Archive for ‘Publishers’

Google Expands Dynamic Retargeting: What You Need To Know

By October 9th, 2014

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.

Google vs. Bing: A Review of Click & Spend Share

By October 7th, 2014

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.

Why is this happening?

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.

5 Ways to Optimize LinkedIn Sponsored Updates & Drive High Quality Leads

By September 26th, 2014

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:

Guide to Pinterest Marketing – Groups
Guide to Pinterest Marketing – Marketing Title
Guide to Pinterest Marketing – Social Media Title

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.

Google Exact Keyword Match Changes: Everything You Need to Know

By August 20th, 2014

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.

Marin Software Joins Forces with Retargeting Experts Perfect Audience

By June 2nd, 2014

It’s an exciting day at Marin and for advertisers around the globe. Today we finalized our acquisition of Perfect Audience; an innovative San Francisco based retargeting company. We’re thrilled to have them join us and enhance our remarketing expertise and bolster our industry-leading search, social and display performance advertising platform.

With the acquisition of Perfect Audience, advertisers not only get powerful programmatic display capabilities across the web, but also direct access to Facebook Exchange (FBX), Google’s Doubleclick Ad Exchange, and Twitter.  For marketers looking to move away from inefficient point solutions, Marin is the only platform that offers audience-based ad buying across devices and channels.

You know your first party data is your advantage to effectively measure, manage and optimize across channels to win more revenue.  Your search data reveals purchase intent. Your social data shows valuable demographic info.  Your retargeting offers a trove of behavioral data.  Marin’s advertisers will be able to easily combine and analyze all three data streams in a single place to better inform and execute smarter audience buying across the vast search, display and social landscapes.

For example, Marin’s support of Google RLSA in conjunction with Perfect Audience enables advertisers to use their highly valuable first-party data to not only influence display retargeting but also improve search retargeting. Such a 360-degree approach to audience based retargeting in a single platform is a first for advertisers.

Marketers invest big $ to drive prospects to their websites, but generally less than five percent of this traffic becomes customers.  Adding Perfect Audience’s retargeting capabilities enables Marin’s advertisers to target the 95% of their traffic that doesn’t convert, generating more revenue from their online advertising programs.

If you’re not familiar with Perfect Audience, we encourage you to check out their powerfully simple platform. In addition to integrating the Perfect Audience platform with Marin, Perfect Audience will also continue to be available as a standalone tool. So, it’s business as usual for current Perfect Audience customers.

Curious about more acquisition details, then check out the FAQ.

Paid Search 101: Reaching Relevant Customers with Geo-Targeting

By April 29th, 2014

One of the most overlooked settings in search marketing that produces wasted spend is geographic targeting. There’s  a good chance that your paid search ads are not relevant worldwide, so why spend to show ads in irrelevant locations that do not apply to your business?

If you’re getting started with AdWords, geo-targeting will become your best friend. So, let’s get to know it a little better, understand the capabilities, and discuss some tips on how you can use it for your marketing needs.

WHO: Businesses that have location specific needs such as shipping, physical stores, or services. Or even worldwide businesses with poor campaign performances in specific geo locations. Example: If I’m a food truck that only provides service around the Financial District of San Francisco, I’d want to target ads to customers located walking distance or 2 mi away from my location during certain times of the day.

WHY: By using proper geo-targeting settings that go hand in hand with your advertising goals, you will have better control over your spend and campaigns to serve ads to relevant customers. Geo-targeting helps you reel in the right customers to your business. When you target ads in areas where your customers are, it will likely increase your ROI.

HOW: You can easily target your ads to appear in select locations such as countries, cities, or by radius.  Start by logging into your AdWords account and navigating over to the campaigns tab. Then choose the campaign you want to edit and go into the settings tab. Scroll to the locations section and click on edit.

geo-targeting paid search

The magic begins here. Let’s dive into a quick breakdown of geo-targeting capabilities.

