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Archive for ‘Analytics’

Far Away, So Close: Current Insights into Travel Search Advertising

By October 18th, 2016

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

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

We found a few interesting things:

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

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

5 Tips to Fine-Tune Your Holiday Advertising Strategy

By October 11th, 2016

We recently published our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report, which looked at the current state of shopping ads, and examined advertiser and consumer behavior over the past year. Now, with the shopping season even closer, advertisers are quickly making sure their budgets and ad campaigns are ready and flawless.

Based on the data, what are our top tips for retailers looking to get the most value out of their digital advertising campaigns this holiday season? Read on.

1. Plan and time large increases in budget to account for      holiday spikes.

We predict that 40% of all shopping ad dollars will be on a mobile device. Similarly, around 37% of search clicks will be on a shopping ad on either Bing or Google. Be sure to budget ad campaigns accordingly to match up with consumer attention during critical holiday spikes.

Research shows that spend peaks in November, with overall ad spend reaching almost 90% above what it was in January. Smartphone behavior was the most pronounced—smartphone ad spend spiked to almost 400% above baseline in November when compared to the year’s beginning.

2. Account for mobile-desktop differences for shoppers.

Smartphones now make up the majority of clicks and spend for all shopping ads. With 55% of all shopping ad clicks originating on a smartphone, the importance of properly optimizing ad spend can’t be overstated.

Research shows that shoppers are utilizing mobile devices in-store more than ever, to conduct product research and price-shop. Being able to capture this audience while they’re in the middle of a purchase decision may be crucial this holiday season to ensure an offline conversion.

3. Spread shopping ad budget across publishers.

While Google remains the largest search publisher for shopping campaigns, Bing is no slouch, either. Adoption of Bing Shopping Campaigns (BSC) has been accelerating and Marin has seen over 20% of clients on Google Shopping already using BSC. While Google Shopping has more viewership and use, BSCs are competitive in price and performance, and may be a good option for some retailers.

4. Go beyond shopping ads.

Shopping ad spend has been taking up a larger portion of retailer ad spend every year, reaching almost 30% of all search ad dollars this year. However, this doesn’t mean this is the only ad format retailers should consider.

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) are a relatively new ad format that have seen strong early returns for many advertisers. Early data has shown an almost 300% ROAS for ETAs, meaning they’re highly competitive with both conventional search ads and shopping ads.

5. Social shopping is great for mobile retailers.

While social networks have always been a highly mobile device oriented channel, this is especially true for retail. Almost 95% of clicks on retail ads on social are on a mobile device, and mobile also accounts for 90% of all social spend for retail advertisers. Research shows that consumers interact differently with social ads than they do with search. Rather than research, social ads are better used for awareness and to start conversations with target audiences.

Each holiday season has been bigger than the last, and the trend is positioned to continue this year. Retailers have more choices than ever when it comes to ad campaigns. However, with this increased choice comes increased difficulty, as effectively managing spend across multiple devices and channels isn’t easy. A little planning, knowledge, and foresight will go a long way.

Bidding Optimization with Marin and Google Analytics

By September 29th, 2016

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

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

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

Who Should Consider This?

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

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


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


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


From the Revenue Tracking setting, select Google Analytics.


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


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

Mobile Display Goes Up, but Tablet’s on the Decline

By September 6th, 2016

Between the distant frenzy of the Q4 shopping season and the rising calm of midyear, Q2 tends to be the quietest quarter. However, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening. Among other things we found in our research, mobile display played a larger role this Q2—but overall, the ubiquitous move to mobile is actually slowing down. And, tablet usage continues to drop.

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report. For Q2 2016, key findings include:

  • The move to mobile is slowing down. Across search and social, the shift away from desktop has been slowing for the last two quarters. Device share is decelerating and seems to be approaching a stability point. Display is the only channel that’s still seeing strong shifts toward mobile over the past quarter for both advertisers and users.
  • Smartphone and desktop are the devices of choice. The tablet revolution never took off and continues to shrink. Instead, it was co-opted by its sibling device, the smartphone. For the foreseeable future, smartphone and desktop are the two largest winners.
  • Advertisers should continue to prioritize cross-channel, cross-device targeting. In order for advertisers to employ a robust cross-channel, cross-device marketing approach, they should continue to learn the strengths and weaknesses of these channels and devices.

