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The Industry Shows Us How to Conquer Expanded Text Ads

By July 27th, 2016

This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content Manager
at Boost Media.

Google’s Expanded Text Ads are officially live. The new, longer ad format is rolling out across all devices alongside the existing standard ad format. But as of October 26, 2016, advertisers will no longer be able to create or upload standard text ads.

While Google has not yet released an official date when standard ads will no longer run with ETAs, eventually standard ads will be phased out from the search results page entirely. If you haven’t already begun making changes to your account, you should start. The key to implementing ETAs is a thoughtful testing strategy.

As the top testing platform for search marketers, Boost Media has analyzed hundreds of ads in the new, longer format. Our data suggests that simply expanding ads without a well-thought-out testing plan or detailed creative strategy in place won’t guarantee success.

In one test Boost ran for a large travel advertiser, we compared standard text ads versus custom and template ETAs across 34,000 impressions. Here’s what we saw.

StandardVsEta

What did we learn from testing?

Break up your account strategically

It’s impossible to apply custom copy across your entire account made up of hundreds of thousands of ad groups. Instead, segment your account strategically into areas that can use a template-based approach, and areas that need custom copy.

Rewrite your entire creative

Adding copy to the end of a headline doesn’t guarantee that the entire ad will make sense or drive clicks. As Google’s Director of Performance Ads Marketing Matt Lawson said, “Use this update as a chance to re-evaluate your entire creative. This is a chance to craft something new and more compelling than ever before.”

Don’t miss out.

Test one thing at a time

Focus on testing one variable at a time to have a better chance of understanding the results and deciding what to do next. If you run too many tests at once, you risk passing up clear, actionable results.

To learn more or start creating ETA ads today, get in touch with us.

 

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.

In the Click of It: Mobile Shopping in 2016

By July 19th, 2016

When it comes to shopping ads, Q4 and mobile go together like thumbs on a small screen (literally).

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Our research allowed us to make a few definitive predictions for mobile performance in the 2016 shopping season.

  • Smartphones rule clicks: By April 2016, we expect the smartphone click rate to have grown by about 200% from January 2014. Mobile will leave tablets and desktops in the dust, as they hover just around the 75% point in terms of click share. No competition, as they say.
  • Smartphones rule CTR: The same will hold true for click-through rate, with smartphones projected to dominate the scene throughout the holiday season and beyond.
  • Smartphones rule CPC: Increased mobile activity will lead to lower cost per click, allowing advertisers to allocate spend where it counts most, and to better evaluate the different strengths and weaknesses of different ad formats.

shopping-2016-blog-mobile-body-image

In sum: smartphones rule. For the full results our research, including data on social, text versus product ads, and recommendations for how to stand out during the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

Marin Software Mixes It Up at SMX Advanced in Seattle

By July 12th, 2016

On June 22nd and 23rd, Marin Software exhibited at the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle. Many of our partners joined us there—Bing, TVTY, and DialogTech, just to name a few. As always, it was wonderful to chat with so many existing customers and meet those who are less familiar with Marin.

SMX Advanced is a conference chock-full of marketers who live and breathe digital advertising in their 9-5 jobs. It was interesting and illuminating chatting with them at our booth, about everything from Shopping to Facebook DPAs.

There really is no better conference to attend if you’re looking to get a pulse on what the real-world challenges of advanced digital marketers are, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s event. It’s always a pleasure to share what’s new at Marin with our audience, but we’re committed to learning what online marketers’ pain points are and evolving to meet their needs.

We also had the pleasure of presenting our Biggest Search Geek grand prize winner, Christoff Berlage, with his trophy. Christoff, who hails from the UK, earned a score of 93% on the quiz. Runners up included European Regional prize winner Elouise James, North American Regional contest winner Jake Hughes, and Danny Lam, who picked up the Australian Regional award.

Practical Reasons to Fit Search Intent into Your Retargeting Strategy

By July 7th, 2016

Facebook offers several great options for retargeting, allowing you to segment and remarket to people who’ve engaged with your product. These tools include:

  • Website Custom Audiences
  • Video remarketing
  • Dynamic Product Ads (DPA)

These features let you granularly segment your audiences, ensuring you’re targeting users with the right messaging and products.

Adding Search Intent to the Mix

What happens when search teams up with social? Combining search intent with Facebook retargeting allows you to segment and target users on Facebook, based on the search ads that drove them to your website.

