We were delighted to pick up our fifth UK and European Search Award at last week’s ceremony in Iceland for our work with MoneySuperMarket. The award recognised the innovative work we carried out with MoneySuperMarket to build an open stack of technology to drive PPC efficiency alongside our partners Adometry and BlueKai. MoneySuperMarket took advantage of Revenue Connect to optimise paid search in Marin Enterprise using post-attributed data from Adometry, and optimised paid search campaigns based on audience data integrated from BlueKai into Marin through Audience Connect. The judges for the award commented:
“Judges felt this campaign pushed PPC efficiency to its limit showing creative innovation through technology integration.”
This fifth award won across the UK and European Search Awards series in four years reaffirms our continued presence as one of the leaders in the European search industry. Our momentum since opening up in 2009 has seen us hire more than 110 staff across 5 locations in Europe, managing campaigns for leading European brands including easyJet, Peugeot, Europcar, Nestle, Adidas, lastminute.com, LeGuide, Philips, Sainsburys and Zoopla. This growth now means we manage more than €1bn in annual European online advertising spend through our platform.
We also want to congratulate our numerous clients and partners who also won at the awards!
In February, Google Shopping campaigns became available to all advertisers globally. Shopping campaigns redefined the way retail advertisers manage and report on Product Listing Ads, offering additional flexibility, visibility, and control marketers truly appreciate. Though advertisers can continue managing standard PLA campaigns successfully, Google announced today that all advertisers must fully transition to Shopping campaigns by late August 2014. After this date, advertisers will no longer be able to manage PLAs through standard Search campaigns, and all remaining PLA campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Shopping campaigns. This transition, similar to enhanced campaigns, represents a challenge and opportunity for retail advertisers.
What Do I Need To Do?
From now until the transition date, advertisers can continue managing and optimizing PLAs through standard Search campaigns. Since the auction landscape for PLAs was not affected by the introduction of Shopping campaigns or the mandatory transition, advertisers can continue running standard campaigns without adversely impacting PLA performance. Keep in mind Shopping campaigns and standard campaigns can run in tandem, ensuring the transition process can be executed successfully over time and according to retailers’ business needs.
How Do I Migrate?
There are five critical steps for transitioning to Google Shopping campaigns:
1. Prepare your feed for transition.
Review your product_type, adwords_labels, and adwords_grouping values. Products you plan to target as a group and bid on using product_type should have exactly the same value in the product_type attribute. Keep in mind that product types can only be subdivided five times.
For shopping campaigns, adwords_labels and adwords_grouping attributes aren’t supported. The new custom_label attribute can be used instead; however it’s limited to five labels per product.
2. Plan your transition process.
Take time to plan out your transition and consider restructuring your PLA strategy according to best practices and business needs. For advertisers managing a large number of product targets, a phased transition schedule is recommended.
3. Create a Google Shopping campaign.
For a single transition, create a Shopping campaign and subdivide product groups based on performance and business needs, then pause the old PLA campaign.
For a phased transition, create a Shopping campaign and systematically subdivide high volume and top performing products; pausing old PLA targets as new objects are created in your new Shopping campaign. If new groups don’t map directly to existing targets, you’ll need to have both PLA campaigns active, setting the new Shopping campaign priority setting to “high.”
4. Subdivide products within your new Shopping campaign.
Keep in mind that advertisers get performance data at all levels for all products, regardless of how product groups are organized. However, since product groups can only be subdivided five times, how these groups are organized becomes very important. It’s recommended that advertisers subdivide product groups first by product attributes that support more granular, subsequent subdivisions. For example, product_type > brand > id.
5. Analyze and optimize.
As with any transition and migration, be sure to monitor performance and ensure all of your products are receiving consistent coverage and driving similar outcomes. Review and familiarize yourself with the new CPC and CTR benchmark metrics as well as impression share. These will provide insight into the auction landscape and enable you to make smarter decisions when optimizing bids and product groups.
For additional guidance, please review Google’s recommended steps for transitioning to Shopping campaigns and work with your solution provider to establish an appropriate timeline.
What’s Marin’s Timeline for Support?
A beta program for Google Shopping campaigns will become available well in advance of the transition date. General availability for campaign management, streamlined reporting, URL Builder functionality, and integrated bid optimization is scheduled shortly after the conclusion of the beta. For more information on Marin’s Shopping campaigns beta, release schedule, and transition plan, please contact your customer engagement and customer success teams.
