Marketing Insights

Archive for ‘Bid Optimization’

How to Evaluate Programmatic Buying Transparency – Types and Tips

By April 21st, 2016

This is the first in a series of posts on transparency. In today’s post, we lay out the many ways transparency is elusive in digital marketing today. We also include some best practices for stamping out the fuzziness prevalent in the programmatic landscape.

Most marketers will admit transparency in media buys sounds like a good idea. So why don’t we have it all the time? Inertia, circumstances, or legacy business practices are the usual culprits. Knowing about the types of programmatic transparency is a good place to start.

The Problem with Buyer/Seller Blindness

You may have read about the recent survey on programmatic buying by Forrester and the ANA. Although we know intermediaries carve up a media dollar along the ad delivery path, a surprising 33 percent of survey respondents in this study have turned a blind eye while knowingly opting into an undisclosed programmatic model.

Not knowing the true value of your media obscures your true ROI. This buyer/seller blindness stands in the way of programmatic growth and success.

Let’s dive in and take a look at the three types of transparency: intermediaries, environmental, and data.

1. Intermediaries: What is the True Cost of the      Programmatic Supply Chain?

According to the ANA/Forrester study, 55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain, up from 21 percent two years ago. No advertiser is immune to the supply chain realities, but seeing how the budget is allocated should be as natural as homebuyers scrutinizing loan origination fees from their mortgage broker.

There is a host of intermediaries in today’s programmatic supply chain including:

  • Data / Targeting
  • DMP technology
  • DSP technology
  • Ad serving (advertiser side, publisher side)
  • Exchanges
  • Publisher
  • Verification
  • Ad blocking
  • Managed services fees through an agency or media buying partner  

Not surprisingly, there are also several cost models:

  • CPM-based fees
  • Percent of media fees
  • Flat fees
  • Arbitrage

The advertiser pays most of the fees, while in some cases the publisher, or both the advertiser and publisher, pay them.

It’s common to have an agent buy media on the advertiser’s behalf, only revealing the final price of a campaign, total margin, and fees. Just as common is the masking of the closing or winning bid prices.

This lack of bidding transparency is precisely what’s needed for optimization. This practice is especially prevalent among black box vendors, as is straight-ahead arbitrage. Without transparent insights into what improves targeting and conversion, marketers are flying blind.

So, what’s the average take rate of each partner? It varies of course, depending mostly on targeting strategies and pricing/profit models. But asking your supply chain partners exactly what they’re charging you is the first step in achieving total transparency.  

2. Environmental: Ad Viewability to Detect Fraudulent or      Unviewable Inventory

Certainly one of the hottest issues in ad tech today, environmental transparency of an ad is as important as the campaign’s message or who’s being targeted. There are more mysteries than answers focused on who sees your ad, how much was seen, how long they see it, and where the ad showed up, but help is on the way.

In the early days of RTB, fraudulent or unviewable inventory was a common problem. Although challenges remain, there is an increasing number of new tools available for advertisers, publishers, and ad servers to detect bot fraud, fraudulent inventory, or unviewable ads.

Still, there’s no consensus on how viewability is defined. Standard bodies like the IAB and MRC are driving clarity on this issue. Many new vendors are trying to monetize viewability. Large holding companies have their own standards as well.

Advertisers are increasingly demanding that publishers bear the burden of proof by complying with imposed measurement of viewability-centric campaigns. Viewability-tracking fees, brand safety-tracking fees, and brand lift study fees are paid by either side in an effort to run cleaner campaigns. Although far from being solved, the use of ad verification and brand safety tools goes a long way in solving environmental transparency.

3. Data: Data Transparency = True ROI

It seems logical that any data used in an ad campaign that you paid for would be accessible to you. But that isn’t always the case. Publishers could block the intent data or other data sets you would normally have access to with more transparent partners.

You may prefer to pay a black box provider because your only KPI is sales – this can work for some who don’t insist on understanding their true ROI. However, for data-driven marketing to work, seeing all your data for future learnings or to calculate your true ROI is essential.

