We all know the two most popular websites in the world right now—Google and Facebook. On any given day, people are performing close to 3 billion Google searches, and over a quarter of the world’s population use Facebook. Bing is also growing fast and is now a major SEM contender.
Advertisers have much to gain from an integrated search and social advertising approach. But exactly how much?
To answer this question, we conducted a study of more than 200 enterprise advertisers managing Google, Bing, and Facebook campaigns. With billions of dollars in annualized ad spend managed on the Marin platform, we work with many of the world’s largest and most sophisticated advertisers.
Here’s what we found:
For full research results and actionable tips for cross-channel success, download The Multiplier Effect of Integrating Search and Social Advertising.
This is a guest post from Jacob Ehrnstein, Search Account Manager at 3Q Digital.
One of the search marketer’s best weapons is a Dynamic Search campaign. As you may or may not know, Dynamic Search campaigns rely not on keywords for targeting, but instead use your site’s content to create and target your ads based on a user’s search behavior.
There are many great things about Dynamic Search campaigns. First off, you can be precise about the scope of the pages that you target from your site. And, even more interesting and useful, there’s the Dynamic Search Ad (DSA).
With Dynamic Search campaigns, Google dynamically generates a portion of the ad. For DSAs, you don’t provide a static headline—rather, Google dynamically generates it for you. As Google states, “The headline is dynamically created from each matching phrase entered in Google Search, and from the title of the most relevant landing page used for the ad.”
Additionally, Google states that “Dynamic Search Ads can have longer headlines than other search ads, which improves their visibility.”
That all sounds great. But, what does a search marketer need to know to make best use of DSAs? For instance, how long are dynamic headlines? And, how often does a user’s search match the headline, or the headline match a user’s search or the title tag?
To answer the question of DSA headline length, I looked at the results of DSA campaigns targeting nearly 20,000 unique pages, with unique content that generated nearly 400,000 queries.
I broke the results into three areas:
Let’s dive in.
Headline Length of Dynamic Search Ads
When looking at the headline length, I broke out the analysis into three categories, and here’s what surfaced for each category:
The lengthiest headline I found was 90 characters long. This appears to be the longest that a dynamic search ad headline can be.
|Number of Impressions||Headline Length||Percent of Impressions|
|12,448,010||Total Number of DSA Impressions||100%|
|1,009,327||Headline Length < 25 Characters||8%|
|7,504,566||Headline Length > 25 Characters and < 61 Characters||60%|
|3,934,117||Headline Length > 60 Characters||32%|
Next, I looked at the click-through rate (CTR) by headline length to see if there was a correlation between the length of the dynamic headline and the CTR.
|Total Number of DSA Impressions||11.44%|
|Headline Length < 25 Characters||12.12%|
|Headline Length > 25 Characters and < 61 Characters||11.21%|
|Headline Length > 61 Characters||11.70%|
While it doesn’t appear that having longer headlines necessarily yields you the highest CTR, one segment that outperformed the rest was when the character length exceeded 70 characters.
|Headline Length||Percent of Impressions||CTR|
|Headline Length > 70 Characters||11%||18.81%|
So, the true efficiencies appear to happen when you’ve far exceeded the normal ad headline length. Even Google’s Expanded Text Ads, with its new combined headlines, would max out at 60 characters.
The data here shows that as the headline moves into this longer territory, the CTR shoots up. This may be because when an ad gets this long, it blends in more with organic results (which have a character limit of around 77 characters).
Dynamic Headline Source
Last, I looked at the source of the headline for the Dynamic Search Ad. Google documentation states that the headline will either come from the headline of the page or the keyword, but I wanted to know what percentage of the time either situation happens. Here’s what I found:
|Percent of Headlines that Match Title Tag||60%|
|Percent of Headlines that Are Variations of Keyword Searched||40%|
Here, 60% of the time the dynamic headlines exactly matched the title tag. What this means—if you’re going to be a heavy user of Dynamic Search Ads, it’s best to pay close attention to the pages being targeted and ensure the title tags on those pages are high-quality. Keep in mind that other variables—such as description lines and the pages being targeted—play into the performance of the ads I’ve analyzed.
Hopefully, this information helps you better understand your Dynamic Search Ads and how to improve their performance. Here’s to successful campaigns.
In PPC, there are two main approaches when it comes to bidding workflow—manual and automated. Over the years, there’s been debate among search marketers on the pros and cons of each approach. Search marketers have differing opinions on which yields the best outcomes.
One of the main arguments in favor of manual bidding focuses on the control that it affords the search marketer, in contrast to the hands-off nature of automated bidding inherent with publisher bidding—like AdWords “Smart” bidding and most (but not all) 3rd party proprietary bidding algorithms.
