One of the single most effective ways a digital marketer can improve the performance of a campaign is through better ad copy. To help advertisers get more out of their creative, we’ve teamed up with Boost Media (formerly BoostCTR).
While this isn’t the first time Marin Software has worked with Boost, this is the first time Boost makes an appearance in the Marin app. Thanks to Marin’s open architecture, the performance of Boost optimized campaigns can now be viewed directly within Marin, saving joint customers all sorts of time in addition to providing insights that can then be used to make immediate changes.
If you’re not familiar with Boost, the company offers marketers a network of 1,000+ expert copywriters skilled in creating compelling, high-performance ad copy for both search and social. Check them out.
In late November, news broke that Facebook was planning a major overhaul to its advertising campaign structure in Q1. The revised campaign structure will include a new management “level” called the Ad Set, that will sit in between the Campaign and Ad levels.
Since the initial information leak, little has been publicly shared from Facebook as to what the new campaign structure will look like, how it will benefit advertisers, and how their workflow will be impacted. Sensing the significance of the overhaul, you may remember that we shared our thoughts here on the blog soon after.
After months of waiting, Facebook recently made an official announcement on the Facebook for Business blog. They confirmed that existing Facebook campaigns will be migrated on March 4th (tomorrow!). The new structure is described as a “simpler way to organize and optimize campaigns on Facebook,” and is aimed to improve advertiser workflow, reporting and optimization.
Today’s Facebook marketers may have hundreds or thousands of campaigns within an account targeting different audiences and objectives. For example, an advertiser could 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.
By moving to a new “3-tiered” campaign taxonomy, Facebook hopes to provide marketers with a better way to organize campaigns targeting similar business objectives. Using the example above, marketers will now be able to look at campaigns with “ROI” objectives and quickly determine which target audiences (specified at the Ad Set level) are driving the best performance. If a marketer wants to understand which creative design or message resonates best with a particular audience for a given objective, the marketer can then drill into the Ad Set and analyze Ad-level performance.
Marin has been working diligently on the new campaign structure since October and is excited to roll it out to our customers. We expect the impact to our customer’s workflow to be positive for two reasons. First, Marin’s platform architecture has been built on a three-tiered campaign structure since we went GA in 2007. What this means is that our Facebook advertising customers who also use our product for Search and Display will finally have a consistent campaign taxonomy across all their channels. Second, this restructure will allow for an even more streamlined and favorable cross-channel workflow and analytics experience.
As a Marin Facebook advertiser, here is what you can expect:
Your Existing Campaigns
Marin has partnered with Facebook to transition our mutual clients on Friday March 14th, in accordance with our i48 release. On this date, existing campaigns will be migrated to the new structure automatically, both in Facebook and in Marin. No additional steps will be required of the advertiser. The campaign will simply inherit the new setting, the “Objective.”
Creation of Ad Sets
Ad Sets will be created between the Campaign and Ad levels and inherit the settings of your existing campaigns.
Nothing will happen to your Ads as a result of the migration – everything will remain the same.
Your Customer Success Team is Here to Help
Marin believes in offering industry-leading support and service to our Facebook customers. We know this transition has big implications, and we want to be there to help. Please reach out to your Customer Success Team soon to discuss any questions or concerns about the transition. Following the transition, they will be eager to help you assimilate into your new workflow in Marin.
Best Practices Webinar!
On Tuesday, March 11, Marin will be holding a webinar for our customers to go through our new improved UI. We will be will also cover best practices for campaign creation, editing, and optimization with the new structure. Marin customers will be receiving an invitation via email in the coming days, so stay tuned!
The search for summer interns is already on, and our recruiting team has been hitting the road! On Wednesday, we met with students at the Cal Internship & Summer Job Fair. Then on Thursday, we traveled to Oregon State University in Portland. (Did you know we now have an office in Portland?)
But the real apex was our “Super Saturday” event this past weekend. Our recruiters welcomed awesome students from Stanford and Cal to our headquarters for breakfast and a great conversion with Joe Chang, one of Marin’s co-founders and chief technical officer. Joe is also a proud Stanford grad. Students got to learn more about the ad tech space, what Marin’s been up to, and why it’s such a neat place to work. They also had the opportunity to interview for summer positions, in an engaging speed-dating style.
Finally it was off to lunch at Super Duper, to make it a truly super Saturday! (If you’re in the Bay Area, you’ll definitely want to try their burgers and shakes.) Thanks to all students who attended – it was great to meet you! And thanks also to our recruiting team for pulling off such a fun event.
Fun Fact: One of our engineers who attended Super Saturday was actually in the first class of Marin interns!
The difference between a good, serviceable bidding solution and an optimized solution is the difference between okay results and record campaign ROI.
There are many factors enterprise advertisers must consider when evaluating a bid management solution: algorithmic or rules-based; portfolio- or goal-based; bidding with limited data or intra-day bid adjustments. These and other features address business requirements that ultimately impact the ability for advertisers to drive revenue at a profitable return—publisher tools, in-house solutions, and multi-channel platforms attempt to provide some or all of this functionality.
