Marketing Insights

Archive for ‘Keyword Management’

Planning Your Media Budget and KPIs for the Holiday Season

By October 27th, 2015

Managing your holiday media budget is key to maximizing performance during the annual shopping frenzy. Without the right strategy in place, you risk over-investing in an under-performing segment of your program, while leaving opportunity on the table in another area.

Metrics that matter

Before planning your holiday media budget, understand metrics. CPCs and CPMs increase substantially during the holiday season. Research indicates you should expect to pay at least 2.5x your normal CPC or CPM to show Facebook ads on Black Friday. To add to the mix, Black “Friday” is stretching out to last a month, according to Google. Although CPCs increase during the holidays, keep in mind that the potential for revenue growth is substantial.

Rethinking holiday KPIs

You might have been able to hit your 3-to-1 ROAS goal in July when CPMs were $5. However, come November, this may be unrealistic as CPMs increase by 2 or 3x. Proactively adjust efficiency expectations to avoid missing out on the increased order volume opportunity. Instead of aiming for a strict efficiency goal, consider optimizing to a volume target, perhaps with a cap on minimum ROAS, or cost-per-engagement you’re willing to accept for any given segment of your program.

Holiday media budget framework

Most of the year, digital media budget pacing can be fairly consistent. However, during the holidays there are major shopping days, promotional events, and changes to customer behavior. The goal for holiday budget pacing should be to optimize spend for the highest revenue-per-impression (RPI) days, rather than to spend the budget evenly from day to day.

Further, the fewer constraints placed on budget allocation, the better performance will be. Rather than enforcing strict budgets between ad networks, regions, brands, or products, set targets and enable your team to make investment decisions based on performance in real time.

Holiday shopping behavior is unlike any other time of the year. We hope these well-thought-out rules can provide a budget planning framework to gain maximum traction this holiday season.


About the Author

sarahSarah manages 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.

About Boost Media

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.

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.


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.

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.

5 Ways the Smart SEM Manager Prepares for the Holidays

By September 30th, 2015

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

Businesses kick their marketing efforts into high gear during the holiday season – which is technically from Thanksgiving until the New Year, even though I’ve seen people hanging Christmas lights from their windows before others start carving pumpkins. Many times, businesses depend on strong sales during the holidays to take them from the red to the black. As such, there’s extra pressure on the online marketer with e-commerce clients to drive the strongest performances of the year during this time.

Without strategic planning and execution, delivering on these expectations can be next to impossible. But by following these five outlined tips, you’ll be primed for success.

1. Establish Budgets Early

This should be a no-brainer. Use the performance history of the account as well as current trends to determine what a realistic budget for the holiday season should be. Work with your client to come up with a total budget and stick to that number. If you think the budget will be insufficient, try to create a plan to move spend from one or more low-performing campaigns into a high-performing campaign.

2. Determine KPIs

Imagine it’s January 2016 and you’re looking back at Q4. How will you determine success? Of course it’s important to hit established goals, but if there’s an opportunity to make a push for greater revenue and sales, would a possible increase in CPA be acceptable? Speak with your client before the season kicks off to figure out where you can be most flexible and what targets can’t be sacrificed.

3. Plan Promotions in Advance

Way in advance. Seriously.

The fewer last-minute adjustments that need to be made to accommodate promotional messaging in search ads, sitelinks, or Merchant Center Promotions, the better. Request a promotional calendar from your clients. Review all promotion details about a week or so in advance with your client if possible, just to iron out the details. When it comes to launching promotional creatives, use automated rules whenever possible to schedule future actions and remove any chance for human error.

4. Thoroughly Review Merchant Center and Shopping Campaigns

Because the last thing you want to see before the start of a big seasonal push is a high percentage of disapproved Shopping products, do a quick review of your Merchant Center account and make sure all feeds are in excellent condition. Review your feed schedule. And, make sure your Shopping campaigns are structured in a way that makes sense for your business.

Remember: An item placed in the High, Medium, and Low Priority campaigns will automatically revert to the bid set at the High Priority Level. This is true regardless of whether the bids set in the Medium or Low Priority campaigns are higher.

5. Use Auction Insights

Auction Insights won’t tell you how much a competitor may be bidding for a select term. But frequently examining Auction Insights will tell you if any competitors are creeping up on you (or beating you) in Google’s auctions. One of the more overlooked features is being able to segment Auction Insights by device type. This provides a useful look at who the key players are in your auctions and where you could be getting the most pressure – on desktop, mobile devices, or tablets.

