Marin Software has sponsored eMarketer's analyst report Retail Trends to Watch for 2023 as part of Marin's ongoing initiatives to bring the best possible retail media data to marketers across the US and Europe. Supporting content that helps marketers be more successful at their jobs completely aligns with Marin's mission to simplify and automate work for marketing professionals.

The report evaluated several areas of focus for Retail Marketers including economic climate and pressures, new revenue streams, trends in Gen Z’s spending growth, and opportunities in retail media.

eMarketer’s analysts also provide insights on how brands can drive more ecommerce sales, revamp direct-to-consumer strategies, and adjust marketing to widen their reach to acquire new customers while retaining loyal customers. 

Marin Software contributed an article to the report on Adapting your budgeting strategy for uncertain times providing key strategies for marketers to determine how to spend, where to spend, and how to improve performance to weather the storm in the year ahead. 

“eMarketer has long been a trusted source for advertisers looking for industry insights and recommendations. We are pleased to have the opportunity to support them in distributing this Retail Trends report at such a critical moment for Retail Marketers,” said Chris Lien, CEO, Marin Software. “We remain committed to delivering advertisers with the best solutions for analyzing, automating, and optimizing their retail marketing campaigns.”

Marin has been helping advertisers advance their digital advertising campaigns for over 15 years and has managed over $48 billion in advertising spend for some of the world’s top brands.

The self-serve MarinOne platform unifies industry leading optimization tools with flexible reporting to help advertisers maximize the impact and reach of their digital marketing investment across paid search, social, and ecommerce channels.

Access Retail Trends to Watch for 2023 here.

Customers are interacting with brands more than ever, and they’re doing so across channels that can provide marketers with important customer insights. In a world where customer data has never been more important, marketers must navigate increasing scrutiny over data handling while collecting and processing data about their customers’ behaviors, needs, and preferences.

Approximately two-thirds of customers expect brands to know and understand their needs and expectations. With rising competition and amplified customer voices, businesses must find new and better ways to attract and retain modern customers. 

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Brand website analytics, custom applications, feedback forms, and cookies have empowered businesses to understand how customer interactions affect sales, marketing, and communication efforts. The extent to which businesses can extract actionable insights from behavioral data depends on their understanding of how customer behavior analysis can serve them, however. 

Businesses have also had to evolve to keep up with a rapidly changing regulatory landscape. Third-party cookies are being phased out around the world and businesses are constantly looking for new ways to collect and analyze critical customer data. 

Why businesses struggle to extract insights from customer behavioral data

Customer information is stored across operational silos

While most businesses collect customer information in some form, they struggle to build a coherent and complete image of their customers—especially when departments don’t collaborate and share the data they have. When fragmented data is scattered across departments in the organization, it can’t help businesses understand their customers and make informed choices about how to reach them.

Sales and marketing teams can benefit from knowing a customer’s communication preferences, social media teams can view a customer’s online interaction history, and finance teams can understand a customer’s payment preferences. In general, businesses can use this data to make sure they are making financially responsible decisions. 

Paid marketing campaigns can sometimes go under the radar or be under-analyzed because of this data fragmentation

Businesses fail to establish and integrate effective data processes into existing workflows

Data processes can be cumbersome and tedious for non-technical staff who are unfamiliar with complex data management systems. As a result, mistakes are made and data is not collected effectively and efficiently.

Businesses must find new ways to encourage widespread participation with data processes across the organization. This could include automating repetitive or tedious tasks or improving education on data processes and how they can be conducted without excessive disruption to non-technical staff. This data also needs to be funneled effectively to marketing teams who can then use it to strategize future initiatives and outreach. 

Data processes are not aligned with business objectives

Even though data processes can confer significant benefits to businesses from reduced costs to increased efficiency, these benefits have to be targeted. Business leaders must design and implement processes to align with their data strategy goals. Marketing campaigns can vary wildly in their objectives, from increasing visibility to changing customer perceptions of the brand, to improving conversion rates. The metrics used to analyze customer data change significantly depending on the priorities of the business. 

A haphazardly planned data strategy can lead to significant time and resources being wasted in service of a poorly defined plan. Poor planning during the data process design stage can also increase the likelihood of data errors caused by a lack of understanding of these processes within the organization, inconsistent participation with data practices, and more issues that could be costly and cumbersome to resolve. 

4 tips for transforming your data into truly actionable insights

Evaluate the data that has already been collected

The average person generates 1.7 MB of data per second. Businesses can sometimes collect insightful data without realizing it. Before designing and implementing widespread changes to existing data operations and workloads, business leaders must evaluate the data that has already been collected or is continually being collected unintentionally. 

Businesses that interact with customers on social media often have a base-level understanding of important metrics that the platform’s integrated analytics tool provides. That would be considered data that is already collected or being continually collected. Modern businesses have to go beyond that and analyze attribution data to optimize their presence on each platform.

Morgan Gelot, Director of AdTech Partnerships at Marin Software, revealed how marketers can use attribution data to receive insights that standard social media back-ends fail to provide. 

MarinOne provides marketers with “a collection of insights that are refreshed daily, that looks at things like search queries and performance trends. Advertisers can filter through this information to visualize the importance and the impact of certain sites and prioritize on the most impactful ads or platforms,” he shared. 

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Modernize data collection strategies to receive a holistic view of marketing performance

Insightful data can be collected in a variety of ways. Some businesses set up data pipelines to directly collect data from the customer but most companies supplement that data with information that they receive from social media platforms and different marketing channels. 

In the past, companies could simply use cookies to collect the information they need to meet their business needs. However, platforms have recently “set up their own solutions to mitigate some of the risks that have appeared on the market with cookies being more limited,” Morgan explained. He also shares how MarinOne can combine insights generated from APIs across social media platforms to provide business leaders with a holistic view of marketing performance. 

Close the gaps between information silos and integrate data workflows into regular business processes

It’s not enough for businesses to collect and analyze data effectively to achieve marketing success in highly competitive markets. Marketers must be able to easily access these insights and integrate them into their daily activities. The first step to achieving this is to close the gaps between information silos and make sure information is collected from multiple sources and combined on a single platform. 

This information has to then make its way to crucial operational teams such as customer service. MarinOne empowers marketers by making marketing data easily digestible and providing them with the information they need to optimize interactions with customers across communication channels. 

How MarinOne can help businesses improve digital marketing performance by unifying customer data

Many factors influence a customer’s purchasing decision. Information about these factors exists across communication channels and social media platforms. MarinOne, Marin Software’s flagship product, allows marketers to easily consolidate performance data, customer behavioral data, generated insights, and more from multiple sources, platforms, and campaigns. A native automation engine allows marketers to simplify how they identify opportunities and tie them into existing customer journeys. 

To get started in understanding more deeply how your customers interact with your brand contact one of our MarinOne experts.

Advertising is more of an art than a science, and digital marketing is certainly no exception. In the last decade, a lot has changed in the world of online marketing, and the field will continue to adapt along with the quickly evolving technology landscape and ever-shifting consumer trends. In this article, we’ll take a look at how it all began, how it has evolved, and where it's headed next. 

The evolution of digital marketing

Let’s first take a look at how digital marketing has developed over the years by looking at some major milestones in its history.

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The late 1990s: The rise of the internet

Digital marketing made a strong start in the 1990s due to the rising popularity of personal computers. Between 1994 and 1996, the number of people using the internet jumped from 25 million to a whopping 77 million. Why? Well, when the World Wide Web launched in 1989 and the first popular browser, Netscape, arrived on the scene, it caused an explosion of new users. From then on, the digital landscape began to grow exponentially as more and more browsers and search engines popped up, including many of the most popular search engines we know and still use today. 

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Early 2000s: The social media revolution

The invention of the World Wide Web created a collaborative space for sharing information, leading to a social media revolution. You may or may not remember MySpace, but it was the first truly popular platform of its kind, and it set the trend for all the others to follow. After its release in 2003, Facebook made its grand entrance. As a social media leader, it quickly became an outlet for businesses to reach global audiences. Brands began to realize the immense opportunities that could be achieved through tweets, posts, videos, emails, blogs, PPC advertising, and more—and this opened the door for digital marketing to expand. 

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By 2011, TV viewership began to decline for the very first time in history, and marketers were taking note of the transition. With this shift came the introduction of “cookies.” If you’re not already familiar with them, cookies are small pieces of code that are useful for tracking user behavior and content retargeting. Advertisers took advantage of tracking techniques, giving attention to browsing habits and usage patterns so they could fine-tune their campaigns and other marketing efforts. 

The emergence of the internet and the rise of search engines also created an ideal space for what came to be known as native advertising. Using native advertising, marketers can promote content more effectively and connect with target customers through search ads. 

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Mid 2000s: Mobile devices surpass desktop internet usage 

When iPhones became available around 2007, they completely changed how we access the web. As the world quickly invested in the many glories of smartphones, mobile usage served as a major motivation for brands to undertake search engine optimization. By 2014, mobile device usage crossed a key threshold and predictive analytics started to gain some traction. 

In 2016, marketing automation went into effect and marketers started to build more personalized and efficient campaigns. When Facebook and Google prevailed as the two most recognized leaders of the internet in 2017, influencer marketing skyrocketed—and advertisers took the opportunity to grow their audiences. Paid advertising was no longer considered a supplementary strategy for marketers. 

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2018 and beyond: content popularity surges

When 2018 rolled around, marketers continued to improve their SEO efforts, realizing that long-form content was another strategy they could use to increase session durations. But SEO wouldn’t be the only strategy on the minds of advertisers. By 2019, marketers were dealing with an entirely new frontier: the quickly growing landscape of video platforms. By this time it was clear to advertisers that if they wanted to succeed, they would have to prioritize content creation as part of their marketing strategy — be it short-form or long-form text content, or videos

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However, the digital marketing landscape changed once again in 2020 when the pandemic hit and there were restrictions on many daily activities. Digital marketers were forced to keep up with skyrocketing social media use, new purchasing behaviors, and changing consumer behavior patterns. Consumer expectations skyrocketed and marketers had to shift their strategies to create more digital experiences. Marketers realized to adapt they would need to focus on customer values and experiences while placing a stronger emphasis on relationships than ever before. While online strategies are nothing new to the marketing world, COVID-19 initiated a stay-at-home virtual age that couldn’t be ignored. Since then, marketers have needed to focus on online strategies more than ever as a channel for reaching their existing and potential target audiences in order to remain competitive. 

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The future of digital marketing

As it has done in the past, digital marketing will continue evolving and developing every year. So what can you expect for digital marketing next? Current trends forecast that AI, automation, and machine learning technologies will likely become more pervasive. Influencer marketing will continue to grow and voice search and chat bots will soar in popularity. Interactive marketing content will pop up more, and you can also expect to see digital marketing become algorithm-driven. 

While it’s impossible to say with complete certainty where the ever-changing digital marketing landscape is headed in the future, it’s exciting to see where it will go next. 

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How to stay in the loop

Digital marketing has come a long way in its development. However, the digital market industry is continuously evolving and digital marketers must keep up with the rapid acceleration of changes. They must be able to identify emerging trends as well as the creation of newer and more intelligent search engine algorithms.

To help you keep up with trends and make the most of your digital advertising campaigns, MarinOne gives you full visibility into your campaigns while continuously integrating the latest developments in digital marketing.

MarinOne can help you elevate and scale your paid search, social, and ecommerce advertising by helping you automate your campaigns. To see how contact one of our experts today and schedule a personalized demo.

It’s hard to keep up with what’s new in the world of marketing with so many new strategies emerging every day. A decade ago, marketers focused on creating catchy ads and putting them in the right places at the right time. However, a lot of things have changed since then. For one thing, effective marketing now requires businesses to implement a more holistic approach. 

With more competition than ever before, simply creating an ad won’t yield the best results. In this day and age, customers are more in control and are more discerning. You must understand your buyer, learn what they want, and develop a strategy to meet their needs. One of the best ways to do that? Precision marketing

Read on to learn about precision marketing and gain meaningful insights and advice from one of our very own MarinOne digital advertising experts, Anu Adegbola, on how to create an effective strategy that will get your brand noticed and help you win your customers’ loyalty. 

What is precision marketing?

Precision marketing uses data and relationship-building to precisely target a brand’s customers. The technique involves nurturing relationships—specifically, prioritizing existing customers over new ones and connecting with them in a more relevant way. It’s about customer retention, upselling, and cross-selling. Using precision marketing, marketers rely heavily on market segmentation to analyze shopper habits, behaviors, and other patterns to help increase the success of their marketing efforts while providing a better and more intelligent customer experience. 

Why precision marketing is important

Marketing needs to be agile

The internet has made it easy for customers to respond to marketing campaigns and ads in real time. If you want to stay ahead of your competition, you need to be prepared to adapt quickly. 

Marketing is more complex than it used to be

To thoroughly understand your customer base, you need more than just demographic information. While it’s helpful to know the basics of where and who your customers are, it’s just as critical to know what’s important to them, how they communicate with one another, and more. When you have accurate data, you’ll be able to create messaging that resonates with your key audiences

Customers have high expectations

Customers expect their user experience to be frictionless. In this new digital age, they want what they want, when they want it. To ensure customer satisfaction it is critical to stay up-to-date with the latest marketing trends. If you don’t, your customers may look elsewhere, seeking out your competitors instead. 

Connections matter

Marketing is no longer about copy that sells. While engaging ads are still very important, success now requires social insight along with an understanding of psychology. When you understand why customers are making their purchase decisions, you can develop a more tailored marketing strategy. 

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5 tips for an effective precision marketing strategy

Implementing an effective precision marketing strategy that produces results requires following a careful and comprehensive plan.

Engage with your customers

When promoting your product, don’t forget that commitment to your customer comes first, and their purchase comes second. Developing real relationships will help foster more brand loyalty along the way. 

“If all you’re focusing on is getting clicks, you’re not going to get the return you’re looking for. It’s not all about volume—it’s about the right volume. You need to make sure you’re showing things to the right audience,” says MarinOne marketing expert, Anu Adegbola. “Those who have focused on just the data and not building a relationship with their clients won’t succeed because they don’t have the whole picture.” 

Have a strong online presence 

Besides having had a profound effect on marketing, social media has proven to be an essential part of a successful marketing strategy. Old marketing strategies like live events and cold calls may have worked in the past, but not now. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms give you a way to connect with customers more personally. 

Anu’s advice: “If you’re going to have a presence on a social platform, you need to do it well. Test the various platforms to see what’s working for your brand or company—if it’s not working for you, move on and find what does. Make sure you’re on the appropriate platform for your brand and your customers. If you’re in the wrong space, you may get a negative reaction.”

Offer real value to repeat customers

Customers respond well to brands that cater to their needs and consistently offer them real value. “It’s not just about targeting the single purchases, but it’s about building repeat customers,” Anu explains. Make lifecycle marketing an integral part of your precision marketing strategy by creating interesting and dynamic content that brings your precisely targeted customers back to your brand again and again. Personalized offers that relate to past products they've bought, birthdays, or unique interests are all great ways to get repeat purchases from the same customer over time. 

Be authentic

Customers appreciate authenticity. Understand where your brand sits in the market and what makes it unique. To be effective, know your brand values and make sure you represent those values through your marketing efforts. It also helps to have an approachable brand voice–test out multiple variants of landing page or ad copy when running a targeted campaign. Most likely the assets that will perform the best will be the most simple to comprehend; making things too complex increases the likelihood that you'll lose interest by those unfamiliar with your brand.

Create a desirable customer experience

Customers today live in a digital world with unlimited options. Give them a compelling reason to work with you. By delivering an exceptional customer experience, you can win their trust and expect that they will keep coming back. 

“You need to make things easy for the customer,” suggests Anu. “For example, if the return process is easy, they’ll come back to shop again, and hopefully buy something even more expensive the next time they shop with you.”

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5 keys for success in brand loyalty

Here are some of the best ways to get in front of your customers and build their loyalty. 

Maintain a strong brand

Customers naturally gravitate towards brands they’re familiar with and can trust. Aim to align your brand with your values, mission, and your customers’ expectations.

Understand your audience’s habits

Use precision marketing to gain accurate insight into your audience’s behaviors. When used effectively, audience data can help you create content that is engaging and relevant. 

Stick to your goals

Setting realistic goals will make it easier for you to track the success of your marketing efforts. By measuring what’s working and what’s not, you can adjust your goals accordingly. Consider evaluating click through rates, the number of email newsletter subscribers, how effective CTAs are working, as well as ups and downs in website traffic. 

Make retention a priority

While it's good to attract new customers, it’s far more cost effective to focus on retaining your existing ones. The goal is to have people keep coming back. To drive more conversions, focus on creating personalized experiences and deals that your existing customers will find appealing. Segment your audiences, collect data about each audience group and their behavior, and you’re sure to be on your way to higher retention rates. 

Stay on top of trends

You may already be aware that marketing trends change frequently. Staying on top of trends—even if they come and go—gives you a competitive advantage and helps you maintain a close connection with customers. When a new trend pops up, assess whether it will be effective for your brand. To make sure you're in the loop, read current blogs and listen to your customers so you can meet their needs. 

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Use MarinOne to boost your precision marketing efforts

The marketing industry is constantly evolving and it will continue to do so in the years to come. To remain responsive, marketers must use precision marketing to build solid relationships with their existing customers and attract the right audiences for new potential customers. 

MarinOne can help you streamline and amplify your precision marketing campaigns using the latest analytics and automation tools. We can also provide tactical and strategic advice, guide you on what strategies will work best for your specific needs, and much more. Learn more about MarinOne today. 

Get in touch with one of our experts to see how we can help you get the information and tools you need to increase the effectiveness of your precision marketing campaigns.

E-commerce has had a long hot summer, but some experts say that winter has finally arrived. We’ve seen stock valuations for major retailers plummet and layoffs increasing in frequency, leaving businesses wondering if pandemic-era predictions for permanently changed consumer behavior might just fall flat.

The e-commerce expansion initially came as a necessity in 2020 during the onset of the pandemic: retail locations closed or reduced hours, bread-winners spent more time at home, and everyone spent more time on their devices. E-commerce businesses saw unprecedented growth, and those that cashed in without dedicating time to a long-term game plan saw subsequent declines the following year.

A recent study by store equipment supplier Raydiant showed that 48% of customers prefer to shop in-store when given the choice between in-store and online. And 51% said that they spent most of their money in physical store locations. Now as we navigate surging inflation and economic uncertainty, businesses must adapt yet again to a changing landscape.

TL;DR: In-store shopping isn’t dead, and e-commerce businesses need to adapt to survive.

If you’re looking for adaptation inspiration, here are a few ideas:

Retain your Current Customers

One of the first things I look for in an advertising audit is some kind of retention strategy. While often overlooked in advertising, customer retention can be incredibly valuable. 

If you’re on the fence, consider these stats from Outbound Engine:

  • Acquiring a new customer can cost up to five times more than it does to retain a current customer.
  • Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%
  • The success rate for selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a net new customer is 5-20%

Implementing a customer retention strategy can be simple and impactful. Some examples include:

  • Reminding customers about upcoming product releases
  • Implementing some cornerstones of Social Commerce such as engaging with customer content and creating high quality content
  • Exclusive offers for current customers

Don’t Leave Money on the Table

Did you know that 73% of shopping carts are abandoned on desktop and 86% on mobile? Your business could be missing out on a lot of cash in those carts.

Some options to address cart abandonment include:

  • Retarget these users in digital advertising, email automation, or even SMS. Your customers added these items to their carts for a reason, sometimes they just need an extra nudge.
  • Consider your shipping options. Multiple studies show that offering free shipping is a win for retailers, even if that shipping cost needs to be baked into your product pricing. If you have a brick and mortar location, consider offering free in-store pickup for online orders (Also referred to as BOPIS). 

Add Value (Outside of your Product Offering)

This may sound counterintuitive, but in today’s highly competitive e-commerce environment brands are expected to deliver more than just goods. Consider alternative on-brand ways to drive value for your customers (and be sure to capture their emails along the way).

For example, a cookware brand might email recipes that can be made using their products. An apparel brand might offer a quiz for new customers to find their perfect fit. An outdoors company might host an adventure giveaway. All of these examples serve the dual purpose of customer engagement and the opportunity to capture a contact.

The work isn’t done once you receive that email address though. Consider leveraging customer emails for digital retargeting strategies, email lifecycle marketing, and additional ways to add value to continue tending to your customer relationships.

Optimize your Ads 

Lastly, make sure the ads that you are running are driving conversions. There are many ways to do this, so we’ll list a few here:

  • A/B testing - try out some different creative and messaging options to see what resonates with your customers.
  •  Audience targeting - keep good records on your customers in your CRM system and use your first party data to retarget current customers while finding new customers with lookalike audiences.
  • Cross-channel bid optimization - where are your customers finding you? Google? Amazon? Social channels? Analyze your performance data to see which channels are working best for you and you may want to allocate more of your budget to those platforms. 

An ad tech platform like MarinOne can help you to integrate your data, analyze your performance, and optimize your ad spend for the best possible results. Reach out for a free consultation and we’ll show you how!

Getting Started with Amazon Live

Visibility is the key if you are aiming to succeed as a seller on Amazon. Keeping up with platform changes and new features is a great way to stay ahead of the competition and have more visibility on Amazon for your brand. One such feature your company ought to be utilizing is Amazon Live.

Since the inception of Amazon Live in 2016, it has slowly but surely grown in status and notoriety. What initially seemed cheesy to many brands has now become a highly profitable revenue platform. As Prime Day 2022 numbers have improved year over year, being able to engage users already shopping on Amazon offers up audiences who are more likely to convert right away. 

This is great news for individual influencers as well as major brands. Most of the users active on Amazon Live view shopping as being highly therapeutic or personal in some way. So with an ever-growing audience of highly-engaged active shoppers, the question arises ‘How can my brand use this too?” Here’s a playbook on how to get started.

What is Amazon Live?

Amazon Live is regarded as one of the most successful initiatives launched by Amazon in the form of a live streaming platform. Sellers can create videos and tutorials as a way to market new or unique products. Creators can host live streams on their Amazon Live to advertise their product to their customers and followers. The live streams come in a myriad of formats: from direct interactions between seller and shopper, to giving product demos, offering promo codes, and holding Q&A sessions, all amounting to the creator earning commission from sales produced by their streamable content. 

Amazon Live has been made customer and seller friendly, as both parties can access the platform on desktop as well on mobile. There is also growth potential from a global perspective for brands, as the website and mobile app versions of Amazon Live are available across many countries. 

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What are Amazon Live influencers?

Social media influencers have been an integral part of the entire concept behind Amazon Live. Amazon’s foray into live shopping with this QVC style shopping stream changed the influencer landscape at large as thousands of streamers have taken advantage of a new place to sell their products in an interactive way. 

The Amazon Live platform also offers the Amazon Influencer Program, where individuals with an existing social media following can re-direct that following to the influencers' favorite Amazon products. Using tagged codes and links, the influencer in turn receives a sales commission for those product purchases from Amazon. 

By developing a unique Amazon Storefront, influencers can choose and promote any product on the platform on this layout to generate a permanent income stream. Based on the type of product, total influencer sales, etc., the commission for influencers is set up in the range of 10% of all revenue. 

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Developing great Amazon Live content as an influencer

Amazon Live offers the influencers a chance to showcase a products' features in real time while answering questions and engaging with shoppers, much like Facebook Live and Youtube Live. Developing content for live streams is as personal as any other content an influencer may create. If you're a content creator looking to produce a unique streaming experience on Amazon Live, don't be afraid to wear your product, use it, and flaunt it the way you want…just as you would on any other social media platform. (So long as you're within Amazon's guidelines of course.)

Keep in mind that shoppers want to see:

  • How the product works
  • What sets it apart from other similar products
  • Why you recommend it as their trusted influencer.

You can sign up for the Amazon Influencer Program in order to live stream products here. All you need to apply for the Amazon Influencer Program is your YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account information. It takes 3-5 days to get the application approved and setup your account. 

