Archive for ‘Publishers’

Google Upgraded URLs: Don’t Just Prepare for the Transition, Optimize

By April 17th, 2015

The mandatory Google Upgraded URLs July 2015 deadline will be here before you know it, at which point all URLs on AdWords will be migrated over to the new URL structure. With less than three months to go, it’s critical for Google advertisers are prepared for migrating, maintaining and optimizing their URLs across their entire program in the future. Advertisers need to ensure they have the necessary technology and knowledge to allow for a simple, seamless migration and URL framework. So the real question is, are you prepared?

For Google advertisers with third party tracking values, migrating URLs across an entire program can be a giant undertaking. Some advertisers may be wondering what the best way to handle the migration is to ensure that there is limited disruption to existing ad campaigns. While there are many ways to go about this, we’re here to provide you with our best practice guide for the Upgraded URLs migration.

Get the direction you need

The migration process for Upgraded URLs is a new experience for all advertisers so it may be difficult to assess what exactly needs to be done, and when. That said it never hurts to have a helping hand to assist you in navigate through the necessary steps to successfully transform your existing URLs into the new Upgraded URLs. In May, Marin will be providing a migration portal that will give advertisers step-by-step instructions outlining what they need to do and when, an overview of their account, the components that will be affected, and access to a wealth of other helpful resources at their fingertips.
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Set yourself up for ongoing success

How you set-up your URLs during the migration will have a direct impact on the management of your URLs going forward. To ensure that your new Upgraded URLs are set up in a way that you can easily change and scale going forward, it is recommended that you use a shared account-tracking template approach. This template solution will make it easier to make changes in the future by allowing you to make basic tracking parameter changes to URLs without having to going through the Google editorial review process, which requires taking keywords and ads offline. Ultimately, this solution results in cleaner looking URLs with increased readability. With Marin, we will take your URLs from the account tracking template, and then through the use of an automated tool, we will transfer your existing URLs to the new structure making them available for your review. From there, you will be able to traffic your URLs to the publisher at your convenience.
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After the migration, the ongoing management of your Upgraded URLs can be simplified with the help of a tool that understands the challenges that come with adopting to the new URL structure. Marin offers a pop-up side panel that allows you to make URL edits on the spot while you’re looking at your campaigns, keywords, and groups, a URL builder to help you easily piece together the three components of new URLs, and a preview feature to help you troubleshoot your URLs before publishing.

As there are many different options available out there to help you handle the Upgraded URLs migration, choosing the right one for your business needs will help to ensure that you hit the ground running with Upgraded URLs!

Bing Joins the Party for Upgraded URLs

By April 10th, 2015

Bing has just announced that they will be launching Upgraded URLs for Bing Ads with a rollout plan starting May 2015. As many of you are still planning out your migration plans for Google Upgraded URLs, the very thought of having to throw Bing into the loop right now may be panic inducing! However, there’s no need to worry, as we’re here to help provide you with all the information you need to make it through this transition smoothly.

The Why

First things first, there are two important dates to remember for this launch:

  • Early May 2015: Support for Importing of Upgraded URLs from AdWords
  • End of Summer 2015: Availability of Upgraded URLs in Bing Ads

Bing is adopting Upgraded URLs in order to help make it easier for their advertisers to copy their ads from Google to Bing. Instead of having to adjust URLs when managing between Google and Bing, advertisers can save time and streamline their workflows knowing that their URLs will function seamlessly between the two publishers.

The What

With this launch, advertisers on Bing will be able to use their existing AdWords tracking templates (at the account, campaign, ad group and entity level) and URLs (both Final URL and Final Mobile URL) to reconstruct a Destination URL that Bing Ads is able to understand.

Bing has provided the following table to explain the effect of Upgraded URLs on destination URLs of text ads, keywords and sitelink extensions. It also outlines how Bing Ads will handle Destination URLs, Final URLs and Final Mobile URLs during Google Import. However, it is important to note that Bing will not be able to import URLs with custom parameters in from Google.