Bonus: Add in Targets with No Set Bid Adjustment

Because this can’t hurt and you may come away with some real learnings to report to your client, try adding in new targeting criteria, such as average household income, to your campaigns with no set bid adjustment before the holiday season kicks off. As time progresses, periodically check in on these new targets and see how they perform. At worst, you’ll have no real actionable data and can simply remove the new targets if performance merits. But at best, you’ll have a better understanding of a new target audience and the ability to increase or decrease marketing efforts to that audience by applying bid modifiers.

DKI – A Good or Bad Thing?

By September 29th, 2015

Depending on who you ask, some search marketers will tell you that dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) hurts conversions. DKI is designed to be an advanced feature, one that can help you dynamically modify parts of your ads to include the keywords that trigger the ad in question. Still, according to the general feeling out there, marketers who rely on DKI end up detracting audiences with irrelevant ads, generic messaging, and keyword misspellings and capitalization errors.

However, very rarely is something universally good
 or bad in search marketing. Depending on campaign goals, customer segment, historical performance, and several other factors, SEM tactics usually perform differently depending on the context. Boost Media has tested DKI extensively across every vertical, and on nearly every type of campaign. Here’s what we learned.

DKI Works Best in Long-Tail Ad Groups

In an intensive analysis of retail advertisers, Boost found that long-tail ad groups tend to derive both click-through rate (CTR) and conversions-per-impression (CPI) lifts by using DKI, while head-term ad groups tend to see a drop in CPI. This is likely because head-term ad groups are optimized more frequently, and typically have a high degree of textual relevance. Long-tail ad groups are neglected and have more to gain from dynamic insertion.

DKI Works Best on Exact Match Keywords

DKI inserts the triggering keyword into the ad, not the query typed by the customer. As a search marketer, you’ve probably seen your fair share of funky search queries matching to broad keywords. Inserting broad keywords into the ad often doesn’t make your ad more relatable to the user. Sometimes it simply creates ads that don’t make sense.

DKI Can Increase Volume

Time and time again, we’ve seen that using DKI increases the impression volume of an ad. Direct response search marketers might argue that increased impression volume is a bad thing because it doesn’t necessarily lead to more revenue. But, consider this: an impression is not generated just because the search engine enters the ad into the auction. An ad has to win the auction to gain an impression. If the ad loses, no other ads are entered into that particular auction. As a result, using DKI to win more auctions and gain more impressions might be what you need to improve the bottom line by increasing volume.

It’s unfair to say that DKI is universally good or bad. When used in the right context, it can help you gain impressions you might not otherwise win, improve your user experience and quality score in ad groups you don’t have time to optimize, and lead to performance gains.


About the Author

sarahSarah manages 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.

About Boost Media

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.

8 PPC Campaign Optimizations Brands Should Do Now from US Search Awards Judges

By July 8th, 2015

Each year, the US Search Awards recognizes the best and brightest brands among the world’s leading search and digital agencies and professionals. We compiled advice from eight of this year’s judges on what every brand should do to optimize their PPC campaigns.

This year’s awards will take place at Paris Las Vegas on Wednesday, October 7th. For more information and to enter, visit the US Search Awards website.


Diane Pease

Inbound Marketing Manager, Cisco Systems | @DPease

Monitor Your Extension Performance

With all the hype around ad extensions, we can sometimes get caught up in “extension excitement” – putting site links, callouts, and location extensions on our ads to provide a better user experience. But it’s important to monitor the performance of your extensions, to ensure they’re really working for you in the way you want them to. Create a reminder – and check on a bi-weekly basis. If you have an extension that’s not performing, make adjustments or try removing it. Extensions are a great way to expand your ad, but they need to be monitored.


Matt McGowan

Head of Strategy for America’s Advertising, Google | @Matt_Mcgowan

RLSA. Do it. It amazes me how many clients don’t add the tag to their sites. For free, you can bring together intent, context, and audience to help your business drive sales and leads with great ROI. With remarketing lists for search ads, you can modify bids, ads, and keywords for past site visitors. For example, people visit your sports apparel site to check out available styles, and look at the shoe section of the site. You could add these shoppers to a “Shoe category” list. Then, the next time they search for running shoes on Google you could bid more for them. More here.