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Partnering with Amazon Live influencers as a brand

Just like other forms of influencer marketing, there are several benefits to working with influencers on Amazon. For brand owners looking to use Amazon content creator relationships as part of your omnichannel marketing strategy, a few objectives you could set as part of an Amazon influencer program are:

  • Exposure to new audiences and brand awareness
  • Authentic, top of funnel content creation
  • Reputation boosts through influencer trust
  • Optimization of your Amazon product listings
  • Increased sales and conversion

When done correctly, influencer marketing has been shown to drive qualified traffic that will not only deliver an immediate return on investment but also provide momentum for Amazon listings. This helps increase Best Seller Rank, organic rank, and ad visibility.

Remember, in influencer marketing, authenticity is #1

Keep in mind that content creators prioritize their own brand identity and authentic voice above all else. So to have success, you must find the right partnerships that are a fit for the company and the influencer. 

In a recent interview with Amazon, popular influencer Trisha Hershberger described her early experiences as a content creator, and how she was met with resistance by the industry to be herself. Many brands only wanted to collaborate with her if she changed her appearance to what they considered the "typical" gamer look. 

“I was told, ‘you can't wear a dress on camera and talk about video games, no one's going to take you seriously, you have to wear a graphic T-shirt.' I was told often that I didn’t look like the gaming type,” she says. 

Hershberger shared that she was adamant about her point of view despite the pushback she had received. Her reward for this fortitude came in the form of seeing audiences respond positively to her individuality. Viewers are wanting to connect with creators who are being true to themselves and their interests. By sticking to her guns and presenting the image she wanted to portray, Hershberger managed to help shape a culture of communication and openness between herself and the brands she promotes. 

She believes the stalwart attitude she and other influencers have had has helped to create more diversity in online content at large. “With more diverse creators coming forward with different backgrounds and interests, there is something for everyone,” she says.

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Connecting Amazon Live and Amazon influencers to your omnichannel marketing strategy

Amazon Live has the potential to be another powerful asset in the digital marketers' toolkit, just like many other platforms, tools, or features that have come before it.  You've most likely already tackled Pinterest advertising, TikTok content, programmatic ads, and many other unknowns in the past…so don't be afraid to get bold here too. Amazon Live is simply another opportunity to dig deep and get creative, scaling your marketing initiatives to new heights. Some low hanging fruit for omnichannel applications we would suggest include:

  • Repurpose Amazon Live content on other social media channels
  • Extend your Amazon Live influencer collaborations to include promotion on their other content platforms
  • Use Amazon Live as an opportunity to test new product launches, or get passive market feedback on existing products
  • Create community and ongoing dialogue amongst the Amazon audience by driving them to other forums where your brand spends time

Managing Amazon Live budgets and campaigns with MarinOne

While some of the execution to an Amazon Live campaign may be distinctive to other campaigns your brand is running, what will be consistent is the need for clear audience tracking, insightful data analysis, and accurate attribution. Marin Software is prepared to help you do just that with our all-in-one paid media management platform. Our tool integrates directly with Amazon Ads so you can see how a multitude of campaign types are performing all at once, against one another. It's also one of the only tools available that offers true omnichannel budgeting across nearly 30 publisher platforms, so you'll know whether to put more or less engine spend toward Amazon, Facebook, TikTok, or anywhere else your ads are running. Let our team set up the infrastructure for your team to make the best advertising decisions possible. Get a consultation from one of our digital marketing experts today.

As many of us already know, on Amazon half of the work is already done if you can manage to have a quality organic listing and positive seller standing with Amazon itself. The algorithm on Amazon is a combination of organic and paid advertising, and to get the most out of Amazon in terms of sales and revenue, these two channels must be working hand-in-hand. This is far more crucial on Amazon than most other platforms, where organic and paid work can be somewhat disparate.

Recently, competitiveness amongst Amazon listings continues to escalate. Getting a quality ROI from this marketplace is not as simple as it once was. There are plenty of sellers, within the United States especially, who seem to be struggling in establishing their businesses and getting their brand the visibility they would like. 

We have assembled a list of tactics that should help you get the edge over your competition in 2022 and into the coming years. A sophisticated advertising strategy stands out as the most empowering place to start. If done correctly, Amazon search ads and display ads can be a game-changer for your business.

Be methodical when making budget decisions

If you are just getting started with Amazon ads, it is better if you take it slow, one day at a time. Start with a limited budget so that you can easily do trial-and-error testing to see what works for you. You are bound to face high competition in the beginning. 

When you set your budget, it’s important to look at your average cost of sale (ACoS). This is the amount you spend to obtain leads which can help make sure that your budget will work with it. You need to understand how this works so that you can maintain healthy profitability.

Just like any other channel, you'll want to carefully weigh the costs of advertising and production when it comes to determining just how much you should spend on marketing. Amazon advertising is no different.

Sales tax, fees, product and overhead costs take off around 50% from your earnings. After those are accounted for, you'll only have 50% of the original budget to go around on advertising and then finally, profit.

This means that your ACoS needs to be less than 50% for your business to gain a profit. Anywhere from a 15-40% ACoS is not uncommon on Amazon advertising, so you’ll want to keep this in mind as you account for your budget on this platform.

As you identify your ACoS, your confidence as an advertiser and business owner will increase as you establish a system for healthy profitability and increasing revenue over time.

Try a web-based calculator to calculate the margin built into a product. There are many online tools for calculating ACoS as well—don’t be afraid to try these shortcuts to know for certain you are making sound financial decisions…especially if you’re just starting out in this kind of budget management.

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Opt for Sponsored Display Ads

Sponsored Display Ads are yet another unique feature introduced by Amazon for self-advertising one’s business. The primary distinction of these ads from other Amazon ads is that they don’t target keywords. Instead, they target customers by their interests and behaviors. They also compare consumers’ with similar interests or purchase histories to grow the audience segments and see if new customers might also be interested in what you're advertising.

Therefore, for all the newly established businesses or even the well-established ones, these Sponsored Ads might work as an important tool for bringing incremental traffic and brand awareness your way effortlessly. Using Sponsored Display Ad campaigns, you can feel assured that any potential customer who might have viewed a product similar to yours at another business store will be able to view your product(s) as well, making your brand more prevalent within the category segment. 

Sponsored Display Ads are currently one of Amazon’s less popular campaign types due to their newness. As advertisers become more comfortable with this ad type, competitiveness will surely increase; so this is one easy way to get ahead of the competition. 

Amazon DSP (Demand Side Platform)

Amazon DSP, or Demand-Side Platform, is where advertisers can go to programmatically buy video and ad placements. Like many other DSPs, Amazon provides the connection for programmatic ads that include placements on Amazon directly or across the web, including a network of thousands of Amazon partner websites. This gives brands a more diverse range of targeting opportunities. Use audience insights to determine what reach is available in your audience segments. Exclusions are an effective way to keep your audiences fresh: rule out past purchasers or set a 30 day purchase window…there are very few products on Amazon that would have a buying cycle longer than 30 days. If a customer was not ready to make a purchase decision in that time frame on this platform, they are not likely to make a purchase at all.

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Take advantage of your Amazon ‘honeymoon period’ wisely

The initial 45 days of advertising on Amazon are known as the ‘honeymoon’ or ‘learning’ period. This is the time when you can best put your efforts into making the most of experimentation and learning about everything that goes on in establishing one’s business. 

If you fail to make the most of this period, chances are high that even after this time, you will struggle to meet your goals in this very competitive marketplace. The first month or so is a crucial time for testing product pricing, keywords, descriptions, ad messaging, and promotions. All of these factors could greatly impact your effectiveness on Amazon, so be aggressive and don’t be afraid to test many different approaches week over week. Just be careful that your A/B testing is clean and well-documented so you know exactly what was productive and what wasn’t moving into the post-honeymoon phase.

Don’t use too many keywords(or the wrong ones)

Keywords can become a source of big problems for you when you are targeting too many terms on the ad side, keyword stuffing your description or product names, or simply taking the wrong approach in how or what you are bidding on. 

To avoid these pitfalls, it is best if you do your research, evaluate similar sellers, and see how many keywords they use to promote their products. Thorough competitive analysis at the forefront will save you a lot of headache in the long run. There are many tools that can help you with this work, or it can be done manually. Either way, be specific in establishing the right competitor list to evaluate; and be thorough in your analysis of each competitor.

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Consider using an Amazon partner

Once you feel comfortable with Amazon ad formats and key strategies, you may want to consider leveraging an Amazon Advertising partner. Amazon evaluates and approves key vendors to help their advertisers drive even more value from their campaigns. A partner like Marin Software can help you use machine learning and cutting-edge technology to streamline and amplify your Amazon campaigns.

Advanced analytics can deliver reports and insights within and across your Amazon campaigns and also give you a cross-publisher view if you are using other marketplaces like Instacart, Criteo, or CitrusAd. MarinOne also proactively scans your account every day to identify opportunities to grow revenue and decrease costs. It’s important to note that Amazon only holds your historical data for 90 days. A tool like MarinOne can give you access to all your previous campaigns with unlimited data retention. 

It’s never a bad idea to incorporate automation into the day-to-day management of campaigns to save you time. Actions like bulk changes perform the same edits across objects and campaigns so you don’t need to do that manually. Another big time saver is SmartFeed which pulls in your inventory feed and syndicates that data to Amazon (and other publishers) to automatically pause and resume campaigns based on your inventory levels. You can also take advantage of day parting which schedules and deploys your budget during the most effective times of the day for your products. 

Some Amazon partners, like Marin, also offer bid optimization to help advertisers determine the right level of spend and forecast the expected conversions, revenue, and profit based on your goals. You can also use MarinOne’s pacing tool that shows you how you are progressing over your selling period and adjusts your bids to keep you on track. 

Key takeaways

While it is a competitive market, don’t be off put or consider stepping back from Amazon advertising just yet. With thorough research, careful planning, and ongoing optimization, Amazon absolutely can produce the results you are looking for. It is unmatched in terms of customer intent, quick purchase conversions, and return on investment. It also happens to be the second largest search engine in the world; and therefore, not to be ignored. 

To embrace Amazon for the good of your business, go along with its competitive pace and keep on implementing new strategies until you feel confident in your AMZ marketing chops. If you are keen to learn and implement the right techniques, you will find yourself reaching your KPI goals on Amazon in no time.

If your marketing team is understaffed, they may not be up to fulfilling all of your business goals. While a small team could theoretically handle the bulk of your tasks manually, this can lead to mistakes, missed opportunities, and eventually burnout—not good for morale, your reputation, or your customers. 

Marketers need to evolve with technology that allows them to keep up with the fast-changing digital marketing landscape—and the customers driving those changes. 

It makes sense to benefit from automation tools that handle your campaign management and other marketing activities—this makes your job easier and means you get to provide a better service to your customers. 

To help you make the most of the tech out there, here are 9 ways automation can help out a short-staffed team while achieving your marketing objectives:

1. Automate workflows

Automating your marketing teams’ workflow saves time and money, allowing you to focus on the things that really matter. It’s not enough to just post for your company—competitors are vying for attention in any given area. Your accounts need content, promotions, short, they need someone behind them constantly replying to queries and providing value across all channels. Automating this means the software can handle everything so you can focus on other business areas.

MarinOne lets you automatically adjust campaign bids using unique factors that impact your campaign performance, such as seasonality, ratings, new product launches, coverage in the media, and social media buzz so your ads are always optimized to perform well without you having to intervene. 

MarinOne also automatically reviews search queries and adds keywords and negatives that meet user-specified criteria. We can track conversions associated with raw queries to provide better insight into whether keywords make sense to be added (or removed) based on their post-click success. 

Keyword expansion increases your reach and improves your campaign efficiency automatically. 

2. Increase the frequency of messages on social media channels

Increasing the frequency of messages on social channels helps to build rapport with your customers. They'll see a larger presence of your business on their social feeds and will assume you're very active—which means more trust.

Scheduling social media posts in advance used to be time-consuming. But now, automation tools can do many of the repetitive tasks for you, so it’s easier than ever to post relevant content on your social pages without needing someone there posting in real time. 

Automation allows you to create a posting schedule for your social media accounts and then let the application take care of everything for you! You’ll get the best engagement when the post goes live on the platform (and there won’t be any embarrassing mistakes). The same goes for your ads: you can use automation tools, like MarinOne’s paid social ads management feature, to track, manage, and optimize your ads with the click of a button.

Take it a step further with Message Booster, which analyzes the performance and content of organic posts and automatically transforms the best ones into ads. Automating this content promotion and campaign creation can save you hours of manual work.  By targeting specific audiences with Message Booster, you can reach people who are likely to purchase from you based on location, interests, and demographics that you define. And because your organic post has proven to be effective in engaging these types of customers, you can avoid using your ad spend on paid ads that may or may not interest your audience.

3. Work faster with bulk edits

With bulk uploads and inline edits, you'll have greater control over your day-to-day workflow. In MarinOne, you can use CSV or batch uploads to make thousands of changes at once. The campaigns, groups, keywords, or ads will appear on your account as soon as you complete all of the steps and push to the publisher within a few hours.

Unified bulk uploads allow you to work across accounts and publishers with a single action. Meanwhile, inline editing allows you to make adjustments or corrections without returning to Excel. This means less time hopping between documents and a lower chance of discrepancies and mistakes. 

4. Build campaigns from your product feed

Building campaigns from your product feed provides an easy way to integrate product information into campaigns for many different ad platforms at once. Everything is kept in one place, and updating product information is easy so you don't have to worry about campaign updates channel by channel.

MarinOne builds keywords and creatives from a product feed and campaign template. Get complete coverage of your product with no manual work. You can also mechanize pausing and resuming based on inventory levels.

5. Stay informed of changes to your account

Marketing teams are busy, and sometimes things slip through the cracks. To avoid negative ramifications caused by human error, set up preprogrammed notifications about changes to your account such as status updates, new campaigns and ad groups, and the addition of shared library items. Staying clued in to what is being done by other team members as well as natural changes happening in your advertising campaigns will help you to stay responsive, resulting in timelier analysis and action.

MarinOne's automated alerts bring changes directly to your inbox, saving the need for manual monitoring.

6. Get automated recommendations on performance opportunities

MarinOne Insights highlights recommendations for improved performance across your accounts. You can think of this as a continuous audit that evaluates the effectiveness of your organization’s digital marketing activity. In fact, Insights is updated every 24 hours and uses historical data to uncover opportunities to reduce wasteful spending and capitalize on volume in high-performing areas.

Insights also provides performance impact estimates for incremental spend, conversion, and revenue and examples to show you exactly what you stand to gain when implementing recommendations. So no need to worry if you don’t have staff to analyze your accounts every day!

7. Integrate your data

Integrating your data into your ad management platform means you always have information at your fingertips without looking for it. Pull in data from your web analytics, mobile tracking, and CRM, and let the software take the strain.

Another benefit of integrating your software: you can more easily extract insights and create reports that incorporate all your data, not just some. This means you get better insight into your business, customers, and competitors and can use those insights to optimize your campaigns for the best performance. 

With MarinOne, advertisers can also export data to Excel, Google Sheets, data warehouses and BI tools so you have information when and where you need it. .

8. Automated spend pacing

Keeping track of your spend is a must—don't let it fall to the wayside just because you're short-staffed. Pacing charts track your spending over the month, quarter, or another period you specify and automatically adjust your bidding targets to keep you on track. MarinOne helps you plan your targets with advanced forecasting, and then you can sit back while MarinOne manages your bids to keep you on budget through the period. 

9. Consider managed services

If you are extremely tapped for resources and have the budget, you might consider partnering with an AdTech team that can manage and optimize your campaigns for you. This means that when you're busy or away, their team can run campaigns and optimize them for you, taking the strain off the rest of your staff. When they have questions, they can ping you with an email or DM so you can quickly provide the data needed to make informed decisions.

Interested in learning more?

Click here to learn more about MarinOne’s automation tools today. Or schedule a demo with the team to see firsthand how MarinOne can keep you operating at peak performance even if you’re short-staffed.

This is the first post in our three part series where we’ll dive into TikTok advertising and how you can leverage the platform to get in front of new audiences with unique and engaging content.

TikTok is a marketing gold mine. This hub for starting conversations and sharing ideas lends itself strongly to virality, creating the perfect storm for boosting a company’s brand awareness and revenue. 

Getting your products in front of the right TikTok audience creates a domino effect. The more users engage with, share, and respond to your post using Duet and Stitch, the more favor you garner from the TikTok algorithm. The platform might even expand your reach by featuring your video on the For You Page (FYP). 

Brands just delving into the realm of trendy dances, weird challenges, and life hacks galore can use TikTok ads to find their audience (and jumpstart their success). Ready to get started? Here is everything you need to know about TikTok ad formats, explained. 

In-feed ads

In-Feed ads are your go-to ad format. They place your videos right on your target audiences’ FYP. This format embeds your video onto the FYP as an ad, making it look native. Users can interact with your ad the same way they do with any other TikTok by liking, commenting, sharing, and reusing the sound for their own content. 

In-feed ads are a good pick for quite a few campaign objectives. You can use the clickable CTA button to send users to the destination of your choice, whether that be a landing page, your app, or your TikTok profile. For the best results, make your videos around 9-15 seconds long. Make use of popular effects, filters, and sounds, and keep up with the trends to ensure your videos will resonate with TikTok’s user base. 

Top-view ads

Top-View ads are more attention-grabbing than In-Feed ads. Your target audience will see these ads at the very top of their FYP. The videos can last up to 60 seconds and have less competition than In-Feed ads. 

The Top-View ad format guarantees high reach and impressions, making it a solid strategy for building brand awareness. For the best results, prioritize creating an engaging video. This will help users remember your brand, even after they’ve scrolled past your ad. 

Brand takeover

The Brand Takeover ad format displays your video full-screen as soon as a user opens the app. While similar to the previous format, due to the lack of direct competition surrounding your video, users cannot engage with Brand Takeovers. The upside is that they can’t be skipped. The best Brand Takeovers are short videos or images that display for 5 seconds or less. 

Branded hashtag challenge

The Branded Hashtag Challenge format inspires users to create their own content using your hashtag. This format has three placements: In-Feed videos that inspire users to join in on the challenge, featured banners found on the “Discover Page” that drive users to the Hashtag Challenge placement, and lastly, the Hashtag Challenge itself. This last placement acts as a landing page for the challenge. It pulls all the challenge’s video submissions into one centralized hub, making it easy for users to connect and engage with other participants. 

This format combines traditional digital advertising with TikTok’s user-generated content focus to create the ultimate ads for driving engagement and boosting brand awareness. 

Branded effects

The Branded Effects placement allows brands to create their own effects for their audience to use when creating content. 

This format is special for two reasons. First, it allows users to engage with your brand on a deeper level by using your effects to create content of their own. This content will have a home on their profile, acting as a constant reminder of their relationship with your brand. 

Second, users all over the world who have no idea what your brand is all about will have access to your effect. If your effect becomes trendy, your reach will expand beyond your target audience. Users who might not need your products now will still be loosely aware of what you have to offer and, chances are, your brand will be the first they think of when the need does arise. 

Wrapping up

Like the platform itself, TikTok’s ad formats are unique. When used in tandem, they can create an all-powerful ad strategy that boosts brand awareness, sparks engagement, and drives sales. You can check out more examples of each of TikTok’s ad formats here

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

Ready to learn more about how MarinOne can expand your reach and drive growth on TikTok?

Click here for more info.

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

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

The New and Improved Web Query Reports

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

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

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

Setting Up Web Query Reports for Google Sheets

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

Click into a cell and type =IMPORTHTML(

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

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

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

  • The URL must be enclosed in quotation marks

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Performance-based alerts and reports:

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

QA-based alerts and reports:

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

Example: Cross channel Dashboard build by using Web Queries

Setting Up Web Query Reports

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

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

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

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

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests, a coalition of civil-rights organizations, including the NAACP, the Anti Defamation League, and Common Sense Media, have called for a boycott of advertising on Facebook and Instagram for the month of July. Their goal is to “act against hate and disinformation being spread by order to force Mark Zuckerberg to address the effect that Facebook has had on our society.”

The campaign’s website currently lists 240 participating organizations as well as a list of recommended
next steps. Facebook has taken notice, holding conversations with major advertisers to address their concerns. They have also directly responded to the recommendations by highlighting their ongoing efforts as well as new initiatives stemming from this campaign.

We believe that Facebook is making progress, but that there is also much more that can be done in how Facebook handles hateful speech and disinformation. Until then, here’s a look at how this boycott will impact advertising for the foreseeable future.

A boycott is a boycott. Not a test.

For those organizations that have decided to participate, a boycott may mean a significant change to their media mix. Because of this, it may also seem like a good time to measure the impact of that change. It is not. Several considerations apply:

  • Volatile buyer behavior. We are in various stages of economic turmoil anyway because of COVID-19. Consumer confidence is in flux. An accurate assessment of causality will require shifting spend for just a portion of the advertiser’s target audience while holding a control group steady. This will help ensure that any drop in results is not misattributed to the change in ad spending when it could be due instead to a change in underlying buyer behavior.
  • Volatile competitor behavior. Competitors may or may not be participating in the boycott, further distorting what is “normal.”
  • Costs not representative. For those organizations that have decided to continue spending on Facebook during this time, audiences may be less expensive than usual due to fewer advertisers. Pay attention to effectiveness, not costs, during this time.
  • Participate based on principle, not self-interest. Despite the potential usefulness of a control group, shutting off partial spending would ring hollow and that is not the reason for the change in spending. Because of this, a holdout or control group is not available during the boycott (see below for potential restart strategies).

For some organizations, measuring impact is down the road

It’s too soon to tell if Facebook’s actions toward more active editorial reviews will happen, be effective, or be embraced by the community. It will certainly take longer than a month. While the step change in Facebook spending, from some to none, during the boycott does not present a reasonable opportunity for advertisers to evaluate incrementality, a restoration in spend in the future may. If and when spend is restored, this can be done with appropriate holdouts (typically geo) and watching for impact on paid and organic visit volumes for the holdout and test geo regions. Some metrics to consider:

  • Impact on brand vs. generic keywords
  • Searches (impressions by impression share)
  • Direct-to-site visits
  • Conversion rate
  • CTR (brand terms)

Incrementality studies are more relevant for direct response advertisers who can immediately measure their conversions online. For companies with a primary objective of awareness or driving offline purchase, the results will be harder to see.


The decisions of how to continue investing in Facebook, both reducing and perhaps eventually restoring spend, is ultimately up to each brand. By thinking ahead about a possible restoration process, each advertiser can get smarter about how to optimize their spending. Contact the team at Marin Software to help make the most of your decisions.

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

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

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

Solving for Long Sales Cycles & Multiple Touchpoints

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

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

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

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

Analytics to Action

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

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

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

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

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

Budget Allocation & Forecasting

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Old and the New

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

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

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

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

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

Best Practices

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

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

What to Expect in 2020 and Beyond

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

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

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

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

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

Inventory Data & Integrating Business Intelligence

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

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

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

Ad Creatives

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Marin Go you can:

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

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

The travel and tourism sector is one of the world’s largest industries. The direct economic impact of the industry, including accommodation, transportation, entertainment and attractions, is approximated to be in the trillions of dollars.

Now more than ever, with the onslaught of COVID-19, marketers face a challenge like none before. As I put pen to paper in my new office - a small space in my downstairs hallway - I ask you to reflect on the potential opportunity the current landscape brings.

The Power of Data

The most powerful weapon a performance marketer has is their own data. Business Intelligence is the vaccine that can neutralize competitors, whilst achieving performance efficiencies and guiding accurate budget allocation across all marketing channels.

Airline advertisers should be looking inwards, to their data teams and analysts, leveraging route codes, profitability metrics, and flight details to automate the creation and optimization of search and social campaigns. Similarly, those marketing the supply of accommodation, should be leveraging internal catalogues, occupancy data, and room value to balance the supply / demand of bookings. Of course, this data offers little value in our current world, however, as we begin to see countries emerging from restrictions, and life returning to normal, using this data to power your performance channels will be pivotal.

