Marketing Insights

Archive for ‘Trends’

Stand Out Online and on the Shelves: 6 Tips for CPG Brands on Instagram

By October 8th, 2015

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.

1. Start with a clear objective

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.

2. Drive brand awareness with video

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.

3. Offer a fresh perspective on your product

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.

4. Think about timing.

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.

5. Don’t hesitate to interact with users

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.

6. Make it worth their while

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.

Rev Up Your Instagram Campaigns: 6 Tips for Auto Advertisers

By October 7th, 2015

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.

1. Celebrate your unique point of view

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?


Answer: Jeep!

2. Target at the local or national (or global!) level

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.

3. Up the ante with search intent data

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.

4. Experiment with creative beyond cars

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.

5. Go wild with interactive content

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.

6. Put Instagram to work for big launch events

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’s Core Strengths – Technology Buzz Meets Launch Event Hype

By September 23rd, 2015

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.

Apple’s Event Increases Ad Spend and CTR

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.

Which Came First – the Product or the Event?

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.

Google and Bing Shopping Ads: 3 Trends to Watch

By September 21st, 2015

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.

1. Holiday Shoppers Love Product Ads

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.

2. Images and Text are Neck-and-Neck

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.

3. Mobile’s on the Move

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.

How to Incorporate Native Advertising into Your Marketing Strategy

By September 15th, 2015

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 Units

In-Feed Units

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 Units

Paid Search Units

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

Recommendation Widgets

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.

Custom /”Can’t Be Contained”


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.

Google Chrome Blocks Adobe Flash Ads – and What That Means for You

By September 8th, 2015

In the obituary for Adobe Flash, September 1, 2015 will stand out as the day Google felled Adobe Flash with a mortal wound. As was originally reported in the Wall Street Journal, Google announced that its Chrome browser will block Internet ads that use Adobe Flash technology. With Chrome holding 60%+ market share, this essentially means Flash has become exceedingly irrelevant for advertisers.

A Lot of Us Saw This Coming

The move to a Flashless future shouldn’t come as a surprise to advertisers. The increasing focus on mobile – and Flash’s non-existence on that platform – means that many advertisers are already migrating their rich media creative to be built using HTML5, in order to maximize efficiency and reuse creative assets across their desktop and mobile ad campaigns. Other trends like YouTube ditching Flash for an HTML5 player also helped marshal that change along for desktop rich media advertisers.

What If Your Media’s Still Flash-Based?

However, not everyone’s updated all their creative assets, so this switch will have an impact for some advertisers, at least in the short-term. Here are a few immediate recommendations for how to reduce the short-term impact while you rebuild new HTML5 rich media creative:

  • If you haven’t already, upload static or animated GIF versions of your Flash ads, so there’s a suitable replacement that shows when the Flash ad doesn’t display.
  • Reduce spend on campaigns featuring Flash ads.
  • Although it’s ideal to recreate HTML5 versions of your ads from scratch to ensure they render properly, in a pinch, consider Flash to HTML5 conversion tools.
  • If you need to run Flash ads, segment them out into a different campaign, and block Chrome. They’ll still display on Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari, at least for now.

Odds are the demise of Flash hasn’t impacted you as much as you’d expect, with all the headlines raised in the past couple days (incrementally so if you’re a Marin Display or Perfect Audience customer, as we’ve never been Flash ad proponents). But, hopefully these recommendations will help you minimize the repercussions while you update your ads.

Vying for the Media Spotlight: How Current Presidential Contenders Measure Up

By September 1st, 2015

In the US, primaries have officially heated up as presidential hopefuls vie for attention on the political stage. Despite the customary complaints of a two-party system, the current slate of candidates represents every shade of the spectrum, and voters have a glut of choices.

How do these choices translate to online performance? According to the old adage, no publicity is bad publicity, and that’s certainly true for some of the current presidential candidates.

We reviewed publicly available search data to get a glimpse into how interest in the current candidate pool is building up and how well they’re playing the media game. While online activity is not necessarily an indication of how well a candidate will do at the ballot box, it’s an interesting factor to consider, as it may very well influence how candidates shape and optimize their campaigns.

The Right-Wing Publicity Blitz

Among the Republican candidates, Donald Trump is leading in terms of online buzz. With the recent Republican debate and Trump’s controversial statements generating tons of publicity for him, it’s no surprise that he’s at the center of people’s radar, with more searches and piquing curiosity about him in recent months.

Coverage after the recent debate was squarely centered on Trump’s performance, with his competitors lagging sorely behind in press, due to Trump’s behavior during the event. Headlines such as “No one eclipses Donald Trump at GOP debate” from CNN showed how dominant Trump has been in grabbing attention during the past few months. While many have doubts about Trump as a real contender in this race, his ability to drum up early attention is unquestionable, with a solid lead in the polls and in online viewer eyes.


Democratic Favorites

On the Democrat front, things are much closer. While Hillary has perpetually dominated conversation throughout the course of the year with big articles and commentary on ABC, Huffington Post, and USA Today, Bernie Sanders has shown himself to be a dark horse, with attention and buzz even exceeding Hillary’s in recent months. His campaign to #feelthebern has been a resounding success and major publications have been reporting on this online grassroots movement. Articles comparing him to Clinton have been coming out more and more often, popping up on TIME and the Washington Post recently.

While other Democratic contenders are a distant third, these two front-runners are neck-to-neck. Though Sanders may still be a long shot when compared to Clinton, it’s interesting to see the momentum he’s garnered within certain online communities, giving him a shot at winning the primaries.


