In the old days of advertising, the name of the game was reach and frequency. Brands preferred mass media vehicles like television and radio, because they were the easiest means to reach large audiences and build brand awareness. Obviously, this meant the most effective advertising campaigns were dominated by the biggest brands with the largest marketing budgets.
If you’ve been reading our blog then you don’t need to be sold on the ways retargeting can help your business. However, putting everything together – building audiences, managing campaigns, optimizing performance, etc. – can sometimes feel overwhelming. This is especially true when retargeting is just one of the many marketing strategies that you focus on.
To help you out, we’ve teamed up with HubSpot, the world’s leading inbound and sales marketing platform, to bring you a free eBook, titled The Beginner’s Guide to Retargeting. In addition to providing context on the types of retargeting and the different ways it can help your business, we’ve collected some of our favorite tips and best practices for getting started, running your campaigns, creating good ads, and measuring and optimizing your performance.
Download the free eBook now and start learning how to use retargeting to increase leads and traffic today.
In the obituary for Adobe Flash, September 1, 2015 will stand out as the day Google felled Adobe Flash with a mortal wound. As was originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, Google announced that its Chrome browser will block Internet ads that use Adobe Flash technology. With Chrome holding 60%+ market share, this essentially means Flash has become exceedingly irrelevant for advertisers.
The move to a Flashless future shouldn’t come as a surprise to advertisers. The increasing focus on mobile – and Flash’s non-existence on that platform – means that many advertisers are already migrating their rich media creative to be built using HTML5, in order to maximize efficiency and reuse creative assets across their desktop and mobile ad campaigns. Other trends like YouTube ditching Flash for an HTML5 player also helped marshal that change along for desktop rich media advertisers.
However, not everyone’s updated all their creative assets, so this switch will have an impact for some advertisers, at least in the short-term. Here are a few immediate recommendations for how to reduce the short-term impact while you rebuild new HTML5 rich media creative:
Odds are the demise of Flash hasn’t impacted you as much as you’d expect, with all the headlines raised in the past couple days (incrementally so if you’re a Marin Display or Perfect Audience customer, as we’ve never been Flash ad proponents). But, hopefully these recommendations will help you minimize the repercussions while you update your ads.
Over 65% of online revenue now comes from purchases made across more than one digital channel. With this in mind, it’s essential that marketers use cross-channel strategies, rather than just looking at each digital channel in a silo. Using the right technology, you can reach the same users across search, social, and display, engaging with audiences on one channel based on their profile and activities on another.
Here are three strategies to survive – and thrive – in a cross-channel world.
Competitive search terms can be expensive. Using cross-channel remarketing for high-cost search keywords can save money while still serving ads to users who’ve shown search intent. Using remarketing lists for search ads (RLSAs), you can make sure the same user doesn’t click a search ad more than once, but still retarget them using social and display – where the CPC is a lot cheaper. For example, an insurance company may not want to have to pay for two expensive, generic insurance search clicks from the same user. Suppose that user visits the company’s website via a generic keyword. The company can use negative remarketing lists for search, but pass the search intent data to social and display channels and spend less on remarketing.
You may want to use more generic keyword targeting on search for users that you know have visited your website through a social channel. Users visiting your website through social have shown some brand affinity, so there’s less risk with wider keyword targeting to this audience. For instance, the keyword “dresses” may be too generic for a retailer to target without any social signals from the user. But, if the retailer knows the user has some brand affinity, they may want to bid on these keywords for this audience. By creating an RLSA campaign with more generic keywords just for this audience, advertisers can expand targeting while maintaining performance.
Lookalike audiences let you reach new prospects who are more likely to be interested in your business because they’re similar to audiences who’ve visited your website or performed a desired action. Using search intent data for lookalike modeling allows you to build lookalike audiences based on how users have performed a specific search, or who have shown specific search intent. For example, a travel agent may want to reach potential travellers looking for luxury hotels. The agent could use their search intent data to build a Facebook Custom Audience website campaign for prospecting, based on people who searched for upmarket hotels and landed on the website.