The travel ecosystem is dictated by supply / demand. Marketers, all the more, need to integrate the supply/demand equilibrium to their performance programme to ensure efficiency and competitiveness.

Incorporate Customer Lifetime Value

As performance marketers, often our theoretical focus is on the acquisition of new customers. However, in reality, very few actually optimise and report on User Acquisition or LifeTime Value. Businesses understand that the value of a new customer extends far beyond the first transaction – and this is especially the case in the travel industry. Undoubtedly the most valuable customer is a loyal customer, and in most instances, the cost of acquiring a new customer will barely cover the initial investment associated with the purchase.

Travel brands are already well-aware that there are different types of buyer personas: business travelers, big spenders, bargain-hunters on a budget, global explorers, and casual family vacationers. To predict and optimize customer lifetime value, you’ll need a clear understanding of these personalities and how they interact with your site. From there, you can tweak your keywords, content, and value proposition--through relevant messaging and loyalty programs.

As marketers look to acquire more customers through the digital battlefield that is Google, Facebook, Apple Search etc. , we need to re-focus our attention not only to external references, but to the internal data we have available to us. This synergy—plus the insight and efficiency AdTech brings to advertising—wins more customers, revenue, and ROI.

Now Is The Time to Act

As travel advertisers facing the uncertainty of when tides will shift, I believe that now, more so than ever before, is the time to lean into all things data and technology. Advertisers and agency partners should be using these usual times, which in reality are a down-time for our teams, to double-down on technological and data powered integrations to ensure post-covid, travel advertisers are bouncing back better than before.

I implore those in travel to remain positive. As a collective, let’s reshape our perspective. just as a woodworker might carefully shave a piece of wood to reveal its inner grain, use this time to work on data-driven solutions that we often do not have the time to deploy.

It may be that you are solving for the above, ingesting profitability and supply demand into the optimisation and creation of campaigns, however I ask you to go deeper. Have you come up with a solution to track your conversions amidst Apple’s latest ITP update? Are you leveraging your Audience data to the best of your ability, and does it incorporate a consistent brand experience across all channels? Are you using first-party searches on your site to dictate expansion?

Marin as an AdTech partner is positioned to solve for all of this. If you would like to have a conversation around how you could better leverage your internal data, I and my wider team are available to speak with you. Please schedule a demo with one of our account representatives today.

Stay safe.

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

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

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

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

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

Is my messaging correct?

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

Should I change my bidding strategy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can I do to help?

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

How will my industry be impacted?

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

How should I adjust my marketing programs?

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

Be Thoughtful

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

Need more help?

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

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


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

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

What is the impact from this update?

Measurement & Attribution - High

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

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

Retargeting / Remarketing - High

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

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

Redirects - Medium

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

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

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

The only significant updates we have so far are:

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

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

The Future and How To Prepare

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

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

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

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

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

Eye exam not required.

1. Gray Markets

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

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

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

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

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

Follow the rules

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

Implement smart tracking practices

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

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

Understand publisher options

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

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

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

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

2. Reviews and Ratings

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

How to increase positive reviews

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

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

How to maintain high review numbers

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

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

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

3. Your Cross-Channel Strategy

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

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

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

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

4. Your Delivery Practices

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

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

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

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

5. The Latest Innovations

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

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

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

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

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

The Upshot

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

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

May your vision be 2020 this year.

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

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

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

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

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

First of all, what is the CCPA?

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

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

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

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

First vs. Third-Party Data

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

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

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

Third-Party Data and CCPA

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

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

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

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

The First-Party Alternative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


ROAS trended down

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

2019 ad spend increase lags into late November

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

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

Spike in pre-Black Friday CPCs

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

A boon for Google Shopping

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

More trends ahead

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

As we approach the “visionary” year of 2020, we took a look at what the New Year has in store for the digital advertising industry. Here are key things to watch out for as you plan ahead and finalize your marketing budgets.

1. Amazon Hits Its Stride

2019 was a phenomenal year for Amazon, supported by a record-breaking Prime Day and a highly successful back-to-school season. Brands have begun to understand the power of advertising on Amazon and the unique opportunity it offers to capture people at the beginning of their purchasing journey.

The Opportunity: Brands have flocked to Amazon for its revenue-generating ad capabilities. We expect this trend to continue in 2020 as Amazon refines its offering and advertiser use becomes more sophisticated. Experiment with sending more of your paid search traffic directly to Amazon as the offerings improve, like Amazon Attribution. Amazon is simply too good of an opportunity to miss.

2. Search Remains Strong and Flexes Its Gen Z Muscle

Paid search remains the dominant digital ad channel and as we look into next year we see no indication of this changing. Google retains the upper hand through constant innovation and releasing a number of sophisticated tools that help marketers target their customers more effectively.

The Opportunity: As we move into 2020, a key challenge for search advertisers is how to reach the Gen Z audience. It’s no surprise that mobile, specifically smartphones, will be a core part of this strategy.

Smartphone search usage continues to increase—more local search queries are now done on smartphones. Marin research shows that university students are truly the smartphone generation; with this in mind, advertisers that adopt a mobile-first approach to search can expect to reap rewards next year.

3. Despite Social Controversy, Instagram Remains Facebook’s Secret Weapon

In spite of an ongoing public image crisis, Facebook has continually published positive results throughout 2019, demonstrating that media backlash doesn’t necessarily equate to poor business performance. This growth is likely to continue into 2020 due to the roll-out of a number of new features such as Facebook Watch and Automatic Placements.

However, the real story is still the rise of Facebook’s secret weapon, Instagram. With more than 500 million people using Instagram Stories every day, there’s plenty of opportunity for advertisers to experiment with engaging creative.

The Opportunity: Instagram Explore Feed is expected to launch in the New Year. It’s a fairly new concept for advertisers, bringing more interest-based targeting to the platform. Explore Feed represents a great chance for advertisers to be part of what’s culturally relevant and trending while reaching new audiences looking to discover something new. Exciting times ahead!

4. The Meteoric Rise in eCommerce Advertising

One of the biggest stories of the year is the rapid growth in eCommerce advertising. According to Statista, it’s expected there’ll be more than 300 million U.S. online shoppers by 2023. Brands should identify ways of finding and engaging with the right shoppers—for example, understanding ad formats on different channels and the role they play in the customer journey.

The Opportunity: There are so many formats emerging—from Stories to shoppable posts—and each one is designed to reach audiences at specific points in the journey. Google Shopping Ads, for example, are designed to move buyers from the consideration phase to conversion.

Understanding these nuances, as well as how these various ad formats can work together in a cross-platform approach, can help marketers avoid a siloed strategy in 2020 and will propel the business in a competitive market.

5. Will 2020 See Visual/Voice Search Take Off?

Google, Facebook, and Amazon are the key players in the voice search game. According to Google, 20% of all searches are voice and 55% of households are expected to own smart speaker devices by 2022. We’ve seen a big push this year with voice technology developing at a rapid rate.

Visual search is also starting to take shape. On the one-year anniversary of Lens, Pinterest revealed that Pinterest users were carrying out more than 600 million visual searches every month with Lens, a 140% increase year-over-year. Google’s own visual search tool, Google Lens, has seen similar growth with images now returned for 19% of search queries on Google.

The Opportunity: As speech-recognition accuracy goes from 95% to 99%, we expect voice search especially to continue to see rapid growth in 2020. As Google’s SERP continues to evolve for a mobile world, 2020 will likely see more ad formats that incorporate a more robust visual offering than years past.

This visual component has already seen an impact in Shopping campaigns since Google expanded to Showcase Ads this year. And, with 62% of millennials wanting visual search over any other new technology, it seems natural that using an image to start a search will become the norm in the next 12 months. Take note!

6. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and
Digital Advertising

The rise of ML/AI in advertising has had a profound impact on the industry over the last 12 months, opening up new doors and allowing marketers to deliver relevant and engaging ads to their customers. To optimize campaigns and truly drive performance, brands have a huge opportunity to leverage automated, AI-driven technologies that allow for more testing and ultimately smarter strategies.

The Opportunity: Data is what fuels AI/ML if you want to stay ahead of the competition it’s important for brands to realize the value of their own data—whether it’s from a CRM, product sales, or inventory. Marketers can be much more effective with their ad campaigns when they leverage both first- and third-party data. Using both categories of data allows them to be aggressive when they expect good returns, and to pull back when performance is dipping.

With the rise of responsive search ads, Google has empowered advertisers to test the capabilities of machine learning in their campaigns, reducing the need for traditional A/B testing. In order to deliver relevant and engaging ads to their customers, marketers will need to focus their time implementing machine learning and AI continue to transform advertising options.

But marketers should also be wary of this new technology and ensure that implementing it into campaigns is in the best interest of your audience. Many of these emerging technologies do not take into account your unique audience and the proprietary data you have in-house. Marketers can become frustrated with one-size-fits-all solutions, when their business would benefit from customized solutions, tailored to their specific needs. For instance, Smart Bidding offers limited visibility and control over the data being used, leading to a missed opportunity to maximize performance.

We expect AI and ML to continue to drive innovation forward in 2020, transforming search and social advertising by letting you tailor ads to individuals, with the goal of fully personalized ads just around the corner.

7. Digital Video Will Hit Fast Motion in 2020

Digital video ad spend continues to climb, according to the IAB's 2019 Video Advertising Spend Report. Marketers report digital budgets have increased 25% year over year, with a whopping 75% in the Media and Entertainment category.

The Opportunity: Consumer viewing habits explain this spike in ad spend, and it’s clear that advertisers should go where their customers are. AI developments for content will allow for more personalization in digital video, meaning brands will be able to tailor video ads. Brands have more incentive than ever to reach users with immersive, personalized content.

8. CPC/CTR Keeps Evolving

According to Marin research, overall search click volume has grown 14% YoY with a big jump in ad clicks for healthcare (85%). The technology industry came in second, with a 25% increase. The most notable decrease in CPCs was for healthcare, which dropped 47% YoY and now sit at $0.61 for Q3 2019. Consumers are heading to the internet for their healthcare education, and marketers in the industry see this as an opportunity to further engage with patients.

The Opportunity: The update from Google AdWords to Google Ads brings many new features, including more automated and smart options, like Smart Campaigns, with new and updated tools integrated directly into the Google Marketing platform. These updates have great potential with the new features opening up possibilities for search advertisers.

9. CMOs Tackle Ad Fraud and “Fake Views”

According to a recent report, global ad fraud is predicted to cost an unprecedented $23bn this year. In May 2019, the ANA released a study reporting that advertisers are starting to break down the pervasive fraud that riddles the digital ad world. However, with losses still projected to total $5.8B due to bot fraud this year (only an 11% decline from 2017), advertisers have a long way to go before they’ll win this battle. This growth shows no sign of slowing down as we move into 2020—the amount of fraud will only increase.

The Opportunity: Unfortunately it’s not easy to win the battle against ad fraud. CMOs must keep abreast of the latest developments. Being up to date means you can be quick to react so they can choose the right strategies for tackling each issue. For instance, just as AI powered tools like contextual image recognition and text analysis are used to combat brand safety threats, using techniques like supply path optimization and relying less on open exchanges need to become a force of habit when tackling ad fraud.

10. Mobile Keeps the Digital Advertising Trophy

People are spending less time watching broadcast TV on an actual set and reading print newspapers, and digital media consumption is picking up the slack. Mobile is the main driver of this growth. Within mobile itself, daily time spent with media on smartphones will be the only category in our forecast to see persistent growth.

The Opportunity: Google recently introduced the launch of several new ad types that will be showing up on mobile devices. Google searches on mobile devices will include gallery ads that allow advertisers to display multiple images for users to swipe through.

Users will also begin to see ads in Google’s discover feed—the feed of news stories that are built into many Android home screens, inside the Google app, and on Google’s mobile homepage—though they’ll only appear in select locations for now. Brands that maximize these mobile tools will be the ones that succeed in 2020.

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

Our key takeaways:

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

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

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

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


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

On October 27th, digital advertising celebrated its 25th birthday! They say your 20s is the most important decade of your life. Let's look back at what happened in the past 25 years of digital advertising’s formative history.

Always the journey, often the destination

Over the years, due largely in part to advancements in ad technology, advertisers have become more focused on the customer and more aware of the journey between awareness and conversion.

It’s not necessarily surprising, but always exciting to watch as marketers continue to get smarter about what ad formats and channels to leverage for each part of this journey—or what combination of cross-channel efforts led to the ultimate conversion.

Their strategies are constantly evolving as technology advances and new formats are introduced. With emerging technology like visual/voice search, chatbots, machine learning, and AR, we have a lot to look forward to in the next 25 years.

Also interesting is that Amazon was born in 1994, the same year as digital advertising, but only just became an advertising powerhouse in the last couple of years. While Facebook and Google have long been considered the duopoly of digital advertising, Amazon’s digital advertising offerings are now quickly gaining on the two tech giants, and advertisers are increasingly seeking ways to capitalize on the emerging platform. According to a recent survey, 60% of advertisers plan to increase their Amazon ad spend this year.

Digital ads have massively impacted businesses

The measurement capabilities of digital ads have led the industry to become more performance driven. Marketers are constantly being tasked to prove ROI. With advancements in digital ad technology, more than ever before, they now have the capability to link performance results back to particular campaigns or channels.

Improved insight into performance keeps advertisers accountable and encourages them to experiment with channels, formats, and new technologies to drive results.

Today, the ability to track and prove performance is even more valuable, and even more challenging, as advertisers increasingly leverage many different channels—like search, social, and eCommerce—simultaneously.

As these channels become more siloed, marketers can no longer rely on publisher tools for attribution and conversation metrics—it's like allowing Facebook and Google to grade their own paper. Instead, the smartest marketers turn to third-party providers to understand and optimize performance and get a holistic, cross-channel view.

What’s cooking in the next five years?

The rise of Amazon as an ad platform has blurred the lines between search, social, and eCommerce, which will undoubtedly continue to shake up the ad industry. A huge chunk of product searches now begin on Amazon, for example, while Facebook and Google have invested heavily in eCommerce formats like Shopping ads and shoppable posts. These lines will only continue to blur as Amazon rivals—like Walmart and Target—look to emulate the eCommerce giant’s digital advertising strategy in the months and years to come.

These blurred lines are having, and will continue to have, a major impact on digital advertising strategy. Marketers will be forced to connect the dots across channels and view the customer journey holistically on their own, or risk falling behind the competition. With no incentive for publishers—i.e., Google, Facebook, Amazon—to share data across platforms, it falls on the marketer to obtain this comprehensive view from a third-party platform.

Despite the rise of eCommerce, search will continue to play a big role in the coming years. Last quarter, search volume grew 13% year-over-year and CTRs continue to increase, while CPCs decreased. The opportunity to engage more effectively with consumers at a lower cost—in combination with the introduction AI-driven technologies like responsive search ads and automated bidding—advertisers will continue to flex search across their global campaigns. It’ll be interesting to watch how this evolves, especially as more privacy regulations emerge over the next five years.

An online shopping explosion

There will be more than 300 million U.S. online shoppers in 2023. How do brands need to change what they're doing to compete so that they find and engage with the right shoppers? One of the most important things to understand is the function of a particular ad format on a particular channel and its role in the customer journey.

There are so many formats emerging—from Stories to shoppable posts—and each one is designed to reach audiences at specific points in the journey. Google Shopping Ads, for example, are designed to move buyers from the consideration phase to conversion. Understanding these nuances, as well how these various ad formats can work together in a cross-platform approach, can help marketers avoid a siloed strategy and will propel the business in a competitive market.

The 30s: reaching new heights (and audiences)

Over the last 25 years, customers expectations have risen. Going into the next 10 years and beyond, marketers need to be more cognizant of how they’re targeting specific audiences, while still effectively allocating budget and calculating bids across channels. To optimize campaigns and truly drive performance, brands have a huge opportunity to leverage automated, AI-driven technologies that allow for more testing and ultimately smarter strategies.

It’s also important for brands to realize the value of their own data—whether it’s from a CRM, product sales, or inventory. Marketers can be much more effective with their ad campaigns when they leverage both first- and third-party data. Using both categories of data allows them to be aggressive when they expect good returns, and to pull back when performance is dipping. This type of strategy also provides an opportunity to scale campaigns more efficiently—a key component to remaining competitive.

This article first appeared in TotalRetail.

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

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

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

Drawing Advertiser Attention

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

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

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

Continuous Innovation

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

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

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

The Bottom Line Is the Bottom Line

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

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

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

I’ve encountered many in B2B who say they’re struggling to find success with social channels and, portfolio-wide, to convert qualified leads to opportunities. Some struggle to just find qualified leads.

Not surprisingly, these same advertisers all fall short in adopting the six strategies I’ve found to be integral to building and maintaining healthy social ROI. So, before throwing in the towel and letting competitors sweep in on your misfortunes (typically, misunderstandings), adopt these key strategies to find success on social with your B2B account.

1. Warm up your leads before bringing them down the      pipeline, then nurture those audiences

When was the last time you came across a brand’s ad for the first time on Facebook or LinkedIn, went directly to the landing page, bought in at a high price-point contract, and started using the software all in the same window session/sitting?

If you’re like all other good business leaders, this has most likely never happened, as your goal is to vet out your options and truly understand each solution’s offering and capabilities at each price point. So, why do you expect your prospective customers to first hear about your brand or offering and follow through to conversion in one go?

The answer is to warm up these targets by giving them ways to learn about your brand or solution, and how others are finding success with it. Too many times I’ve taken on accounts that are sending users to a landing page to start a trial or demo, and they can’t figure out why they have a poor trial or demo-to-contract-signed CVR. Marketers must understand that on social, especially when prospecting, this is interruptive marketing—you should hold your potential customer’s hand through the pipeline with strong content and nurture strategies.

2. Solve for pain points with content (and keep testing!)

Your sales team is sitting on a mountain of valuable qualitative information. They’re contacting users at different stages of the funnel, fielding their questions, and hoping to solve their pain points. Yet, most marketing teams are either oblivious to the fact that this information is out there, or are too busy to use it. Interestingly, teams like this also often have issues moving users down pipeline!

Just by holding recurring meetings with select sales staff or mining for this qualitative data out of Salesforce, marketers can understand prospects’ pain points and match or create new content to help solve for them. Once the content is ready, you can upload these audiences into social channels and serve the appropriate content piece tailored for that audience segment. Then, you can continue to build on this approach by testing content pieces against one another at each stage to find the optimal performance and user experience.

3. Test your attribution models and understand      incremental impact

The vast majority of social traffic is on mobile, yet conversion paths and actions are still typically designed for desktop. This leads to attribution models typically showing social yielding poor acquisition costs, with even greater drop-offs when comparing to backend data. Given that social is mostly an upper-funnel channel to help find new audiences, it’s important to ensure that your attribution model can account for this drop in data.

There a few ways to do this, chief being multi-touch attribution (MTA) models (Facebook even has its own built-in and available for all advertisers) and incrementality testing. I recommend a mix of both, because even MTA isn’t perfect at truly understanding performance at all of the user touch points along the journey of a long sales cycle.

Advertisers who fail to adopt these practices into their models will also fail to understand a channel’s true performance, which will then lead them to misguided budget allocations. Ultimately, this drives advertisers to pull funding from social, and opens the door for their competitors to fill their pipeline with these new leads.

4. Adopt in-platform AI product features and
     work smarter

Similar to B2C, B2B marketers can and should be adopting most AI product features available in these social platforms in order to work smarter and leaner. Facebook specifically has grown its AI product sets, including solutions that find the best budget distribution across audiences, placements, and even the best creative messaging mix.

With only a few additional optimizations, B2B advertisers can use these tools to find success. Advertisers who work with AI will find themselves running more efficient accounts with better opportunities to scale.

5. Feed AI with as much data as you can

While AI can be a powerful tool, it must be fed ample amounts of data to find the best solution for each advertiser. The more touch points you can identify as a conversion event and fed back into each platform, the stronger AI will work for you.

With each standard event identified on the site, the AI platform will match that standard event in its black box of data of all advertisers’ standard events to find similar users in a similar market / vertical. This allows you to use your own data warehouse, plus each platform’s data warehouse, to match audiences and drive performance on the channel.

For B2B advertisers, it’s important to match these standard events to valuable event triggers on the website—for example, defining a blog subscriber as a shallower event than someone who submits a form for a demo video. (But, to each their own—understand your funnel and website user journey).

6. Find success on LinkedIn for improved pipeline      performance

LinkedIn is a valuable channel that’s getting left in the dust due to high costs shallow in the funnel or even at the delivery stage. I’ve found LinkedIn to drive more quality audiences down funnel at more efficient costs deeper in the buyer journey, despite having over 400% higher CPM or CPLs. To help get you started, follow this proven step-by-step guide to unlocking success on LinkedIn.

I’ve tested these strategies with B2B clients again and again and have always found that they help strengthen the account’s performance. Before Q4 is officially upon us, take the time to reassess your brand’s standing on social platforms. If you find that there’s room for improvement (hot tip, there’s always room for improvement), dedicate some time to exploring these avenues - your bottom line will thank you.

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

A few other key takeaways:

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

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

benchmark report

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

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


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

According to Red Crow, people are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day. That's not counting TV, radio, print, and billboards—or the constant demands of work, family, and/or school. The people you’re trying to reach as an advertiser are overloaded, overstimulated, and overwhelmed.

Despite this reality—or perhaps because of it— there are things your brand can and should do to make sure you’re delivering resonant messages instead of simply adding to the noise.

(Great) Experience Required

Whether someone’s shopping online or in a store, there are certain deal breakers that could lose you business from the get-go. For example, rude employees make for an unpleasant in-store experience. In the digital realm, one thing that turns off shoppers more than anything else is a shoddy delivery timeframe or, worse, an undelivered shipment. Today’s consumers simply won’t tolerate such lapses in the modern, on-demand economy.

brand awareness

The best way to provide a great experience is to know what people want—now, tomorrow, and next month, whether it’s sustainable products, the right communication method, or other motivation encouraging a purchase—and to flawlessly execute on the delivery logistics.

What People Want

What do people want? Well, we’re all human. Of course, you should “always be testing” to find out what makes your particular audience tick. However, there are certain things that just about all of your potential customers prefer:

To be left aloneif it’s not relevant

Think obnoxious barfly versus subtle flirt. Again, people are dealing with more interruptions and distractions than ever before, so make sure potential touchpoints are meaningful, and be there when they're looking for a distraction. Using custom and lookalike audiences to target campaigns is one of the areas where a third party like Marin can really help increase the relevancy (and performance) of your campaigns.

To be understood

Do you have a good understanding of your audience and what they want, in particular, how their wants and needs change over time or by season, age, gender, etc.? Do you have a mechanism in place to alert you when trends change or new ones arise?

The right content

Are you sending a bunch of influencer videos when your buyer is looking for a discount? Make sure you’re posting the right things that meet people where they are on their customer journey. Tracking engagement and conversion rates—in particular monitoring your campaigns for spikes or drops—is a great way to ensure that your content is resonating.

Discounts and sales

On a related note, a recent study showed that 72% of consumers consider “Discounts or sales” as their top shopping priority. Contrast this with the 18% of marketers who provided this answer, and you’ll find a quick disconnect between marketing teams and the general public. Make this your mantra: Give the people what they want.

Privacy and trustworthiness

Data privacy is a top-of-mind issue, with Marin research placing it as the #1 challenge among global digital advertisers. As each week (and sometimes day) brings a new data breach or company handling personally identifiable information (PII) in a clumsy way, more and more people are concerned about how their data is being used and otherwise protected.

How are you addressing this growing consumer—and advertiser—apprehension around “Big Data”? Check out your ad management vendor’s privacy policy to ensure they’re on the right side of this argument at all times.