The most basic level is to type in the locations (country, city,  state, zip, DMA) you want and then select “Add.” You can repeat this process for multiple locations.

geo-targeting campaign management

For advanced needs such as location radius, places of interest or bulk locations, click on “Advanced search” on the settings tab.

geo target tab in Marin Software

It will open up a map with targeting options to choose from at the very top: search, radius targeting, location groups, and bulk locations.

For radius targeting, you can hone into locations within a target by mi or km:

geo target by mile or km

In the location groups targeting section, there are three sections to take into consideration.

1) You can target all airports, commercial areas, and universities:

target by airport or university2) You can target locations by demographic based on average income:

ppc target by income

 

3) Lastly, you can target using your location extensions that are enabled in your campaigns by radius:

geo target by radius

 

LOCATION EXCLUSION: Be sure to exclude the areas that are irrelevant within your targeting. You can do this by clicking on “Exclude” in the steps above instead of “Add.” For example, if you decide to target your ads in United States  but do not service in California, be sure to exclude that location so that California searchers do not see your ads.

But wait – there’s more!  Finally, you may want to click and expand the location options (advanced) box within the campaign settings tab to prevent your ads from displaying for people searching about your target location:

geo-target advanced

Edit the options below to make sure it fits your business needs.

geo target to meet business needs

TIPS:

  • Target locations that are relevant to your business strategy or where your customers are located.
  • Be sure to write and target the correct language for your ads. For example, select Japanese for targeting in Japan and for ads written in Japanese. This can be selected within campaign settings.
  • Consider excluding locations that are performing poorly (but understand why it may be performing poorly first).

In short, location matters – a lot!  Your ad could be award-winning, but if you’re not serving it to the right audience then it may not perform successfully. This is a great tool that can help target and exclude locations, as well as help optimize campaigns.

3 Key Takeaways from Google’s Planned AdWords Changes

By April 22nd, 2014

This morning, Google announced several new AdWords updates which will become available in the coming months. Vice President of Product Management Jerry Dischler made the reveal during the AdWords Performance Forum, where he reiterated Google’s mission to help advertisers “turn signals into stories,” and emphasized that “it’s no longer about the device; it’s about the consumer.”

Let’s take a look at their feature announcements in more detail:

1) Mobile App PromotionGoogle will focus on improving the ways in which advertisers drive mobile app installs, engagement, and conversions through AdWords.

AdWords mobile app promotionsChanges will include suggested keywords based on popular searches in Google Play, improved targeting options on the GDN, and deep linking in mobile app ads for users who have already downloaded an advertiser’s app.

Renewed emphasis on the mobile app space should come as no surprise. From a mobile usage perspective, the statistics are too glaring to ignore. While there have been more than 50 billion app downloads in Google Play across 190 countries, many advertisers still struggle to promote their apps and drive engagement post-download. In fact, some 60% of the available mobile apps on Google Play are never installed and over 80% of apps only get used once. According to eMarketer, more than 86% of mobile usage occurs via apps while only 14% occurs on the mobile web.

While Google was the first major advertising publisher to offer a mobile app install advertising solution (mobile app ad extensions), they’ve recently taken a backseat to Facebook. Approximately 18% of mobile app downloads now come from Facebook and Twitter, and many believe that social beats out search when it comes to app discovery and download. With these new mobile app promotion features, Google hopes to change that perception.

2) Intelligent Measurement Tools Google will focus on more intelligent measurement tools to help advertisers make the online-offline connection.

Last year, Google released Estimated Total Conversions. Marketed as a way to illustrate how Google search campaigns affect offline conversions, it also provides an estimated impact of advertising spend in one central location (AdWords). Today, Dischler announced additional tracking for offline conversions as part of this calculation. While his description of “offline conversions” was not specific, it will likely include in-store purchases.

This renewed focus on offline conversion tracking fits with Google’s aim to be a one-stop-shop for online advertising. However, advertiser concerns about sharing first-party data necessary for improved tracking still remain. Most advertisers prefer to keep most (if not all) of their first-party data out of Google’s reach due to privacy concerns. It will be interesting to see the adoption rate of this updated Estimated Total Conversions feature given the reluctance of advertisers to share offline data with Google.

