May Not Be So Little


Big box giants like Walmart are on the move and making steady progress despite a late arrival to the eCommerce party. Walmart’s Q2 2018 earnings reported a 4.5 percent YoY increase in U.S. sales and 2.2 percent more traffic. Notably, its eCommerce business declared a whopping 40% increase in sales. Walmart’s momentum matches solid in-store visits with robust online demand, buoyed by expanded and enhanced clothing and grocery options. It certainly doesn’t hurt that people are embracing online grocery selection with offline pickup.

There’s also strong competition from other players like eBay, Macy’s, and Costco. For instance, you may be surprised to hear that shoppers tend to spend more time on eBay than Amazon. eBay and Costco also have lower website bounce rates. When it comes to attracting tech-savvy shoppers, Best Buy corners the market. It remains to be seen whether Amazon will innovate to become even more competitive on these fronts or if the other players will try to beat Amazon at its own game.

Just When You Least Expect It….


In addition, some unexpected competition could bite into the major players’ piece of the eCommerce pie. With modest wage growth relative to inflation and the stock market, more lower-income and rural shoppers are converging on dollar stores.

As it stands, these communities have much less access to online shopping opportunities or a culture of technology that could compel residents to become eCommerce site visitors. Development initiatives such as Congressman Ro Khanna’s could transform these communities and open up new opportunities not only for jobs and higher wages, but also new revenue streams for retailers, both online and off.

Perhaps not as unexpectedly, mobile commerce is also having its moment, with mCommerce transactions around the world projected to surpass eCommerce this year. The future looks bright if often unpredictable.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?


Well, many things could always go wrong. But, looking at 2019, the market could experience ongoing turbulence. Some economists even predict a recession if inflation continues to rise and inflicts serious damage on the U.S. economy.

The continued pace of wage growth (or lack thereof) could affect consumer confidence and spending, although it’s slowly improving. Throw in the unknowns of the full rollout of the new U.S. tax cut and uncertainty around tariffs, and, as the Magic 8-Ball might say, “Cannot predict now.”

The Next Frontiers


One thing we can predict is that retail innovation will continue. In the arena of emerging opportunities, there’s a huge potential market for up-and-coming eCommerce innovations. One such example is voice assistants, where 70% of consumers aren’t yet using one to perform a product search. To tap into this market, technology companies, advertisers, and brands will have to strategize ways to overcome consumer apprehension and mistrust.

Although at the moment Amazon and Google are the pioneers of voice-controlled devices (with Google currently in the lead), companies like Apple, Samsung, IBM, and Microsoft are all in the mix and hoping to gain ground.

In addition, as CES often proves, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the entrepreneurial and inventive spirit. With this year’s brilliant thinkers and engineers inventing roll-up TVs, a bot that folds laundry, and connected cars (and the associated $212 billion in commuter spending), it’s anyone’s guess what toys, gadgets, and breakthroughs will come next.

On the social side, eCommerce looks very likely to play a larger role in 2019, as advertisers get their feet wet selling on social platforms. They’ll have to decide if social’s an eCommerce fit or if its big strength will be awareness for the foreseeable future.

To be sure, technological change has come come a long way since Smell-O-Vision! Although it may be challenging to keep up, the good news for retailers is that opportunities to target and woo customers will only continue to evolve.

The Upshot: eCommerce Is Here to Stay and Grow


Where do retailers go from here? Given current challenges and increased competition, eCommerce businesses must give customers what they want and beat competitors to the “experience” punch. This involves a holistic approach that delivers overall eCommerce interactions based on ease of use, convenience, personalization, and choice (not to mention easy checkout, fewer clicks, and so on).

Looking at your digital campaigns as part of a unified digital marketing strategy across search, social, and eCommerce will be a key differentiator for advertisers in 2019 and the coming years as competition grows even fiercer. The ultimate goal for advertisers is to meet shoppers where they are, regardless of which platform or device they happen to be using. Choosing the right ad tech vendor with an independent, cross-channel view of the world is the key to success.

As the retail landscape transforms and companies strive to develop a workforce equipped with skills to work in in the 21st century, eCommerce will continue to find itself leaps, bounds, and many clicks ahead of its humble 1970s beginnings.

Thank you, Michael Aldrich.

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

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

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

Use your first-party data from the holiday season


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

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

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

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


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

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

Think about New Year’s resolutions


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

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

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

Make your job easier: embrace dynamic search and AI


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

Ensure total coverage and keyword mine with DSA campaigns.

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

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

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

holiday



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

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

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

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

Use automated bid strategies tailored to your goals.

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

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

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

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

Don’t discount brick and mortar too quickly


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

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

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

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

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

A note about in-store returns

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

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

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

Get creative


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

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

The holidays are here—meaning a busy time for brands. To help you usher in the next round of shopping sprees, we’ve made a list (and checked it twice) of recommendations to boost campaign performance of your social holiday ads.

Be Careful Not to Limit Ad Delivery


‘Tis the season for free shipping—and refining your ad delivery. Be sure not to establish too many delivery constraints, which will limit your campaigns. With just the right restrictions, however, your social ad delivery system will explore the best opportunities and locate the best possible value in alignment with your strategies and goals.

There are several tips and tools that can help you refine your ad delivery and increase clicks:

  • Combine ad sets so that you can reach the minimum conversion optimization requirement per ad set. You'll see better performance by merging some ad sets and having only a few in your campaign.
  • Include MarketPlace, Messenger, and Stories in your ad placements. This will help Facebook find the best fit and encourage ad delivery based on where people are. For instance, some people may be looking at Facebook Stories but not using Messenger.
  • Marin Tip: Marin Social’s Budget Allocation feature automatically adjusts your ad set budgets based on performance. This feature helps increase your delivery while reducing your cost per action.


Broaden Your Audience


Facebook results tend to be more effective when the audience is broader. Conversely, limiting the audience restrains the number of reachable people to the lowest price, which will increase your cost per action. We recommend using an audience size of at least two million. This allows you to create and vary your audience.

Marin Tip: Marin Social offers features such as Campaign Lookalike Audiences, and Interest and Location Clusters, that allow you to create audiences based on characteristics you specify. This is great for broadening your audience while you refine your targeting.

Bid Higher During the Holidays


Competition is fierce during the holiday season, leading to increased conversion rates and CPMs. To win auctions, you’ll need to bid higher. You’ll be rewarded with higher conversion rates and better performance.

Marin Tip: Marin Social’s automated rules feature allows you to set rules that make sense for you and your business. For example, you can limit and control your costs and spend automatically during days when you’re out of the office.

Optimize According to Your Objective


It’s important to bid on the right optimization goal that helps you achieve your business objective. When you do this, the Facebook system delivers the best performance and generates more volume.

For example, the link clicks optimization helps with the website traffic objective but not an app install objective. Furthermore, the delivery system needs a certain amount of data—at least 50 conversions—to reliably predict the conversion rate and maximize value.

Vary Your Content


Make sure your content is relevant to your audience, message, and objective. Include different formats in the same ad set to allow the Facebook algorithm to have more flexibility to give you the best results possible. Also, to avoid audience fatigue, refresh your ads every 10 days.

Marin Tip: Marin Social has various features—such as Mass Editor, Bulk Creator, and the Find & Replace tool—to help you create and refresh your ads.

The holiday season is upon us and it’s always fun to analyze the aggregate performance of our advertisers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Each year when we “read the tea leaves”, some existing trends are reinforced while a new pattern jumps out at us. 2018 is no exception.

More Clicks, Higher Spend



As expected, we see a marked jump in clicks and spend on paid search in the U.S. this holiday season. Clicks and ad spend were up 53% and 81% respectively on Black Friday this year when indexed off the monthly pre-holiday average. Cyber Monday also posted 40% growth in clicks and 105% growth in ad spend for the U.S. market.


CPCs Rise Up



We also observed a large gulf between click (40%) and spend (105%) growth on Cyber Monday this year, which means CPCs have increased. A combination of greater click volume with increased competition means higher CPCs for advertisers. If conversion rates increase accordingly, then advertisers can justify this higher spend and this is where an ad management platform like Marin can excel by delivering sterling return on ad spend (ROAS) to match your increased investment.



Black Friday & Cyber Monday Go Global



Although both events originated in the US, data from Marin’s ad management platform shows that advertisers in the United Kingdom and Europe are rallying around Black Friday and Cyber Monday too. While the US leads in overall ad spend for Black Friday (81%) and Cyber Monday (105%), the UK runs a close second, followed by Europe.



What better indication that the shopping season is now global than robust ad spend growth across all three regions in 2018. Stay tuned for more in-depth analysis of this holiday period from Marin as we roll into December.

