We all know Google is constantly toying with the SERP. Sorting out what new tweaks Google is testing can be difficult at times, but I thought it’d be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of what the SERP looked like a year ago compared to what it looks like now for the same search term, “Razor Scooter.” Here’s what I noticed:
1) More PLAs! Google was toying with adding more PLAs at the end of 2013 and it appears they’ve settled on more. In 2013, a total of four PLAs appeared. The SERP for 2014 delivered twice as many. The location has changed too.
2) More Text in Text Ads. The number of lines appearing with text ads has increased. Last year the largest text ad on the page consisted of four lines. This year, the largest (position 1) features up to seven lines. There isn’t an ad on the 2014 SERP with fewer than four lines. The addition of the review stars as well as the inclusion of physical addresses has created “longer” ads. This essentially means fewer text ads on the side are able to fit above the fold. In 2013, four text ads appeared on the side above the fold. In 2014, two and half appeared. The lost real-estate is compounded on smaller monitors – on a laptop just a single side bar text ad appeared.
3) The “Ad” Icon. Google started testing the “Ad” icon just over a year ago. It’s now the standard. Gone is the ad box with the title “Ad Related To [search query].” Instead, ads are identified by the little yellow “Ad” icon and ad organic search results are delineated by a grey bar or divider.
4) More Text Ads Above Organic Results. Last year, one text ad was served above the organic results. We now have three. With PLAs moving to the right side bar and the company description disappearing (this still appears on some, less retail focused results), room was freed up to serve two additional text ads. Organic results are pushed down. The same “Razor Scooter” search query today on a 13” laptop screen produces just a single organic result.
In short, the SERP is much more ad dominated, with the focus going towards PLAs and positions 1 – 3.
During the last the last two Holiday seasons, Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) captured the attention of performance marketers. Retailers adopted the ad type as though it were the latest fashion trend. And while we don’t see the use of Google Shopping campaigns and PLAs slowing down this season – we expect retailers to devote upwards of 50% of their search budgets to the image-based ads – Google RLSAs (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) are this year’s shiny new toy.
If your retargeting program doesn’t include RLSAs, then frankly, you’re missing out. The point of retargeting is to re-engage with people that have visited your site as they continue perusing the Internet. As the top site on the Internet, it’s almost certain your site visitors will be stopping by www.google.com.
In a recent survey of digital marketers, 88% of respondents indicated retargeting is currently a part of their marketing mix and of those digital marketers running retargeting campaigns, 65% said they leverage RLSAs. It should be 100%.
If we think about a consumer’s online shopping/researching experience, a browsing session often starts at a search engine, which more than likely is Google. A consumer clicks on a search result, browses the site to see if it fulfill what they are looking for, and then likely returns back to the search engine. Being able to then retarget that visitor on search is extremely powerful.
In looking at the performance of Google RLSAs, we found the click-through rate (CTR) of RLSAs to be 234% higher than non-RLSA ads in the second quarter, 2014. The cost-per-click (CPC) of RLSAs was 24% cheaper than non-RLSAs.
Better performance at a cheaper price sounds like a win-win.
Today’s sophisticated advertisers know the importance of investing in Bing Ads – they’re a great way to reach over 150 million unique searchers. But even the best advertisers have room to improve. That’s why we’re excited to reveal 5 key tactics to unlock missed opportunities on Bing! Let’s get started…
You already have successful campaigns on other publishers, so why not take advantage of these on Bing as well? Consider replicating campaigns that are hitting or exceeding profitability targets, campaigns that are reaching your budget limit, or campaigns that are on the cusp of profitability and could benefit from a reasonable decrease in CPC. If you’re a Marin customer, use the copy tool to quickly and easily clone your campaigns from one publisher to another.
Often the keywords you have on Bing do not match up with the keywords you have on other publishers, so it’s worth taking a look at this discrepancy. Moving profitable keywords is a great way to get additional volume in a way that improves overall performance. To do this, identify your top-performing keywords on other publishers and check to see if they’re also on Bing. In Marin, you can again use the copy tool to launch those keywords on Bing.
Take a look at the Bing campaigns that are hitting your KPIs, and see which of those are also hitting your budget caps. Consider changing your daily budget on those campaigns to expand volume. In Marin, filters make it easy to identify good campaigns for this tactic, and from there you can opt to boost budgets by a dollar amount of percentage increase.
If you’re not already using them, sitelinks are a great way to maximize performance on Bing. They take up more real estate in the search engine results so you can push competitors farther down the page, plus they provide a more relevant experience for searchers through deep linking. Finally, sitelinks are known to boost CTR by 10-20%. If you’re using Marin, manage in bulk and use the copy tool to clone sitelinks between campaigns as an easy way to save time and get sitelinks live quickly.
