Archive for ‘Trends’

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.

Your New Audience Awaits: The Power of Second-Party Data

By July 15th, 2015

Advertisers cite data quality as one of their top concerns in creating complete customer profiles. Many advertisers are still looking for ways to expand the reach and effectiveness of their campaigns with strong, quality data. Being able to effectively synthesize different sources of data is a key step in this process. While first- and third-party data are most common and have their own, unique strengths, second-party data is making a big splash – and quickly becoming the life of the party.

First- and Third-Party Data Aren’t Enough

First-party data is your data, collected from your own audience and customers. It’s unique, cost-effective, and relevant. However, it has scalability issues since – by its very nature – it’s not designed to locate and target additional audiences.

Third-party data is data from an external source, aggregated and sold to advertisers for use in display campaigns and analytics. It has equal-but-opposite issues – it provides a good overall look at a segment or market, but is not unique and less relevant.

Second-party data allows advertisers to bridge the gap between the two.

Second-Party Data to the Rescue

Second-party data is data received from a trusted source that an advertiser has a direct relationship with. Not only is it scalable – unlike first-party data – it’s also more reliable than third-party data. Second-party data allows you to expand audience reach with accurate data from a trusted partner, whereas third-party data is unreliable due to how the audiences are compiled – information can quickly become outdated.

As a modern marketer, you need to use all the tools at your disposal to best reach and target your audience. Using a healthy mix of all three data types can help you optimize your campaigns and reduce costs, while reaching larger portions of your target audience.

To learn more, read Marin’s white paper – The Power of Second-Party Data: Partner with Trusted Sources to Discover New and Valuable Audiences.

A Vote for the Future of Election Marketing

By June 15th, 2015

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.

Tip of the Election Iceberg

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:

  • Invigorate the electorate through personalized experiences
  • Build connections through unprecedented social engagement
  • Enable campaign marketers to do much more with their advertising spend – for much less
  • Transform the way people make voting decisions
  • Transport electoral politics firmly into the 21st century

Playing Catch-up

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.

According to The Washington Post, every 2016 candidate’s website uses cookies to retarget site visitors. So, if a voting prospect visits a campaign website, then reads the latest news on a favorite political site, they’re likely to see an ad for [insert your “next president of the United States” choice here]. Campaigns are already moving in the direction of personalized, optimized ad campaigns. Add in the Facebook “echo chamber” – where a user sees more content related to their political persuasion – and you’ve got a serious platform for rallying a voter base.

What About Privacy?

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 Here to Stay – and Influence Swing Voters

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 Boosts Retail and Travel Sectors

By March 20th, 2015

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.


Happy 9th Birthday Twitter.

By March 20th, 2015

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.

Mobile Social Sharing Proves to be Big Winner During Super Bowl

By February 6th, 2015

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.

Seahawks Favored to Win Super Bowl According to Paid Search Data

By January 30th, 2015

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.


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