Although paid search still commands the majority of digital advertising spend, online marketers find themselves having to follow consumers through an always-on, multi-channel world. In this highly competitive landscape, the path-to-conversion is anything but linear, and the ways in which consumers engage with brands is gaining complexity. For instance, a customer may have viewed a display banner, clicked on a paid search ad, and was retargeted on Facebook prior to converting on an iPad.
Keep in mind that the click-path above wasn’t even possible three years ago. The degree to which media is fragmented today makes attribution incredibly challenging. So how would an online marketer value each of these touch-points and subsequently develop an effective bidding strategy to maximize performance across their entire marketing program?
This is exactly the problem that Marin Software has solved. Today, we’re excited to announce a partnership with Adometry, a leading attribution company. Through conversion and revenue data integrations, advertisers using this joint solution will be able to:
And because Marin has certified the integration process with Adometry, our mutual clients will be able to take advantage of these industry leading capabilities without incurring any additional costs or disruptions to service.
So there you have it, Adometry + Marin = A win for online marketers.
Product Listing Ads (PLA) provide a richer and more engaging search experience for shoppers. With the share of spend on PLA campaigns increasing 600% in Q4 of 2012, online retailers will undoubtedly continue investing more time and budget towards this ad format in 2013. In fact, in Q4 of 2012, online retailers allocated as much as 30% of their AdWords budget to PLA campaigns. As a result of this recent surge in adoption and spend, Marin Software has published a white paper that examines PLA performance throughout 2012 and presents five best practices for deploying, managing, and optimizing PLA campaigns.
Download the comprehensive 8 page PLA white paper here.
For many search marketers, identifying opportunities for optimization within paid search campaigns is challenging. Monitoring and maintaining top performing ad groups, keywords, and ads is a standard best practice; but as campaigns grow, keyword lists expand, and creative tests multiply, this approach fails to scale and provide incremental improvements in paid search performance. With so many optimization opportunities hidden in an ocean of data, how can search marketers give the required attention each campaign deserves? Where do you even start?
To help search marketers answer these questions, Marin Software is thrilled to announce our partnership with BoostCTR to offer a free paid search diagnostics tool that not only provides insight into account performance, but also opportunities for optimization. The Account Performance Grader is designed to analyze historical performance across keywords, ads, quality scores, and ad groups for AdWords and Bing Ads campaigns. Simply sign up and enter the required information to receive your customized report.
Among other best practice recommendations, this report will provide actionable insights for pausing poor performing keywords and ads, as well as reveal quality score trends that identify areas where keyword relevance can be improved. With the Account Performance Grader, search marketers can remove the guesswork out of campaign optimization and focus their time on more strategic, high impact tasks.
Sign up here and start optimizing your campaigns today!
Calculating and pushing keyword bids in real time is one of the most talked about paid search bidding strategies. However, this approach is easier said than done. Accounting for consumer behavior and collecting enough performance data minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour is difficult and often results in sub-optimal bids. Today we’ll discuss the challenges that online marketers face when attempting to calculate bids in real time and the requirements that need to be in place to execute a successful bidding strategy.
Consumers often click on multiple ads before converting. In many cases, they conduct research using several different search queries over the course of days, weeks, or in some cases months. Often times a consumer will validate their decision with one final burst of research just before converting. This delay between the initial ad click and subsequent conversion is known as conversion latency. To measure this latency, advertisers rely on tracking solutions that identify each unique user and follows them through the conversion process. The conversion and any associated revenue can then be attributed across each touch point; for example, the three paid search clicks that occurred prior to a purchase. Achieving this level of visibility enables automated bidding solutions to calculate accurate and optimal bids for all keywords that contributed to the conversion.
Display Retargeting vs. Search
Real-time bidding was born in the world of display retargeting, where advertisers bid to deliver ads to specific users based on information collected about them, such as which products or pages they’ve previously viewed on a company’s website. In this scenario, an automated bid, calculated and pushed out in real time, enables advertisers to target their spend and impressions towards consumers who are more likely to convert. The likelihood of a conversion is estimated using large datasets; the behavior of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of visitors to a website is analyzed before implementing an optimal bidding strategy. This is a fundamental difference when approaching real-time bidding in display versus search, where the amount of data collected for display retargeting is significant enough to inform bidding decisions in real time.
