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Your Detailed Testing Strategy for Expanded
Text Ads

By June 28th, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Scenario 2: Test standard ads versus custom headlines

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

Why not test everything at once?

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

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

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

 

About the Author

sarahSarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.

About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

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

By June 9th, 2016

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

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

White papers:

Blog posts:

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

Get Your Creative Ready for Google’s Expanded Text Ads

By May 31st, 2016

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

By now, you’ve heard about Google’s Expanded Text Ads. This is big news for search engine marketers. Initial Google reports cite click-through rate increases of up to 20% for some advertisers. With more than nine billion ads impacted by Google’s change, a massive amount of copywriting is required to adapt.

All advertisers will have to react quickly, and spend more marketing dollars to adjust and profit—or else miss out on a huge opportunity. What can you do now?

Start planning early

Advertisers who move fast and adapt to the new format stand to benefit in two ways:

  • Leveraging the additional creative real estate allows you to weave in new messages as you communicate to your customers, resulting in more clicks and purchases.
  • Ads in the new format will look more aesthetically appealing, compared to the older ads that advertisers who don’t switch over will have to settle for.

Don’t rely on the traditional methods

The new format allows for an extra headline with more characters, a longer description line, and a customizable URL. Don’t waste the extra space by employing Excel spreadsheets or ad templates to update ads. The traditional methods won’t work for a seminal shift of this scope.

Mashing description lines one and two together will leave you with a confusing and disparate message. Most advertisers write the two lines of text as separate ideas, and when they’re pushed together, they don’t flow as a logical and cohesive message.

Where to go from here

Advertisers need a solution that makes it possible to write and rewrite ads in the new format with speed, quality, and scale. Through an exclusive partnership with Boost Media, Marin Software has an automated tool that can rewrite your ads to be ETA-compatible. If you’d like to get up and running on ETA ads today, you can get started here.

 

About the Author

sarahSarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.

About Boost Media

Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.

Google’s Expanded Text Ads – Things to Know and What to Do Now

By May 24th, 2016

Google has made a historic change to its creative format with the introduction of a mobile optimized format called “Expanded Text Ads” (ETA). In this post, we provide information to help you understand what’s changing, why it’s a positive thing, and how to automatically make your existing ads ETA-compatible. (Pro tip: Skip to the end of this article if that last point is what you’re after.)

What Are Expanded Text Ads?

Expanded Text Ads are a mobile-optimized ad-format designed to maximize an advertiser’s performance in mobile search results. This is accomplished by providing the advertiser significantly more ad copy to highlight their product or service. Expanded Text Ads also apply to desktop search results.

This change is a big deal because it’s a fundamental shift away from the legacy AdWords text ad format that’s existed for well over a decade. As such, this change will require every AdWords advertiser to rewrite their ads to be ETA-compatible. To learn how to automatically do this, skip ahead to the end of this post.

What’s Changing, Exactly?

Advertisers now have two headlines instead of one, and these headlines are joined with a hyphen. The good news – this copy expansion allows ads to occupy 50% more space on the search results page. Early results indicate that this increased presence improves CTR, which makes sense when you compare the old format (left) to the new format (right):

ETAs

Here are the nitty-gritty details:

  • Headline 1 and headline 2 are 30 characters each. This is a 240% increase over legacy text ads, which historically had just one headline and a 25-character maximum.
  • For the description line, the character count is also increasing. Instead of two 35-character description lines, there’s just one that’s 80 characters.
  • The display URL will now be automatically extracted from your destination URL. You can set up to two path fields like “golf” and “shoes” (e.g., www.powpowsports.com/golf/shoes).

As marketers, we’re excited by all of these updates, and think that the addition of a new headline is only going to help performance, especially in a mobile world.

A Positive Change, for Multiple Reasons

Why is this change a net-positive for advertisers?

  • You gain a new, second headline.
  • More characters for longer messaging increase the odds of connecting with your target audience.
  • We’re seeing better overall performance in our early results.

Why is Google Making This Change?

A couple of obvious questions are: Why is Google making this change? And why now?

The short answer: Consumers have shifted to mobile as their primary method of accessing the Internet. And, advertising dollars are following in rapid succession. eMarketer estimates that in 2016, over 60% of all digital advertising spend will go to mobile. It’s also expected that mobile will continue to gobble up market share through 2020.

Google is staying ahead of this trend by shifting to mobile-optimized ads, which is consistent with the elimination of right-hand ads back in February. In the next 12-24 months, we should see more mobile-centric changes from all major publishers, as they train their attention on perfecting mobile monetization.

How Can I Automatically Make My Ads ETA-Compatible?

Through an exclusive partnership with Boost Media, Marin Software has an automated tool that can rewrite your ads to be ETA-compatible. If you’d like to get up and running on ETA ads today, you can get started here.

Stay tuned for more details, insights, and data as we continue to report on Expanded Text Ads.

