Archive for ‘Google’

Why Retailers Should Spend More on Google PLAs in 2H 2015

By July 29th, 2015

We recently took a look at the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, which consists of advertising data from leading global brands that manage more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend through Marin’s platform. By examining consumer behaviors from last quarter, we were able to forecast how search advertising would impact the second half of 2015.

We also came up with three ways to dominate search in 2H 2015, one of which you could call, “Spend more on shopping ads.”

Shopping Ads Quickly Reach Critical Mass

Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) hit the market in late 2012, and user adoption has grown steadily ever since. Especially during the critical holiday season, this ad format proved to be richer, more engaging, and highly successful.

For this particular ad type, we looked at retail advertisers and their audiences. We found that:

  • Retail advertisers spent 47.0% more on shopping ads in 2014
    than 2013.
  • This year will see another increase of 20.1% over last.
  • Roughly a third of all PLA ad spend concentrated in the last quarter of 2014.
  • PLA spend in December is forecasted to reach 250% of
    January PLA spend.
  • Click behavior during this time mirrors spend behavior, with large surges during Q4 each year.
  • This year, PLA clicks are forecasted to be 136% of January’s
    click volume.

All of this data highlights the importance of the holiday season for many retailers. This isn’t so surprising, since PLAs are highly effective at reaching consumers during this season, which starts in November.

15.0295_MidYearOutlook_SHOPPING

Budget Share and Consumer Adoption

In terms of budget share, PLAs have also been steadily gaining ground against text ads in the retail space. While 2013 saw advertisers spike to 23% in PLAs during Q4, overall growth has been slow and steady, taking up just over 20% of all paid-search budgets. This is projected to hit 27% during the holiday season.

Consumer adoption of shopping ads has also shown consistent growth patterns, as the ads have improved and been refined by publishers and advertisers. Shopping ad click share has shown constant growth and made significant gains over the past year and a half. It’s on track to account for over one-fourth of all paid-search clicks by end of year.

Bottom line: Since shopping ad spend is projected to spike dramatically during Q4, retailers should increase shopping ad spend accordingly.

This is just one of three recommended tactics for leading the search field in 2H 2015. To learn more and access full data charts, download our report, Mid-Year Outlook: 3 Tactics to Dominate Search in 2H 2015.

Upgraded URLs – Making It Easier for Paid Search Advertisers to Manage Tracking

By July 14th, 2015

Continuing with our cadence of thought leadership and innovation in digital marketing, Marin Software has successfully upgraded approximately 2 billion URLs to the new Google Upgraded URLs format. We partnered closely with our customers and Google to ensure a smooth transition.

Complete Transparency: Marin’s Upgrade Portal

For visibility into the upgrade process, Marin developed a one of a kind interactive Upgrade Portal. This portal allows customers to quickly and easily review their account configuration and proposed tracking structure before routing changes to Google. As an added bonus, the post-migration summary report within the Upgrade Portal enables customers to keep track of their top performing keywords and ads, and quickly take action within their Marin account(s) to guarantee a timely and successful upgrade.

Ready for a preview of the report tab? See for yourself by watching our two-minute overview video:

Best Practices for the Upgrade

Marin’s Customer Support and Service teams were on hand to assist with any questions that arose during the upgrade process for fast response and inquiry resolution. This experience was specifically designed with our customers in mind!

Through Marin’s close-knit partnership with Google, our customers were upgraded in accordance with Google’s advanced best practices approach – using shared tracking templates at the ad group, campaign, or account levels to benefit from reduced website load when creating new ads or keywords, add new ValueTrack and custom parameters during the upgrade process. Future URL changes can then be made without an interruption to ad serving.

At Marin, we understand that our customer needs are unique. For our customers who chose to self-migrate, Marin had them covered as well! We published comprehensive campaign management and self-migration documentation to Marin’s Enhanced Support Center, along with the archived version of our highest rated webinar to date: Marin’s Best Practices for Managing Upgraded URLs. If you’re a Marin customer please be sure to check this out!