Each digital advertising channel has its own unique benefits, data sets, and targeting options. By utilizing cross-channel advertising strategies, advertisers can take audience information from one channel and use it to optimize campaigns on another.
As we delve deeper into audience marketing and programmatic, we often talk about this ideal scenario of delivering the right message to the right person at the right moment. However, in that scenario, often times the focus on the “right message” gets buried. Acquiring data has become easier and more automated, but the same can’t be said for delivering a compelling experience to the customer. While tools like dynamic product ads improve the efficiency of creating millions of different versions of ads, they still don’t help marketers figure out the most important part: what’s the right hook that will convince your audience to pay attention. Figuring that out is still a very manual, creatively driven process.
In working with our clients, we’ve learned that developing the “right message” requires discipline and communication between the data analysis and creative parts of the organization. Here are three basic steps you should be taking:
Knowing your audience starts with being able to paint a vivid picture of each customer – knowing their needs, their aspirations, and their goals. The best way to do this is ensuring you have accurate, compelling, and useful personas of your target audiences. The best personas are an amalgam of both qualitative and quantitative insights. The Nielsen Norman Group offers a great primer on developing data-driven personas.
Once you start collecting intent data, it won’t be long before you find yourself being deluged by it. The challenge we face constantly is figuring out how to categorize data in the most useful ways.
There are two basic ways we start categorizing intent data – the first is based on signals that indicate how likely a user is to take an action, the second is signals that show how valuable that user might be. By mapping these segments, we can start to build a narrative of where they are in the buying cycle, and what messages might resonate with them.
In the equation of being in the right place at the right time with the right message. Having the right message is the most important part of that equation. Studies have shown that creative quality, not targeting or optimization, is the primary reason why brand campaigns succeed or fail.
However, developing “good” creative is easier said than done. The key takeaway is that while dynamic advertising will help operationally, simply rotating a never ending stream of images, copy and colors, to try to hit upon a “winning” combination will not deliver an ideal customer experience. It is essential that any design and copy template start by speaking the right language, is considerate of where your customers might be in the funnel, and takes into account the contexts where they’re going to encounter your ads.
By leveraging intent data with your existing understanding of your customers, you can start making your data work harder and smarter for you. Optimized targeting and compelling, customer-first creative is a powerful combination that will help you drive incremental results.
If you manage retargeting, frequency caps are something you should be familiar with. They’re often neglected and never tested because they’re not straightforward, but not knowing what optimal frequency cap to use can result in poor results. Like any of the other levers within retargeting, frequency caps should be measured and tested to understand the ideal number of times a unique visitor should see your ad – otherwise, you’re wasting a lot of impressions.
The last thing you want to do is cause banner blindness by overexposure, or even worst – irritate or creep people out to the point where it tarnishes your brand. Having a frequency cap in place limits the number of times a visitor sees your ad over a period of time. It’s important to find that sweet spot; otherwise, you risk running a campaign that doesn’t generate enough impressions to keep your brand top of mind.
You’ll find unproven answers and “best practices”, but the reality is there isn’t one number that works for every single advertiser or industry. If it were really that simple, it would be pre-defined for you. The challenge is to figure out how much is too much and what frequency cap you should use. The best frequency cap is the one that works best to drive results for your business.
Let’s walk through how to test and analyze the initial frequency cap for your retargeting campaigns, then how to optimize to determine the best frequency cap.
If split-testing frequency caps were easy to do, there’d be numerous articles explaining how to do it. It’s difficult to truly test it simultaneously, but here’s one way to approach it:
You could also try testing only one retargeting list, changing the frequency cap week over week over a period of time, and then evaluating the results. However, there are many factors that may affect the results, and it won’t be as clean as the method above.
Let’s analyze the results of the tests. For this part, you’ll need to know your way around pivot tables and creating simple formulas.
There are two things important to monitor: click-through rate and conversion rate. If you click each frequency number and group them one by one, you’ll be able to see where the majority of your conversions fall. It’s clear from this table that the CTR starts to drop after the second cap, but the conversions are highest and most efficient in costs at one to two caps. Based on this example, I would set my frequency cap at two.
