Marketing Insights

Archive for ‘Campaign Management’

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.

How to Improve Shopping Performance with Segmentation

By April 19th, 2016

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

Last month, I discussed how to use proper segmentation to optimize the performance of Dynamic Search Ads campaigns and why segmentation is vital for success. Segmentation also plays a large part in the success of shopping campaigns.

If you’re not already familiar, shopping campaigns promote your online inventory of products by matching search queries to ads that feature these products. These ads, known as product listing ads, can appear in Google search results or on the Google Shopping results page.

Shopping campaigns generally benefit from high click-through rates and low CPCs. With segmentation, the value of shopping campaigns increases. Reporting on specific product performance becomes even easier. Product bidding becomes more accurate. And, overall product management improves through better organization.

If you’re a digital advertiser new to shopping campaigns, the steps below can help you successfully leverage this campaign type.

1. Optimize the Data Feed

Proper segmentation doesn’t actually begin in the AdWords interface. The foundation of a highly organized and structured shopping campaign truly starts with the data feed. The data feed contains all the product data that’s uploaded to the Google Merchant Center. The Merchant Center essentially houses all the product data and makes it available to Google and Google Shopping.

To make sure proper segmentation within AdWords is possible, include as much data as possible for each product. For segmentation purposes, it’s vital to include the brand, condition, Google Product Category, and product type attributes. You also have the ability to include up to five custom labels that you can segment by. We’ll touch more on that later.

I strongly recommend having values for not only the required data attributes, but as many of the optional attributes as well. Google is more likely to reward products with rich data with a higher impression share and better ad position. So, there are incentives for fleshing out your data feed as much as possible, beyond just functionality.

2. Subdivide Properly

Once your foundation (accurate product data) is set, you first need to figure out what type of segmentation makes the most sense for your business. To go back to the online luxury jewelry store from my last article, if I’m selling different brands of jewelry, I know that select brands are more popular than others. Because of this, I want to be able to bid differently for each brand in my inventory.

So, for this example, it makes sense to first segment, or subdivide, my shopping campaign by the Brand attribute. Selecting the correct starting subdivision immediately improves my ability to bid better, as I now have organized product groups that provide insightful data that allow me to bid more accurately than if they were grouped together.

01-Subdivide

3. Further Subdivide By Relevant Attributes

Let’s imagine my online jewelry store sells Cartier, among other brands. After first subdividing all my products by brand, I now have a product group specifically for Cartier products. While this is great, I know that I get different returns from different product types, such as rings, bracelets, or necklaces. So, I want to be able to set bids for each individual Cartier product group.

What I would then do is segment that Cartier group by the product type attribute. Now, I have the ability to bid for Cartier rings separate from Cartier bracelets. Once you have your first subdivision completed, you can continue to subdivide until you believe you have the correct product organization for your business.

02-RelevantAttributes

Keep in mind that each time you subdivide by another attribute, the bid will be placed at the resulting product groups. While this gives you improved bidding and a clear understanding of what products drive revenue for your business, you don’t want to subdivide too much. This could make the product group too small to get any valuable data from and optimize around.

4. Use Custom Labels

Earlier, I mentioned that in addition to the Google required data attributes, you have the ability to create up to five custom labels for each product. Utilizing these labels allows you to be a bit more creative with the segmentation of your shopping campaign than the standard parameters Google allows, and to better segment by attributes that make the most sense for your business goals.

For example, let’s say my jewelry store categorizes products by expected popularity. A product could be given a rating of High, Medium, or Low. By including this rating in the custom label column, I could then subdivide my initial brand segment by this custom label, and bid up for the most popular products and bid low for less popular items.

5. Strategically Exclude Products

Let’s say my jewelry store sells Cartier watches. Imagine these product listing ads have a great click-through rate but a poor conversion rate due to the high price point. Over time, these clicks result in wasted spend and drag down the efficiency of the account. To avoid a poor ROI moving forward, I can exclude Cartier watches from my shopping campaign.

03-ProductExclusion

Product exclusion is an effective way of improving performance by removing items from your shopping campaign that carry low ROI. Product exclusion can also be used to organize your shopping campaigns. To exclude products, click the max CPC column for that particular product group and then check Excluded.

Google Analytics 360 Suite – Validating an Entire Industry

By March 25th, 2016

Thank you, Google! Your announcement of the Google Analytics 360 Suite is industry-wide confirmation that enterprise level marketing tools are necessary in order to get the most out of your advertising dollars. Of course, Marin Software has known this all along and believes marketers of all sizes can benefit from these tools.

All marketers want efficient ways to reach new and existing customers and to understand what works and what doesn’t. As Forrester Research reports: “Sophisticated marketers who use analytics platforms are 3X more likely to outperform their peers in achieving revenue goals.” Organizations need this kind of sophisticated software to enable marketing teams to align around goals that help them optimize, compete, and drive revenue.