Retailers should try Bing Product Ads as a way to increase visibility, and reach up to 31 million unique consumers who don’t use other search engines. Featuring images of the products you offer, this rich ad type takes consumers directly to a page where they can make a purchase. Additionally, they make it possible to take up more real estate on the search engine results page – even allowing for multiple listings in the form of text ads and Product Ads. Marin’s workflow allows you to manage both ad types in our platform for valuable time-savings.
When marketers talk about their Search strategies, one can expect to hear the usual suspects mentioned: “combining traditional search with social is big”, “don’t forget about optimizing for mobile search”, but few ever expect to hear about native ads in their Search conversations. Native ads usually fall under the category of display advertising, but today they are joining forces with mobile search for the first time through Yahoo’s innovative advertising solution called Gemini.
Native ads have always appealed to advertisers with the way they blend into the natural flow of editorial content and their high engagement factor with consumers. With native advertising boasting a 3.6x lift over traditional display ads for branded search activity and 6x lift for generic search activity according to Yahoo, it’s not surprising advertisers want to include native ads into their advertising strategy. For advertisers new to native, Gemini makes it easy to get started, as it allows advertisers to buy, manage, and optimize their native and mobile search ads all in one place. By combining the power of native ads with the popularity of mobile search ads, advertisers are able to not only reach targeted audience across desktop, mobile and tablets, but also provide them with a compelling ad experience.
To help advertisers get started with Yahoo Gemini, we’ve provided three helpful tips:
Early adopters of Gemini are already seeing great results. One major hotel brand raves about generating more leads and revenues in just one week from advertising on Gemini. Gemini provides advertisers access to the majority of Yahoo’s mobile inventory, with mobile accounting for 39% of Yahoo’s searches. As more advertisers learn about the substantial opportunity that is Gemini, it makes sense to get in early to beat your competition to the punch, take advantage of lower CPCs, and have more time to fine-tune your ad performance.
With the combination of native and mobile search, advertisers have the ability to hit audiences at different parts of the marketing funnel. Native content on Gemini is displayed on the Yahoo homepage as well as Yahoo properties like Mail, Mobile Search, News, Sports, Finance, Celebrity, Movies, TV, Music, Travel, Autos, and My Yahoo. This reach allows you to hit a broader audience and it may make sense to create ads that are geared towards creating brand awareness. Mobile search ads on the other hand appear according to keyword searches, making it a good place to display more customized ads that are focused on specific products or information that you believe your targeted audience is interested in.
While Gemini allows advertisers to bring together native ads with mobile search ads, advertisers can gain even more insight by combining their Gemini campaigns with the rest of their advertising campaigns. By having all their search, social and display campaigns consolidated in one place, advertisers are provided with a truly comprehensive picture of how their advertising efforts are performing. Additionally, third party platforms allow advertisers to easily clone ads from one publisher to another and also sync between publishers and the platform to ensure consistency across both and minimize errors.
Earlier this week, Marin announced an exclusive partnership with Yahoo Gemini. For more information on how Marin can help with your Gemini campaigns, click here.
Google rocked the search world this August with the announcement that they were changing the definition of Exact Match and Phrase Match to include close variants of their keywords, such as misspellings or plural variants. This caused a huge uproar from search marketers over the potential effect this could have on their search performance. Almost two months later, were their fears founded? I took a look at our Marin Global Online Advertising Index to see how performance has, or has not, changed over the last month and a half for Google Exact and Phrase Match search.
To start, I looked at click-through rates between August and October for both 2013 and 2014 for Google Exact and Phrase Search. While these searches make up only about 3% of all Google searches, this still means billions of impressions daily. Surprisingly, I found no real change in CTR trends between 2013 and 2014. While there is a small drop the week of the change, this is also mirrored in CTR behavior in 2013 on the same dates.
On the cost-per-click side, we also see very similar trends to 2013. While there is a jump in CPC during mid-September, we see a similar jump in 2013. This coincides with both the beginning of the holiday season sales and back-to-school sales so this is not unexpected. While the jumps were less pronounced this year than last, overall, trends show that this change to Google Exact and Phrase Match search have not affected CTR and CPC significantly, at least not yet.
Twitter recently rolled out an update to their ad platform to allow advertisers to layer on lookalike targeting to custom tailored audiences. Twitter’s tailored audience feature enables you to connect with users based on email addresses, mobile advertising IDs, mobile phone numbers, or lists of Twitter IDs (user IDs or usernames). When you add in the ability to target lookalikes, you are essentially targeting users who are similar to the list you’ve provided, which can be very valuable because it’s likely that these new prospects are relevant to your business.
The audience lists are all managed and created within “Tools > Audience Manager”, located at the top navigation. When the list is ready for use in campaign creation, be sure to checkmark “Expand reach by targeting similar users” as shown in the screenshot below to enable lookalike targeting.
