Saddle up your computer and get ready for the wildest quiz of your life. We’re pleased to announce the launch of the 8th annual Biggest Search Geek competition. Test your skills against thousands of SEM cowboys and cowgirls around the world.
We reckon this quiz is our hardest yet. Some of the questions are guaranteed to get you hoppin’ mad. One of you city slickers will be our winner and boy are you a lucky son of a gun, ’cause this year’s bounty is a trip to SMX Advanced in Seattle.
But wait, there’s more! You’ll also get to pick from an Apple Watch, Amazon Echo, or Microsoft Surface Pro 4.
Good luck, y’all! Oh, and just a friendly reminder – never squat with your spurs on!
What are you waiting for? Giddy up: http://biggestsearchgeek.com/
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
Last month, I discussed how to use proper segmentation to optimize the performance of Dynamic Search Ads campaigns and why segmentation is vital for success. Segmentation also plays a large part in the success of shopping campaigns.
If you’re not already familiar, shopping campaigns promote your online inventory of products by matching search queries to ads that feature these products. These ads, known as product listing ads, can appear in Google search results or on the Google Shopping results page.
Shopping campaigns generally benefit from high click-through rates and low CPCs. With segmentation, the value of shopping campaigns increases. Reporting on specific product performance becomes even easier. Product bidding becomes more accurate. And, overall product management improves through better organization.
If you’re a digital advertiser new to shopping campaigns, the steps below can help you successfully leverage this campaign type.
Proper segmentation doesn’t actually begin in the AdWords interface. The foundation of a highly organized and structured shopping campaign truly starts with the data feed. The data feed contains all the product data that’s uploaded to the Google Merchant Center. The Merchant Center essentially houses all the product data and makes it available to Google and Google Shopping.
To make sure proper segmentation within AdWords is possible, include as much data as possible for each product. For segmentation purposes, it’s vital to include the brand, condition, Google Product Category, and product type attributes. You also have the ability to include up to five custom labels that you can segment by. We’ll touch more on that later.
I strongly recommend having values for not only the required data attributes, but as many of the optional attributes as well. Google is more likely to reward products with rich data with a higher impression share and better ad position. So, there are incentives for fleshing out your data feed as much as possible, beyond just functionality.
Once your foundation (accurate product data) is set, you first need to figure out what type of segmentation makes the most sense for your business. To go back to the online luxury jewelry store from my last article, if I’m selling different brands of jewelry, I know that select brands are more popular than others. Because of this, I want to be able to bid differently for each brand in my inventory.
So, for this example, it makes sense to first segment, or subdivide, my shopping campaign by the Brand attribute. Selecting the correct starting subdivision immediately improves my ability to bid better, as I now have organized product groups that provide insightful data that allow me to bid more accurately than if they were grouped together.
Let’s imagine my online jewelry store sells Cartier, among other brands. After first subdividing all my products by brand, I now have a product group specifically for Cartier products. While this is great, I know that I get different returns from different product types, such as rings, bracelets, or necklaces. So, I want to be able to set bids for each individual Cartier product group.
What I would then do is segment that Cartier group by the product type attribute. Now, I have the ability to bid for Cartier rings separate from Cartier bracelets. Once you have your first subdivision completed, you can continue to subdivide until you believe you have the correct product organization for your business.
Keep in mind that each time you subdivide by another attribute, the bid will be placed at the resulting product groups. While this gives you improved bidding and a clear understanding of what products drive revenue for your business, you don’t want to subdivide too much. This could make the product group too small to get any valuable data from and optimize around.
Earlier, I mentioned that in addition to the Google required data attributes, you have the ability to create up to five custom labels for each product. Utilizing these labels allows you to be a bit more creative with the segmentation of your shopping campaign than the standard parameters Google allows, and to better segment by attributes that make the most sense for your business goals.
For example, let’s say my jewelry store categorizes products by expected popularity. A product could be given a rating of High, Medium, or Low. By including this rating in the custom label column, I could then subdivide my initial brand segment by this custom label, and bid up for the most popular products and bid low for less popular items.