In nearly all automated bidding approaches, the search marketer sets a goal and the bidding algorithm reviews historical performance, and then calculates a bid with limited transparency from start to finish.
The apprehension some search marketers feel towards automated bidding derives from the opaque nature inherent in most approaches. This fear is realized when a campaign is underperforming, and the search marketer becomes at a loss for what’s amiss, or how to improve it.
Putting that fear aside, let’s reflect on the many benefits of automated bidding, which is the reason for its proliferation.
Here are just a few.
Automated bid management is a huge time saver. Think about it—how long would it take you to manually change a million keyword bids? How confident would you be that each bid is optimized to maximize your return?
If you’re being honest with yourself, the answers to those questions should naturally steer you towards automation as the optimal solution. Automation augments the search marketer by executing repetitive tasks, serving as an ‘enabler’ for the search marketer to focus on growth opportunities or account strategy while keeping tabs on daily performance.
Automated bid management platforms produce accurate bids through regression modeling that looks backwards to predict future outcomes. With millions of dollars at stake, these algorithms are typically built with risk aversion at their core to produce low error rates. By their very nature, they make changes at scale that’s quite literally impossible for any individual, or even team, to compete with.
The reality is, sophisticated marketers with material budget use an algorithm to bid on their media today. If you aren’t, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage.
Automated bid management platforms allow advertisers to define the goals and milestones for the algorithm to work towards. The marketer remains the operator and the brains of the operation, with the bidding algorithm working as his proxy.
Learning from massive datasets to create better future outcomes is at the heart of bidding algorithms. Today, this type of mathematical analysis is popularly called “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence.” Most ad tech companies have years of experience with these techniques, but largely fly under the radar in popular press, with newfangled applications like self-driving cars getting the headline coverage.
So, how do you get the best of both worlds? Simple—employ automated bidding with full transparency. That’s not an oxymoron. That’s a real thing offered by a few leading independent marketing partners (not to toot our own horn, but Marin Software is one such example).
Fully transparent bidding solutions (i.e., the bidding system shows you the step-by-step logic of the bidding algorithm) allow users to see all the details behind their bid calculations for each keyword. This includes the bidding model(s) employed, the details of the dataset used, performance bumpers activated, and any other pertinent details behind the decision-making. If automated bidding is fully transparent, many of the arguments opposed to automated bidding lose their heft.
Information Available in a “Fully Transparent” Bidding Solution
The level of information available for each keyword in a “fully transparent” bidding solution varies. That said, at Marin Software, we show the logic of our algorithms “line by line,” which allows users to see a full breakdown of bidding decisions, including:
Contrast this to the information displayed in a “black box” bidding solution:
Fully transparent bidding solutions allow PPC managers to review the logic used to reach a bidding conclusion. In addition, the search manager has the option to overlay bidding rules to ensure the algorithm behavior is consistent with their risk tolerance and strategy to hit certain goals and milestones.
The best fully transparent bidding solutions also allow you to preview bidding calculations before they’re pushed to publishers, and manually override bids on specific keywords if needed. This gives PPC managers the full control of manual bidding with all the time saving, efficiency, and data processing power of automated algorithms.
If automated bidding isn’t currently part of your strategy, we hope this post helps break down the nuances of different approaches. Although it also explains the pros and cons, it advances the argument that if you aren’t using a transparent bidding algorithm in today’s environment, you’re hamstringing yourself, because it’s near-certain that your competitors are employing an automated method of bidding to try and out-compete you. If you’d like to learn more about Marin Software’s approach to bidding, click here.
If you’re an enterprise search marketer, you’re likely managing thousands to millions of keywords. To automatically improve performance, increase brand awareness, get back valuable time, and attain those magic revenue numbers, Marin Search and its bidding folders can help.
If you’re already using Marin Search, follow these tips to make sure you’re maximizing value. Or, if you’re looking for a search platform that makes keyword and account management easier, these tips provide a glimpse of what our leading advertising solution can do.
Marin Search uses a patent-pending algorithm to automatically adjust keyword bids to meet target KPIs. This automated bidding feature optimizes keyword bids within folders. For accounts following PPC best practice structure (organizing groups into targeted themes), bidding folders should fall in line with account structure.
If you’re unsure of which ad groups should go into what folder, think about the KPI you’re trying to achieve. All keywords within a folder should have the same target KPI.
The above bidding strategy will optimize all ad groups and category keywords to one KPI. However, each category could contain sub-categories that might not preform the same.
With dimensions, you can pull reports at the sub-category level. Not only can you use this to create granular reports, but it can also help you improve optimization.