How can you fit this tactic into your overall retargeting strategy, and how is it beneficial to your campaigns?

Let’s tackle that last question first.

search-intent-graphic

It provides clear intent.

Since search is an intent-oriented channel, you can retarget users based on what they’re looking for. With this knowledge, you can drive them to a conversion by offering them exactly what they want.

It increases audience quality.

Once you know your audience’s intent, you can align this information with your goals to create high-value user segments, then target accordingly. This affords you the opportunity to target larger audiences using lookalikes, then scale even further from there. No matter the size of the audience, using precise, tailored segments ensures the highest audience quality.

And, if your goals change and you no longer want to target a specific audience, you can always exclude it from your campaigns.

lookalikes

It improves your optimization strategy.

Search intent allows you to adapt creative elements on Facebook—by knowing what the user wants, you can show more appealing images and messaging to increase CTR. You can also apply tiered bidding and budget, concentrating on higher-value audiences.

consumerPreferences

How to Incorporate It

There are an infinite numbers of ways you can segment audiences based on your overall strategy and goals, or even for a particular event. Here are a few use cases.

A TV Campaign

A large brand is planning to launch a massive TV campaign, and wants to engage with people, via search and social, who possibly saw its TV ad. Since users are most likely to search for the brand after seeing the ad, the brand splits its search campaigns into brand and generic segments. This way, the brand can understand its audience and target them with specific messaging, across channels.

An Ecommerce Site

An ecommerce site is trying to attract users based on search criteria for its fashion styles. It tags the keywords romantic and classic to reach those users on Facebook, showing them relevant content. The site complements this tactic with its Facebook DPA campaigns.

ecommerce-FacebookDPA

Direct Response

A direct advertiser is looking to improve its social optimization strategy based on search activity. It segments search campaigns according to users who search for high ROI and low ROI keywords, allowing it to target those users on Facebook, and adjusting bids and budgets accordingly.

Travel

A travel website wants to lower CPAs for search and social channels. It creates a 100% bid RLSA group for very expensive but high volume keywords, tags the users who’ve clicked these keywords, and excludes them from repeated searches. To achieve lower costs, the website targets those users in social.

travel

Want to see a real-life example of how it works? Read about how a loan comparison website cut its cost per acquisition by 3.5x with Marin’s search intent retargeting on Facebook.

Similar Audiences + Customer Match: Google Ramps up First-Party Data Capabilities

By June 30th, 2016

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

A few months ago, Google unveiled a new tool that allows advertisers to interact directly with an audience across the search, Gmail, and YouTube networks. That tool was Customer Match (See my previous post about setup tips).

With this feature, advertisers could submit a list of email addresses from past customers or email subscribers directly into the AdWords interface. Then, advertisers could target individuals who’d already expressed interest in their products, across channels, as long as they were signed in to Google.

With this update, Google strengthened the ability of advertisers to leverage 1st-party data. The move echoed Facebook’s Custom Audiences, which has been in the market for years and proven very effective. While it provides Google-focused marketers a great way to use 1st-party data, Google’s added another feature that uses that data to find and target new customers.

That tool is Similar Audiences.

Similar Audiences

Similar Audiences are made up of groups of people who have characteristics with a remarketing audience you’ve previously created. For example, if you have a remarketing audience created for people who’ve visited your website via a paid ad click within the last 30 days, Google will automatically generate a new pool of prospects you can target if the starting audience is large enough.

Because paid ad traffic is cookied, Google tracks the browsing habits of that cookied traffic over the last 30 days and uses that to find shared interests and behaviors. For a new Similar Audience to be created, at least 500 cookies with enough similarities and characteristics must be active. In theory, a larger remarketing list should yield a better Similar Audience in terms of relevancy, because it’s pulling from a larger set of data being sent back for Google to use.

So, a Similar Audience taken from a Customer Match list should be an extremely relevant pool of new users that you can target to grow a business. However, there are some features that are disabled for a Similar to Customer Match audience that must be taken into consideration when planning new advertising strategy.

The first is that, like all Similar Audiences, you can’t target a Similar to Customer Match audience across the Search Network. Because Similar Audiences are based on the webpage browsing history of the cookied user, you’re limited to targeting on the Display Network and YouTube Network.