5 Ways to Drive More Customers in a Mobile-First World

By May 23rd, 2016

According to eMarketer, over 70% of U.S. paid search spend will be mobile by 2017. And yet, optimizing mobile advertising and seeing significant ROI on it remains a crucible for many in the digital advertising world.

We joined our technology partner DialogTech at the end of April for
a webinar about how search marketers can adopt new mobile-first optimization strategies to drive PPC conversions and customers.

One of Marin’s very own search marketing experts, Patrick Hutchison, teamed up with Kelley Schultz, Digital Marketing Lead at DialogTech, to share proven mobile optimization and attribution tactics digital marketers can use to drive more clicks, calls, and customers from Google AdWords, Yahoo, and Bing.

In order to achieve their mobile advertising goals, digital marketers need to understand the customer journey and all of the touch points prior to sale. To that end, here are five strategies for optimizing your mobile game plan that we learned from this webinar.

1. If your business gets mobile traffic, then you need to be      setting a bid adjustment

You want to get into a top (1-2) position for mobile devices to ensure visibility, so set up campaigns with an initial +25-30% bid modifier. You can adjust and optimize based on the types of conversions and traffic you see.

2. Optimize for calls

Incorporate call conversion tracking to ensure you’re optimizing for all conversions. Without measuring call leads, you miss out on a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracking and understanding the source of your leads.

3. Segment search query reports by device

When you perform search query reports, add a device segment. This will allow you to see what keywords are getting the most mobile conversions and traffic. Within your reports, sort by conversions and then adjust your bids for your highest performing keywords to ensure top position.

Next, sort your report by clicks that don’t drive conversions, and adjust bids or add negatives as necessary for these keywords that are driving up both clicks and spend.

4. Remember that mobile-targeted ad copy is key

Create mobile-preferred search ads with mobile ad extensions and CTAs. Remember to take advantage of call extensions, since as Google reports, 70% of mobile searchers use call extensions to call businesses.

5. Incorporate remarketing bidding strategies

Set up remarketing lists into your campaigns, so that you can adjust mobile bids for the top position.

Remember the importance of not only bidding up for mobile traffic, but also increasing bidding for your custom audience lists. If users showed interest once, capture them again on their next query with a different message in the top position.

Here Come the Grads: Are They Ready for Your SEM Team?

By May 4th, 2016

Grad season is fast approaching, and college students are already applying for paid search roles in anticipation of their impending release into the “real world.” These eager newcomers can make great additions to SEM teams, provided they’re given the knowledge and resources they need to do that stellar work you expect.

However, paid search today is a considerably robust topic to teach someone. You’ll want to make sure you’re covering all bases, which is why Marin’s Center of Excellence has come up with tips and tricks to bring these enthusiastic new team members up to speed.

As with any endeavor, you’ll need to start by asking yourself some questions to understand how to best tailor your approach:

  • What knowledge gaps exist for these new team members? Do they have any previous marketing experience, particularly in search?
  • What will be the “everyday life” for your new hires? What knowledge do they need to be successful in their new role?
  • How quickly do new hires need to fully assume their role? Can training be completed over a period of time?
  • Who’s involved in the training? Mentors? Managers? Other?
  • How will training content be developed and maintained?
  • Does it make sense to invest in online courses or outside consultants to conduct the trainings?
  • What methods will you use to keep participants engaged and accountable throughout the training?
  • How will you assess the success of the trainings? How will you assess the competency of participants post-training?
  • Are there any unique processes or strategies your company uses that team members need to understand?

The next step is to create your program for bringing these new hires up to speed. Use your answers to the questions above to decide how to best structure your program. In addition to developing clear and helpful content, establish how that content will be delivered (Will you host training sessions? Require self-study?), how participants will be assessed, and more.

We’ve created a quick breakdown of what you’ll need to do to prepare for these trainings, along with our suggestions.

Structure

New hires often inherit accounts from other account managers without much context. Understanding why an account is structured a certain way is imperative when deciding how to perform tests or when to make changes.

Those new to the industry may not understand things like segmenting match types or remarketing to specific groups of people differently if this isn’t previously explained. Keeping a record of tests and strategy for an account can be extremely valuable to a new account manager.

Workflows

Recent college grads hired to a paid search team will often perform the day-to-day tasks involved with campaign management, such as writing ad copy for testing, negative keyword expansion, and more. For every workflow, it’s also important that new hires understand the impact these tasks can have on performance.

Strategy

There are many strategies that account managers use to meet client goals within PPC campaigns. It’s important to inform new hires not only of the goals for the accounts they’ll manage, but of various methods they can use to meet those goals.

Technical

Make sure new hires have an understanding of how tracking works fundamentally, as well as the manner in which tracking conversions and revenue functions in your accounts. New hires will also need to learn how to identify and resolve discrepancies within your data, to ensure they’re able to make intelligent strategic decisions in the accounts they manage.

