SEO

Content marketing is buyer-centric. It’s measurable, compounding, and scalable. In fact, it typically performs more reliably than other tactics, which makes it one of the best foundations to build marketing success. Creating unique, consistent, and valuable B2B content is simply the best way to connect with your audience. In this article, we’ll explore what B2B content marketing is, why it’s important, how to build a strategy, and how you can use it to grow your business. 

What is B2B content marketing?

Business-to-business (B2B) content marketing is the practice of producing and distributing content methodically to increase brand awareness, improve traffic, generate leads, and boost sales. It’s the process of using content to grow your audience, strengthen brand affinity, and ultimately improve your bottom line. Traditional forms of B2B content marketing include blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, and infographics. 

Why do B2B companies need content marketing?

Builds brand awareness

Content marketing directly influences your organic traffic. When traffic is flowing, you’re building awareness for your brand. Done right, content marketing can help 

  • Improve customer retention rates 
  • Boost organic ranking of your site 
  • Help you create brand partnerships, and 
  • Attract more followers on social media. 
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Creates better engagement rates 

Simply focusing on content creation isn’t enough to create an effective B2B strategy. Marketers must also take notice of leading metrics like engagement rates, clicks, and bounce rate. When content is tailored to suit their interests, audiences will continue to consume it. If content is geared towards a buyer’s tendencies and intent, it will also improve overall engagement as well as conversion rates. 

Affordable, cost-effective, and supports long-term growth

A good SEO strategy coupled with high-quality content produces long-lasting results that compound over time. Once content is generated, it has great potential to drive organic traffic to your site—without you having to compete for top spot ads. 

Although upfront costs for content marketing may initially seem high, it is considered to be more cost-effective than other traditional forms of marketing, paid advertising, and video marketing. 

Additionally, the content you create can be frequently updated and repurposed, costing you a fraction of the price it took to make it. In the long term, the more you use your content, the cheaper it will become. 

High ROI

According to Statista, 30% of marketers believe content has the highest ROI of any channel. Marketers commonly try to amalgamate content’s strategic and financial value into a single metric: campaign ROI, or the success of a single campaign. When measuring the value of your content, be sure you stay focused on the challenge you are trying to solve. Content assets can be employed in numerous ways and can simultaneously be used across multiple platforms. It can also be used for video purposes, on your website, as a transcript for a blog, and so on. 

Perceived level of ROI generated by selected digital marketing
channels according to marketers worldwide - Image Source

How to build a successful B2B content strategy

Every B2B content marketing strategy is unique. However, to create a successful roadmap, you need goals and understanding of your company's long-term objectives. Don’t let the idea of a content strategy be too daunting. It’s actually not very complicated and once you understand what it takes to plan one, you can start creating content that can drive success in your business.

Understand your audience

When you know your audience well, you’ll find it a lot easier to create the right content for them. Even if you have a large audience, explore your Google Analytics data on a granular level. By doing so, you can learn a great deal about your site’s visitors such as gender, age, location, and what topics interest them the most. Once you have more insight into your audience, you can expand content into new relevant subject areas. 

Map the customer journey

When you have a good understanding of your audience, review the customer journey. This can be complex, as they probably went through multiple touchpoints. However, it will help you discover which kinds of content are most effective at leading prospects down the sales funnel. When you have a good idea of where a prospect is in the customer journey, you can adjust your content to keep them interested.

Set yourself apart from competitors

Determine who your biggest competitors are and what kind of content they’re producing. To distinguish your company, aim to deliver content in engaging ways that your competitors can’t.  Present content that highlights the unique value of your business and services. If they have specific content that is performing well, you can implement similar strategies. Unique and approachable messaging will give you a better chance of attracting ideal customers. 

Measure leads and micro-metrics

Data can provide a lot of information, allowing you to measure what’s working and what’s not. To advance your B2B content, you must take analytics seriously. Some metrics that are worth measuring include: 

  • Current statistics such as total views, conversions, and shares of posts
  • Benchmarks and trends
  • High-performing content

Once you understand how your content is performing, you can adjust your strategy accordingly. If there is specific content that gets better than average conversion rates, promote it via sponsored content or paid social ads. 

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Common mistakes content marketers make 

Content marketing pitfalls can often be prevented with careful planning. With the market so crowded, there’s little room for error and missed opportunities. Marketers need to focus on getting it right as they are limited by a finite number of potential customers. Common mistakes include:

Not taking advantage of user-generated content 

When user-generated material goes ignored, marketers miss out on a major opportunity to build a solid foundation of trust with consumers. To ensure content reaches their audience with a greater impact, marketers can include reviews and testimonials where appropriate, and even outsource content creation to users. This saves time and resources.  

Not having a content approval process 

A review and editing process is vital to ensure high-quality content that is relevant and engaging. It is also wise for marketers to create a content review and approval checklist. Alternatively, using a content management platform can help mainstream the process, making it easy to create, approve, and publish your content. 

Not promoting content enough

Promoting content is key to extending your reach to relevant audiences. Include new content in your emails and social media posts to drive more traffic to your content pieces and help nurture potential prospects. Keep in mind that producing content is only as effective as the efforts you make to advertise it. Native ads, display ads, and paid social are also great tactics for distributing articles or whitepapers as far reaching as possible. It no one reads the content then it doesn't matter how much you have or how good it is…which is why content creation is just as important as content promotion

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10 quick tips and tactics for effective content marketing

  1. Use personalized nurture journeys
  2. Engage employees in active audience building
  3. Create content for ALL search engines
  4. Make sure your case studies aren’t too formal or stuffy
  5. Use “smart” popups
  6. Maximize digital PR to extend promotions and reach
  7. Use content snippets to make product education more digestible
  8. Segment your retargeting audience
  9. Promote your high-converting blog posts
  10. Partner with brands and influencers in your industry

MarinOne can help you supercharge your content

As a B2B company, MarinOne is well versed in what it takes to reach the right audiences with the right messages. Through our cross-channel approach, your campaigns will persuade and convert like never before. 

Business to Business advertisers gain a competitive advantage by identifying and analyzing the right data and integrating insights from that data to help campaigns perform. With MarinOne, you can easily optimize your content and automate key workflows using first-party data.  

Get in touch with one of MarinOne’s experts today to see how we can help you with your marketing needs.

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

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

Lead Generation

Instapage

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

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

MailChimp

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

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

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Support

Intercom

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

Helpjuice

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

Data & Analytics

Marin Software

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

Google Analytics

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

Payment & E-Commerce

PayPal

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

Shift4Shop

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

Customer Relationship Management

Bitrix24

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

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

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

Nimble

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

In Summary

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

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

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

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

What Exactly Are Responsive Search Ads (RSAs)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Will Happen to My Expanded Text Ads?

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

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

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

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

But that being said…

Should I Pin My Top Performing Assets to Position 1?

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

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

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

How Will I Analyze Performance in MarinOne?

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Will I Bulk Create RSAs in MarinOne?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What continuous scrolling means for advertisers


But what does this mean for advertisers?

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

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


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

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

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

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

How MarinOne can help manage this change


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

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


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

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

Say what?

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

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



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

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


You can set up specific rules, such as:

Dynamic Actions



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

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

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

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

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

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!

It’s been a few years since Apple introduced Search Ads, giving marketers the opportunity to promote their app at the top of relevant search results in the App Store—and it’s no surprise that they’ve proven to be effective in driving highly relevant app installs. If your business publishes iOS apps, it’s definitely worth taking a closer look at Apple Search Ads to reach more potential customers.

But first...some clarity


Before digging into the “how,” I should mention that there are two different systems you can opt into: Apple Search Ads Basic and Apple Search Ads Advanced. Search Ads Basic is exactly how it sounds—it offers limited reporting, has no keyword or audience refinements, and has a monthly budget of $5,000. A big key differentiator is that businesses pay for installs versus taps.

In contrast, Search Ads Advanced operates more like a standard PPC channel. You pay for taps, and have both flexibility and granularity with the keywords and audiences you can choose, including demographics, device, types, and locations. Marketers are able to fine-tune their campaigns to the exact people they want to target. On top of that, the reporting dashboards are more sophisticated, and make it easy to track improvements over time. A/B testing with different demographics becomes a whole lot easier.

Because it's designed for, well, more "advanced" advertisers running enterprise marketing campaigns who are continually looking to scale and allocate spend more efficiently, Marin offers full support for Search Ads Advanced.

So how does Search Ads Advanced work?


Like most popular search engines, such as Google or Bing, a user searches for keywords and if there are advertisements that align with the query, they’ll appear at the top of the search results. Ads are apparent to the user by their blue background and a small blue “Ad” notification next to the app name.

Apple Search Ads



Ads are automatically created from the app’s metadata and imagery that businesses create for their App Store product page. Apple’s algorithm takes into account both the bid and app relevancy when determining if your ad displays. This is why optimizing your listing for keyword relevancy is a very important first step.

You can add keywords individually, or bulk upload them using a spreadsheet. There’s also a “Search Match” tool within the Apple Search Ads campaign builder to help you identify keywords most relevant to your app.

In terms of ad scheduling, you can set up your ads to start and stop on specific dates, or show only on specific days of the week or times of the day.

Why should I be using it?


According to Apple, Apple Search Ads have a conversion rate of 50%, with about 65% of app downloads coming from App Store searches. This makes this ad format an effective marketing channel for acquiring new and engaged users, and an essential part of improving an app’s visibility on the App Store.

Where does Marin fit in?


MarinOne helps deliver growth from your Apple Search Ads programs, giving you the opportunity to promote your app at the top of relevant App Store search results. With Marin’s support of a number of premium publishers, our all-in-one solution gives advertisers the opportunity to manage all of their mobile app ad campaigns in one place and at scale, reaching the users that matter.

Apple Search Ads’ tools to efficiently drive app downloads, paired with Marin’s proprietary marketing technology, delivers the next level of performance for mobile app marketers.

Some of the benefits of running Apple Search Ads through MarinOne include:

  • MarinOne Bidding: Our machine-learning algorithm goes beyond the historical performance data of a keyword or creative. We look at over 75 signals, including audiences, promotional schedules, and inventory levels, to calculate better bids and increase ROI.
  • Customized Reports: Create customized reports to see data the exact way you want it. Choose report dimensions, metrics, and granularity, and easily schedule reports to run once, daily, weekly, or monthly.
  • Advanced targeting options: Parameters include location, gender, keywords, and the ability to target people who’ve previously installed your app. You can also use creative sets to segment variations by ad group themes or audiences, and expand your reach into top-performing audiences.
  • No wasted ad spend: Our biggest value-add is our support of premium publishers and ability to leverage a full-funnel view with our cross-channel attribution tool. To make it easy for our users to allocate spend to the most efficient marketing channels, we built an integration with Search Ads Advanced to give our advertisers the best opportunity to make smarter, data-driven decisions.