For detailed information on Q2 2016 search, social, and display mobile performance and strategy recommendations, download our Performance Marketer’s Benchmark Report Q3 2016 – Vital Search, Social, and Display Performance Data by Device.

What to Expect for Shopping Ads This Holiday Season

By August 16th, 2016

Last year, we forecast that 30% of all retail paid-search spend would be on a shopping ad, and 45% of all product ad clicks would be on a smartphone—and smartphone click growth ended up being even stronger than we predicted. Looking forward, where do we see shopping ads this holiday season?

We took a look at month-over-month variations and factored in seasonal shifts in performance to forecast where we’ll be by December 2016:

  • 40% of all shopping ad dollars will be on a smartphone
  • 37% of paid search clicks will be on a shopping ad
  • Social clicks and spend share should flatten out over the year and remain at current levels


For more results sampled from the Marin Global Online Advertising Index—composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform—read The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. With data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and strategy recommendations for the 2016 holiday season, be sure to download your copy today so that you’re prepared for the Q4 rush.

Text Versus Product Ads: Shopping Peaks, Valleys, and Plateaus

By August 10th, 2016

As retail search advertisers continue to plan their campaigns for the 2016 holiday season, they’re weighing the pros and cons of text versus product ads. What’s the most effective ad type for reducing cost, increasing CTR, and maximizing returns on spend?

The answer: it depends.

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Here are just a few of our findings:

  • November beat December in both 2014 and 2015 for shopping ad spend.
  • Over the past two years, shopping ad spend share grew from 18% to 28%.
  • CPC between text ads and product ads remained stable year-over-year.
  • CTR between the two ad types is virtually the same.


For the full results of our research, including data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and strategy recommendations for the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

A 2016 Social Media Shopping Spree

By August 1st, 2016

Shoppers are already prepping their lists for the holidays, and retail advertisers are close behind, on the mobile-focused, ad spend case. If smartphones were big-box retail destinations, they’d be the new “mad rush” of holiday sales.

Thankfully, when shoppers are looking for deals and information, they can now easily turn to their mobile devices.

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Our research uncovered some surprising things about what to expect for social advertising this 2016 shopping season.

  • Advertisers are investing big on smartphones and tablets: During Q1 2016, social ad spend on mobile devices represented 90% of ad spend.
  • Shoppers love social ads on mobile: Those ads were popular, with 95% of all clicks happening on social by way of a mobile device during the same time period.
  • This bodes quite well for Q4 2016: Social clicks and spend share should flatten out over the year and remain at current levels.


Happy shopping—and spending—in 2016.

For the full results of our research, including data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and recommendations for how to stand out during the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

4 Tips for a Successful Back to School & Holiday Shopping Season

By July 20th, 2016

Retailers know that the second half of the year is always more important than the first. The shopping season and back to school are crucial periods for brick-and-mortar and online stores—these are times when retailers need to capture consumers with sales and promotions, so that they’ll stay longer and buy more.

With advertisers over doubling their ad spend during the holiday season compared to the rest of the year, competition remains fierce. The 2015 holidays raked in over $100 billion for ecommerce alone. How can advertisers compete within this complex online marketplace?

Launch search shopping campaigns.

During the holiday season, we expect that shopping ad clicks will spike almost 400% when compared to the beginning of the year, and will account for one of every three clicks on a search ad.

By now, all retailers should be exploring shopping campaigns for their products. Not only do shopping ads perform better for search advertisers, they’re also competitive in price and particularly effective for mobile advertising. This is especially important since smartphones are now the device of choice for most shoppers.

While Google is the biggest player in the shopping ad market, be sure to consider Bing, which offers its own shopping ad format.

Expand into cross-channel advertising.

90% of social retail clicks come from mobile.

Although search is important, it’s not the only channel where retailers should advertise. Display and social are both vital channels to consider for how they interact with potential shoppers and audiences, and they’re both much more heavily mobile than search. Combining search, social, and display allows advertisers to create a very powerful campaign that can target shoppers across channels more effectively and efficiently.