The Display Network

Speaking of the Display Network, you can only target Similar to Customer Match audiences on the Google Display Network and YouTube. This is where the use of 1st-party data is somewhat limiting in Google. Because the uploaded customer lists lack the cookies needed to track browsing behavior, Google can’t use that data to find an audience with related interests on the Display Network.

Still, you can utilize a similar audience across Gmail and YouTube ads, because these are networks entirely owned by Google where the user is signed in to the network (at least most of the time for YouTube). Because the data Google receives from these channels are different from Display Network, where 3rd-party groups simply opt in to the network, the way Google finds these users and tracks characteristics greatly varies.

Even with these limitations, I still highly recommend testing all similar audiences, but especially a similar audience built from Customer Match. It’s a great way to engage a new audience of individuals similar to that of your past customers.

Your Detailed Testing Strategy for Expanded Text Ads

By June 28th, 2016

This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content Manager
at Boost Media.

With the introduction of Google’s Expanded Text Ads (ETA), marketers have a more robust ad format that allows for more text, and Google has the ability to manipulate the layout to fit the appropriate screen for display. While this is a strong shift toward mobile-first that levels the playing fields between natural search (SEO) ads and AdWords, it doesn’t guarantee better performance.

Google reports that some advertisers could experience up to a 20% lift in CTR. The important word here is “some,” as it indicates that simply expanding ads with no plan is not a guarantee of success. What follows is a set of scenarios you should test that will help guarantee the best possible performance lift for your brand.

Scenario 1: Test standard ads versus ETAs using a generic new headline

  • With large accounts, it’s unrealistic to think that you can write custom copy for every ad. It’s important to try to find suitable headline additions that can be applied across the tail of an account.
  • Be sure to test this method on groups of ad groups. The same additional headline in one product line will probably not work in another product line.
  • Don’t test things like “Buy Now!”. The odds of this generic approach being a success are very low.

Scenario 2: Test standard ads versus custom headlines

  • The head and much of the trunk of an account need custom copy. Testing custom copy against the old standard ads will ensure that you don’t just replace old copy with longer copy that’s worse. Our early testing shows that standard ads can outperform ETA ads if ETA is done poorly.
  • Don’t be afraid of rewriting the entire ad. Adding copy to the end of a headline doesn’t guarantee that the entire ad will make sense or drive clicks.
  • Focus on the big ad groups, as custom writing can be time-consuming.

Why not test everything at once?

Be sure to focus on one thing at a time. If you mix descriptions, headline, and paths in one test, you may introduce a better overall ad, but one section may be causing the lift while the other changes are actually causing a drop. By focusing on one variable at a time, you stand a better chance of isolating what caused the lift and understanding the drivers behind what to do next. As you move toward complete optimization, many times you’ll gain insights that can be applied to other parts of the ad.

I don’t have the time for this. What should I do?

Simply put: make the time. If you don’t prepare for ETA and your competitors do, you can expect to see a drop in performance as the competition captures more of the impressions and clicks. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, you don’t have to do this overnight. Set a steady pace and a strategy, and you’ll be on the way to performance increases.

 

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.

Food, Drinks, and Marketing: Marin’s San Francisco Executive Summit

By June 21st, 2016

01-Yovanno

On Thursday, May 26th, we held our first-ever Executive Summit in San Francisco at the beautiful Box SF, where we brought back many of the great presenters from our New York City Executive Summit. Our group of digital marketing leaders gathered around what’s reputedly the longest table in North America—crafted from centuries-old Chinese village gate doors.

This event, sponsored by Marin Software partner Bing, finished with a sommelier-led wine tasting.

03-Guests

04-Wine

Our Regional Vice President of Customer Success, Diran Hafiz, gave a presentation about our Customer Success team. It’s a quick and interesting watch, both for customers interested in how things work behind the scenes at Marin, and anyone curious about the current, primary areas of consideration for the online advertising community.

How to Maximize the Value of Your Product Feed

By June 16th, 2016

How do you get your product feed in front of as many eyes as possible? Are you using Facebook Dynamic Product Ads? Just Google Shopping? Do you have an effective social prospecting strategy? Do you know how to get your product ads in front of people who’ve never seen them before?

If your answer to any of these questions is “meh,” then this blog post is for you.

How to Get More People to See Your Product Feed

There are two ways to get your products in front of potential customers on the web today:

  • Paid placement (cost-per-click)
  • Marketplace (revenue share)

If you’re a retailer, it’s in your best interest to blast your product feed far and wide to make sure your product is available whether a potential customer is searching for it on Google or Amazon, or browsing the Yahoo News feed. Heck, maybe they just need a reminder that they didn’t complete their purchase of those cute red pumps.