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

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

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


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

1. Just Get Started


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

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

2. Variety Is the Spice of Search


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

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

3. Pin... sparingly


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

4. Optimize for High Performance


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

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

RSAs: Part of the Modern Marketer’s Journey


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

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

responsive search ads



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

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

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

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

Write Conversational Content


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

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

Update Your Paid Search Structure Accordingly


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

voice search



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

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

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

Update Your Structured Data Specs


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

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

Advertise on Applicable Platforms


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

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

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

voice search


Stay Current on the State of the Market


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Refresher: The Lowdown on RSAs


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

responsive search ads


Early Positive Results


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

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

Why was this the case?

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

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

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

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

In Contrast….


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

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

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

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

Conclusion: Give It a Try


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

By now, most search advertisers have heard about Google’s responsive search ads. Still, SEM aficionados are still getting their heads around this latest ad type. How does it work? Will it bring more clicks? How does it compare to text ads?

Responsive ads choose the best-performing combinations from a search advertiser’s ad copy and assets. Advertisers can write up to 15 headlines and four descriptions, and Google’s algorithm automatically serves the best combinations in auctions based on which ones are most relevant to users, ultimately driving conversions.

With responsive search ads, advertisers can boost relevance and streamline performance across Google Ads campaigns. Now, you can create ads that automatically adjust to show the most effective ad copy to your audience.

Learn More


At Marin, we’re getting a lot of questions from our advertisers about this new ad format. We decided to partner with Google to shed some light on this important topic for search advertisers. Sign up for our webinar on Thursday, December 6th at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET and hear answers to such questions as:

  • How do RSAs work?
  • Why do RSAs matter to advertisers?
  • What are best practices and tips for optimizing campaigns?


Sign up today to secure your spot.

Speaker Bios



Sylvanus Bent embraces a growth mindset, and looks forward to continuing to learn everything he can about successfully taking products to market. He works closely with design and engineering colleagues to ensure that Google is building the right products for its customers.

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

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

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

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

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


Preparation


Measuring Success

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

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

Test Elements

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

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

Execution


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

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

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

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

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

Gather Historical Data

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

Use the Right Parameters

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

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

Select the Right Budget Split

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

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

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

Analysis


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

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

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

Testing with Marin


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

eCommerce product feeds are jam-packed with information advertisers can use to refine and enhance their campaigns. And not only that—advertisers can add information from a huge range of sources to build data-rich feeds. Despite this, many advertisers continue to underutilize the information in their eCommerce feeds.

In this article, we take a look at ways advertisers can use product feed data to optimize ad spend.

Inventory Levels


Inventory level is a required field for nearly all publishers and a standard metric in most product feeds. Once inventory levels hit zero, most publishers stop showing ads for those products. It makes perfect sense to stop paying to advertise products that are currently out of stock.

However, there are many more ways to use this data. An advertiser may want stop bidding on a product if they have less than five in stock or to increase bids when stock is readily available. For example, with Marin, advertisers can dynamically integrate inventory data into the platform and then leverage this data to automate optimization for keywords or product groups with high or low inventory.

Product Titles


Product titles are one of the most important factors that can influence the performance of your shopping ad campaigns—and a vital part of your feed. A shopper will scan through pages of results in search of the right item, and the title is one of the first things they see when they come across your ad.

It’s at this critical point that a person determines whether they’ll click through to find out more. These few words are your opportunity to stop them in their tracks and convince them not to go any further. You don’t want wasted clicks, after all! To get the shopper as qualified as possible before they click your ad, it’s important to highlight the most important information right away. Your product title provides this opportunity. This also prevents shoppers from being disappointed or frustrated when they click through.

Make sure your titles are unique enough. If they’re not, it could affect your visibility. Customize them with important, distinguishing attributes such as size, color, gender, etc., to more accurately describe and differentiate each product.

How do you know the best optimizations to make to your product titles? The answer is to run statically significant tests. Using feed optimization techniques, you can optimize your product titles using different logic (such as including different types of information or changing the order it appears in) and then run a test to see which one performs best.

Price Competitiveness


Price competitiveness is an important ranking factor for the Google Shopping algorithm and for many other publishers. This is because Shopping ads display the price and therefore impact click-through rate.

Price competitiveness also has a significant impact on the conversion rate. Competitor price tracking in Google Shopping results ensures that retail advertisers can track their competitors’ strategic price moves across their entire SKU portfolio. Once this data has been added to a product feed, you can use it to adjust strategies based on the price competitiveness of each product.

Performance Data


Adding performance data to your feed allows you to group products together based on their marketing performance. This data also allows you to optimize campaign structure. You can automatically separate individual products into their own product groups when they hit specific volume thresholds and products can be automatically split to segregate top performing SKUs.

Feed-Based Ad Formats Are on the Rise


The tips above are just four ways advertisers can use the information in their product feeds to optimize ad spend. The good news—since you can add custom data to a product feed, you have a huge range of other tactics at your disposal.

The market share of feed-based advertising formats for eCommerce advertisers is increasing on both Google and Bing. Combined with the fact that many advertisers are exploring newer publishers such as Amazon, it’s increasingly important to explore new ways to optimize shopping spend and increase efficiency.

Marin was pleased to recently join Yandex at their Expert Summit in Berlin and their Partner Summit in London.

Here are a few highlights from the events and what we learned about the Yandex search engine.

Russia online


When it comes to digital marketing, Russia is a relatively young but fast-growing market. The current internet penetration rate is 76.1%, which gives advertisers a great opportunity to build user trust and loyalty as they begin their online journey.

Yandex SERP


Yandex, a search engine founded in Russia, currently holds 51.58% of market share, followed by Google at 44.91%.

Yandex’s algorithm highly favors ads with relevant keyword content and ad extensions. Moreover, recent changes Yandex applied to their algorithm allow advertisers to spend extra only on additional clicks advertisers gain from higher positions. For example, if the second placement provides 85 clicks and the first placement provides 100, then only a 15-click difference will weight at higher cost when calculating an average suggested bid for the keyword.

Yandex


Source: Yandex.direct

Yandex will soon introduce new ad templates, which will be automatically updated for every SERP based on the user and relevancy of ad extensions that advertisers add.

In other words, make sure you prepare for the big change and select all available ad extensions, since when the time comes, the ad placements on SERP will change and depend significantly on added features.

Yandex


Source: Yandex.direct

Analytics with Yandex


Yandex is continuously enhancing Yandex.Metrica—their analytics platform—where brands can build retargeting audiences and learn more about their consumer, including behavior patterns.

Heatmaps of the most visited web pages allow advertisers to gain more granular knowledge about the consumer path on their website, and to make improvements for better performance.

Back in 2017, Yandex launched a Russian intelligent personal assistant—Alice—and together with 53 different apps Yandex offers helps users with any type of request. With such a powerful store of data on user behaviors, Yandex is able to provide a better and more precise picture of the consumer, which leads to significantly enhanced retargeting capabilities, across search and display channels.

What does the future hold?


As consumers are now multi-screening and multitasking across various combinations of devices and platforms, Yandex sees this as a great opportunity to expand customer reach in new ways, like digital ads shown indoors and on billboards. Soon advertisers will be able to retarget their audiences outside on their way to work, when meeting friends, or just wandering around the city.

Learn more


If you have any questions on how to improve your Yandex campaigns, reach out to your Marin Customer Success team. We can jump on a three-way call with Yandex and review the accounts together. Or, if you’re new to Marin, feel free to get in touch.

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

It’s no secret that Google AdWords has been undergoing some big changes lately—most of them pushing users toward automation. Over the past few years, advertisers have noticed many other Google ad types that encourage automation, especially ones on YouTube and the GDN.

Google’s most recent addition aims to accomplish the same thing, but on the search network. Announced at this year’s Google Marketing Live, responsive ads are here for search, and they show promise as the best thing since Expanded Text Ads launched back in 2016. So what are they? How do they work?

Optimizing Your Search Ads


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

responsive search ads



If the extra real estate isn’t enough to convince you to try them, Google claims advertisers who implement responsive ads in non-branded ad groups on average have seen a 5-15% uptick in clicks.

The Plan for Responsive Ads


It’s definitely scary for some advertisers to surrender control to Google’s algorithms like this, but in the future Google has plans to introduce some new features specifically for responsive ads to increase their customization and flexibility, such as specific asset reporting and “pinning.”

Through asset reporting, users will be able to view which exact headlines or descriptions performed compared to others. From there, users will be able to “pin” their top-performing assets to customize their ads even further. These features haven’t been released yet and there’s no word on when they’ll be available. So keep an eye out in your accounts!

More to Come


This ad type is still pretty new, but most advertisers should now have access to them through the new AdWords UI. Marin also has beta support for responsive search ads, so be sure to check with your account rep for further info.

So far, Marin has seen increased performance among its customers who’ve tried responsive ads. And, with Google’s major pushes towards automation, it wouldn’t be surprising if these ads catch on!

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

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

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

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

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

1. Be on the right channels


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

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

2. Hit the right demographic


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

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

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

3. Get creative with customer segments


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

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

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

4. Whittle down your keyword targeting


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

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

5. Use the right creative


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

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

wedding


6. Update your site to match


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

7. Consider lesser-known wedding expenses


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

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

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

Give It Your Best Shot


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



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

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

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

The Process


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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Solution


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

Great categorization has three elements:

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


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



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

Closing Thoughts


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

We're excited to share Marin’s win at this year’s Drum Search Awards in London, where our search solution was recognized for its innovative features:

  • First Party Data/Personalization: Marketers can personalize targeting based on real audience insights
  • Marin SmartSync: Allows brands and marketers to ‘copycat’ their campaigns from Google to Bing with one click
  • Search Intent: Allows marketers to understand where their prospective customers are in the sales cycle
  • Marin TruePath: Links Google and Facebook, de-duping conversion, impression, and click data across devices, providing a complete view of the customer journey


marin software


Constant Innovation for Continued Success


At a black-tie event in the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, we were recognized as the best product on the market for increasing performance and revenue for search marketers, anticipating their future needs, and allowing them to run seamless cross-channel and cross-device campaigns.

We work hard to ensure that our customers gain a financial lift from using our platform, with some customers seeing an overall lift of 45%. We’ve also been able to boost cost efficiencies and time savings by over 60%.

The judging panel included industry experts across prominent brands and agencies, including Google, Facebook Atlas, and Philip Morris International.