Now that we have the basics covered, here are three creative ways to target lookalikes that are less traditional than simply using your website’s cookied visitors:
When creating these lookalike campaigns, you may want to exclude the custom tailored audience list you are using to create that lookalike. You can exclude audiences in the section shown below. It is always best to separate different types of campaigns. For instance, you can create two campaigns and track the performance individually, one to target just the custom tailored audience list and one to target the lookalikes segment.
We’d love to hear your feedback! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below to continue the conversation. Happy Tweeting!
Google recently released some early holiday goodies for retailers across a number of verticals. While dynamic remarketing (a.k.a. dynamic retargeting) on the Google Display Network (GDN) has been available since June, it had been mainly limited to retailers with a Google Merchant Center Account, notwithstanding some beta tests within the travel and education verticals. However, last week, Google rolled out further vertical support, enabling dynamic retargeting across the hotel, flight, real estate, classified, job, auto, finance, and education verticals.
Retargeting is proven to be a very effective conversion driver. However dynamic retargeting (or as Google refers to it, dynamic “remarketing”) is tailor made for retailers. Dynamic retargeting dynamically serves product-specific ads to potential customers based on the products they’ve previously viewed. This gives retailers a powerful tool to tailor creative to customers in ways that are more likely to grab their interest and drive conversions and purchases.
While many retailers have already been including dynamic retargeting as part of their marketing mix, Google’s support for some non-traditional verticals including jobs and educations, gives companies in those verticals an opportunity to dip their toes into the retargeting waters.
Although Google’s dynamic retargeting product may be a good first step for retailers wading into retargeting, sophisticated marketers are likely to find some Google’s new offering lacking in a number of ways.
Google’s remarketing product is limited to only displaying ads on sites that the Google Display Network reaches. The display world is much more fragmented than the search world, and GDN is just one of the many ad exchanges that serve display ads across the Web. GDN only accounts for a plurality of the display inventory available on the web which means advertisers advertising on GDN alone would be missing out on a majority of display impressions across the Web. The missed opportunity is significant. Essentially, retargeting on GDN alone is akin to only running search ads on Bing.
Equally important to note is AdWords lack of reach on Facebook. Study after study has shown the incremental value of marketing across multiple channels. In fact, Marin recently released a white paper on retargeting, which found that advertisers using the Perfect Audience retargeting platform to retarget on both Display and Facebook enjoyed better returns than advertisers who were only retargeting within a single channel. Dynamic retargeting through AdWords means missing out on retargeting on Facebook, the most popular social network in the world. With over 1 billion regular users, dynamic ads via the Facebook Newsfeed and Sidebar should be a cornerstone of any retargeting strategy.
Finally, going beyond the Google walled garden is essential for savvy marketers looking to leverage tactics such as look-alike modeling to try to build new business. Currently, Google lacks a smart prospecting product rivaling Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. Additionally, tactics such as partner retargeting with second-party data, or audience targeting using third-party data can further help marketers increase their potential customer base.
Google’s dynamic remarketing product is a good starter offering for retailers who want to test how dynamic retargeting can help their business. However, its basic capabilities combined with its lack of access to channels like Facebook and non-GDN display ad exchanges limits its usefulness as businesses grow and become more sophisticated with their marketing efforts. Even for marketers new to retargeting, using a cross-channel retargeting platform like Perfect Audience can help you get started with dynamic retargeting, but still reap the benefits that come with retargeting across channels.
While Google has long been (and still remains) the dominant search engine in the US market, there are signs that Bing is becoming more of a contender – at least in a few key verticals. Due to our curious nature, we decided to examine Google vs Bing US data over the last five quarters to see how much headway Bing has made in capturing click and spend share.
From our data gathering, we were able to see three verticals that have seen significant gains in click share since Q2 2013: B2B services, healthcare, and travel. While other verticals have seen minor fluctuations, we saw click share grow by at least 10% for these three verticals, compared to an average of 4%. In addition, we saw at least 12% spend share growth for these three industries, versus an overall spend share growth of 4% year over year.
It could be for a variety of reasons. One, Bing’s users have always skewed older than Google’s, favoring 35 and up, and especially 55-64 year olds. From this, we can infer that these users would show more interest in these three verticals than Google’s. As the economy picks up, it also makes sense that Bing’s user-base would be searching and clicking more often on ads within these verticals than on Google. People searching for B2B services would exclude a large audience of students and junior employees, who are more likely Google users. With the Affordable Care Act in play, we can surmise that the large jump in healthcare clicks is, again, an older user-base searching for information and signing up in the middle of this period, causing a sharp increase in Bing healthcare click-share. Similarly, travel may be more affordable to those with disposable income further in their careers, or heads of households, who are more likely to use Bing. In addition, these three verticals cover topics that require extensive research before a purchase decision is made, which may show that online searchers are going across multiple search platforms to do thorough research before any decisions.
