The year is 2016, and Facebook will soon be 12 years old. As Facebook hits puberty, it’s no longer just an influencer platform – now, it delivers actual (and many) conversions to social advertisers.
We took a look at Facebook’s growth and development over the last year, and three main trends stood out as being the most significant for the platform: clicks, video, and geotargeting.
Social media targeting in general is the most precise it’s ever been, and it’ll only get better this year. In 2015, Facebook click-through rates (CTR) more than doubled. Why is this?
For Facebook advertisers, this translated to a sharp increase in CTR and lower cost-per-click.
In 2015, video was one of the fastest growing sectors of online advertising, and Facebook quickly picked up on this trend. We’re now used to seeing video ad formats in our news feeds.
According to Facebook, by the end of 2015 there were eight billion average daily video views, or 100% growth in a seven-month time period.
This incredible growth is part of the reason Facebook is investing so much attention on improving and refining video ad formats to increase user engagement and relevance. And, there’s a lot of potential for Facebook video ad sales to take off in 2016. The future looks bright for this ad format.
During 2015, geotargeted ads gained major steam on Facebook, due in no small part to Facebook’s improvements to their local ad type. Hyper-local ad targeting on social media has allowed marketers to reach very specific audiences to within a mile of particular locales.
This hyper-local targeting easily synergizes with mobile ad formats, such as click- for-directions or click-to-call to reach nearby audiences that have high engagement rates for local brick-and-mortar businesses. Since 2010, locally targeted social media ads have grown a compounded 33% every year, with $8.3 billion worth of ads in 2015.
For more information on current trends in Facebook advertising – including year-over-year trend charts and the latest intelligence on mobile – download our report, The State of Facebook Advertising: Clicks, Videos, and Geotargeting.
When it comes to TV viewership, the Super Bowl is the most-watched sporting event in the United States. From advertising to merchandise, millions of dollars are invested each year in both the actual event and everything surrounding it.
For many Super Bowl fans, the advertising is almost as important, with 77.1% of consumers seeing the ads as a form of entertainment. A well-done Super Bowl video has a way of amassing millions of views, and brands often feel the impact for weeks or months after the end of the game.
Still, a 30-second spot costs millions of dollars. In the long run, does this really pan out for advertisers?
We compared a group of advertisers who aired an ad during the 2015 Super Bowl (Group A) against a group who did not (Group B) to see how performance fared weeks after the event.
Group A, predictably, saw a massive spike in online search ad impressions during the Super Bowl, which trailed off to normal levels in the following weeks. This peaked during the Super Bowl when Group A saw 340% more conversions than the start of the year.
Conversely, Group B saw impressions drop 17% on Super Bowl Sunday. For Group A, this increase in impressions led to a similar increase in clicks, which peaked at 250% during and immediately after the Super Bowl.
While advertiser impressions and clicks increased, cost-per-click didn’t appreciably increase except for terms centered on the Super Bowl. Longer-term, Super Bowl advertisers got more clicks at a lower price.
Not only did Super Bowl TV ads result in more impressions and clicks — they actually increased conversions over 400% on Super Bowl Sunday when compared to Group B. This increased engagement and conversion remained consistent throughout the entire month of February in 2015, representing a long-term return on investment.
With increased conversions and relatively stable costs, cost per lead actually decreased throughout February for Super Bowl advertisers, meaning that by mid-month, it cost Group A less per conversion than Group B.
While it may be tough to determine if buying a Super Bowl TV ad is worth it, it undoubtedly has a huge impact on online advertising campaigns for any company that chooses to buy a spot. Ultimately, a TV ad during the Super Bowl translates to increased search volume, which results in increased clicks at a similar cost and increased conversions at a lower CPL.
Another year has come and (almost) gone. There’s been tons of great momentum, change, and shifts in the world of digital advertising, and Marin Software was squarely in the eye of the storm! This storm, however, was more of a fun, wild ride than anything requiring an umbrella.
From important acquisitions and partnerships, to new ad types, to the ascendency of mobile, 2015 was truly a landmark year.
We hope your year was as great as ours. Here are some of the greatest hits and highlights, across Marin and digital advertising.
By now, you’ve likely seen or heard about buy buttons, which are a quick way for customers to purchase directly from search, social, and video platforms. How should digital marketers work with buy buttons this holiday season?
First, let’s review the statistics.
202%. The year-over-year lift in social media-referred orders that Shopify reported.
60 million. The number of shoppable pins on Pinterest.
84%. The percent of Pinterest buyable pin-referred orders coming from new customers, according to one advertiser case study.
These data points indicate a growing trend toward social as a shopping discovery tool. One thing missing from the statistics is the success of buy buttons from a revenue standpoint. Since buy buttons are relatively new, it’s still too early to tell how successful they’ll be in generating sales, making it uncertain whether to prioritize them over other tests this holiday season.
