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Archive for ‘Trends’

Far Away, So Close: Current Insights into Travel Search Advertising

By October 18th, 2016

With school out and warm weather in, we traditionally think of the summer months as the best time to take a vacation. However, is it actually prime time for search advertisers to ramp up their ad campaigns?

To answer this question and others, we took a look at travel advertisers on Google and Bing. We examined 2014 and 2015 to locate any trends in advertiser spend and performance for the travel vertical across quarters, and to assess the state of consumer behavior. Google and Bing dominate the global search market, which made them ideal for our study—other search publishers have regional presence at best, so they were excluded.

We found a few interesting things:

  • Summer searches, but fall clicks. Although, on average, consumers searched for travel terms (flights, lodging, auto rentals, etc.) almost 20% more during summer than winter, clicks on travel-related searches didn’t peak in summer as expected. Instead, their highest point was in autumn, right after the summer months.
  • The great smartphone migration. Over the past two years, travel advertisers have steadily shifted spend away from desktop and tablet towards smartphone. While smartphone made up under 10% of search spend in early 2014, by end of 2015, that number grew to almost 30% of all search budgets.
  • Native is restless. The travel ad format that’s seen significant growth is native advertising via channels such as Yahoo! Gemini. Starting in late 2014, investment growth in native ads by travel companies grew almost 5x by mid to late 2015. While this format is one of the newer ones, it’s been growing consistently in both advertiser and consumer adoption over the past year.

For more great information on search advertising in the travel industry—including cross-device performance data and campaign recommendations—download The State of Travel Search Advertising: Trends, Formats, and Paths to Success.

Mobile Display Goes Up, but Tablet’s on the Decline

By September 6th, 2016

Between the distant frenzy of the Q4 shopping season and the rising calm of midyear, Q2 tends to be the quietest quarter. However, this doesn’t mean there’s nothing happening. Among other things we found in our research, mobile display played a larger role this Q2—but overall, the ubiquitous move to mobile is actually slowing down. And, tablet usage continues to drop.

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report. For Q2 2016, key findings include:

  • The move to mobile is slowing down. Across search and social, the shift away from desktop has been slowing for the last two quarters. Device share is decelerating and seems to be approaching a stability point. Display is the only channel that’s still seeing strong shifts toward mobile over the past quarter for both advertisers and users.
  • Smartphone and desktop are the devices of choice. The tablet revolution never took off and continues to shrink. Instead, it was co-opted by its sibling device, the smartphone. For the foreseeable future, smartphone and desktop are the two largest winners.
  • Advertisers should continue to prioritize cross-channel, cross-device targeting. In order for advertisers to employ a robust cross-channel, cross-device marketing approach, they should continue to learn the strengths and weaknesses of these channels and devices.

For detailed information on Q2 2016 search, social, and display mobile performance and strategy recommendations, download our Performance Marketer’s Benchmark Report Q3 2016 – Vital Search, Social, and Display Performance Data by Device.

Mobile Consumers & Their Holiday Shopping Habits

By August 25th, 2016

This is a guest post from Emily Hodges, Marketing and Public Relations Manager at Kiip.

We’re four months out from the holiday season. Yet, in the ad industry, we all know that brands are already plotting their marketing strategies and how they can effectively capture their targeted mobile audiences for the biggest shopping season of the year.

Kiip recently launched a survey tool to gather relevant mobile consumer data. US-based Kiip redeemers are surveyed about their demographics, behaviors, lifestyle, reward preferences, and buying habits. So far, Kiip’s surveys have received nearly three million user responses!

Below are the results specifically on holiday shopping habits. Check them out and see which category you fall under when it comes to your gift purchases.


What Makes a “Good” Video for Social?

By August 24th, 2016

This is a guest post from Daniel Rohsler, Digital Marketing Account Manager at 3Q Digital.

Brands are finally investing heavily in videos for social platforms. Although the attention is now there, clients often ask about best practices for making a “good” video for social.