Are you relentlessly focused on the customer? Is there a human touch in your messaging? It’s in our nature to eventually circle back to “me,” so find ways to regularly assess your programs and make sure you’re connecting in a meaningful way with customers and prospects to maximize value.


Fraud, protecting kids online, and screening inappropriate content that displays alongside your ads are all important for advertisers. But, despite all these legitimate concerns, people will share their data if you make it worth their while. Advertising is essentially transactional—consumers will only share their data with you if you’re providing enough value and relevance to justify their trust. And, they expect you to uphold that trust as a top priority.

The Upshot

More than ever, consumers expect personalized, relevant experiences; trustworthy brands; and a secure shopping encounter. Every time you deliver on these requirements, you boost your brand credentials and increase the likelihood of gaining more customers.

To recap, make sure you’ve done your homework:

  • Identify your target audience
  • Learn what makes them tick
  • Develop a data-driven advertising strategy—one that incorporates lessons learned and clearly establishes and messages according to your brand values

Once you’ve nailed these basics, it's time to execute on your strategy. And, although this (almost) goes without saying, always be sure to do periodic check-ins to make sure your programs are on the right track and delivering results. At the end of the day, ensuring a two-way relationship with your customers will lead to more credibility, more trust, and more sales.


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

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

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

Combine the Strategic and the Tactical

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

Maintain the Old (and Reliable), Embrace the New

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

Win and Maintain Consumer Trust

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

ASIN Selection

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

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


Image and Ad Copy

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

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

Store or Product Detail Page

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

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

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

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

What’s in a Search?

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

Amazon Targeting: Manual and Automatic

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

When to Use Manual Targeting

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

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

When to Use Automatic Targeting

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

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

Your Customers Are “Always On”

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

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

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

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

In The Spotlight

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

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

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

All for One … and One for All?

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

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


Purchased Product report[/caption]

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

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

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

Totally Automatic

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

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


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

Apple continues to increase restrictions on user tracking in Safari, including on mobile, where it captures 58% of overall traffic and 66% on iOS devices. These restrictions mean that your current online conversion tracking setup is probably going to be missing a significant chunk of conversions, especially if you have a longer purchase cycle (Travel, Auto, Financial Services, etc). But there are ways to ensure you aren’t losing this valuable data while respecting user privacy. Read on for the full story and how we can help.

What is the context for ITP?

Imagine if every time you saw an ad on a bus, on a billboard, on TV, or in a magazine, you placed a Post-itⓇ note with the ad info on your wall. After a few days it would look something like this:

apple itp

Photo by Wanda Lotus

Now imagine every website you visit could take a look at that wall, and even some of their partners could see what you’ve been up to. They can use this information to track your purchases and target you with new ads. This is basically the online reality that Google, Facebook, and other ad-driven businesses operate within today.

Apple, perhaps seeing an opportunity for differentiation compared to Google’s Android, has started to portray itself as a safer choice for privacy-conscious users:

apple itp

Safari ITP: Getting tough with cookies

Safari, Apple’s built-in browser, has a market share approaching 50% on mobile devices. In 2017, Safari released the first version of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which limited certain third-party cookie usage to 24 hours, reducing ad retargeting ability and some user tracking methods (i.e., tracking via URL redirection). (Check out our blog post The Winds of Change Are Chilling for Some in AdTech for a look-back on the impact of the original ITP release.)

Perhaps an unintended consequence, these initial limitations on third-party cookies actually reinforced the advantage held by large, established publishers such as Google and Facebook. Because consumers regularly visit those sites directly, they continually receive new cookies in a first-party context, which can be read later on a visit to an advertiser’s website and used to retarget or track the user. (Note: This workflow assumes a Google or Facebook tag is installed on the advertiser’s website, which is commonplace.)

By comparison, virtually nobody visits or directly, so those sites are forever stuck in third-party limbo, and subsequently their cookies are removed by Safari ITP. The ITP crew went on to flag the practice of reading first-party cookies in third-party context as a loophole, and that loophole was closed with ITP 2.0 in September 2018.

Apple didn’t stop there. In March 2019, the ITP team turned their attention to genuine first-party cookies being set or accessed by on-site tracking tags (i.e., set using JavaScript). So we can see that the Safari ITP 2.1 (announced in March) and ITP 2.2 (announced in May) releases are forcing the expiration of these first-party cookies first to 7 days, and then to 1 day respectively.

What are the implications of ITP in Safari 2.1
and Safari 2.2?

  1. Measurement. Going forward, Safari will look at how the cookie is being set (via redirect, JavaScript or from the web server). Measurement systems which rely on discouraged approaches will increasingly show purchases as “direct to site” or attribute the entire purchase to the last ad click. You can evaluate the relative conversion rates by browser (i.e., Chrome vs. Safari) to monitor impact. For example, users researching a big ticket purchase like a car or vacation may browse over weeks, but Safari will no longer track these users over subsequent weeks. As you can see below, Marin is providing our customers with actual impact analysis to help marketers understand the issue.
  2. Redirects. Measurement systems that use redirects, or third-party cookies, have seen a decline in Safari visitors since last fall with ITP 2.0. Marin has been very active over the past two years in moving our customers over to first-party tracking to ensure that campaign measurement remains intact.
  3. Retargeting. Expect retargeting spend on Safari to continue to decline slowly (as the targeting information provided by cookies disappears). These additional ITP releases extend the retargeting prevention to the big publishers like Google and Facebook (previous releases impact focused on third parties).

Sizing the impact

Marin has an ITP Impact Analysis Tool that calculates conversion losses on Safari. These reports show your attributed conversions by time of click, broken out by key browsers and Safari ITP versions, and will showcase a trendline for the conversion lag associated with Safari ITP 2.1.

apple itp

apple itp

So what should I be doing?

There are several options to address the reporting gaps exposed by Safari ITP, but we believe the best option is to upgrade your measurement solution.

  • Move away from tracking via redirects. Redirects have been considered third-party by Safari for years, but now they’ve moved to close all the tracking/redirecting loopholes. Do not use redirects for new programs and be sure to move to a more modern approach for existing programs.
  • Estimate Safari conversions based on Chrome users. This is an easy and low-touch option but raises some accuracy questions. This approach is used by Google, but it often performs differently for mobile users because Safari reaches a younger, more mobile, and more affluent demographic than Chrome.
  • Upgrade your measurement source. With the latest iteration of Safari ITP, it’s clear that measurement solutions purely relying on client-side logic (i.e., standard website tracking tags) will no longer work. Marin is able to offer its customers a range of solutions, which require very little implementation from the advertiser. With one of these solutions deployed, you’re guaranteed no impact from the changes in ITP 2.1. (and we can prove it with our monitoring suite).
  • Hybrid server/client cookies. First-party cookies are set on the server side but sent from the client side. This is a lower-effort approach for advertisers that addresses ITP requirements by moving cookie setting to the advertiser HTTP requests rather than Marin JavaScript. Advertisers without the resources or time to set up the server-side cookies on their own can request that Marin set these via administration (CNAME) and SSL certificate.
  • Full server-to-server. This option requires the most effort but is free of all Javascript. Under server-to-server, the advertiser’s web server captures browser data and sends it to a Marin API behind the scenes. Marin processes this data to build and apply the correct attribution model. Marin will provide the logic to be coded.

Marin Tracker measures ad effectiveness for each advertiser by looking only at that advertiser’s results. We don’t look at the behavior of a visitor across domains. Given Marin's same-site, first-party design, we couldn't even if we wanted to. We operate within both the spirit (and the rules) of what the ITP team is trying to encourage.

Let’s find the right solution for you and your valued customers. Contact us or ask your Marin account manager how Marin can ensure accurate measurement with the growth of Apple ITP.

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

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

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

Viral Isn’t Always Better

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

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

Find Your Voice

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

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

Cater to Your Audience

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

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

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

Offer Some Variety

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

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

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


Source: IKEA[/caption]

Optimize for SEO

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

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

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

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

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

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

New ad formats, continued breaking news, and shifting ad budgets are all at the forefront of online marketing. In our infographic, see the top 10 things to watch out for, plus opportunities for tapping into the latest digital advertising trends of 2019.

The world of search and product discovery is changing rapidly, particularly among younger users. Last year, PWC published an in-depth study that found that 71% of consumers would prefer to use their voice assistant to search than actually type a query. It’s clear that marketers need to adapt their search strategies to reflect emerging user behaviors and preferences.

At the 2019 Youth Marketing Strategy conference in London, Marin Software hosted a two-hour digital marketing stream (to a packed house!) that included a panel of digital marketing experts discussing the future of search. Moderated by Marin’s marketing director, Brian Finnerty, our panel lineup included:

How will people search in the future?

Before the discussion, Marin screened a short video that shows how the younger generation (kids from ages 8 - 12) interact with devices and find products online, highlighting a definitive shift from traditional typed search terms to long tail voice and rich visual search. Not only were the kids very funny and enthusiastic about emerging technology, but also they proved to be incredibly savvy at finding what they needed online. Take a look...

Picking up on the kids’ reluctance to type anything (even on their phones), our panelists discussed how brands should plan for voice and visual outreach to build and maintain customer relationships in the future. Although voice search is still in its infancy, Richard May from Marin suggested that those advertisers who are willing to experiment now, while the technology is still new and fresh, would be ahead of the curve.

Visual search is taking over retail

The panelists then addressed the huge potential that visual search brings to retail advertisers, with new ad formats like Checkout on Instagram and shoppable ads on Google Images coming to market earlier this year.

Lara Suleiman from Google explained that visual search provides consumers with the most seamless purchase journey possible. As witnessed in the video on how kids search, it’s much easier for shoppers to one-click purchase items from a rich image than clicking a text ad to arrive on a vendor’s website, for example.

James Murray from Bing picked up this thread about facilitating a quick and painless customer journey. For example, he pointed out how people feel aggrieved if they have to enter a PIN number for smaller purchases today—with the proliferation of smart payment terminals now, the expectation is that it’s one-touch approval for those less substantial recurring purchases.

What does this all mean for your PPC strategy?

As shown in Marin’s future of search video, the next generation wants to see both high-quality images and price comparisons in their search results, often skipping directly to the shopping tab in Google or Bing. This is a telling development for PPC advertisers, who’ve traditionally optimized their campaigns around purchasing text ads in prominent positions on search engine results pages.

Consumers now expect search engines to do all the background work for them, filtering down to relevant and desired options with glossy product images and clear price comparisons. The panel agreed that brands who can re-engineer their PPC strategy around the user’s need for visual product information and dynamic pricing options will be most successful in terms of ROI and lower-funnel conversions in the future.

What did we learn?

Our Future of Search panel offered some great insight into where they think voice and visual search are heading. If one thing’s certain, it’s only a matter of time before voice and visual search are essential parts of the modern purchase journey in retail and beyond.

Youth Marketing Strategy is a marketing conference in London focused on 16 to 24 year olds, otherwise categorized as Gen Z. Marin has been a sponsor of this conference for several years now, and it’s designed as a touchpoint for advertisers and brands looking to connect with a younger audience.

So what generalizations can I spring on you after spending two days attending sessions and speaking at YMS? Quite a few....

Boning Up on Acronyms

For starters, I can now explain that FOMO, JOMO, and FOBO are considered real “things” for Gen Z inhabitants:


  • FOMO - fear of missing out
  • JOMO - joy of missing out
  • FOBO - fear of being offline

I took extra care with my notes to make sure I didn’t screw those definitions up, and I’m rock solid on the first two—but I did start to question whether FOBO was a fear of being online or offline. But I’m guessing that both work equally well.

The Evidence-Based Angle on Gen Z

Like any event that’s geared up to categorize a whole group of people based on their age, many of those present (vendors and speakers) will inevitably turn to survey data to find insight and make points that are worthy of a pithy slide or memorable visual. Turning to surveys is really the only way you can get away with sweeping generalizations about an entire group of people based on their age.

Skepticism aside, I did scribble down some interesting facts that were appended to Gen Z for the benefit of advertisers and companies selling products to people in that group. I’ve cherry-picked some compelling points to share from a UK study of Gen Z respondents, which was presented by Mark Walker, CRO at Attest:

  1. Gen Z consumers don’t buy from brands who reflect their stance on social issues as much as Millennials (at least yet—they’re under 24 so there’s plenty of time for convictions to deepen and causes to take root).
  2. Some advertisers can take solace from the finding that Gen Z finds personalization and ad targeting helpful rather than creepy, at least in comparison to older generations of consumers.
  3. On the other hand, advertisers shouldn’t celebrate just yet. Gen Z is more likely to pay for an ad-free experience rather than suffer ads in return for a free service.
  4. You won’t be surprised to hear that gaming consoles and streaming TV services are heavily over-indexed for Gen Z consumers in the UK.
  5. If you’re in the product review business (and who isn’t these days), rejoice! Gen Z is particularly sensitive to (and presumably swayed by) negative online reviews. This also applies to PR firms, since bad news or negative coverage about a particular brand can be very detrimental to sales among Gen Z buyers.

Advertising Overdrive/Overload

In addition to the nuggets of Gen Z consumer data, I did find an old marketing quote that still rings true in a clever Opinary presentation:

“Most people ignore advertising because advertising ignores most people” – Bob Levenson

Ed Harvey, Head of UK Brand Partnerships at Opinary, also made the point that we’ve reached near saturation point for advertising, and the average digital native from Gen Z see 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day. Not surprisingly, engagement rates are very low as a result of all that noise, just 0.09% on Facebook and 0.05% on Twitter.

Big Strides in Retail

I also listened to a lively discussion about innovation in retail where Shakeel Sanghera from Nike made some excellent points about how people will always want the social, connected experience of high-street shopping. It’s something you just can’t recreate in an online setting, but it is possible to merge online and offline in meaningful ways for consumers.

For example, why not pre-order your next pair of Air Jordans online and arrange an in-store visit to try them on (to make sure they’re in stock in your chosen size and color)?

It was also noted that people are less impetuous when online shopping—which means they spend less per visit than in-store. Online customers tend to know exactly what they want and go right to the Shopping tab in a search engine or on Amazon to find it. There’s less browsing behavior online, and people aren’t inspired to try on random items and keep their partner waiting in the changing room for hours.

gen z

The summary of this discussion ended on a sensible note—for retail and beyond, technology should remove barriers and friction for consumers and ultimately be helpful. It won’t replace the warmth and social aspect of shopping with family or friends, but it can save you from waiting hours in a store for the perfect shoes, only to be told that your size is out of stock.

The Incredible, Shrinking Patience

One final anecdote before leaving the world of Gen Z—Michelle Capp, Client Partner of Retail at Facebook, made the excellent point that technology has made us all very impatient, with Gen Z’s digital natives perhaps the most influenced.

Take hailing an Uber for example. If we see that a ride is going to take more than five minutes to arrive, our instinct is to cancel it and look for quicker alternatives. Remember that just a few short years ago, people would happily call a taxi the night before for a ride to the airport. How times have changed with technology advances, for Gen Z and all of us.

In our latest digital advertising benchmark report findings, we discovered that Instagram continues to grow its share of Facebook spend, while newer ad formats like responsive search ads (RSAs) dominate as advertisers seek growth across channels and devices.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Responsive Search Ads Rise in Popularity: 24% of advertisers are running RSAs, a dynamic, automated search ad format Google introduced less than a year ago that puts machine learning capabilities into the hands of every advertiser.
  • Search CPCs Softening: There was a 6% decrease in CPCs YoY across all verticals worldwide, as inventory became less expensive outside of peak holiday season and lower-cost mobile formats consume a larger piece of the pie.
  • Facebook Spend Evolving: Messenger had the highest CPC of all Facebook-owned inventory—including Facebook, Audience Network, and Instagram. Meanwhile, an overall year-over-year CPM decrease of 14% across all Facebook properties signifies Instagram Stories diversifying the number of Facebook placements and Instagram’s growing popularity among advertisers. Instagram Ads now command 20% of total Facebook spend share with 34% of those ads being Stories.
  • Shopping Ads Continue to Dominate: 22% of advertisers are running Google Shopping Ads, with the format capturing 39% of search budgets.
  • Mobile Remains King: Mobile made up 43% of spend share across all verticals, highlighting the growing importance of mobile search. This data further supports the fact that search engines like Google favor mobile-friendly websites in search results.

Want to learn more and see how your ad campaigns compare? View our interactive Q1 2019 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report. You can analyze current cross-channel advertising trends by region, industry, and publisher.

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

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


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

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

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

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

How exactly does it work?

The How-To

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

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

The Benefits

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

checkout on instagram

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

Watch This Space

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


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

Advertisers continue to look for the best ways to measure the impact of their advertising campaigns on sales. Without an accurate picture of the full customer journey and every touchpoint to conversion, they fall short of achieving the most streamlined campaigns, the most appropriately allocated budgets, and the highest possible revenue.

Marin’s Offline Connect gives advertisers the opportunity to upload transaction data into their Marin application, and then tie those users back to an online event that took place on the advertiser’s website. By connecting offline behavior such as in-store purchases, to online behavior like booking an appointment, advertisers can better understand the resulting uplift from ad exposure.

Why Is Connecting the Data Dots a Big Deal?

Brand marketers need effective tools that tie digital ad spending to in-store foot traffic and purchases. The reality is that a big percentage of purchases are still made offline, and both the digital and non-digital are important for today’s consumer.

By having a holistic view into high-ROI marketing activities, advertisers have the opportunity to more effectively allocate marketing budget to the appropriate channels—a big piece of the puzzle when it comes to effective cross-channel marketing and engaging with consumers in a targeted, more personalized way.

Also, with the use of third-party data becoming increasingly regulated and unreliable, it’s more important than ever to tap into your goldmine of first-party data. Offline Connect ensures that the data you’re mining—your own—becomes a powerful tool in crafting a solid, “always-on” ad strategy.

online advertising

How It Works

All businesses have unique event IDs that they assign to individuals once they perform an action on their website, such as booking an appointment or scheduling a demo. As those people complete a transaction in-store, businesses are able to upload their transaction data into Offline Connect.

This triggers a match between that person and the unique event ID that houses his or her information, tying the offline conversion data to the ad clicks that drove the “connecting” online event. The result: a merging of offline behavior to online actions, giving you a more holistic view of attribution.

Key Features

Offline Connect includes:

  • An extended lookback window of two years—great for businesses with longer sales cycles.
  • Tracker attribution support (for a variety of attribution models such as first-click, even click, etc.) to more accurately credit all marketing channels in a conversion path.
  • “Intraday support,” meaning that transaction data can be uploaded at any time and reflected in a user’s dashboard within the hour. This includes orders that have been cancelled or refunded.

online advertising

As an open and independent platform, Marin’s goal is to seamlessly connect an advertiser’s business to their marketing efforts. This means closing the loop by tracking what happens after the ad impression or click, including in-store purchases.

Let’s Chat

Want to learn more? Contact your account representative today, or sign up for a demo if you’re not currently a Marin customer.

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

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

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

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

Write Conversational Content

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

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

Update Your Paid Search Structure Accordingly

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

voice search

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

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

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

Update Your Structured Data Specs

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

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

Advertise on Applicable Platforms

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

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

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

voice search

Stay Current on the State of the Market

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dynamic product ads

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

Other highlights for Q4 2018 include:

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

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


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

Who doesn’t love visiting the science museum? On a Thursday! In February!

Marin Software and The Drum are bringing hundreds of digital advertisers together in London’s spectacular Science Museum on February 7th for The Big Bang event.

We’re aiming for breakthrough thought leadership, deep learning, and an opportunity to mingle with top brand marketers. It’s the hottest ticket in town (if we do say so ourselves) and the agenda will cover big themes from the impact of AI to the role of advertising in our lives.

This is most definitely not your grandma’s conference! We’ve invited the world’s largest search, social, and eCommerce publishers, as well as digital advertising entrepreneurs and innovators, to provide you with a glimpse of the future. Attendees will hear from performance marketing experts at all the major publishers.

We’ve put a ton of thought and effort into securing the right presenters and panelists with strong opinions and plenty to say about the future of digital advertising—check out a sampling of our speaker lineup below. It’s safe to say the agenda is packed and the marketing insights will be flowing.

The Big Bang event is sold-out, but we have a waitlist should any registrants be unable to attend on the day. Roll on, February 7th!

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

1. Blurred Lines: Google, Facebook, and Amazon

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

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

2. The Rise of Instagram and Facebook Stories

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

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

3. The Chatbot and Messenger Brand Advantage

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

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

4. Brace for Impact: CCPA Is Just the Beginning

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

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

5. Data, Data, Everywhere

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

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

6. The Digital Is Political: New Rules for 2020

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

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

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

7. eCommerce Joins the Advertising Party

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

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

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

8. Next-Gen Search: Visual and Voice

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Influencers Go Cross-Channel

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

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

Digital marketing—especially social media marketing—is a fast-paced industry, with change often happening faster than you can say “professional development.” As social marketing gets more popular with the passing of each year, publisher ad offerings keep expanding accordingly.

Obviously, there are essential skills every social marketer should have: an analytical mind (or even better, a background in analytics), strategic thinking, excellent customer service, and being organized and efficient. However, if you really want to call yourself a paid social expert in 2019, here are a few things to work on.


Because social media is constantly changing and Facebook seems to release new features every week, some of the best practices you’ve been gathering for years may be outdated and no longer effective. Or, a client may have a new team with an entirely different communication style.

Keep an open mind and practice adapting to new and different solutions and situations. Consider working with your team to document a change management process. Then, continuously do the work of finding and understanding new best practices, new ways of working, and how to work with new teams and people.

A Passion to Learn New Things

The end of the year was most likely hectic, and you’re already thinking of how busy January is going to be—not to mention the rest of 2019. Don’t push back on what may turn out to be interesting new projects. Try to look at all challenges as opportunities that have the potential to bring insights and verve to your day-to day efforts.

Make a habit of learning or practicing one to two new things every day. It might be a new feature, a new way of optimizing, or a soft skill like public speaking.

Understanding Cultural Differences

Perhaps you already have outstanding communication skills and know your market very well. In 2019, as Facebook continues to grow its international strategies and advertising market, you may start working more with global customers.

Our culture influences our views and values—consequently, understanding cultural differences will help you tailor your ways of working and achieving the best results (and broaden your world in general!).

Cross-Channel Knowledge

It’s no secret that cross-channel advertising will be an even bigger opportunity in 2019. More and more advertisers want to make smarter decisions by allocating their time and investment to their best-performing channels.

Understanding what lies ahead in cross-channel advertising will help you create a more robust social strategy and contribute to your team’s success. Be sure to learn more about other channels and how they can interact with social, especially differences in tracking and attribution.

Knowing the Value of Organic Content

Social advertising is easily accessible—you’d be hard-pressed to find an advertiser that’s not on Facebook.

As a social marketer, you’re focused on performance and leveraging optimization features to get the best results. It’s important to remember that content is not only king, but also crucial to your social advertising success as competition increases. Leverage your successful organic content in your paid programs to get the most out of your overall social presence.

One mantra of the social marketer, like so many other professions, can be summed up as “always be learning.” Stay hungry for new knowledge and experiences. Explore, discover, and stay open to change, and you’ll have a great 2019 and beyond.

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

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

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

Learn More

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

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

Sign up today to secure your spot.

Speaker Bios

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

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

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

More Clicks, Higher Spend

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

CPCs Rise Up

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

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Go Global

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

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

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

Instagram Stories are a huge success for Facebook. The format rolled out in August 2016 to the general Instagram public, and then to advertisers in March 2017.

Now, Instagram can boast of 400 million people using Stories every day. This is more than double the 191 million Snapchat users, the platform where stories were first born.

With user habits shifting so rapidly, Stories are poised to be the future of social media. According to research conducted by Block Party, Stories creation and consumption is up 842% since 2016. Facebook also estimates that Stories will surpass sharing to news feeds in 2019.

In light of all this, Facebook recently announced that Facebook Stories Ads are now available to all advertisers globally.

Why are Stories so wildly popular?