In addition to Bing’s support for Upgraded URLs, Bing is also rolling out support of new dynamic text placeholders in Bing Ads Destination URLs.


Continue to stay tuned; we will be sure to update you with more details on this launch as they’re provided!

Google Mobile Update: 3 Ways to Prepare for Mobilegeddon 2015

By April 1st, 2015

The event that the Search industry has dubbed “Mobilegeddon” is almost upon us. Starting April 21st, Google will be updating its algorithm to increase its emphasis on “mobile friendliness” when ranking search results. Many of you may be wondering what changes to expect, since Google has always factored in “mobile friendliness” into quality scores in the past, so here’s a breakdown of what this change is all about and some quick tips on how to stay on top.

With 15% of the world’s population owning and using tablets, and over 25% owning and using mobile devices according to an eMarketer study, it makes sense to make sure that you offer a positive user experience for these consumers who click on your ad while on these devices. While Google hasn’t provided very many specifics on the mobile update, what we do know is that advertisers who do not have landing pages that are up to the standards of Google’s revamped “mobile friendliness” standards will experience dramatically lower search visibility.

Here are three easy ways to make sure you’re prepared:

1. Make Sure You Have a Functional Mobile Experience

This may appear to be a no brainer, but just because your site looks great and works amazingly on the desktop, does not necessarily mean that that experience will automatically translate to tablets and mobile devices. If you don’t currently have a responsive website (using responsive web design), make sure you create a mobile version of your desktop site. Nothing is worse than having a consumer click on your ad, only to lose them through a website that they can’t navigate through.

2. Test Your Site Out

Google has provided a helpful link for you to evaluate the mobile friendliness of your website, aptly named the Mobile Friendliness Test. In addition, to get a full report on mobile usability issues for your site, check out Google’s Mobile Usability Report. It is worth noting that Google hasn’t said what will change in their requirements on April 21st, but these tests are a great start to see if your website meets the basic standards for a mobile optimized website.

3. Understand Consumer Mobile Behavior

Make sure that the right consumers are seeing your amazing mobile optimized website. It’s important for advertisers to note that mobile users tend to be searching for different things than those on desktop and often, the keywords that are most effective on these devices differ. Searches done on a mobile device tend to be for quick answers such as location or contact information, so make sure to keep those in mind when selecting keywords and optimizing your campaigns for mobile.

Even though we won’t know to what extent advertisers will be affected when April 21st hits, these tips will help you to be prepared for whatever may come.

Twitter Ads: Using Conversion Data Reports to Optimize and Refine Campaigns

By March 30th, 2015

If you’re running Twitter Ads and wondering why your cost per action is high, this post will show you how to use Twitter’s campaign reporting and analytics to deep dive, optimize, and refine your campaigns.

In order to take advantage of these actionable insights, you must have Twitter’s conversion pixel installed. If you don’t, log into Twitter Ads and navigate over to Tools > Conversion tracking to get set up.

Let’s take a look at a few of the reports available that can be used to improve your campaign’s performance. To begin, click into a campaign you’re interested in optimizing and navigate to the left side where you’ll see this:


Optimizing Tweets

Like any other advertising channel, you’ll want to test out different variations of copy to see which one drives the most conversions. You can see the results of how each tweet performs in the Tweets tab. The test below shows three different tweets, one standard promoted tweet and two website cards.

For this campaign, you can clearly see that website cards are more effective than a standard promoted tweet in driving whitepaper downloads. From a simple calculation, we can see that the conversion from site visit to download is 22% for website card versus 17.5% for standard promoted tweet. Even looking at the first two tweets, which are identical in copy, the website card performs better.

There is a belief that website cards perform better because it’s more visually appealing and takes up more real estate in the timeline, but that’s not always the case for all our campaigns. Each audience is different and should be treated as such.

