Back in November 2012 – after voters cleared last-minute campaign flyers from doorsteps, stood in long lines, and cast their ballot for the next president of the United States – the electoral numbers came in. Obama 332, Romney 206. Obama didn’t just win the election by a landslide, however; he destroyed the digital advertising competition.
The Obama years – and the election campaigns that supported them – are just the beginning of a digital advertising groundswell. Even though voter turnout continues to hover at just above half of the electorate, the advent of targeted, behavior-based advertising has the potential to:
Precise targeting is nothing new in the world of digital advertising. We’re used to search, social, and display solutions that automate optimization and retargeting, decrease spend, and increase ROI, and have been for years.
Still, in a landscape dominated by TV ads, politics has some catching up to do. And it’s doing just that, pretty quickly.
Should the public be concerned? Not so much – unlike a survey, all the data are anonymized and campaigns never receive any personal user information. Instead, they use the data to identify trends, so that campaign marketers can refine their strategies and campaigns accordingly. And, politicians and campaign managers are all aware that privacy remains a hot news item. This is precisely why using an automated solution – where data and trends are used, not personal information – ensures safety in an age of very valid privacy concerns.
Ad tech is ubiquitous and growing exponentially every year. With its ability to collect and use the right data at the right time for the right audience, it has a powerful ability to reach the ever-important swing voter. In 2016, when the ballots are cast and the votes are tallied, the winner will be the campaign that best leveraged social, search, and display across the web.
March Madness has just begun and as always, office productivity is already dipping as people steal some time to catch a few minutes of game-time, whether it is on a television or streamed on a desktop or mobile device. But how has March Madness affected digital advertisers? We took a look at the retail and travel industries in the US during March Madness 2014, to see how consumer behavior affected these verticals.
When we look at the retail vertical during March 2014, we see one notable jump in activity. There is a small jump in clicks in the four days before Selection Sunday and a much larger jump after the regional games are decided on the 22nd and 23rd. Click-through rates also at least double during these periods, when compared to the monthly average. This timing is synonymous with viewers first buying team and party goods before the games begin, and then again in preparation for the quarterfinals.
Click behavior also showed jumps in the travel vertical. On the 28th, 29th, and 31st of March, we saw huge spikes in consumer clicks for the travel vertical. Click-through rates saw even more significant spikes, jumping almost 500% when compared to the average for March. This coincided with the end of the quarterfinals, marking a point where many hardcore college basketball fans are looking up flights and hotels toying with the idea of traveling to the semifinals and finals, the crucial games of this tournament.
Social publishers grow up so fast…
Check out this infographic of Twitter milestones.
Ever since its inception, through to its IPO in November 2013, the challenge for Twitter has been to balance the need to monetize its platform with ads without alienating its loyal user base. So how is it doing?
Overall Twitter ad revenue increased 97% (Feb ’14-Feb ’15). This is because Twitter has become a highly attractive advertising medium for savvy advertisers. Twitter has worked hard to attract marketers by broadening its advertising options, opening up more audience data and launching new capabilities to reach users, such as pinned tweets and Vines. In the US it’s even testing a ‘buy’ button. These moves have been important for brands, who might otherwise fear their message could be drowned out by the sheer volume of noise on the platform – over 9,000 tweets are posted every second.
Twitter has also been quick to embrace mobile, something Facebook admits it took longer to do. Smartphone adoption is a key reason Twitter will continue to grow in the years ahead; mobile already accounts for 85% of Twitter usage and 85% of all its ad revenue.
All of this appears to have been achieved without upsetting existing users – it’s hard find any evidence that ads are creating Twitter quitters. Growth of new users has slowed, but Twitter is still on course to hit 400m users this month, that is an astoundingly large audience.
The bottom line is that Twitter will continue to attract advertisers if the advertising continues to work and if users are kept happy; keeping this balance in check will be critical. The signs are positive, Twitter is a here to stay for at least another 9 years and will continue to grow as an important channel for digital marketers.
Advertisers can use the Marin Social platform to manage Twitter ads alongside Facebook. Request a demo today.
The Super Bowl is one of the biggest sporting events of the year. It’s not just a football game, but also a social event, with people getting together for a Sunday full of eating, chatting and sharing on top of watching the game. With that in mind, it makes sense that Facebook sees a lot of activity during the game, especially on mobile devices as people watch live. So what did this activity look like for Super Bowl XLIX? We took a look at our Marin Global Online Advertising Index to understand how consumers behaved this past Sunday.