The online customer purchase path has become way more complex. If marketers want to develop a relevant and efficient online acquisition strategy, they have to fully understand this new online purchasing landscape.
The online advertising world is traditionally “ad centric” – campaign performance is measured for a given format and on a specific channel. Now, it’s evolving into a “customer-centric” model, where performance is measured and analyzed at the user level (i.e., its overall acquisition cost, regardless of the channel or formats being used). The move from a silo to a cross-channel vision allows advertisers to allocate ad investments more wisely, avoiding excessive spend on a single user. If you’re a marketer who’s willing to create a unified strategy for your ad campaigns – across Search, Social, and Display channels – then audience targeting and use of first-party data are vital necessities.
Did you know that 98% of website visitors don’t convert on their first visit? To send them back to your website and directly to the bottom of the celebrated conversion funnel, you have to retarget them one way or another. This is especially important for marketers who:
Because of the obvious link between search intent and the related click action, until recently, no channel was able to compete with Search. However, this is changing, due to technologies that focus on audiences and are able to leverage substantial volumes of data.
Now, advertisers no longer rely solely on what customers are searching for (queried keywords). They’re also leveraging multiple behavioral and demographic data from other channels. The marketers’ goal is to identify, segment, target, and retarget the audience with the highest customer lifetime value, across different channels and devices (smartphones, tablets, and desktop) in order to maximize conversion rates.
Your website is still the best source of information on user behavior, since you can easily analyze browsing patterns (number of page views, shares on social media, cart abandon, etc.).
This information allows you to identify trends and define various profiles according to your performance goals. For example, a user who’s seen 10 different pages has a tendency to convert more frequently than someone who’s seen only one.
You can enrich these website profiles with other data (internal or external to the site) in order to build powerful data combinations. Two types of data that always seem to be inescapable: intent (via search engine) and demographic.
Combining the windfall of useful information from search campaigns with demographic targeting insights from social campaigns, you can refine your user profiles for more optimized retargeting campaigns.
By cross-checking this audience data, you can better understand your prospective customers while improving the efficiency of your online campaigns. And, you can more precisely target your most important user segments. Indeed, these audience lists can be used across your three ad campaign types:
To provide a real-world example: Someone starts his purchase journey on a search engine with the term “cheap hotel in London”. Then, he clicks the text ad without converting. You could add him to the audience list that includes people interested in the “London” destination with an intent of “cheap”. You can then implement a targeting campaign for this list by bidding differently on each channel to optimize its cost of acquisition (for instance, Search at -20%, Social at +20%, and Display at +10%).
Looking at the customer purchase path, it’s obvious that each channel has drastically different roles and impacts on final outcomes. For example, Search is more likely to generate direct sales, while Social and Display have more supporting roles. According to a Marin Software study, Search campaigns – when jointly managed with Social – generate 26% higher revenue per click compared to single-channel campaigns. This type of unified management strategy also improves revenue per conversion – Search campaign revenue per conversion was 68% higher when managed simultaneously with Social.
Marketers who successfully leverage unified Search, Social, and Display strategies experience better managed and optimized online acquisition spend. By firmly shifting focus to your audience, you can maximize lifetime value and overall ROI. Using a flexible and transparent platform that enables you to precisely segment and target users on all channels allows you to more effectively achieve your business goals, while evolving away from a single-channel approach.
Programmatic is hot right now. eMarketer predicts that by 2016, programmatic spending will top $20 billion, making up 63% of all US display ad spending. As quickly as it’s growing, though, programmatic has some serious terminology and conventions you have to learn if you want to consider yourself an expert. And once you get started, you may feel like you’re drowning in a sea of programmatic jargon, lingo, and acronyms.
The programmatic ecosystem is large and wide – but not impassable. A good way to start the journey is getting to know the 8 major players in the ecosystem, as well as their main functions.
1. The Advertiser
If you’re reading this, this is probably you. The advertising world wouldn’t exist without the companies that buy the ads.