Paid search involves a million moving parts, but today we want to call out ad copy as a particularly important aspect. Good ad copy is convincing, drives click-through rates, and makes your ad stand out relative to your competitors. All this can lead to better quality scores and lower costs.
However, if you’ve ever stared at the blinking cursor with a case of writer’s block or wished you had more time to test and optimize, you’re not alone. Many search marketers are guilty of neglecting their ad copy from time to time. Even search marketers who take the time to fully test different ad copy and decide on a winner may not be refreshing it as often as needed to continually combat ad fatigue.
In this post, I’ll walk through some basic methods to increase your ad copy CTR and make it stand out:
1. Use Your Value Proposition - What’s the reason why searchers should visit your website? What benefits do you offer and why should people choose you against your competitors? In the example ad below, the value proposition is clear and straightforward, offering people a way to create a custom website quickly and easily. Someone looking for this service might be enticed by the 100+ design selections offered and simplicity of the “3 Easy Steps” messaging.
2. Capitalize the First Letter of Every Word - There’s evidence all over the web that capitalizing the first letter of every word in your ad will help increase CTR. Consider the two ads below, and it’s clear to see which one stands out more.
3. Use a Strong Call to Action – What should people do after reading your ad? A strong call to action will instruct searchers on the next step they should take, and create a sense of urgency for them to click on the ad. For example, if you were selling life insurance, “Get a Free Quote Today” is a call to action telling searchers to visit the site right away for a quote.
Keep in mind that optimizing for a boost in CTR doesn’t mean that the conversions will magically appear. Just because you create outstanding ad copy to make a searcher click doesn’t mean they will convert. Search marketers need to look at all these different elements in a holistic way and use data to evaluate how effective their ad copy is in terms of both click-through rate and conversion rate. For example, if you are driving a CTR of 10% and generating new traffic, but bounce rates are high and conversions are low, then chances are your ad copy isn’t relevant to the landing page you’re driving them to and needs to be re-evaluated.
Good luck, and happy ad copy writing!
Brands that seamlessly tie offline conversions to online events are positioned for success, but it’s easier said than done!
Most businesses have a wide variety of customer touch points: website visits, social media interactions, phone calls, email, proposals, quotes, surveys, tech support, ordering, delivery, you name it. While it’s terrific to have so many diverse touch points, they can be a source of great complexity for digital advertisers.
A gap between the online and offline can result in an incomplete picture of paid search performance, as downstream revenue from offline conversions remains unattributed to the keywords and creative that drove those conversions. On top of that, not all interactions result in revenue conversions. The inability to define unique revenue values for each event and tie them to a single customer and keyword results in a bidding strategy that ignores lifetime customer value and fails to calculate optimal keyword bids.
So how can search marketers bridge the gap? Here are three tips for optimizing for online and offline conversions:
These tips are adapted from our white paper, Navigating the New Paid Search Landscape. It’s a must-read for any advertiser in the financial services sector, and we also recommend it for marketers operating in a particularly competitive market.
Big data. It’s a phrase everybody throws around, but with meaning that nobody can fully agree on. Definitions usually include some combination of massive amounts of information, structured data, unstructured data, too much data to process, complex data, or data that is beyond our computing power. While this is interesting, it’s not necessarily helpful. And what does it mean for digital marketers?
The idea of big data really kicked off when analyst Doug Laney published an article on data management challenges way back in 2001. He framed the discussion using three Vs:
Since then, others have added any number of additional Vs including veracity (data quality), viability (how useful the data is), and value (what the data helps us learn or do).
So while we can’t 100% agree on the definition of big data, the real takeaway is that you should know what big data means for you and your industry.
Which brings us to digital marketing! Big data is absolutely critical in our field because it makes data-driven marketing possible. It reveals intent and gives us a picture of our audiences. It allows us to be simultaneously more global and more local. It allows us to work across channels, and in real time. It keeps us competitive, and it can reap big profits.
All these perks are great, but dealing with big data is no simple task. The data must be organized in a way such that we can glean actionable insight. Scale is a big challenge, across millions of customers and keywords. And when we have really powerful data, it can also be a struggle to trust and act upon it when it’s not in line with our basic intuition and judgment.