Recommendation: Pause the lower performing ad so spend gets allocated to the better performing ads. Test a variety of different ads and see what the audience resonates with best.


Optimizing Platforms

Keeping in mind that 80% of Twitter’s active users are on mobile, it’s crucial to understand how your mobile landing page experience is on multiple devices. If you take a look at the campaign below, desktop and laptop users are much likely to convert in comparison to mobile.

Recommendation: Build campaigns to target only one device each. By doing so, you will be able to clearly see and optimize the experience for each device closely and use your budgets more wisely.


Optimizing Locations

When you add in all of your locations into one bucket, you lose control of how that spend gets allocated and you are unable to control or tailor ads specific to that location. Take a look at the distribution below and you’ll see that New Zealand barely gets any love. Even when increasing budgets, United States and Canada will eat that spend up because it’s likely that there are more users in those locations that are engaging quicker than those in other regions.

Recommendation: Build campaigns to target only one country each to have better control of budget allocation and to scale more in the desired geography.


Optimizing Handles

If you’re running campaigns where you’re targeting specific Twitter handles, this report is extremely crucial to your campaign success. The Handles tab will allow you to see how much spend is allocated towards different handles and how each of those handle segments performs. It is likely that more spend will shift towards popular handles with a lot of followers, assuming they are engaging with your tweet.

Recommendation: This report should be pulled often and monitored closely to reduce spend on irrelevant handle targeting. Keep targeting the handles that are performing successfully and remove handles that are generating too much spend with low conversions.

If you are finding a number of handles eating up too much of your spend, there are two course of action: [1] if they are performing successfully in the existing campaign, keep them in the existing campaign, remove the lower spending handles and move them into a new campaign or [2] if they are not performing successfully but you want to try to continue optimizing, remove the popular handles and move them into a new campaign. The rule of thumb is when something performs well, don’t touch it.


By using all of these different reports, you’ll be able to quickly understand how your spend is allocated and see what tweets, platforms, locations and handles are driving to your desired goals.

Happy 9th Birthday Twitter.

By March 20th, 2015

Social publishers grow up so fast…
Check out this infographic of Twitter milestones.

Ever since its inception, through to its IPO in November 2013, the challenge for Twitter has been to balance the need to monetize its platform with ads without alienating its loyal user base. So how is it doing?

Overall Twitter ad revenue increased 97% (Feb ’14-Feb ’15). This is because Twitter has become a highly attractive advertising medium for savvy advertisers. Twitter has worked hard to attract marketers by broadening its advertising options, opening up more audience data and launching new capabilities to reach users, such as pinned tweets and Vines. In the US it’s even testing a ‘buy’ button. These moves have been important for brands, who might otherwise fear their message could be drowned out by the sheer volume of noise on the platform – over 9,000 tweets are posted every second.

Twitter has also been quick to embrace mobile, something Facebook admits it took longer to do. Smartphone adoption is a key reason Twitter will continue to grow in the years ahead; mobile already accounts for 85% of Twitter usage and 85% of all its ad revenue.

All of this appears to have been achieved without upsetting existing users – it’s hard find any evidence that ads are creating Twitter quitters. Growth of new users has slowed, but Twitter is still on course to hit 400m users this month, that is an astoundingly large audience.

The bottom line is that Twitter will continue to attract advertisers if the advertising continues to work and if users are kept happy; keeping this balance in check will be critical. The signs are positive, Twitter is a here to stay for at least another 9 years and will continue to grow as an important channel for digital marketers.

Advertisers can use the Marin Social platform to manage Twitter ads alongside Facebook. Request a demo today.

3 Best Practices to Prepare You for Bing’s Unified Device Targeting Update

By February 12th, 2015

In March, Bing will begin migration for phase 2 of their unified device targeting update. This phase includes the elimination of explicit mobile device targeting. Last year, Bing launched unified device targeting as a way to simplify Bing Ads for advertisers. For those unfamiliar with unified device targeting, the first phase was the consolidation of tablet and PC/laptop campaigns. With this change, targeting selection for mobile will be merged along with desktop and tablet devices. While Unified Device Targeting no longer allows advertisers to target devices explicitly, Bing is allowing for bid modifiers available for tablet and mobile.