Irresistible pricing models are as tempting as a timeshare in Tahiti. We get that. But regardless of whether you use a DSP or publisher tools for your programmatic buys, the more you know, the more you can improve outcomes – that is, if you want to know exactly how to improve outcomes rather than relying on your black box vendor to give you numbers devoid of margins or analysis.

Data are collected at every turn, every segment of the customer journey. CPC, CTR, and impressions are table stakes. For more intelligence, you need the eCPM and in-view impressions. Getting site-level reporting helps you blacklist/whitelist and improve targeting.

If you’re striving to get to your true ROI, knowing how the data points were calculated is certainly also part of the equation. Since we’re talking numbers, understanding the logic, math, and algorithms behind a bidding process is another must-have.

Guidelines for Getting Clarity on Transparency

You should be able to decide exactly what success looks like for your brand. This means choosing your own KPIs, publishers, and the data you want to bring, buy, optimize, or analyze. Here are some best practices for how to bring more transparency to your programmatic initiatives.

  • Insist on seeing the media cost on an impression-by-impression basis, as well as breakouts of all other costs contributing to the total price.
  • Pick the exact sites, formats, devices, and audiences you want.
  • Utilize business rules within your RTB programmatic buys and with your brand safety to ensure a URL is present or that it matches where your ad eventually runs – if you can’t prove your URL, your programmatic partner shouldn’t bid on the impression.
  • Request detailed campaign guidelines from your agency or DSP.
  • Use third-party verification tools to detect bot traffic and sourced traffic, as both of these contribute to fraud.
  • Evaluate and utilize tools from new fraud and viewability measurement partners.
  • Assign in-house team members to focus on media by having them dig into agency and tech partner contracts to determine fraud and viewability practices.
  • To make adding it all up easier, use IAB’s recently released Programmatic Fee Transparency Calculator.

Next time, we’ll dive deeper into the programmatic supply chain and how it affects cost.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Dynamic Search

By March 8th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

1. Segmentation

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

Dynamic_Targets

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

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

2. Website Coverage

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

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

3. Exclusion Targets

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

Exclusion_Targets

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

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

4. Negative Keywords

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

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

Negative_Keyword

5. Remarketing Lists

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

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

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

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

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

Google’s New Ad Layout: Pros, Cons, Ins, and Outs

By February 23rd, 2016

When homebuyers bemoan the high prices commanded by desirable locations, real estate agents often reply, “location, location, location!” With Google’s recent confirmation that they’ll be serving fewer ads per desktop search result, we expect search marketers to become more acutely aware of “location, location, location.”

More Predictions

Less inventory and constant demand could create an uptick in average CPCs for high demand queries (if you’re curious about locking in top ad spots, check out PositionLock).

While this update (and our prediction) may be distressing for some advertisers, we anticipate this change will be net-positive for the industry.

From a user perspective, “less is more.” As we’ve observed with Google mobile ads, which this update emulates, a clean user experience free of distraction creates high click-through rates for top position ads.

Furthermore, if higher CPCs do come to pass, it could stomp out competitors bidding in auctions where they’ve historically had weak product-market fit. With fewer distractions, we expect advertisers will have an easier time connecting with current and future customers.  We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the performance and user experience.  

Shopping Ads

We anticipate this update to be the most meaningful for ecommerce advertisers. Since Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are exempt from the right-rail exclusion, retail advertisers will be the only tenants on this coveted real estate which moves PLAs into Park Place territory.

If you’re an ecommerce advertiser, it’s paramount that your feed be optimized and that your bids are on target (if you need help, check out Marin Shopping). As both users and marketers on Google, we’re excited for this change – we’re happy to speak with any marketers seeking bidding, PLA, or general best practice advice.

How to Optimize Impression Share to Increase Brand Awareness

By February 16th, 2016

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

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

What’s IS, Anyway?

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

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

The IS Formula

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

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

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

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

Optimize to Improve Clicks and Impressions

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

ClickVolume

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

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

How to Segment Remarketing Audience
by Last Interaction

By February 9th, 2016

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

When building out a fully functional PPC account, it’s important to utilize remarketing lists in addition to your standard campaigns. Remarketing lists allow you to target individuals with ads that are already familiar with your brand because of a past interaction, generally an ad click leading to a visit.