For more in-depth analysis of trends across search, social, and eCommerce channels this year, check out Marin’s Q3 2018 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report.

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Google and Facebook want half


The “duopoly” are marching toward making up half of the U.S. ad market, as video, TV, and politics bring in big media dollars.

Read the article

Is this the end of the Ad ID Consortium?


With AppNexus leaving the Ad ID Consortium and only one founding group remaining, what happens next?

Read the article

Snapchat links visual search to Amazon listings


Snapchat users can now scan their mobile phone over a physical item to bring up the item’s associated Amazon product listing.

Read the article

Mobile likely to dominate holiday shopping


According to a new OpenX and Harris Poll survey, most consumers think the U.S. economy is doing okay, so plan to spend the same or more on gifts this holiday season.

Read the article

Amazon’s making the duopoly a triopoly


New projections say that not only is Amazon gaining ground on Google and Facebook—it’s poised to surpass them.

Read the article

It’s pretty clear that Amazon is on a monumental roll. The company’s growth is staggering, showing a 39% year over year increase in net sales, a 12x jump in earnings per share (EPS), and over 100 million Prime subscribers globally in Q2 2018. There simply isn’t another eCommerce company with the same market presence and influence over the customer journey.

A Hub for Lower Funnel Customer Demand


The reality is that many people start their purchase journey on Amazon, and brands can’t afford to ignore Amazon’s melting pot of customer demand. The Amazon platform captures a rich store of late stage buyer intent and conversion data, offering it to advertisers with a high degree of transparency into customer buying signals.

With a haul of $2.2 billion in advertising revenue in Q2 2018, Amazon is beginning to offer stiff competition to the incumbent digital advertising giants, Facebook and Google. According to Marin’s recent State of Digital Advertising 2018 report, 33% of digital advertisers see the rise of Amazon as the industry trend that will most impact their business.

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It’s clear that many digital advertisers now view Amazon as a growth opportunity for their business, operating much further down the funnel than Google or Facebook. Amazon also offers a huge advantage for first movers, when you consider how competitive it’s become to reach your audience on Google and Facebook.

During a recent Marin webinar titled Ramp Up Your Amazon Ad Game: 5 Tips for Success, 62% of poll respondents were not yet advertising on Amazon. What a tremendous opportunity for advertisers to get ahead of the competition and build a brand presence on Amazon.




The Amazon Advertising Ecosystem


How can advertisers capitalize on the global reach and strong buyer intent signals on Amazon’s platform? Amazon’s ad inventory is evolving rapidly—in the past, customer reviews and price were the primary means used to help customers decide what to buy.

Lately, Amazon has been giving more prominent placement to sponsored product ads in search results, forcing brands to buy ads to win top billing. Users often see only subtle distinctions between “sponsored” content and organic results, which is less distracting than you might think when both targeting and relevance levers are working correctly.

Let’s take a closer look at the type of ads that you can run on Amazon’s platform:

Sponsored Brands (previously Headline Search Ads)

These are very prominent paid ad placements where advertisers can map campaigns to specific products (ASINs). Many advertisers are looking to defend their turf on Amazon, much as they do with paid search—companies will try to muscle in on your target audience by advertising competitive brands on your product pages.

Headline search ads are a good way to generate brand visibility and protect your brand from competitive conquest by filling available inventory with your brand. ASINs also provide a great opportunity for retailers to sell complementary products that drive incremental sales.

Sponsored Product Ads

This ad unit looks very similar to Amazon’s organic results, but sports a subtle “sponsored” flag. Sponsored product ads are keyword targeted and trigger when someone uses the Amazon search bar. Advertisers can use different match types to get the right kind of traffic, alongside negative keywords to exclude unwanted clicks. It’s a good practice to separate out brand and non-brand terms to avoid muddying performance metrics for your sponsored ad campaigns.

Product Display Ads

These ads are similar to sponsored product ads, but offer a greater variety of ad sizes and formats to showcase your wares to Amazon users. A key point is that advertisers don’t need to be an Amazon vendor to run display ads, since these ads can link out to the advertiser’s site.

Measurement on Amazon


Some advertisers question whether Amazon offers tools that allow you to measure attribution and campaign ROI correctly. While Facebook and Google have a big lead in this area, we see Amazon moving fast to close this gap.

Recently the company announced that it was introducing a pixel-based attribution solution that will track conversions across Amazon’s properties. In addition, Amazon provides advertisers with all the standard metrics on impressions, clicks, and conversions across all product SKUs.

Brands Are Already Winning with Amazon


You don’t need to look far to find examples of large brands winning on Amazon. Bryant Garvin shares an excellent example of how Purple drove growth in market share despite a tough competitive environment. How? By playing in areas where Purple’s competitors weren’t comfortable and finding “green field” advertising opportunities on Amazon.

Instead of simply doubling-down on search and chasing increasingly expensive non-brand terms, Purple’s marketing team decided to focus on video ads and experimenting with new platforms like Amazon.

Check out our webinar, Ramp Up Your Amazon Ad Game: 5 Tips for Success, to learn more about Purple’s successful ad strategy. It’s a great example of how to gain leverage and market share by thinking differently about your customer acquisition strategy than all your competitors.

Running Amazon Ad Campaigns on Marin


Marin has deep domain expertise in running paid search advertising for global brands, including those looking at Amazon as a new eCommerce channel. If you have questions about getting started with Amazon ads, feel free to get in touch. We have a broad library of customer use cases and industry examples to share with you.

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

What 100 days after GDPR looks like


Over three months after rollout of the new GDPR regulations, how are digital advertisers faring? As might be expected, all’s well for the major publishers.

Read the article

Podcasters turn to measurement and attribution


When companies gathered at the fourth annual IAB Podcast Upfront, content wasn’t necessarily king. Instead, discussions centered on how to attract brand advertising dollars.

Read the article

With low CPMs, Facebook Stories draw advertisers


As people eliminate or reduce their Facebook usage, advertisers continue to experiment with the latest Facebook ad formats, with Facebook Stories poised to attract ad dollars.

Read the article

Mobile commerce to overtake eCommerce by 2019


According to 451 Research, mobile commerce is about to have its moment, as online retail growth continues to outpace in-store sales.

Read the article

Vertical video ads are coming to YouTube


To enable brands to “provide a more seamless mobile experience,” YouTube unveiled its vertical video offering at this year’s DMEXCO.

Read the article

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Consumers double their retailer apps


Shoppers are on the move, smartphone in hand. To keep pace, brick-and-mortar retailers with eCommerce sites must step up their mobile app game.

Read the article

Amazon is testing an attribution pixel


“My ads are better than yours,” said the online publisher to its competitors. Now, in an effort to drive more sales than its rivals, Amazon is testing a new attribution tool. (Not only that—it’s firmly focused on the $88 billion online ad market.)

Read the article

The state of advertising on Instagram Stories


With the Stories format growing ever more popular, advertisers are moving more of their spend to Instagram.

Read the article

Some marketers are cutting back on third-party data


With all the news around data privacy and “bad actors” in the social media world, some advertisers are changing their third-party tune.

Read the article

What’s next for net neutrality?


Lastly, while California is set to pass its Consumer Privacy Act and Congressional eyes are on the major online players, the public wants to maintain net neutrality.

Read the article

This is a guest post from Brendan Davitt, Account Manager at
3Q Digital.

Although there are plenty of studies to prove online shoppers cross over into the brick-and-mortar experience more than you might think, there’s no denying that online advertising’s boom has eaten into physical store visits. Fortunately, there are a few quick ways to support the four-walled business through online efforts.

1. Set Up Store Visit Tracking


Want to prove that your Google ads are driving store visits? You’re in luck—sort of. Store Visit Tracking is a proxy metric for that.

Meeting the requirements to set up this conversion type requires a few different steps that Google outlines. First, in order to be eligible, your company needs to have multiple physical store locations that Google will need to verify. You can add verified locations through Google My Business.

Once this is completed, in order attribute a visit to a campaign, Google must have sufficient store data on the backend to attribute the data back to the campaign. If you meet the qualifications above and do not have Store Visit tracking set up, reach out to your Google representative to get started!

One piece of information that’s often overlooked is how the process actually works. Store Visit data can’t be linked back to individual clicks but rather is an anonymous aggregated metric. Current and historic data is utilized from Location Services via cellphone to create a modelled total amount. Because of this, there is often a latency period for Store Visit data.