2. The Publisher
Publishers are all the publications, web sites, and mobile apps that create and deliver the real value – the content – as well as the ad space that advertisers buy.
3. Ad Exchanges
Ad exchanges are the backbone of programmatic ad buying, and a major driving force for the display advertising renaissance over the past few years. Ad exchanges are essentially marketplaces where advertisers and publishers buy and sell ad space programmatically. Publishers make their inventory available and advertisers then bid for those ads, often in real-time, based on how much a particular visitor is worth to them.
4. Ad Networks
Ad networks are like the older, less capable big brother of the ad exchange. Like ad exchanges, ad networks aggregate inventory across multiple publishers and package it up, helping advertisers buy ads at scale more efficiently. Because they can still be a simple, efficient way to scale your media buy across a large number of publishers, they’re still relevant in this age of programmatic. Still, ad networks don’t offer the same targeting sophistication that ad exchanges do.
5. Data Management Platforms (DMPs)
Advertisers use DMPs to collect, store, and leverage their first-party audience data. DMPs also aggregate data from third parties and make it available to clients to use in their advertising.
6. Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs)
A demand-side platform is a tool that enables marketers to bid on and buy ads from ad exchanges. There are some big differences between the different platforms out there, so be sure to determine what’s most important to your business before investing in one – for example, access to data, quality of reach, transparency, etc.
7. Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs)
Advertisers use DSPs to buy ads on ad exchanges. Publishers use SSPs to sell their ads on ad exchanges. It’s basically the mirror opposite.
8. Agency Trading Desk
Agency Trading Desks (ATDs) are essentially the media buying and reselling arms of major advertising agency holding companies like WPP, Publicis, and Interpublic. ATDs reflect a mix of people and technology. While media is often bought programmatically using technology like DSPs and DMPs, it’s then resold to advertisers as a managed service.
These eight players are just one piece of the programmatic puzzle. For a more complete discussion – including how data, targeting, and retargeting figure in – download our full white paper, The ABCs of Programmatic.
Advertisers cite data quality as one of their top concerns in creating complete customer profiles. Many advertisers are still looking for ways to expand the reach and effectiveness of their campaigns with strong, quality data. Being able to effectively synthesize different sources of data is a key step in this process. While first- and third-party data are most common and have their own, unique strengths, second-party data is making a big splash – and quickly becoming the life of the party.
First-party data is your data, collected from your own audience and customers. It’s unique, cost-effective, and relevant. However, it has scalability issues since – by its very nature – it’s not designed to locate and target additional audiences.
Third-party data is data from an external source, aggregated and sold to advertisers for use in display campaigns and analytics. It has equal-but-opposite issues – it provides a good overall look at a segment or market, but is not unique and less relevant.
Second-party data allows advertisers to bridge the gap between the two.
Second-party data is data received from a trusted source that an advertiser has a direct relationship with. Not only is it scalable – unlike first-party data – it’s also more reliable than third-party data. Second-party data allows you to expand audience reach with accurate data from a trusted partner, whereas third-party data is unreliable due to how the audiences are compiled – information can quickly become outdated.
As a modern marketer, you need to use all the tools at your disposal to best reach and target your audience. Using a healthy mix of all three data types can help you optimize your campaigns and reduce costs, while reaching larger portions of your target audience.
To learn more, read Marin’s white paper – The Power of Second-Party Data: Partner with Trusted Sources to Discover New and Valuable Audiences.
In the first two ‘Going Mobile’ posts we explored how cross-device matching works and how ads are targeted and delivered to those users. In this long overdue post, we’ll go from the theoretical to the practical and go through some best practices for getting the most from your cross-device retargeting campaigns.
This is the basic step that should kick off any marketing campaign. Determine what you want to accomplish. Cross-device retargeting can help you accomplish four general goals:
Creating actionable audience segments is necessary for any retargeting campaign and it’s no different when you’re retargeting users on their mobile devices. When segmenting your audiences, there’s a balance you’ll need to strike with your audience segments – smaller audiences can perform well, but are harder to scale; large, generic audiences can be harder to optimize. For cross-device retargeting campaigns, we’d recommend starting with the following audiences:
If you’ve ever done retargeting, the previous two steps should be pretty familiar already. Step three is where some of the nuances diverge. There are two common mobile ad formats used in-app and across mobile web sites:
Beyond the obvious difference in size, the two ad formats have distinct strengths and weaknesses.