Icing on the Cake


As our RVP of Sales, Richard May, said, “We’re really proud. Marin Search has been helping brands around the world get the most out of their ad spend and make informed budget allocation decisions. Recently we've really focused on innovating our offering, and it’s great to see this hard work paying off. Being nominated in such a competitive category is fantastic recognition of this work and winning the award is the icing on the cake.”

Watch an interview with our Marketing Director EMEA, Irisini Davis.

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

While attribution is simply the act of assigning conversion credit to certain keywords or ads, many advertisers are beginning to realize the importance of understanding how it works. Attribution plays a large role in how advertisers perceive their campaign performance.

Without a solid grasp of knowing how your attribution model works, you might be misinterpreting your data. Certain campaigns can easily be over or under estimated based on the attribution model being used.

Here are a few points to demystify the nuts and bolts of attribution for search campaigns.

The Standard Model: Last-Click Attribution


Google AdWords defaults to a last-click attribution model, which assigns conversion credit to the last keyword that received a click. This means that if someone clicks an ad from a non-brand keyword search then later converts after clicking a brand ad, Google assigns conversion credit to the brand campaign.

Meanwhile, Google doesn’t assign any conversion credit to the non-brand campaign. A major flaw with the last-click attribution model is that it doesn’t account for the fact that the user may have only heard about the brand because of the non-brand search they performed earlier. So brand campaigns get the conversion credit and performance looks strong, while non-brand played a large role in driving the user to the site but performance metrics looks bleak.

This is just one example, but scenarios like this play out numerous times every day, week, and month. And over time, the performance metrics add up and can lead advertisers to believe that non-brand is not driving enough value to justify the expense (often resulting in budget cuts for non-brand). On the other hand, the brand campaign could be getting more credit (and investment) than it deserves.

Brand and Non-Brand Working Together


It’s important to understand how attribution plays a role here, and how it easy it can be to jump to conclusions in terms of brand versus non-brand performance. It’s also important to understand the role that non-brand plays in the user’s conversion journey.

Non-brand can be a great acquisition strategy to bring new, qualified people to your site. Without a good acquisition strategy, growth can become stagnant—and over time, those high-performing brand campaigns could begin to see a decline in performance as brand awareness begins to decline.

In thinking about the example above, if that person never searched on the non-brand term as they were beginning their journey, would they still have purchased from your site? Maybe. Or perhaps they never would have even heard of your company.

Non-brand performance may not look strong on the surface when using a last-click attribution model, but there’s value in non-brand! And it’s important to think about the true value of brand campaigns, and if they’re worthy of all the conversion credit they’re being given.

Understanding Brand Incrementality


At this point, you may be wondering if bidding on your brand keywords is as valuable or important as you’ve thought. Would these users have clicked an organic listing and converted regardless of the presence of a paid search brand ad? It’s certainly a possibility.

Without brand ads, some people would have still navigated to your site and completed their purchase. But even though Google’s last-click attribution model is likely over-reporting the value of brand campaigns, this doesn’t mean that investing in brand terms isn’t valuable—it absolutely is!

Bidding on brand keywords is still an important strategy to ensure high visibility when users are most likely to convert. And maintaining ownership of your brand terms is especially important if you also have lots of competitors bidding on your brand terms.

However, there’s a chance that you’re over-investing in brand campaigns, and spending money on these terms when the funds could be re-allocated (where they would have a larger impact on performance or account growth). To know if this is true for your account, it’s important to test brand incrementality. Running a brand incrementality test will allow you to quantify the true value of brand search spend, conversions, and ROI.

Advantages of a Multi-Touch Attribution Platform


There are various ways you can measure brand incrementality. One approach I recommend is to use a multi-touch attribution platform, which will allow you to understand the true value of brand campaigns and non-brand campaigns (along with other marketing initiatives).

Multi-touch attribution platforms can assess marketing performance and go beyond a last-click attribution model to apply conversion credit to various touchpoints throughout the customer’s conversion journey. This gives advertisers a more insightful look at how each of their marketing initiatives perform. And ultimately it can help ensure that marketing budgets are being allocated towards the right strategies to drive optimal performance.

Conclusion


Brand campaigns may be getting more conversion credit than they deserve, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bid on brand. Reconsider how you evaluate non-brand performance and consider if having a larger non-brand investment could help your brand grow. Use a multi-touch attribution platform to test brand incrementality and properly assess campaign performance in order to properly allocate marketing funds.

Our Q1 2018 benchmark report shows that search ad spend increased 11% around the globe, fueled by significant eurozone growth of 30%. Also, mobile advertising accounted for 40% of total search spend, representing a growing market share. Advertisers should be aware that mobile ads still offer a 33% discount versus desktop CPCs globally, a bargain that won’t always be available.

digital advertising trends



We hope you enjoy these insights and more in our Q1 2018 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report. Now available as an interactive web page, we reveal the latest cross-channel advertising trends and allow you to slice the data by region, industry, and publisher.

In addition to global industry trends, we explore the most compelling areas of digital marketing, including the evolution of mobile, the best use of creative to gain more clicks and market share, and using the right search and social tools to attract the right customers.

The Latest on Mobile, Targeting, and Ad Formats


Other key findings for Q1 2018 include:

  • EMEA Clients Enjoy Lower CPCs. CPCs for EMEA clients offer a significant discount at $0.40, when compared with CPCs in the US ($0.88) and UK ($0.85).
  • More Search Clicks, Better Targeting. Click-through rates (CTRs) for search are up 25% year over year, showing how improved targeting allows publishers to deliver more relevant ads to people.
  • Dynamic Ads Showing Strong Growth. Facebook Dynamic Ads, the highly personalized ad format based on user browsing behavior, were up 37% year over year.


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

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

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

When To Use Position-Based Bidding


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

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

How It Works


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

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

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

Try It Out


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

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

Google recently announced it would be sunsetting review extensions. While these have been around since 2013, they’re notoriously hard to get approved, and just generally clunky and unimpactful.

If you’re one of the few sad people to see them go, don’t worry! There are still a ton of other great extension options to bulk up your ads and bolster that ad rank. Like review extensions (R.I.P.) certain extension options complement certain business goals more than others. Keep reading to learn how to choose the right extensions for your goals.

Before I get into each extension type: an overview.

What are ad extensions?



Ad extensions are basically extra bits of information about your business or offering that you can tack onto your regular text ads. The general theory behind including as many ad extensions as possible is that they take up the most space on the SERP, and encourage users to click your ad over competitors. In fact, it’s proven that adding extensions can boost your CTR, which means a better ad rank and potentially even cheaper CPCs.

When do they show?



Ad extensions serve at the sole discretion of the search engine you’re running on. Search engines use a multitude of back-end factors to determine when, how, and in which combinations your ad extensions show in auction. That being said, the goal of their algorithms is to get the advertiser the best performance possible at no additional cost.

Choose the Right Extensions for Your Company Goals



Drive Converting Customers Onsite



If you’re like most online retailers you’re probably looking to get new users to your website with the end goal of driving conversions. With that in mind, you’ll want to be sure you have sitelinks, callouts, structured snippets, price extensions, and promotion extensions (when applicable).

  • Sitelinks give you up to 6 of what basically equate to miniature ads made up of a 25-character linked headline, and two 35-character description lines. Use these to showcase additional value props, upsell/cross-sell related or complimentary products, or even link users to your information or contact pages.
  • Callout extensions are exactly what they sound like. Use them to call out any unique or compelling factors about your product or business, such as free shipping, 24/7 customer support, sales, or virtually any value prop or descriptor you think is compelling. They’re 25 characters each and you can have as many as you want.
  • Structured snippets give you a more specific way to showcase information to potential customers by using a pre-defined header and listing items. The header types to choose from include Amenities, Brands, Models, Services, Styles, and Types, among a handful of others. From there you just list what you’ve got! You can list up to 10 items per header, each with a 25-character limit.
  • Price extensions are extremely important for ecommerce advertisers. While they’re unfortunately not available via feed, you can manually pick a few of your top sellers and list them with title, price and brief description—all of which are limited to 25 characters. The extensions should link straight to your product page.
  • Promotion extensions are a great way to highlight a special deal or sale to encourage customers to convert. You can choose or forego a pre-defined header—they’ve got most holidays and the big online ecommerce days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can fill out details about your promo including the discount or % off, and promo requirements such as qualifying order prices or codes. These should link to a relevant landing page with sale or promotion highlighted.



Drive Customers In-Store or Connect With Them Offline



If your business also includes brick-and-mortar or you want your customers to contact you offline, try adding location extensions, affiliate location extensions (if applicable), call or message extensions, and even callouts.

  • A location extension is simply your company’s address. You can manually input it yourself if you have one location, or you can link up your Google My Business account to manually import multiple locations.
  • Affiliate location extensions are the same thing, but instead highlight the addresses of affiliate stores that sell your product.
  • Call extensions display in the form of a phone number or button that a user can click to contact your business.
  • Message extensions allow customers who see your ad to directly send questions or comments via a direct text message.
  • You can use callouts to drive users to a location by highlighting location-oriented ideas like proximity, in-store deals, or in-person or 24/7 support.



A Note On Automated Extensions


Since extensions can be a little manual, if you have a large, or categorically segmented account, implementation can be a bit of a bear. Fortunately Google offers a few automatic options that can save you some time by pulling relevant information right from your website.

Some commonly used automated extensions include calls/messaging, seller ratings (the small orange star ratings you see at the top of an ad), previous visits, and even dynamically generated versions of sitelinks and structured snippets. Automated extensions are compatible with manual extensions if you want to run both. If there are certain automated extensions you don't want to be running, be sure to opt out in your account level settings.

In summary, ad extensions are a unique, free option for bulking up your ads, showing off additional value props, encouraging more clicks and conversions, and ultimately improving your ad rank and overall performance. Now that you know how to determine which ad extensions are best for your unique business goals you can get to work applying them to your campaigns and driving results!

Since the inception of AdWords and paid media tracking, Google has quickly sent users to an interim landing page, then quickly redirected to the intended page. All this occurs very quickly and is transparent to many users. We’ll call this a linear redirect tracking pattern. With recent browser support and updates, there is now the ability to go directly to the intended landing page, but still track clicks on paid ads. This is called parallel tracking, since there are two events happening simultaneously.

Here are things you should know about this update.

1. Why change?


Google recently announced that parallel tracking is rolling out. Google cites delays of “hundreds of milliseconds” that result in the current linear tracking method. This delay is literally the same as the blink of an eye but Google is adamant that it can negatively impact campaign performance, especially on mobile devices.