These visitors are valuable because they’re usually further down the sales funnel. Remarketing is a great way to retain these past visitors, capture incremental volume, and shorten the gap between time of click and time of purchase.

If you’re advertising on a pay-per-click network (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc.), you’ve more than likely utilized remarketing lists to improve account performance. You can also improve your remarketing lists, specifically your Google and Bing lists, by segmenting your audience based on time of last interaction.

Why Segment by Time?

There are a few benefits to segmenting your audience by time. The first is that it breaks apart a very large audience into multiple audiences of very manageable sizes. This then allows you to bid more or less aggressively depending on the audience.

For example, you may want to bid very aggressively to get an audience of users that last interacted with your website one to three days ago back to the website. You may not want to bid as high for the people that last touched the site 25-30 days ago.

Using this method, you can place a bid on each audience that’s most appropriate. However, be conscious of the size of the main audience you’re trying to split. This practice is usually a better fit for more general touchpoints that generate larger audience lists. It isn’t always the best to break apart a very small audience pool because at that point, the lists can become too small to employ.

How to Create Your Audiences

1. Create a new remarketing list

2. Select who to add to your list

Generally, I select page visitors. But there are options to select page visitors who did/did not visit another page, visitors of a page during specific dates, and visitors of a page with a specific tag.

If you’re more advanced, definitely utilize the custom combination option. I’ve used this capability to refine my segmented lists even further in the past and to block past converters from my lists.

3. Set the rule

Enter the page URL that you want to build your audience around.

4. Set the membership duration

Here’s where you can get creative. Go to the Tools drop down, then select Conversions and take a look at your attribution data. How long is the time lag from click to conversion? Use this information to set your membership duration for your audiences.

If you’re unsure, just use common sense to create reasonable durations. For this example, let’s assign the first audience a five-day membership duration. 

5. Repeat

After creating the first audience, repeat the process and extend the membership duration with each additional audience. Using the five-day example above as a starting reference, we can create three more audiences with membership durations of 10, 20, and 30 days.

In the end, instead of one very large audience, we have one broken up into chunks based on the account’s specific conversion history, which gives us more control over bidding and ultimately better performance. Using this method, we don’t bid the same amount for someone that last interacted with the website 30 days ago as a person who last interacted with the website one day ago. Try it out and see how it performs!

Why PPC Granularity Will Be Your Best Friend

By January 7th, 2016

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

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

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

But what if it’s all backwards?

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

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

01-GoogleCampaignImprovement

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

Automatic Placement Extraction

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

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

02-DisplayPerformance

Take a look at your Automatic placements under your Dimensions tab

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

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

Search Term Extraction

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

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

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

03-SearchTermExtraction

This gives you a much stronger control of what you’re paying for

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

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

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

Time Lag and Attribution Reports

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

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

I know I would.

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

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

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

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

04-ImpressionConversionDelay

Here’s a look at first impression conversion delay of 6.19 days

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

Geographic Granularity

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

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

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

05-GeographicGranularity

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

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

06-States

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

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

Device Targeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07-PerformanceDifferences

Here’s how you find that info

First, go to Segment then Device in the dropdown.

08-SegmentDevice

This will expand your view with three extra rows

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

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

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

09-NegativeBidModifier

Go to Settings -> Devices and increase or decrease in the red square

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

Day of Week Targeting

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

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

10-DayOfWeek

In this case, Saturdays and Sundays are doing really well

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

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

Time of Day Targeting

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

11-TimeOfDay

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

12-BiddingBlocks

In this screenshot, late mornings and afternoons tend to perform better than mornings

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

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

In Closing

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

“With great control, comes great responsibility.”

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

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

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

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

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

How to Fine-Tune Your Holiday Retargeting Campaign to Boost Performance

By November 18th, 2015

Pumpkin spice lattes. Cold weather. Football on TV. That can only mean one thing – the holidays are here!