Some companies – not just search marketers – are getting it right in a big way. Consider how the United States Marine Corps enlists big data in its recruitment efforts, described by AdAge. Or take a look at how some other big companies, from Netflix to Walmart, have enhanced their offerings with data-informed decisions here in this great Mashable article.
Marin Software is essentially a big data product, helping digital marketers make sense of and act on massive sets of really cool data. We encourage a data-driven approach of understanding audiences, predicting, and optimizing.
Now for the fun part. According to a recent McKinsey report, big data leaders have, on average, 5% higher productivity and 6% higher profits than other companies. In other words, marketers who capture the power of big data are making a sizeable impact on their bottom lines. So if you’re ever overwhelmed by all that is “big data,” remember that everyone else is on a journey to figure it out too, and that the possibilities and payoff are certainly worth the effort.
Just when the dust settled from Google’s Enhanced Campaign migrations, the online marketing industry has once again been shaken with a major change, this time from Facebook.
On Thursday, Facebook announced that they will be overhauling the campaign structure for their entire advertising program with a target launch date of February 14, 2014. Facebook will be adding an additional layer to their existing campaign/ad structure with the aim of making it easier to organize campaigns, control budgets, and measure performance.
The new campaign taxonomy will have an additional level – the “ad set” – between campaigns and ads. As part of the initial rollout, the ad set will replace the current campaign level and an additional level will be created between the account and ad set. There will be no changes to ads (the most granular Facebook campaign object) as part of the initial roll out. Effectively, the new structure will look like this:
According to Facebook, the changes are meant to provide advertisers with a better way to organize their campaign efforts toward a single objective. Today, advertisers can have hundreds of campaigns in a single account, all focused on different objectives. For example, an advertiser may have 15% of their campaigns focused on acquiring more fans, 20% focused on driving mobile or desktop app engagement, and 65% focused on website acquisition toward an ROI objective. Managing thousands of campaigns across hundreds of targeted audiences with mixed objectives can be confusing and problematic for advertisers without a sophisticated management platform.
With the new campaign hierarchy, Facebook aims to provide advertisers with a way to group campaigns around a single objective, which will reside in their new “campaign” tier. Facebook is likely betting that their new campaign structure will result in improvements in management and reporting.
Another possible motive for the change is the fact that the Facebook algorithm currently does not allow advertisers to easily test multiple audiences within a single campaign. For example, if you want to know whether your advertising drives better results from male or female target audiences, you would need to set up separate campaigns each targeting a different gender. Ideally, an advertiser should be able to test performance against two audiences within the same campaign (similar to A/B testing creatives in a single ad group in Google or Bing). However, because the Facebook algorithm leverages historical audience data at the campaign level, advertisers cannot execute a fair A/B test. With the creation of ad sets, I believe Facebook is attempting to address the A/B ad testing challenges inherent to its algorithm and will encourage advertisers to use the ad sets as creative test groups.
Marin sees Facebook’s announcement as a positive and is excited for the upcoming changes. With more than three years as an API partner, our platform is in a position to quickly deliver an intuitive solution for managing these changes. When Marin first joined the Facebook API partner program in 2010, our ads tool was built with the same exact “three tier” campaign Facebook structure. Our familiarity and experience with the exact same model Facebook is proposing should create exciting opportunities for our customers and help them reach their business objectives faster than ever before.
First is a digital marketing agency with hubs in both Sydney and Auckland, Australia. They pride themselves on being at the forefront of digital innovation, and up-to-date technology solutions are extremely important to their team and clients.
Like many other agencies, First needed a scalable solution for automated optimization and reporting services. The team wanted to increase efficiency while also maintaining their current level of client support. Easy integration with search and social media solutions was also crucial.
Getting started with Marin Software was made easy with ongoing support during the planning, implementation, and integration phases. And First saw immediate time savings (70%!) and efficiencies. Clients were impressed, too. In fact, one of First’s clients in the financial services sector benefited from an 18% increase in inquiry conversion rates and a 20% decrease in cost per lead on non-brand terms.
We’d like to thank First for allowing us to share their success story, and we invite you to learn more about their experience with Marin Software here.
ArrowMedia is a digital advertising agency specializing in pay-per-click advertising and web analytics. Employing over 60 seasoned professionals out of Moscow and Krasnoyarsk, ArrowMedia also provides consulting, auditing, SEO, and automation services to advertisers across Russia.