There are three fundamental attributes found in all effective bid management solution that enable advertisers to remain competitive in any auction landscape: transparency, flexibility, and a systematic approach to forecasting.
Visibility into how a keyword’s bid is calculated is critical to understanding the performance metrics and auction conditions that factored into the final bid. This ultimately justifies the calculated bid rather than relying on a “trust us” mentality and gives insight into future performance. To provide complete transparency, bids and statistical models should be exposed at each step of the calculation. Marketers must have access to the amount of historical data used, including the time window, how conversions or revenue tracked next to defined business goals, and what auction thresholds and bid settings were met that impacted the final bid calculation.
Though many enterprise platforms provide transparency into bid calculations, some more than others, tools like Google Conversion Optimizer (GCO) don’t expose how bids are calculated. These “black-box” algorithms provide little to no transparency, leaving advertisers in the dark and at the mercy of the tool. Even when GCO is disabled, keywords bids revert back to the original bid prior to enabling the tool, leaving marketers high and dry with old, sub-optimal bids.
Despite the demand for complete automation, flexibility remains one of the most important pieces of any effective bid management solution. Though algorithms assume the lion’s share of work, marketers still require flexible user controls and the ability to factor in any source of data when calculating optimal bids. Defining CPC ceilings and floors, limiting how reactive bids are to seasonality and cyclical trends, overriding individual bids to satisfy business requirements, and excluding outlying data from calculations are all controls marketers need to adapt bids to ever-changing market and auction conditions.
With accurate, timely and relevant data, that make sense to an advertiser’s business, bidding algorithms can effectively calculate bids that maximize performance. This level of flexibility exists beyond most bid management tools and is available in only the most sophisticated platforms. Multi-event conversion tracking, visibility into customer lifetime value, attributing latent conversions, and factoring in analytics, ad serving, call tracking, CRM, and backend data enables marketers to optimize spend, drive high value customers, and acquire more revenue.
3. Systematic Approach to Forecasting
Marketing effectiveness is hampered without the ability to evaluate the potential impact of shifts in business goals. Furthermore, some auctions are extremely competitive and volatile, with suboptimal bids negatively impacting overall program performance. To mitigate risk, effective bid management solutions must provide marketers with a systematic approach—guiding marketers through the business impact of any changes in bid strategy.
The ability to preview calculated bids alongside visual overlays helps advertisers understand the potential effect of new bids and evaluate risks. Even more powerful is the ability for marketers to build “what-if” forecast models of how changes to performance goals will affect volume, cost, return on investment, and profit. With accurate forecasting models, marketers can focus on evaluating budget allocation across publishers and business lines to maximize performance and achieve business goals.
Selecting the Right Solution
Bid automation is growing increasingly complex and more types of media are becoming biddable. In the face of unique business requirements, dynamic marketplaces, and competitive auctions, advertisers increasingly must look to bid management solutions that provide transparency into bid calculations, the flexibility of user controls and data integrations, and a systematic approach to forecasting for mitigating risks. Solutions characterized by these three fundamental attributes meet the business requirements of today’s most complex and sophisticated advertisers, and enable them to drive more revenue with increasing efficiency.
Click here to learn more about Marin Software’s bid management solution and why we have more than $6 billion in annualized spend on our platform (announced in our earnings call today).
We have one week left to find the Biggest Search Geek, and competition has been fierce this year!
If you’re not familiar, Biggest Search Geek is a quiz contest that tests your SEM smarts. In our 6th year of competition, we’ve had over 3,500 entries from around the globe. Rich M from Australia is currently leading with a score of 75% correct, followed by Mihai P from UK/Europe, and Brian S from North America.
At the end of the competition, the person who answers the most questions correctly in the least amount of time will win a trip to SMX West, and their choice of an iPad, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One. Runners up and top 50 finishers will also receive prizes – including serious bragging rights!
We’ve had a lot of fun with this year’s contest – from wracking our brains for the toughest questions, to creating silly memes on our #whatshouldsearchmarketerscallme Tumblr. (Check it out!) And we look forward to presenting the winner their prize on stage at the SMX West opening session. (Also be sure to see our very own search geek and CMO, Matt Ackley, speak on Day 1 about what’s next for paid search in 2014.)
We hope you’ve had as much fun as we’ve had – and if you haven’t taken the quiz yet, make sure to do it soon! The contest ends on February 14 at 11:59pm PST.
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.
We are happy to say that Universal McCann and American Airlines have been partnered with Marin Software for over 3 years. Their experience is a good introduction for those who may be considering Marin as a bid management platform to take their business to the next level.
Universal McCann selected Marin Software because they needed a technology to help them in three core areas:
As part of a smooth onboarding process, Marin’s tracking pixel was deployed. In addition to capturing sales and revenue data, it tracks other key information such as flight origin, destination, and ticket type. Having this additional data at the keyword level is vital for Universal McCann, making it easier to prioritize budget and ensuring high share of voice. This is particularly crucial for high-profit routes in the highly saturated travel vertical where airlines compete with aggregators, meta search engines, and online travel agents.