Play to device strengths.

About 40% of all retail advertising dollars will be spent on a smartphone this holiday season.

Understanding the strengths of each device is key to effectively spending advertising dollars. While desktop remains on top for converting an ad click into a purchase, the role of mobile devices in the conversion pathway is becoming better understood.

Many consumers treat mobile devices as a research tool, and while they may not convert directly to a purchase through a mobile click, there are ad types such as click-for-directions and click-to-call that contribute directly to an offline or later purchase.

Timing is everything.

Back to school clicks and conversions increased year-over-year by about 15% and 10%, respectively.

Timing campaigns appropriately allows you to reach the maximum number of people. For retailers, this is particularly important during the second half of the year. If you’re looking to reach the right audiences at the right time, be sure to take into account the day on which your campaigns go live.

The back to school click boost begins a month ahead of school, usually peaking about a week before school starts. For the holidays, it begins slightly earlier every year. We usually see consumer interest rise as soon as October ends or even slightly before, with steadily increasing impressions and clicks for retailers when compared to prior months until a peak in late November.

Read our full forecasts for this upcoming holiday season in our report, The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

In the Click of It: Mobile Shopping in 2016

By July 19th, 2016

When it comes to shopping ads, Q4 and mobile go together like thumbs on a small screen (literally).

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Our research allowed us to make a few definitive predictions for mobile performance in the 2016 shopping season.

  • Smartphones rule clicks: By April 2016, we expect the smartphone click rate to have grown by about 200% from January 2014. Mobile will leave tablets and desktops in the dust, as they hover just around the 75% point in terms of click share. No competition, as they say.
  • Smartphones rule CTR: The same will hold true for click-through rate, with smartphones projected to dominate the scene throughout the holiday season and beyond.
  • Smartphones rule CPC: Increased mobile activity will lead to lower cost per click, allowing advertisers to allocate spend where it counts most, and to better evaluate the different strengths and weaknesses of different ad formats.


In sum: smartphones rule. For the full results our research, including data on social, text versus product ads, and recommendations for how to stand out during the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

Do Advertisers Show Dads Love on Fathers Day?

By June 15th, 2016

As Father’s Day approaches, dads everywhere are eagerly anticipating a day for themselves (bring on the socks, watches, and gadgets). If advertising dollars were any indication in 2015, how much should they really be looking forward to it this year?

Last year, we looked at Mother’s Day versus Father’s Day advertising spend and clicks, and the latter simply couldn’t hold up to the former. For 2016, we investigated whether there was a chance that consumers and advertisers would show more love to Father’s Day.

How Did Spend Correspond to Clicks?

When we looked at consumer and advertiser behavior for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day last year, we got an idea of how retailers allocated budgets. They increased spend by an average of 12% for the week leading up to Mother’s Day. In comparison, Father’s Day only saw an average of a 5% bump in advertiser budgets during the same relative time period.

On the consumer side, we saw a 3% increase in clicks for both Mother’s and Father’s Day, during the week leading up to each day. This could be due to increased consumer awareness for Father’s Day leading to a similar bump when compared to Mother’s Day. It also appears that the number of Father’s Day sales has increased compared to 2014, based on campaigns within the Marin Index.

What does this mean? While consumers paid similar online retail attention to both holidays, advertisers viewed Mother’s Day as more competitive and important. This may be explained by looking at the number of conversions for both holidays. Mother’s Day had a 10% increase in conversions versus 3% on Father’s Day.


Advertisers Should Pay More Attention to Father’s Day

While dads didn’t quite overtake moms last year, it was much closer than the year before. If the trend continues this year, it’s a good sign for dads. We’ll see this Sunday.

Perhaps this year, advertisers will devote more of their attention to Father’s Day, which is what we recommend—giving equal consideration and budget to Father’s Day, as it may shape up to be just as important as Mother’s Day in terms of sales and bringing in consumers. The two appear to be converging with each new year, and it makes sense for advertisers to adjust their spends and sales campaigns to compensate.