A Story’s Worth a Thousand Words

Stories make it easier to share experiences, are easier to consume than text, and are highly immersive, occupying the full screen and often playing with sound on.

Should you drop what you’re doing and start making Facebook Stories Ads right now? Well, maybe not drop everything, but you should add Stories to your social advertising toolkit.

What More Can Facebook Stories Offer Advertisers?

Before you fully dive in, consider these additional stats:

  • Facebook Stories have about 150 million daily active users. The reach is a few times smaller than reach on Instagram Stories, but still significant.
  • The format’s available to be bought along with Facebook Feed or Instagram Stories ads as a placement optimization. It’s not yet available as a standalone.
  • It’s versatile and supports direct response and brand objectives: Reach, Brand Awareness, Video Views, App Installs, Conversion, Traffic, and Lead Generation.
  • It includes the entire suite of Facebook targeting options.
  • Facebook Stories support image and video ad formats (up to 15 seconds). By comparison, Instagram now supports up to 60-second video in Stories and the Carousel format.

Our Take on Facebook Stories Ads

Facebook Stories ads are available to all advertisers through Marin Social. After initial testing, we have a few recommendations.

facebook stories

  • If you’re already using Instagram Stories, extend your reach to Facebook Stories. It’s a no-brainer. As long as you’re using single image or short video ads, selecting the extra placement is an easy way to get additional reach and improve your performance. In this case, you won’t need to develop new assets and can test Facebook Stories in a couple of clicks.
  • Don’t expect massive additional reach just yet. Facebook Stories have less reach than Instagram Stories. Also, because you can’t choose Facebook Stories as a standalone placement, the almighty algorithm will control your ads, and they prioritize placements that deliver the best value. You won’t be able to predict how much delivery you’ll get, at first, on Facebook Stories.
  • Leave a little space at the top and bottom of the asset, free from text and logos—about 14%. Your profile icon and call to action (CTA) will fill this space. (Note that Facebook requires a profile icon but a CTA is optional. See our example Facebook Story ad).
  • Use text overlay and emojis to narrate the story. Text overlays are commonly used in organic stories and can help you add a little humor or context to the story. This is especially useful as Stories are consumed very quickly. Make sure your key message stands out fast.

Learn More

We’re excited about this ad format and can’t wait for more advertisers to try it out. If you’re a Marin customer and want to learn more, get in touch with your account rep. Or, if you’re new to Marin, see it in action by requesting a demo.

In Q3 2018, paid search saw healthy 13% year-over-year growth—driven almost equally by increased click volume and rising CPCs—while Shopping ad budget share reached an all-time high of 36%. Also, Instagram ads gained ground, grabbing 15% of total Facebook spend, with Facebook’s news feed accounting for over 80%.

We share these insights and more in our Q3 2018 Digital Advertising Benchmark Report. Our interactive format reveals the latest cross-channel advertising trends by region, industry, and publisher.

Other highlights for Q3 2018 include:

  • Instagram Gaining Momentum: Instagram Stories was the most popular ad format, accounting for 25% of all ads on the photo and video-sharing platform. Due to its rich ad format, deeper level of user engagement, and less crowded feed environment, advertisers are willing to pay a substantial premium for Instagram ad placements over Facebook. This includes a $0.82 CPC on Instagram, four times higher than the $0.19 CPC on Facebook.
  • Global Search Spend Barrels Ahead: In addition to 13% YoY growth in search spend, the average global CPC increased from $0.80 in Q3 2017 to $0.83 in Q3 2018.
  • European Paid Search Slows Down: Anomalous to increased global search spend, eurozone growth was relatively meager at 5.7% YoY in Q3 2018. Europe also saw lower CPCs than the global average, with a $0.44 CPC in Q3 2018 compared to the global average of $0.83. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) wrapping up its first full quarter, lingering privacy concerns may be taking a toll on the European search advertising market.
  • Shopping Ads Gain Share: Shopping ads captured 37% of the average retailer’s search spend, eclipsing the 36% observed in Q3 2017. The expectation is that dynamic ads will continue to take share from traditional text ads in Shopping and other verticals.

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

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

Whether it’s ominous video spots, sneaky “fake news,” or your favorite great aunt’s not-quite-sensitive Facebook comments,
TV and online airwaves, channels, and networks are full of political messaging.

Advertisers are in the thick of it. They can shape public opinion, but most people don’t understand how—the psychology, emotions, and branding that contribute to trying to sway public opinion. To this end, the political space sees a lot of money and content that goes into advertising. What are things looking like just a couple of weeks before the big day?

Who’s advertising?

The answer to this one is pretty simple: everyone— Republicans, Democrats, and Progressives alike. However, advertising trends between parties are pretty different and some even surprising!

This year, pro-Democratic candidates and PACs have outspent Republicans by a cool $30 million on TV ads. They’re spending $260 million in total, and according to eMarketer, competition’s only going to get more heated.

Whether Democrats outspending the GOP gives you hope for the future or leaves a bad taste in your mouth, Democratic Senate candidates are making a mistake spending the bulk (60-70%) of their marketing budgets on TV and direct mail. Where they need to be is digital. Democrats typically spend 10-15% of their marketing budget on digital, while our friends in the GOP spend a whopping 30% to 50%.

In the final weeks of this election cycle, however, House Democrats are finally getting with the times. Younger, more progressive faces of the party like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are making a big midterm push in digital ads. After all, robust digital strategies were integral to helping candidates like her and Ayanna Pressley win the primaries. Priorities USA and Senate Majority PAC—two prominent Democratic organizations—are dropping an additional $21 million in battleground states ahead of November 6th, exclusively in digital channels.

[caption id="attachment_12153" align="alignnone" width="385"]

midterm elections

Example on the left: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez[/caption]

Since people today spend an average of six hours a day looking at the internet and traditional TV as we know it is fading into the past, Senate Democrats would do well to heed the data and move more spend online. Also, TV and radio represent some of the most loosely targeted advertising options available. Which leads to the next question….

Where should politicians be advertising?

Digital. Republicans clearly know this. Since May of this year the Trump campaign has spent nearly a quarter million on Google platforms alone.

The main reason that digital content/channels are so important and so compelling for political organizations really comes down to targeting. Being able to deliver an emotional message doesn’t hurt, either. (To view some examples, Google now houses all political ads in its political ad library, which shows the breadth and depth of messaging in the current landscape.)

[caption id="attachment_12154" align="alignnone" width="500"]

midterm elections

Example on the right: Bryan Steil[/caption]

Digital channels all offer the ability to target by demographic, language, interests, and probably most importantly, location. Hyper local targeting—sometimes down to the coordinate level—layered in with demographic and language targeting gives political advertisers the ability to tailor their ads to every single one of their constituents, with virtually no impression waste if done correctly.

On Facebook you can target people based on their level of college education, gender, ethnicity, generation, and the charities they donate to—all super-important indicators of who and what they might vote for.

With Google and YouTube, you can use topic and affinity targeting to literally pick which social and advocacy issues people are interested in. HIllary Clinton could target her ads toward people who care about reproductive rights, while Trump could target his ads at people with specific stances on immigration policy and border issues.

Meanwhile, Connected TV (CTV) is offering all the visual content of a traditional TV spot, but paired with the detailed targeting available in modern digital channels. I don’t think it’s worth Trump’s money to pay for CTV spot during an episode of The Handmaid's Tale, for example.


What should you watch out for?

To loosely quote Peter Parker’s uncle: with great (digital) power, comes great responsibility. This responsibility isn’t always respected. Political and 3rd party organizations have been getting around some of the rules by allowing bots, foreign powers, or other malfeasance to pump massive amounts of money into incendiary or even false political advertisements. It then becomes the responsibility of the marketing platforms to make sure the public isn’t being misled.

In May, Facebook announced a new slew of regulations for political ads including a mandatory “Paid for by” label, and stricter requirements for advertisers to verify identity and location. These regulations extend not just to electoral ads, but also to any ad containing content related to a highly debated political issue. Facebook is also hard at work in its newly revealed war room, aiming to eliminate election manipulation on its platform.

While these publishers are definitely taking the correct steps, it’s not a problem they can solve overnight. So whether you’re an advertiser yourself or just a fervent user of the internet, remember to try and go deeper than political ads in taking sides this November.

Now get out there and vote!

First it was Google, then it was Amazon, then it was Oath.

Out with the old, in with the new, as they say—and in this case, 2018 seems to be the Year of the Ad Platform Rebrand. We took a look at what changed and why.

What’s in a Name?

While most of the rebranding included simple name changes, others provided advertisers with consolidated or new solutions to streamline their advertising platforms—often bringing disparate products under a single brand identity. (Click to enlarge.)

google adwords

Why Rebrand?

As the major ad platforms continue to grow and develop new features and services, so does the potential learning curve for advertisers hoping to take advantage of these platforms. In Amazon’s case, the goal is to attract more brand advertisers. Across the board, however, these rebrands make the case for simplicity, and for ensuring the services are as easy and intuitive as possible for advertisers.

With one potential barrier to success lifted—multiple advertising solutions with disparate messaging and features—the hope is that brands can focus on driving more brand awareness, customer engagement, and revenue.

Your move, Bing.

Let’s Talk

Here at Marin, we think the easiest way to run your digital advertising campaigns is from a single location. Our independent platform unites advertising across search, social, and eCommerce, connecting you to customers wherever they are. We think the only way to see better results from ad spend, every day, is to run your channels in concert, such using search intent signals to power your social advertising and to integrate, align, and amplify all of your digital advertising efforts.

Whether you’re using Oath, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, or Bing, we’re here to help. To learn more, feel free to schedule a demo.

For further reading:

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

Instagram expands shopping features

To make it easier for people to buy products they see on Instagram, the social platform unleashed two new features.

Read the article

What advertisers are spending on social video

eMarketer provides a new forecast for social video advertising, and examines what’s driving the projected growth.

Read the article

Amazon hits third best in the US

Although it still trails behind its Google and Facebook rivals, Amazon’s a contender, making up 4.1% of all US digital ad spend.

Read the article

Google plans to loosen control over AMP

Decisions about Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages will now be made by committee, its ongoing attempt to enhance the mobile web.

Read the article

90% of consumers report being brand-loyal

Surprise! People are connected to brands. And, by a large margin, most people interact with their favorites via Facebook.

Read the article

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

A Hub for Lower Funnel Customer Demand

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

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


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

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

The Amazon Advertising Ecosystem

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

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

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

Sponsored Brands (previously Headline Search Ads)

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

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

Sponsored Product Ads

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

Product Display Ads

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

Measurement on Amazon

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

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

Brands Are Already Winning with Amazon

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

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

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

Running Amazon Ad Campaigns on Marin

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

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

What 100 days after GDPR looks like

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

Read the article

Podcasters turn to measurement and attribution

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

Read the article

With low CPMs, Facebook Stories draw advertisers

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

Read the article

Mobile commerce to overtake eCommerce by 2019

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

Read the article

Vertical video ads are coming to YouTube

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

Read the article

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

AT&T blasts new California privacy law

Stating that internet communications are “geography-agnostic,” AT&T raises the concern that tailored services will be more challenging across different U.S. regions.

Read the article

Mobile sales to hit $117B in 2018

A Forrester report predicts continued mobile ascendance, with mobile influence expected to impact $1.3 trillion in retail sales.

Read the article

What’s wrong with "50% by 2020" voice search

Econsultancy writer Rebecca Sentance brings nuance to the oft-repeated projection for voice search usage.

Read the article

Brand posts up, organic engagement down on Facebook

As Facebook faces increased competition, boosts content quality, and pushes paid content, organic takes a continued hit.

Read the article

Google introduces new relevance metric, 'ad strength'

The new metric lets marketers know the quality of their ad content, plus the relevance, quality, and diversity of ad copy.

Read the article

Omnichannel marketing causes many brands to look at their programs as a set of disparate disciplines—SEM, SEO, content marketing, social marketing, email marketing, etc. And, each discipline often has its own department, budget, and strategy, even though customers only see a single brand.

Advertisers are increasingly coming to understand that a good way to tackle the challenges inherent in omnichannel marketing is through a unified strategy, one that combines search and social into a single blueprint. Here are what our survey of digital advertisers identified as the top obstacles to overcome in reaching the goal of an integrated program.

1. Search and social silos

Separate departments for search and social mean separate staff, managers, budgets, and strategies—resulting in teams that rarely communicate, even when they might be sitting right next to each other in the office. This lack of collaboration can result in mismatched or conflicting campaign messaging, and lead to internal battles for shared resources, such as IT, engineering, budget, or creative.

2. Attribution ‘turf wars’

When search, social, and other marketing channels operate in silos, it creates organizational knowledge gaps and makes it more difficult to agree on how to attribute credit to each touchpoint on the conversion path. Social tends to benefit from a first-click attribution model because it’s typically used to create awareness at the top of the funnel.

A last-click model, on the other hand, will provide search with most of the credit for a conversion. Changing to an attribution model that applies equal or partial credit to each channel could threaten each department’s budget or organizational standing.

3. Lack of a shared budget

As the saying goes, ‘follow the money.’ Successful paid search and paid social marketers operating in different departments and with separate budgets are understandably protective of their dollars.

Search may enjoy the largest share of the digital marketing budget. However, social is increasingly carving out a larger share. As long as search and social strategies and campaigns are isolated from each other, the competition for budget dollars will continue.

4. Incompatible metrics and goals

Search and social marketers each speak their own language around key performance metrics (KPIs) and campaign goals. A social brand awareness campaign may use Facebook to increase the number of followers or the length of time followers spend on the brand’s Facebook page.

Conversely, an AdWords campaign may seek more conversions by increasing click-throughs to the website or improving the cost per click (CPC) of specific keywords. It’s difficult to measure a unified search and social campaign’s ROI when metrics don’t line up.

Learn more

To learn the emerging best practices that brands are using to solve these challenges, download Unifying Your Search & Social Ad Strategies. Or, if you’d like to learn how Marin can help, request a demo today.

omnichannel marketing

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

Instagram Stories pioneers turn to Facebook Stories

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

Read the article

Repeat buyers favor marketplaces over retailers

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

Read the article

LinkedIn is relaunching Groups in its flagship app

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

Read the article

Neutrogena, Sonos beta test use of Amazon video ads

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

Read the article

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

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

Read the article

“Privacy” is a trending term in headlines and a pressing concern for the online public. With prominent news items like Cambridge Analytica’s data mining activities and third-party developers reading Google emails, people are increasingly concerned about the use and misuse of their personal information.

To address mounting fears, California passed the Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), following on the heels of the EU’s new GDPR guidelines. According to TrustArc, “the CCPA is set to be the toughest privacy law in the United States by broadly expanding the rights of consumers and requiring businesses within scope to be significantly more transparent about how they collect, use, and disclose personal information.”

How will the CCPA affect companies doing business with California residents?

The Background

The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 passed through the California legislature on June 28, 2018 without opposition. Set to take effect on January 1, 2020, the current version will definitely be revised before this date, with prominent tech companies like Facebook looking to weigh in and provide feedback.

How did we get here? Back in 1972, the California Constitution was amended to state that its constituents have a right to privacy. That amendment afforded every Californian a legal and enforceable right to privacy.

Almost a half a century later—in a world of over 200 billion emails, three billion online searches, and two hours per person spent on social media a day—people’s privacy needs have increased exponentially.

To address this reality, the CCPA grants consumers the right to request that a business disclose the categories and specific pieces of personal information it collects, how they collect it, and what third parties they share it with. As the bill itself states:

“Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to further Californians’ right to privacy by giving consumers an effective way to control their personal information, by ensuring the following rights:

(1) The right of Californians to know what personal information is being collected about them.

(2) The right of Californians to know whether their personal information is sold or disclosed and to whom.

(3) The right of Californians to say no to the sale of personal information.

(4) The right of Californians to access their personal information.

(5) The right of Californians to equal service and price, even if they exercise their privacy rights.”

That’s quite a legal mouthful, but what does it all mean specifically for digital advertisers?

The Impact

Because of the GDPR, digital advertisers have already refined their processes to ensure compliance and consumer data safety. This includes mechanisms for fielding people’s requests for data access, deletion, and retrieval.

With the CCPA (notwithstanding AdExchanger calling it “GDPR-light”), there are a few additional things companies must do to make sure they’re protecting people’s data. Arguably the most significant part of the law for digital advertisers is a consumer’s ability to request deletion of their data and opt out of its sale—but the CCPA includes a definition of “personal information” that covers browsing and search history.

As far as scope goes, any company that does business with California residents—even if that company isn’t based in the state—must comply with the law. At the very least, this means many companies doing business in California will have to update their privacy policies and work practices to align with the new law when it comes into effect.

It’s important to note that companies have both a fix and an opportunity in front of them:

  • They can apply the “Spotify exemption,” which lets them offer services based on the information consumers provide them.
  • They can work with California lawmakers to influence the final legislation.

The law’s specifics are indeed likely to change by the time it’s rolled out on January 1, 2020. Despite an initial tech backlash, companies like Facebook are already weighing in on the changes. As Will Castleberry, Facebook's VP of state and local public policy, stated, Facebook is “working with policymakers on an approach that protects consumers and promotes responsible innovation.”

As other states frequently look to California’s outsized influence and precedents, there’s a good chance the CCPA could become the national gold standard through state-level legislation. (With the current federal administration going in the opposite direction and loosening data privacy rules, we don’t see it adopting anything like the CCPA or GDPR in the foreseeable future.)

The Upshot

Should digital advertisers be worried? We don’t think so, for a few reasons:

  • The GDPR is here and the industry is successfully adapting. There may be legal hiccups but we don’t expect them to have a lasting impact on a robust and thriving market.
  • From making data policies more transparent to changing third-party data access, the industry has proven itself to be highly adaptive and innovative, quickly implementing changes that new laws dictate.
  • Both the GDPR and CCPA can be seen as positive steps for protecting consumer privacy, while still allowing brands to connect with their customers and prospects with relevant messages.

As for our team at Marin Software, as we’ve mentioned before, our core working processes don’t rely on or store any personally identifiable information for the activity on our platform. So, our customers can already depend on solutions that deliver superior campaign performance while ensuring true data integrity and privacy.

Our team understands the importance of the CCPA and can analyze your particular cross-domain, sub-domain, or retargeting requirements. Our advice: continue to focus on creating meaningful, engaging, and relevant experiences for your customers and prospects. Contact us today if you’d like to discuss further.

Additional reading:

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

Facebook influencer organic reach drops 23%

Marketing Dive attributes a drop in organic reach for influencer content to Facebook’s algorithm tweaks in early 2018. With Facebook’s new tools for influencers, this dip may not be a lasting one.

Read the article

Facebook has changed—so should your digital strategy

Facebook is in constant flux, quickly making updates based on lessons learned and optimizing as fast as breaking news. Digital advertisers have to adapt to keep up with the rapid pace of change.

Read the article

Amazon is testing video ads in mobile search results

On the Amazon front, advertisers spoke and the company listened. Now, it’s trying out video ads in mobile search results, in a limited beta test.

Read the article

The evolution of Amazon as an ad platform

Amazon’s expanding ad formats are just the tip of the iceberg. The Drum takes a look at just how far Amazon has come in such a short amount of time.

Read the article

Should ad tech panic over the California Consumer Privacy Act?

Finally, with changes under the California Consumer Privacy Act set to take effect on the first day of 2020, data privacy will land in the tech capital of the world. What’s an advertiser to do?

Read the article

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

Facebook’s new and revised video metrics

Facebook is changing the way it measures news feed videos. This is good news for advertisers wanting more insights into how their video ads are performing.

Read the article

Facebook brings playable ads to the news feed

Wait, there’s more: Facebook also announced that developers can now use playable ads in the news feed to advertise games. Gamers can experiment before downloading a game from an app store.

Read the article

Amazon to merge its ad businesses into one platform

Amazon is quickly and frequently streamlining and building up its ad business. Amazon advertisers will be able to buy campaigns from the same place, whether selling directly to the site or to shoppers.

Read the article

WhatsApp moves to monetize

WhatsApp is stepping up to a new challenge: make money. This podcast dives into the strategies and tactics WhatsApp plans to launch to drive revenue.

Read the article

Google to remove blanket exclusion from mobile app ads

Lastly, Google plans to remove a feature that lets advertisers put a blanket exclusion of mobile devices on ad campaigns. How will it affect the in-app advertising market?

Read the article

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 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.



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.

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

Facebook’s Q2 numbers leave advertisers unfazed

With Facebook focusing on ad formats like Stories Ads and expecting growth to flatline through 2018, advertisers are betting on the long game.

Read the article

Relaxing with a game? Enjoy an ad

Almost 40% of gamers consider their passion relaxing, which is good news for advertisers seeking a receptive audience.

Read the article

Amazon has big plans for its booming ad business

Amazon’s on fire, commanding an ever-growing slice of the ad spend pie. With plans to keep expanding its advertising solutions, retailers stand to gain another powerful channel to showcase their products and drive revenue.

Read the article

Amazon advertisers want more video ads

A different take (or perhaps sage advice for Amazon): as Amazon revs up its advertising engine, some advertisers are looking for enhanced video services before they’ll go deep.

Read the article

Google Search: optimization over speed

After analyzing 33,500 keywords and 1 million pages of search results, SEO PowerSuite analysts didn’t find any improved ranking news to write home about.

Read the article

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

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

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

Read the article

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

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

Read the article

Here's one way to measure ad boycott pressures

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

Read the article

Whither digital advertising?

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

Read the article

Amazon is primed for rapid growth

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

Read the article

In our State of Digital Advertising report, we surveyed over 500 global B2C advertising professionals across the retail, automotive, travel, and finance sectors. The companies ranged from $40 million to over $1 billion in annual sales with an average annual digital advertising spend of more than $2.4 million.

Our survey results uncovered several key themes preoccupying advertisers this year:

Social takes the lead

Nine out of 10 respondents are investing in paid social media in 2018, beating the next most popular channel (YouTube/Google Display) by over 10 percentage points. Marketers now see the need to position social as a key channel in their online customer acquisition strategy.

Search and social are the fastest growing channels

The vast majority of advertisers expect to increase spend in 2018, led by social (70%) and followed by search (65%).

Bridging search and social is the top challenge for advertisers

With the rise of Facebook, linking together search and social advertising is the most cited challenge for both search and social advertisers.

Closing the knowledge gap remains a challenge

The survey found that many advertisers don’t feel they have the expertise required to deliver successful social campaigns, particularly when it comes to attributing ROI. Nevertheless, investment in paid social remains strong as advertisers recognize the importance of evolving their social capabilities to meet changing consumer expectations and media habits.

Here comes Amazon

The majority (85%) of respondents believe Amazon and its digital advertising options will impact their business in 2018. Conversely, only 1 in 5 advertisers viewed the eCommerce giant and its digital advertising options as a competitor they’re unlikely to advertise on.

Video is increasingly important but creates a new set of challenges

Brands can no longer repurpose existing video content in a world of vertical video. Thirty-four percent of advertisers said that creating quality content is their top challenge with respect to video.

The view the full results of the survey and the main digital opportunities in 2018, download the report.

digital advertising trends

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

Why marketers struggle to define artificial intelligence

A survey of over 300 North American B2B marketers found that less than one-fifth of them clearly understand the differences between AI, machine learning, and predictive modeling, despite these terms having become ubiquitous in industry press.

Read the article

Most US and EU companies will comply with GDPR by year’s end

In order to meet customer expectations and deliver a positive user experience, nearly 75% of US and European companies say they’ll be compliant by the end of 2018.

Read the article

Instagram leads as a global platform for influencer marketing

Although Instagram isn’t the only platform for influencer campaigns, it’s leading the pack as a go-to for global brands. In some regions, YouTube and Instagram are neck and neck.

Read the article

Amazon now has nearly 50% of US eCommerce market

Amazon continues to corner the eCommerce market. And, led by computer and consumer electronics, eMarketer projects that the leading retail site will jump by close to 30% this year.