For example, the folder ‘Dining Tables’ is set to achieve a CPL of £75—however, a dimension report reveals the actual category-level performance.
‘Wooden tables’ is performing 20% below the folder CPL, while the ‘folding tables’ CPL is 20% above. Use the percentage difference as bid boosts for keywords in each category, reallocating spend to the better-performing category. The average folder spend and CPL will remain the same, but the conversion volume will increase.
Once you apply dimensions, Marin can analyze the data to calculate bid adjustments for each sub-category dimension.
To automate dimension bid boosts, use Dynamic Actions. With this feature, bid modifiers simply sit on top of bidding folder calculated bids, and folder settings remain unchanged.
Using dimensions to optimize bidding cross sub-categories, our customers have seen some amazing results:
If you’re a Marin customer and would like more information on how to optimize sub-categories within bidding folders, contact our CoE team for a bidding consultation. Or, to see it in action, sign up for a free trial.
We’re proud to announce immediate support for Bing Expanded Text Ads. Bing “Upgraded URLs” is a prerequisite to leveraging Bing’s Expanded Text Ads, and we’re offering full support for that, too.
Last, but not least, we’ve enhanced SmartSync to be compatible with both Bing and Google Expanded Text Ads. All Marin Search customers have access to SmartSync, which provides a 1-click migration to Bing Expanded Text Ads. We think this is the easiest (and fastest) method for savvy marketers to explore this opportunity.
“Bigger is better” is the key mantra behind the move to Expanded Text Ads, a move expressly designed to help advertisers succeed in a mobile-first world. Our empirical observations tend to refute the argument that Expanded Text Ads is a smart investment of resources, with well-constructed and thought-out ads yielding better increases in both click-through and conversion rates.
Before and After
With the deadline to migrate comfortably in the future, it may be tempting to put this task off. We encourage our advertisers to resist the temptation and try out Bing Expanded Text Ads now. Our recommendation is based on our observations, as described above.
The following is a brief list of the methods available for Marin customers to quickly get their ads launched:
Activate SmartSync: Execute your migration to Bing Expanded Text Ads with just one click. SmartSync takes care of the heavy lifting by automatically porting your Google Expanded Text Ads to Bing. And, best of all, your Google Expanded Text Ads can remain permanently synced to Bing Expanded Text Ads as long as you like, which means you can make a single ad change within Marin and have it applied to both of your key search engine partners.
Follow the Marin Guide to Expanded Text Ads: Avoid confusion by following our migration guides for Bing Upgraded URLs and Bing Expanded Text Ads. We walk you through the nuanced details of what’s changed, how to take advantage of these changes, and how to get up and running quickly.
Hire Boost Media to rewrite your Bing Expanded Text Ads: Tap into Boost Media’s network of professional copywriters to build brand new text ads from scratch. Marin Software has negotiated preferred pricing on behalf of our customers. To get started just contact your client services team.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
One of the reasons advertisers choose the Marin platform is for the flexibility it provides. It grants advertisers the ability to track conversions through the standard publishers (Google, Bing, Gemini), via Marin’s own platform tracking, or by importing conversion goals from Google Analytics. Each method of counting conversions has benefits and should be considered when you’re first setting up on the account.
If you have multiple conversion actions, one method I believe is very powerful and should be considered is integrating Google Analytics and Marin.
While this type of account setup could benefit most advertisers, those who judge performance based on the revenue or goal completions reported in Google Analytics—over publisher metrics—will find this setup most useful. The reason is that Google Analytics aligns publisher performance metrics (clicks, impressions, etc.) with the goals that impact your business the most.
I personally manage an ecommerce client that likes to monitor publisher conversions and reported revenue, but primarily cares about driving transactions and revenue as reported in Analytics. So, setting up my Marin account to import this data from Analytics allows me to look at total performance as it matters to my client and build a strategy based on the bottom-line numbers.
As you may have guessed, the biggest benefit to importing this data is in bidding. Revenue and conversions can be tracked from Google Analytics back to the keyword level from each publisher platform. With this data now imported into Marin, any bidding folders you have in place are now able to execute bid adjustments based on the data that’s most valuable to your business. This makes their adjustments more accurate than if they were based on the reported revenue data from any publisher platform alone.
To make Marin integration with Google Analytics simple, a Setup Wizard guides you through the process. To set up the wizard, go to the Admin tab, and click the Revenue sub-tab.
From the Revenue Tracking setting, select Google Analytics.
If you’d like to use the imported goal to be added to the platform, select the Bidding Eligible box. Before moving forward with this option, be sure the Google Analytics goals are reporting correctly.