2. What’s the impact?


Mobile pages, especially on slower networks, will see the greatest benefit from parallel tracking. This assumes that the mobile user has an updated browser version that’s compatible with parallel tracking (more technical info below, for those interested). Some desktop users (again those on very slow networks) will see a slight improvement. However, the majority of desktop users will see almost no difference.

From a third party tracking perspective, Google has warned us that “Providers will need to make changes to their platform that could take several months to complete, so it's important to get started early. We're also working closely with key providers to help make the transition as easy as possible for all advertisers.” However, keep in mind that it’s in Google’s best interest to work with third party providers, since it will encourage greater measurement and apparently improved campaign performance.

3. Ok, so how does it work?


This is one of those situations most easily demonstrated with a diagram.

Current (linear redirect) model


Google SERP > redirected page > landing page

Parallel model


adwords


4. Should I be concerned?


Not really. Parallel tracking is already rolling out as an opt-in tracking method. Additionally, not all browsers support parallel tracking, and Google has already said that it’ll default to traditional linear redirect tracking for browsers that aren’t compatible. The only concern that marketers should have is for any third party systems that may be using their own redirect methods.

Bonus: Technical info


AdWords is taking advantage of a relatively new feature in browsers called navigator.sendBeacon. Navigator is simply a metadata object that contains data like your browser version, operating system, device type, language, and more. This is how services like Google Analytics gets device, language, viewport info, etc. sendBeacon is something that allows for background sending of network responses.

The visible effect is to land directly on the intended URL, but in the background, the redirect URLs and network calls are occurring. Instead of waiting for step 1 to complete before step 2 starting, Google skips to the last step, while executing steps 2-4 in another thread. This is directly analogous to synchronous vs. asynchronous tag loading.

Since the vast majority of devices are capable of multiple threads (you can think of these as having multiple active tabs on a browser), this is a more efficient way of handling the transmission of multiple network responses. The only thing to note is that sendBeacon doesn’t allow nonsecure protocol, as per w3 standards. Only HTTPS URLs will transmit in parallel.

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

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

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

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

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

1) Focus on Long Tail Keywords



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

2) Become Familiar With Schema Markup



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

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

3) Be Sure to Optimize Your Website’s Microdata



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

4) Create Useful FAQs Pages



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

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

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

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

A key way to drive better performance than your competitors as you vie for consumer attention is by incorporating search intent signals.

In our Marin Software Holiday Guide, we detail things you can do to create powerful cross-channel campaigns using search intent audiences—and find new growth during the holidays and beyond.

Here’s a preview of just a few tactics the guide includes:

  • Dimensions to Audiences: Roll up multiple similarly themed keywords and categories into one dimension, in order to avoid fragmenting audiences into very small sub-segments that deliver minimal reach on Facebook.
  • Make creatives consistent: Make sure your landing pages align with specific keywords, categories, or any other criteria.
  • Add the right optimization layers: Automatically increase or decrease your manual Facebook bids by a set percentage, based on ad performance versus your expressed CPA or ROI goal. Also, automatically allocate the right budget to the right ad sets.
  • Experiment with different ad formats and objectives: Use search intent to build new campaigns and expand to more specialized ad types and objectives; for example, you could combine search intent with Facebook Leads Ads to reduce CPA and increase lead quality.
  • Measure and refine: Use multi-touch attribution to measure across devices and channels and to deduplicate for accurate data.


Crack the Cross-Channel Code


To learn how to fully harness search intent signals to power your cross-channel campaigns, download our guide, Marin Software Holiday Guide: Cracking the Cross-Channel Code with Marin Search Intent Audiences.

search intent

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

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

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



People hate change, but change is good.

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

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



Google AdWords New UI Overview


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

These features include:

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


Dimensions


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

Geographic/User Location Reports

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


By Hour Performance

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

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


Access Menu Features


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



Keyword Planner

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


Shared Library

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


Bulk Actions

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


Campaign/Ad Group/Keyword Screen Features


Auction Insights—Two Ways to Access

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


Segmenting Data

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


Include Paused or Removed Items

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



Keyboard Shortcuts


Include Paused or Removed Items

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




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

SMX East is always packed with great speakers, events, and new ideas, and this year’s conference in NYC was no exception. Marin had an awesome time hosting visitors in booth 426, and got a chance to attend sessions detailing the latest digital marketing trends and big announcements.

Search marketers to rule the martech stack


Scott Brinker, SMX Conference Chair, focused his keynote on why search marketers are uniquely qualified to lead in the new "MarTech Era." Scott’s main argument was that SEO and SEM marketing professionals have the keys to the kingdom—their core skill set includes a blend of marketing operations, content marketing, advertising, conversion optimization, and analytics knowledge.

Looking across the marketing Lumascape, Scott pointed out how many different areas of the martech stack are very familiar to search marketers. Their unique blend of expertise across paid, owned, and earned media—while maintaining a focus on simply getting stuff done—will stand paid search professionals in good stead for the years ahead.

Scott also shared some interesting slides that show how tech giants like Microsoft view their own martech stack, and what solutions are essential to a modern marketing organization. Check out the full version of Scott’s SMX East keynote presentation.

Combining search and social




Marin Software’s Chris Yachouh gave an SMX theater presentation on integrating your search and social campaigns. Many digital advertisers are building their paid campaigns around the customer journey, which jumps across channels, devices, and locations. Given that Facebook and Google make up over 75% of time spent online, it makes sense to run cross-channel campaigns that leverage the synergies across both channels.

For example, users who click your search and social ads are twice as likely to make a purchase. Chris shared how Marin’s platform lets advertisers use search intent signals on Google to create highly targeted custom audiences for social ad campaigns on Facebook.

Bridging the divide between search and social is an idea whose time has come—check out our Search and Social Playbook for more details.

The next big thing in digital advertising?


Voice-based advertising was a recurring theme at SMX East 2017—it cropped up as a topic in sessions, panel discussions, and on the show floor. The argument is that voice-based advertising is causing many advertisers to start exploring beyond keywords and traditional search campaigns.

While most people at the show felt that voice advertising is not yet ready for prime time, there is a strong sense that it’s gaining momentum with both brand and direct-response advertisers. Given the runaway success of visual product ads and the growth of video advertising, it’s clear that paid advertising is leaning into more visual (and spoken) territory that will “rewrite” how users engage with brands.

While keywords still matter and the vast majority of paid search campaigns are built around them, the strategic value of other approaches is growing by the day. I encourage you to read Brian Smith’s article titled The future of paid voice search and monetizing the map for more insight on this topic.

Amazon goes to the store


We’ve seen Amazon move into surprising new markets—recall the $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods that closed in August 2017—but its latest voyage into the paid advertising space is a lot closer to home. In a presentation at SMX by Colleen Aubrey, VP of Performance Advertising at Amazon, we got a better sense of the shopping giant’s expanding vision for retail and paid advertising with Amazon Stores.

Amazon Stores is a self-service offering for retailers already selling their products on Amazon. While the traditional brand experience on Amazon has been product-based and transactional (not to mention lucrative for retailers), it’s hard for companies to deliver cohesive, brand-friendly experiences for their customers. With Amazon Stores, brands can offer a multipage storefront to showcase all their wares, in custom categories and highly personalized shopping experiences.

Amazon is betting that brands will flock to these virtual stores, leveraging the reach and targeting that they’ve always offered alongside a more immersive customer experience. Retailers can take advantage of embedded features like social sharing buttons, in addition to promotional extensions such as Headline Search Ads, to drive store awareness and traffic.

While there are missing pieces in the overall campaign functionality, it certainly looks like Amazon is building out an impressive value proposition for retailers looking to drive customer engagement and loyalty.

Summary


As 2017 draws to a close, it’s clear that Amazon continues to be the driving force behind retail innovation. Voice and innovations across the martech stack are really heating up, while integrated search and social campaigns continue to drive substantial gains for advertisers in terms of incremental revenue and customer acquisition. It’ll be fun to see how these themes develop in 2018.

With Google’s dominance in the search marketplace firmly held since many of us can remember, it’s not surprising that PPC managers often neglect Bing from their digital advertising programs. And while Google’s influence still remains comfortably unchallenged (Google currently accounts for 81% of desktop searches and 96% of searches on mobile devices), there are compelling reasons that digital marketers should also be advertising on Bing.

1. Easily synchronize with your AdWords account


One of the most important features Bing Ads has implemented in recent years is the ability to import existing campaigns directly from Google AdWords, making the platform’s adoption by new—and returning—advertisers a painless process. And to make cross-publisher management even easier, Bing Ads now offers Automated Imports to enable advertisers to synchronize their Google campaigns with their Bing counterparts on a recurring basis.

bing



Which brings me to my next point....

2. Bing Ads has continued to improve as a platform


Search marketers who ended up moving away from Bing in the past may be pleasantly surprised to discover that the platform has aged very well in keeping up with the expectations of AdWords users. The current UI is a lot more seamless and intuitive compared to previous versions, and many important features in AdWords are also found in Bing Ads, including ad extensions and the Expanded Text Ad format. This means that most—though not all—of what you want to import from your AdWords campaigns will translate into your Bing account with little or no issue.

3. Less competition


If you’re not already advertising on Bing, chances are your competitors aren’t either. The relatively low competition on Bing offers the opportunity for you to accrue incremental traffic with the same level of search intent as your Google campaigns at a discount.

4. It’s still the second-most widely used search engine


Given the ease of adoption and campaign migration for current AdWords users and the additional audience there is to be reached, there’s no reason not to explore the opportunities Bing has to offer. It is, after all, the second-most used search engine in the market today (with recent share estimates as high as 33% in the US).

Since Google launched them as part of its extensive set of updates in July 2016, Expanded Text Ads have provided a new opportunity for advertisers to improve their search marketing performance. Clicteq’s Wesley Parker illustrates seven of the most effective tactics for writing high-performing Expanded Text Ads and dominating your competition.

expanded text ads

Many businesses vie for the coveted spots at the top of search results. Or, even better—being able to clinch the tops spots without spending a penny.

Of the many different actions that businesses can take to improve organic search results, here are the most essential.

Keyword Density


Keyword density is a measure of how often keywords and phrases appear on a website. If a keyword appears multiple times on your website, it’ll most likely rank in search engines.

So, as you’re creating content, be sure to include keywords with an eye toward search engine ranking—but remember not to overdo it. Be sure to check the keyword density of your main competitors and see if they’re using any terms that might also be relevant to your business.

SEO Book has a useful tool you can use to assess keyword density. Just enter a URL and check the results.

Inbound Links


Another consideration in your SEO strategy should be inbound links. These are links from external websites leading to your own. The more inbound links you get, the more likely you’ll be ranked higher in the search engine results pages (SERP).