3) Intelligent Tools for Power Users Google will focus on helping AdWords power users manage campaign complexities by adding a few sophisticated tools.

google adwords changes

Dischler recognized some current frustrations advertisers experience with AdWords, including the difficulty of completing large-scale bulk actions across campaigns. He called them “far too complicated” and acknowledged that many users currently go outside the interface and create complex spreadsheets to get the insight they need.

To address this pain point, Google will add functionality to help advertisers more easily upload, create and edit “hundreds” of Google advertising campaigns. In addition, AdWords users can expect new reporting, visualization and testing features in the AdWords interface. For example, advertisers will soon be able to drag and drop metrics into the UI to create pivot tables and easily manipulate reports “across multiple dimensions,” similar to what many do today within Excel. Through these “Intelligent Tools,” Google hopes to provide a way to handle reporting, analytics and optimization “all within AdWords.”

This is an exciting step for Google, but it’s important to note the data is Google-specific only, so advertisers will still need to go “offline” or to a third-party platform for comprehensive, cross-channel reporting. Furthermore, Google has historically struggled when it comes to reporting on actual revenue from purchase transactions. At best, Google will provide advertisers with revenue proxies and estimates which can be used for analytics and optimization.

A Note to Our Customers

At Marin, we see these newly announced Google features as a step in the right direction to help address gaps in the AdWords interface. The new features will initially be released in closed-beta, but we look forward to working closely with Google to integrate themas they become available in the AdWords API.

As the leading digital marketing platform and largest spender through the Google API, our mission to provide the industry’s best cross-channel marketing capabilities for advertisers remains the same. As always, we value your product feedback and look forward to receiving your comments.

Business as Usual After Google Announcement

By April 9th, 2014

Over the past couple days, you likely heard some alarming reports speculating on changes in how Google passes data to analytics software and advertisers. This understandably created lots of buzz, but today we have the facts as reported in Google’s official Ads Developer Blog:

“Today, we are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on Google.com.

Advertisers will continue to have access to useful data to optimize and improve their campaigns and landing pages.  For example, you can access detailed information in the AdWords search terms report and the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report.”

Marin Software will continue to receive keyword data from Google. Conversion and revenue tracking, reporting,  and analytics will not be disrupted. Our CMO Matt Ackley explained, “As an AdWords API partner, Marin Software leverages keyword data – separate from search query data – in providing its market-leading analytics, campaign management and optimization capabilities.”

For customers leveraging Marin Tracker, Tracker will no longer be used as a source for keyword expansion. However, Marin’s Keyword Expansion tool will continue to bring in keyword suggestions via the publisher search query reports for both Google and Bing, which provide the majority of keyword suggestions today. If you’re using Tracker and have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your customer success team.

We look forward to business as usual, helping our customers to be the best marketers in the industry.

4 Best Practices for Search Beyond Google

By March 26th, 2014

Google versus Bing. While they may be duking it out for market share, these two search engines can actually go really well together as part of your overall online marketing portfolio.

According to an October comScore report, Google held 67% market share of searches in the US, while Bing accounted for 18%. Year-over-year, Google’s search share has remained flat while Bing’s has actually grown. If advertisers were to address this logically, they would invest search budget proportionally across these two search engines. However, we often find that advertisers under-invest in Bing, both in terms of budget and time managing/optimizing their accounts.

Crunch all the numbers over here in our full-length write-up, but advertising proportionally on Bing can provide a big boost to your total clicks for no additional spend. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start with what you know. Marin makes it easy to replicate your Google accounts in Bing. Simply change the account name, export from “Google” to “Bing,” and then upload. This will take about 10 minutes, provide full coverage across both search engines, and ensure up-to-date and fully optimized ad copy.
  • Evaluate your maximum CPC bids. It may be necessary to lower these, as CPCs are lower on Bing versus Google.
  • Use historical data. Take advantage of your Google keyword performance data in the event that the Bing keywords have no historical data. To do this in Marin, add the Bing keywords to the same Folder where the Google keywords reside.
  • Edit across publishers. Using Marin, optimize keywords from both Google and Bing in the same user interface. Consider setting automated alerts to identify when keywords are under-performing, regardless of which search engine account they belong.