Richard Gregory

UK Industry Expert | @Smartrich

You absolutely have to be leveraging Gmail Sponsored Promotions (GSP) these days. At a recent SAScon event, Larry Kim highlighted the low CPCs that early adopters of the format have benefited from. One great tip is to run a campaign targeting Gmail accounts containing newsletters from your competitors, remembering to negative your own keywords to avoid upsetting existing customers.


Jim Banks

Global Head of Biddable Media | @Jimbanks

Anticipate the device your users will be on and have ads that reflect that context. If someone is on mobile, then having the CTA as “Call” or “Tap” will get higher CTR (TTR – Tap Through Rate) than “Click”. Dayparting is now a 168-hour a week function, and device, location, and time of day/day of week will help or hurt more than keyword, bid, or ad.


Lisa Williams

Digital Marketing Strategist, Author, Speaker, Networker, and Columnist; Sustainable Digital Marketing | @SEOPllyAnna

Look at the performance of high-volume, general PPC ads and test the content for titles and meta descriptions. For example, the shipping message “same day shipping” performed better in Paid than the message “fast shipping”. Test the better performing message CTR and conversion to see if you get lift in Organic Search the same way you did in Paid Search.


Matt Umbro

Senior Account Manager, Hanapin Marketing; Founder of #PPCChat | @Matt_Umbro

In order to quickly find keywords that are costing too much and not providing enough (or any) conversions, create an automated rule. I’ll generally create a rule that runs weekly and looks at the last 30 days’ worth of data. I’ll set the rule to identify all keywords that have seen at least 50 clicks and zero conversions. I’ll have these keywords emailed to me so I can choose whether to change my bids, pay particularly close attention to the search queries, and/or pause the keywords all together. You can adjust the filter as you see fit, but this rule helps to easily find poor performing keywords.


John Gagnon

Bing Ads Evangelist | @Jmgagnon

To bid or not to bid? Bid. And, there’s finally concrete data. Bing Ads completed a study measuring the number of clicks a brand received when they were the top organic spot alone, versus the top organic spot plus the top paid ad.

After looking at three million impressions on brand searches for retail during 2014, the study found advertisers saw an incremental 31 clicks for every 100 brand searches when a paid search ad was used in combination with the top organic result. That’s huge!

Only 11 of those clicks would have been received anyways. Adjust your CPA lower by about 18% to account for the overlap – and you have a concrete strategy for bidding on your brand terms.


Jonathan Beeston

Owner, Beetsonomics | @Beeston

If you’re a retailer, then of course you’re running Shopping campaigns. But your campaigns will only be as good as the product or inventory feed that powers them. Spend as much time optimizing your feed as you would any other part of the campaign, making sure you have the right imagery and search-friendly titles. As you can use the feed with Bing Shopping Campaigns (now in beta), Facebook Product Ads, and Google Shopping, the optimization will pay off more than once.

The deadline for submitting an entry to one of the 22 categories in the US Search Awards is the 17th of July, so download the entry form today and you could be a worthy winner at the glittering Las Vegas event in October during Pubcon!

Dos and Don’ts for Contextual Keyword Targeting, Part 2

By August 19th, 2013

display2This is a guest post by Jana Fung of MixRank.

In my first post in this series, we looked at the 5 biggest don’ts when it comes to contextual keywords. Now let’s consider a few things you can do to make your ads a success:

