The search for summer interns is already on, and our recruiting team has been hitting the road! On Wednesday, we met with students at the Cal Internship & Summer Job Fair. Then on Thursday, we traveled to Oregon State University in Portland. (Did you know we now have an office in Portland?)
But the real apex was our “Super Saturday” event this past weekend. Our recruiters welcomed awesome students from Stanford and Cal to our headquarters for breakfast and a great conversion with Joe Chang, one of Marin’s co-founders and chief technical officer. Joe is also a proud Stanford grad. Students got to learn more about the ad tech space, what Marin’s been up to, and why it’s such a neat place to work. They also had the opportunity to interview for summer positions, in an engaging speed-dating style.
Finally it was off to lunch at Super Duper, to make it a truly super Saturday! (If you’re in the Bay Area, you’ll definitely want to try their burgers and shakes.) Thanks to all students who attended – it was great to meet you! And thanks also to our recruiting team for pulling off such a fun event.
Fun Fact: One of our engineers who attended Super Saturday was actually in the first class of Marin interns!
The difference between a good, serviceable bidding solution and an optimized solution is the difference between okay results and record campaign ROI.
There are many factors enterprise advertisers must consider when evaluating a bid management solution: algorithmic or rules-based; portfolio- or goal-based; bidding with limited data or intra-day bid adjustments. These and other features address business requirements that ultimately impact the ability for advertisers to drive revenue at a profitable return—publisher tools, in-house solutions, and multi-channel platforms attempt to provide some or all of this functionality.
There are three fundamental attributes found in all effective bid management solution that enable advertisers to remain competitive in any auction landscape: transparency, flexibility, and a systematic approach to forecasting.
Visibility into how a keyword’s bid is calculated is critical to understanding the performance metrics and auction conditions that factored into the final bid. This ultimately justifies the calculated bid rather than relying on a “trust us” mentality and gives insight into future performance. To provide complete transparency, bids and statistical models should be exposed at each step of the calculation. Marketers must have access to the amount of historical data used, including the time window, how conversions or revenue tracked next to defined business goals, and what auction thresholds and bid settings were met that impacted the final bid calculation.
Though many enterprise platforms provide transparency into bid calculations, some more than others, tools like Google Conversion Optimizer (GCO) don’t expose how bids are calculated. These “black-box” algorithms provide little to no transparency, leaving advertisers in the dark and at the mercy of the tool. Even when GCO is disabled, keywords bids revert back to the original bid prior to enabling the tool, leaving marketers high and dry with old, sub-optimal bids.
Despite the demand for complete automation, flexibility remains one of the most important pieces of any effective bid management solution. Though algorithms assume the lion’s share of work, marketers still require flexible user controls and the ability to factor in any source of data when calculating optimal bids. Defining CPC ceilings and floors, limiting how reactive bids are to seasonality and cyclical trends, overriding individual bids to satisfy business requirements, and excluding outlying data from calculations are all controls marketers need to adapt bids to ever-changing market and auction conditions.
With accurate, timely and relevant data, that make sense to an advertiser’s business, bidding algorithms can effectively calculate bids that maximize performance. This level of flexibility exists beyond most bid management tools and is available in only the most sophisticated platforms. Multi-event conversion tracking, visibility into customer lifetime value, attributing latent conversions, and factoring in analytics, ad serving, call tracking, CRM, and backend data enables marketers to optimize spend, drive high value customers, and acquire more revenue.
3. Systematic Approach to Forecasting
Marketing effectiveness is hampered without the ability to evaluate the potential impact of shifts in business goals. Furthermore, some auctions are extremely competitive and volatile, with suboptimal bids negatively impacting overall program performance. To mitigate risk, effective bid management solutions must provide marketers with a systematic approach—guiding marketers through the business impact of any changes in bid strategy.
The ability to preview calculated bids alongside visual overlays helps advertisers understand the potential effect of new bids and evaluate risks. Even more powerful is the ability for marketers to build “what-if” forecast models of how changes to performance goals will affect volume, cost, return on investment, and profit. With accurate forecasting models, marketers can focus on evaluating budget allocation across publishers and business lines to maximize performance and achieve business goals.
Selecting the Right Solution
Bid automation is growing increasingly complex and more types of media are becoming biddable. In the face of unique business requirements, dynamic marketplaces, and competitive auctions, advertisers increasingly must look to bid management solutions that provide transparency into bid calculations, the flexibility of user controls and data integrations, and a systematic approach to forecasting for mitigating risks. Solutions characterized by these three fundamental attributes meet the business requirements of today’s most complex and sophisticated advertisers, and enable them to drive more revenue with increasing efficiency.