2. Drive Visits


Once tracking is set up, it’s time to start testing. In my experience, highlighting specific events through YouTube has been super-successful at driving users into stores. Specifically, we’ve seen success with TrueView for Action, which allows for a stronger call to action that could be used to both drive customers in-store and to your website.

retail



For example, with back-to-school shopping in full swing, there are plenty of targeting methods you can use to drive low cost per visit (CPV). If the goal is to drive a ton of store visits, I would leverage previous visitor lists given customer familiarity—someone who knows your brand within a target location is more likely to visit than someone in an acquisition audience.

Lists that highlight a customer’s lifetime value are also key. Customers who’ve purchased multiple times (in our experience, 10 or more) are more likely to visit the store. In order to keep overall efficiency down, we’ve found it’s a best practice to segment campaigns by remarketing and acquisition to best control campaign performance. In-market and topic / interest targeting are great ways to drive high volume through ACQ, but they often lead to higher overall costs.

3. Fine-Tune Your Optimization


For high-leverage optimization tips, consider location targeting and appropriate messaging. One trick is to include radius targeting around your stores or even bump it out to designated market area to gather specific geographical insights. Cross-referencing in-store revenue and transaction volume with how your geographic bid mods perform will ultimately lead to a more efficient program.

To narrow it down further, start with locations with higher in-store revenue, as they often boast store visits. Lastly, and to state the obvious, the right messaging is key to driving store visits. Calling out the value of visiting a store will help influence customers. This can easily be accomplished by calling out an in-store deal or giving people an option to “buy online or in-store.”

Put these in play now and make sure to test everything—audience lists, messaging, etc. Given a few weeks of data, you’ll be equipped to capitalize on the Q4 traffic surge to get your customers right where you want them.

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

Instagram Stories pioneers turn to Facebook Stories


Price spikes are driving some advertisers away from Instagram Stories and towards Facebook Stories, the cheaper option.

Read the article

Repeat buyers favor marketplaces over retailers


Online marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba’s Tmall are giving global retailers and brands a run for their money.

Read the article

LinkedIn is relaunching Groups in its flagship app


Looking to undo its ‘ghost town’ image and get more people onto its platform, LinkedIn is rolling Groups back into its main app by the end of August.

Read the article

Neutrogena, Sonos beta test use of Amazon video ads


Several prominent brands are piloting Amazon’s video ad placements in product search results, another sign of its expanding advertising business.

Read the article

Forrester: Video ad spending will hit $103B by 2023


Lastly, Forrester's new Video Advertising Forecast predicts over 200 million online video viewers in 2018, and 258 TV audience members, among other insights.

Read the article

Amazon has emerged as the primary purchase channel of the US consumer. Nearly two-thirds of US households have Amazon Prime, and a whopping 92% of people who begin their purchase journey on Amazon buy on Amazon.

But do you know how to leverage Amazon’s growing ad opportunities? What are the best practices for running Headline Search Ads or Product Display Ads? Do you know the difference between advertising on the Amazon Ad Platform versus Amazon Marketing Services?

Join our digital advertising experts as we explore the many ad choices available on Amazon and its online properties, including IMDb and Twitch. We’ll suggest use cases, keyword tips, and targeting strategies to maximize your advertising results, including:

  • Why Amazon matters to advertisers
  • Exploring Amazon’s marketing solutions
  • Setting up Amazon ad campaigns
  • Advanced Amazon advertising strategies
  • Best practices for Amazon ads


Sign up for our webinar on Thursday, August 23rd at 10am PT / 1pm ET to learn more about this next big advertising opportunity.

Speaker Bios

amazon



Wes MacLaggan has over a decade’s experience developing and delivering analytical enterprise SaaS applications, including four years with Applied Predictive Technologies working on the company’s platform to help retailers maximize the return on their promotional spending. He is currently SVP of Marketing at Marin Software, and has been with the company since 2008.

amazon


Bryant Garvin has managed and led teams that have spent over $150 million in advertising over the last six years, driving hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. He’s worked with brands ranging from startups to the Fortune 500, and has worked in in-house marketing positions to develop a keen understanding of the complexity that in-house managers face every day.

The Marin Marketing team stays busy not only striving to deliver compelling, educational, and relevant content—we also spend time following the most interesting industry news. In this weekly series, we list the stories that are grabbing our team’s attention.

The success of retailers’ ads on Prime Day in 5 charts


Just about every online retailer got a boost from Amazon’s Prime Day this year, and Amazon itself claims it was the most successful shopping event in its history. Here are the numbers to back up the performance.

Read the article

Britain’s online shopping boom is a bust for the
High Street


With consumers in the UK making online purchases at double the rate as their US counterparts, many storefronts have shuttered. Who’s leading the shift to the digital shopping space?

Read the article

Here's one way to measure ad boycott pressures


Sleeping Giants has sent many brands and advertisers running for the safer hills and blacklisting ads for hateful sites and content. Where do ad agencies stand in the age of brand safety?

Read the article

Whither digital advertising?


With third-party data on the chopping block for major publishers, where should advertisers turn? To their roots, writes Third Door Media’s Barry Levine.

Read the article

Amazon is primed for rapid growth


Lastly, more on Amazon, as the market anticipates today’s earnings report: the company now commands half of all online retail sales in the US. Will today’s earnings announcement boost them further into the stratosphere?

Read the article

Our latest research finds that as search spend continues to grow from increased clicks and CPCs, another channel is quickly gaining traction: eCommerce, due to the rise in spend on Amazon. Now capturing over 20 percent of digital ad spend for our clients advertising on that platform, Amazon’s Sponsored Product Ads represent 79 percent of ad spend, with Headline Shopping Ads capturing the remaining 21 percent.

We share these insights and more in our Q2 2018 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report. Our interactive web page reveals the latest cross-channel advertising trends by region, industry, and publisher.

amazon



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

Other highlights for Q2 2018 include:

  • Search Driven by Clicks and CPCs. Thirteen percent year-over-year growth in search spend was driven almost equally by increase in click volume and increase in CPCs, with the average global CPC increasing from $0.80 in Q2 2017 to $0.85 in Q2 2018.
  • Mobile Accounts for Nearly Half of Search Ads. Mobile share of search ads remained at 40 percent in Q2. Mobile share is highest in eurozone countries at 46.4 percent and lowest in U.S. at 38.4 percent.
  • Social CPCs Up, CTRs Down. While social CPCs increased by three percent since last quarter, averaging $0.184, CPMs ($3.07) and CTRs (1.67%) dropped slightly from Q1 2018. This difference may be a result of increased awareness due to highly publicized breaches and privacy regulations, making consumers less likely to engage with ads.


Download the report for other actionable insights for your digital ad campaigns.

One of the biggest sales event of the year is on the horizon and approaching rapidly. Amazon Prime Day is the yearly promotion where Amazon reduces prices on a wide-ranging selection of items for its Prime membership customers. According to Amazon, in 2017, Amazon Prime Day sales surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales globally, with sales growing more than 60% from 2016, making it the biggest day in Amazon history at the time!

Who came out on top in 2017? Small businesses and entrepreneurs experienced significant growth in their sales from the previous year. Overall, Amazon Prime Day is a huge growth opportunity not to be missed for any retail company. Now is the time for you to reach a large number of shoppers by capitalizing on Prime Day—
July 16th-17th—and drive incremental revenue.

A Prime Day for Advertisers


Alongside the benefits for retailers, Amazon Prime Day also offers unlimited marketing capabilities for advertisers. Presently Amazon has various ad formats including Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), Sponsored Ads, and Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), all of which provide advertisers with new revenue streams.

Selling on Amazon isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity to stay ahead of your competitors. Yes it seems daunting, but it’s not a matter of being intimidated or worrying about matters out of your control. With the Amazon Services flexible model, you control what you pay for with no subscription fees or contracts, and you pay only for order fulfilment and storage space used so it’s easy to keep a close eye on financials.

Amazon Prime Day


5 Reasons to Sell on Amazon


1. A trusted brand

The eCommerce giant is by far one of the most trusted and popular online retailers around the globe, with The Value Institute ranking them 2017’s most trustworthy brand. There’s no need to build brand awareness here—all you need to do is piggyback off their success by creating a Seller Account, and the potential for massive traffic for your product listings is huge! Alongside Amazon’s trustworthiness, if you approached anyone in the street and asked them to name five big online retailers almost certainly Amazon will be among them.

2. Customers' extremely high intent to buy

According to Statista, as of December 2017, 197 million users visited Amazon websites per month, in the US alone, which is an average of 81 per second! It could be argued that Amazon’s place within the customer journey is much further down the funnel than Google or Facebook, with searches being made with an extremely high intent to buy. This may be the reason why 60% of advertisers view Amazon and its digital advertising options as a growth opportunity or a “necessary evil,” while 17% view Amazon and its digital advertising options as a competitor.

