Archive for ‘Analytics’

Why Marketers Need to Think More Like CIOs

By September 25th, 2013

Marin Software PPC SEM analytics data optimizeIt’s no secret that, due to the measurability of online advertising, marketers now have to face an avalanche of marketing data. To turn all this rich data into valuable insights which can then drive revenue, you have two options:

  1. Hire a small army of analysts to manually analyse this high volume of data, and turn it into actions which optimise revenue outcomes.
  2. Use technology to analyse the data, and turn it into actions which optimise revenue outcomes.

Hiring an army of analysts to manually digest data is an expensive and resource intensive approach, so unsurprisingly most marketers are choosing to go down the technology route. This way they can use technology to digest their data and analysts to think more strategically, adding an important layer of human insight.

This shift towards technology is evidenced by a recent Gartner statistic which claims that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on technology than the CIO. This highlights that marketers are now beginning to build out technology architectures to cope with their avalanche of marketing data. However, most CMOs and marketers in general have very little experience with technology implementations. We thought we’d share a few best practices to help marketers who are building out their technology architecture, based on our experience of hundreds of marketing technology implementations for enterprise class advertisers around the world:

1) Don’t hoard data, do something with it. I spoke a lot about this in my previous post “How to Avoid Being a Data Squirrel.” The key is to get the correct analytics, attribution and optimisation layers in your technology architecture and distribute the results across the enterprise. This way you can ensure you’re turning your analytics and attribution data into actions that optimise revenue outcomes.

2) Your technology layers don’t all need the same logo. Just because you wear Nike trainers, doesn’t mean you drink Nike beer, use Nike cleaning products or use a Nike tablet. Focus on finding best of breed technologies in each area of analytics, attribution and optimisation, then integrate them. The enterprise technology space is increasingly open, and pioneered this by bossing the CRM space, whilst integrating data from best-of-breed technologies in other areas through the App Exchange.

3) Ensure technology saves your team time. Ultimately, if technology doesn’t save you time then you may as well just hire an army of analysts. Look for technology which integrates data that would otherwise be done manually, creates more efficient workflows, and makes the management and optimisation of campaigns more efficient.

4) Look for third-party technology. When it comes to the layer of technology responsible for attributing media spend, it’s important to look for third-party technologies independent from media owners. If you allow a media owner’s technology to attribute spend then there are potential issues of bias involved towards their own media channels. In essence, it’s a bit like letting an estate agent decide how much you’re going to pay to buy a house.

5) Optimise to revenue, not just leads. Revenue is what drives your business and increasingly marketers are becoming accountable for revenue. When building your architecture ensure that your technologies are optimising towards bottom-line revenue for your business, not just form fills, quotes or other softer lead targets. This can be achieved by integrating marketing programs with CRM or ERP data, offline conversions over the phone and in-store or integration with proprietary data in other areas of your business. This bottom-line marketing optimisation is what will satisfy your CEO and CFO that the marketing technology investment is worthwhile.

We will be talking in more depth about these tips and best practices to help marketers build effective technology architectures at a number of events across Europe before the end of this year. So if you’re going to be at Ecommerce Paris, iStrategy London, Search Congress Amsterdam, Ecounsultancy JUMP, SMX Stockholm or our own Marin Masters conference in London at the beginning of November then be sure to join the conversation in person. Otherwise, feel free to join the conversation below.

How to Avoid Being a Data Squirrel

By August 21st, 2013

analytics data optimize

With the amount of data now available to digital marketers, they’re in danger of becoming data squirrels that hoard data but do nothing with it. There aren’t enough analysts in the world or hours in the day to manually analyse all the available data, and crucially, turn it into actions which optimise revenue outcomes.

The modern day digital marketer needs to consider how to turn all the data they have into actions which optimise revenue outcomes through advertising technology. To do this they need to understand the three layers of advertising technology:

  • Analytics
  • Attribution
  • Optimisation

What you don’t measure, you can’t manage. Analytics platforms gave marketers the tools they needed to finally end the age-old problem of not knowing which half of their advertising is working and which half isn’t. Measurement is crucial, and it’s exactly why digital marketing has had the sensational growth rate it has.

However, whilst analytics is vital, when in a silo it can’t help marketers understand how and when customers interact with multiple channels. Furthermore, it doesn’t interpret the data into campaign adjustments which optimise revenue outcomes.