Real-Time Bidding in Paid Search
In paid search, the data collected for a keyword in real time is minimal. Calculating keyword bids based on such a small dataset is extremely risky as these bids often leverage an insignificant amount of data that doesn’t account for consumer behavior.
To address this challenge, Marin developed a patented bidding algorithm that utilizes Bayesian Estimation to minimize the risk of bidding on low volume keywords. Additionally, to account for consumer behavior, Marin allows online marketers to exclude performance data from bid calculations across a custom rolling date range. For businesses that experience high conversion latency or a large proportion of latent conversions, this means optimal bids based on accurate and complete performance data. Finally, Marin analyzes time of day paid search performance across multiple weeks in order to identify significant trends. These trends are used to inform daily and hourly dayparting recommendations, which can be implemented with just a few clicks.
Execute a Sound Strategy
When making bidding decisions, online marketers must ensure that they have a complete picture of performance. For paid search campaigns that are subject to conversion latency, this means sacrificing real-time bids in favor of implementing rolling date exclusions across a significant amount of performance data. Search marketers that execute their bidding strategy with this in mind are positioned to calculated optimal bids that maximize keyword performance.
For more information on Marin’s bidding solution, please contact email@example.com.
Over the last three years, the rapid proliferation of tablet devices has changed the way consumers and advertisers interact across the search landscape. Consumers now rely on their tablets more than ever before to gain access to local business information, product details, reviews, coupons, and competitors. And advertisers responded with relevant ads targeted towards these tablet users.
However, the way these devices are used by consumers today has resulted in a seismic shift in thinking by Google. In an effort to simplify the management of paid search campaigns across devices, location, and time of day, Google upgraded AdWords with enhanced campaigns in early February. According to Google and their data, the line between desktops and tablets is blurring, with search behavior and engagement on the two devices aligning.
A recent 2013 mobile report: The State of Mobile Search Advertising – How Smartphones and Tablets are Changing Paid Search released by Marin Software supports Google’s claim that consumer behavior on tablets and desktops share increasing similarities. However, the data also validates the perception that desktops and tablets are inherently different and perform accordingly so. Regardless, to remain successful in a multi-device world, search marketers must embrace enhanced campaigns and continue delivering a relevant and engaging ad experience.
What Does the Data Say?
Over the last two years, tablets have become a device segment that search marketers can’t ignore. In fact, the share of overall paid search clicks served by Google on tablets increased from 6% to 10.7% in 2012. Consumers are increasingly using tablet devices to research and make purchases on-the-go and, more importantly, in the comfort of their home where desktop devices have traditionally reigned. Marin projects that by the end of 2013, the share of tablet clicks will double in the US, accounting for 20% of Google’s paid search clicks.
In 2012, paid search conversion rates for tablet devices increased by 31%, while smartphone and desktop conversion rates increased by 9% and 7%, respectively. By December 2013, Marin estimates that tablet conversion rates will surpass those of desktops. In addition to this rapid rise in conversion rate, Marin also found that tablet ads are continuing to outperform desktop ads. Click-through rates (CTR) for search ads on tablets were 37% higher than ads delivered on desktops, with the average cost-per-click (CPC) on tablets 17% lower than on desktops. As a result, advertisers increased paid search spend on tablets to capitalize on this opportunity; and by the end of 2012, the share of spend on these devices had increased to 10%, eclipsing the share of spend on smartphones for the first time in history.
Different, But Equal
Tablets will certainly play a crucial role in the future of paid search, but whether the line between desktops and tablets will continue to converge and blur, or diverge and remain distinct, has yet to be seen. Even though these two devices share similarities in search behavior, they continue to perform differently. Perhaps this is a result of their unique user experiences—desktops with their large screens, mouses, and primarily fixed locations; versus tablets and their touchscreens, smaller search real-estate, and portability. Marin’s mobile report appears to support the notion that different user experiences result in varying ad performance. As a result, we expect Google’s enhanced campaigns to evolve as the market demand for additional functionality becomes evident.