An important note: Not all inbound links are created equal. A “good” inbound link is one that comes from an authoritative source and uses proper anchor text. An authoritative source is a high-quality website, linked to a domain with high-quality information.

As for anchor text, there are a few things you can do to improve your backlinks:

  • Create a company blog that’s informative, fun, and valuable to your customers.
  • Get your clients to link to your website.
  • Create entertaining and visual content that people will want to share and link to.


Quality and Social Sharing


How do search engines identify great content? One of the most influential factors is number of social shares. The concept behind this is very simple—the more often content is shared on social media, the more useful and relevant it’s perceived to be by its readers. Basically, readers decide what they want to see more of. So, make sure your content is great, engaging, and interesting, so that people will love it and be willing to share it with their networks.

While the number of social media followers has no impact on ranking, it’s still important to grow your base, since if there are more people in the mix, your content will be liked and shared more often. Also, more targeted followers mean more site visitors, which contributes to higher search ranking. Be sure to include your keywords in posts, which will help your posts show up when users search for relevant content.

Encourage social sharing by including relevant buttons, so that readers can easily share the content with just one click. A good practice is to put links to your website on social media, in your profiles, and within posts.

Onsite SEO


Search engines don’t see the same website information as human beings—instead, they read the code on the website. This is why it’s important to follow best SEO practices when you’re creating a website to make your pages as search engine friendly as possible. In other words, refine your onsite SEO.

Your website’s meta description is a main onsite SEO factor that’s heavily weighted by search engines, and usually consists of a page’s title and description. Another consideration is the navigational structure of your website. Be sure to include relevant information as primary links on your homepage, since search engines will consider those areas critical and consequently play a role in determining the SERP rank. Make sure your homepage primary links include all of your important products and offers.

Sitemaps


Sitemaps are a must in SEO. There are any number of online tools you can use to easily create these.

Another way for search engines to discover new content is from an XML sitemap. This is really just a listing of your page's content in a special format that search engines can easily read through. Learn more about the specific syntax and how to create XML sitemaps at sitemaps.org.

Once you've generated your sitemaps, you can submit them directly to the search engines. This gives you one more way to let them know when you add or change something on your site. Search engines always try to crawl your links for as much additional content as they can find to index.

Load Times


The faster your pages load, the higher they’ll rank in the SERP, so be sure to address any pages with slower load times. Check out Pingdom, a tool that speeds up page load times on your site.

Summing Up


There are around 200 ranking factors that influence your SEO ranking. By tweaking just a few of these based on our recommendations, you’ll be higher up in no time!

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

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

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

The Old Way


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

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

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

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

The Difference with SKAGs


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

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

The New Way


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

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

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

1. Remove Newly Duplicate Keywords/Ad Groups

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

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

2. Revise Keyword-Specific Ad Copy Where Relevant

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

3. Preemptively Add Negative Keywords, Closely Monitor SQRs

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

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

Greater Complexity but Better Results


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

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

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

Many advertisers underestimate the impact that ad copy can have on paid search performance. But ad copy is an essential element in generating traffic to your site, learning about your target audience, and improving efficiency to save money and drive stronger results.

With Google making the shift from Standard Text Ads to Expanded Text Ads, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your ad copy, take advantage of the new ad features, and improve ad performance.

Here are three reasons marketers should focus on better ads.

1. It’s The First Thing Users See


Within a matter of seconds, users perform an online search, skim their options on the search engine results page, and determine which ad to click. Ad copy is one of the primary elements a user evaluates when deciding which site to visit.

  • Which company has the best offer?
  • Which brand seems most reputable and trustworthy?
  • Which ad seems most relevant to my needs?


These are all things a potential customer could be thinking when deciding which site to visit.

Ad copy gives advertisers the platform to communicate their message and showcase their value propositions. Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) offer more character space to help get your message across to potential customers. Use this space wisely, as it could be the only chance to win the sale from a competitor.

2. Learn about Your Customers


An important part of making sure you’re using strong ad copy is to incorporate a solid ad copy testing strategy. You’ll never know what messaging, call to action, or value proposition resonates best with your target audience until you start testing different ad elements and measuring results.

When kicking off an ad copy test, be sure to focus on one element at a time. There’s a lot of opportunity for testing within ETAs. For example, you can test two headline messages against each other while leaving everything else the same. Or, test alternative calls to action in the description line while keeping the rest of the ad copy consistent between both ad variations.

Testing one element a time ensures you’re able to accurately determine which message delivers the best results. Once you determine a winning ad variation, don’t stop there—keep testing different elements against the winning variation.

expanded text ads schema



Ad copy testing doesn’t just help you refine your ad copy—it also allows you to learn more about your customers. For instance, in an A/B value proposition test, you could learn whether your customers find “Free Shipping” or “0% Financing” more appealing. Aside from updating your ad copy appropriately, use the test result learnings across various marketing channels and improve your performance for social, email, and display campaigns, too.

3. Improve Efficiency and Save Money


ETAs give advertisers the perfect opportunity to rethink their ad copy messaging. Rather than just inserting a second headline, think about the entire message you’d like to deliver, and make sure the message in your ad is relevant to the search query.

The additional character space you gain with ETAs also provides the ability to further explain your business offerings and can help pre-qualify users before they click your ad. This can help you home in on your target audience and weed out users who may be looking for something different.

All in all, utilizing ad copy that’s relevant to what the user’s searching can help improve your click-through rate and Quality Score, which ultimately reduces your cost per click. It can also pre-qualify your visitors and help reduce bad clicks. Overall, strong ad copy can end up saving you money and improving your ROAS.

Conclusion


Don’t underestimate the power of strong ad copy. Use the additional character limits with ETAs as an opportunity to connect with your users, stand out from the competition, and drive qualified traffic to your site. Apply learnings from ad copy testing to improve your paid search performance and expand the lessons to other marketing channels as well.

This is a guest post from Sarah Essa, Insights Manager at
Microsoft Advertising.

The digital transformation of the travel industry continues to gain huge momentum—eMarketer forecasts that digital travel researchers and bookers in the UK will reach over 30 and 27 million in 2017.[1] Because of so much forward motion, search engines have become a key platform to connect with digital travel consumers.

The Bing Network has displayed notable growth in this field, recently reaching over 20% market share in the UK marketplace.[2] Read on to discover the top five travel advertising best practices on the Bing Network.

  1. Get ready for the summer surge! Summer is a crucial period for the travel industry as sightseers and globetrotters rush to book holidays. On the Bing Network, we saw travel search volume rise by 111% (vs. 12 months’ index)[3] during June-August 2016. Ensure you have room in your account and campaign budgets to capture lucrative travel traffic and demand on the Bing Network this summer.


  1. Trending destinations. Current affairs in 2016 disadvantaged some travel destinations while benefitting others. Uncover what’s trending and declining with our monthly trending travel destinations report, available through your account management team. Make sure you’re allocating your resources this summer towards travel destinations that are popular on the Bing Network.


  1. Audience targeting. The Bing Ads audience is distinguished and deserves special treatment! Over 50% of travel-related searches came from women and those aged 35-65 in Dec 2016.[4] Examine your bid modifiers, and consider demographic targeting to reach and focus on key demographics for the travel vertical on Bing Ads.


  1. Ad copy optimization and extensions. Review our travel ad copy heatmaps to find the most effective ad copy tokens and boost your CTR’s this summer (featured in the latest Bing Ads travel insights).[5] Give your ads extra polish by adopting our wide range of ad extensions— sitelinks, location, and call extensions are among the best performers for the travel vertical on the Bing Network.


  1. Don’t forget about mobile! While PC is still dominant in the travel vertical among digital researchers, keep mobile and tablet in mind. 26% of travel searches in December 2016 on the Bing Network came from these devices.[6] Capitalize on cheaper CPCs offered on mobile and tablet vs. PC by developing a mobile strategy. Invest in mobile campaigns and a mobile experience to attract and engage mobile consumers.






[1] UK Adult Digital Travel Researchers and Bookers, 2015-2020, eMarketer.com, October 2016.

[2] comScore qSearch (custom), June 2016. Bing Network includes Microsoft Search sites, Yahoo Search sites and AOL Search Network sites in the UK.

[3] Internal Source: Volume of searches with travel intent relative to the average monthly volume between June 2015–June 2016, Bing, Yahoo & AOL sites in the UK, all devices.

[4]https://docs.com/bing-ads/6054/uk-winter-travel-insights?c=ANiZtL

[5]https://docs.com/bing-ads/6054/uk-winter-travel-insights?c=ANiZtLy

[6]https://docs.com/bing-ads/6054/uk-winter-travel-insights?c=ANiZtL

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

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

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

A Powerful, Automated Tool for Ad Creation



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

dsa-example



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

A Nitty-Gritty Test of Dynamic Headlines



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

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

I broke the results into three areas:

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


Let’s dive in.

Headline Length of Dynamic Search Ads

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

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


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





























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


CTR Analysis

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
























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


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















Headline LengthPercent of ImpressionsCTRHeadline Length > 70 Characters11%18.81%


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

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

Dynamic Headline Source

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











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


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

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

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

The Great Manual Versus Automated Debate


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

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

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

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

Here are just a few.

Efficiency

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

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

Accuracy

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

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

Flexibility

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

Machine Learning

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

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

What’s in a Fully Transparent Bidding Solution?


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

Information Available in a “Fully Transparent” Bidding Solution

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

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


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

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


Clarity and Confidence in Transparent Automated Bidding


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

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

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

If you’re an enterprise search marketer, you’re likely managing thousands to millions of keywords. To automatically improve performance, increase brand awareness, get back valuable time, and attain those magic revenue numbers, Marin Search and its bidding folders can help.

If you’re already using Marin Search, follow these tips to make sure you’re maximizing value. Or, if you’re looking for a search platform that makes keyword and account management easier, these tips provide a glimpse of what our leading advertising solution can do.

Automated Bidding


Marin Search uses a patent-pending algorithm to automatically adjust keyword bids to meet target KPIs. This automated bidding feature optimizes keyword bids within folders. For accounts following PPC best practice structure (organizing groups into targeted themes), bidding folders should fall in line with account structure.

adgroups2



If you’re unsure of which ad groups should go into what folder, think about the KPI you’re trying to achieve. All keywords within a folder should have the same target KPI.

Tagging Sub-Categories with Dimensions


The above bidding strategy will optimize all ad groups and category keywords to one KPI. However, each category could contain sub-categories that might not preform the same.

With dimensions, you can pull reports at the sub-category level. Not only can you use this to create granular reports, but it can also help you improve optimization.