As the digital advertising landscape in Russia matures, advertisers and agencies are increasingly managing programs on a return on investment (ROI) basis. Unfortunately, publisher solutions like AdWords and Yandex.Direct are unable to provide adequate visibility into revenue outcomes. ArrowMedia also found that it was impossible to track campaign processes and manage geo-targeted accounts with over 1,000 keywords. With growing accounts and increasing complexity, ArrowMedia needed a solution that would provide better visibility, time-savings, and that would scale efficiently.
ArrowMedia turned to Marin Professional. Using self-service revenue integrations, they now have a complete view of revenue outcomes. This allows the team to optimize bids and creatives based on their own key performance indicators. ArrowMedia also uses Marin Professional’s bulk sheet and multi-edit capabilities to efficiently track and make changes across multiple geo-targeted campaigns. Finally, the platform’s advanced filtering capabilities and web query reports allow the team to easily segment and analyze the avalanche of performance data. ArrowMedia is now able to manage by exception and have more confidence in their reporting.
ArrowMedia has seen impressive results – they have decreased their clients’ cost-per-order by 20% on average, and reduced the amount of time spent on low-value tasks by 40%. For more details, read the full case study here. And a big thanks to ArrowMedia for allowing us to earn their business and share their story!
From time to time Google makes changes to the algorithms that calculate Quality Score. If those changes result in a drop in Quality Score, advertisers are negatively impacted; position is likely to drop and harm the click through rate. Maintaining the same position will likely result in higher CPCs, meaning fewer clicks and conversions within a given budget. Staying on top of Quality Score changes is therefore crucial, but we all know that manually running reports can be time-consuming.
Leading UK agency Croud’s mission is to make digital marketing accessible to all advertisers, regardless of their size and budget. They follow a strict set of best practices designed to keep accounts in tip-top condition. To monitor Quality Score, Croud set up a series of automated alerts using Marin Software’s reporting suite. It was through these alerts that they spotted a recent change in AdWords Quality Score and assessed the impact it had on their accounts. Google does not store historical Quality Score, so without Marin, Croud would not have been able to do this without taking the time to manually record data each day.
Last week, AdWords started reporting lower Quality Scores across many clients. Brand terms and high-volume generic keywords were affected most, and in some instances the drop lasted for two days. By being alerted to this change as soon as it happened, Croud was able to optimize their account accordingly to remain as efficient as possible and manage client expectations.
In a time where consumers are increasingly engaging with brands online, advertisers are faced with the challenge of tying conversions occurring offline, back to the online clicks and events that led to those conversions. Particularly in industries like financial services and automotive, applications and online leads result in offline verifications and approvals at brick-and-mortar locations. This disconnect between customers’ online and offline engagement results in an incomplete picture of ad performance as downstream revenue from offline conversions remains unattributed to the clicks and events that drove those conversions.
The requirement for this level of visibility is becoming more apparent, and the industry as a whole is shifting to solve this challenge. In fact, earlier this month Google introduced the ability for advertisers to measure offline sales with AdWords’ conversion import feature. This new AdWords feature helps advertisers measure and optimize for the complete end-to-end purchase process. It’s exciting to see publishers beginning to understand and support this level of marketing complexity. Providing marketers with online to offline visibility allows brands to realize the true return of their online advertising investments and enables them to better optimize their programs.
In early 2012, Marin addressed this same challenge by introducing Revenue Upload by Order ID (RUBOID). By assigning order IDs—for example an applicant or quote number—this feature enables advertisers to bridge the gap between their data warehouses, or CRM systems, and online customer activities. Marketers are not only able to attribute offline conversions and revenue to back to online clicks and events, but also modify attributed revenue based on refunds, cancellations, and other downstream revenue adjustments.
In the case of AMF Bowling, the world’s largest owner and operator of bowling centers, online coupons are used to drive customers to one of their 285 bowling centers across the country. However, this online to offline engagement created challenges in tracking and measuring coupon effectiveness. They lacked visibility into the bowling centers that benefited most from their coupon redemption program. Six months after integrating their program with Marin’s RUBOID technology, monthly revenue attributed to paid search was over 10 times higher than the revenue attributed in the first month of the program. The ability to optimize with a complete picture of ROI enabled AMF Bowling to lower their cost-per-conversion by almost 70% over a nine month period.
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