Whilst analytics platforms have gathered data for marketers, the attribution technology layer is what helps them make sense of that data. Attribution has been a hot topic for marketers over the last few years as they’ve looked to understand their consumers’ path-to-conversion, and how to better allocate marketing budget and tailor messaging as a result.

However, whilst attribution platforms make recommendations on how to better allocate spend, they don’t implement these changes. For example, attribution platforms do not translate their output into bid recommendations for particular keywords on search engines or banners on display networks.

The final layer of digital marketing technology is the optimisation layer. These technologies take the data from the previous two layers and turn them into actions that optimise revenue outcomes for the marketer. They drive incremental performance gains and time savings.

However, these platforms would struggle to do anything without the data provided by the previous two layers of digital marketing technology. Data is the lifeblood of the marketing technology architecture, and without it the key final layer of optimisation couldn’t happen.

Final thoughts
It’s worth considering that not every layer in digital marketing technology needs the same label on it. It’s a bit like choosing shampoo and conditioner; just because you prefer shampoo from Brand A doesn’t mean you can’t buy conditioner from Brand B if you prefer. The same applies to marketing technology, focus on finding the best technology in each layer. Today’s enterprise technology world is open and connected, best-of-breed technologies can facilitate data flow between themselves seamlessly.

Introducing the BoostCTR Account Performance Grader – Optimize Your Campaigns Today

By April 2nd, 2013

BoostCTR Account Performance GraderFor many search marketers, identifying opportunities for optimization within paid search campaigns is challenging. Monitoring and maintaining top performing ad groups, keywords, and ads is a standard best practice; but as campaigns grow, keyword lists expand, and creative tests multiply, this approach fails to scale and provide incremental improvements in paid search performance. With so many optimization opportunities hidden in an ocean of data, how can search marketers give the required attention each campaign deserves? Where do you even start?

To help search marketers answer these questions, Marin Software is thrilled to announce our partnership with BoostCTR to offer a free paid search diagnostics tool that not only provides insight into account performance, but also opportunities for optimization. The Account Performance Grader is designed to analyze historical performance across keywords, ads, quality scores, and ad groups for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns. Simply sign up and enter the required information to receive your customized report.

Among other best practice recommendations, this report will provide actionable insights for pausing poor performing keywords and ads, as well as reveal quality score trends that identify areas where keyword relevance can be improved. With the Account Performance Grader, search marketers can remove the guesswork out of campaign optimization and focus their time on more strategic, high impact tasks.

Sign up here and start optimizing your campaigns today!

GRP = Get Ready (for another online) Performance (metric)

By September 27th, 2012

I began my love of data-driven marketing nearly a decade ago when I started at The Nielsen Company. While my time there was limited to the Consumer Packaged Goods and Telecommunications industries, I was hard pressed to get away from the heart of the Nielsen business—or at least what they were best known for—their television ratings. That’s where I started to become familiar with terms like Gross Rating Point (GRP), which is:

“A unit of measurement of audience size. It is used to measure the exposure to one or more programs or commercials, without regard to multiple exposures of the same advertising to individuals. One GRP = 1% of TV households.” (Source: Nielsen Media Research)

Gross Rating Point (GRP)

GRP is the foundation by which media buyers compare the advertising strength of various media vehicles. So why should digital marketers care? Nielsen, in addition to other companies like Comscore, wants to give marketers new GRP-like metrics by which to measure the effectiveness of their advertising efforts across channels (TV and online).

Aside from providing a single lens for viewing performance across platforms, a GRP-type metric would also lend itself to informing advertisers on how much they would be willing to pay for certain digital media impressions. This could change the way advertisers currently manage their online bidding—only paying for those impressions that they feel will be most valuable to their business. The end goal would be to obtain the highest possible GRPs at the lowest possible cost, while remaining focused on the target market—all of this now being done across both TV and online channels.

As with any foray into new metrics and crossing the chasm of advertising channels, there are pros and cons to the idea of using GRPs. Critics have argued that GRPs are not a guarantee, but rather an estimation of the audience that could be reached and, therefore, aren’t the best gauge for what media channels are the most effective. On the other hand, this is one of the first efforts to bring TV and online channels together and I applaud the effort. I believe this is an inevitable step in the evolution of advertising and will continue to be a focus for marketers as they continue to maximize budgets, refine their advertising and hone in on high-value customers.