Because of its rising popularity and trustworthiness, Amazon has also invested heavily in its advertising offerings, with Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) being one of its most commonly used formats. AMS offers a range of different ad types to fit your retail objectives, including Headline Search Ads, Sponsored Product Ads, and Product Display Ads.

While Amazon’s ad revenue of $2 billion in 2017 is still modest compared to Google ($40 billion) and Facebook ($21 billion), Marin’s State of Digital Advertising report found Amazon is capable of growing into as much an ad platform as it is a commerce platform, with 85% of respondents revealing the eCommerce giant would impact their business in 2018.

3. It’s easy

You can be up and running in no time. Selling on Amazon is a simple and effective way to reach millions of potential buyers. Whether you’re selling in small or large quantities, Amazon provides you with the tools to sell online prosperously. There are five simple steps to the process:

  1. Register your seller account
  2. Upload your listings
  3. Consumers see and buy your products
  4. Deliver your products to the customer
  5. Receive your payment


There are two ways to sell on Amazon, Basic (sell a little) and Pro (sell a lot) with each plan being designed to meet your needs. From as little as £25/$40 per month for a Pro plan this presents a cost effective opportunity to sell on Amazon.

4. Advertising solutions

Advertising on Amazon is an easy way to promote your listings on the platform and get your products noticed when consumers are shopping for similar items. Like Google Ads and Bing Ads, you only pay when someone clicks your ad. There are two advertising solutions: Sponsored Products for promoting individual listings, and Headline Search Ads for registered brand owners to promote their brand and product portfolio.

These solutions can help to give your products a visibility boost and maximize your sales by bringing those products to a new audience, all of which can be optimized fully when formed with an advertising technology partner who can help drive product sales and raise brand awareness on Amazon. This is done through amplifying the performance of your AMS advertising with flexible reporting and automated optimization.

Amazon Prime Day



5. Hands-off fulfilment and shipping

Opting for Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) lets you send your goods to Amazon’s fulfilment centers, where they’ll deliver your products to the consumer, manage customer service, and handle returns on your behalf. Amazon has the infrastructure to handle everything for you. According to Forbes, Amazon shipped over 5 billion items worldwide in 2017 alone and sellers using FBA can take advantage of Amazon's free 2-day delivery to reach approximately 100 million Amazon Prime subscribers worldwide.

A Rapidly Growing Opportunity


Although Facebook and Google still control the digital advertising industry, Amazon’s ad revenue is growing faster than both companies, with eMarketer also predicting that by 2020, Amazon will have overtaken Oath and Microsoft to claim the #3 spot in the share rankings. With its rising market share and wide variety of ad options, digital advertisers and global brands are starting to flock to Amazon.

The “big three” publishers—Google, Facebook, and Amazon—operate as walled gardens by design. Sadly, they have zero incentive to share data across channels. This siloed approach is totally at odds with your goals as an advertiser—you need a single view of performance to run effective cross-channel ad campaigns.

There’s an answer—our next-generation advertising solution, MarinOne, unifies your search, social, and eCommerce advertising. Within a single platform, you can:

  • Get a unified view of your true customer journey
  • Amplify your search, social, and eCommerce campaigns
  • Gain campaign insight with a single, customizable dashboard


We’d love for you to see it in action. Sign up for our webinar on Tuesday, July 10th at 10am PT / 1pm ET for a preview and to learn how our customers are using MarinOne to save time and increase conversions.

Speaker Bios



Wes MacLaggan has over a decade’s experience developing and delivering analytical enterprise SaaS applications, including four years with Applied Predictive Technologies working on the company’s platform to help retailers maximize the return on their promotional spending. He is currently SVP of Marketing at Marin Software, and has been with the company since 2008.



Rob Emery has been part of the product team at Marin Software since 2015, where he has honed and delivered features serving Search, Social, and Optimization. He’s currently Director of Product Management and taking a lead role in the development and release of MarinOne. Prior to joining Marin, Rob worked in digital marketing for brands including Hilton Worldwide and Bonnier Corporation.

One of the core competencies that separates Amazon sellers that can scale from those who can’t is inventory management.

This is especially true for sellers utilizing Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), a well-oiled process that both minimizes storage costs and maximizes customer satisfaction with healthy stock rates. While walking this tightrope, FBA policies and terms change frequently. These updates can affect seller fees and therefore bottom lines.

Let’s get right to the timely bit. July 1st, 2018 is a mini-Judgment Day for third-party sellers on Amazon. This will mark the end of the per-unit storage limit in favor of a weight-based system. More critically, a new policy goes in effect that utilizes Amazon’s Inventory Performance Index (IPI)—a measure that Amazon calculates for each seller—to determine product storage limits and overall inventory health.

What’s an IPI?


IPI stands for Inventory Performance Index and is comparable to a FICO credit score. Sellers are provided the general inputs that factor into the equation but not the specific formula that outputs the score given the inputs (in other words, a black box). Just as FICO protects their formula from abuse, Amazon retains the IPI calculation with proprietary status.

There are four factors used to determine the score:

  • Sell-through rate (we’ve seen this be the most important factor)
  • In-stock rate
  • Excess inventory percentage
  • Stranded inventory percentage


If any of these are unfamiliar, Amazon Seller Central breaks it down in detail and provides transparency into each factor for seller accounts in the Inventory Dashboard.

Amazon selling


The Policy Change in a Nutshell


A final score check will be performed on the last day of each quarter starting June 30th, 2018.

Seller accounts who fulfill with Amazon with a score lower than 350 will have a storage limit imposed that will persist through the following quarter, regardless of score improvements in that quarter. Additional overage fees will be charged at a rate of $10 per cubic foot per month. Ouch!

Seller accounts with a score at or above 350 will have no limit on storage (normal FBA storage fees and long-term inventory fees still apply).

How This Affects Sellers


For obvious reasons, there are major benefits to having an IPI score above 350. Sellers can avert headaches and growth can continue uninhibited. For those seller accounts above 350, rest easy, though there are still strategies to consider that help maintain good standing and improve IPI score. For sellers who find themselves under, never fear.

For sellers on both sides of the IPI score threshold, understand that there is a lag between when actions are made and re-calculations to update the score. Sellers have reported that inventory takedowns and re-stocks usually update on the same day, while updates to sell-through rate typically only happen once a week. Especially if you’re near the IPI threshold, plan and adjust restocking and adding new products with care. Remember: the IPI score on the date of the final check is the most critical and will have implications for a full quarter with regards to storage space.

New Policy, New Playbook


For sellers who are on the wrong end of the score, let’s go through how to not just survive but thrive with storage limits.

  1. Determine new storage limits. Amazon assigns separate space for apparel, standard size, and oversize units. If the catalog spans multiple categories, this will relieve at least some of the squeeze.
  2. Be confident the storage limit will be no less than 25 cubic feet per item type, according to Amazon. Especially if there is decent selling history on the account, the platform should provide space above that minimum. Though it’s unclear how exactly limits are determined (we do know limits are based on Amazon’s available space as well as seller account performance), the limits are designed to provide an efficient amount of storage that makes sense for both Amazon and the seller. Amazon ideally wants to be able to reap sales commission with the seller being able to stay ahead of demand for customer satisfaction.
  3. Prioritize minimizing inventory. If seller accounts are exceeding the limit, there is still time until the end of the month to draw down before overages apply. The two options to draw down are to increase sell-through rates or remove products from FBA warehouses. Utilizing one of Amazon’s marketing services like Sponsored Ads or Lightning Deals may help boost orders and lighten inventory enough to minimize overage fees. Additionally, removal orders will help pull back excess inventory and also improve sell-through rate. Creating a removal order is a relatively painless (and cost-effective) process. Amazon allows sellers to select products to be disposed of or preferably, shipped back to sellers at nominal cost (currently, no shipping is charged on returns).
  4. Maintain a clean catalog. For all sellers on Amazon, this new policy is designed to shine light on products that are underperforming or inefficient and help improve the seller experience (at least in Amazon’s eyes). Sellers can leverage the new tools that support the new policy to clean up catalogs that may be overdue for attention. Beyond storage limits, the Inventory Performance Index gives sellers a current scorecard with specific components of inventory management that can use the extra focus.


Updates to Amazon’s seller policy can throw a wrench into what was once conventional practice. The Inventory Performance Index and storage limit changes for third-party sellers are no exception. The only thing to be certain of is that this won’t be the last update of its kind. Don’t let policy be the one thing that hampers progress. Happy selling!

“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).