When comparing Facebook activity during this past Super Bowl Sunday against prior Sundays in January, we saw some significant boost from that single day. Click-through rates for Facebook ads experienced a 9% lift during the Super Bowl, and cost-per-click experienced an astounding 55% jump, signaling the increased competitiveness during this event. After looking at Facebook conversion rates during the Super Bowl, this increased competitiveness makes sense. Conversion rates on Facebook mobile devices jumped 414% during the Super Bowl alone!
What this means for advertisers is that the Super Bowl is not just a social event offline, but online as well. People sharing and commenting on social media during the event translated into real sales and conversions. Successful marketers managed to leverage this in combination with the second-screen effect to increase brand interest, click-through and ultimately, conversions.
With Super Bowl XLIX kicking off this Sunday, football fans are looking forward to three things: the game, the food, and the commercials.
Whether you stand behind Marshawn’s “I’m here so I don’t get fined” media antics, think Deflate-Gate is the dumbest sports controversy ever, or are simply looking forward to seeing a touching commercial featuring Clydesdales and their lost dog, chances are you’re leaning one way or another on who’s favored to take home the Lombardi Trophy.
Here at Marin, we thought we’d take some of the guess work out of determining which team has more fans on their side headed into kickoff and we did it the best way we know how: according to paid search. In looking at retail clients that sell NFL team apparel, one team came out on top by a landslide… the Seahawks.
In terms of sheer numbers, keywords associated with the Seahawks received 163% more clicks in the month of January over the Patriots. This is accompanied by 128% more impressions and a 15.5% higher click through rate (CTR) throughout the month.
But why the significant favoritism for Seattle in terms of consumer engagement?
All we can do here is speculate. Perhaps more consumers truly believe the Seahawks are the better team. Maybe the casual football fans see Seattle as the “shiny new toy” given that New England and Tom Brady have earned six trips to the big game in his thirteen seasons as their starter. Or could it be as simple as the Seahawks having more bandwagon fans vying to get their hands on branded hats and jerseys prior to Sunday’s game so they fit in with the crowd? It’s anyone’s guess so I encourage you to speculate and leave your thoughts below.
May the best team win, regardless of how many t-shirts they can sell.
As a digital marketer, you’ve likely noticed that the industry has been on a roll, with internet advertising revenues reaching $11.7 billion in the second quarter of 2014 alone – a 14% YoY increase. But with this growth has also come concern. (If you’ve felt some of these effects, you’re not alone.)
To try and understand some of the growing pains, we conducted a survey of over 300 digital marketers to better understand their cross-channel practices and challenges. Respondents were located across the United States and United Kingdom, and represent a diverse array of verticals and marketing job focuses.
According to the survey, better understanding audiences, breaking down siloes, and integrating channels will be the main areas of focus for digital marketers over the next 12-months. The top five priorities ranked are:
1. Creating campaigns based on deeper understanding of audiences (51%)
2. Cross-channel digital marketing (50%)
3. Better integrating online and offline marketing efforts (46%)
4. Better integrating digital marketing disciplines (44%)
5. Investing in more sophisticated technology to gain and act on insights about customers (33%)
Additional priorities cited in our survey include: hiring more people with data analysis skills (33%), programmatic buying of advertising (23%), and gaining more transparency into where digital agencies invest their budget (22%). Marketers also want to develop a deeper understanding of how to digitally market to emerging markets such as Russia, Brazil, China, and other parts of Asia (17%).
Not surprisingly, we found that the problems marketers listed as their biggest challenges aligned closely with their priorities for 2015, suggesting a good handle on the situation and a path forward.
Do you agree with these priorities? Are there any you would add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
To read more insights from our 2015 marketers census, download a copy here.
In our recent study of over 300 digital marketers, 75% said their job has become more complicated over the last year… and what a year it’s been! We’ve seen big publisher changes, new ad types, shifting buying behaviors, and growing mountains of data. Add that to the proliferation of channels and devices, and it’s clear that digital marketing has become undeniably complex.
However, it’s also been exciting! Just consider how digital marketing has increasingly aligned with so many aspects of daily life - when we use a second screen while watching a big sporting event, when we hop onto Twitter to join a conversation, or when we are pleasantly surprised by a spot-on retargeting ad during our last-minute holiday shopping.