A few benefits to be expected from this change include simplifying the workflow for managing Bing ads with more streamlined targeting and making it easier, and more efficient, for advertisers on multiple search publishers to manage ads now that Bing ads will be structurally compatible with Google.

In preparation for the migration, here are three best practice tips to keep in mind:

Tag your URLs by device

URLs are the key to tracking revenue and conversions back to keywords. For any advertisers that want to get conversion and revenue reporting data by device, it is recommended that they tag their URLs by device type.

Use this as an opportunity to improve your Bing ads overall

Advertisers should use this opportunity to figure out why their ads may be under-performing. As advertisers are taking the time to review their campaigns, they should keep in mind factors that might be getting in the way of them reaching their advertising goals. Things that advertisers should consider – Are my budgets reasonable and high enough to factor in additional volume from mobile? How are the Quality scores for my ads? Perhaps it may be worth revamping my landing pages. Are there any keywords I should add to target mobile users?

Don’t be shy when it comes to testing out new ideas on a few campaigns before the deadline.

Use this as an opportunity to improve your advertising strategy overall

For any advertisers that have been considering leveraging a third party platform to help with managing their campaigns, this is a great time to bite the bullet. Platforms, such as Marin Software, can not only help advertisers with the migration process, but also offer tools that allow advertisers additional levels of control.

For example, even though Bing campaigns will be now target all devices, advertisers can optimize at the device level using Marin device level reporting and modify their bid adjustments accordingly.

By being prepared, advertisers can ensure that their campaigns play well and succeed with mobile, tablet and desktop devices.

Just Launched: A Brief Guide to Understanding Google’s Upgraded URLs

By February 9th, 2015

Today Google formally announced the launch of their long anticipated upgraded URLs. We understand that many Google advertisers out there are wondering what this change means to them and how they will be impacted. In this post, we hope to provide answers to the main questions out there regarding this mandatory change and hopefully help put you at ease.

For starters, what are upgraded URLs?

Google is introducing upgraded URLs to help advertisers track ads and execute changes more efficiently. You can now specify separately two pieces of information for your URL: 1) The landing page URL – the landing page were the user will go when they click on the ad, and 2) Your tracking information – the values you’d like to track about your ad performance which can be at the account level. As a result, you will no longer need to update ads, keywords, or sitelinks every time you need to add a tracking parameter to your URLs.

What do I need to do?

Google is requiring all advertisers to change the structure of their URLs to the new upgraded format by mid 2015. While Google will automatically do the most basic migration of all non-redirect URLs to the new format on the deadline, it is recommended that advertisers proactively take charge of updating their URLs ahead of time in an effort to conform to Google’s “best practices” structure.

Wait, I need to individually update each of my URLs? That’s a lot!

Yes, Google does require advertisers to update all of their URLs, which is a daunting task considering the volume of URLs the average advertiser has to deal with. To help mitigate the chance of errors and any potential negative impact on campaigns, there are tools out there that will assist you with making this update easy and painless. Platforms like Marin Software not only offer a migration tool to easily upgrade all your URLs according to best practices prior to the deadline, but also offer resources to help answer any questions or solve issues you may have along the way – helping to eliminate any disruption to your campaigns.

Got it, so what should I do now?

Take the time to figure out the right strategy for upgrading your Google URLs. This will help you experience a smoother transition and allow you to focus solely on the benefits that new upgraded URLs have to offer.

Happy Upgrading!

3 Simple Steps to Boost Performance on Bing Ads in 2015

By January 14th, 2015

This is a guest post from Peter Harrington, Sr. Product and Partner Manager at Bing Ads.