Facebook has been making a slow but steady switch to showing more videos in users’ News Feeds—I just did a quick count on my personal page, and 10 out of the first 18 posts (55.5%) were videos. With this switch, it‘s essential to incorporate video into your brand’s creative strategy. And, it’s even more important to make sure your videos are “right” for the platform they’ll be served on.

For this post, I’ll stick to Facebook best practices, but most of these guidelines will work nicely for Twitter, too. Here are common questions clients often ask regarding video—and some answers.

How long should it be?

The ideal length of a video ad should be somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute. Ideally, the video should provide the necessary context to the user with or without sound—taking advantage of the auto-play feature in Facebook’s News Feed.

If the message or purpose can’t be shown with a 1-minute video, it’s okay to make it a bit longer. Just make sure the message is still concise and engaging enough to keep users interested (short attention spans and all).

Can we use our TV commercial?

You can, but you shouldn’t. If your TV commercial has run its course, it likely won’t be well-received on social platforms. Diversity is often as important as frequency when it comes to reaching your audience, so try not to serve the exact same asset across different channels.

However, a social video that shares the same theme or feel as your commercial can be incredibly beneficial. Building familiarity across channels by using the same actors, music, or visuals is a good way to grab attention, but be sure that the videos are differentiated enough to keep users engaged and interested.

Does it need actors? A voiceover?

Your video doesn’t “need” actors or a voiceover—but if you’re going to have either one, it’s important to caption the video or use large image text throughout. Remember, videos will auto-play in users’ News Feeds, so the first few seconds will likely be seen but not heard. This is where image text and captioning are essential.

It’s always recommended that the video have lots of large image text, taking up a good portion of the screen so that the text is easily readable regardless of whether the user is viewing the video on mobile or desktop. Image text is particularly important in the first 3-5 seconds of the video—good text can make users more inclined to click for sound or expand the video.

Can you show us some examples?

Here are a couple videos I often share with clients when they ask for some good examples…

Facebook Tips: When Facebook unveils a new feature, they’ll often promote how-to videos like this one for Facebook Stickers.

While the subject matter itself isn’t particularly exciting, it does execute on the essentials well—image text that matches the voiceover, branded logos throughout, and artistic visuals. This is just one video in a series of how-tos that all have the same look and feel. You can view the series here.

Dear Sophie: A personal favorite for what makes a great social video is Google’s Dear Sophie. It’s a little bit longer than the recommended 30 seconds to a minute, but it does a great job of providing all the necessary context with and without sound, by using large image text and visually engaging imagery throughout.

WARNING: You might cry, even with the sound off!

Have fun creating your videos, and may you discover more best practices that work for you.

How to Use Search to Enhance Your Facebook Dynamic Ads

By August 17th, 2016

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.

Seed Facebook with your best Google Shopping 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.

01. Workflow

Build out the right types of campaigns.

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.

  • Upsell and cross-sell: With these types of campaigns, you can increase the chances of selling complimentary, relevant products to your customers via upsell (higher profitability items) or cross-sell (similar product sets).
  • Prospecting: Take shopping on Facebook beyond retargeting through Facebook’s DA prospecting campaigns. Advertisers can now reach new customers within the Facebook universe who haven’t visited your website. Facebook allows you to automatically create the best ads and find the best users for prospecting, giving you an efficient, effective way to find new audiences for your products.

Use search intent data to power DA creative.

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.

Example keywords:

  • Discount-driven (keyword: discount shoes)
  • Product brand (keyword: Buffalo Shoes)
  • Store name (keyword: PowPow Shoe Shop)

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.

02. Creative

In the above example, our users see different things depending on their keyword group:

  • Sales-driven user (keyword: discount shoes) sees an ad with a sales message.
  • The user who’s shown product brand infinity (keyword: Buffalo Shoes) sees a creative with a large product brand logo.
  • The user who’s shown brand affinity for the shop/advertiser (keyword: Marin Shoe Shop) sees a large advertiser logo.