These are the kinds of things that have led marketers to rise to the challenge armed with data, tech, and smart people who innovate at all levels. Marin has been there throughout, with ongoing support and new features to help marketers achieve their goals. We hope you’ve had a happy and successful year, and invite you to take a quick trip down memory lane with the greatest hits and highlights from both Marin and the larger ad tech industry…
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Now what about 2015? Drop us a line in the comments to share your predictions!
We all know Google is constantly toying with the SERP. Sorting out what new tweaks Google is testing can be difficult at times, but I thought it’d be fun to do a side-by-side comparison of what the SERP looked like a year ago compared to what it looks like now for the same search term, “Razor Scooter.” Here’s what I noticed:
1) More PLAs! Google was toying with adding more PLAs at the end of 2013 and it appears they’ve settled on more. In 2013, a total of four PLAs appeared. The SERP for 2014 delivered twice as many. The location has changed too.
2) More Text in Text Ads. The number of lines appearing with text ads has increased. Last year the largest text ad on the page consisted of four lines. This year, the largest (position 1) features up to seven lines. There isn’t an ad on the 2014 SERP with fewer than four lines. The addition of the review stars as well as the inclusion of physical addresses has created “longer” ads. This essentially means fewer text ads on the side are able to fit above the fold. In 2013, four text ads appeared on the side above the fold. In 2014, two and half appeared. The lost real-estate is compounded on smaller monitors – on a laptop just a single side bar text ad appeared.
3) The “Ad” Icon. Google started testing the “Ad” icon just over a year ago. It’s now the standard. Gone is the ad box with the title “Ad Related To [search query].” Instead, ads are identified by the little yellow “Ad” icon and ad organic search results are delineated by a grey bar or divider.
4) More Text Ads Above Organic Results. Last year, one text ad was served above the organic results. We now have three. With PLAs moving to the right side bar and the company description disappearing (this still appears on some, less retail focused results), room was freed up to serve two additional text ads. Organic results are pushed down. The same “Razor Scooter” search query today on a 13” laptop screen produces just a single organic result.
In short, the SERP is much more ad dominated, with the focus going towards PLAs and positions 1 – 3.
Determining the best time to hit audiences with ads – and on which channels – is always a challenge. This process becomes even more complicated during peak seasons, such as in November in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday rush.
Last November, we noticed that the best time for advertisers to reach customers on Facebook happened to be two weeks prior to Thanksgiving. To see if the same trend held true for November 2014, we took a look at impressions, clicks, and conversions on the channel.
This year we happened to see spikes in activity around Thanksgiving week, which contradicts our findings from last year where we saw the spike in user engagement in the few weeks prior to Thanksgiving. But why the change?
We anticipate this may be due to some of the modifications Facebook has made in the last year to their ad offerings. Taking a look at where the major spikes in engagement are seen in impressions, clicks, and conversions at the start of Thanksgiving week, customers were more apt to engage and convert right after the holiday, presumably for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
If you take a look at mobile conversions on Google, we also see a spike on November 28th for Black Friday that is 250% above what we see for the rest of November.
Did this trend hold true for you as well? Share any developments you may have noticed in your own campaigns in the comments section below.
Remember the Polar Vortex that hit in January? Well grab your warmest coat, because forecasters are predicting another bout of frigid temperatures across much of the United States later this week. As the mercury drops and the arctic blast sweeps the country, consumers will be cozying up inside… which has some very real implications for digital marketers.
Let’s take a look at the data from the last Polar Vortex. Marin found that search impression volumes were 1500% higher than historic trends, whereas click volume and spend only increased 268% and 79% respectively. This indicates that consumers weathered out the storm by shopping online, but it also shows that advertisers missed out on a captive audience and failed to fully optimize for the dramatic shift in purchase behavior.
So as people across the country brace for the cold, marketers should be busy preparing too. This is an excellent opportunity to reach holiday shoppers who will be staying indoors. To make sure your online marketing strategy is ready, consider boosting bids for retail and seasonal items. And if you’re using Marin, we recommend leveraging Dynamic Actions or Context Connect to adjust audiences, creative, and bidding across relevant campaigns.
For more ways to capitalize on external information such as weather data, download your copy of The Hidden Power of Optimizing for Competitive Spend, Weather, and the Second Screen Effect. And stay warm out there!
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