Granularity and accuracy are key for all advertisers and particularly critical in high season. If you’re an ecommerce advertiser heading into Q4, put this strategy into play ASAP, test, and refine as needed. Good luck!
Last year, Marin partnered closely with our customers to transition over two billion URLs to Google’s new Upgraded URLs format. With Yahoo! Japan’s support following suit this year with Advanced URLs, we’ve created best practices to ensure our clients have a seamless upgrade.
As our clients prepare for their upgrades, we wanted to highlight some important tracking considerations to keep in mind. For Ad Groups with upgraded keywords and legacy creative, Yahoo! Japan will serve the creative-level URL over the keyword-level URL. This means clients who use keyword-level tracking should migrate their ads before migrating their keywords.
As with Google’s upgrade last year, Marin’s Customer Support and service teams will be on hand to assist with questions that arise during your upgrade process for fast response and inquiry resolution. This experience is specifically designed with our customers in mind!
Marin’s step-by step self-migration guide, and our close-knit partnership with Yahoo! Japan, enables our customers to complete their upgrades in accordance with Yahoo! Japan’s best practices approach. This approach uses shared tracking templates at the ad group, campaign, or account levels to reduce website load when creating new ads or keywords and allow for future URL changes with no interruption to ad serving.
At Marin, we understand our client needs are unique and we have you covered. We published comprehensive campaign management and self-migration documentation to Marin’s Enhanced Support Center. If you’re a Marin client be sure to check this out.
When Google released product listing ads, it dramatically changed the way retailers advertise online. Because of their huge success, retailers are constantly on the lookout for the next game-changing ad format.
If the results our retail clients have been seeing are any indication, the next frontier for product ads is harmonizing Google Shopping and Facebook Dynamic Ads (DA). Even though there’s been steady growth in the number of advertisers using Facebook DAs since their launch in 2015, many retailers are still managing their search and social channels in silo.
In this post, you’ll learn how to supercharge your shopping ads by combining the best of search and social. Using these techniques, our customers have seen a 68% higher revenue per conversion from their campaigns, when managed together with social advertising campaigns.
Savvy advertisers take advantage of their existing Google Shopping campaigns to optimize—or simply test—DAs for the first time. By identifying your best-performing products from Google Shopping campaigns, you can export high-ROI products to advertise using DAs.
Through Facebook’s new Google Shopping to DA product (available to Marin Software customers), advertisers using Google Shopping can take their best-performing campaigns and easily create Facebook DAs in a few easy steps, without the need for lengthy setup and extensive IT resources.
To easily increase your average order value and/or customer lifetime value, be sure to offer products related to what a customer’s ordered. As you’re building out DA campaigns, you can create upsell, cross-sell, and prospecting campaigns using the same process.
Search intent retargeting is the smartest way to maximize the ROAS of your search budget. As cross-channel marketing strategies become commonplace, digital advertisers have started using search intent data to power their social campaigns. This strategy can be extended to Facebook DAs.
One example: using search intent to optimize DA creative templates. If the right users see them, these dynamic changes to creative can lead to significant lifts in CTR, conversion rates, and ROI.
Let’s say you have three users who’ve reached your website using different levels of search intent.
Through DA creative templates and search intent data, you can dynamically tailor your Facebook creatives based not only on the products users have seen on your website, but also on the keyword they used to get there in the first place. This allows you to show hyper-targeted ads, resulting in higher click-through and conversion rates.
In the above example, our users see different things depending on their keyword group:
Once you start running Google Shopping and Facebook DAs, you should look at product performance and optimization in a more holistic way. The challenge with cross-channel tracking is normalizing conversions across multiple devices, ad buys, and other variables. However, with a third-party platform like Marin Software, the problem’s solved, so you can focus on the most important task—making sense of all that rich data and finding synergies.
With consistent third-party conversion tracking, you can also deduplicate conversions across search and social. And, through attribution modeling, you can gain deeper insights into how your Google Shopping and Facebook DAs are affecting the overall path to conversion.
Your future shoppers are spending an ever-increasing amount of time on Facebook and Google. In fact, 78% of all new ads were on either Facebook or Google last quarter. Now’s the time to think smarter about how you can cost-effectively engage and convert these users.
By combining search and social shopping strategies, not only do you break down channel silos—you gain a holistic view of product performance, and the ability to optimize across channels and improve overall product performance.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
Digital marketers love automation. No secret there. With as many different target markets and key metrics as we have to monitor, any rules or reports that we can automate to save a few minutes here and there add up over time and help us breath easier.
Bidding is one area that’s seen great improvements in automated technology. There are tons of new strategies and technologies to implement automated bidding (with Marin’s bidding folders being a fantastic option).