We aren’t even in an election year yet so there’s plenty of time for either real or fabricated media-friendly scandals to color the public’s opinion of any of the contestants. Things could change dramatically. (And, Nate Silver and his polling numbers will no doubt zero in on a winner in good time.) For now, there are clear leaders in both public and media attention on both sides of the spectrum, and a lot of catch-up to be done by the other candidates if they hope to win the primaries and eventually, the presidency.

Back-to-School Means Back-to-Business

By August 13th, 2015

Summer vacation is winding down and families are getting ready to go back to school as soon as August hits. The upcoming school year means back-to-school sales are right around the corner. For education advertisers and retailers, this is an important period where their audience is looking for educational goods and services. It’s the time when people go back online to shop for new school supplies and textbooks.


When we examined search advertisers around this time last year, we saw clear spikes in the clicks and conversions for search advertisers working in the education vertical. When comparing back-to-school against the summer months, clicks spiked almost 15% during August across search advertisers. Similarly, conversions also jump 10% during this time period.

These signals validate the increased interest that the back-to-school time period incurs in consumers, resulting in more searches and clicks on education-related ads, and conversions for these products during August. Tweaking and adjusting relevant campaigns will be very important this month for education advertisers looking for an opportunity to capture the most attention for their back-to-school sales. Be sure to take advantage of this critical period to optimize your search campaigns!


For Summer Marketing, There’s No Place Like Home

By July 28th, 2015

If spring’s the time for cleaning, summer’s the time for home improvement. Every summer, people begin to think about updating and upgrading their living situation, whether it’s through renovations, remodeling, or purchases. During these warmer and brighter months, people line up to get into open houses, sample flooring and bathroom tiles, and get in the mood for spending money to upgrade their home. This is especially true this year, with rumors of rising interest rates sending consumers rushing to get their finances in order while the rates are still favorable.

Summer Surge Versus Winter Slump

We looked at a narrow cut of real estate and home improvement advertisers to understand how summer impacts consumer behavior. There are obvious patterns of consumer interest during the summer months (June to August) that drop during the winter. Click-through rates for home improvement search ads go up almost 15% during the summer when compared to the winter months, signaling an increased interest in home improvement topics. Conversion rates also trend 37% higher during the summer. While we saw a brief spike during late December and early January, this is presumably for the holiday season, as people look for deals and make plans to change things for the New Year (and which doesn’t offset the general trend of summer home improvement).

Competition Also Heats Up in the Summer

Unsurprisingly, real estate and home improvement advertisers are aware of the summer effect. Competitiveness peaks during the summer months, with search CPCs jumping 4% before falling back again during the winter – when consumers aren’t quite as eager to paint the outside of their house or spend time remodeling.

If you’re looking to slap a fresh coat of paint on your digital marketing strategy, it’s always good to begin by understanding where your audience is and when they’re engaging. For marketers looking for potential home buyers or renovators, be sure to take advantage of the summer months, when people are splurging on new shelves or looking for a new place to call home.

The 8 Players in the Programmatic Ecosystem

By July 16th, 2015

Programmatic is hot right now. eMarketer predicts that by 2016, programmatic spending will top $20 billion, making up 63% of all US display ad spending. As quickly as it’s growing, though, programmatic has some serious terminology and conventions you have to learn if you want to consider yourself an expert. And once you get started, you may feel like you’re drowning in a sea of programmatic jargon, lingo, and acronyms.

The programmatic ecosystem is large and wide – but not impassable. A good way to start the journey is getting to know the 8 major players in the ecosystem, as well as their main functions.

1. The Advertiser

If you’re reading this, this is probably you. The advertising world wouldn’t exist without the companies that buy the ads.

2. The Publisher

Publishers are all the publications, web sites, and mobile apps that create and deliver the real value – the content – as well as the ad space that advertisers buy.

3. Ad Exchanges

Ad exchanges are the backbone of programmatic ad buying, and a major driving force for the display advertising renaissance over the past few years. Ad exchanges are essentially marketplaces where advertisers and publishers buy and sell ad space programmatically. Publishers make their inventory available and advertisers then bid for those ads, often in real-time, based on how much a particular visitor is worth to them.

4. Ad Networks

Ad networks are like the older, less capable big brother of the ad exchange. Like ad exchanges, ad networks aggregate inventory across multiple publishers and package it up, helping advertisers buy ads at scale more efficiently. Because they can still be a simple, efficient way to scale your media buy across a large number of publishers, they’re still relevant in this age of programmatic. Still, ad networks don’t offer the same targeting sophistication that ad exchanges do.

5. Data Management Platforms (DMPs)

Advertisers use DMPs to collect, store, and leverage their first-party audience data. DMPs also aggregate data from third parties and make it available to clients to use in their advertising.

6. Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs)

A demand-side platform is a tool that enables marketers to bid on and buy ads from ad exchanges. There are some big differences between the different platforms out there, so be sure to determine what’s most important to your business before investing in one – for example, access to data, quality of reach, transparency, etc.

7. Supply-Side Platforms (SSPs)

Advertisers use DSPs to buy ads on ad exchanges. Publishers use SSPs to sell their ads on ad exchanges. It’s basically the mirror opposite.

8. Agency Trading Desk

Agency Trading Desks (ATDs) are essentially the media buying and reselling arms of major advertising agency holding companies like WPP, Publicis, and Interpublic. ATDs reflect a mix of people and technology. While media is often bought programmatically using technology like DSPs and DMPs, it’s then resold to advertisers as a managed service.

These eight players are just one piece of the programmatic puzzle. For a more complete discussion – including how data, targeting, and retargeting figure in – download our full white paper, The ABCs of Programmatic.


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