The obvious next question is—how do I ensure my product is reaching all my potential customers across the many channels and publishers on the web? Full-blown shopping capabilities allow you to get your products in front of millions of customers through all the major paid avenues—and all the leading marketplaces like Amazon and eBay—from a single product feed. This is the easiest way to execute a true “omni-channel shopping campaign.” (Request a demo to find out how we can help you do this.) 

Facebook DPA: The Value Proposition

Facebook Dynamic Product Ads (DPA) help you promote relevant products to shoppers browsing your product catalog. Once they’ve visited your website or mobile application, you can retarget them on Facebook with the specific products they showed interest in, dynamically displayed with information from your product feed (price, name, in stock or not, etc.).

There are several great things you can do with DPA:

  • Upsell or cross-sell campaigns to increase the chances of selling complimentary, relevant products to your customers.
  • Show your products to people who haven’t seen them.
  • Reach audiences no matter what channel, publisher, or device they’re on.

Here’s how this works.

Upsell and Cross-sell

Suppose a shopper buys a pair of designer shoes online, and then they see an ad for handbags from the same designer. By showing products related to what a customer orders, you increase your average order value and customer lifetime value. Upsell and cross-sell campaigns automatically extend the reach of your campaigns, and increase the chances of selling relevant incremental products.

Prospecting

With a prospecting campaign, you can offer products from your catalog to new audiences most likely to use your products (by way of a Facebook algorithm or dynamic ads across the web). This feature is meant to give you an optimal workflow—one that allows you to bulk-edit ads and duplicate DPA campaigns for retargeting, upsell, or cross-sell, all in one function.

So, for example, instead of having four separate campaigns and workflows, you can create just one workflow that handles everything you would’ve included in those disparate campaigns.

A small number of Facebook partners (including Marin) can edit product sets, add URL tags, choose creative templates, and see full previews as you make selections. These features have excellent workflow capabilities, so they deliver both fantastic targeting and ease of use. Contact us to learn more.

Shopping

Having shopping campaigns on both Google and Facebook catapults the power and performance of your product feed. Do you have the time and resources, though, to manage your shopping campaigns on two different platforms?

If you do, you should definitely include your product feed on both channels to extend your reach. If you don’t, Marin’s Smart Sync for Shopping feature automatically clones and syncs your shopping campaigns from Google to Facebook, eliminating the need for lengthy IT support. With Marin Display, you can use your same product feed to run prospecting campaigns to those outside Google and Facebook.

About Those Omni-Channel Campaigns….

Even more powerful than Google Shopping or Facebook DPA alone, omni-channel distribution allows you to advertise across a wide array of channels and publishers—native, search, social, eBay, Amazon shopping…the list of both paid and non-paid platforms goes on.

Distribution1

Distribution2

To wring every last drop of value from your product feed, you should showcase it through as many online venues as you can. You should also make sure you’re constantly optimizing your feed for the greatest possible returns.

A Word on Cross-Channel Advertising

Retailers who combine all of the above functionality with display retargeting can boast of having a full cross-channel solution, one that automatically puts in overtime to expand your reach and boost revenue. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all channels, and heighten your brand effectiveness in time for back-to-school and the Q4 holiday season.

Digital advertising is a fast-evolving organism. For retailers, this means constantly looking for new ways to meet and exceed business goals. Promoting your product catalog across channels is a powerful way to upsell existing customers and for finding new ones. To learn more about how Marin can help, request a demo.

A One-Hour Summer Reading List for the Busy Digital Marketer

By June 9th, 2016

As you search online for the cheapest flights, the top island destinations, or where a solo traveler can find the best international cuisine, remember—no matter where you are, the mind of the digital marketer always craves useful information to stay competitive.

Whether you end up flying high across multiple time zones or enjoying a staycation this summer, here are a few time-friendly reads from the Marin Software vault to bring along for the ride.

White papers:

Blog posts:

Bonus: This is actually 55 minutes worth of reading, not an hour. Use those extra five minutes to schedule a demo, and learn how we can help you with any and all of the above. Bon voyage!

5 Signs Your Brand is Dropping the Ball on Mobile

By June 7th, 2016

This is a guest post from Brionna Lewis, Marketing and Public Relations Assistant at Kiip.