While you’re busy planning your holiday vacation, family meals, or gift shopping plans, remember to schedule a few minutes for your retargeting campaigns. Consumers are ready to spend billions over the next six weeks (especially online!) so make sure you adjust your campaign settings to capitalize on the holiday rush.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to boost your campaign performance for the holidays:

Increase your budgets

With all that holiday shopping going on, you’re likely going to see a boost in site traffic, which means you’ll see an associated boost in impressions served and advertising funds spent. Make sure your campaigns have a proper budget set to guarantee you have enough ad money available for the day, so that you don’t miss out on these potential new customers.

We recommend a 25-50% budget increase for the holidays, but you know your site traffic best. Whatever % of traffic increase you’re expecting, boost your budget about that same %.

Raise your campaign bids

Consumers will be spending a lot of money on products, but that also means advertisers are spending a lot of money on ads. You’re going to have competition! With so many advertisers fighting for ad space, it’s not uncommon to see your CPM costs rise during this time of year. To be ready for this, make sure you increase your CPM bids across your campaigns. Allowing your campaigns to bid a higher amount will make them more competitive and give you a better chance of serving more ads. We suggest increasing your CPM bid by 50-100% of the current average CPM cost for the campaign.

Use holiday themed ads and landing pages

Your potential customers are thinking, talking, and singing about the holidays this time of year. Join that conversation! Using ads that mention specific events like Black Friday or Cyber Monday can grab a visitor’s attention. Send them holiday cheer, mention that there are X number of shopping days left, and give them a reason to click on your ads. Use the holidays as a call to action, and you could see a boost in clicks and conversions.

Create landing pages and content on your site for these holiday events, then create audiences that capture visitors of these pages. (Information about audiences is available here.)

Finally, create campaigns to serve your holiday ads to your holiday page visitors. If they’re coming to your site looking for holiday deals, they are more likely to respond to holiday themes ads.

We hope these suggestions are helpful and lead to a profitable holiday season for you and your business. As always, please feel free to contact us at support@perfectaudience.com with any questions or comments.

From our team to yours – happy holidays!

How to Select the Right Digital Media Buying Platform

By November 17th, 2015

Marin Software recently participated in the E-Commerce Paris trade show, the largest cross-channel event in France. During the three-day event, we had the opportunity of presenting with our customers as guest speakers. One such opportunity was a workshop on ‘the relevant criteria to choose your digital media buying platform’. Thibaut Vouloir, Acquisition Manager at financial services company Cofinoga, detailed the main things every agency or advertiser should care about when looking for a solution.

1. Independence

First off, he insisted that the provider must be independent from any media selling business. To guarantee a fair arbitrage of the bid recommendations on any campaign, the platform can’t be owned by a specific publisher, whoever that publisher may be. An independent platform helps advertisers to optimize their media investments on different channels, across search, social, and display.

2. Local Support

For Thibaut, it should be a given that he has access to a local and experienced service team – in his case, based in Paris who speaks French – who understands his needs and gathers his feedback to improve the product. One of his needs is the ability to integrate his DMP tracking system, with customized specifications. The strength of a local team is its capacity to contact the DMP solution, then work collaboratively with the customer to deliver a needs-based solution that drives results.

3. Flexible, Automated Bidding

In particular, Thibaut mentioned the absolute flexibility of Marin’s automated bidding tool considering the different objectives of Cofinoga’s financial products. Using the three different bidding strategies that Marin offers (position, CPA, and ROI) – within the same campaigns or across multiple campaigns and publishers – allows Cofinoga to effectively control and monitor the costs of acquisition. The time an advertiser saves with automated bidding can be reallocated to other tasks, such as A/B creative and landing page testing. “The keyword marketer is freed up from the repetitive task of manually changing bids every day,” said Thibaut.

To find out more about how Marin Software can help you achieve your cross-channel advertising goals, contact us today.

3 Tips for Retail Advertisers to Maximize Results Over the Holiday Shopping Season

By October 29th, 2015

The holidays are a busy time of year for retail advertisers. Outside of work, their lives are packed with relatives, shopping, menu planning, and social events. Add launching holiday promotions, bid management, and budgeting to the agenda and they have an even longer to-do list in the middle of an already stressful holiday season.