Click here to learn more about Marin Software’s bid management solution and why we have more than $6 billion in annualized spend on our platform (announced in our earnings call today).
We have one week left to find the Biggest Search Geek, and competition has been fierce this year!
If you’re not familiar, Biggest Search Geek is a quiz contest that tests your SEM smarts. In our 6th year of competition, we’ve had over 3,500 entries from around the globe. Rich M from Australia is currently leading with a score of 75% correct, followed by Mihai P from UK/Europe, and Brian S from North America.
At the end of the competition, the person who answers the most questions correctly in the least amount of time will win a trip to SMX West, and their choice of an iPad, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One. Runners up and top 50 finishers will also receive prizes – including serious bragging rights!
We’ve had a lot of fun with this year’s contest – from wracking our brains for the toughest questions, to creating silly memes on our #whatshouldsearchmarketerscallme Tumblr. (Check it out!) And we look forward to presenting the winner their prize on stage at the SMX West opening session. (Also be sure to see our very own search geek and CMO, Matt Ackley, speak on Day 1 about what’s next for paid search in 2014.)
We hope you’ve had as much fun as we’ve had – and if you haven’t taken the quiz yet, make sure to do it soon! The contest ends on February 14 at 11:59pm PST.
Big data. It’s a phrase everybody throws around, but with meaning that nobody can fully agree on. Definitions usually include some combination of massive amounts of information, structured data, unstructured data, too much data to process, complex data, or data that is beyond our computing power. While this is interesting, it’s not necessarily helpful. And what does it mean for digital marketers?
The idea of big data really kicked off when analyst Doug Laney published an article on data management challenges way back in 2001. He framed the discussion using three Vs:
Since then, others have added any number of additional Vs including veracity (data quality), viability (how useful the data is), and value (what the data helps us learn or do).
So while we can’t 100% agree on the definition of big data, the real takeaway is that you should know what big data means for you and your industry.
Which brings us to digital marketing! Big data is absolutely critical in our field because it makes data-driven marketing possible. It reveals intent and gives us a picture of our audiences. It allows us to be simultaneously more global and more local. It allows us to work across channels, and in real time. It keeps us competitive, and it can reap big profits.
All these perks are great, but dealing with big data is no simple task. The data must be organized in a way such that we can glean actionable insight. Scale is a big challenge, across millions of customers and keywords. And when we have really powerful data, it can also be a struggle to trust and act upon it when it’s not in line with our basic intuition and judgment.
Some companies – not just search marketers – are getting it right in a big way. Consider how the United States Marine Corps enlists big data in its recruitment efforts, described by AdAge. Or take a look at how some other big companies, from Netflix to Walmart, have enhanced their offerings with data-informed decisions here in this great Mashable article.
Marin Software is essentially a big data product, helping digital marketers make sense of and act on massive sets of really cool data. We encourage a data-driven approach of understanding audiences, predicting, and optimizing.
Now for the fun part. According to a recent McKinsey report, big data leaders have, on average, 5% higher productivity and 6% higher profits than other companies. In other words, marketers who capture the power of big data are making a sizeable impact on their bottom lines. So if you’re ever overwhelmed by all that is “big data,” remember that everyone else is on a journey to figure it out too, and that the possibilities and payoff are certainly worth the effort.
Neil’s Recruitment Co has, for the second year running, successfully mapped out the vast digital marketplace in the form of a nifty starchart. The digital universe is a constellation of digital agencies, specialist firms, media groups, data and tech companies, and more. We’re excited to be part of such an incredible industry and landscape – find us in square E9! It’s a pretty massive map, so click to enlarge and see if you can locate your own company as well.
The holiday season is fast upon us, and folks across our US offices are looking forward to a relaxing Thanksgiving. The President has pardoned a lucky turkey named Popcorn, travel has been arranged (we’ll keep our fingers crossed for you!), and there is even a pecan pie in the office fridge with a Post-It note declaring, ”Don’t eat – it’s for Mom!”
While tomorrow is a good day to give thanks, we’re proud to say the Marin team makes a habit of giving back all year round. Here are some recent highlights and ways to get involved:
Happy Thanksgiving, all! We’ll see you when you get back, with updates on holiday seasonal trends and more best practices to keep your programs in tip-top shape.
Do you spend your days managing keywords, creative, and bids for paid search campaigns? Are you caught up on the latest best practices and trends to gain that competitive edge? If so, you may be our next Biggest Search Geek!