Read the article

Last-minute digital video ads drive live sports viewership

comScore reports that viewers are more likely to see “last-minute” video ads during live sporting events, making these ads even more powerful for digital marketers.

Read the article

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

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


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

Other highlights for Q2 2018 include:

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

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

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

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

A Prime Day for Advertisers

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

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

Amazon Prime Day

5 Reasons to Sell on Amazon

1. A trusted brand

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

2. Customers' extremely high intent to buy

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

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

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

3. It’s easy

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

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

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

4. Advertising solutions

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

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

Amazon Prime Day

5. Hands-off fulfilment and shipping

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

A Rapidly Growing Opportunity

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

Didn’t have time to catch the keynote from Google Marketing Live? We’ve got you covered. Here are highlights from this year’s event and what they mean for digital marketers.

Safety First

Given the current hot topics of data privacy and brand safety, it wasn’t surprising for Google to focus on the value of advertising, transparency, and trustworthiness. Keynote speaker Sridar Ramaswamy pointed out that you can opt out of personalized advertising across all Google services, proactively reminding the audience that Google is committed to a safe, secure user experience.

How Can We Help You?

Ramaswamy also focused on Google’s shift from providing answers to offering assistance. This involves understanding what people need in the moment and helping them get things done. In his words, “Google is where the world turns to for assistance."

Key Goals

Across Google’s set of advertising solutions, the company is driving for better results, simpler experiences, and stronger collaboration. From more and better advertising automation to capturing more attention during shopping “moments,” online advertisers will have new opportunities to optimize ad delivery and improve results.


As they announced a couple of weeks ago, Google’s advertising suite is getting a slight makeover—or, at least a new name.
Google Ads now includes Search, YouTube, Google Maps, and Google Play. This is a good reminder that there are probably places and ways to reach your customers that you might not be taking full advantage of today.

As for the Google Marketing Platform, it’s still being managed by Google, and brings advertising and measurement into one place. This begs the question, however—do advertisers want Google making decisions around their budget and spending choices?

Talking Shop

The 2,500 attendees (up a whopping 2400% from the 100 who dropped in just five years ago) were treated to the highlight of the day—a rundown of Google’s new advertising products and features, including:

YouTube product formats

Maximize lift will help advertisers reach people most likely to consider their brand after seeing a video ad. Along with TrueView for Actions, this will make it easy to use YouTube at every stage of the funnel.

Responsive Search Ads

You heard it here first—Google is going to own ad creation. Responsive Search Ads will make life easier for marketers by automatically delivering relevant ads based on people’s stated wants and preferences. However, we think this will come at the expense of control. By handing the keys to Google, advertisers may find themselves locked out of the car.

As beta partners, we’ve seen increased performance with this ad format. But, it’s unclear if this simply translates to taking up more SERP real estate at the expense of organic results. Ads are getting cluttered, though, so it’s ultimately a good thing that machine learning is doing the heavy lifting.

Smart Campaigns

Smart Campaigns are now focused on SMBs, replacing AdWords Express. If you’re not familiar with AdWords Express, that’s probably okay. However, Google did mention cool tools to automatically build a website for the half of small businesses that don’t currently have one set up.

Advertising for All

When all was said and done, there was one main takeaway from Google Marketing Live—advertising should work for everyone. As Google seeks to democratize—and monetize—more automated, secure offerings, the search advertising future is looking bright, transparent, personalized, and helpful.

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

How to Map and Make Sense of Engagement Metrics that Matter

Building an effective customer engagement plan can be daunting. eMarketer’s Lauren Fisher spoke with Jennifer Zeszut, co-founder and chief customer officer of Beckon, on how to set up an effective customer engagement framework.

Read the article

Microsoft matches Google Lens with AI-powered visual search for Bing

You can ‘Bing’ a picture now. See how Google’s main competitor is entering the world of visual search.

Read the article

Facebook starts showing all ads a Page is running

In its continuing efforts towards greater transparency, Facebook has introduced an “Info & Ads” section on Pages. It lists all ads the page has run across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and partner networks.

Read the article

Google streamlines ad products, winding down AdWords, DoubleClick branding

Google has rebranded its advertising products and consolidated them into Google Ads. Marketing Dive digs into the rationale behind the changes.

Read the article

We Have Reached Peak Screen. Now Revolution Is in
the Air.

“Tech has now captured pretty much all visual capacity,” writes New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo. In this new phase of what he calls “Peak Screen,” what comes next?

Read the article

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

Google Clears Up Confusion Around Mobile-First Indexing

A recap of Google’s tweets deciphering the most common misunderstandings around mobile-first indexing.

Read the article

Magna upgrades global ad growth forecasts, with Facebook and Google as drivers

Global ad revenue is expected to grow beyond expectations this year, to $551 billion. You guessed it—Facebook and Google are leading the way.

Read the article

US brands remain 'mediocre' when it comes to CX, Forrester finds

The field is open for a CX leader to emerge in sales in marketing, according to research by Forrester, while some industries are doing a better job than others.

Read the article

Facebook is testing paid subscription options for private groups

Although free Facebook groups aren’t going anywhere, the company’s testing a program to allow group administrators to charge for content.

Read the article

Keeping Up With Change: How Marketers Give Customers What They Want

With rapid industry change and new trends emerging even faster, customers are coming to expect constant innovation.

Read the article

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

Would You Pay for an Ad-Free Facebook?

Despite Facebook’s headline news and recent data privacy speed bumps, only 23% of consumers would pay for an ad-free version of the platform. Read more via eMarketer.

Read the article

Fortnite’s Explosion in Popularity Is Opening New Doors for Marketers

Gamers are serious about their passion—and marketers are clueing in to the advertising opportunities. A few great ideas from Adweek on how to capture the attention of avid gaming audiences.

Read the article

Employee advocacy outweighs influencer marketing

Move over, online celebrities—employee advocacy is more scalable, cost-efficient, and effective. A recent Sprout Social survey uncovered the numbers and trends.

Read the article

Commemorating 20 years of Google

Google turns 20 this year. Check out Search Engine Land’s retrospective and how Google became synonymous with “internet search.”

Read the article

64% of live streamers have engaged with ads, IAB finds

Lastly, happy World Cup day! Marketing Dive digs into the data around live-streamed soccer matches, online versus TV ads, device usage, and more.

Read the article

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

Have we reached peak smartphone, and what does that mean for marketers?

Among all of Mary Meeker’s insights and factoids, she reported a decline in the cost of smartphones. Marketing Land looks at what this means for marketers and how the industry should respond.

Read the article

71% of retailers use mobile location strategies to boost store traffic

Are you using location data to entice people into your store? If not, you’re lagging behind the ever-increasing number of retail marketers taking advantage of location strategies in their advertising campaigns. Read more from Mobile Marketer.

Read the article

Apple debuts screen limits, Siri shortcuts and privacy updates

Apple announced several new developments at its recent developer’s conference, keeping consumers excited and mobile marketers on their toes.

Read the article

The Battle for the Soul of Advertising Will Affect Everything

In today’s advertising world, says author Ken Auletta, there are “the disrupters and the disrupted”—and they both need each other to ensure a thriving consumer economy. Great read.

Read the article and the NY Times book review

82% of marketers plan to increase digital spend, but only 26% are confident in ROI

Nielsen's latest CMO report shows that the ascent of digital marketing budgets continues, but marketers still aren’t fully confident about it. They also continue to want greater transparency and real-time data insights.

Read the article

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

1. Study: 82% of marketers plan to boost use of
location data

Three out of four respondents in a Cuebiq survey want to use information from how customers spend their time to power their marketing campaigns. Read more insights from Mobile Marketer.

Read the article

2. IAB says digital ad revenues up 21% to $88B in 2017. Left unsaid: The duopoly dominated that growth

Digital advertising is up and Google and Facebook are going strong. Marketing Land’s Ginny Marvin looks at the numbers.

Read the article

3. Confusion, chaos in the GDPR's first week

The GDPR hasn’t been all wine and roses, and the digital advertising community is still figuring it out. Econsultancy covers the one-week aftermath.

Read the article

4. Once Feared Obsolete, Physical Retail Stores Are Key To Omnichannel Revenue

Joe Apprendi of Revel Partners discusses the importance of melding the in-store experience with data-driven marketing online marketing techniques.

Read the article

5. Meeker: Data-driven online experiences create a 'privacy paradox'

Mary Meeker’s much-anticipated annual report took the pulse of digital advertising, looking at smartphone growth, mobile payments, voice products, and the ongoing privacy debate.

Read the article

Connie Lanter is a Senior Customer Success Director in Marin Software’s San Francisco office, with over 20 years of experience in customer success and account management. She helps digital and traditional advertisers across a diverse range of industries improve marketing results and drive revenue.

What do you do at Marin?

I work closely with some of Marin's largest enterprise customers to find ways to continually improve their digital marketing results. I think of it as long-term relationship building and turnaround, which includes understanding each customer’s goals and pain points, and then finding solutions for them. At the end of the day, it’s all about formulating the best possible solutions for our customers with the least amount of friction.

How are most paid advertising teams working today?

During our recent webinar, Unifying Your Search and Social Ad Strategies, 62% of our pool of over 400 survey respondents identified “operating in silos” as the number one way of running their paid advertising programs today. Only 21% of respondents said that that they have a unified search and social program.

So, only one in five organizations are where they need to be to compete in an increasingly multi-channel world. Plus, I’m really curious about how many of those 21% are doing search + social combined management across the board. I bet if we asked them they’d say it was partially managed together.

What are a few common barriers to running combined search and social advertising campaigns?

It’s interesting that 35% of those same respondents have separate search and social teams, and 16% don’t have a shared budget. These results aren’t surprising, since many teams aren’t thinking in holistic terms and focusing on the customer journey.

To achieve a truly integrated program, there are so many hurdles and pain points to overcome, including team silos, isolated budgets that aren’t working together to reach common goals, conflicting strategies, and a lack of communication, even sometimes when folks are sitting right next to each other. Not only is this frustrating, but it’s also slowing teams down, causing unnecessary conflicts, and ultimately preventing teams from maximizing the effectiveness of their digital marketing programs.

There’s also a knowledge gap that teams have to overcome, since the different channels are often unique beasts that require their own set of skills, knowledge, and continuous learning. With a unified approach, however, you get to become an expert on “digital,” not just a single platform.

In the long run, this not only serves teams better, but it’s a great growth and motivational opportunity for individual contributors, particularly at smaller companies. Someone’s expertise may lie in one channel, but with a unified approach, there’s always a chance to learn new things and excel in a different medium.

What are the benefits of a unified approach?

Once teams graduate to omnichannel, the benefits are pretty numerous—at the very least, being able to speak in one brand voice, and at the very best, gaining more traffic, more clicks, and more business. From our own research, we’ve seen teams double their conversions from adopting a unified strategy. Customers who don’t have a unified approach to digital advertising are simply leaving money on the table.

What do you recommend that advertisers do to unify their campaigns?

Start from the ground up. Define your goals and KPIs—starting with the overarching company goal—and then collaborate to answer a few basic questions: What’s our message? What are the nuts and bolts of how we’ll deliver it? What are we serving up on Google? On Facebook? On Twitter? On Amazon?

And, how are we looking at our full marketing program to measure which touchpoints are working and which ones need to be tweaked? It’s making sure teams have the right creative for the message they’re conveying, the right holistic strategy, and the right tools to measure success and act on the insights.

Any closing thoughts?

There are ways to get around silos and hurdles and really focus on a strategy that ultimately leads to more conversions for your organization. It all starts with a conversation and having a trusted digital advertising partner to offer an objective view of cross-channel performance.

However challenging implementing a combined strategy may be up front, it all pays off in the end with more engagement, clicks, conversions, and revenue. Baby steps can lead to great strides.

For more information on implementing a winning cross-channel advertising strategy, view our webinar, Unifying Your Search and Social Ad Strategies.

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

1. Stories are about to surpass feed sharing. Now what?

Josh Constine of TechCrunch looks at the rise of the Stories format and how it’s set to surpass feeds as the primary online sharing vehicle this year. What should advertisers keep in mind as they seek to create meaningful—and respectful—Stories ads?

> Read the article

2. The 10 biggest announcements from Google I/O 2018

CEO Sundar Pichai’s keynote at Google’s I/O included everything from advice on social responsibility to amazing demonstrations of new AI tools the company’s been working on. We were wowed and awed. If you haven’t seen it already, be sure to check it out.

> Read the article

3. Did Google Just Kill Independent Attribution?

For publishers, is isolationism the new normal? Martin Kihn, Research Vice President at Gartner, comments on the impact of Google’s decision to stop including user IDs with log files from its industry-leading ad server.

> Read the article

4. Where do marketers draw the line on data targeting as     privacy concerns grow?

Marketing Dive does a “deep dive,” looking at the need for advertisers to pay more attention to first-party data in a time of mounting data privacy concerns.

> Read the article

5. YouTube channels are seeing a lift in live video     viewership

The online video wars continue. This is an exciting space and we’re looking forward to the digital advertising innovations that will inevitably result.

> Read the article

When buyers search for a product, they’re increasingly turning to Amazon as their first stop. There’s no doubt that Amazon advertising is on the rise, but is it enough to loosen Google and Facebook’s iron grip on the digital advertising landscape?

We think so. Amazon's ad revenue is now $2 billion, and it's the largest online marketplace in the world. While still modest compared to Google ($40 billion) and Facebook ($21 billion), Amazon is growing faster than both, according to Fast Company. With its climbing market share, digital advertisers and global brands are starting to flock to this online retail behemoth.

[caption id="attachment_11315" align="alignnone" width="500"]


Source: Synergy group, Forbes, TechCrunch[/caption]

As always, the early adopter catches the worm! Here’s more information on Amazon’s advertising solutions and how Marin can help you get in on the ground floor of this growing opportunity.

What Is Amazon Advertising?

Amazon Advertising provides several targeted, CPC advertising solutions to Amazon vendors and brands in order to grow sales. Amazon offers a range of different ad types to fit your retail goals and objectives, including Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Products, and Product Display Ads

[caption id="attachment_11316" align="alignnone" width="500"]


The Amazon Marketing Services Ecosystem[/caption]

1. Sponsored Brands (for Brands Only)

Sponsored Brands ads allow brands to feature a headline and an image above a shopper’s search results. You can link your ad to a landing page where people can get more information or make a purchase. The daily minimum budget required is $100, so this is an affordable way for brands to test the waters with Amazon advertising.

Sponsored Brands ads are a great way to showcase your logo and align your ad directly with specific keywords. This way, you can reach the people more likely to be interested in your products and drive more sales.

2. Sponsored Products

Amazon also offers the “Sponsored Products” option that displays your products at the top of a search results page. Sponsored Products work the same way as Sponsored Brands ads: you select the products you’d like to highlight based on specific keywords, and you set bids and a daily budget.

At a daily minimum of $1, this is a no-brainer for SMBs or those wanting an inexpensive way to test this placement. Sponsored Product ads can be useful for conquering competitor brand terms or improving your ranking on broader category searches, so keep both these goals in mind when mapping out your Amazon advertising strategy.

You can run either a manual or an automatic Sponsored Products campaign:

  • Manual: You select the keywords you’d like to bid on. By bidding manually on individual keywords, you can optimize real-time based on performance.
  • Automatic: Amazon automatically finds keywords that match your product’s category, related products, and product descriptions. Here, Amazon does the heavy lifting of collecting data on which keywords perform the best, so that you can apply them to future campaigns.

3. Product Display Ads

With Product Display Ads, you can target consumers by product or interest. Your ads will appear on relevant product detail pages across the Amazon platform. Like Sponsored Brands ads, the minimum daily budget is $100. Product Display Ads can be an effective way to reach potential customers more inclined to purchase a complementary item, allowing you to gain brand reach and find customers showing clear buying intent within related product categories.

Advertise Where Your Customers Are

Marin Software supports Amazon ad solutions—and full-funnel reporting alongside your search and social channels. If you’re a Marin customer and would like to set it up, just touch base with your Customer Success representative. Or, if you’re new to Marin, request a demo of our Amazon ad solutions today.

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.

If their advertising revenue is any sign, Facebook and Google will be the dominant players in the digital ad space for years to come. How can marketers continue to compete? Including videos in your advertising campaigns is the new winning strategy, especially on YouTube and Facebook.

The Shape-Shifting Digital Marketer

How can advertisers do this with people constantly shuffling their attention between channels and devices? Video is a great way to stand out and get noticed in a sea of content. It’s a booming category for digital advertisers, with Cisco predicting that video will represent 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2019.

Marketers must change their game plans to adapt. And, since your video is competing with many other forms of content, simply creating a basic video ad isn’t enough. Brands must build high-quality, engaging videos (in mobile-friendly formats) that are more likely to catch the attention of their specific target audience.

Press “Play” on Video Advertising

Download our short guide, Press “Play” on Video Advertising: 10 Keys to Success, to explore 10 ways to create successful video ads. Just a few topics we cover include:

  • The key to getting viewers to make your video all the rage
  • How to brand our video for maximum effect
  • Using video to achieve lower cost and a far more targeted audience

If you’d like to learn more about how Marin Software can help you with your video advertising campaigns, request a demo today.

Digital marketing has always been a fast-moving industry. Recent changes by the browser players are creating tectonic shifts that every advertiser and vendor should watch closely. For example, Apple announced Intelligent Tracking Prevention in the summer of 2017 and the ripples hit some ad-tech vendors hard, impacting even large vendors like Criteo.

Three key changes in the browser landscape will challenge the status quo:

  1. Apple Intelligent Tracking Prevention
  2. Google Parallel Tracking
  3. Chrome native ad blocking

Ironically, Apple’s tracking changes will actually help Google and Facebook, who continue to capture virtually all of the growth in digital ad spend. The harsh reality is that this growth will come at the expense of real-time bidding/programmatic display. The changes will directly challenge the core business model of many programmatic exchanges. (On a related note, I expect Amazon to grow and benefit from these trends in 2018 and beyond.)

If you’re not working with the larger publishers, trying to reach your target audience based purely on demographic and behavioral data will be more challenging than ever before. Advertisers should also be aware that accurate targeting and measurement across search, social, and programmatic display will be severely limited for redirect-based solutions (remember that redirects underpin the ad tech stack of many smaller publishers).

Read on for more details on these changes and Marin’s predictions about how they’ll impact the digital marketing landscape for the rest of 2018 and beyond.

Safari ITP

The Change:

At the WWDC last June, Apple announced that upcoming versions of all their operating systems would limit how long cookies would be stored. Dubbed “Intelligent Tracking Protection,” this change restricted all third-party access to cookies for purposes such as advertising and tracking to a one-day window. The cookie can still be referenced for login purposes for 30 days, but it’s no longer available for cross-site tracking. Safari is critical because although its desktop share is low, its presence on iPhone and iPad devices means that Safari’s U.S. mobile market share is over 50 percent—and skews younger and affluent as well.

The Impact:

Since traditional programmatic display is built on third-party cookies, ITP will make it harder for smaller publishers and many third-party ad tech providers to offer audience targeting capabilities based on prior web behavior or browsing patterns.

Does this mean the ads that follow you everywhere around the internet won’t be so persistent? Not really. This change isn’t a big deal for Facebook and Google in the long term, even on Safari; many users visit these sites directly multiple times within a 30-day window, where those publishers can set their own darn cookies! Advertisers will still be able to effectively retarget with Google and Facebook, both on owned and operated sites, and on third-party sites via the Google Display Network/Facebook Audience Network.

Marin has offered a first-party tracking solution for years which is compatible with Safari ITP already. Many of our customers use it, and it’s a fully tested and proven solution. We also work seamlessly with tracking from DoubleClick, Adobe, Sizmek, AppsFlyer, Kochava, Google, and Facebook. We also offer Marin TruePath, a cross-channel measurement solution that incorporates cross-device data while de-duping across publishers. To learn more about TruePath, contact us today.

Google Parallel Tracking (GPT)

The Change:

Today, clicking an ad results in at least two network round trips: the first to the publisher (let’s say Google or Facebook) to record the click, and the next to the landing page for the result. Redirect tracking such as or will incur additional round trips, slowing page loads even further. Google created a process called Google Parallel Tracking (GPT) to get visitors to landing pages more quickly once they click an ad. This may seem like a small improvement, but advertisers should be aware that a one-second delay in mobile page load can decrease conversions by up to 20 percent.

How does GPT work? It uses sendBeacon, a browser method for asynchronous payloads, to send click information to data collectors in parallel with loading the landing page. In practical terms, GPT sends users directly to your landing page after they click a search ad, rather than through a redirect. The browser processes URL tracking requests in the background, speeding up page load times and reducing mobile post-click abandonment. Check out Google’s full GPT announcement on Inside Adwords.

The Impact:

Because they are “sort-of” 1st party (the browser visits that domain) and “sort-of” 3rd party (it only visits for a few milliseconds and the user did not intentionally go to that domain), redirects have been a loophole for setting cookies as long as browsers have blocked 3rd party cookies. Like ITP, sendBeacon treats its payload once and for all based on the browser page, not the payload page. This means that cross-domain tracking and targeting is more limited for browsers that restrict third-party cookie-setting. This is a default setting with Safari but it’s also applicable to other browsers.

In combination with Apple’s ITP changes, relying on redirects for tracking has become increasingly difficult and detrimental to ad performance. Put simply, ad tech providers who rely on redirects for their tracking (such as DoubleClick Campaign Manager, for example), are using estimation rather than concrete data.

What You Can Do:

Parallel Tracking will be applied selectively at first and become standard (non-optional) over the first half of 2018. Safari owns about half of all mobile traffic in the U.S. and an even higher percentage among more affluent customers. DoubleClick is hampered by offering advertisers an “estimated” approach which says that it’ll project which Safari visitors actually converted. As an advertiser running sophisticated digital campaigns to reach customers, do you really want to guess at your conversions from iPhones, iPads, and Macs?

Here are steps you can take to mitigate the impact of GPT:

  • Find a solution like Marin that offers a first-party approach.
  • Ensure you can measure upstream Facebook views.
  • Combine with publisher tracking to better measure multi-device journeys.

Chrome Native Ad Blocking

The Change:

Beginning on February 15th of this year, Google’s Chrome browser began blocking all ads on any website that don’t meet the standards defined by The Coalition for Better Ads. With a stated goal of making online ads better for everyone, the coalition has identified four desktop and eight mobile experiences that fall below their standards.

The Impact:

The goal is to encourage advertisers to present non-intrusive ads, thus creating a better experience for the end user and encouraging fewer ad blocker installations. These new ad standards are likely to promote a “flight to quality” where publishers will look to Google and Facebook to ensure that users have an appropriate ad experience.

What You Can Do:

As an advertiser, you can allocate more budget towards social media ad formats, like in-stream video or Instagram Stories. These ad types are designed to reach users in a meaningful way and are less likely to run afoul of the new ad standards. In addition, you can enjoy the clear benefit of driving higher user engagement for your campaigns.

The Key to a Unified Experience

All three of these changes are being made ostensibly with the goal to create a better experience for users. If successful, visitors will gain increased privacy, faster load times, and better ad experiences—all positive developments from the user’s perspective. However, these improvements will come at the expense of programmatic players in a fragmented ad tech industry.

As the industry struggles to adapt to these changes, Google and Facebook are well positioned to continue capturing additional share of digital ad spend. At the same time, these publishers offer powerful targeting capabilities that can drive performance for advertisers. That’s why it’s imperative that advertisers have a strategy and toolset that enables you to work across these channels. Your customers are moving between Google and Facebook, so make sure you have a team and marketing stack that gives you full visibility into the cross-channel customer journey.

Our team at Marin understands these changes and can talk with you about your particular cross-domain, sub-domain, or retargeting requirements. Contact us today if you’d like to talk about these tracking issues further.

Am I the only one who missed the Budweiser Clydesdales? It’s clear that they weren’t the only thing absent from yesterday’s TV spots—many ads were also missing meaning. Why was that?