Google Upgraded URLs: the Deadline Approaches

By June 18th, 2015

The June 30th deadline to upgrade your AdWords URLs to the new Upgraded URLs structure is quickly approaching! As mentioned in our previous blog post, Upgraded URLs is a mandatory change to help advertisers track ads and execute updates more efficiently. With Upgraded URLs, you can now separately specify two pieces of information for your URL:

  1. 1) The landing page URL – where the user will go when they click an ad
  2. 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’ll no longer need to update ads, keywords, or sitelinks every time you need to add a tracking parameter to your URLs.

While many marketers have already put together an upgrade strategy for this transition, if you’re still figuring out how to handle your AdWords URLs – it’s not too late. Here are some options and resources to help ensure you’re covered for Upgraded URLs:

  • Auto-migration: If you have very basic URLs (for example, you don’t use any tracking in your URLs), you can either perform the automated upgrade on July 1st, or earlier to get a head start. This method copies your current destination URLs to the new final URL field for all ads and keywords. The benefit of this approach is that you don’t need to do anything; all your ad stats will be maintained, and your ads will not be subject to policy review. However, if your URLs go beyond the basic URL structure, the automated upgrade may not structure your URLs according to best practices.
  • Self-migration: If your URLs include any tracking parameters or use tracking templates, Google provides a self-migration feature. Depending on whether you go with their Basic or Advanced migration, you’ll be able to bulk upload local or shared tracking templates. The Basic migration allows you to create local tracking templates for each of your final URLs. The benefit of the Basic migration is that your ads won’t be subject to policy review, whereas those with Advanced self-migration may be. On the other hand, the Advanced migration allows you to manage shared tracking templates at the ad group, campaign, or account levels. Using the Advanced migration will enable you to try new ValueTrack and custom parameters during the upgrade.
  • Platform help: If you’ve been considering leveraging a 3rd party platform to help you manage your ads, Upgraded URLs presents a great opportunity and reason to try one out. Platforms such as Marin have provided customers with migration resources to help alleviate the stress of making the upgrade, and to minimize any potential disruptions to workflows. Currently, for new customers, Marin is providing Upgraded URLs migration services as part of the onboarding process prior to July 1st. With this approach, you get the assurance that your URLs will be migrated according to best practices. And, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of platform support for ongoing management of your ads.

With all the options you have available for Upgraded URLs, it’s important to review your Google ads to determine which approach works best for your business.

Top 3 Takeaways from Google’s AdWords Livestream 2015

By May 6th, 2015

Yesterday morning at Google’s AdWords Livestream 2015, the AdWords team announced several exciting new features. The features they’ll be launching fall into three broad categories: ad experiences, automation, and measurement. Here’s a run-down of each:

1. Ad Experiences- Creating experiences for consumers when they’re looking for your business

For Automobile Ads, Hotel Ads, Shopping Ads, and Comparison Ads the big theme across all is an emphasis on interactive. Google is releasing a number of enhancements to the creative formats for different verticals by making them more interactive, with a greater emphasis on images and integration with mobile apps. With these enhancements, Google is looking to move advertising beyond just text ads, which are the most common ad format today. This is an understandable move, as ads containing images are proven to drive higher levels of user engagement, according to eMarketer, with a 28% growth in clicks for image-based ads versus just 4% for text ads in Q2 of 2014.

2. Automation – Accelerate, customize, and scale your activity in AdWords

In today’s world, advertisers need to manually create campaigns and set bids for Dynamic Search Ads. Google acknowledges that this can be a cumbersome task that is difficult to scale for advertisers with expansive keyword sets. With the launch of the new Dynamic Search Ads, an improved workflow will allow advertisers to simply type in a URL and view recommended CPCs provided for their categories. Additionally, the introduction of automation into the DSA workflow demonstrates Google’s intentions of moving away from keywords and towards more macro targeting. Google has also announced auto-resizing of GDN ads to help advertisers save time and make it easier for them to reach their audience through Display. For bidding, Google is launching a CPA bid simulation report that will allow advertisers to simulate bids for target CPAs on search and display, as well as an enhanced bid strategy dashboard in the Shared library that will allow advertisers to review the status of their bid strategies over time.