Use cross-channel product reporting and optimization.

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.

What to Expect for Shopping Ads This Holiday Season

By August 16th, 2016

Last year, we forecast that 30% of all retail paid-search spend would be on a shopping ad, and 45% of all product ad clicks would be on a smartphone—and smartphone click growth ended up being even stronger than we predicted. Looking forward, where do we see shopping ads this holiday season?

We took a look at month-over-month variations and factored in seasonal shifts in performance to forecast where we’ll be by December 2016:

  • 40% of all shopping ad dollars will be on a smartphone
  • 37% of paid search clicks will be on a shopping ad
  • Social clicks and spend share should flatten out over the year and remain at current levels


For more results sampled from the Marin Global Online Advertising Index—composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform—read The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. With data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and strategy recommendations for the 2016 holiday season, be sure to download your copy today so that you’re prepared for the Q4 rush.

Text Versus Product Ads: Shopping Peaks, Valleys, and Plateaus

By August 10th, 2016

As retail search advertisers continue to plan their campaigns for the 2016 holiday season, they’re weighing the pros and cons of text versus product ads. What’s the most effective ad type for reducing cost, increasing CTR, and maximizing returns on spend?

The answer: it depends.

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Here are just a few of our findings:

  • November beat December in both 2014 and 2015 for shopping ad spend.
  • Over the past two years, shopping ad spend share grew from 18% to 28%.
  • CPC between text ads and product ads remained stable year-over-year.
  • CTR between the two ad types is virtually the same.


For the full results of our research, including data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and strategy recommendations for the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

Introducing Marin’s Cross-Channel Shopping Solution: An Interview with Anil Channappa

By August 9th, 2016

Shopping season is here. To help retailers navigate the current terrain of shopping ads and digital marketing, Marin has developed new features to help retailers maximize revenues and efficiencies this back to school and holiday season.

In this post, we’ve asked Anil Channappa, Senior Director Product Management for Marin Social, to talk about these features and how they’ll benefit retail and ecommerce advertisers.

Anil Channappa

Anil Channappa

From the lens of your role, what is Marin’s cross-channel shopping solution?

It’s the ability for marketers to maximize the sales and revenue of their products through advertising regardless of the publisher. Without such a solution, advertisers have to coordinate advertising campaigns across Google and Facebook (in the same or different tool), without a way to measure the effectiveness across publishers.

With a solution like Smart Sync for Shopping, advertisers can mirror a Google shopping campaign so that the same campaign is running on both Google and Facebook, without needing to know much about leveraging their product feed on Facebook. The cross-publisher reporting helps our advertisers make smarter bid and budget decisions to maximize ROI. And this is a unique and innovative solution in the market today.

Why is it important?

Customers and prospects are browsing freely across Google and Facebook. So, advertisers shouldn’t be bogged down by publisher-specific differences, and should be able to reach customers where they are. Being able to reach shoppers where they shop with one product feed and campaign flow, will improve campaign management efficiency and the effectiveness of their campaigns.

How does this solution enhance how retailers approach their ad campaigns, and impact their business needs?

Campaigns should be geared towards business objectives and needs. Does a customer want to run a promotion that aligns with events like 4th of July, Black Friday, or a major sale of specific products? In most cases today, customers have to replicate these campaigns manually across all publishers.

With Marin’s cross-channel solution, advertisers can rely on technology to create, measure, and scale campaigns across publishers, while spending their time on critical decisions and optimizations.

Why now? What motivated Marin Software to invest in this feature rollout?

Publishers are racing to offer innovative products to keep pace with emerging customer behaviors. Mobile technologies (tablets, smartphones) have been a huge disrupter. Publishers are forced to innovate rapidly to offer advertising products that fit this new paradigm.