Black Friday is the day that reminds us how much people like to rub elbows in physical stores in search of a great deal. While there has always been an impact on online campaigns on Black Friday, our initial analysis shows that consumer behavior continues to shift online, and perhaps to spending a little more time with family.

We’re seeing two interesting differences between 2017 and the previous two years:

  • The jump in spend on Black Friday was 11% more than we observed over the prior two years.
  • Thanksgiving shopping was much quieter than prior years.


Black Friday Bump 11% Larger


For our group of US advertisers, we saw a 62% bump in spend relative to the average spend for the rest of November. This was 11% higher than we observed in 2015 and 2016. Are more consumers looking for deals online instead of heading to the stores? The rise in spend was a result of increased volume and higher click-through rates, which increased from 2.2% to 2.8%.

Black Friday Showing Shifts in Consumer Behavior


More Time with Family


The other interesting observation was that Thanksgiving was slower than in previous years, continuing a pattern we saw last year. Spend was only up 14%, a significant change from 2015 where the bump was 53%. Are people more focused on their families on Thanksgiving or just heading out to the stores earlier for the pre-Black Friday deals?

Stay tuned for updates on Cyber Monday and the rest of the holiday season.

Advertising performance for a world-famous design and fashion house trended well below its target return on ad spend (ROAS). Strong seasonality and a rapidly shifting marketplace caused sliding sales. These challenges were as tricky to negotiate as the catwalks at Fashion Week.

In with the Marin Crowd



Marin Software collaborated with this fashion house to design a new shopping plan and implement it with the “hautest” marketing technology.

The alliance was an immense success, resulting in a 400% increase in ROAS.

How did we do it? To find out, read the case study.

Online retail is on the rise, with the National Retail Federation estimating an 8-12% US e-commerce bump in 2017. Still, most purchases continue to happen in stores—how can retail advertisers accurately measure the impact of their digital advertising efforts on these brick-and-mortar sales?

To help close this gap, we’ve launched Offline Conversions in Marin Social.

Know What’s Working and What’s Not


With offline conversion tracking, you can track transactions that happen at a physical retail store and other offline channels such as phone orders. From here, you can attribute these conversions to users engaging with your Facebook ads.

Marin Social offers full support for this type of offline conversion tracking, and maps transaction data from your customer database or point-of-sale system to your Facebook ad reporting. This gives you a better understanding of the effectiveness of your social campaigns.

Close the Loop to Offline Sales


In Marin Social, Offline Conversions setup is easy. Once you update the settings in your Marin Social media plan, every new ad you create will automatically be tagged to enable offline conversion tracking.

social advertising



We’ve designed Offline Conversions to be as flexible as possible, so you’re free to create a single media plan for an ad account that covers all available offline events. Or, you might choose to create multiple media plans for the same ad account and include only the appropriate offline events. You can even link existing ad campaigns to offline events on the publisher side. It’s all up to you.

Learn More


If you’re already a Marin Social Customer, just get in touch with your account rep and learn more in our support center. If you’re new to Marin, contact us today.

Dynamic Ads allows advertisers with a product feed to automatically deliver personalized ads based on the interest people show on your website site or app. This powerful—and largely untapped—ad type delivers hyper-targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network to people most likely to buy what you’re selling.

In our Ultimate Guide to Dynamic Ads on Facebook, we share tactical advice and timely tips to get you up, running, and profitable with this innovative ad type.

Just a few highlights:

  • The Key Benefits of Dynamic Ads: Marketers who implement Dynamic Ads can expect to see increased sales, time savings, automatic alignment with inventory, and more. Read about how a name-brand jeweler boosted ROAS by 357% with Dynamic Ads.
  • Finding New Customers and Improving Conversion Rates: We take a close look at Broad Audiences, a way to expand the reach of your Dynamic Ad campaigns by serving more relevant ads to people who haven’t visited your website.
  • Cross-Selling and Upselling Existing Customers: Dynamic Ads is perfect for attracting customers to a more expensive item or an entirely different product from your catalog. We offer techniques and tips to increase revenue and expand reach.


To learn more, download the full document.

With Google Shopping now dominating search ads, retail advertisers who stay ahead of the game stand to gain the most clicks and conversions. Clicteq’s Wesley Parker provides expert tips for search marketers to stand out and expand your reach.

search ads

If you're a retail advertiser, you're looking to reach customers at the right time with the right product, at the very point when they’re deciding:

To buy or not to buy?

Retail remains huge in the U.S. and is the fastest-growing industry across Europe, with growth expected to exceed £215.38 billion by 2017. It’s now more important than ever to keep your customers engaged throughout their entire shopping experience. With this in mind, brands now need to focus on creating a seamless user experience to help close that final sale.

Take stock of what you’re currently doing and adjust where necessary. Here are five tips to help your efforts.

1. Set up a sales funnel


Know exactly what you want your potential customers to do next, and then create a series of steps that help you turn prospects into customers. Remember that you have people at different stages of the buying cycle on your site at any given time—from people at the research stage to those ready to purchase.

People at the top of the funnel aren’t yet ready to make a purchase, so don’t ask for the sale too soon (i.e., ‘Buy Now’). Customers need to commit before they’re ready to purchase. Provide value before asking for a sale, and capture an email address and phone number that can be added to a custom audience, and then used at a later stage to retarget and re-engage with the customer.

2. Make the checkout process easy


Ultimately your end goal is to convert lookers into buyers in as few clicks as possible. Be sure to:

  • Keep the checkout page clear of any distractions.
  • Provide directional cues as part of the checkout process—tell your customers what you want them to do next.
  • Lower your form fill fields—only ask for the information needed to complete the order.
  • Allow for guest checkouts. Don’t force the customer to register an account in order to make a purchase.
  • Consider allowing sign-ups with social media account logins (e.g., Facebook). With a one-click option you can autofill parts of the checkout or registration process.
  • Offer an incentive to increase basket value, e.g., free shipping on orders over $50.


3. Show customer testimonials


Publish customer reviews, as these may be the tipping point for customers on the cusp of a purchase.

4. Create a sense of urgency


Whether it’s time-based or stock quantity-based, creating a sense of urgency will persuade your customers to take action.

5. Re-engage


This seems like the simplest solution, but it’s often left out of the marketing mix. Remarketing through Facebook will help to boost conversions and reduce the overall cost per customer acquisition. Once you’ve successfully added your Facebook pixel to your website, build out Website Custom Audiences. You have several options available to you, including:

  • Anyone who visits your website
  • People who visit specific pages on your website / but not others
  • People who haven’t visited in a certain amount of time / based on time spent on your site


retail advertising



Remember Lookalikes

Remember you can also create a lookalike audience based on people who’ve visited your website. A lookalike audience is a way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to people who already are.

Use Dynamic Ads

If you’re a retailer with a product catalog, you should take full advantage of Dynamic Ads. With this ad type, you can promote any item from your product catalog dynamically to people who’ve expressed interest on your website. The main aim of Dynamic Ads is to reach more people or to retarget shoppers to complete their sale. There are many great things about Dynamic Ads, a few of which include:

  • Automatically generate ads based on your product catalog and ad creative templates.
  • Show specific product ads based on particular user behavior on your website.
  • Generate lookalike audiences to find more people who may be interested in specific products on your site.


To learn more about Dynamic Ads and how they can work for you, read the following articles:


Making use of available tools can help you turn curious shoppers into decisive buyers, reaching and converting the precise audience you need to influence—potential customers, existing customers, and even people who’ve never heard of you. The possibilities are as broad as your ad campaigns make them.

If you’d like help setting up stellar campaigns that attract and retain customers, just get in touch.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner. As children, husbands, significant others, friends, and even extended family search for the perfect gift to shower the moms in their lives, this celebratory holiday presents an opportunity for advertisers to generate incremental sales via paid search.

While some shoppers already know what to get mom for Mother’s Day, many consumers need help finding that perfect gift—and, lots of people turn to Google search for assistance. Advertisers should develop a strong Mother’s Day paid search strategy to drive awareness of their products during this holiday.

Here are three tips to ensure a successful Mother’s Day for your search campaigns.

1. Expand Keyword Coverage Using RLSA



General gift-giving searches for the term “Mother’s Day Gift” start increasing approximately a month before Mother’s Day, with a steep incline leading up to the holiday.

[caption id="attachment_9404" align="alignnone" width="500"]

Mother's Day Ads

2016 Google trends data for “Mother’s Day Gift”[/caption]

Advertisers looking to put themselves in front of potential consumers during this key shopping period can leverage the uptick in Mother’s Day search queries by expanding keyword coverage. Adding keywords for “Mother’s Day Gift”, “Cheap Mother’s Day Gifts”, “Unique Mother’s Day Gifts”, “Gifts for Mom” and “Mother’s Day Gift Ideas” is a great way to get seen by more shoppers.