3. Measurement – Measure every moment that matters, across touch points and devices

To provide advertisers with the full value of digital and insight into their advertising performance across devices, Google is enhancing their analytics and reporting capabilities. These new capabilities will allow for better conversion and attribution tracking across devices. The first step in this process will be the integration of Estimated Total Conversions (ETC) to bidding to help inform better bidding and budgeting decisions. Later this year, advertisers will be able to take action on cross-device conversions for automated bidding and to include cross-device conversions as part of the conversions column in AdWords. The goal is to provide advertisers with the ability to track cross-device conversions that started on the web and finished on the app, regardless of device type. Attribution was also discussed, with the integration of data driven attribution into AdWords to make attribution actionable for Search. This integration will allow you to break down the customer journey and measure every moment using your own conversion data to value attribution. This will allow Google to calculate the actual contribution of every keyword in your account and optimize for the best performing keywords across the conversion path. Coupling this new feature with automated bidding will allow you to optimize keyword bids based on the actual value of your Search ads.

All these new enhancements are planned to roll out over the course of the next few months so stayed tuned to Marketing Insights for more updates as we provide all the details you need to you know as they launch.

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!

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.
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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.

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!

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.

Tis’ the Season of RLSAs

By December 4th, 2014

During the last the last two Holiday seasons, Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) captured the attention of performance marketers. Retailers adopted the ad type as though it were the latest fashion trend. And while we don’t see the use of Google Shopping campaigns and PLAs slowing down this season – we expect retailers to devote upwards of 50% of their search budgets to the image-based ads – Google RLSAs (Remarketing Lists for Search Ads) are this year’s shiny new toy.

If your retargeting program doesn’t include RLSAs, then frankly, you’re missing out. The point of retargeting is to re-engage with people that have visited your site as they continue perusing the Internet. As the top site on the Internet, it’s almost certain your site visitors will be stopping by www.google.com.

In a recent survey of digital marketers, 88% of respondents indicated retargeting is currently a part of their marketing mix and of those digital marketers running retargeting campaigns, 65% said they leverage RLSAs. It should be 100%.

If we think about a consumer’s online shopping/researching experience, a browsing session often starts at a search engine, which more than likely is Google. A consumer clicks on a search result, browses the site to see if it fulfill what they are looking for, and then likely returns back to the search engine. Being able to then retarget that visitor on search is extremely powerful.

In looking at the performance of Google RLSAs, we found the click-through rate (CTR) of RLSAs to be 234% higher than non-RLSA ads in the second quarter, 2014. The cost-per-click (CPC) of RLSAs was 24% cheaper than non-RLSAs.

Better performance at a cheaper price sounds like a win-win.

Google Exact and Phrase Match Search: 2-Month Performance Review

By November 7th, 2014

Google rocked the search world this August with the announcement that they were changing the definition of Exact Match and Phrase Match to include close variants of their keywords, such as misspellings or plural variants. This caused a huge uproar from search marketers over the potential effect this could have on their search performance. Almost two months later, were their fears founded? I took a look at our Marin Global Online Advertising Index to see how performance has, or has not, changed over the last month and a half for Google Exact and Phrase Match search.

To start, I looked at click-through rates between August and October for both 2013 and 2014 for Google Exact and Phrase Search. While these searches make up only about 3% of all Google searches, this still means billions of impressions daily. Surprisingly, I found no real change in CTR trends between 2013 and 2014. While there is a small drop the week of the change, this is also mirrored in CTR behavior in 2013 on the same dates.

On the cost-per-click side, we also see very similar trends to 2013. While there is a jump in CPC during mid-September, we see a similar jump in 2013. This coincides with both the beginning of the holiday season sales and back-to-school sales so this is not unexpected. While the jumps were less pronounced this year than last, overall, trends show that this change to Google Exact and Phrase Match search have not affected CTR and CPC significantly, at least not yet.

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