Let’s say my jewelry store sells Cartier watches. Imagine these product listing ads have a great click-through rate but a poor conversion rate due to the high price point. Over time, these clicks result in wasted spend and drag down the efficiency of the account. To avoid a poor ROI moving forward, I can exclude Cartier watches from my shopping campaign.
Product exclusion is an effective way of improving performance by removing items from your shopping campaign that carry low ROI. Product exclusion can also be used to organize your shopping campaigns. To exclude products, click the max CPC column for that particular product group and then check Excluded.
2015 was a banner year for mobile.
Continuing its ascent into the status of omnipresent being, global smartphone adoption reached an all-time high last year and shows no signs of slowing down. Thanks to this rapid expansion of smartphone usage around the world, advertisers now have an opportunity to reach consumers even more easily.
We sampled the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, to analyze data from around the world to create our latest annual benchmark report.
We uncovered three key findings:
For detailed information on 2015 search, social, and display mobile performance – including detailed data charts with YoY performance and further recommendations for 2016 – download our Mobile Advertising Around the Globe: 2016 Annual Report.
Thank you, Google! Your announcement of the Google Analytics 360 Suite is industry-wide confirmation that enterprise level marketing tools are necessary in order to get the most out of your advertising dollars. Of course, Marin Software has known this all along and believes marketers of all sizes can benefit from these tools.
All marketers want efficient ways to reach new and existing customers and to understand what works and what doesn’t. As Forrester Research reports: “Sophisticated marketers who use analytics platforms are 3X more likely to outperform their peers in achieving revenue goals.” Organizations need this kind of sophisticated software to enable marketing teams to align around goals that help them optimize, compete, and drive revenue.
At Marin, our focus is providing the technology and data needed for demand and revenue generation based steadfastly on our customer’s goals. We enable customers to make holistic creative, bid and budget optimization decisions across their campaigns, all from the same integrated platform.
Besides integrating well with Google, we have extensive experience working with Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other leading partners, including 10 of the largest global exchanges. Our commitment remains the same – helping marketers reach their goals across publishers, across channels (search, social and display) and devices (desktop, tablet, mobile).
Purpose-built to provide customers with complete transparency of campaign data and results, our mission aligns with Peter Drucker’s adage, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” We provide digital marketers superlative cross-publisher data and measurement including:
Although Marin Software has had a legacy in search leadership, we’ve evolved our cross-publisher platform via industry-leading acquisitions to power digital marketing campaigns for the world’s biggest brands and agencies. We look forward to continuing to provide our customers with the tools and insights to profitably compete and reach their goals.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
When you sign up to be a search account manager, you’re making the decision to test yourself to find new strategies for account growth. Whenever identifying growth opportunities becomes challenging, a strategy I rely on is launching Dynamic Search campaigns.
If you’re unfamiliar – Dynamic Search Ads match your ads to search queries based on the content of your website. This removes the need to manage lists of keywords or landing pages. AdWords automatically generates a headline most appropriate to the search query and sends traffic to relevant landing pages.
The benefits can be huge. Dynamic Search helps managers of mature and new accounts find new, profitable long tail keywords or new high volume terms.
The setup for this campaign type is simple, but it can really take some time to set up your dynamic targets to give you the optimum performance you’re looking for. To speed up the process, here are five optimization strategies to cut down on the trial and error and start things off on a high note.
Proper segmentation is critical to getting the best possible performance from Dynamic Search. When creating a new ad group in a Dynamic Search campaign, you have three options for how to define targets. The least appealing option is to target the entire website. This is less than ideal because of the lack of control you have over where traffic is sent and what search queries the campaign picks up.
For example, if you run a luxury jewelry website, it makes sense for visitors to go to a page where they can view products and start the sales process. Sending them to a part of the website where traffic can’t start a sale, like the website’s blog, isn’t as ideal. Poor targeting can result in a high bounce rate and wasted ad spend.
I recommend targeting specific topics or webpages instead. By doing this, you narrow the type of search queries that can be matched to your website targets, resulting in more qualified traffic and less wasted spend.
When starting a campaign from scratch or adding in a new Dynamic Search target, pay attention to the target’s estimated website coverage. Simply put, website coverage is the percentage of a website covered by an individual target.