Cross-publisher, Cross-channel, Cross-device

At Marin, our focus is providing the technology and data needed for demand and revenue generation based steadfastly on our customer’s goals. We enable customers to make holistic creative, bid and budget optimization decisions across their campaigns, all from the same integrated platform.

Besides integrating well with Google, we have extensive experience working with Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other leading partners, including 10 of the largest global exchanges. Our commitment remains the same – helping marketers reach their goals across publishers, across channels (search, social and display) and devices (desktop, tablet, mobile).

Accomplish Your Goals with 100% Transparency

Purpose-built to provide customers with complete transparency of campaign data and results, our mission aligns with Peter Drucker’s adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” We provide digital marketers superlative cross-publisher data and measurement including:

  • Transparent reporting, bidding algorithms, and predictive modeling
  • Advertisers’ intent data for better targeting and ROAS
  • Cross-channel insights and metrics
  • The true cost of media
  • Data throughout the customer journey
  • Quality and viewability metrics
  • View-through or click-through attribution

Although Marin Software has had a legacy in search leadership, we’ve evolved our cross-publisher platform via industry-leading acquisitions to power digital marketing campaigns for the world’s biggest brands and agencies. We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with the tools and insights to profitably compete and reach their goals.

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.

So You Don’t Have $5 Million to Spend on the
Super Bowl…

By February 1st, 2016

Super Bowl 50 is here, and the cost to advertise is heating up faster than the Broncos/Panthers rivalry. In fact, CBS is charging up to
$5 million for a 30-second ad spot during the big game. According to eMarketer, the top five Super Bowl advertisers have spent a total of $745.1 million for the privilege over the past 10 years.

While the Super Bowl is a great time to drive awareness with cute Budweiser puppies and ridiculous Doritos commercials, most advertisers can’t afford to shell out that kind of money. Here are four strategies to help marketers of all sizes take advantage of the Super Bowl without breaking the bank.

1. Start with a good content strategy

Make sure you have a cohesive plan in advance of the big day that includes organic and paid teams, and all marketing channels where you have a presence (search, social, display, etc.). With a solid strategy in place, you’ll have a good foundation to help you capitalize on any spontaneous moments that may occur, such as Oreo’s quick “dunk in the dark” reaction in 2013.

Here are a few recommended tactics:

  • Plan your gameday creative and messaging in advance
  • Use a tool like Marin Social’s Message Booster to improve coordination between organic and paid teams, and to ease the workload by automatically promoting top-performing content according to pre-defined rules
  • Make sure your social media team is at the ready with immediate, relevant, branded content, in case a big and unexpected moment occurs

2. Take a mobile-first approach

During the Super Bowl, millions of Americans are watching more than just the TV screen. They’re grabbing recipes from Pinterest, posting photos of their gameday garb on Facebook, and sharing their real-time reactions on Twitter. Advertisers who understand this second-screen behavior are in the best position to take advantage using a mobile-first approach.

  • Use mobile device and carrier targeting to maximize ad relevance
  • Make sure your website or landing page is optimized for mobile viewing
  • Consider extending your ads beyond the publishers and into mobile apps, via the Facebook Audience Network and the Twitter Audience Platform

3. Run your commercial without the hefty price tag

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all offer top-notch video advertising formats, so you can run your commercial without dropping $5 million. Captivating video formats provide an exciting way to engage with users who skim through their phones while watching the game. Other things to consider:

  • Use Reach & Frequency targeting with your Facebook video ads to generate awareness at scale
  • Make sure your creative attracts attention with autoplay and no sound
  • Run video that’s specifically relevant to Super Bowl viewers, and consider unveiling fresh, never-seen-before content

4. Up the ante with TV Sync technology

If you already have a good baseline social advertising strategy, take things to the next level using TV Sync technology. TV Sync allows you to automatically activate your social ads based on customizable offline events like television flight schedules, live programming, weather changes, or sporting events – all in real time. It’s a powerful way to amplify your reach and drive engagement across screens.

TV Sync allows you to:

  • Trigger your social ads whenever your competitor’s commercial airs
  • Launch social ads automatically based on weather status or key sporting events such as touchdowns and timing
  • Push social ads live during other related TV events (Pro Bowl, Puppy Bowl, etc.)

Last but not least, consider using these strategies beyond Super Bowl Sunday. Every day is a great chance to extend your advertising beyond TV, onto the second screen and into the virtual living room.

Consider applying these ideas during primetime TV shows, live awards events, college or national sporting events, the World Cup, the Lumberjack World Championships, or any time at all.

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 Steps to Victory in the Holiday Advertising Game

By October 21st, 2015

We continue to get closer and closer to the busiest time of year for e-commerce businesses and the most festive for online consumer traffic. Our teams at Marin Software have even more tips and tricks for making sure you’re amply prepared.

To help you prepare your accounts for the holidays and top your competitors, we’ve put together five key action points you can start to implement today, directly in Marin.