Super Bowl spots are usually quite entertaining (hat tip to Tide)—and notoriously expensive. So, they naturally invite industry commentary and speculation. But, this year’s event struck me as uniquely peculiar compared to previous years, and perhaps a harbinger of things to come. In today’s blog post we unpack what we observed and what it means for online advertising.

TV Embraces Clickbait

Our investigation begins with a qualitative analysis of the content in the ads themselves. Overall, there was a stark pivot towards ads that were equal parts engrossing and bizarre, with the product reveal typically a holdout until the very last shot.

This speaks to a larger reordering of the media landscape, with digital channels usurping TV in the competition for high-quality attention from both viewers and advertisers.


Attention Level


Search and In-stream Ads


Persuasion + Information

Mobile Multi-tasking


Compete for attention—entertain on one screen, inform on another



Pure entertainment to capture attention

Are Internet Ads the New TV Ad?

Website builder Wix (NASDAQ: WIX) made waves in January by opting out of its Super Bowl spot altogether. This was noteworthy because they moved that budget online.

Granted, NBC executives weren’t about to take this affront lying down, and reportedly came to Wix at the last minute with a "great offer" to buy a spot in the Super Bowl (that’s code for “massive discount”).

You might wonder how Wix was able to produce a commercial that fast. The answer: they recycled a previously recorded ad featuring two YouTube stars, Rhett and Link.

This turn of events inadvertently showcased how divergent today’s internet ads and TV ads have become. If you missed it, go ahead and watch Wix’s Internet ad that aired on TV and contrast that to one of the made-for-TV Super Bowl ads—such as one of Tide’s commercials.

See the difference? The made-for-internet ad is heavy on information and persuasion, while the TV ad is just ... funny(?).

Source: HBR, “When People Pay Attention to TV Ads, and Why”

What About CPMs?

Despite this role reversal, TV CPMs still dominate. If my math is right, Super Bowl eCPMs were about $220 this year.

Let that sink in for a minute. $200+ for 1000 impressions.

In this context, Wix’s decision to yank its Super Bowl spot and invest it on the web makes more sense.

A quick look at Marin Software’s Global Advertising index reveals that video CPMs on channels like Facebook average $5-10, depending on industry and targeting.

That means Super Bowl ads cost up to 44 times more than video ads on Facebook--video ads that are being delivered in a high-attention context to a low-friction audience.

By low-friction, I mean: If my video ad suits your fancy, you can just click and buy. On the other hand, with Super Bowl ads, there isn’t a click to buy option. In fact, in today’s environment, one might argue Super Bowl ads are a lot like Tom Brady’s game-ending Hail Mary.

For TV’s sake, and the Clydesdales, we hope there’s a happier ending.

In our Q4 2017 benchmark report, we show that advertisers are investing heavily in Google Shopping ads, which increased 31% in click share year over year (YoY). Our data reveals that audience utilization remains low at 24%, despite the clear benefits of combining audiences with keyword targeting.

Also, social CPMs increased 44% YoY, indicating that competition for consumer attention is heating up among advertisers.

digital advertising

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest billions of dollars in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report.

For Q4 2017, other key findings include:

  • Get the Mobile Bargain While You Can: At 53% of spend, mobile CPCs increased 25% YoY. While mobile CPCs remain discounted relative to desktop CPCs, the gap is closing rapidly. Advertisers should seize the opportunity to court customers on their preferred medium by utilizing mobile bid adjustments, but be mindful that discounted CPCs on mobile will soon dissipate.
  • Social Engagement Gets More Competitive: CPMs increased 44% YoY, indicating that competition for consumer attention is heating up on social channels. Yet, click-through rates have remained relatively flat YoY, which may indicate creative personalization isn’t keeping pace with consumer expectations.
  • Too Many Ad Groups Have Too Few Creative: In Q4 2017, there was a slight shift (3%) away from creative-heavy ad groups to creative-light ad groups. Advertisers have an opportunity to benefit from Google’s machine learning technology underpinning the newly released “optimize” ad rotation setting.
  • Audience Utilization Remains Low: Just 24% of advertisers have an audience KPI, despite the strong campaign performance advantage that combining audiences with keyword targeting provides.

To find out how your ad campaigns measure up to industry benchmarks across channels and devices, download our Q4 2017 Digital Benchmark Report. In addition to global trends, we explore the most compelling areas of digital marketing today, and identify tactical opportunities to help you drive better performance.

Another year older and wiser, and the digital advertising industry shows few signs of slowing down. To understand the current landscape and get a sense of what lies ahead, we dug deep into industry data as well as the Marin Advertising Index—which represents billions of dollars of annual ad spend on the Marin platform.

I hope you enjoy the result—our list of 10 digital advertising trends that promise increasing opportunities and unique challenges for global advertisers.

1. Google + Facebook “Eat the World”

By the end of 2017, Google and Facebook owned 63 percent of the U.S. digital ad market and 54 percent of digital ad revenue worldwide, according to eMarketer. Nationally, Microsoft grew but remained a distant third place, claiming four percent of the total U.S. revenue share.

The numbers don’t lie—at the close of Q3 2017, Google reported ad revenues of $24B and Facebook reported $10B. All signs point to continued dominance of “the big two” in 2018.

The opportunity: Upping your cross-channel game stands to net you more customers and more revenue. Our own research indicates that brands who manage their search campaigns alongside social have almost 10% higher revenue per conversion.

2. Audience Targeting Takes the Stage

Digital marketers increasingly understand that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t cut it anymore. They’re finding ways to go even further to meet customer expectations of greater personalization and map relevant ad campaigns to audience needs. Audience targeting fills this need.

Layering “Audiences” on top of keywords drives better results than using keywords alone. With this focus on more refined audience targeting, marketers will be able to more easily identify people interested in their products, set the right bidding rules, and create the right experience for millions of people. In fact, advertisers using Similar Audiences in conjunction with remarketing on Marin’s platform are seeing strong campaign results, including 40%+ increases in clicks and conversions.

The opportunity: Despite the advantage that combining audiences with keyword targeting provides, use of Audiences by advertisers remains low at just 21%. As a result, first movers stand to benefit the most. Add audiences to all campaigns, starting with “Bid Only” to measure without restricting your reach.

3. Press Play on Video Advertising

Cisco expects video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Not only that—64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video, according to comScore.

YouTube has a secret weapon in the video battle: TrueView. TrueView has 93% ad viewability, plus you only pay when a viewer watches 30 seconds of your ad. As an advertiser, you can deliver big spikes in conversion with video advertising campaigns by evaluating your videos across a variety of variables, and then optimizing and adjust to meet your goals. We predict that TrueView will become a not-so-secret weapon for advertisers in 2018.

The opportunity: As video advertising continues to explode, marketers who master the game stand to drive substantial campaign performance improvements. Use YouTube and Facebook for your video ad campaigns to take advantage of 80%+ of the public’s attention in digital. In addition, be sure to use search intent to inform and drive your social ad campaigns. Then, measure, manage, and optimize to continuously improve results.

To see just a couple of examples of how businesses have crafted successful video ad campaigns, read our case studies and check out our recent webinar on video advertising tips:

4. The (Amazon) Empire Strikes Back

Despite the dominance of Google and Facebook, Amazon is emerging as the next big player in digital advertising. But let’s be realistic here—Amazon’s current share of the digital ad market is just two percent nationally and less than one percent worldwide.

However—as The Wall Street Journal reported in December, GroupM’s parent agency, WPP, may increase its spending with Amazon by 50 percent this year from $200 million in 2017. This would help push total spending on Amazon ads by three of the world’s largest agencies to a collective $800 million a year.

As Amazon opens retail stores and ventures into the CPG space with its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods, retail advertisers in particular will have to do double time to keep pace and take advantage. Additionally, Amazon’s self-service offering for retailers on Amazon Stores, with basic headline search ad capabilities, means retailers have yet another avenue for additional revenue and growth.

Consumers definitely now have a voice—and they’re using it to make purchases. Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant—inside millions of Echo virtual-assistant devices sold into U.S. homes—should give the company a powerful boost in an online advertising market driven by consumer targeting.

The opportunity: Keep an eye on Amazon. It remains to be seen whether it’s “too big to fail” or will be perceived as a competitive threat to retailers. In the meantime, advertisers would be wise to monitor Amazon’s evolution as an emerging powerhouse in the digital advertising space, and start to plan for future ad spend on that platform.

5. The “Next Big Thing” in Ad Tech

Voice search has taken the consumer market by storm and the numbers are staggering. Amazon has sold over 20 million Echo units, with Google Home gaining ground and gobbling up to 24% of market share since it hit the scene in 2015.

In addition to voice search, smart hubs and visual search will become firmly established in 2018. Innovative products like Google Lens, Pinterest Lens, and Amazon’s CamFind allow consumers to take a picture of an item and then search for that product to purchase online.

The opportunity: As voice and visual search technology matures, so will the advertising opportunities. Adapt to increased voice and visual search volumes and make sure your team is understands these technologies. A single-answer voice response is vastly different from the familiar world of typed search queries with multiple ranked results. Stay informed, knowledgeable, and ready to be an early adopter.

6. Changing Channels on Attribution

Because up to 90% of sales still happen in-store, marketers increasingly want to understand the full path to conversion and the impact of digital touch points to offline sales. To this end, the industry’s quickly moving away from the limitations of last-click attribution—rife with its inaccuracy, double-counted conversions, and poor reflection of the customer journey across devices and platforms. Advertisers are increasingly embracing a holistic view of measurement.

The opportunity: Unify attribution across channels. Assign reasonable and accurate value to all touch points along the customer journey to gain a full picture of performance and make better budgeting decisions to drive profitable return on ad spend (ROAS).

7. Offline Measurement Gets Connected

Speaking of offline sales—consumers continue to turn to mobile for all aspects of the shopping experience, whether it’s searching for products, finding the nearest retail location, or consulting their mobile device in-store. In other words, when it comes to mobile, shoppers are most often looking—and searching—to buy.

Additionally, it’s important to note that Google has access to 70% of all US debit and credit card transactions in-store through partnerships with companies that track that information. That’s a whole lotta data! To determine when digital ads contribute to an offline purchase, marketers will have to match this user data with other identifying information from merchants and credit/debit card issuers.

The opportunity: By matching ad clicks with in-store transaction data, Google has a treasure trove of information for merchants about which digital ads translate into physical store sales.

8. The Supreme Court of Privacy

Advertising is an industry in the crosshairs of consumer privacy, and the past several years have seen a substantial shift in attitudes towards protecting user identity and online activities. Many people are no longer content to share personally identifiable information (PII) without providing publishers with explicit permission and defining strict rules of engagement. Coupled with fresh legislation such as GDPR, many advertisers find themselves seeking practical advice on what marketing activities are permitted or prohibited.

The opportunity: GDPR will have a broad impact on all advertisers (not just those based in the EU), but programmatic ads will be most affected. Advertisers who adapt to GDPR will likely be forced to emphasize less ad volume and much higher quality data. Advertisers will be required to show far greater transparency around their data collection and targeting practices, but this presents an opportunity to build a much greater level of trust (and engagement) with users in the longer term.

9. Is Ad Blocking an Immovable Object?

Recent estimates from eMarketer predicted that over a quarter of US internet users would block ads in 2018, up from just under 16% in 2014. Also, research from PageFair shows that people are much more likely to leave your site if you ask them to disable ad blockers. Not only are ad blockers a reality on US desktop and mobile, but they’re also on the rise in developing countries.

This all means, of course, that ad blockers will continue to pose a significant threat to ad-funded business models due to their rising popularity with users globally.

What’s an advertiser to do? Large publishers have little incentive to intervene as their business booms, but small publishers still struggle with these ad blocker restrictions. In particular, recent Apple/Safari and Google/Chrome moves on privacy impact smaller publishers, given the potentially deadly impact of ad blockers on already limited revenue streams.

The opportunity: Despite the seeming doom and gloom surrounding ad blocker adoption, advertisers still have options to run successful campaigns. Be sure to focus on a positive user experience, so that users won’t be prompted to block your ads in the first place. Make your ads relevant and enjoyable. It’s essential that you deliver meaningful ads that don’t annoy users. Also, be sure to get fewer, higher quality ads via opt-in mechanisms, as advertisers will pay higher CPCs on these ads.

10. Messenger Ads: There’s an App for That

Messenger Ads represent one of the most exciting channels to come online as of late—although still a nascent offering, it’s being touted as “the new email” by some in the advertising industry. Despite its relatively recent arrival on the scene, Messenger itself now has 1.3 billion monthly users, up from 1 billion in July 2016. That’s the same count as Facebook’s other chat product, WhatsApp, showing massive advertising potential.

The opportunity: Advertisers are already reporting CTRs north of 50% (which is basically unheard of these days). Perhaps it'll decline with time, but Messenger Ads promise a huge opportunity for advertisers who jump on the bandwagon in 2018. Be sure to hop on.

Clutch Magazine sat down with Chris Lien, Marin Software CEO and Founder, to discuss how ad tech providers can rebound and regain advertiser trust.

Confidence in the ad tech industry is rocky, and its reputation with brands is at a crossroads. Over the course of 2017 industry critics concluded that there might be too much fraud and too little quality. Christopher Lien, Founder and CEO of Marin Software, spoke with Clutch about how ad tech providers can regain advertiser trust.

In Germany, it’s very much about viewability, safety, and transparency in digital marketing. Does ad tech have a trust issue? Are different countries having different discussions (such as US, UK, FR, Asia)?

Lien: Safety and transparency are top-of-mind for most digital marketers. Advertisers want to know that they’re receiving value and performance for their advertising investments. Ad tech hasn’t always done a good job in terms of its business practices, and this does create a trust issue. Also, there’s a bias to "trust the technology" that can lead to mistakes such as ads running alongside content that’s not brand-safe.

I think the various issues raised over the past year by advertisers, plus some of the high-profile mistakes, have led ad tech companies and publishers to take a good look at their business practices and how they can do better for their advertisers (and the consumer). Marin has always been an online advertising management platform that’s transparent and focused on the success of the advertiser.

Marin's customers always know where their ads are running, what they’re paying for those ads, and what they’re paying for technology to measure, manage, and optimize those advertising placements. More of the industry is now embracing transparency. But, there are many players in the ad tech industry (and publishers) who are comfortable making money off of more aggressive business practices that we at Marin view as not in the interest of advertisers and consumers.

Psychology defines elements of trust-building as openness, reliability, and integrity. These traits are also often considered relationship-building characteristics. Where does our industry have problems regarding these traits? For example, with integrity, what about the conflict of interest when publishers are offering a bidding tool or an attribution tool at the same time? Also, who owns the data?

Lien: To be fair to the ad tech industry, there are many advertisers who just want to provide a budget to a provider and don't want to take the time to understand what they’re buying from that provider. These opaque, managed services providers then often take advantage of their advertising customers, as they’re not pushed to provide transparency and performance details.

Also, when advertisers use the publishers’ own tools to purchase media on that publisher, there’s an inherent conflict of interest in monitoring where the dollars are being spent on media on that publisher.

What needs to happen, and what do the players need to do to win back trust and confidence from advertisers? What would really make a difference?

Lien: I don't see the current situation as one where all trust has been lost in the ad tech industry ad tech providers, publishers, and advertisers. I do see where we now have more of a dialogue on how the industry builds or rebuilds trust based on transparency and performance. Advertisers need to demand more from their publishers and their ad tech partners, and the publishers and ad tech partners need to do more to act in the interests of the advertisers.

I also believe calling out bad actors in the ad tech industry is a good step, too, and highlighting cases where advertisers have been taken advantage of by low-quality providers.

When it comes to trust, does it matter if the provider is based locally or globally?

Lien: I don't think it matters where the company is based as long as they’re high-quality, focused on delivering performance, and acting in the best interests of their customers, the advertisers. I do think, understandably, that there’s a bias in Germany to want to contract with other German providers. At the same time, Germany's ad tech industry is smaller than the global industry, so German advertisers should take advantage of contracting with best-in-class partners who often aren’t German companies. Non-German companies, of course, have to be compliant with all local laws and regulations.

Marin Software is a US company that’s been very active in Germany for several years. Are the Germans particularly difficult? Is it especially difficult to gain trust of German advertisers?

Lien: Germans are demanding customers, but Marin welcomes their demands. German advertisers generally want to understand the technology they’re buying, how it works, and what the performance is. Those are good signs of an educated advertiser. Additionally, there are unique rules to do business in Germany due to the EU’s regulations on data protection, privacy, and server location. Marin is compliant with all of these regulations and counts among our customers many of Germany's leading companies, including Volkswagen and companies within the Otto Group, for example.

Digital Advertising 2020—what can we expect?

Lien: Digital advertising in 2020 will be quite similar to digital advertising in 2017. This is a world where more and more consumers are spending time online and therefore advertising dollars will continue to flow into online channels, principally search and social.

Access to the internet via different devices, with mobile gaining an ever larger share, will be commonplace. Advertisers will seek to leverage data to deliver a personalized advertisement to each consumer based on various signals and knowledge of that particular person on some anonymized, privacy-compliant basis.

We also know that many goods and services are marketed over the course of a consumer journey beginning with creating awareness, providing information to spark intent, and then moving to fulfill this intent and to ultimately re-engage the customer after the purchase. Marketers will leverage technology platforms such as Marin’s to deliver the right message at the right time on the right device.

I think the biggest changes we’ll see by 2020 will be the availability of ever-faster mobile internet access speeds, in particular 5G, which will make the ability to consume video and rich media even easier. Large video files will be able to stream in real time, which will enable more immediate, immersive, and customizable advertising experiences. I also believe we'll see, by 2020, adoption of augmented and virtual reality for digital advertising opportunities enabled by advances in technology and access speeds.

Finally, we’re now seeing the early stages of voice-activated and chatbot-driven user experiences, and I believe by 2020 both of these activities will be very mainstream for digital advertisers. So, 2020 will look a lot like 2017 in many ways, but there also will be many exciting advances that I expect will be in pretty wide use to create engaging digital advertising experiences for consumers.

What’s your vision for the Marin Software platform?

Our vision for Marin is to provide the world's leading brands with the best-in-class cross-channel, independent, and open performance advertising platform. When we look at how consumers become customers on the internet, about 85% of their time is spent between the properties of Google and Facebook across a variety of devices including desktop, laptop, tablets, and smartphones.

Leading marketers need a platform that enables them to coordinate the management of these two walled gardens to acquire customers and to drive revenue. Marin's platform enables advertisers and their agencies to measure, manage, and optimize their online advertising investments to drive financial performance, time savings, and better business decisions. To do this, advertisers need an open platform, one that’s independent from any publisher, to be their digital ally as they look to make sense of the complexity, scale, and fragmentation of the digital landscape. As part of this, advertisers will look to leverage their first party data to better target their prospects and customers, as well as using second and third party data.

Marin’s open architecture and our ability to support the world’s largest brands enable us to partner with advertisers to help them achieve their marketing objectives. Digital advertising and how advertisers leverage it to drive revenue and to acquire customers is still at a very early stage. We at Marin are excited to work with our customers to help them run better digital advertising programs that deliver better business results.

Thank you for the interview, Mr. Lien.

This interview first appeared in German, in Clutch Magazine. Interview by Cara Hönkhaus.

Between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017, clicks on Google product ads grew by 62%, showing that more advertisers are taking advantage of Google’s latest shopping ad formats to capture first-mover advantage. The auto industry posted the largest CPC increase on Google, clocking a 35% YoY gain.

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest billions of dollars in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world. For Q3 2017, other key findings include:

  • Creative goes deeper. Because its “ad rotation” capabilities have dramatically improved, Google is signaling the end of A/B testing. They’re suggesting ad groups have at least three creatives, but nearly 50% of ad groups aren’t yet meeting this target.
  • Bing out your best. Bing presents 10-15% in additional volume for advertisers not invested there today. As Google’s market share levels out, include Bing in your search advertising mix for a more holistic approach.
  • Showcase what you got. Industries with the biggest CPC decreases include real estate (-27% YoY) and healthcare (-11%). Newly released Showcase Shopping Ads present an opportunity to get ahead.

To find out how your ad campaigns measure up to industry benchmarks across channels and devices, download our Q3 2017 Digital Benchmark Report. In addition to global trends, we explore the most compelling areas of digital marketing today, and identify tactical opportunities to help you drive better performance.

According to a recent study by Cisco, video will represent a whopping 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019. But that’s mostly people watching videos of cats falling off furniture, right?

Not entirely! In fact, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video, according to comScore.

Despite the numbers and trends, many advertisers still struggle to craft stellar video advertising campaigns—what video formats improve ROI? How should marketers handle creative? How do video ads impact paid search?

The Video Advertising Learning Curve

As video advertising continues to explode, marketers who master the game stand to drive substantial campaign performance improvements. Leading video advertisers must:

  • Understand the best ways to incorporate video into paid campaigns
  • Learn what video ad formats and creative drive the best ROAS
  • Consider how video can outperform traditional text and display ads

With a holistic view of the overall advertising landscape and the right preparation, marketers can use video ads to boost brand awareness, move consumers through the sales funnel, and increase revenue.

Join Our Webinar and Press Play on Your Video Ads

Sign up for our webinar, Press Play on Video Advertising: Tips for Success in 2018, to learn everything you need to know about paid video advertising. Marin’s Wes MacLaggan and Cory Henke from Variable Media will share the latest data, tips, and tactics.

The webinar is on Thursday, December 14th, at 10 am PST
(1 pm EST)

Speaker Bios

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

Cory Henke launched his creative and analytics advertising agency, Variable Media, in March and has been able to grow and mature both large and small clients. His background is heavily rooted in analysis stemming from many years with ad agencies such as IPG and web publishers like Yahoo!, developing substantial experience in the direct response and e-commerce front.

Running your Facebook advertising campaigns at the end of the year can be challenging, especially with so many e-commerce marketers running their own branding initiatives. Still, by looking at last year’s Facebook insights, we can better understand auction dynamics and allocate budgets efficiently.

Since November Facebook ads tend to have lower ad saturation and more efficient auction performance, this should allow you to increase your custom audiences for retargeting in December.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you escalate Facebook campaign activity this month.

Your Strategic Checklist

Even if your ad campaigns are already up and running, you should review several key items to make sure everything’s optimized for maximum views and clicks. And, if you’re just out of the gate, these tips will help you craft a successful effort going forward.

  • Focus on conversion campaigns and retargeting.
  • Make sure you have clear, results-focused volume and cost per acquisition (CPA) targets.
  • Develop a library of creative assets, in case you need more ads to scale your performance. Ensure your creatives are eye-catching. Aim directly for conversion to take advantage of low CPAs.
  • Ensure staff is in place to provide the best customer service to match the increased conversion volume (orders, purchases, etc.).
  • Make sure your website is stable, with fast loading times despite increased site traffic

November Trends Influence December Behavior

By now, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, last-minute shoppers are looking for online deals. Mobile device in hand, they’re more open than ever to snatching up the incentives that your ad campaigns are offering.

If you haven’t already, increase your ad spend to reach these shoppers where they are. Make sure your creatives are fully designed for conversions.

With increased November CPCs most likely due to lower CPA and the spike in conversion rates, this higher conversion volume will offset your acquisition and retargeting-focused ad spend increase. So, despite the CPC jump, keep calm and carry on!

Now’s the Time to Bring It On

Now that December’s here, your competition will increase more each day until the wrapping paper’s in the recycling bin. Your increased ad spend this month will help outdo your rivals in auctions.

Note that Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve tend to be the quietest days for conversion campaigns. So, you may want to decrease ad spend on these days.

Ringing in the New Year

After the New Year starts, conversions start picking up, well into the first two weeks of January. This is the perfect time to apply the previous months’ learnings to your conversion campaigns.

The end of the year can be hectic for Facebook advertisers. But, if you’re prepared and you’ve done all of your homework, the season can bring you lots of gifts—in the form of more conversions.