Still, it’s worth it for brands to begin preparing now, given the investment being made in buy buttons across the digital ecosystem. It’s easy to imagine that customers will quickly become accustomed to social discovery-fueled shopping, facilitated by buy buttons.
Let’s take a moment to recap some of the major networks with buy buttons, many of which still have the ad units in beta, with a select group of advertisers:
As part of its action-oriented suite of ads released in June, Instagram has an ad unit with several call-to-action options including “shop now,” which allows users to make a purchase while staying within Instagram.
Pinterest has made Buyable Pins available to advertisers on select e-commerce platforms since late June.
In mid-July, Google announced it’s beta testing its own version of the buy button in mobile paid search results.
In late September, YouTube launched Shopping Ads, which include a click-to-buy option within partner videos.
In late September, Twitter announced U.S. advertisers on select e-commerce platforms have access to buy buttons in tweets.
Facebook, which has tested a buy button for over a year, in October announced it’s testing a shopping tab, enabling users to shop directly in the platform without visiting a brand’s site.
With so many major networks supplying buy button-infused ad inventory, customer shopping behavior will be influenced—it’s just not clear yet how and to what extent. At this phase, it’s worth testing buy buttons on a small scale to establish a benchmark and to begin collecting intelligence to inform next year’s holiday buy button strategy.
Sarah 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.
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.
In the world of digital advertising, 2012 seems like eons ago. But here’s a stat you might remember – widely quoted surveys revealed that between 44% and 57% of users said they never clicked on a Facebook ad. Those numbers made a lot of sense at the time, because I too had never clicked a Facebook ad.
Back then, Custom Audiences were unheard of, Promoted Posts were still in testing, and News Feed ads had just hit the scene. I didn’t have a smartphone, so my only point of access was my college laptop. And since I didn’t go wild liking things and curating my interests, Facebook didn’t have nearly as much data on me.
Fast forward a couple years, and I was still holding out even as Facebook ads were getting infinitely better. There were captivating images, personalized products (think of those New York Girl in a California World style t-shirts based on lives in/from settings), and videos all over the place.
Then I saw them. A beautiful pair of Warby Parker glasses regretfully abandoned in my cart the previous day, staring at me from the News Feed in the form of a savvy retargeting ad. And I finally clicked.
A few points come to mind here.
First, Facebook ads have become increasingly effective thanks to:
For advertisers, this means greater flexibility and lots of opportunity.
Second, in the words of Spiderman’s Uncle Ben, with great power comes great responsibility. When it comes to advertising and the user experience, just because marketers can doesn’t mean we should. Loud or distracting pop-ups, impossible-to-find close buttons, and ads that slow pages to a halt, I’m looking at you. These are the things that drive users crazy and lead to ad blockers.
In fact, the IAB recently stated, “we messed up” following recent concerns about ad blocking, and issued new standard advertising principles to guide the next phase of online advertising. They’re worth a read.
Third, Facebook has largely evaded the trouble of painful user experiences and the resulting uptick in ad blocking. Why? I would argue that the best ads are often native to the user experience and genuinely helpful in nature. Facebook accomplishes this by integrating ads seamlessly into the overall experience, and by providing ad type and targeting options that allow marketers to deliver highly personalized and relevant content.
Fourth, the innovation that powers these high-quality ads has been evolving at a rapid clip, and we can expect it to continue in 2016. We’ve seen reach and frequency buying, a whole suite of Instagram advertising options, carousel ads, dynamic product ads, more ways to incorporate first- and third-party data, and more. These are the kinds of tools marketers can use to create ads that users actually want to click, à la that memorable Warby Parker ad.
Finally, if the goal is to deliver consistently helpful, high-quality, and integrated ad experiences – ones that don’t send users running for their ad blocking software – then we can safely conclude that Facebook is on the leading edge and there will be more exciting developments to come in the new year.
After several months of testing and refining, Instagram advertising is now open to businesses of all sizes around the world! To make the most of the opportunity, follow this spotlight blog series for helpful tips specific to your industry or vertical.
The US consumer packaged goods industry (CPG) is expected to increase digital ad spend to $7.04 billion by 2018. With most of this spend directed toward branding efforts, marketers are always on the lookout for new ways to reach and inform their audience. Instagram presents an excellent opportunity to do just that.
Here are a few tips to help CPG advertisers reach the fastest-growing and most engaged community on any major mobile property today.
As you get started with Instagram, it’s important to have clear campaign objectives. Are you trying to tell a story? Do you want to boost awareness? How about driving people to your website, or getting them to install your app? Once you have a clear goal in mind, it’s much easier to align your concepts and creatives accordingly.