To help our retail advertising customers succeed during the critical holiday shopping season, we’re happy to introduce Marin’s Center of Excellence. This is a new division of the Marin Customer Success team that combines marketing expertise and mastery of the Marin platform to help grow your business. The team provides consulting and tailored offerings for Marin customers to address business needs and help them get the most out of the platform.

While consumers are editing their shopping lists in October, you’re editing keyword lists and writing endless variations of holiday ad copy. And, if you’re asking yourself, “What am I missing?” or “How can I better optimize this?”, the Marin Center of Excellence team is here to help you through these and other common challenges.

Having managed campaigns themselves once upon a time, the team has compiled a list of step-by-step recommendations to keep handy as holiday promotions begin to kick off in the coming weeks.

Step 1: Prepare Your Campaigns for Success by Leveraging Key Retail-Focused Marin Capabilities

Start by loading holiday focused objects into Marin early (e.g., keywords, creatives, sitelinks, and mobile-preferred creatives) and keep them paused until you’re ready to launch. This will allow enough time for creatives to go through review on the publisher’s side, for you to submit any exemption requests, etc. Don’t wait until the last minute or you risk forgetting important objects (like sitelinks!) and hitting policy violations.

In addition, make sure you have the necessary Scheduled Actions configured for your holiday-themed campaigns and creatives. Scheduled Actions are essential during promotions and sales and help you take back those long holiday hours by automating the pausing and activation of select campaigns and creatives. If you know that certain days or weeks see an increase in traffic, set up rules so you’re always showing top-performing ads at the most opportune times.

Marin Dimensions are another great time-saving tool. For example, if you have different promotions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, tag them with a Dimension. Once tagged, you can quickly filter for those objects tagged with a “Black Friday” dimension to pause them and take the same steps to resume your Cyber Monday ads. This workflow works great for those time-sensitive campaigns you’ll be switching on and off across publishers.

Finally, you should consider an account audit ahead of the holiday. This will ensure you have an account structure in line with best practices, help identify specific performance issues, and allow enough time to prioritize any issues requiring implementation. The Center of Excellence is offering holiday focused account audits to improve account performance and better optimize your program this holiday season. Contact your Marin account representative for more details.

Step 2: Review Your Bidding Strategy and Objectives

In anticipation of the expected increase in traffic and competition, the Center of Excellence recommends setting up a schedule for any bid changes that need to occur throughout the holiday season. Take a look at your historical data for previous years. Do you notice a year over year rise in historical CPCs? Did traffic increase significantly? Pair this data with your goals to set up an ad scheduling or boost schedule.

These two features allow you to make faster adjustments to bids without making drastic changes to your overall bidding strategy (by changing folder targets) that could prompt unwanted results. If you want a little help crunching those numbers, the Center of Excellence is offering a Holiday Bidding and Boost consultation tailored specifically to your program that works in tandem with our bidding algorithm.

Step 3: Closely Monitor Performance Throughout the Holiday Season

Marin offers an easy way to set up and schedule automated email alerts to assist you with  monitoring account activity during the holidays. The Center of Excellence recommends creating email alerts for the following:

  • Day over day cost changes

  • Sync errors for creatives/keywords

  • Average position threshold

  • Objects missing tracking

  • Creatives status = disapproved

If you manage multiple accounts in the platform, try setting up an All Clients report to review cross-client performance data. For example, set up a campaign performance report across all your clients to eliminate having to log into each Marin client account. Hint: Creating alerts across client accounts will save you time, which can be spent enjoying your holidays!

Bonus Time Saving Tips from our Top Center of Excellence Consultants!

  • If you’re a client that has many different publisher accounts within many different Marin accounts, utilize Marin’s cross-client bulk sheet feature, so you can create everything with one file rather than having to organize and upload many different bulk sheets.

  • If you plan to use ad scheduling to help manage bidding this holiday season, set this up in Marin using the multi-edit feature, which will allow you to set your schedule across many campaigns or ad groups at one time, rather than individually.

  • Prior to making changes for holiday bidding, download a report of all your current keyword bids with the columns you would need for a keyword bulk upload. Use this report to upload these same bids into the application after the holiday season is over and more quickly return to expected levels of performance and traffic.