Although recent grads may not spend a lot of time performing deep-dive analysis within accounts, it can be helpful for them to acquire these skills early on in their careers. Bringing new hires up to speed can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be time-consuming!

At Marin, our Center of Excellence is available to develop and provide custom workshops to ensure your new hires are brought up to speed without taking up your limited bandwidth. If you’re a Marin customer and would like to learn more about this offering, reach out to your account representative!

What Can Online Retailers Expect This
Mother’s Day?

By May 2nd, 2016

Mother’s Day is almost here! With flowers, cards, and family visits close at hand, many brick and mortar retailers are gearing up for the shopping spike. The season of maternal appreciation extends to online retailers, who are also gussying up their search, social, and display campaigns to attract consumers around the world.

How did online retailers do in 2015, and what to expect this year?

Mother’s Day 2015 – Clicks, Spend, and Conversions

In the week leading up to Mother’s Day 2015 (May 10th), clicks increased an average of 15% across retailers as click-through rates rose 6%. In addition, spend increased 9% during the same time period, peaking a few days before Mother’s Day.

Most notably, conversions saw a bump of 12%, peaking on the 5th at 18% above the monthly average. This noticeable bump for all retailers was more pronounced among those specialty retailers that Mother’s Day particularly impacts.

CPCs actually dropped slightly during this period, except for two days where they spiked, the 4th and 5th. The 5th proved to be a particularly important day for consumers and advertisers, showing abnormal surges along all metrics.

Perhaps consumers took account delivery times and the looming holiday date into account, giving themselves a few buffer days in case of delays in delivery and arrival.

These numbers dropped dramatically on Mother’s Day itself, and returned slowly to roughly average afterwards. Click-through rates remained elevated for Mother’s Day and a few days afterwards before returning to seasonal norms.

Recommendations for 2016

For retailers looking to maximize their Mother’s Day sales, here are a few key takeaways:

  • Start campaigns at least a week before Mother’s Day to capture the online shopping market, especially those looking to have a gift arrive in time for the occasion.
  • In particular, focus attention on five or six days beforehand, as this is when consumer interest peaked last year.
  • Expect similar trends to 2015, as people power down for the actual day to celebrate a mom!

Round ‘Em Up! The 8th Annual Biggest Search Geek Contest Kicks Off Today

By April 25th, 2016

Howdy, Pard!

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/

5 Ways to Optimize Your Dynamic Search

By March 8th, 2016

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

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.

1. Segmentation

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.

Dynamic_Targets

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.

2. Website Coverage

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.

3. Exclusion Targets

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.

Exclusion_Targets

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.

4. Negative Keywords

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.

Negative_Keyword

5. Remarketing Lists

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.

4 Spring Cleaning Tips for a Spotless Annual Account Audit

By March 3rd, 2016

With spring rapidly approaching, this is a great time for search marketers to start preparing for an annual account audit. What are some of the top areas of focus for spring cleaning your account? Marin’s Center of Excellence has created a process for identifying key ways accounts can be improved through structural and performance-based changes.

Step 1: Identify pain points in the account to narrow
your focus

Before you dive into cleaning up your account, identify the main areas where you’d like to focus your time. Chances are you don’t have a lot of bandwidth to dedicate to anything but day to day management tasks — so to save time, start by asking yourself some questions to help narrow the focus of your audit and cleanup.

Some of these questions might include:

  • Where does the account fall short of meeting its goals?
  • Does the account have unutilized objects (things like past promotional creatives)?
  • Do you regularly perform A/B tests?
  • Have you had issues with revenue attribution?

Step 2: Perform an audit

The second step is to perform an audit of your account. You should focus your time on two major areas of opportunity: account structure and performance.

Tip: When performing the account audit, pull data in a format that allows you to make bulk changes. This way, once you’ve identified issues, you can easily take action and save time.

First, take a look at your account structure to make sure it follows search marketing best practices. This’ll make your account easier to navigate and ease day to day management. Second, analyze your account for performance issues that require action. The Center of Excellence recommends looking for the following:

Account Structure

  • Duplicate keywords
  • Conflicting negatives
  • Past promotional creatives
  • Missing active keywords/creatives
  • Misspelled creatives
  • Campaign setting alignment
  • URL tracking issues

Performance

  • Underperforming objects
  • Optimal use of negative keywords
  • Quality Score analysis
    • Landing page content
    • Keywords
    • Ad copy

Step 3: Implement changes

The third step is to take corrective action based on insights you discover during the audit.

Be sure to keep track of any changes you make and a record of the audit — this is essential, since it’ll allow you to effectively measure future performance.

Step 4: Measure

Use your record of changes to measure the impact of your spring cleaning efforts. Compile this information into a visual representation of the improvements to share with your colleagues or clients.

If you’re a Marin customer interested in partnering with the Center of Excellence on an account audit, contact your account representative, who’ll connect you with a Center of Excellence consultant today! Or, if you’re new to Marin, request a demo.

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