The New Multi-Device World
With the migration to enhanced campaigns underway, search marketers must now prepare for a desktop-and-tablet-combined world. Gone are the days of separating campaigns to target these devices individually. Campaigns and landing pages must now be optimized with both the desktop and tablet user in mind. Two strategies that marketers are implementing today include: limiting the amount of Flash-based content on websites, as iPads don’t support Adobe Flash, and using finger-friendly buttons and links.
In an already highly competitive search landscape, enhanced campaigns will change the way advertisers engage with consumers. Sophisticated search marketers will need to continue investing in technology and reestablish best practices in order to successfully drive media and acquire revenue in the new multi-device world.
Download the comprehensive 15 page global mobile report here.
The Feature Spotlight blog series highlights and discusses the use cases for new and popular features within the Marin platform. Today we’ll be taking a look at the new sitelinks URL Builder, a time-saving feature released earlier this month.
We Love Sitelinks
Users anticipate a relevant and engaging search experience, where the messaging and landing pages align with their needs. Unfortunately, organic links often deprioritize high-value landing pages or leverage ineffective language. As a result of these shortcomings, sitelinks have become one of the most popular ad extensions for advertisers. These additional links that lead to specific, relevant content deep within a website, create a richer and more relevant ad experience for users. In fact, many advertisers experience a dramatic improvement in their ad performance for keywords that trigger sitelinks, with some advertisers seeing a 30% increase in click-through rate.
The Sitelinks Challenge
In order to optimize keyword bids, advertisers need the ability to attribute the conversions and revenue resulting from sitelink clicks back to the keyword that triggered the sitelink. In the past, search marketers had to manually append tracking parameters to individually assigned sitelink URLs in order to effectively track and gain complete visibility into keyword performance. With some advertisers leveraging sitelinks across hundreds of campaigns, this tagging process is not only time consuming, but it’s also prone to errors.
Marin’s sitelinks URL Builder tool enables search marketers to automatically build out custom tracking parameters for sitelinks based on their existing URL structure. This not only eliminates user error, but also allows marketers to spend less time managing sitelinks’ tracking and more time executing high-value optimization strategies. Furthermore, having a complete picture of keyword conversion and revenue data enables search marketers to calculate optimal bids that truly maximize keyword performance.
If you are a Marin user looking for more information on the sitelinks URL Builder, check out the Help article on this topic.
Congratulations to Renato Del Vento for winning the 5th annual SMX Biggest Search Geek Contest sponsored by Marin Software!
Renato bested more than 2,700 contestants across the US, UK and Australia with a score of 84% in 5 minutes and 39 seconds. Renato’s prizes for winning the competition were round-trip tickets for two to SMX West, an award on stage by Search Engine Land Editor-in-Chief Danny Sullivan and an iPad mini.
The quiz is still live for those remaining search marketers who want to test their SEM knowledge.
In the two days spent speaking and exhibiting at SMX West this week, it was clear that Google enhanced campaigns are at the top of every search marketer’s mind. With the mid-year migration deadline around the corner, marketers were keen to ask the important questions. Throughout our time in the Expo Hall and during two of our speaking opportunities, Marin engaged in several candid discussions regarding enhanced campaigns and what Google’s recent change to AdWords means for search marketers. Here’s what we heard.
Everyone’s On the First Page
Many search marketers were unaware of enhanced campaigns when it was first announced in early February. Without the formal beta process that Google typically leverages—a process used for major features like Product Listing Ads, remarketing, Dynamic Search Ads, etc.—enhanced campaigns was unleashed upon the search world in one fell swoop. Some search marketers we spoke to are struggling to understand what it means for their day-to-day campaign management and optimization tactics.
Think Everybody. Think!
Success in the age of enhanced campaigns hinges on the ability to establish “enhanced” best practices. Though the testing of enhanced campaigns appears to be limited so far, it hasn’t stopped search marketers from making assumptions and applying their expertise towards new tactics and strategies. Below are two of the “best practices” we overheard at SMX West:
Enhancing the Enhanced Campaign
When enhanced campaigns were first announced, many mobile app and gaming companies expressed a desire to target campaigns to a specific mobile device or device operating system (i.e. iPhone, HTC, iOS, Android). After speaking with a few marketers who attended the session on enhanced campaigns, it appears that Google will allow advertisers to target specific mobile devices and device operating systems for the display network with enhanced campaigns. Given market feedback it wouldn’t be surprising to see Google begin tweaking enhanced campaign features to provide marketers with these additional controls.