For more info and case studies on the power of adding Bing to your programs, click here. Market-specific data is also available for our readers in the UK and Australia.

3 Surefire Strategies for Driving Success with Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

By March 17th, 2014

Despite increasing complexity and competition, paid search advertising budgets are expected to work harder and drive more revenue than ever before. Unfortunately, marketers continue to struggle with driving relevancy and increasing engagement. For the most part, the challenge is that keywords, creative, and bid strategy remain the same for every search and every searcher. Remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) address this challenge by enabling advertisers to optimize campaigns based on user demographics and behavioral attributes. Though the list of use cases for RLSAs is likely endless, here are three strategies used by Marin customers today that underscore the power and flexibility that RLSAs bring to any paid search program.

I Know Where You Clicked Last Session

A user who’s been to your website is more likely to convert in a subsequent visit. With RLSAs, you can increase ad visibility and continue driving customers down the purchase funnel by adjusting ad creative and bids for users who previously visited your website.

By adding visitors who navigated to deeper parts of your website, such as category and product pages, to remarketing lists, you can build highly targeted campaigns that rely on more relevant ads. Creative that include buying signals like “act now” or “buy today,” along with promotional offers, engage repeat visitors. Coupled with optimal bid adjustments, these strategies drive downstream conversions and revenue from visitors who are closer to the bottom of the purchase funnel.

Navigational Searches Cost $$$

Though there are benefits to bidding on brand terms—controlling brand messaging, combating aggressive competitors, increasing SERP real estate, and providing deep links via sitelinks—these tactics tend to address engagement with new customers, as opposed to existing ones.

Marin Software RLSAs

Marin Software RLSAs targeting

With RLSAs, you can effectively eliminate navigational searches by building lists for existing customers who are logged into their profile or account. These users are already paying customers or have converted into active profiles yet continue to click on paid ads to navigate to your website. This behavior ultimately results in wasted ad spend.  By integrating first-party, customer-oriented data into RLSAs, you can reallocate budget away from navigational searches in favor of targeting and engaging new users. This strategy is highly effective for subscription-based products and services.

Driving Repeat Customers

Soft goods and services are often repurchased and renewed. For instance, pet food might be purchased every month or an insurance policy renewed every six months. Understanding when customers are likely to become repeat customers enables you to leverage RLSAs to increase the lifetime value of your customers.

Marin Software RLSAs

For example, take a financial services company that requires customers to renew their subscription every quarter. With visibility into their first-party data, which includes subscription start and ends dates, this advertiser could generate two remarketing lists, one for recent subscriptions and another for upcoming renewals. Generating an RLSA for customers with recent subscriptions, the advertiser can decrease bids on expensive, generic keywords for these new customers. On the other hand, creating an RLSA for customers who are coming up for renewal, allows the advertiser to increase bids on those same keywords to increase ad visibility and drive renewals. This strategy enables advertisers to pay more for clicks that are more likely to convert and eliminate those that are less likely to convert.

A Few Things to Remember

As you start to think about how these strategies will benefit your paid search program, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • The maximum membership duration, or how long a visitor’s cookie stays on a list, for RLSAs is 180 days. Consequently, advertisers can’t remarket to a customer from last year, eliminating the ability to drive renewals for customers with annual subscriptions.
  • Don’t get too cute and clever with RLSAs. Since lists must have a minimum of 1,000 cookies (users) before they can be used, highly targeted strategies can fall flat in terms of effectiveness if the audience isn’t large enough.
  • Remarketing lists don’t include users who are signed-in to Google. *Sigh*

Are there other RLSA strategies that you’ve executed on with impressive results?

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