However, keep in mind that while general gift-giving keywords present a great opportunity to reach consumers, many people searching these keywords are still early in the research phase. This means that the influx in traffic from these keywords may not result in the desired uptick to sales volume.

Avoid decreasing your ROAS by narrowing your reach for Mother’s Day gifting keywords to RLSA audiences only. This tactic will limit exposure of these keywords to people who’ve previously been to your site. Limiting the reach to an audience already familiar with your brand can help drive incremental sales and keep ROAS strong.

2. Customize Ad Copy for Mother’s Day



Make your paid search ad pop by tailoring the ad copy to Mother’s Day shoppers. Include mention of finding the perfect gift, surprising mom, making Mother’s Day special, etc. Also, consider incorporating Ad Customizers with a Mother’s Day countdown feature. As Mother’s Day gets closer, the countdown element will add a sense of urgency for shoppers to make their purchase.

Ad extensions are another valuable tool to utilize. Be sure to incorporate callout extensions and sitelinks that promote Mother’s Day gifts. This is a great way to feature gift cards, top picks for moms, a Mother’s Day gift giving guide, and special offers.

3. Leverage Enticing Offers



Everyone loves a good deal! Convert more shoppers by offering a strong promotion for Mother’s Day. Traditional money-saving deals are always appealing, but you can also test more creative offers such as a free gift with purchase.

Don’t forget to leverage tactics that’ll appeal to buyers who need a gift quickly. Search volume for the phrase “Mother’s Day Gift” spikes drastically the week leading up to Mother’s Day. An offer for free next-day delivery could be a very compelling offer for last-minute shoppers who need their gift to arrive before the big day.

Conclusion



Making a few easy tweaks to your paid search strategy can help drive incremental sales for Mother’s Day gifts. Implement new keywords to expand your reach, customize ad copy with Mother’s Day messaging, and incorporate compelling offers.

This post is specific to search tips, but remember to also incorporate a Mother’s Day strategy for shopping, social, and display campaigns.

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.

According to a recent HubSpot report, reading a native ad headline yields 308 times more consumer attention than processing an image or banner. The question, at this point, isn’t whether or not native advertising can be effective. It’s how best to utilize native ads to drive consumer engagement and increase conversions.

Marin partnered with Yahoo to provide the best practices we’ve learned on how to build successful native ad campaigns that’ll help you conquer your biggest possible share of the market.

Build the Backbone of Your Native Campaigns


  1. Add an Image: Confirm that your current image is relevant to all campaigns. Make sure your messages match your images for top performance-driving queries.
  2. Use Your Logos: Reinforce brand recall and inspire action by letting your logo shine in images and using brand mentions where applicable.
  3. Clean Your Keywords: Just like with your search campaigns, use keyword performance reports to defend positive ROI and ad relevance. Add negative keywords where applicable.
  4. Track Performance: Use higher bid modifiers to get more traffic and consider whether other modifiers may be driving down your bid.
  5. Test Often: Pull ad performance reports regularly, and compare image performance for ad refreshes and testing.
  6. Break It Down: Separate your campaigns into similar performing groups (e.g., seasonality, purchase-funnel location, price point, etc.) to better measure performance across groups with similar goals.


Oh, You Fancy, Huh?


If you’re already following the six tips and tricks outlined above, here are three more for the advanced native advertiser who’s using Yahoo Gemini.

  1. Entice New Customers: Recruit new customers based on their Yahoo search history. Use custom messaging to target users who’ve searched for your competitors.
  2. Improve Your Targeting: Leverage data from other publishers to enhance your content and bidding strategy on Yahoo Gemini.
  3. Maximize Your Investment: Use machine learning to optimize your Yahoo bids. Gain an advantage by mining cross-publisher data to set the optimal bid to hit your overall performance goals.


Want to learn more about Native Advertising? Check out the recording of our joint webinar with Yahoo for best practices for native video and steps you can take immediately to extend your reach with native ads.

You can also download our white paper, The Essential Guide to Native Advertising: The Rise of a Digital Ad Format and Best Practices for Commanding Audience Attention.

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.

Lead generation ads have many benefits, and are a great way of connecting with the people most likely to want your products. Looking to get even more qualified leads? Then lead gen ads are for you. Here a few things to keep in mind to get the best results and yes, “win big.”

Best Practices


A good way to maximize the effectiveness of your lead gen ads is to drive users to helpful content, such as....

A blog article. In the lead gen ad, provide a teaser to the content. Then, redirect the user to the actual article to continue reading and dive into the details.

A PDF: Have a piece of content you know your audience will love? Give them this gift by way of a lead gen ad. For example, if you run an online casino, provide them with a PDF guide on online gambling that includes useful advice to make them more confident in using your site.

A specific offer: Your existing clients might just love something tailored specifically to them. Think retention. Are you an
e-commerce site with promo codes for customers? A lead gen ad could be the solution, as it has the sense of ‘unfolding’ something that’s just for the individual consumer.

Continued Flow from Ad to Website


It may take you some time to put continued flow into action on your website, but once you do this—and once you’re whitelisted by Facebook—then users will be able to simply fill in their details into the lead gen ad on Facebook and won’t need to complete them again when they’re redirected to your site. This greatly improves the user experience.

Some of the details, such as the user’s name, are pre-populated in the lead gen form. After the user fills in the form, they’ll be redirected to your website, where not only will their name already be filled in, but any other required fields will also be pre-filled to avoid any redundancies between Facebook and website forms.

This all works seamlessly because of Facebook’s Continued Flow. Note that you’ll need to implement the Continued Flow API to make sure the flow works, and to ensure a smooth user experience with no need for the user to repeat actions. (It’s kind of like being transferred during a phone call and not having to explain things all over again.)

Mobile Versus Desktop


Like most online channels these days, mobile’s winning. Lead gen ads are no exception, and mobile placement tends to have better delivery and results.

For desktop ads, be sure to keep in mind that most browsers have pop-up blockers, so desktop users may not be redirected to your website. In this case, there goes your lead. And, due to security upgrades in modern browsers on desktop, it’s hard to bypass these blockers.

Since Facebook must currently live with these blockers, Continued Flow won’t work on desktop. For best results for your lead gen ads, focus on mobile.

Retargeting Campaigns


Make sure you’re taking the fullest advantage of your engaged lead ad audiences. Depending on traffic and results, run a retargeting campaign simultaneously.

Note that when you’re analyzing performance, look at blended CPAs to understand the real costs of your campaign.

Supporting Lead Ads


There are several complementary efforts you can launch to amplify the effectiveness of your lead gen ads.

Link the lead form data directly to your CRM system. Facebook integrates with several great providers, giving you the ability to send user data directly to your CRM system. From there, you can support your lead gen initiative with email or SMS campaigns. And, even if you decide not to launch a side campaign, you can still more easily download your new leads with a CRM integration.

Use email marketing. It’s a common practice for gambling companies to decrease their CPA by running email marketing campaigns to retarget users gained on Facebook. Why is this? These companies have a particular user funnel that involves a couple of conversions until they achieve the result of ‘getting the player’.

Other markets can greatly benefit from this, too. Consider running email marketing campaigns to support your lead gen ad efforts. Again, look at blended CPAs and the particular value this would have for you.

Take the Lead


All in all, there are plenty of opportunities to implement lead gen ads for your business and make your campaigns more successful. To find out how Marin can help you put lead gen ads into action, contact us today.

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

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

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

A Powerful, Automated Tool for Ad Creation



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

dsa-example



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

A Nitty-Gritty Test of Dynamic Headlines



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

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

I broke the results into three areas:

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


Let’s dive in.

Headline Length of Dynamic Search Ads

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

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


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





























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


CTR Analysis

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
























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


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















Headline LengthPercent of ImpressionsCTRHeadline Length > 70 Characters11%18.81%


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

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

Dynamic Headline Source

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











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


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

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

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

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

1. Use holiday-specific imagery and creative



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

2. Get the timing right



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

3. Avoid creative fatigue



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

4. Use last year’s data



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

5. Be clear with discounts



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

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


About the Author


sarah

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

About Boost Media


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

Holiday shopping’s in full swing. If you’re running retargeting campaigns, make sure they’re as prepared for the season as you are. Online sales are forecast to increase between seven and 10 percent over last year to as much as $117 billion.

We made your list, so check it twice, and take these steps to boost campaign performance during the holiday season.