1. Identify Your Target Audience and Determine Key Dates

There are several holidays between November and January. However, not every holiday is relevant to your customers – so, it’s important to focus and prepare for the dates and audiences that matter.

First, identify your customers. Are they discount shoppers looking for online bargains? Or shoppers looking for that special present for a loved one? Depending on what’s relevant to your business, bucket your strategy into interest-based audiences. For example:

  • Bargain hunters
  • Gift buyers
  • Cultural purchasers
  • Event purchasers

Next, plot the dates that could influence them to search and purchase online. Here’s a short list of eight dates that have the most impact on consumer behavior, and who the holiday appeals to most. Be sure to add these dates to your calendar!

  • Black Friday, 27th Nov: Bargain hunters
  • Cyber Monday, 30th Nov: Bargain hunters
  • Hanukkah, 6th Dec – 14th Dec: Gift buyers
  • Christmas, 25th Dec: Gift buyers
  • Kwanzaa, 26 Dec – Jan 1: Cultural purchasers
  • Boxing Day, 26th Dec: Bargain hunters
  • New Year’s Day, 1st Jan: Event purchasers
  • January sales, 1st Jan – 31st Jan: Bargain hunters

Review your target audience – will any of these dates affect their purchasing decision? In some cases, people might be interested in a holiday just to benefit from the special promotions that come with it. Instead of including the holiday name in your copy, try organizing by interest. To increase CTRs, tailor your creatives to match the holiday that appeals to your customers.

2. Implement Scheduled Actions

Creating ad copy for every holiday can become difficult to manage. Having a Christmas creative active on New Year’s Day can reflect poorly on your company. It’s important that a mechanism is in place to prevent this from happening.

Scheduled Actions in Marin enables you to schedule campaigns, groups, and creatives at a specified date and time. So, if you’re planning on ringing in the New Year on a beach in Mauritania, you can schedule your seasonal campaigns in advance and let Marin pause and activate them while you’re out of the office.

3. Use Ad Extensions

The top positions for your main keywords are prime real estate. With your competitors throwing compelling ad copy and offers into the ring, competition can be fierce. Just your presence alone in the top spot is not always enough.

To expand the size of your creatives and improve visibility, add Ad Extensions to them. This can increase CTR and brand awareness.

Leverage from your existing creatives’ quality score and add Ad Extensions to:

  • Sitelinks: Drive customers to holiday promotion pages
  • Location Extensions: Show your holiday opening and closing times
  • Call Out Extensions: Add a non-clickable festive message or promote an offer like ‘Free Shipping’

4. Exclude Dates from Bidding

Excluding dates from bidding allows you to leave out cost and conversion data for specified dates and date ranges. This is useful during seasonal periods where accounts experience unusual performance, which can skew bid calculations.

If the data is not a true reflection of normal performance, bids will be calculated based on this inaccurate data. To prevent this, exclude the relevant dates.

5. Retarget

Your additional holiday marketing efforts will very likely attract new visitors to your site. These new visitors may have gone to several sites before and after yours. With so many online holiday bright lights, it’s understandable how they could forget where they found that perfect product.

Use retargeting to help jog their memory, bringing them back to the original page where they first saw your offer. Whether you decide to use them or not, there’s no cost in building retargeting lists in AdWords and syncing them with Marin.

Each holiday attracts different search intent. Converting customers on Cyber Monday and Boxing Day could be listed as ‘Bargain hunters’, and customers converting on Christmas can be listed as ‘Gift Buyers’. Building retargeting lists around your target audience will enable you to promote offers across audiences through Display and Search.

We hope these tips get you well on your way to clinching the holiday gold. To learn more about how you can stand out this season, take a look at some of our recent content:

How to Use AdWords Location Ad Customizers

By October 19th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Shipping Times

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

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

Mention the User’s Location in the Ad Text Campaign

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

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

Address, Duration, and Offers

Suppose you’re wildly successful with your location extensions. In this case, you can increase the effectiveness of your ad even more, by including address and working hours of the location that’s nearest to your user in your ad text. And, to appeal to more potential customers and beat your competition, you can add offers and discounts that are specific to those nearby locations.

The ad customizers allow you to update your closing and opening times or offers depending on the day of the week. This kind of ad campaign guarantees an increase in the number of people who’ll show intent to purchase your products and services.

Include the Cost of Service for a User’s City

Finally, location ad customizers can also include different pricing for different regions. Price is an important factor whenever sale of items and services is involved – every buyer considers the price of your product. Make sure that you include the most competitive prices for your products in your ad campaign. Delivery of top quality products at affordable prices will enable your Google AdWords marketing campaign to be the most successful.

You can include dynamic pricing in your text ads. These prices should match your users’ spending capacities to make sure that you have a large return on investment and a reliable conversion rate to drive your sales exponentially. Inclusion of prices in your location ad customizers will increase the percentage of pre-qualification of your clicks.

Follow these fundamental methods when you use AdWords location ad customizers, and watch your PPC marketing campaign benefit as a result.

Resources