If you’re having a problem with your Dynamic Search campaign not generating high traffic volume, the problem could be that you have too small of a target. Try expanding and see if that opens things up. Or if the opposite is true, switch to a target with a smaller website coverage to cut down on the junk clicks.
Dynamic targets can be excluded from your campaign to prevent traffic from reaching pages you don’t want to be used for ads. Much like the different targeting options available, dynamic exclusions gives you control over when Dynamic Search ads appear and where they send traffic.
Exclusions can be made at the campaign or the ad group level. When creating dynamic targets, try applying existing targets as exclusions for other dynamic targets. Sticking with the luxury jewelry website, let’s say you have a target set up for watches, but you want to create another target for Rolex watches in particular.
After creating the new Rolex target, exclude that from the larger, general watch target. Proper segmenting and exclusions should work to create a structured Dynamic Search campaign where there is little, if any, overlap between targets.
If you aren’t using negative keywords in either a shared list or attached to your Dynamic Search campaign, you need to take action immediately. Negative keywords should be applied just like any other search campaign.
Depending on the dynamic targets, you could make the argument that negative keywords are more crucial for Dynamic Search campaigns because queries are matched to website content and not keywords. When first launching, check your search queries report frequently to make sure you’re not burning budget on irrelevant queries.
Like any other search campaign, remarketing lists can be attached to your dynamic search campaign with the option to just bid on these audiences or to target and bid. This is useful if you have a remarketing audience specifically interested in a dynamic target.
Let’s go back to our luxury jewelry example from earlier and imagine we have an audience of people that have previously purchased a Rolex watch. We can attach that Rolex audience to our Rolex dynamic target with a positive bid modifier to raise bids when members of this audience search Google for products we have in our inventory. This modifier will allow us to bid up, obtain better ad position, and ultimately put us in a better place to make a sale.
When applying remarketing lists, it’s important to remember the difference between settings. Bid Only allows you to apply a bid modifier only when members of our audience enter a query. It has no effect on bids for people not in the audience. Target and Bid finds members of that audience only. Non-audience member search queries will not be matched to your targets.
Dynamic Search campaigns have the ability to really blow the doors off performance by finding new, profitable search queries that you otherwise may have missed. But it’s important to regularly update and tweak targets and exclusions to get the most out of performance.
Also, don’t be afraid to step outside the box with your segmentation and test new things out. No matter the size or maturity of the account, Dynamic Search is an effective strategy that should bring success to whoever uses it.
This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content Manager
at Boost Media.
With more than 2 billion active social media users worldwide, the influence of social on brand perception, customer relationships, and purchase decisions is indisputable. But, there’s a major shift happening in the way people interact socially, and it’s a trend marketers need to stay on top of.
Social media is becoming more visual, with image and video-focused platforms seeing hockey stick growth. In fact, Snapchat had a purported 100 million daily active users only two years after
Users are also voting for more image and video content with their clicks. Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement rates than text-only posts and simply using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%.
Figuring out how to get more images and videos in your repertoire is a “today” problem and there are immediate, compelling gains to be realized from investing in visual content. Marketers can expect several positive results:
Establishing a system for how your brand produces images and videos will also pay off in the long run, put you ahead of the competition curve, and help your brand build and grow profitable customer relationships now and in the future.
Marketers used to say “brands are the new publishers,” but perhaps now it’s time to think about brands as the new creative shops. To engage with customers, you’ll need great image and video content, and a lot of it. Don’t wait to ramp up your image and video production and distribution efforts. Now is the time to invest in solutions to scale visual content production and create an effective system for your brand.
Sarah 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.
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.
When homebuyers bemoan the high prices commanded by desirable locations, real estate agents often reply, “location, location, location!” With Google’s recent confirmation that they’ll be serving fewer ads per desktop search result, we expect search marketers to become more acutely aware of “location, location, location.”
Less inventory and constant demand could create an uptick in average CPCs for high demand queries (if you’re curious about locking in top ad spots, check out PositionLock).
While this update (and our prediction) may be distressing for some advertisers, we anticipate this change will be net-positive for the industry.
From a user perspective, “less is more.” As we’ve observed with Google mobile ads, which this update emulates, a clean user experience free of distraction creates high click-through rates for top position ads.