Instagram offers a powerful visual experience with still photos, but you can take your advertising to the next level by adding video. Use it to depict your products in action, highlight the problems they solve, and bring your brand to life. A recent eMarketer study shows CPG brands rank highest for share of digital video ads, and early advertisers on Instagram have seen significant lift in ad recall using this strategy.
Consumers often have strongly held opinions of CPG brands, which can be tricky to alter. However, Instagram offers a great way to remain true to your brand’s voice while also opening users up to new ideas. Consider yogurt-brand Chobani. To break out of the breakfast rut and encourage users to think of them all day long, they ran ads showcasing their products at snack time and for dessert. Similarly, Philadelphia Cream Cheese found consumers only thought of them around the holidays, so they changed the conversation to highlight how their products can fit in at occasions of all kinds.
Chobani for snack time, and Philadelphia Cream Cheese for all occasions.
Do you offer a product designed to help consumers make dinners fast? Advertise as people are leaving work and wondering what they’re going to cook. Sell a laundry or cleaning product? Reach people on Saturday morning as they head to the grocery store and start their household chores.
Most people actually feel flattered if a brand interacts with them on Instagram, so monitor your hashtags and respond to the comments. Doing so can help increase engagement and further reinforce your brand personality.
To add value to your posts or ads, include something extra that consumers will appreciate. This could be a recipe, DIY idea, coupon link, or some other bonus that relates to your product. Nestle Toll House does a great job by providing handy baking guides, lots of recipes, and fun seasonal ideas.
As a relatively new avenue for social advertising, Instagram leaves lots of room for creativity and innovation to surprise and delight users. If you’d like to learn how Marin Software can help advance your Instagram strategy, feel free to get in touch.
After several months of testing and refining, Instagram advertising is now open to businesses of all sizes around the world! To make the most of the opportunity, follow this spotlight blog series for helpful tips specific to your industry or vertical.
Automotive marketing has its roots in traditional media, and continues to thrive in print, TV, and direct mail. But it’s also been among the very first to adopt new methods, and for good reason – 38% of consumers say they’ll consult social media next time they purchase a car.
In many ways, the cars we drive are an extension of our lifestyle and a reflection of how we see ourselves. Instagram is very similar; it’s a place to highlight our passions and identities. Here are a few tips for auto advertisers to bring auto and Instagram together into top-notch campaigns.
Make sure your Instagram content – both organic and paid – celebrates your brand’s unique perspective. Whether your brand exudes luxury or radiates speed and sport, highlight what makes you stand out. Ideally, an Instagram user should be able to view your photos and know they represent your brand, without ever seeing your account name.
Can you guess the automaker without knowing the account name?
With over 75% of Instagrammers located outside the US, the sky’s the limit when it comes to targeting your campaigns. Local auto dealers can leverage geographic targeting to home in on relevant markets, while global entities can opt for wide scale brand awareness campaigns.
Just like with Facebook, advertisers can also leverage Custom Audiences for Instagram. This means you can use your cross-channel data to target consumers who’ve already demonstrated interest in buying a new car. Use this tactic to keep your brand top of mind, encourage them to go for a test drive, or help them make a purchase decision.
As a marketer in automotive, the obvious move is to post gorgeous images of your cars. Do that! But also consider creatives that go beyond the cars themselves. Showcase the people who build your cars and those who drive them, or all the incredible places your cars can take people. By focusing your creative around a strong and consistent concept, you’ll gain freedom to step outside of the box while still promoting your brand in an impactful way.
Thinking outside the box: Mercedes created a campaign to ask, “What would you pack in your GLA?” The items were displayed on GLA cargo mats.
If you have the budget and resources, take example from automakers like Hyundai and Mercedes, and create an interactive experience for users to enjoy. Hyundai created a quiz that matches users with an SUV, while Mercedes designed an experience that allowed users to build their own GLA.
Do you have a new make or model? Instagram is an excellent place to launch your product, spread awareness, and boost recall. Learn how Taco Bell debuted their new breakfast offering, or how Ben & Jerry’s introduced the Scotchy Scotch Scotch flavor.
Social media is a channel auto advertisers can’t afford to miss, and Instagram will only make your marketing mix stronger. If you’d like to learn how Marin Software can help advance your Instagram strategy, feel free to get in touch.
Apple keynotes are exactly what we’ve come to expect – huge events for mobile users around the world, highlighting the latest and exciting upgrades, features, and new products. This September was no different.
At this year’s Special Event, technophiles the world over tuned in to see what the company from Cupertino had in store for them. There is always an unquestionable buzz around Apple’s newest tech products. But, how does this buzz impact ad spend and online interaction?
We decided to measure the impact of the event itself. To do this, we examined a subset of the Marin Global Digital Advertising Index for advertisers in consumer-focused tech goods, to see if the keynote produced a noticeable shift in behavior.