With the New Year come resolutions of all shapes and sizes. For advertisers, resolving to spend search ad dollars more effectively and successfully in 2015 has never been easier to achieve.

As has been reported, Bing Ads saw an average CPC of $.78 compared to $.93 on Google (Q3 2014). And in head-to-head comparisons across eight different verticals, the Yahoo Bing Network had a CPC equal to or lower than that of Google in seven of the eight verticals.

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While it’s hard to argue with a lower CPC, choosing the best place for your search advertising spend is not just about cost. By providing unique levers that allow advertisers to optimize campaigns even further, Bing Ads offers you a significant opportunity to increase traffic and revenues with even lower CPCs. Simply follow these three easy steps:

Keep an Eye on Quality Score

First, monitor and optimize your quality score. The Bing Ads quality score shows you how competitive your ads are in the marketplace by measuring how relevant your keywords and landing pages are to customers’ search queries and other inputs. A high quality score can help improve your performance and deliver lower CPCs. The key is to understand what is driving low quality scores (landing page relevance, user experience or keyword relevance) and make changes accordingly.

When compared to AdWords, Bing Ads is unique in factoring relevancy and experience of the consumer into quality score, and not bids, allowing advertisers to focus more on messaging and customers.

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Modify Bids Across PC, Tablet and Smartphone

Second, take advantage of Bing Ads’ device bid modifiers. As any savvy advertiser knows, not all devices are created equal, so having the opportunity to modify bids across devices is critical. This is where Bing Ads is distinct, allowing advertisers to increase or decrease their bids on PCs, Tablets and Smartphones – something Google, which combines PC and Tablets, doesn’t allow. Specifically, advertisers can increase or decrease Tablet bidding on Bing Ads from -20% to +300%. For Smartphones, bidding can be adjusted from -100% to +300%.

Don’t Forget Ad Formats and Extensions

Third, make sure you’re leveraging Bing Ads’ ad formats, like our Ad Extensions, which have proven to help boost traffic and performance even more. On average, the use of extensions such as Call, Location or Sitelinks can increase your click through rates 15-25%. Enhanced Sitelinks, launched in October 2014, is a new format of Sitelink Extension that allows you to add up to two lines of customizable, descriptive text. By expanding your current Sitelinks, you can capture a searcher’s attention even more with a more detailed, highly targeted ad. Since its release, we have observed an average click through rate increase of 27%.

In addition to Ad Extensions, Product Ads are a great way to attract customers to your ad. Bing Product Ads use imagery and promotional text to showcase your product in a visually engaging way – and stats show that they work. Serving a product ad generated a 7% increase in CTR vs. a comparable non-brand text ad and revenue per click was 31% higher. In fact, Product Ads produced a 98% higher return on ad spend. That’s tough to beat.


You can find even more tips and quick wins to boost your performance on Bing Ads from this recent webinar. With just a few easy steps, you can resolve to start 2015 on a high note.

About the Author

Headshot (2)Peter Harrington is a Sr. Product and Partner Manager at Bing Ads. Peter has been in search marketing and advertising for 10 years, representing such brands as Microsoft, Getty Images, T-Mobile, and Kimberly-Clark. Equally experienced in SEO and paid search, Peter has held agency, publisher, and in-house roles.

How to Take Twitter Ads to The Next Level with Search Data

By January 8th, 2015

Did you know that there are 2.1 billion searches on Twitter every day? There are millions of people who use Twitter search to understand what’s happening right now and to stay updated on the latest news and trends. On Twitter Ads, advertisers have the ability to run different types of ad campaigns, but if you’re looking for a way to drive relevant engagement then targeting keywords are your best bet.

In general, we all know that search and social channels both serve very different purposes along the consumer’s path to conversion. However, research shows that marketer’s who integrate their search and social advertising programs find more consumers who are likely to convert and spend more.