That said, there are times when you still need to roll up your sleeves, get a little dirty, and crank out some manual adjustments. To make that process less stressful, here are four tips for getting the most out of your manual bid adjustments.
Generally speaking, I make adjustments once a week using a seven-day lookback period. This allows me to view keyword performance since the last time I made adjustments and see if the adjustment had the desired effect. If I happen to make large-scale adjustments in between those two seven-day periods, I pull my data from the date of the last adjustment.
The purpose of using consistent date ranges and pulling from the date of the last adjustment is to keep your data “clean.” If you’re making multiple adjustments and using inconsistent date ranges, it makes it much more difficult, if not impossible, to understand how certain adjustments affect keyword performance.
This is because you’re viewing data from both before and after the last keyword adjustments. Ultimately, you could end up pushing your bids too far up or down and not achieve the CPA you want. So, for simplicity, keep your date ranges consistent and make sure there’s little overlap.
This is very simple: don’t boost bids for keywords in the top position. When bidding, it’s better to boost keywords in lower positions than keywords at the top, because only the former will lead to increased impression volume. Raising the bids for top positions will only increase costs, not improve performance.
Once, I worked with an ecommerce client who had struggled for some time to get non-brand search CPA and conversion volume. Their account wasn’t helped by the multiple budget-capped, non-brand campaigns this client had active.
After some thought, I decided to increase all non-brand keywords with quality scores (QS) of 9 or 10 while pausing low-QS keywords. I especially pushed those keywords that had been struggling with below-first-page bids. As a result of the adjustments, non-brand conversion volume took off.
Why? Well, Google wants to serve keywords with high QS. Therefore, when I pushed up the bids for my top QS keywords, impressions greatly increased even though I paused a ton of poor keywords that were eating up spend. Not every top QS keyword will be a home run, but make sure the bids for these terms are always competitive and that low QS terms don’t make up the bulk of your spend.
Bleeders are keywords that have little spend on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, but add up to large costs over time. Because of this limited spend, the bids for these keywords are often left unchanged during normal bid adjustments. If left unchecked, these can cause CPC/CPA to stagnate. Every so often, use an extended lookback period to identify and bid down or pause bleeders.
With just a few adjustments, you can be on your way to improved performance and more clicks. Happy manual bidding!
Facebook offers several great options for retargeting, allowing you to segment and remarket to people who’ve engaged with your product. These tools include:
These features let you granularly segment your audiences, ensuring you’re targeting users with the right messaging and products.
What happens when search teams up with social? Combining search intent with Facebook retargeting allows you to segment and target users on Facebook, based on the search ads that drove them to your website.
How can you fit this tactic into your overall retargeting strategy, and how is it beneficial to your campaigns?
Let’s tackle that last question first.
Since search is an intent-oriented channel, you can retarget users based on what they’re looking for. With this knowledge, you can drive them to a conversion by offering them exactly what they want.
Once you know your audience’s intent, you can align this information with your goals to create high-value user segments, then target accordingly. This affords you the opportunity to target larger audiences using lookalikes, then scale even further from there. No matter the size of the audience, using precise, tailored segments ensures the highest audience quality.
And, if your goals change and you no longer want to target a specific audience, you can always exclude it from your campaigns.
Search intent allows you to adapt creative elements on Facebook—by knowing what the user wants, you can show more appealing images and messaging to increase CTR. You can also apply tiered bidding and budget, concentrating on higher-value audiences.
There are an infinite numbers of ways you can segment audiences based on your overall strategy and goals, or even for a particular event. Here are a few use cases.
A large brand is planning to launch a massive TV campaign, and wants to engage with people, via search and social, who possibly saw its TV ad. Since users are most likely to search for the brand after seeing the ad, the brand splits its search campaigns into brand and generic segments. This way, the brand can understand its audience and target them with specific messaging, across channels.
An ecommerce site is trying to attract users based on search criteria for its fashion styles. It tags the keywords romantic and classic to reach those users on Facebook, showing them relevant content. The site complements this tactic with its Facebook DPA campaigns.
A direct advertiser is looking to improve its social optimization strategy based on search activity. It segments search campaigns according to users who search for high ROI and low ROI keywords, allowing it to target those users on Facebook, and adjusting bids and budgets accordingly.
A travel website wants to lower CPAs for search and social channels. It creates a 100% bid RLSA group for very expensive but high volume keywords, tags the users who’ve clicked these keywords, and excludes them from repeated searches. To achieve lower costs, the website targets those users in social.
Want to see a real-life example of how it works? Read about how a loan comparison website cut its cost per acquisition by 3.5x with Marin’s search intent retargeting on Facebook.