The event was held on September 9th at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. In front of a packed and enthusiastic audience, Apple leadership made “monster announcements” about products including the Apple Watch, the iPhone 6s, and the new iPad Pro. Tech-loving consumers responded in kind: there was a 17% bump in ad clicks on searches related to tech retailers when compared to the previous week and following days. Also, click-through rates jumped almost 13% on that day exclusively, peaking on the 9th and falling back afterwards in a similar pattern to clicks.
We tried to find corresponding upticks in consumer interest during events for other mobile releases, but it appears that Apple is the only tech firm that causes such a significant jump in search behavior, triggered by the increased interest in high-tech consumer goods Apple’s particular event spurred. This is most likely due to the amount of press and attention Apple events get every year – these events are a magnitude more exciting for the average consumer than a competitor’s due to the hype surrounding the products and the event itself.
Indeed, the online/offline divide for advertisers is growing smaller every day. With advertising being launched simultaneously both on and offline, advertisers need to take offline context into consideration more often. This could be anything from offline events to weather to radio and TV advertisements. All these factors greatly affect consumer behavior and online behavior.
On the heels of Google’s success with Product Listing Ads and Shopping Campaigns, other publishers have developed their own product ad platforms, most notably Bing with its Product Ads and Facebook’s Dynamic Product Ads. These major players have proven that shopping ads are a viable and highly effective marketing investment for digital advertisers.
And, shopping ad campaigns have now been around long enough for us to identify exactly which trends retail advertisers should be most aware of.
In 2014, advertisers spent a whopping 318% more on product ads in December than they did in January of the same year. Share of clicks closely mirrored this spend, with one in four paid-search clicks being on a product ad in December of 2014.
It’s undeniable that this trend will continue, as spend continues to increase, product ads get more sophisticated, and advertisers continually optimize for the most aesthetically pleasing and persuasive ads.
Again, the holidays are always a boon for digital advertisers in the retail space. During Q4 of the last couple of years, spend on shopping ads pulled ahead of text ads, since retailers served engaging and eye-catching ads during that time. What’s surprising, however, is that this year, text ads have an advantage.
Since mid-year 2014, text ad CTR has actually increased, and overtook shopping ad CTR until the end of the year.
Not only are we experiencing a mobile revolution – there is a groundswell of mobile ad clicks. Even though desktops had a 25% increase in clicks during November and December of 2014, this pales in comparison to smartphone’s almost 90% increase between January and December. During the holidays, consumers are now shopping and clicking at the same time, on screens uniquely designed to offer ads, deals, and product information to someone on the go.
For more information and data charts on Google and Bing shopping ad 2014 performance, download our new report, Google and Bing Shopping Ads Report: Current Trends and What Lies Ahead.
There’s been a lot of debate as to the exact definition of native advertising. Still, there is general consensus in the industry that the definition from the IAB Native Playbook is on point: “[Native advertising refers to] paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated into the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.”
Despite the debate around native advertising’s definition, one thing’s certain: there are many great ways for advertisers to incorporate native into their advertising mix.
Here’s a brief summary of some of the most popular native formats and the leaders in each, according to the IAB Native Playbook.
In-feed ads are the most popular form of digital native ads. These are ads that generally have content that’s related to the surrounding content and is contextual. They can either link to other sponsored pages on a publisher’s site or may link to a brand page, video, or other content. Publishers most commonly sell these types of ads either through guaranteed placement on a certain page or through a broad category, such as “sports” in Yahoo. Ad performance is most often measured through brand lift, CTR, and conversions.
Paid search native ads blend into the native search results on the publisher SERP. They are generally located before the actual search results, and the format depends on the individual publisher, as each one has their own style and layout. These ads link to the advertiser’s landing page and are typically sold with guaranteed placement. Performance for paid search native ads is measured by conversions.
Recommendation widgets are the most similar to traditional display ads. The format of the ad does not necessarily match the native of the page that it’s on, and the ad is delivered through a “widget.” As the name suggests, these ads are presented to consumers as content they may be interested in and links to separate pages. The performance of these ads is usually measured through brand lift and interaction.
There are many other native formats that are not easily bucketed and unique in their own way. However, just because these ads don’t fall under one of the more recognizable formats doesn’t mean they’re not effective. A prime example of this is Pandora. With radio station ads displayed across devices and even in ads on connected cars, they’ve reached the number two spot in terms of total digital unique visitors, second only to Facebook.
To learn more about native advertising and how you can use it to attract audiences, check out our latest white paper, created jointly with Yahoo, The Essential Guide to Native Advertising: The Rise of a Digital Ad Format and Best Practices for Commanding Audience Attention. Also be sure to register for our 9/24 webinar, Your Guide to Native Advertising: Best Practices for Commanding Audience Attention.