The Clock Is Ticking
Marin Software supports enhanced campaigns now. Establishing new best practices before the upcoming migration deadline is important. Conferences and expos like SMX West provide an invaluable look into what search marketers are thinking and what they require to be successful in the age of enhanced campaigns. Marin will be exhibiting at SES NY later this month and we look forward to another great forum for discussing enhanced campaigns. We hope to see you there!
It’s March Madness, and for Marin Software that means trade shows and lots of them.
On March 11th and 12th, Marin will be exhibiting at SMX West at the McEnery Convention Center is San Jose. Visit us at Booth #201 to say hello and learn more about our platform. Don’t miss our VP of Marketing, Matt Lawson, on the Mobile Ads panel on Monday, March 11th at 1:30 p.m in Room 210G. Matt will have a wide array of mobile data and insights to impart. Study up beforehand by reading our 2013 Mobile Trends Whitepaper.
On Tuesday, March 12th at 9am, the madness continues at SMX West. Before the day’s keynote speech, Marin will be presenting the winner of this year’s Biggest Search Geek contest. A big thanks to all who competed in the contest. Even if you missed out on the chance to win a prize, you can still test your search marketing knowledge here.
On March 12th and 13th, Marin can be found exhibiting in Australia at ad:tech Sydney. We’ll be at Booth #20 at the Hilton Sydney handing out all of the quality schwag you can find at our trade shows in North America. Whether you call Sydney home or ad:tech Sydney your legitimate excuse for a vacation, make sure you stop by our booth to learn about the latest innovations taking place at Marin.
On March 26th and 27th, the New York Marriott Marquis will play host to SES NY and yours truly. If you’re attending, drop by Booth #505 to say hello. We highly recommend setting aside twenty minutes to sit in on a Theater Presentation on ‘How Smartphones and Tablets Are Changing Paid Search’, presented by our Product Marketing Manager, Kye Mou. He’ll be speaking at the theater located in the Exhibit Hall on Wednesday, March 27th at 10 a.m. and has a great deal of knowledge to share.
It’s going to be an exciting month of trade shows and events. Bring your game face!
Last week was the 14th annual SES conference in London. I was delighted to host two round-table sessions focusing on paid search tactics and want to share some of the topics that were discussed. A variety of search marketers from around Europe attended the round table sessions, representing almost every vertical from retail to travel; education to automotive; finance to entertainment, and everything in-between.
Enhanced Campaigns: Google’s recent announcement has created a lot of buzz in the industry; Marin’s recent blog post on the topic highlights the benefits and concerns that advertisers should consider. Many advertisers are planning to augment their geo-targeting strategy with the new location based bid multipliers removing the need to create separate campaigns with bespoke targeting and bids. Budget control across devices is causing concern; however, the general outlook is positive. Marin is advising users to leverage as much data as possible to inform their bid multiplier strategy and embark on a test and learn cycle of optimisation.
Attribution: In-channel, cross-channel, on- and off-line attribution all came up. Opinions varied as to how much time to dedicate to analysing and testing attribution models. StylistPick reaped rewards following the integration of Marin’s easy-to-deploy multi-click, multi-channel attribution model. For more information, take a moment to read the case study.
Tracking attribution and optimizing for mobile were growing concerns for many advertisers; who are worried about under-valuing the importance of mobile due to the inability to quantify users’ mobile research—e.g. linking a mobile search to an offline conversion, or a conversion made on a different device. We anticipate that over the course of 2013 many advertisers will look to address this challenge through the use of voucher codes. AMF bowling is one advertiser who has already put this in place, read more here.
Ad Text Best Practice: Copy writing seems to have taken a bit of a backseat in the world of big data with many advertisers neglecting to regularly refresh their copy in favour of number crunching, bid optimization, and attribution. However, advertisers who regularly refresh copy see ongoing benefits through reduced CPCs and increased CTRs.
Here are some tips that were shared during the round-table sessions:
The turnout and feedback provided during these round-table sessions were phenomenal. Marin would like to send a big thank you to everyone who attended and imparted their knowledge and opinions. If you have any thoughts regarding the topics above, please feel free to leave your comment below.