Where did 2017 go? And can you believe we’re talking about 2018 already? I guess it’s never too early to plan ahead, especially in marketing. As conferences like DMEXCO 2017 revealed, topics such as influencer marketing, attribution, and data-driven advertising remain at the forefront of advertisers’ hearts and minds.

Based on current trends and industry activity, we have a few predictions on what digital marketers can expect in 2018.

1. Audiences

The quest to reach specific and precise online audiences is now a staple of any savvy marketer’s strategy. Still, the emphasis on audience targeting will kick up a notch in 2018. Digital marketers will increasingly understand that a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t cut it anymore. They’ll need to go even further to meet customer expectations of greater personalization and map ad campaigns to audience needs.

As marketers combine existing tools such as remarketing lists and lookalikes with strategies that identify the perfect rules for current and desired audiences, the coming year holds great promise. With a focus on more refined audience targeting, marketers will be able to more easily identify people interested in their products, set the right bidding rules, and create the right experience for millions of people.

2. Unified Paid Search and Social Campaigns

As we covered in our guide, Google + Facebook: A Playbook for Cross-Channel Advertising Success, in 2016, Google and Facebook represented 99% of revenue growth from digital advertising in the U.S. alone. Marketers have flocked to these channels, just as they’re chasing technologies that allow them to mine the search and social gold. In 2018, you’ll hear much about:

  • Achieving a single view of cross-channel performance
  • Driving incremental retail sales on Facebook using search intent signals
  • Refining Google and Facebook retargeting
  • Product feed optimization and cross-channel insights

With product feed optimization, the top marketers will focus on more than just bidding and budgets—they’ll extend their strategy to include successful Google Shopping campaigns. This will be the case across the board, whether it’s A/B testing to find the best product title, determining the best product groupings, or determining price competitiveness. Increasingly, those insights will fuel more dynamic and effective campaigns on Facebook.

3. Dynamic Ads

Speaking of dynamic campaigns on Facebook….

Dynamic ads are already well established for industries such as travel and retail—in 2018, other verticals will no doubt gain the benefit of feed-based ads with dynamically generated creative, driven by user intent. In fact, we predict that dynamic ads will become the norm for targeted digital marketing.

Not only will marketers focus on bridging the search and social divide—combining search intent signals with dynamic social advertising—they’ll also mesh the two channels to allow for seamless micro-targeting and creation of meaningful audience segments.

This will result in an even smoother customer experience, more conversions and incremental returns, and greater real-time audience insights. Now that’s a dynamic result!

4. Measurement Beyond Last-click Attribution

We know that up to 90% of sales still happen in-store. Next year, marketers will raise the bar on connecting digital touchpoints with offline sales and using in-store insights to inform their marketing campaigns. The attribution question of the year will be: How do my digital advertising campaigns affect offline conversions, in-store sales, and repeat trips?

Marketers increasingly want to understand the full path to conversion. Fortunately, post-impression and post-click conversion data will make this a cinch. In addition, a couple of practices will likely become the measurement norm:

  • Linear conversion to equally credit each touchpoint to conversion, versus last-click attribution
  • Automatically re-allocating budget between campaigns based on performance

The More Things Change….

If there’s one thing that won’t change in 2018, it’s the list of primary objectives for marketers: gain more customers, achieve higher revenue, and increase ROI. Along with that, we’d add the mantra, “measure, manage, optimize.” Here at Marin, we look forward to seeing what exciting developments and new challenges 2018 brings, and how marketers continue to make their mark in the digital advertising space.

Each year we review the aggregate performance of our advertisers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see what kind of patterns and trends jump out at us. The story this year looks to be similar to the last two years—significant jumps in clicks and spend on paid search as the holiday shopping season officially gets kicked off.

More Spend This Year

The interesting thing we observed is that the increase in spend is significantly higher than the increase in clicks. Of course, this means CPCs have increased. Google wins twice—more volume but increased competition means higher CPCs.

Is this bad for advertisers? Not necessarily. Conversion rates tend to increase significantly during holiday sale periods, so even with higher CPCs your overall return on ad spend may be higher. This will certainly vary from program to program, so keep an eye on your overall campaign efficiency (or use a tool like Marin to help do it automatically).

Is the Holiday Season Getting Longer?

Another trend we were curious about is whether spend is ramping up earlier than it has in previous years, diminishing the importance of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in favor of a longer holiday season. Based on our set of advertisers, the answer to this is no. In the chart below, you can see that the 2017 spend pattern closely follows the 2015 and 2016 cycles, with no signs of an earlier ramp.

As the shopping season gets more frenzied and more shoppers hit the stores and their devices, we’ll no doubt see other interesting data and trends. Stay tuned for updates during the rest of the holiday season.

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

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

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

Black Friday Bump 11% Larger

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

Black Friday Showing Shifts in Consumer Behavior

More Time with Family

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

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

This is the second article on our annual customer summit, Marin Masters. At this year’s event, our presenters explored several key advertising trends that impact digital marketers today, with a focus on driving more clicks, conversions, and revenue.

Discovering Growth

One of our keynote speakers, Erik Hawkins, Director of Global Product Marketing at Facebook, explored how mobile has impacted customer growth. Mobile has transformed entire industries—think about how eating, dating, or shopping habits have changed—by putting users in control of the overall narrative.

Facebook’s research shows that people consume a piece of content faster on mobile (1.7 seconds) than on desktop (2.5 seconds). Mobile users also browse five fewer products than desktop users. For advertisers, Erik’s advice was clear—the customer journey has changed too much to wait for people to come to you. Today’s top brands must be proactive; they should create purchase intent and reach out to meet customers where they are.

Content in Context

Laura Masters from Oath delved into the importance of brand safety for advertisers, identifying several high profile recent incidents where brands were burned by association with low quality inventory, fake news, and offensive content.

In fact, 75% of consumers feel that brands are responsible for the content their ads appear next to—so advertisers are fully justified in their concerns. Consumers in turn are seeking out trustworthy content from reliable sources, which creates a tremendous opportunity for premium media brands to leverage their established reputation.

In addition to the priority of brand safety, Laura emphasized the message that premium content simply drives better results for advertisers. Check out Laura’s presentation titled The Importance of Content in Context.

Feed Management

Patrick Hentschel from Feedonomics built an excellent business case for designing and optimizing your product feed on Google Shopping and with Facebook Dynamic Ads. Linking your product inventory to an optimized data feed can deliver outstanding results for advertisers. Patrick explained that high feed quality lowers your cost per acquisition (CPA), increases your rank/relevancy, and drives up return on ad spend (ROAS). You can view Patrick’s presentation titled Transform Your Marketing Efforts with Feed Management. Marin and Feedonomics are working together to offer feed management optimization to all our customers, so contact us if you’d like to learn more.

See you at Marin Masters 2018!

With over 1,000 businesses exhibiting and more than 55,000 digital marketing professionals roaming the halls, DMEXCO has indeed secured its spot as the digital marketing spectacle of the year. For many, not only it is the first chance to uncover the latest trends and innovations in digital, it is a mega launchpad for ad tech players (and an opportunity for some serious parties.)


Among the many discussions and presentations, five DMEXCO feats rose to the top of the highlights list:

1. The Rise of Influencer Disruption and Killer Millennials

Influencer marketing—arguably defined as a hybrid of affiliate marketing and celebrity-endorsed infomercials—had a prominent seat at the table, with brands and agencies recognizing the growing role of influencers in their social advertising strategy. As consumers continue to adopt online and offline ad blockers, influencer value will run parallel and disrupt how brands go to market. Millennials, also known as the ‘I need it yesterday’ generation, are key protagonists of the influencer disruption movement.

2. All About Attribution

A digital revolution is upon us. Marketing attribution has become more complex than ever before as the concept of the Internet of things (IoT) becomes reality and advanced algorithmic-based adtech continue to dominate the digital marketing industry. DMEXCO was all about examining the importance of using audience data and leveraging cross-channel transparency when measuring digital marketing performance KPIs.

3. Data-Driven Search and Social Advertising

Overlaying user search intent with audience data is all the rave as the concept of machine learning continues to gain momentum. Marketers were keen to learn how to better convert their ad spend into profits. Although Google led the conversation, Marin Software’s Google + Facebook: A Playbook for Cross-Channel Success was one of the most highly sought-out pieces of content available at the conference. This playbook demonstrates the importance of combining search and social advertising channels to deliver above and beyond on performance KPIs.

4. Catching the Moment

DMEXCO is all about the experience—humanizing digital and understanding how artificial intelligence can advance society and empower brands to leverage advertising technologies to ‘capture the moment’. This boils down to connecting with customers wherever they are.

5. Cutting Through the Noise

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook delivered a keynote, Building Community and Discovering Growth in a Mobile World, which championed building meaningful connections to achieve growth through mobile. It’s a new take on how brands can leverage traditional marketing techniques in their digital strategy. As we previously noted in our 2017 State of Digital Advertising Report earlier this year, mobile surpassed desktop for the first time, confirming a shift in how people consume information. It therefore makes sense for brands to rethink how they engage with consumers via mobile, differentiate, and break through the clutter.

The year is halfway over but digital advertising remains fast and furious. From what we’ve seen in our blog traffic, it’s clear that marketers want to keep on top of the latest trends and channel announcements, and are also continually looking for ways to enhance their digital ad strategies.

To honor these past six months, we’re showcasing our six most popular blog posts.

Current Trends

  1. Your Google Analytics Data Will Never Match Your Facebook Data: The only way to accurately measure your Facebook data is through Facebook reporting itself. This article explains why.
  2. Cheat Sheet: Facebook and Google Ad Types Mapped to the Customer Journey: Our popular cheat sheet provides clear tactics for advertisers looking to meet specific campaign goals and objectives.
  3. 10 Best Practices for Combining Paid Search and Social: From planning to execution to measurement, this how-to article gets into the nuts and bolts of a successful cross-channel ad campaign.

Oldies But Goodies

  1. How to Determine Optimal Frequency Caps for Retargeting: Frequency caps can be a bit complex, but this article breaks it all down. You’ll learn easy ways to determine optimal frequency caps, how to test them, and more.
  2. How to Get the Most Out of Sequential Advertising on Facebook: People love a good story. Here, we explain the many benefits of sequential advertising on Facebook, and show how DS Automobiles used it to increase impressions and engagement.
  3. The 8 Players in the Programmatic Ecosystem: Programmatic has evolved from “hot new thing” to “advertising standard.” This article provides an easy reference for both new and seasoned users of programmatic advertising.

The Outlook for the Rest of the Year

As retail shifts online, search and social dominate ad spend, and Facebook usage continues to skyrocket, we’ll be there. Subscribe to our blog today to keep current on the latest news, developments, and expert opinion.

Retailers have a lot to think about these days. Between political risks and inflationary pressure, consumers are more cautious. Retailers have to constantly shift to remain competitive and maintain customer loyalty.

Recent studies in millennial consumer behavior reveal that ‘the convenience factor’ may be more important than price when considering a purchase. Brands who play off this trend, while providing unique products and experiences, could see a positive impact on their bottom line.

Here are five ways to navigate the ever-evolving retail landscape.

1. The Challenge: Mall Days No More

A shopping spree or “days at the mall”—which previously benefited major retailers—aren’t the focus of the millennial and Generation Z (post-millennial) consumer. Their consumption is increasingly based on travel, fitness, and dining out, habits encouraged by peer-to-peer-focused companies like Snapchat, Instagram, Uber, and Airbnb.

The stock markets are reflecting these priorities, with leisure and travel-related companies—including fitness centers, low-cost airlines, and fast-casual restaurants—generally outperforming apparel and household goods retailers. Department chains also continue to struggle.

retail advertising - STOXX Europe Indices

And, of course, more and more people are shopping online. Continuous availability and changes such as the rise of Amazon’s drop shipping business model tie directly into the convenience factor.

Lastly, there is the question of millennial frugality. This is likely an effect of the 2008 recession, which, along with increased Internet usage and the emergence of low-cost online retailers like Amazon and eBay, may be contributing to consumer behavioral changes.

How to Win: Embrace the Millennial Love of Experiences and Accessibility

Spend your ad dollars where the millennials are. If it makes sense for a given product line, base your launches on the e-commerce subscription model. Focus on wellbeing and leisure-based product lines, and what we predict will be a continued uptick in digital payments. Millennials may also be likely to welcome virtual reality shopping experiences.

2. The Challenge: Last Days of the Department Store

Consumers are increasingly shifting purchases away from large, ‘big-box' retailers—often associated with out-of-town shopping malls—in favor of smaller, more convenience-oriented stores. Established brands must follow the exodus.

How to Win: Focus on Consumer Convenience

In line with the consumer preference for convenience, retailers are increasingly moving away from these big-box formats in favor of smaller city-center stores or online shopping. As time-poor millennials demonstrate a preference for shopping little and often, these smaller and more accessible formats hold greater appeal by offering extended hours and popular products in nearby locations.

The growth of e-commerce is also accelerating this trend, diminishing the need for large locations to accommodate huge inventories, while driving demand for small, local premises that can act as in-store collection points.

3. The Challenge: Political Risk

The world's largest consumer markets are facing elevated political risk, with the US and UK taking a new governmental direction. Legislative elections in France and the German federal election also leave retailers on uncertain political ground.

In addition, proposed business tax cuts from 35% to 15% and the deregulation of Dodd-Frank are expected to buoy the finance industry. Yet, a tax cut for the wealthy may constitute a tax hike for the middle class, which could adversely affect consumer confidence and purchase power. This, in turn, could negatively impact other key customer sectors such as retail and travel.

In the US, there’s still a fair amount of ambiguity around how Trump’s presidency will affect retail and e-commerce. The industry awaits specifics on which policies he’ll move forward with.

How to Win: Design a Contingency Plan

The score on BMI's short term political risk index (STPRI) for five of the largest consumer markets globally highlights the current political risk level. This helps us assess the impact on the consumer.

retail advertising - STPRI

Out of these five countries, four (US, UK, France, and Germany) have a downgraded STPRI score. This denotes increased political risk, but this isn't always a negative for the retail sector.

Although countries with a stable political outlook are maintaining their STPRI score, political tradewinds (such as the potential for a leader to be ousted) can change the game. Keep an eye out on any policy changes and how they’ll affect the retail space.

4. The Challenge: Inflation

It’s predicted that commodity prices will rise in 2017, and this will no doubt have a ripple effect on consumer spending and retail.

In the US and UK, real wages in 2017 are forecasted to be flat while inflation rises. This will decrease the amount of disposable income as consumers grow more cautious towards their spending. Consequently, this will slow economic growth in both regions.

Consumer confidence in Germany is quite high, as unemployment is at a record low. German buyers are nevertheless guarding their pocketbooks when it comes to medium-to-high ticket purchases, which is more likely to affect advertising spend within automotive and travel.

How to Win: Focus on Consumer Buying Power and Confidence Levels

Buying power and confidence levels are a direct reflection of the economic environment. Some things brands can do to win:

  1. Pay attention to elasticity of demand when launching new products. Offer deals on commodies or product lines where demand is elastic—that is, where demand for products changes more than proportionately to a change in price or income.
  2. Offer amazing deals and discounts around big sale seasons such as Black Friday (UK/US), back-to-school (US), and summer/winter sales (France).
  3. Craft creatives with messages that convey an understanding of how consumers feel in terms of coping with reduced spending power.

5. The Challenge: Uncertainty Over Free Trade

A growing shift towards populism in developed markets signals a rejection of globalization and free trade, raising the likelihood of higher import tariffs for retail goods.

In addition, looming threats to free-trade through NAFTA, and the growing tensions between the US and some European Union states, perpetuates market uncertainty for broader business investment in key segments such as automotive and technology.

How to Win: Diversify

Although rising protectionism is a long-term risk—and we remain skeptical over the extent to which extreme scenarios will translate into policy—we believe retailers will pay greater attention to diversifying their operations in 2017. We also predict a likely uptick in M&A activity as companies look to mitigate risks and consolidate their market position. Look for domestic manufacturing opportunities and geographic diversification.


This year’s retail outlook may seem rocky and uncertain. But, we hope our analysis provides insight into which consumer and economic trends may be driving buying decisions. With a little planning, foresight, and preparation, this may just be your most successful year yet.

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

Search and social combined

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

Tales of the expo hall

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

Google talks mobile at the keynote

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

Bringing out the mad scientists

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

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

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

Thoughts for SMX 2018

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

This year’s Google Marketing Next in San Francisco highlighted some exciting innovations coming out of Mountain View. Google’s advances with machine learning are paving the way for the next phases of search marketing.

We took a look at several key messages from the Innovations Keynote, and identified things you can immediately do to enhance your marketing programs.

Be Smarter with Data

Machine learning is quickly evolving. In a matter of seconds, complex algorithms can make simple determinations that enable search marketers to reach customers when and where it counts, with the right message.

To ride this wave, be sure to:

  • Build the right audiences. While machine learning does all the heavy lifting on the back end, letting it know who your actual or desired audiences are will ensure you get the right message to the right people.
  • Add more creatives to your ad groups with different CTAs. From here, the algorithm can automatically make a perfect match between your ads and your potential (or existing) customers. Best practice is to have at least three creatives per ad group to give Google’s machine learning the ability to match the message to the user.

One Step or One Second

In mobile, simplicity is the name of the game. Your audiences need an experience that’s lightning fast, with as few clicks as possible. Google estimated that for each one second increase in page load, conversion rate drops by 20%. Be sure to:

  • Keep things simple and drive performance. Make this your team mantra. Put yourself in the shopper’s shoes—would you be happy with the user experience you’re providing? Measure, refine, rinse, repeat. This may not be the responsibility of the paid search team, but you should push the rest of your company to make this happen.
  • Get users to the right landing page. Sending users to a generic page will require additional clicks and you’ll lose visitors in the process.
  • Sign up for AMP beta. Designed to make the post-click experience better and much faster, the next iteration of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) will offer search marketers ad support, Facebook-like instant articles, and more. Make sure you’re kept in the loop on this feature. Check out the blog post and details, and then sign up.

Non-line Assistance

Google introduced the term “non-line,” meaning that the customer is now the channel. Shoppers move from online to offline, requiring marketers to meet them in both places seamlessly—and keep track of search ads’ impact along the way.

We’re excited to hear more about Google linking offline transactions directly back to the keywords, but there are things you can do today to better combine online and offline.

Be sure to:

  • Use extensions to engage offline. Location and call extensions give your customers a way to continue their journey offline, seamlessly from their mobile phone.
  • Geotarget your store locations. When your customer’s standing in your store (or in a competitor’s) you may want to hit them with a different message or call to action. With precise campaign geotargeting, this is easy.

This is a great time for search marketing. With new innovations and better ways of reaching customers constantly being rolled out, we’re looking forward to and keeping our eyes peeled for the latest Google developments.

For digital advertisers, 2016 was a fabulous year. Global Internet usage on mobile surpassed desktop, plus significant strides were made in mobile-connected technologies.

Still, marketers continue to identify winners—and losers—that can affect performance and act as barriers or opportunities for growth.

In our State of Digital Advertising 2017 report, conducted in December 2016, we surveyed over 500 professionals in digital advertising—41% who are with agencies and 59% working for brands/client-side.

In addition to data charts and recommendations, the report discusses several industry insights:

  • Mobile ad spend: Marketing budgets are following the eyeball shift from traditional channels to mobile. We examine this trend and discuss the ROI potential of different mobile strategies.
  • Overlooked revenue: We explore the implications of the industry’s lack of expertise in the face of new features and products, and the opportunity this presents to those willing to learn and leverage new tools and channels.
  • Top priorities and aspirational goals: Marketers have taken notice of consumer willingness to try the newest video, voice, and augmented reality technologies coming to market. They also identified content marketing as a top priority.

To learn more, download the full report.

digital advertising

There’s no doubt that the options for advertisers are growing by the day. So, as we start 2017, what should marketers be looking at to stay relevant and competitive?

We spoke to market experts across social, search, and omnichannel to ask: what can marketers expect to see in 2017?

From location beacons to artificial intelligence—here is a comprehensive guide to what Marin predicts will be the biggest marketing trends of the year.

Beacons Likely to Disrupt Retail

Amandine Dovelos, Senior Customer Manager


Location-based, personalized data is the clincher in perhaps one of retail's most underutilized technologies to date—beacons. Using beacons in sophisticated marketing strategies will be the next step in how customers experience your brand in a bricks-and-mortar setting. For marketers, it also adds a new dimension for in-store analytics, allowing them to better understand buying patterns, create in-store engagement, redeem offers, and increase conversions.

Imagine this: A beacon in a clothing store that can located a shopper and detect exactly what sort of customer they are (for example, their gender, age, location, and whether they’ve purchased from the retailer before). Then, the retailer serves them a notification (email/SMS) with a time-limited, personalized offer.

Since the importance of customer experience dominated throughout 2016, the new year will have marketers’ efforts geared toward consistently improving this experience, as it directly correlates with positive brand differentiation.

Increase in Voice Activated and Integrated Search

Amandine Dovelos, Senior Customer Manager


As interesting enhancements continue to rock the online landscape—for example Google Shopping, carousel ads, and voice search—advertisers need to explore new ways of enticing possible buyers.

With audiences becoming more sophisticated in their online behavior, new online searching patterns have emerged. Search engines can now better analyze each word/token of a query and produce a deeper contextual meaning. Rambling voice searches will be enriched by synonyms to return search results that reflect your deeper intent. Given that many voice searches have a local intent, enriching customer intent with a local tweak will facilitate better results.

Facebook Broadening Scope

Jane Felice, Senior Product Marketing Manager


Facebook has introduced a unified conversion pixel that combines both the conversion tracking pixel and custom audience pixels that enables more solutions for advertisers. Note that the previous iteration, Facebook's conversion pixel, is going to be deprecated in February 2017, so marketers will be migrating to the new pixel to leverage the best options Facebook has to offer.

Facebook Audience Network (FAN) will develop new formats, metrics, and channels such as purchases and installs via FAN, so as FAN grows, more metrics and objectives are likely.

Facebook is also likely to invest in publisher partners, focusing on header bidding for greater control. These moves are likely to pivot the focus of programmatic display.

Omnichannel Will Continue to Influence Purchasing Decisions

Brian Lee, Market Research Manager


A variety of quality touchpoints continue to influence consumer behaviors. WBR recently found that 75% of retailers consider omnichannel essential to their business, and with good reason. Over 50% of current search conversions have a conversion path with two or more channels, and this is likely to continue as consumers have access to an increasing amount of data—and options—online.

Augmented Reality Ignites the Customer Experience

Brionna Lewis, Kiip guest author


The Pokémon Go frenzy this year brought augmented reality on mobile to the forefront for businesses. Augmented reality unleashes unlimited creative possibilities when it comes to delivering more captivating content. With this technology, the viewer becomes an integral part of the brand experience as opposed to a mere observer. Instead of a call to action, they are the action.

Highly engaged users are highly engaged consumers, and with the virality of Pokémon Go and the consequential sharp fall in its users, marketers will be looking into this area with great excitement, but also caution. Because AR and VR technologies remain largely uncharted territory with literally endless creative possibilities, we expect advertisers outside of the gaming realm to dive deep into this space in 2017.

Artificial Intelligence: Virtual Assistants and Chatbots Lead the Direct Marketing Charge

Brionna Lewis, Kiip Guest author

Companies like Amazon and Google are already tapping into this in a big way with virtual assistants like Echo and Google Home. These high-touch devices allow brands to reach consumers in an authentic and useful way. They also serve direct communication to consumers, and in doing so, they encourage purchase and brand preference.

Similarly, powered through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Kik, WhatsApp, and WeChat, brands can chat directly with consumers and inspire them to make purchases via chatbots. From Sephora offering makeup tricks, to American Express letting you know about new promotional offers you might qualify for, the opportunities for brands to reach consumers through messenger bots is gaining momentum. They’re likely to be a large focus for marketers in 2017.

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