For example, the folder ‘Dining Tables’ is set to achieve a CPL of £75—however, a dimension report reveals the actual category-level performance.

table



‘Wooden tables’ is performing 20% below the folder CPL, while the ‘folding tables’ CPL is 20% above. Use the percentage difference as bid boosts for keywords in each category, reallocating spend to the better-performing category. The average folder spend and CPL will remain the same, but the conversion volume will increase.

Dynamic Actions


Once you apply dimensions, Marin can analyze the data to calculate bid adjustments for each sub-category dimension.

To automate dimension bid boosts, use Dynamic Actions. With this feature, bid modifiers simply sit on top of bidding folder calculated bids, and folder settings remain unchanged.

Using dimensions to optimize bidding cross sub-categories, our customers have seen some amazing results:

  • CVR increases up to 80%
  • Revenue increase by 30%
  • A reduction in CPA by 38%


If you’re a Marin customer and would like more information on how to optimize sub-categories within bidding folders, contact our CoE team for a bidding consultation. Or, to see it in action, sign up for a free trial.

We’re proud to announce immediate support for Bing Expanded Text Ads. Bing “Upgraded URLs” is a prerequisite to leveraging Bing’s Expanded Text Ads, and we’re offering full support for that, too.

Last, but not least, we’ve enhanced SmartSync to be compatible with both Bing and Google Expanded Text Ads. All Marin Search customers have access to SmartSync, which provides a 1-click migration to Bing Expanded Text Ads. We think this is the easiest (and fastest) method for savvy marketers to explore this opportunity.

What’s Changing?


“Bigger is better” is the key mantra behind the move to Expanded Text Ads, a move expressly designed to help advertisers succeed in a mobile-first world. Our empirical observations tend to refute the argument that Expanded Text Ads is a smart investment of resources, with well-constructed and thought-out ads yielding better increases in both click-through and conversion rates.

Before and After

bingeta


How Marin Software Customers Can Get Started


With the deadline to migrate comfortably in the future, it may be tempting to put this task off. We encourage our advertisers to resist the temptation and try out Bing Expanded Text Ads now. Our recommendation is based on our observations, as described above.

The following is a brief list of the methods available for Marin customers to quickly get their ads launched:

Activate SmartSync: Execute your migration to Bing Expanded Text Ads with just one click. SmartSync takes care of the heavy lifting by automatically porting your Google Expanded Text Ads to Bing. And, best of all, your Google Expanded Text Ads can remain permanently synced to Bing Expanded Text Ads as long as you like, which means you can make a single ad change within Marin and have it applied to both of your key search engine partners.

Follow the Marin Guide to Expanded Text Ads: Avoid confusion by following our migration guides for Bing Upgraded URLs and Bing Expanded Text Ads. We walk you through the nuanced details of what’s changed, how to take advantage of these changes, and how to get up and running quickly.

Hire Boost Media to rewrite your Bing Expanded Text Ads: Tap into Boost Media’s network of professional copywriters to build brand new text ads from scratch. Marin Software has negotiated preferred pricing on behalf of our customers. To get started just contact your client services team.

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

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

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

Who Should Consider This?


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

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

Bidding


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

Setup


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

01-admin



From the RevenueTracking setting, select Google Analytics.

02-revenuesettings



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

03-googleanalytics



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

Last year, Marin partnered closely with our customers to transition over two billion URLs to Google’s new Upgraded URLs format. With Yahoo! Japan’s support following suit this year with Advanced URLs, we’ve created best practices to ensure our clients have a seamless upgrade.

Yahoo! Japan Tracking Considerations


As our clients prepare for their upgrades, we wanted to highlight some important tracking considerations to keep in mind. For Ad Groups with upgraded keywords and legacy creative, Yahoo! Japan will serve the creative-level URL over the keyword-level URL. This means clients who use keyword-level tracking should migrate their ads before migrating their keywords.

Key Dates


  • The deadline for creating destination URLs within the Yahoo! Japan interface is September 1, 2016.
  • Marin will continue to support legacy destination URLs creation through October 24, 2016.
  • URLs must be transitioned to the Advanced format
    by October 24, 2016.


Marin Destination URL Screen Grab


Best Practice Approach


As with Google’s upgrade last year, Marin’s Customer Support and service teams will be on hand to assist with questions that arise during your upgrade process for fast response and inquiry resolution. This experience is specifically designed with our customers in mind!

Marin’s step-by step self-migration guide, and our close-knit partnership with Yahoo! Japan, enables our customers to complete their upgrades in accordance with Yahoo! Japan’s best practices approach. This approach uses shared tracking templates at the ad group, campaign, or account levels to reduce website load when creating new ads or keywords and allow for future URL changes with no interruption to ad serving.

At Marin, we understand our client needs are unique and we have you covered. We published comprehensive campaign management and self-migration documentation to Marin’s Enhanced Support Center. If you’re a Marin client be sure to check this out.

When Google released product listing ads, it dramatically changed the way retailers advertise online. Because of their huge success, retailers are constantly on the lookout for the next game-changing ad format.

If the results our retail clients have been seeing are any indication, the next frontier for product ads is harmonizing Google Shopping and Facebook Dynamic Ads (DA). Even though there’s been steady growth in the number of advertisers using Facebook DAs since their launch in 2015, many retailers are still managing their search and social channels in silo.

In this post, you’ll learn how to supercharge your shopping ads by combining the best of search and social. Using these techniques, our customers have seen a 68% higher revenue per conversion from their campaigns, when managed together with social advertising campaigns.

Seed Facebook with your best Google Shopping campaigns.


Savvy advertisers take advantage of their existing Google Shopping campaigns to optimize—or simply test—DAs for the first time. By identifying your best-performing products from Google Shopping campaigns, you can export high-ROI products to advertise using DAs.

Through Facebook’s new Google Shopping to DA product (available to Marin Software customers), advertisers using Google Shopping can take their best-performing campaigns and easily create Facebook DAs in a few easy steps, without the need for lengthy setup and extensive IT resources.

01. Workflow


Build out the right types of campaigns.


To easily increase your average order value and/or customer lifetime value, be sure to offer products related to what a customer’s ordered. As you’re building out DA campaigns, you can create upsell, cross-sell, and prospecting campaigns using the same process.

  • Upsell and cross-sell: With these types of campaigns, you can increase the chances of selling complimentary, relevant products to your customers via upsell (higher profitability items) or cross-sell (similar product sets).
  • Prospecting: Take shopping on Facebook beyond retargeting through Facebook’s DA prospecting campaigns. Advertisers can now reach new customers within the Facebook universe who haven’t visited your website. Facebook allows you to automatically create the best ads and find the best users for prospecting, giving you an efficient, effective way to find new audiences for your products.


Use search intent data to power DA creative.


Search intent retargeting is the smartest way to maximize the ROAS of your search budget. As cross-channel marketing strategies become commonplace, digital advertisers have started using search intent data to power their social campaigns. This strategy can be extended to Facebook DAs.

One example: using search intent to optimize DA creative templates. If the right users see them, these dynamic changes to creative can lead to significant lifts in CTR, conversion rates, and ROI.

Let’s say you have three users who’ve reached your website using different levels of search intent.

Example keywords:

  • Discount-driven (keyword: discount shoes)
  • Product brand (keyword: Buffalo Shoes)
  • Store name (keyword: PowPow Shoe Shop)


Through DA creative templates and search intent data, you can dynamically tailor your Facebook creatives based not only on the products users have seen on your website, but also on the keyword they used to get there in the first place. This allows you to show hyper-targeted ads, resulting in higher click-through and conversion rates.

02. Creative



In the above example, our users see different things depending on their keyword group:

  • Sales-driven user (keyword: discount shoes) sees an ad with a sales message.
  • The user who’s shown product brand infinity (keyword: Buffalo Shoes) sees a creative with a large product brand logo.
  • The user who’s shown brand affinity for the shop/advertiser (keyword: Marin Shoe Shop) sees a large advertiser logo.


Use cross-channel product reporting and optimization.


Once you start running Google Shopping and Facebook DAs, you should look at product performance and optimization in a more holistic way. The challenge with cross-channel tracking is normalizing conversions across multiple devices, ad buys, and other variables. However, with a third-party platform like Marin Software, the problem’s solved, so you can focus on the most important task—making sense of all that rich data and finding synergies.

With consistent third-party conversion tracking, you can also deduplicate conversions across search and social. And, through attribution modeling, you can gain deeper insights into how your Google Shopping and Facebook DAs are affecting the overall path to conversion.

Your future shoppers are spending an ever-increasing amount of time on Facebook and Google. In fact, 78% of all new ads were on either Facebook or Google last quarter. Now’s the time to think smarter about how you can cost-effectively engage and convert these users.

By combining search and social shopping strategies, not only do you break down channel silos—you gain a holistic view of product performance, and the ability to optimize across channels and improve overall product performance.

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

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

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

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

1. Use Consistent Date Ranges


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

DateRanges



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

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

2. Don't Increase Bids for Top Position Keywords


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

3. Keep High Quality Score Keywords Competitive


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

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

QualScore



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

4. Check for Bleeders


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

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

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

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


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

Adding Search Intent to the Mix


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

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

Let’s tackle that last question first.

search-intent-graphic


It provides clear intent.


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

It increases audience quality.


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

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

lookalikes


It improves your optimization strategy.


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

consumerPreferences


How to Incorporate It


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

A TV Campaign


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

An Ecommerce Site


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

ecommerce-FacebookDPA


Direct Response


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

Travel


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

travel



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

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

With the introduction of Google’s Expanded Text Ads (ETA), marketers have a more robust ad format that allows for more text, and Google has the ability to manipulate the layout to fit the appropriate screen for display. While this is a strong shift toward mobile-first that levels the playing fields between natural search (SEO) ads and AdWords, it doesn’t guarantee better performance.

Google reports that some advertisers could experience up to a 20% lift in CTR. The important word here is “some,” as it indicates that simply expanding ads with no plan is not a guarantee of success. What follows is a set of scenarios you should test that will help guarantee the best possible performance lift for your brand.

Scenario 1: Test standard ads versus ETAs using a generic new headline


  • With large accounts, it’s unrealistic to think that you can write custom copy for every ad. It’s important to try to find suitable headline additions that can be applied across the tail of an account.
  • Be sure to test this method on groups of ad groups. The same additional headline in one product line will probably not work in another product line.
  • Don’t test things like “Buy Now!”. The odds of this generic approach being a success are very low.