If you want to drive volume, mobile banners are your best bet, as the available inventory vastly outnumbers mobile interstitial inventory. We’ve typically seen the number of available banner impressions outnumber interstitial impressions by 3-5x. Mobile banners are also significantly cheaper than interstitials. Mobile banner CPMs range from $.50-$2.00+, whereas interstitial CPMs range from $3.00-7.00+. On average, interstitial campaign CPMs are about 3-6x higher than mobile banner CPMs.
Of course, price isn’t the only issue. Part of the reason Mobile Interstitial ads cost more is because they enjoy significantly higher engagement rates. On average, interstitial click-through rates (CTRs) are 3-4x higher than banner CTRs. Based on the campaign and creative quality, we’ve even seen interstitial campaigns with CTRs up to 10x higher than average banner CTRs.
The takeaway here is that, as always, there are trade-offs so it’s worthwhile to test different formats to see which best addresses your specific goals. For scenarios where volume is important, or you’re budget constrained, try testing mobile banner ads. If you’re trying to encourage customer action, then interstitials might be the optimal format.
Provide a clear and simple value proposition; create a sense of urgency and include vivid, strong CTAs
Creative optimization for your mobile campaigns goes beyond just repurposing your desktop banner ads. Mobile ads give you a unique chance to make an impression. The key to driving performance is simplicity and directness. You’ll want to ensure your mobile ads offer the following:
I’ve already beaten the drum pretty soundly on why you should be measuring view-through attribution here. If you’re still primarily measuring performance on a last-click model, mobile might be a good opportunity to also try testing a view-through attribution model. Tracking mobile view-throughs can be especially enlightening if your customers are more likely to convert on desktops or if your ad CTAs drive to a desktop-centric action.
Hopefully these recommendations will help you get a head start with your cross-device and mobile retargeting campaigns!
This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content and PR Manager at Boost Media.
Managing a display campaign requires a different strategy and set of tactics than managing a search campaign, even if the purpose of both campaigns is to generate new leads. It’s important for marketers to note that performance will differ by network, especially in terms of click-through rate and traffic.
While display ads tend to work well for building brand awareness, the quality of traffic and the clicks and conversions tend to be lower than search ads. Historically speaking, search ads are employed to garner clicks, and display ads are best for gaining visibility. Marketers should determine if the search or display network is best for meeting a specific campaign objective and for attracting more potential customers.
So what can you do to optimize your display campaigns for success? Here are three best practices.
For most marketers, this won’t come as a surprise: display ads must have a clear and concise CTA. This is especially important in image-based ads because customers may not know what part of the ad is clickable. Bearing this in mind, many marketers often include the CTA in the form of a button to pop from the background image. Keep the CTA brief and direct, for example: “Shop Now,” “Buy Now,” or “Sign Up.” You may also consider testing the button color as well as text to determine what works best in your ad. Help remove the guesswork for your customer by incorporating stronger and clearer CTAs into your display ads.
Testing is just as important in display as in search. The testing options are vast, but start with the elements that can most impact your conversion rate: CTA, messaging, and images. Create three to four ads per ad group and test different messaging and images. Then evaluate which ad performs best with your customers and use these insights to inform your overall strategy. Build on what you’ve learned from testing by incorporating learnings into your active campaigns.
Placement targeting can bring a new level of control to online marketers in their display campaigns. Third party retargeting tools such as Marin enable marketers to quickly identify high-performing placements to save more money. Accurately valuing display campaigns across the complete path to conversion can maximize your ROI.
For additional best practices and tips for optimizing your display campaigns, sign up for our co-webinar with Marin Software on April 21. Register here to learn more.
Sarah heads up Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston magazine, The Improper Bostonian and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running and yoga.
Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.
Click here to schedule a free demo of the Creative Optimization platform today.