What do YOU think? Feel free to leave a comment below to continue the Google vs Bing conversation.
We all know it can be challenging to distribute content to the right audience, which is where LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates come to play. Sponsored Updates is a marketing solution that allows you to create targeted native ads, published directly into the LinkedIn feed. With over 313 million members in over 200 countries, it makes them the largest professional network in the world.
LinkedIn has become a great hub for discovering insightful content and many brands have seen great success through marketing on Sponsored Updates. In this quick read, you will learn 5 best practices, from how to properly setup your campaigns to understanding the performance per audience segment, and some tips that will help you increase engagement and gain higher quality leads.
1. Split Your Audience Targets & Create Relevant Ad Copy.
LinkedIn offers many targeting options from location, companies, job title, school, skills, groups, etc. It’s important to target people who you think will be interested in your content by narrowing down your targeting options. You can improve conversions, engagement, and click-through rate by creating messages that are relevant to your target audience.
For example, if you wanted to promote a small business guide for marketing on Pinterest, it may be wise to create two campaigns targeting for job titles containing “marketing” and “social media”, separately, and then layer on company size of less than 50. You can also create a third campaign to target social media related groups. At the very high level, your setup on LinkedIn should look something like this:
2. Track Performance with Analytics.
You cannot optimize on LinkedIn for conversions, so it is extremely crucial to add tracking parameters that will work with your analytics platform to the landing pages you want to use with your ads. This will help evaluate whether or not your ad is effective for that audience. Here’s an example of how I would setup tracking for the scenario given in the last example, using Salesforce and Google Analytics tags:
When you click on these URLS, you can see that utm_source=linkedin-sponsoredupdates, utm_mediun=cpc (the advertising model used), utm_campaign=PinterestGuide (the content I’m using), and utm_content is populated with my target group.
From here, I can run a report on Salesforce (trackid) to determine how many leads I’ve generated, in addition to the quality of those leads based on an internal algorithm. I’ll also use Google Analytics to understand the different levels of engagement (time on page, bounce rate, etc) to see the relationship between my target audience with my actual offer.
3. CPC vs CPM: What’s Your Advertising Model?
You can select to pay by a cost-per-click model or cost-per-thousand-impressions. Typically, brands looking to increase brand awareness go with the CPM model to gain a lot of exposure. If you’re looking to spend your money efficiently, CPC is the way to go because you only pay when a user clicks on your update. Because it’s different for everyone, if you do end up getting a lot of clicks on your ad and it performs well, it may be worth testing the CPM model to see if you gain more efficiency.
4. Test Multiple Ad Variations with Direct Sponsored Content.
This exciting new ad solution from LinkedIn launched in late July, allowing marketers to sponsor content without publishing the content first on company pages. This puts marketers in more direct control, being able test out multiple variations of ads and deliver personalized messages to their target audience. While there are many ways to use this, I’d recommend aiming for the low-hanging fruit first: copy, call-to-action, and image.
5. Optimize for Devices.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to target for specific devices, or exclude mobile devices. When you create a sponsored update, it will be delivered on any device they are using. This means that your ad copy may be truncated. The first 300 characters are displayed on desktop, 160 on tablet, and 35 on mobile unless the member clicks “more” to see the additional text. The best practice is to make sure the first 100 characters of your update is eye-catching and to use images that will render well at any size, avoiding dark images that contain small text.
Last Thursday, Google announced that exact keyword match will now include close variant keywords as well. Many of you may be wondering what this means for your campaigns and what action is required on your part. We’re here to assure that there is no reason to panic!
For some background, advertisers currently have two options when it comes to matching ads to search queries: 1.) Only show the ad when the query exactly matched the keywords they set up in AdWords, or 2.) Allow Google to also match the ad to keywords and phrases that are very similar to the original one, including variations like plurals or misspellings. Starting in late September, the first option is going away and Google will always automatically include all of these close variants when it tries to match an ad to a search query. Today’s announcement only applies to what Google calls the “phrase match” and “exact match” options. As the name implies, exact match only shows the ad when the query exactly matched the keyword (e.g. “women’s hats”), while phrase match also shows it when the query includes other words (e.g. “buy women’s hats”).
While this change may initially be perceived as burdensome to Google advertisers who prefer tight control over their exact and phrase matched keywords, it does offer some benefit to advertisers. Namely, following the September update, Google advertisers will no longer have to build long lists of misspelled, abbreviated, and other close variations of keywords to get the coverage they want. Therefore, this update can help Google advertisers better manage keyword complexity across large Search programs.
Although Google is marketing this change as a benefit to advertisers, Marin recommends that our advertisers closely monitor their campaigns to determine how the September changes will impact their overall performance.
We took a comparative look at ad engagement for 2013/2014 during Novembers busy shopping season. Here's what we found bit.ly/1DiwOKN