Scenario 2: Test standard ads versus custom headlines


  • The head and much of the trunk of an account need custom copy. Testing custom copy against the old standard ads will ensure that you don’t just replace old copy with longer copy that’s worse. Our early testing shows that standard ads can outperform ETA ads if ETA is done poorly.
  • Don’t be afraid of rewriting the entire ad. Adding copy to the end of a headline doesn’t guarantee that the entire ad will make sense or drive clicks.
  • Focus on the big ad groups, as custom writing can be time-consuming.


Why not test everything at once?


Be sure to focus on one thing at a time. If you mix descriptions, headline, and paths in one test, you may introduce a better overall ad, but one section may be causing the lift while the other changes are actually causing a drop. By focusing on one variable at a time, you stand a better chance of isolating what caused the lift and understanding the drivers behind what to do next. As you move toward complete optimization, many times you’ll gain insights that can be applied to other parts of the ad.

I don’t have the time for this. What should I do?


Simply put: make the time. If you don’t prepare for ETA and your competitors do, you can expect to see a drop in performance as the competition captures more of the impressions and clicks. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, you don’t have to do this overnight. Set a steady pace and a strategy, and you’ll be on the way to performance increases.


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.

As you search online for the cheapest flights, the top island destinations, or where a solo traveler can find the best international cuisine, remember—no matter where you are, the mind of the digital marketer always craves useful information to stay competitive.

Whether you end up flying high across multiple time zones or enjoying a staycation this summer, here are a few time-friendly reads from the Marin Software vault to bring along for the ride.

White papers:


Blog posts:


Bonus: This is actually 55 minutes worth of reading, not an hour. Use those extra five minutes to schedule a demo, and learn how we can help you with any and all of the above. Bon voyage!

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

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

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

Start planning early


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

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


Don’t rely on the traditional methods


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

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

Where to go from here


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


About the Author


sarah

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

About Boost Media


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

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

What Are Expanded Text Ads?


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

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

What’s Changing, Exactly?


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

ETAs



Here are the nitty-gritty details:

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


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

A Positive Change, for Multiple Reasons


Why is this change a net-positive for advertisers?

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


Why is Google Making This Change?


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

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

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

How Can I Automatically Make My Ads ETA-Compatible?



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

According to eMarketer, over 70% of U.S. paid search spend will be mobile by 2017. And yet, optimizing mobile advertising and seeing significant ROI on it remains a crucible for many in the digital advertising world.

We joined our technology partner DialogTech at the end of April for
a webinar about how search marketers can adopt new mobile-first optimization strategies to drive PPC conversions and customers.

One of Marin’s very own search marketing experts, Patrick Hutchison, teamed up with Kelley Schultz, Digital Marketing Lead at DialogTech, to share proven mobile optimization and attribution tactics digital marketers can use to drive more clicks, calls, and customers from Google AdWords, Yahoo, and Bing.

In order to achieve their mobile advertising goals, digital marketers need to understand the customer journey and all of the touch points prior to sale. To that end, here are five strategies for optimizing your mobile game plan that we learned from this webinar.

1. If your business gets mobile traffic, then you need to be      setting a bid adjustment



You want to get into a top (1-2) position for mobile devices to ensure visibility, so set up campaigns with an initial +25-30% bid modifier. You can adjust and optimize based on the types of conversions and traffic you see.

2. Optimize for calls



Incorporate call conversion tracking to ensure you’re optimizing for all conversions. Without measuring call leads, you miss out on a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracking and understanding the source of your leads.

3. Segment search query reports by device



When you perform search query reports, add a device segment. This will allow you to see what keywords are getting the most mobile conversions and traffic. Within your reports, sort by conversions and then adjust your bids for your highest performing keywords to ensure top position.

Next, sort your report by clicks that don’t drive conversions, and adjust bids or add negatives as necessary for these keywords that are driving up both clicks and spend.

4. Remember that mobile-targeted ad copy is key



Create mobile-preferred search ads with mobile ad extensions and CTAs. Remember to take advantage of call extensions, since as Google reports, 70% of mobile searchers use call extensions to call businesses.

5. Incorporate remarketing bidding strategies



Set up remarketing lists into your campaigns, so that you can adjust mobile bids for the top position.

Remember the importance of not only bidding up for mobile traffic, but also increasing bidding for your custom audience lists. If users showed interest once, capture them again on their next query with a different message in the top position.

Grad season is fast approaching, and college students are already applying for paid search roles in anticipation of their impending release into the “real world.” These eager newcomers can make great additions to SEM teams, provided they’re given the knowledge and resources they need to do that stellar work you expect.

However, paid search today is a considerably robust topic to teach someone. You’ll want to make sure you’re covering all bases, which is why Marin's Center of Excellence has come up with tips and tricks to bring these enthusiastic new team members up to speed.

As with any endeavor, you’ll need to start by asking yourself some questions to understand how to best tailor your approach:

  • What knowledge gaps exist for these new team members? Do they have any previous marketing experience, particularly in search?
  • What will be the “everyday life” for your new hires? What knowledge do they need to be successful in their new role?
  • How quickly do new hires need to fully assume their role? Can training be completed over a period of time?
  • Who’s involved in the training? Mentors? Managers? Other?
  • How will training content be developed and maintained?
  • Does it make sense to invest in online courses or outside consultants to conduct the trainings?
  • What methods will you use to keep participants engaged and accountable throughout the training?
  • How will you assess the success of the trainings? How will you assess the competency of participants post-training?
  • Are there any unique processes or strategies your company uses that team members need to understand?


The next step is to create your program for bringing these new hires up to speed. Use your answers to the questions above to decide how to best structure your program. In addition to developing clear and helpful content, establish how that content will be delivered (Will you host training sessions? Require self-study?), how participants will be assessed, and more.

We’ve created a quick breakdown of what you’ll need to do to prepare for these trainings, along with our suggestions.

Structure


New hires often inherit accounts from other account managers without much context. Understanding why an account is structured a certain way is imperative when deciding how to perform tests or when to make changes.

Those new to the industry may not understand things like segmenting match types or remarketing to specific groups of people differently if this isn’t previously explained. Keeping a record of tests and strategy for an account can be extremely valuable to a new account manager.

Workflows


Recent college grads hired to a paid search team will often perform the day-to-day tasks involved with campaign management, such as writing ad copy for testing, negative keyword expansion, and more. For every workflow, it’s also important that new hires understand the impact these tasks can have on performance.

Strategy


There are many strategies that account managers use to meet client goals within PPC campaigns. It’s important to inform new hires not only of the goals for the accounts they’ll manage, but of various methods they can use to meet those goals.

Technical


Make sure new hires have an understanding of how tracking works fundamentally, as well as the manner in which tracking conversions and revenue functions in your accounts. New hires will also need to learn how to identify and resolve discrepancies within your data, to ensure they’re able to make intelligent strategic decisions in the accounts they manage.

Although recent grads may not spend a lot of time performing deep-dive analysis within accounts, it can be helpful for them to acquire these skills early on in their careers. Bringing new hires up to speed can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be time-consuming!

At Marin, our Center of Excellence is available to develop and provide custom workshops to ensure your new hires are brought up to speed without taking up your limited bandwidth. If you’re a Marin customer and would like to learn more about this offering, reach out to your account representative!

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Recommendations for 2016



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

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

Howdy, Pard!

Saddle up your computer and get ready for the wildest quiz of your life. We’re pleased to announce the launch of the 8th annual Biggest Search Geek competition. Test your skills against thousands of SEM cowboys and cowgirls around the world.

We reckon this quiz is our hardest yet. Some of the questions are guaranteed to get you hoppin’ mad. One of you city slickers will be our winner and boy are you a lucky son of a gun, 'cause this year’s bounty is a trip to SMX Advanced in Seattle.

But wait, there’s more! You’ll also get to pick from an Apple Watch, Amazon Echo, or Microsoft Surface Pro 4.

Good luck, y’all! Oh, and just a friendly reminder - never squat with your spurs on!

What are you waiting for? Giddy up: http://biggestsearchgeek.com/

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

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

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

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

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

1. Segmentation


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

Dynamic_Targets



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

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

2. Website Coverage


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

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

3. Exclusion Targets


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

Exclusion_Targets



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

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

4. Negative Keywords


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

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

Negative_Keyword


5. Remarketing Lists


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Some of these questions might include:

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


Step 2: Perform an audit


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

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

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

Account Structure

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


Performance

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


Step 3: Implement changes


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

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

Step 4: Measure


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

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

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

With more than 2 billion active social media users worldwide, the influence of social on brand perception, customer relationships, and purchase decisions is indisputable. But, there’s a major shift happening in the way people interact socially, and it’s a trend marketers need to stay on top of.

Social media is becoming more visual


Social media is becoming more visual, with image and video-focused platforms seeing hockey stick growth. In fact, Snapchat had a purported 100 million daily active users only two years after
its launch.

Users are also voting for more image and video content with their clicks. Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement rates than text-only posts and simply using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%.

The influence of image and video content is expected to continue. An estimated 84% of communication will be visual by 2018, and by 2019, 80-90% of global consumer Internet traffic will be video.

There are long-term returns on investing in image and video production


Figuring out how to get more images and videos in your repertoire is a “today” problem and there are immediate, compelling gains to be realized from investing in visual content. Marketers can expect several positive results:

  • A boost in SEO performance
  • More social engagement and audience growth
  • Amplified paid media performance
  • A stronger connection with existing customers who may be more likely to make repeat purchases and talk about your brand


Establishing a system for how your brand produces images and videos will also pay off in the long run, put you ahead of the competition curve, and help your brand build and grow profitable customer relationships now and in the future.

Putting it all together


Marketers used to say “brands are the new publishers,” but perhaps now it’s time to think about brands as the new creative shops. To engage with customers, you’ll need great image and video content, and a lot of it. Don’t wait to ramp up your image and video production and distribution efforts. Now is the time to invest in solutions to scale visual content production and create an effective system for your brand.

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.

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

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

What’s IS, Anyway?


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

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

The IS Formula


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

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


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

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

Optimize to Improve Clicks and Impressions


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

ClickVolume



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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Identify Why a Restructure Is Needed


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

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


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

2. Identify What Worked


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

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

3. Slowly Phase Out


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

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

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

In sum:

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


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

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

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

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

But what if it’s all backwards?

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

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

01-GoogleCampaignImprovement



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

Automatic Placement Extraction


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

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

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

02-DisplayPerformance

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

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

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

Search Term Extraction


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

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

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

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

03-SearchTermExtraction

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

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

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

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

Time Lag and Attribution Reports


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

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

I know I would.