While these digital GRP metrics are relegated to mostly display advertising channels at this time, who’s to say search isn’t far behind? With search retargeting now becoming a reality, a search GRP system could be on the horizon as well.

Compelling Trends from Marin’s 2012 Q1 Report

By April 13th, 2012

Marin is proud to announce the release of our 2012 Q1 online advertising report. This report, which identifies significant year-over-year paid search trends, was compiled using data from over 1,500 advertisers and agencies who invest over $3.5 billion annually in online advertising through Marin.

At a glance, our study revealed an increase in click-through-rate (CTR), with cost-per-click (CPC) remained relatively steady. More specifically, we found a significant increase in CTR and a drop in CPC on Google. Some of our key findings include:

  • 46% increase in Google click volume
  • 14% increase in CTR on Google
  • 4% increase in the share of clicks coming from Exact match

Q1 2012 Industry Click Through Rates










So what does all this mean? The increase in CTR coupled with a 12% lower CPC points to Marin users increasing their efficiency on Google. This finding is further validated by the increased usage of exact and phrase match type keywords, as users continue to identify and fill gaps using Marin’s keyword expansion tools.

Q1 2012 Click Share by Device











Device targeting, specifically smart phones and tablets, continues to soar in popularity. Increases in click volume give evidence of the growth in consumer adoption. With smart phones and tablets showing higher CTRs and lower CPCs compared to desktops, mobile search should continue to be top of mind for advertisers.

Want to see other Q1 industry trends from 2012 with our recommendations? Download the full report here.

People Love to Search on their Smartphones and Tablets

By March 30th, 2012

We love our mobile devices, and according to our recent study of mobile paid search, we love searching on them. In looking across our client base the trend was unanimous, mobile search is up, way up.

In the U.S., we saw ad clicks from mobile devices increase 132% during 2011, and by the end of this year mobile will comprise 25% of all paid search clicks. Similarly, in the UK mobile ended the year with 15% of all clicks in the UK. And, even though it’s not as significant a percentage, mobile clicks in the Eurozone more than doubled in 2011.

Things get even more interesting for marketers when looking at the differences between smartphones, tablets, and desktops. Generally (UK was the sole exception), smartphones carry higher CTRs and lower CPCs, but the lowest conversion rates. Tablets beat desktops in CTR and CPC, come close to trumping desktops in conversion rate, and edge all devices out in cost per conversion.

So, what’s this all mean?

Mobile devices are not only changing the way consumers search and shop, but how marketers advertise. The immediate response by advertisers is to devote more budget to mobile search (we project ad budgets will fall just a bit short of click volume in 2012). However, down the road as savvy marketers adapt to mobile search scenarios, click to call, location-based promos, and integration with social will all become common place. Furthermore, attribution becomes a much larger issue, particularly in a scenario where a mobile search directly leads to an in-store sale. Who gets the credit?

How do you foresee search marketing changing with the increased adoption and use of smartphones and tablets?

Stop Paying for Unwanted Clicks with Our Negative Keyword Strategies

By February 22nd, 2012

Whether you’re just starting out in paid search or have fully built out search campaigns, in order to be successful, you’ll want to know how to implement negative-keywords within your campaigns. Why? Actively managing negatives is possibly the single most impactful tool marketers have to increase revenues and lower costs. The virtuous circle of lowering costs while simultaneously increasing quality and position results in a win-win for the advertiser: increased revenue and ROI. Given the benefits, negative keywords should always be a top consideration for advertisers looking to optimize paid search.

In a recent white paper, Marin Software reviews the benefits of successful negatives strategies and presents a variety of best practices for deploying and managing negatives. Some of these best practices include:

    • Strategies for Identifying Negatives: Where does one start when identifying negative keywords? Learn 5 tactics for sourcing negatives, as well as tips and tricks for implementing these methods efficiently.
    • Using Negatives to Shape Traffic: One of the most common methods for shaping traffic with negatives is by creating match-type silos. Discover how match-type silos force search engines to trigger the correct keyword-match-type combination for each query and how to implement them in your campaigns.
    • Negative-Keyword Strategies for Yahoo! & Bing: Marketers should not assume that negatives in adCenter act the same way as negatives in AdWords. Find out the important differences in the treatment of negatives between the two search engines.

Gain a complete understanding of how to leverage negatives to maximize revenue and performance for online advertising programs. More importantly, become equipped with the techniques necessary to make a strategic implementation of negatives a reality.