Increase your budgets to win more impressions


You’re likely going to see a boost in site traffic (especially if you sell anything that can be given as a gift), which means you’ll see a boost in impressions served and in advertising funds spent. Make sure your campaigns have a proper budget set to guarantee you have enough ad money available for the day, so that you don’t miss out on these potential new customers.

We recommend a 25 to 50% budget increase for the holidays, but you know your site traffic best. Whatever percentage of traffic increase you’re expecting, boost your budget about that same percentage.

Raise your campaign bids


Almost all advertisers will increase their spend for the holidays, so you’re going to have serious competition.

With so many advertisers fighting for ad space, it’s not uncommon to see your CPM costs rise during this time of year. To prepare for this surge, make sure you increase your CPM bids across your campaigns. Bidding higher will make your campaigns more competitive and will give you a better chance of serving more ads by winning more impressions. We suggest increasing your CPM bid by 50-100% of the current average CPM cost for the campaign.

Use holiday-themed ads and landing pages


Holiday-themed advertising only gets people’s attention during one time of the year, and you should join the conversation your customers are having. Using ads that mention specific events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or any of the major holidays can grab a visitor’s attention.

Send a happy holiday message, mention that there are only X number of shopping days left, and give them a reason to click your ads. Use the holidays as a chance to create urgency and you could see a boost in clicks and conversions.

Two Quick Steps You Can Take Right Now


  • Create landing pages and content on your site for these holiday events, then create audiences that capture visitors of these pages.
  • Run campaigns to serve your holiday ads to your holiday page visitors. If they’re coming to your site looking for seasonal deals, they’re more likely to respond to holiday-themed ads.


We hope these suggestions are helpful and lead to a profitable holiday season for you and your business. As always, please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.

From our team to yours—happy holidays!

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!

Shopping doesn’t end after the holidays—according to a National Retail Federation survey, 65% of shoppers plan to keep shopping after Christmas. Use this time of year to convert them to loyal customers with new demand generation and cross-sell opportunities.

Demand Generation and Cross-Sell


Don’t let your holiday campaigns go to waste—keep aiming for more purchases. Post-holidays is a great time to re-engage to drive demand.

  • Audience: Identify recent purchasers to showcase new collections to them. You can achieve this by using Website Custom Audiences (or Tailored Audiences on Twitter) with an appropriate retention window.
  • Ad formats: Use Dynamic Ads to automatically cross-sell complementary products or upsell higher value products from your catalog.
  • Creative: Focus on creative that defines your brand beyond the holidays to avoid ad fatigue and expand into the New Year. Your brand message should seamlessly transition from the holidays to the post-holiday period to maintain interest and create new opportunities, such as additional gear and add-ons for holiday presents (video games, DSLR bag, etc.), post-holiday flash promotions, etc.
  • Optimization: Optimize for product sales or conversions to maximize the delivery of your ad campaigns to people likely to convert, once again making sure that your pixel is capturing enough conversions per week.


For more tips on winning the holiday shopping game, download our Social Advertiser’s Holiday Guide.

Here we go again. The shopping period is already here, and season-crazy advertisers are going where every ad campaign has gone before, but now even more so—online and mobile.

This year’s expected to be even more frenzied—and lucrative—than the last. To help you maneuver through the upcoming spending sprees and plan for a successful holiday season, we dug into the Marin Advertising Index to assess last year’s digital advertising performance and provide tips for Q4 2016. Check out a few of our industry highlights.








SPEND AND CONVERSIONS


In 2015, retailers spent 200% of their average daily spend on Black Friday, and received 210% more conversions.








PHONES AND DESKTOPS


Smartphone clicks grew by 87% year over year (YoY), almost equaling desktop clicks in 2015. Compared to 2014, 54% of clicks were on desktops and only 28% were on smartphones.







In 2015, retailers spent 200% of their average daily spend on Black Friday, and received 210% more conversions.







STAT #1


Cyber Monday had a bigger online presence than Black Friday in 2015. We may see this behavior again this year.


STAT #2


In 2015, Cyber Monday saw 280% higher spend than the daily average, and 270% of conversions.







For online advertisers, Cyber Monday should be even bigger than Black Friday. Advertisers should be ready for up to 3x more clicks and conversions. Begin preparing at least a week ahead for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday.



You’ve got your product feed set and sending to Merchant Center. You’ve created campaigns mapped from the attributes that make the most sense for your style of management. And, you’re pretty familiar with the set attributes you can use to define product groups:





















Item IDBrandCategoryProduct TypeConditionChannelChannel ExclusivityCustom Labels



What about those custom labels, though?

Google allows for up to five custom labels per feed. Here are some effective and creative ways you can use them.

SKU Grouping


One clever way to use a custom label is to group SKUs together under a Parent ID. Think of this as a “Parent” and “Child” relationship where we group the Child SKUs under a Parent label.

For example, suppose you offer a coffee mug in different colors. Each variety has its own unique Item ID. You could assign the same “Parent” identification number to each of the variations, and then set a product group to define the set of the products—as opposed to having to map these individually by Item ID.

01-sku



Product groups:
Custom_Label 0: 1234
Custom_Label 0: 1111
Custom_Label 0: 1213

Average Order Value


Another interesting way to apply a custom label is to group products by their price point, or average order value. For example, you could apply values of “High,” “Medium,” or “Low” to products based on where they belong in the overall product mix. In your campaign, you could then segment out Product Groups based on these values, and utilize these levers to bid more or less aggressively on products based on their anticipated return and volume.

Seasonality


Categorizing products by how (or whether or not) they sell according to time of year can be a wise consideration depending on the nature of your business. Indicating these designations in the product feed allows you to increase or decrease bids across a range of products classified by time of year.

So, in the final days of summer, you could increase bids across all seasonal products and then, right after, immediately bid down on those after the heat breaks.

02-seasonality



Product groups:
Custom_Label 1: Winter
Custom_Label 1: Summer
Custom_Label 1: Fall


These are just a few ways to apply custom labels—and give your campaigns levers to bid and segment on—that are completely specific to your account. The main takeaway is to use them.

Brainstorm what makes sense to be able to dictate volume by (whether or not a product is in peak season, whether or not it brings a high yield per order, etc.), then apply the values in the feed and create the defined product group in AdWords. Custom labels are the most flexible of the attributes available, so test them out and see what helps shift the needle in your overall Shopping performance.

Dynamic Ads enable you to automatically promote your entire catalog across devices. With Dynamic Ads, you have full control over the products you advertise, ensuring you’re reaching audiences who’ve expressed high intent to purchase with the most relevant products. Advanced tactics are also available—cross-sell, upsell, and even prospecting.

  • Audience: Segment audiences based on past browsing behavior. For example, you can create audiences of people who viewed or added products to their cart but didn’t purchase, then retarget them with the same products to increase their purchase intent.
  • Targeting: Upload your product catalog to Facebook and make sure it’s regularly updated. Build product sets by category, best sellers, or high-margin products.
  • Ad formats: It’s best practice to use Carousel Ads rather than static image link ads.
  • Creative: Test different variations with macros such as price, brand, and description in your ad text and Carousel titles.
  • Optimization: Always bid your maximum value for one-day post-click conversions, and make sure bid values match with audience behavior. For instance, “add to cart” is a higher intent than a simple “product view” and may justify a higher bid. Make sure your audience pools are broad enough to get sufficient delivery.


For more tips to make the most of your holiday ad campaigns across social media, download our Social Advertiser’s Holiday Guide.

This piece was recently featured in PerformanceIN, the leading global performance marketing publication.

Does your Facebook advertising strategy include video? Should you include video as part of your overall Facebook advertising strategy?

If you find yourself asking these questions, this article is for you. In this post you’ll discover essential tips for killer Facebook video campaigns and how you can improve on your existing strategy.

Facebook has seen phenomenal growth in video usage over the past year—it’s now serving a staggering 8 billion video views a day. Video usage has exploded astronomically, with no signs of slowing down. On average US adults spend 1 hour and 16 minutes each day watching videos on digital devices. In a split second, they’ll make a decision as to whether or not your post is worth engaging with.

If you have no idea where to start, you’re in luck. We’re here to help you create a powerful campaign that gets you noticed and achieve positive results.

1. Define your goal.


Before you start your campaign, it’s essential to understand what you want to achieve. Are you looking for brand awareness or to drive action? First and foremost, getting eyeballs on your videos should be your initial goal, but don’t stop there. You have a wealth of customer data itching to be used. Take these video viewers and turn them into actual customers (which we’ll chat about in a moment).

  • Drive brand awareness: Tracking video views and unique reach is important to you. Remember that Facebook considers a “view” someone who’s watched three or more seconds of your video.
  • Drive action: Clicks to your website or conversions are important to you. Be sure to add a clear call to action to your ad.