Today, Marin Software and Search Marketing Expo are excited to announce the 6th Annual SMX Biggest Search Geek Contest, the popular quiz-based contest that tests your paid search industry knowledge. The contestant who answers the most questions correctly in the shortest amount of time will win a round trip for 2 to SMX West, an award presented onstage by Danny Sullivan of Third Door Media and Marin’s CMO Matt Ackley, and their choice of an iPad, Playstation 4, or an Xbox One.
What are you waiting for? Test your search IQ now and find out if you’re the geek to beat!
It’s been proven in recent years that winning the Barclays Premier League and European Champions League in the same football (soccer) season is quite a difficult feat, with Manchester United being the last team to do it in their famous 1999 treble winning season. Marin Software last week completed something of a similar UK and European Double by landing the 2013 UK Search Award for Best PPC Management Software, having won the European Search Award for the same category earlier in the year in Barcelona! Carrying on the football (soccer) theme – as the awards ceremony was at the Emirates Stadium – this also means Marin Software has managed to win more silverware than Arsene Wenger has at the Emirates Stadium. (Sorry to any Arsenal fans out there.)
In all seriousness, the whole Marin team are delighted with this recognition from an esteemed judging panel. We also want to congratulate all the other winners, in particular our clients who took home top honors at the event.
With more than $5 billion in ad spend managed on Marin’s platform, we work with our customers and partners to build powerful solutions that solve complex digital advertising challenges. Earlier this month we announced Marin Labs, a business solution that offers customers access to leading edge research and development, unconventional features, advanced partner integrations, and adaptive service offerings through a collaborative team of search, display, social, and mobile advertising experts. Two innovations that I’m especially excited about are Marin SmartGrid™ and PositionLock™.
Marin SmartGridTM for data that is always within reach
Today, Marin’s platform supports 10 customers who manage over 100 million keywords, with one managing over 500 million keywords; and as our customers continue to grow, we continue to innovate. For over a year, Marin has been developing SmartGridTM technology, a highly responsive and scalable platform architecture that redefines the way advertisers interact with their data.
SmartGridTM significantly reduces the amount of computing resources and processing time to load, view, and take action on large datasets. Marketers will experience a faster, more agile user interface that supports:
If you’re a Marin user and are interested in leveraging this new technology, please contact the customer success team.
Secure your revenue and visibility with Marin PositionLock™
A patent-pending technology, Marin PositionLock™ is an automated bidding solution that enables search marketers to automatically adjust keyword bids intraday, in near real-time, as shifts in ad position are detected. Hourly position data is captured at the keyword level and analyzed based user-defined position goals. To achieve even the most aggressive goals, historical performance and auction conditions are continuously factored into hourly bid calculations, which are immediately pushed to the publisher. Integrated into Marin’s suite of enterprise-class optimization solutions, PositionLock™ provides advertisers additional control over revenue outcomes while giving them a leg up on their competition.
If you’re a Marin user and are interested in leveraging this new technology, please contact your customer success team.
Innovations That Matter
Since 2007, Marin has been at the forefront of innovation, delivering unique capabilities that enable the world’s most sophisticated advertisers to realize more revenue from their online and offline data and outperform their competition. Marin Labs was created as an environment to showcase some of that bleeding-edge innovation and provide early access to select customers in exchange for their candid feedback. We look forward to the ongoing collaboration with customers and partners. Stay tuned for even more exciting announcements in the weeks and months to come.
From time to time Google makes changes to the algorithms that calculate Quality Score. If those changes result in a drop in Quality Score, advertisers are negatively impacted; position is likely to drop and harm the click through rate. Maintaining the same position will likely result in higher CPCs, meaning fewer clicks and conversions within a given budget. Staying on top of Quality Score changes is therefore crucial, but we all know that manually running reports can be time-consuming.
Leading UK agency Croud’s mission is to make digital marketing accessible to all advertisers, regardless of their size and budget. They follow a strict set of best practices designed to keep accounts in tip-top condition. To monitor Quality Score, Croud set up a series of automated alerts using Marin Software’s reporting suite. It was through these alerts that they spotted a recent change in AdWords Quality Score and assessed the impact it had on their accounts. Google does not store historical Quality Score, so without Marin, Croud would not have been able to do this without taking the time to manually record data each day.
Last week, AdWords started reporting lower Quality Scores across many clients. Brand terms and high-volume generic keywords were affected most, and in some instances the drop lasted for two days. By being alerted to this change as soon as it happened, Croud was able to optimize their account accordingly to remain as efficient as possible and manage client expectations.