Shopping Campaigns and Dynamic Ads are all visual ads that are easier for users to preview and click on mobile devices. Depending on your source, anywhere from 75-95% of mobile users click social ads. Marin’s research shows that during Q1 of this year, closer to 95% of all social ad clicks were on a mobile device.

In the past, we’ve invested heavily to streamline advertising within channels (search, social, and display), but we can only go so far in our value-add, because the channels themselves are very different. Given shifting user behaviors and publishers offering similar products, there is a huge convergence of ad products across publishers. This is a perfect opportunity to help marketers who are used to streamlining their channel-specific advertising and extend it across channels.

If you could describe how a company would use this cross-channel solution and come out with strong results, what would that scenario look like?

Google is the dominant player for most retailers to drive demand and new customers. This is the place where advertisers have gone back, time and time again, to drive their sales.

With Facebook stepping up their ad products, we’re hoping it’ll be a great source of new customers, and provide advertisers with increased scale and higher revenue across the board. As a secondary benefit, the streamlined solution could help advertisers save time, reduce cost, and balance their budgets more effectively.

What tips would you like to share with Marin customers who are gearing up for the upcoming back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons?

Think about people-based marketing rather than channel-specific marketing. From the outset, we suggest that customers set up cross-channel campaigns and measure the impact to net revenue and ROI. The channel-specific team should still focus on channel-specific optimizations (creative, audience and bid optimizations in Facebook and product group, bid optimization in Google), but share cross-publisher learnings from platforms like Marin.

For more information on Smart Sync for Shopping, watch the video.

Key Takeaways:

  • Depending on your business, consider people-based marketing rather than channel-specific marketing – or utilize a hybrid of both.
  • Suggest that customers set up cross-channel campaigns, and measure the impact to net revenue and ROI.
  • A streamlined, cross-channel solution could help advertisers save time, reduce cost, and balance their budgets more effectively.

A 2016 Social Media Shopping Spree

By August 1st, 2016

Shoppers are already prepping their lists for the holidays, and retail advertisers are close behind, on the mobile-focused, ad spend case. If smartphones were big-box retail destinations, they’d be the new “mad rush” of holiday sales.

Thankfully, when shoppers are looking for deals and information, they can now easily turn to their mobile devices.

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Our research uncovered some surprising things about what to expect for social advertising this 2016 shopping season.

  • Advertisers are investing big on smartphones and tablets: During Q1 2016, social ad spend on mobile devices represented 90% of ad spend.
  • Shoppers love social ads on mobile: Those ads were popular, with 95% of all clicks happening on social by way of a mobile device during the same time period.
  • This bodes quite well for Q4 2016: Social clicks and spend share should flatten out over the year and remain at current levels.


Happy shopping—and spending—in 2016.

For the full results of our research, including data charts on mobile, social, text versus product ads, and recommendations for how to stand out during the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.

In the Click of It: Mobile Shopping in 2016

By July 19th, 2016

When it comes to shopping ads, Q4 and mobile go together like thumbs on a small screen (literally).

Sampling the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform, we analyzed data from around the world to create our 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report. Our research allowed us to make a few definitive predictions for mobile performance in the 2016 shopping season.

  • Smartphones rule clicks: By April 2016, we expect the smartphone click rate to have grown by about 200% from January 2014. Mobile will leave tablets and desktops in the dust, as they hover just around the 75% point in terms of click share. No competition, as they say.
  • Smartphones rule CTR: The same will hold true for click-through rate, with smartphones projected to dominate the scene throughout the holiday season and beyond.
  • Smartphones rule CPC: Increased mobile activity will lead to lower cost per click, allowing advertisers to allocate spend where it counts most, and to better evaluate the different strengths and weaknesses of different ad formats.


In sum: smartphones rule. For the full results our research, including data on social, text versus product ads, and recommendations for how to stand out during the 2016 holiday season, download The State of Shopping Ads: 2016 Cross-Channel Marketing Report.