2. Decide on your target audience.


In general, Facebook recommends defining an audience of over 10,000 people for the best ad performance. You need to make people stop to view your video ad instead of scrolling past, so choose carefully. The more relevant your audience is the more video views you’re likely to get. We recommend creating buyer personas to identify who your ideal customers are, and then using these to define your campaign’s target audiences.

Be sure to tailor your creative for each respective persona. This also goes for separate target audiences and brand awareness versus re-engagement campaigns. Be creative and experiment with different targeting options to find the one that suits you best.

3. Go mobile.


Video ads are available across desktop/mobile news feeds and Instagram. Mobile drives the most effective video views, with 65% of Facebook users watching videos on their mobile device. With mobile effectively becoming the core of Facebook’s business—having grown 82% year-over-year and accounting for 80% of its total ad revenue—it continues to attract more and more people on mobile devices. This is only set to increase with its Instagram offering.

4. Don’t over-rely on autoplay.


Create engaging videos that make people want to hit that “play” button. If your ad receives high negative feedback, your video is less likely to autoplay. Have visually engaging content in the first few seconds of your video to catch a user’s attention. Sell without sound—85% of videos on Facebook are watched on silent mode, so use text overlays and a clear CTA to get your message across. Get creative with your content and cater for silent autoplay.

5. Optimize for video views for maximum reach.


Allow Facebook to identify users who are more likely to watch your video, which in turn will help increase the reach of your campaign. By choosing video views as your objective, Facebook will look for people who are more likely to watch your video in full. This will then let you generate much more effective custom audiences for your retargeting campaigns.

Video Views


6. Re-engage users and drive conversions.


Video is the perfect mode for prospecting, but don’t let your strategy stop there. Take your viewers on a journey through your funnel and convert them into actual, paying customers. How, you ask? Create a list of people who’ve engaged with your video on Facebook and choose from several options:

  • People who viewed at least 3 seconds of your video
  • People who viewed at least 10 seconds of your video
  • People who viewed at least 25% of your video
  • People who viewed at least 50% of your video
  • People who viewed at least 75% of your video
  • People who viewed at least 95% of your video


Custom Audience



Use these audiences to retarget highly engaged users of your brand. People who’ve completed your video will represent a more engaged audience and will be more likely to take your desired action. Get your messaging right, and as we mentioned above, take your viewers on a journey through the funnel.

If you’ve shown them generic messaging in your first touch point, be sure to follow up with specific product messaging followed by an incentive to purchase if they haven’t already done so. The goal of retargeting is to place your brand at top of mind while customers are still deep in their decision-making process.

Marin launched exactly this strategy with a leading technology brand and achieved a 30% lower CPA and 11% higher CTR, plus generated the highest number of sales for the campaign overall.

7. Monitor, adjust, and optimize.


You’ve followed all of the above steps and now you want to actually figure out what’s working for you. Test, test, and test some more! Ensure to test all the creative elements of your ads, including different video variations and text overlays. The number of ad variations will add up quite quickly, so it’s best to create these in bulk to save you time.

Narrow your targets based on your key objectives and buyer personas. You can break down your audiences by location, demographics, interests, and behavior specifics.

For example, if your audience size is large enough and you want to target multiple locations, run them in separate campaigns—making it easier to optimize—and see what’s working best for you. Are you targeting fans versus non-fans? Consider using different creative for each. You should always have different messaging for people who are already familiar with your brand, versus people who may have never come across you prior to your campaign.

Along with the above be sure to:

  • Include a clear CTA.
  • Use high-quality video content.
  • Include your branding and main messaging in the first few seconds of your video to take advantage of the autoplay feature (remember to use text overlay to cater for silent autoplay).
  • Combat ad fatigue by refreshing your creative every one to two weeks for best performance. When people have seen your ad multiple times, it can become more expensive to achieve your desired results.


Navigate to the reporting section and monitor key metrics such as clicks, impressions, reach, CTR, and conversions. Be sure to track follow-on activity in your Google Analytics account, and measure the lift of your campaigns based on key website stats such as bounce rate, average session duration, pages per session, and goal completion. Use the results of your testing to create a powerful, results-driven campaign.

With the continued growth of video across the platform, Facebook video ads are more likely to generate increased engagement for brands. By implementing the above, you’re sure to generate conversions from your efforts.

We recently published our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report, which looked at the current state of shopping ads, and examined advertiser and consumer behavior over the past year. Now, with the shopping season even closer, advertisers are quickly making sure their budgets and ad campaigns are ready and flawless.

Based on the data, what are our top tips for retailers looking to get the most value out of their digital advertising campaigns this holiday season? Read on.

1. Plan and time large increases in budget to account for holiday spikes.


We predict that 40% of all shopping ad dollars will be on a mobile device. Similarly, around 37% of search clicks will be on a shopping ad on either Bing or Google. Be sure to budget ad campaigns accordingly to match up with consumer attention during critical holiday spikes.

Research shows that spend peaks in November, with overall ad spend reaching almost 90% above what it was in January. Smartphone behavior was the most pronounced—smartphone ad spend spiked to almost 400% above baseline in November when compared to the year’s beginning.

2. Account for mobile-desktop differences for shoppers.


Smartphones now make up the majority of clicks and spend for all shopping ads. With 55% of all shopping ad clicks originating on a smartphone, the importance of properly optimizing ad spend can’t be overstated.

Research shows that shoppers are utilizing mobile devices in-store more than ever, to conduct product research and price-shop. Being able to capture this audience while they’re in the middle of a purchase decision may be crucial this holiday season to ensure an offline conversion.

3. Spread shopping ad budget across publishers.


While Google remains the largest search publisher for shopping campaigns, Bing is no slouch, either. Adoption of Bing Shopping Campaigns (BSC) has been accelerating and Marin has seen over 20% of clients on Google Shopping already using BSC. While Google Shopping has more viewership and use, BSCs are competitive in price and performance, and may be a good option for some retailers.

4. Go beyond shopping ads.


Shopping ad spend has been taking up a larger portion of retailer ad spend every year, reaching almost 30% of all search ad dollars this year. However, this doesn’t mean this is the only ad format retailers should consider.

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are a relatively new ad format that have seen strong early returns for many advertisers. Early data has shown an almost 300% ROAS for ETAs, meaning they’re highly competitive with both conventional search ads and shopping ads.

5. Social shopping is great for mobile retailers.


While social networks have always been a highly mobile device oriented channel, this is especially true for retail. Almost 95% of clicks on retail ads on social are on a mobile device, and mobile also accounts for 90% of all social spend for retail advertisers. Research shows that consumers interact differently with social ads than they do with search. Rather than research, social ads are better used for awareness and to start conversations with target audiences.

Each holiday season has been bigger than the last, and the trend is positioned to continue this year. Retailers have more choices than ever when it comes to ad campaigns. However, with this increased choice comes increased difficulty, as effectively managing spend across multiple devices and channels isn’t easy. A little planning, knowledge, and foresight will go a long way.

If you’re a retail advertiser, you have one, overarching goal each holiday season—drive sales. Every ad campaign launched, tracked, and optimized works holistically toward this goal.

Now that fall’s here, it’s time to gear your social campaigns to the rigors of Q4 and this quarter’s particular idiosyncrasies. The October to December timeframe is your most important business period of the year. You have your work cut out for you leveraging insights and audiences from your pre-holiday preparation to maximize sales. For optimal efficiency, retargeting users who’ve demonstrated interest is a key tactic.

Here are some tips to drive sales during the soon-to-be busiest, most competitive time of the year. To sum it all up in a single directive—focus on people familiar with your brand.

  • Audience: Build your campaigns around high-intent customer segments such as recent purchasers, loyalty members, and past holiday purchasers—and try to plan for a specific conversion path for each of them.
  • Targeting: Use Custom and Website Custom Audiences of people who’ve visited your website recently or purchased from you before.
  • Ad formats: Focus on ad formats that’ll allow you to showcase your products and services, such as Video Link Ads, Carousel Ads, and Canvas Ads.
  • Creative: Showcase your best-selling products to your audience segments and highlight USPs. Create urgency with limited-time offers, shipping deadlines, or discounts, and timely promotions such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday %-off.
  • Optimization: Optimize for conversions to maximize the delivery of your ads to people likely to purchase. Once again, make sure your conversion volume is enough for Facebook’s algorithm to be effective (especially if you're selling high-value products with costs above $200).


For more tips to stay ahead this holiday season—plus extra guidance designed specifically for Marin Software customers—download our Social Advertiser’s Holiday Guide.

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

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

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


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

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