All trends are leaning towards mobile first. Americans are spending 51% of their time consuming online media through a mobile device. In the years to come, everything will have to be mobile first, including your marketing strategy.

Chances are you’ve at least started thinking about how your brand is going to leverage the mobile space, if you’re not already doing so. But are you doing it right? Here are 5 telltale signs you’re not and, in fact, dropping the ball completely.

1. You think all impressions are created equal.

This is the key to mobile advertising placements. Too many brands are striving for mass brand awareness instead of focusing on strategic ways to reach their target audience. It’ll always be quality over quantity in mobile. One thousand impressions from your target demographic are better than one million from an audience that isn’t interested in your brand at all.

A 2013 study showed that only 2.8% of mobile users thought the ads in apps and mobile websites ads were relevant to them. So, if you’re still investing in mass display advertising, stop. Contextual advertising, based on relevance to the content of the app or web page, location, or time of day and are much more effective.

The Brand Aid survey found that when people view brand ads alongside relevant content, they’re 10% more likely to pick up new information, nearly 20% more likely to feel more positive about the advertiser and, crucially, 23% more likely to think that the ad is relevant to them.

An excellent example is a mobile campaign ran by Samsung on the mobile site for TV.com. TV.com is a website people visit to see what’s on TV, read up on television industry news, and catch up on what’s happening on their favorite shows. An oh-so-fitting place for a Samsung TV ad.

admob_example-1

2. You’re marketing to “millennials”.

If you’re claiming “millennials” as your target audience, you’re effectively saying “everyone.” Using stereotypes to target 80 million Americans is not an effective marketing strategy. It’s like saying everything living in the ocean is a fish—it’s entirely false.

Millennials are a large group of people within a 20-year age range of varying genders, ethnicities, nationalities, interests, and lifestyles. Instead of looking for easy ways to clump people together, focus on the ways that separate them. The more specific you can be about who your target audience is, the more tailored and effective your brand strategy can be.

3. You’re not reaching email inboxes.

Even in 2016, email is still king when it comes to effective marketing. A study found that 91% of consumers check their email every day, and 48% say it’s their preferred channel of communication with brands.

So, if you don’t have a means of collecting email addresses from your potential customers and a strategy for maintaining contact through email, you’re missing out on a lot of potential business.

The trouble with collecting emails is that most consumers try to avoid giving their email out, so that they don’t have an inbox full of spam. The only way to combat this is to offer your customers something in return for access to their inbox. Many companies offer discounts and other member perks to customers who provide their email address.

An example of this is The Barista Bar’s Coffee Club, which they promoted through a Twitter ad placement.

Twitter_Lead_Generation_Card

4. You’re not offering value to your customer.

No one loves banner ads and intrusive pop-up videos, but you know what people do love? Free stuff—discounts, trials, and useful content. If you’re going to ask for someone’s time, attention and ultimately, money, be prepared to offer them something of value in return. The key to both customer acquisition and retention is to offer something that people actually want when advertising.

Through Kiip, Smartwater was able to give Runkeeper, a fitness app, users a coupon for a free bottle of Smartwater for after they complete their workout. This is an excellent way for brands to surprise and delight their potential customers by letting them try their product for free.

smartwater

5. You’re not establishing loyalty.

Loyalty is more than complicated point systems and exclusive sales. Loyalty is building a relationship with your customers. The best ways to establish that relationship is to hear them out and respond. Social media is a great opportunity to do that. If you’re not responding to comments and tweets, you’re missing out on the opportunity to build a relationship.

rs-jetblue-tweet

Another way to establish loyalty is to offer customers something for their mobile wallets. Apple Pay and Google Wallets are a place where consumers store virtual coupons that they can redeem IRL (in real life). A coupon from your brand in their mobile wallet keeps you front of mind and with them as often as their phone is (all the time).

You can also build loyalty with mobile customers by creating an app where users can get more perks, find out about sales, and interact with your brand seamlessly. One company that executes this amazingly is Target, through their app Cartwheel. Customers can check for sales, clip virtual coupons, scan items to see if they are on sale and simply scan their barcode at check-out to get all the saving. Target killed it.

target

So, if you’re currently dropping the ball on mobile, it’s not too late to turn it around. With this new insight, you can develop a winning mobile marketing strategy in no time.

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