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

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

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

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

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

04-ImpressionConversionDelay

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

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

Geographic Granularity


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

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

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

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

05-GeographicGranularity

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

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

06-States



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

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

Device Targeting


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07-PerformanceDifferences

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

First, go to Segment then Device in the dropdown.

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

08-SegmentDevice

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

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

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

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

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

09-NegativeBidModifier

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

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

Day of Week Targeting


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

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

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

10-DayOfWeek

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

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

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

Time of Day Targeting


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

11-TimeOfDay



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

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

12-BiddingBlocks

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

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

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

In Closing


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

“With great control, comes great responsibility.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Metrics that matter


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

Rethinking holiday KPIs


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

Holiday media budget framework


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

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

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


About the Author


sarah

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


About Boost Media


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shipping Times


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

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

Mention the User’s Location in the Ad Text Campaign


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

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

Address, Duration, and Offers


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

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

Include the Cost of Service for a User’s City


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

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

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

According to the Association of National Advertisers, 63% of advertisers planned to increase their budgets for native advertising in 2015, expanding spend to $10.7 billion, an impressive 150% increase over 2013. The concept of native ads has been around for decades in print, but the advent of digital advertising has seen them become even more pervasive. As native continues to rise, there’s no better time than now to take advantage of its ability to connect and attract the attention of your target audience.

To get the most out of native ads, follow these best practices.

1. Select the Right Platform


In order to get the right message to the right audience, marketers must select the most appropriate channels. The commercial content must be fully immersed in the look, feel, and emotional tone of the site; it’s a simple but critical concept. Aesthetic and tonal cohesion is vital for you to consider when you decide where to communicate your brand message via native ads.

2. Engage with Valuable Content


The content you share needs to add value to the lives of the consumers that view it. In one Yahoo Food case study, users were appreciative that sponsored articles helped them do exactly what they came to Yahoo Food to do: learn how to cook, learn about new types of food, and create variety in their culinary chops.

3. Be Transparent


Within a content environment, lead with content, not the hard sell.

Yahoo recently had a brand sponsor highly engaged sports content during a large sporting event. When a more prominent brand logo was included in the ad, this mobile native advertising campaign yielded better results. Additionally, consumers shared that they appreciated the transparency and clarity. They were also significantly less likely to feel duped versus the original ad, which only contained minimal branding.

If you missed it, we suggest you check out the recording of our joint webinar with Yahoo to learn more about how to get the most out of native advertising. 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.

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

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

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

1. Establish Budgets Early


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

2. Determine KPIs


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

3. Plan Promotions in Advance


Way in advance. Seriously.

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

4. Thoroughly Review Merchant Center and Shopping Campaigns


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

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

5. Use Auction Insights


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

Bonus: Add in Targets with No Set Bid Adjustment


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

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

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

DKI Works Best in Long-Tail Ad Groups



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

DKI Works Best on Exact Match Keywords



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

DKI Can Increase Volume



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

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


About the Author


sarah

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

About Boost Media


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

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

There’s been a lot of debate as to the exact definition of native advertising. Still, there is general consensus in the industry that the definition from the IAB Native Playbook is on point: “[Native advertising refers to] paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.”

Despite the debate around native advertising’s definition, one thing’s certain: there are many great ways for advertisers to incorporate native into their advertising mix.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the most popular native formats and the leaders in each, according to the IAB Native Playbook.

In-Feed Units


In-Feed Units



In-feed ads are the most popular form of digital native ads. These are ads that generally have content that’s related to the surrounding content and is contextual. They can either link to other sponsored pages on a publisher’s site or may link to a brand page, video, or other content. Publishers most commonly sell these types of ads either through guaranteed placement on a certain page or through a broad category, such as “sports” in Yahoo. Ad performance is most often measured through brand lift, CTR, and conversions.

Paid Search Units


Paid Search Units



Paid search native ads blend into the native search results on the publisher SERP. They are generally located before the actual search results, and the format depends on the individual publisher, as each one has their own style and layout. These ads link to the advertiser’s landing page and are typically sold with guaranteed placement. Performance for paid search native ads is measured by conversions.

Recommendation Widgets


Recommendation Widgets



Recommendation widgets are the most similar to traditional display ads. The format of the ad does not necessarily match the native of the page that it’s on, and the ad is delivered through a “widget.” As the name suggests, these ads are presented to consumers as content they may be interested in and links to separate pages. The performance of these ads is usually measured through brand lift and interaction.

Custom /”Can’t Be Contained”


Custom



There are many other native formats that are not easily bucketed and unique in their own way. However, just because these ads don’t fall under one of the more recognizable formats doesn’t mean they’re not effective. A prime example of this is Pandora. With radio station ads displayed across devices and even in ads on connected cars, they’ve reached the number two spot in terms of total digital unique visitors, second only to Facebook.

To learn more about native advertising and how you can use it to attract audiences, check out our latest white paper, created jointly with Yahoo, The Essential Guide to Native Advertising: The Rise of a Digital Ad Format and Best Practices for Commanding Audience Attention. Also be sure to register for our 9/24 webinar, Your Guide to Native Advertising: Best Practices for Commanding Audience Attention.

Paid search is best known for its ability to leverage search intent to drive highly measurable direct response marketing. Paid search, however, transmits a number of extra benefits that not all marketers take into account.

In this post, I explore three areas where paid search can drive value, even if your main goal marketing goal for this channel is driving direct response.

Increased Store Visits



Research shows that over 88% of shopper’s do research online before making a purchase. With only 9% of all purchases being made online, it’s clear that digital media is driving offline transactions.

The Store Visits metric in AdWords estimates the uplift paid search has on visits to retailer’s stores. This metric is calculated based on aggregated, anonymised data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History. The data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population and only reported if it reaches a strict confidence level. Google claims that retailers are seeing, on average, that paid search drives four store visits for every one online conversion .

Building Trust



Building trust online is extremely valuable. All things being equal trusted advertisers will see more traffic and higher conversion rates then their competitors. Paid search ads offer a number of features that are designed to help build user confidence in the advertiser, such as these:

Review extensions allow advertisers to share positive write-ups, awards, or third-party rankings with potential customers in an additional line of text beneath your ads. The more respected the website, journal, or publication the higher value this extension is likely to bring.

Consumer ratings highlight industry-specific ratings based on consumer surveys. One or more of your best ratings will be presented below the text of your search ads together with a link to additional ratings. These ad extensions help increase trust with the power of consumer opinion.

Seller ratings are an automated extension that lets people know which advertisers are highly rated for quality service. Seller ratings are gathered from reputable sources that aggregate business reviews. Good seller ratings help build trust for your brand.

Image for blog



Brand Building



Search advertising will have an incremental effect on an advertisers branding. Seeing a brand at the top of the search results page (SERP) can have a sizable uplift in top-of-mind awareness. Paid search is also well placed to increase brand awareness amongst consumers showing high intent to purchase.

Studies have shown that on average search ads seen in position 1 will have an 80% lift in consumers top-of-mind awareness. Although paid search is not seen as a branding channel, appearing at the top of a Google or Bing SERP will transmit branding value.

Paid search may be known best for driving direct response but there is little doubt it affects other areas in the marketing ecosystem as well. Being able to measure and optimise beyond direct response will allow markers to credit paid search with more than just the direct response it drives.

This is a guest post by Chris Kilbourn of Fit Marketing.


It’s an understatement to say that search engines are powerful tools. Think about it. Any time you have a question, you probably head to Google for an answer.


SEO, Tofu Marketing, Marin Software, SEM, PPC


For businesses, search engines are mission-critical web traffic drivers – that’s free exposure for your brand. It’s an opportunity connect with prospective customers when their interest is piqued. That’s powerful.


The problem with search engine optimization (SEO) is that some shady marketers have ruined the space. These folks try to manipulate search engine rankings through artificial techniques like buying links, passing pagerank, and keyword stuffing.


But here’s the thing. Search engines don’t tolerate these practices. If an SEO company promises the moon, don’t be fooled – it’s probably too good to be true.


User Experience Is the Heart of SEO


At face value, SEO can seem a little intimidating. It’s understandable, given how dramatically the space (and search engine algorithms) have evolved over the years.


What’s key is that you stop thinking of SEO like some kind of secret recipe. SEO is, in a nutshell, the practice of building human-to-human relationships.


SEO, SEM, PPC, Tofu Marketing, Marin Software


The first step is a solid SEO strategy is to create a great product and to prioritize user experience. There are dozens of elements that influence SEO. What ultimately brings these components together are Google and Bing’s shared commitment to connecting web users with high-quality results.


Stop chasing algorithms, and prioritize people instead. At the end of the day, you need to win your audience’s heart.


Conversations Give SEO an Extra Edge


In 2013, Google launched its biggest algorithm update in years. It’s called Hummingbird, and it’s inspiring companies to prioritize conversations online. The assumption is that when internet users want information, they want it fast.


SEO, SEM, PPC, Marin Software, Tofu Marketing


Think of Hummingbird as a change that prioritizes relevance. Google says that it’s developed its most intelligent algorithm ever and is able to connect searchers with highly relevant content.


So what does this change mean for your business?


First and foremost, you need fresh content on your website. Google has a wealth of data about its users preferences and internet browsing habits. The algorithm is designed to deliver personalized, up-to-the-minute, and highly relevant results.


Steps to Take Now


1. Make sure that your existing content is the highest quality possible and designed to engage your users. If it’s not awesome, it shouldn't be on your site.


2. Make sure that your product and solution descriptions are highly detailed. Be informational, but also keep your writing brief.


3. Provide detailed answers to frequently asked questions. Don’t spam your FAQ pages with recycled content. Make sure that it’s informative and high quality. You can use a tool like UserVoice to power this section. As an example, take a look at the knowledge center for Speak2Leads, a tool that helps sales teams respond to new leads in under a minute.


SEO, SEM, PPC, Marin Software, Tofu Marketing


4. Incorporate rich markup, schema.org markup, and authorship markup. Schema and microdata can help search engines better understand what your web pages are communicating.


5. Optimize your site for mobile. Your customers and prospects can be anywhere. When people want information, they want it fast, and they want it to delivered to their fingertips (literally). A mobile strategy will ensure that your website maintains the best user experience possible.


Don’t Chase the Algorithm


Google’s algorithm is always evolving. Don’t sweat it. As long as you’re prioritizing user experience on your website (and not trying to trick users to get by with cheap tricks), you’ll be fine.


SEO is, to a large extent, common sense about forging strategic relationships with customers and prospects. Don’t overthink it. Just focus on keeping your audience as happy and informed as possible.

SEM SEO Teamwork

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

Addressing SEO-Challenged Landing Pages

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

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

Subsidizing Expensive SEM Keywords

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

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

Feedback

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

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