Marin’s powerful automated bidding is put to great use by Universal McCann, with revenue targets geared toward achieving year-over-year growth in revenue against ever increasing CPCs. Over their 3 years with Marin, Universal McCann has seen continuous improvements in performance and benefitted from innovative new bidding features.
The team at Universal McCann has also realized great time savings on administrative tasks such as reporting, which now takes just half a day per month. With Marin, they are able to make regular udpates to the prices in ad copy – a must, due to the volatile nature of the air travel industry. These changes are easily made with just a few clicks in the Marin user interface, a huge time savings from the previous process of exporting and uploading bulk sheets. All these saved hours are re-invested in strategy, and performance continues to improve year after year.
A big thanks to Universal McCann and American Airlines for being such terrific customers. We’re excited to see your continued growth and success!
For as long as we can remember, the keyword has been the fundamental anchor of the search marketing industry. Through the keyword, search marketers have historically “pulled” customers from the discovery to the consideration phase by trying to map a message (creative) to their search intent (query). Through this process, seasoned search marketers have created massive databases of “intent,” which have allowed them to fine-tune messages and investments based on the “intentions” most likely to drive the ideal ROI.
Intention based marketing through search keywords has been the quintessential strategy in any serious marketer’s toolkit for some time now. But with all it’s benefits, it’s clear to see that the keyword does have its flaws when used in isolation.
While keyword-based marketing tells us a wealth of information about potential intentions, it tells us nothing about the quality or lifetime value of the customer. Is the searcher a current customer or a potential customer? Are they likely to purchase low margin or high margin products? What types of products are they looking for when they come to your website from a branded term? And what is the potential ROI of the searcher one month, six months, two years from now? The search marketing industry has long been seeking a solution to answer these questions, and a way to run search campaigns targeting both intentions and audiences at the same time.
Today, Marin announced Audience Connect, the digital marketing industry’s first ever keyword and audience based marketing solution. Audience Connect is made possible through a partnership with BlueKai, the only independent SaaS solution for data management, analysis and activation in marketing. Through BlueKai, Audience Connect unites advertisers’ first- and third-party audience data with keyword intelligence. It pulls from over 40 thousand attributes of audience data across 400 million profiles, including intent data, demographics, and behavioral insights.
Advertisers can now target more effectively, customize creative and optimize bidding by specific audiences for search campaigns as well as display, video, analytics, native advertising and site optimization. Audience Connect also makes it possible for advertisers to build truly customer-centric programs across all digital marketing channels.
Over the coming months, Marin looks forward to continuing to help our customers reach their ROI objectives while offering them new capabilities through Audience Connect. These include:
For more information on Audience Connect and our BlueKai partnership, please check out our press release.
Based on our analysis of retailers’ search ad performance on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, ad spend, impressions and clicks reached all-time highs, signaling consumers were quite active this last week hunting for the perfect gift at the perfect price
While desktops still captured the lion’s share of impressions, smartphone impressions increased 140% and tablet impressions rose 84%. Smartphones grabbed their highest share of impressions on Thanksgiving Day, hinting that indeed consumers were likely sneaking a peak at their phones while waiting for pumpkin pie or waiting in line for early deals.
Impressions on desktops hit a high on Cyber Monday, probably as consumers returned to work and “multi-tasked.”
Mobile Clicking with Consumers
Click share across devices tell a similar story. Clicks on smartphones increased 68% and tablets 42%, with smartphones capturing 10% more clicks than their tablet counterparts. On Thanksgiving Day, smartphones grabbed 20% of clicks, tablets 17% and desktops 63%. When consumers returned to work on Cyber Monday, the share of clicks on desktops increased, capturing 74% of total clicks. Tablets and smartphones were split at 13% apiece on Cyber Monday.
Retailers Spending to Win
Spend overall was up 27%, but with mobile usage on the rise, especially when shopping in-store and on-the-go, retailers increased their investment in mobile-based ads compared to last year. For the three shopping days, spend on smartphones was up 93% and on tablets 64%. Cyber Monday saw the biggest bump in spend across devices, with retailers increasing spend on smartphones 123%, tablets 77% and desktops 24% compared to Cyber Monday 2012.
The fluctuation in performance across devices and each holiday underscores the impact of a multi-device world on retail advertisers. As consumers take their shopping sessions across devices, advertiser need to ensure they have a presence on each, take into account the differences in consumer behavior on each device, and optimize their campaigns for each form factor to drive more revenue throughout the busy holiday season.
The Marin Global Online Advertising Index is comprised of data from hundreds of large-scale advertisers and agencies that collectively invest more than $5 billion in annualized spend through the Marin platform. The data analyzed by Marin for this snapshot reflects a subset of Marin’s direct and agency clients managing active advertising programs for the retail vertical from 11/26/13 through 12/02/13. All data is accurate as of December 2nd, 2013, but subject to change.
Neil’s Recruitment Co has, for the second year running, successfully mapped out the vast digital marketplace in the form of a nifty starchart. The digital universe is a constellation of digital agencies, specialist firms, media groups, data and tech companies, and more. We’re excited to be part of such an incredible industry and landscape – find us in square E9! It’s a pretty massive map, so click to enlarge and see if you can locate your own company as well.