Furthermore, if higher CPCs do come to pass, it could stomp out competitors bidding in auctions where they’ve historically had weak product-market fit. With fewer distractions, we expect advertisers will have an easier time connecting with current and future customers. We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the performance and user experience.
We anticipate this update to be the most meaningful for ecommerce advertisers. Since Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are exempt from the right-rail exclusion, retail advertisers will be the only tenants on this coveted real estate which moves PLAs into Park Place territory.
If you’re an ecommerce advertiser, it’s paramount that your feed be optimized and that your bids are on target (if you need help, check out Marin Shopping). As both users and marketers on Google, we’re excited for this change – we’re happy to speak with any marketers seeking bidding, PLA, or general best practice advice.
The world of social advertising changes every day, and it can be a lot to keep up with! There are new ad types, forming partnerships, emerging tech, financial announcements, and the list goes on.
If you’re feeling a little behind on the latest, need-to-know news, grab a cup of coffee and take five minutes to catch up with this
Quick recap: Twitter announced a new algorithmically sorted way to view the timeline, although it’s not yet turned on by default. Consider it the “while you were away” feature on steroids.
What it means for advertisers: Advertisers have come to expect lower Facebook engagement on organic content, so the same fears may come into play here. Twitter representatives have said that ads will appear in the newly sorted timeline, but that the best content will rise to the top regardless of whether or not it’s paid. Expect Twitter to continue evolving in its quest to revive shareholder value.
Quick recap: Instagram rolled out support for 60-second video ads, a big change from the previous limit of 30 seconds. T-Mobile (did you catch the Drake commercial?) and Warner Bros. were among the first brands to test the extended video ad type.
What it means for advertisers: Instagram video ads can now be anywhere from three to 60 seconds, giving advertisers lots of room to creatively tell a story. Support is already available on Marin Social for advertisers who want to get started right away.
Quick recap: It was a great quarter for Facebook! The network beat estimates, announced $5.8 billion in revenue, and revealed it now has more than 1.59 billion monthly active users.
What it means for advertisers: The entire earnings call transcript is worth a read. To align with Facebook, advertisers should place extra focus on their mobile, video, and Instagram strategies.
Quick recap: Viacom and Snapchat announced a major partnership deal, which will give Viacom exclusive rights to sell Snapchat advertising.
What it means for advertisers: Viacom’s core investment in broadcasting and cable, combined with this new focus on social, hints at just how important cross-channel advertising is becoming. If Snapchat’s not your cup of tea, consider other tactics such as triggering social ads based on TV commercials, or running similar video content across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TV.
Quick recap: Free Basics by Facebook is a free, zero-rated platform that provides access to basic Internet services (news, health, education, sports, etc.) in developing parts of the world. Net neutrality concerns have made it controversial, and India recently passed legislation that caused Facebook to shutter Free Basics in the country.
What it means for advertisers: Free Basics will still exist in over 30 other countries, and Facebook plans to continue efforts to connect people in India. There are no ads in the Free Basics version of Facebook. However, international advertisers should consider taking advantage of new Facebook ad types (like Slideshow Ads) to reach users with slow connections in high-growth areas.
Quick recap: Facebook announced plans to roll out an automated video caption tool, coming soon.
What it means for advertisers: Once the feature is rolled out, advertisers will no longer need to embed captions or upload their own caption files. Facebook’s internal tests show that video ads with captions increase video view times by about 12%!
Quick recap: Twitter announced a new ad product called First View. It will allow advertisers to do a 24-hour takeover of the top ad slot in the timeline with a Promoted Video ad.
What it means for advertisers: Brand advertisers, rejoice! First View will offer a high-impact way to drive awareness at scale and gain maximum exposure for your brand.
Quick recap: Instagram users will now be able to quickly switch between multiple accounts, without having to log out.
What it means for advertisers: This is an exciting change for social media managers who run multiple Instagram accounts. However, larger advertisers who use a tool to manage their accounts won’t see much of an impact.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
When building out a fully functional PPC account, it’s important to utilize remarketing lists in addition to your standard campaigns. Remarketing lists allow you to target individuals with ads that are already familiar with your brand because of a past interaction, generally an ad click leading to a visit.