Download the free white paper here.

And, join our free webcast on Thursday, March 15 at 10am PST (1pm EST).

Car Companies Win Super Bowl

By February 7th, 2012

The Giants may have won this year’s Vince Lombardi Trophy, but auto advertisers won the online advertising wars on Super Bowl Sunday.
The list of car companies vying for consumer attention was a who’s who of the industry, and included such household names as Acura, Cadillac, Toyota, GM and Volkswagen. Ads were priced at $3.5 Million for 30 seconds and averaged around a minute.

So was the $7 Million worth it?

To try and answer this question, we looked at click volumes and paid-search spend for the auto sector on Super Bowl Sunday and compared it to the rest of our US clients. Here’s what we saw:

Compared to Sunday the previous week, automotive advertisers saw a 28% jump in clicks, a 34% increase in impressions, and a staggering 122% increase in spend on Super Bowl Sunday. As advertisers competed for the same users, the auto segment’s cost-per-click (CPC) increased 73% on Super Bowl Sunday. In comparison, we saw a modest 6% increase in paid-search spend across our overall US clients, coupled with a 9% increase in CPC.

By getting the largest increase in click volume this Super Bowl, car companies clearly won the battle for the digital consumer’s mindshare. And in the process, they showed us how TV advertising and Search advertising can be used in concert to drive brand lift and deliver performance.

Fresh Insights from Marin’s 2011 Q4 Report

By January 11th, 2012

We just released our Q4 online advertising report, identifying important trends year over year in online advertising. We sampled the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, which includes over 1,000 advertisers and agencies that invest over $2.7 billion annually in online advertising.

Overall, our advertisers saw an increase in click-through-rate (CTR) and a decrease in cost-per-click (CPC). But more importantly, we found significant changes in clicks and impressions compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. Key findings include:

  • 56% increase in click volume
  • 23% jump in click through rates
  • Smartphones and tablets now account for 10% of all paid-clicks

So, what does all this mean? The big jump in clicks and click through rates in the last year suggests that advertisers are continuing to increase investment in paid-search and consumers are even more engaged with paid search results.

Device targeting is also showing promise as smart phone and tablets become increasingly popular around the world. Based on the growing click share of smart phones and tablets, it seems evident that more and more people are conducting searches on these newer devices. And, these new devices are actually delivering solid performance for search marketers! The chart below compares CTR across devices in Q4 of 2011.


As this trend is growing rapidly, keep device targeting top of mind when planning your 2012 campaigns.

Want to see other Q4 industry trends from 2011 with our recommendations? Download the full report here.

(Note: You will be asked to fill out a short registration form to gain access to the full report.)

The Critical Importance a Very Close Working Relationship Between Marin and Our Agency

By January 5th, 2012

As a very tech-savvy customer acquisition agency, we learned a long time ago the extraordinary value of having extremely close relationships with technology providers. Being a user of Marin Enterprise Edition for years, the resources and time we’ve put into this relationship has paid off in spades, giving us the capability to get the greatest value from Marin and therefore be the most effective for our clients.

For very basic tools that have limited functionality, mastering them is easy, but there’s very little you can do with them and you get minimal benefits. For extremely sophisticated and function-laden tools like Marin, taking advantage of their breadth and depth of training, onboarding options, contextual help and other services was something we eagerly embraced in a big way. Doing so has paid off: we’ve seen a quantum leap in terms of results.

That’s the tip of the iceberg, as there are many other reasons that we chose to have a very close working relationship with Marin. Because acquirgy has a wide variety of direct response clients, with different business models, different metrics and different ROI goals, Marin’s desire to listen to our recommendations has led to numerous enhancements that we can confidently say has improved our ability to serve our clients. For example, using Marin’s Ad Testing feature, we were able to see dramatic differences between creative in a manner that was prudent and statistically significant.

It’s a win-win for Marin and acquirgy: Marin gets valuable feedback, leading to new features that benefits all their users; acquirgy gets new features that were developed based on our knowledge of our clients’ businesses.

Another example of the benefits of working closely with Marin is their close ties with Google. As clients we are among the first to learn about upcoming releases. This helps us plan for them so that we can take full advantage of them upon release. Marin’s ability to customize reporting and be a sounding board are two more reasons why our agency is proud to have developed such a close relationship with Marin.

Want to learn how we chose Marin from among all their competitors? Drop me a line (

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