This post will help you leverage your search data to guide you in your process of selecting keywords to target. Keep in mind that users search differently on Google versus Twitter, so you do not want to dump your entire search keywords list directly into Twitter Ads. However, it’s worthy as a test and it can be a useful resource to determine what keywords you want to use.

Before we get to that, there are the two types of keyword targeting that you need to get familiar with:

1. Users’ Timeline: You will be able to reach users at the right moment and context with your ad displayed directly into their timeline based on words and phrases they’ve recently Tweeted or searched for or that appear in Tweets with which they’ve recently engaged.

2. Search: Your ads will appear in the search results for terms and phrases related to your keyword list.

Quick Tip: By default, campaigns will appear in both search and timeline, but you have an option to focus on one or the other. I would advise on separating the two targets into two separate campaigns, using same keywords and ad creatives, then evaluating performance side by side.

How to Use Search Data for Twitter Ads

1. Log into Marin Software or your search management platform and navigate to the Keywords tab and select your preferred date range. You will want to sort by Clicks to see which keywords are driving the most volume.

2. If you have the typical search setup, here are some ideas on how to group your keywords for testing on Twitter:

  • Brand Terms: If people are searching for your brand on Twitter, you’ll want to stay top of mind.
  • Competitor Terms: If someone is searching for your competitors, why not stay ahead of your competition?
  • Terms Related to Business/Service/Assets: Carefully scan through the list of keywords you have and choose which keywords relate the most to the asset you will be promoting on Twitter and only select keywords with a one to two word count.

Note: The maximum # of keywords is 1,000, but our account rep from Twitter suggests 20-30 keywords with no more than 2+ word phrases is adequate.

3. When you have this keyword list segmented and ready, you’ll want to also create hash tag variations of your chosen keywords. For instance, if digital marketing is a keyword in your list, you will want to test out #digitalmarketing.

4. Now that you have your list ready, you’re ready to load that into your Twitter Ads campaign by using “Import multiple keywords”.

15. When you’re done importing in your list of keywords, click on “Expand your reach” to get recommendations from Twitter on related keywords that you can use.

236. Lastly, adjust the match-types you want applied to your keywords. Here’s a quick overview from Twitter:

Happy Tweeting!

The SERP In Review

By December 17th, 2014

We all know Google is constantly toying with the SERP. Sorting out what new tweaks Google is testing can be difficult at times, but I thought it’d be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of what the SERP looked like a year ago compared to what it looks like now for the same search term, “Razor Scooter.” Here’s what I noticed:

1) More PLAs! Google was toying with adding more PLAs at the end of 2013 and it appears they’ve settled on more. In 2013, a total of four PLAs appeared. The SERP for 2014 delivered twice as many. The location has changed too.

2) More Text in Text Ads. The number of lines appearing with text ads has increased. Last year the largest text ad on the page consisted of four lines. This year, the largest (position 1) features up to seven lines. There isn’t an ad on the 2014 SERP with fewer than four lines.  The addition of the review stars as well as the inclusion of physical addresses has created “longer” ads. This essentially means fewer text ads on the side are able to fit above the fold. In 2013, four text ads appeared on the side above the fold. In 2014, two and half appeared. The lost real-estate is compounded on smaller monitors – on a laptop just a single side bar text ad appeared.

3) The “Ad” Icon. Google started testing the “Ad” icon just over a year ago. It’s now the standard.  Gone is the ad box with the title “Ad Related To [search query].” Instead, ads are identified by the little yellow “Ad” icon and ad organic search results are delineated by a grey bar or divider.

4) More Text Ads Above Organic Results. Last year, one text ad was served above the organic results. We now have three. With PLAs moving to the right side bar and the company description disappearing (this still appears on some, less retail focused results), room was freed up to serve two additional text ads. Organic results are pushed down. The same “Razor Scooter” search query today on a 13” laptop screen produces just a single organic result. 

In short, the SERP is much more ad dominated, with the focus going towards PLAs and positions 1 – 3.


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