These visitors are valuable because they’re usually further down the sales funnel. Remarketing is a great way to retain these past visitors, capture incremental volume, and shorten the gap between time of click and time of purchase.
If you’re advertising on a pay-per-click network (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc.), you’ve more than likely utilized remarketing lists to improve account performance. You can also improve your remarketing lists, specifically your Google and Bing lists, by segmenting your audience based on time of last interaction.
There are a few benefits to segmenting your audience by time. The first is that it breaks apart a very large audience into multiple audiences of very manageable sizes. This then allows you to bid more or less aggressively depending on the audience.
For example, you may want to bid very aggressively to get an audience of users that last interacted with your website one to three days ago back to the website. You may not want to bid as high for the people that last touched the site 25-30 days ago.
Using this method, you can place a bid on each audience that’s most appropriate. However, be conscious of the size of the main audience you’re trying to split. This practice is usually a better fit for more general touchpoints that generate larger audience lists. It isn’t always the best to break apart a very small audience pool because at that point, the lists can become too small to employ.
1. Create a new remarketing list
2. Select who to add to your list
Generally, I select page visitors. But there are options to select page visitors who did/did not visit another page, visitors of a page during specific dates, and visitors of a page with a specific tag.
If you’re more advanced, definitely utilize the custom combination option. I’ve used this capability to refine my segmented lists even further in the past and to block past converters from my lists.
3. Set the rule
Enter the page URL that you want to build your audience around.
4. Set the membership duration
Here’s where you can get creative. Go to the Tools drop down, then select Conversions and take a look at your attribution data. How long is the time lag from click to conversion? Use this information to set your membership duration for your audiences.
If you’re unsure, just use common sense to create reasonable durations. For this example, let’s assign the first audience a five-day membership duration.
After creating the first audience, repeat the process and extend the membership duration with each additional audience. Using the five-day example above as a starting reference, we can create three more audiences with membership durations of 10, 20, and 30 days.
In the end, instead of one very large audience, we have one broken up into chunks based on the account’s specific conversion history, which gives us more control over bidding and ultimately better performance. Using this method, we don’t bid the same amount for someone that last interacted with the website 30 days ago as a person who last interacted with the website one day ago. Try it out and see how it performs!
Super Bowl 50 is here, and the cost to advertise is heating up faster than the Broncos/Panthers rivalry. In fact, CBS is charging up to
$5 million for a 30-second ad spot during the big game. According to eMarketer, the top five Super Bowl advertisers have spent a total of $745.1 million for the privilege over the past 10 years.
While the Super Bowl is a great time to drive awareness with cute Budweiser puppies and ridiculous Doritos commercials, most advertisers can’t afford to shell out that kind of money. Here are four strategies to help marketers of all sizes take advantage of the Super Bowl without breaking the bank.
Make sure you have a cohesive plan in advance of the big day that includes organic and paid teams, and all marketing channels where you have a presence (search, social, display, etc.). With a solid strategy in place, you’ll have a good foundation to help you capitalize on any spontaneous moments that may occur, such as Oreo’s quick “dunk in the dark” reaction in 2013.
Here are a few recommended tactics:
During the Super Bowl, millions of Americans are watching more than just the TV screen. They’re grabbing recipes from Pinterest, posting photos of their gameday garb on Facebook, and sharing their real-time reactions on Twitter. Advertisers who understand this second-screen behavior are in the best position to take advantage using a mobile-first approach.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all offer top-notch video advertising formats, so you can run your commercial without dropping $5 million. Captivating video formats provide an exciting way to engage with users who skim through their phones while watching the game. Other things to consider:
If you already have a good baseline social advertising strategy, take things to the next level using TV Sync technology. TV Sync allows you to automatically activate your social ads based on customizable offline events like television flight schedules, live programming, weather changes, or sporting events – all in real time. It’s a powerful way to amplify your reach and drive engagement across screens.
TV Sync allows you to:
Last but not least, consider using these strategies beyond Super Bowl Sunday. Every day is a great chance to extend your advertising beyond TV, onto the second screen and into the virtual living room.
Consider applying these ideas during primetime TV shows, live awards events, college or national sporting events, the World Cup, the Lumberjack World Championships, or any time at all.