  • Do: Experiment with lower bidding strategies. When you’re testing out campaigns, it is usually recommended to start with a large budget and optimize as you go. However, clicks on the GDN can be up to 75% cheaper than paid search clicks. So don’t be afraid to start a test campaign with a small budget. If you find that you’re continuously missing out on impressions due to budget constraints, increase your budget incrementally and optimize your keywords and placements as you go.
  • Do: Try targeting keywords that are outside your current product offering. Although counter-intuitive, this actually expands your reach to the right audience. For example, if you’re selling luggage, your target audience includes travelers and you would use travel-related keywords. However, you may also want to use the keyword “airport security rules.” Although not included in your product offering, this keyword will reach an audience that is new to travelling and in need of luggage. Targeting keywords that are outside your product offering works well because keyword targeting on the GDN is not like paid search where you try to match intent. On the GDN, keyword targeting and ads should be created to reach new audiences, and should focus less on exact match product offerings.
  • Do: Spy on your competitors’ contextual keywords and scale your own keywords accordingly, by using free competitive intelligence tools like MixRank. As mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, you shouldn’t be using a thesaurus to identify relevant keywords for your target audience. Free competitive intelligence tools like MixRank provide instant access to your competitors’ top performing contextual keywords and give you relevant keyword suggestions that you can test with your own campaigns.
  • Do: Add other layers of targeting in conjunction with keyword targeting. In addition to keyword targeting, the GDN offers placement targeting, interest targeting, topic targeting and re-marketing. With the exception of re-marketing, you should add at least one layer of targeting to increase precision for your intended audience. Keep in mind that if you add too many layers of targeting, volume may significantly decrease, so be sure to check the estimated display reach within your Display Network tab.
  • Do: Limit the number of keywords per ad group to 3-6 to increase precision, relevancy and Quality Score (QS). Because keyword targeting on the GDN only allows for broad match, it doesn’t make sense to add variations of the same keyword as you would in paid search for exact and phrase match targeting. If you’re targeting too many broad match keywords that aren’t thematically related within a single ad group, your QS may suffer and hurt campaign performance.

While this is just a starter list of what you should consider when building out your contextual keywords and ad campaigns, it is imperative to understand the differences between the Search network and the Display network. Display advertisers are creating ads and keyword targets to reach specific audiences, while search advertisers are creating ads and keyword targets to reach specific intentions.

What contextual keyword dos or don’ts have you had success with in the past? Share them with us in the comments section below.

About the Author
Jana Fung, guest author of this post, is the Marketing Manager of MixRank. She has managed successful demand generation programs for over 6 years. is a spy tool for contextual and display ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, Jana is interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter @jana_fung.

Dos and Don’ts for Contextual Keyword Targeting, Part 1

By August 16th, 2013

google display network keywords contextualThis is a guest post by Jana Fung with MixRank.

Contextual advertising on the Google Display Network (GDN) is often an overlooked strategy to gain additional traffic at a low cost. Although willing to test out campaigns, advertisers have had little success optimizing them due to the vast difference between contextual keyword targeting and paid search keyword targeting. With high expectations for contextual ads, advertisers are often disappointed and shocked when the ads do not perform similarly to paid search campaigns.

In this series, I’ll discuss some dos and don’ts when it comes to testing contextual keywords on the GDN. Let’s start with some watch-outs:

  • Don’t: Copy and paste your best performing long tail keywords from paid search campaigns into new contextual ad groups. The GDN only offers broad match keyword targeting, so lengthy, descriptive keywords are more likely to harm your campaigns than to help them.
  • Don’t: Group keywords the same way you would group them for paid search campaigns. Consider using shorter and broader keyword terms that you can thematically group together.
  • Don’t: Add negative keywords as an optimization strategy. Since you’re using a variety of websites to reach as many relevant audiences as possible, you’re better off noting what sites your ads are performing poorly on and excluding those from your campaign using negative placements.
  • Don’t: Expect contextual keyword performance to have similar or comparable outcomes to your paid search keywords. Even though you’re using the same ad platform, Google AdWords, this does not mean the ad channels are equal or that they should they be measured in the same way.
  • Don’t: Rely on a thesaurus to expand your contextual keyword targets and scale quickly. A thesaurus helps with paid search campaigns where you aim to expand your reach to every query that’s synonymous with your product offering. However, for contextual keyword targeting, the main goal is to reach your target audience on different websites. Therefore, instead of focusing on synonymous keywords, focus on keywords that will help you reach similar audiences. In the next post, we’ll discuss some strategies to help you expand and scale on contextual keywords.

Now that you know what not to do, join us next week with Part 2 of this series where will discuss what contextual keyword strategies to implement and how to create precise targeting for your campaigns.

About the Author
Jana Fung, guest author of this post, is the Marketing Manager of MixRank. She has managed successful demand generation programs for over 6 years. is a spy tool for contextual and display ads. With MixRank you can see exactly where your competitors are buying traffic and which ad copy is performing best for them across over 100,000 sites. If you’re a MixRank fan or just want to say hi, Jana is interested in connecting with you! Follow her on Twitter @jana_fung.

Introducing the BoostCTR Account Performance Grader – Optimize Your Campaigns Today

By April 2nd, 2013

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

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

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

Sign up here and start optimizing your campaigns today!


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