  • When creating a scheduled report or alert, take an extra 10 seconds and also create a saved view for those same columns and filters. This way, if an alert or performance report merits investigation, you can retrieve the corresponding saved view to pull this up in the application immediately.

  • Tag all of your holiday objects in Marin using a Dimension. This will make it easier to apply setting changes and scheduled actions at scale so you can get back to family and fun!

5 Ways to Maximize Results Throughout the Day

By October 26th, 2015

Today’s retail advertisers have to constantly deal with many different factors simultaneously – direct competition, changes in consumer behaviors, and staying on top of industry innovations and trends, just to name a few. All of this can be quite overwhelming, especially with the holidays quickly approaching.

To alleviate the stresses of the season for retail advertisers, we’re excited to announce the general availability of PositionLock™, an intraday, position-based bid optimization solution designed to help marketers maximize visibility, traffic, and conversions throughout the day. Using PositionLock, retail advertisers can rest a little easier this holiday season, especially during peak online shopping days and hours of the day.

PositionLock relies on a new, patent-pending algorithm that leverages ad position data captured throughout the day to intelligently set optimal bids and bid boosts to keep advertisers’ ads in desired ad position ranges.

For example, using PositionLock, a retail advertiser whose sales come primarily from mobile devices can opt to have their best-selling product terms appear between positions 3-5 for desktop and 1-2 for mobile.

Marin is the only digital advertising platform that allows advertisers to automatically optimize preferred position ranges, by device, throughout the day.

With the holiday shopping season already starting to ramp up, Marin’s PositionLock™ is an excellent solution for helping retail advertisers ensure they’re visible in the top ad positions for their best-selling product terms or important brand terms.

If you’re a retail advertiser looking to improve brand awareness, visibility, or traffic quality over the holiday shopping period, we’ve highlighted five example use cases to show how using PositionLock can help you meet your goals.

Maximize visibility over the holidays

Most retailers have product terms on seasonal items that PositionLock can maximize visibility on during peak shopping season days. With PositionLock’s intraday bidding capabilities, you can adjust these positions throughout the day, and especially during peak online shopping hours. Additionally, as inventory comes and goes, you can easily adjust bids to promote certain inventory over others more aggressively through higher ad placements.

Stay ahead of the competition

Competition for the top ad positions on search isn’t going away anytime soon, as it’s been shown that consumers on search are more likely to click on higher-ranked ads. To help you achieve your desired positions, PositionLock lets you take your non-branded terms and ensure that they outrank competitors. This is especially useful when it comes to advertising popular seasonal items that face a lot of competition.

Increase brand awareness

According to a study by Google, search ads lifted top-of-mind awareness of brands an average 6.6 percentage points. This study highlights the clear opportunity for retail advertisers to effectively create the perception that they’re leaders in a particular product category, by appearing in a top ad position for the related product terms.

For example, a retail advertiser who wants to be known for selling “high-end fashion apparel” could use PositionLock to improve brand perception for these types of products by appearing in a top position for this term.

Highlight promotional products

When it comes to launching new products, PositionLock can be beneficial to businesses across all verticals, but especially retailers this holiday season. With PositionLock’s ability to achieve top ad positions, you can easily drive visibility for new product terms with a relevant promotional message in the copy.

Customize desired ad position by device

Today’s consumers have an average of three devices and studies have shown that each device type is used differently. Consumers on desktop devices tend to do more detailed research, whereas mobile users are often looking for fast and quick pieces of information (e.g., phone number, address, etc.)

With PositionLock, you can bid to the optimal ad position for each device to help achieve maximum ad performance across devices for a particular search term. For example, if you know you can achieve optimal performance by appearing between positions 3-4 on desktop but must appear between positions 1-2 on mobile, with PositionLock you can easily customize device-specific preferences and achieve your device-specific ad position goals.

PositionLock

These are just a few examples of the many scenarios in which Marin PositionLock™ can help advertisers gain better position-based performance results across devices. For information on this feature, reach out to your Marin Customer Success Director. If you’d like to learn more about how Marin Software can help you implement an intraday optimization strategy, feel free to get in touch.

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