Marketing Insights
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Posts Tagged ‘trends’

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.

Top 5 Priorities for Marketers in 2015

By January 6th, 2015

As a digital marketer, you’ve likely noticed that the industry has been on a roll, with internet advertising revenues reaching $11.7 billion in the second quarter of 2014 alone – a 14% YoY increase. But with this growth has also come concern. (If you’ve felt some of these effects, you’re not alone.)

To try and understand some of the growing pains, we conducted a survey of over 300 digital marketers to better understand their cross-channel practices and challenges. Respondents were located across the United States and United Kingdom, and represent a diverse array of verticals and marketing job focuses.

According to the survey, better understanding audiences, breaking down siloes, and integrating channels will be the main areas of focus for digital marketers over the next 12-months. The top five priorities ranked are:

1. Creating campaigns based on deeper understanding of audiences (51%)
2. Cross-channel digital marketing (50%)
3. Better integrating online and offline marketing efforts (46%)
4. Better integrating digital marketing disciplines (44%)
5. Investing in more sophisticated technology to gain and act on insights about customers (33%)

Additional priorities cited in our survey include: hiring more people with data analysis skills (33%), programmatic buying of advertising (23%), and gaining more transparency into where digital agencies invest their budget (22%). Marketers also want to develop a deeper understanding of how to digitally market to emerging markets such as Russia, Brazil, China, and other parts of Asia (17%).

Not surprisingly, we found that the problems marketers listed as their biggest challenges aligned closely with their priorities for 2015, suggesting a good handle on the situation and a path forward.

Do you agree with these priorities? Are there any you would add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

To read more insights from our 2015 marketers census, download a copy here.

5 Key Tactics to Unlock Missed Opportunities on Bing

By November 18th, 2014

Today’s sophisticated advertisers know the importance of investing in Bing Ads – they’re a great way to reach over 150 million unique searchers. But even the best advertisers have room to improve. That’s why we’re excited to reveal 5 key tactics to unlock missed opportunities on Bing! Let’s get started…

Tactic #1 – Capitalize on Top-Performing Campaigns

You already have successful campaigns on other publishers, so why not take advantage of these on Bing as well? Consider replicating campaigns that are hitting or exceeding profitability targets, campaigns that are reaching your budget limit, or campaigns that are on the cusp of profitability and could benefit from a reasonable decrease in CPC. If you’re a Marin customer, use the copy tool to quickly and easily clone your campaigns from one publisher to another.

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Tactic #2 – Cash in on Your Best Keywords

Often the keywords you have on Bing do not match up with the keywords you have on other publishers, so it’s worth taking a look at this discrepancy. Moving profitable keywords is a great way to get additional volume in a way that improves overall performance. To do this, identify your top-performing keywords on other publishers and check to see if they’re also on Bing. In Marin, you can again use the copy tool to launch those keywords on Bing.


Tactic #3 – Reconsider Budget Capped Campaigns

Take a look at the Bing campaigns that are hitting your KPIs, and see which of those are also hitting your budget caps. Consider changing your daily budget on those campaigns to expand volume. In Marin, filters make it easy to identify good campaigns for this tactic, and from there you can opt to boost budgets by a dollar amount of percentage increase.


Tactic #4 – Sell More with Sitelinks

If you’re not already using them, sitelinks are a great way to maximize performance on Bing. They take up more real estate in the search engine results so you can push competitors farther down the page, plus they provide a more relevant experience for searchers through deep linking. Finally, sitelinks are known to boost CTR by 10-20%. If you’re using Marin, manage in bulk and use the copy tool to clone sitelinks between campaigns as an easy way to save time and get sitelinks live quickly.

Tactic #5 – Set Up Bing Product Ads

Retailers should try Bing Product Ads as a way to increase visibility, and reach up to 31 million unique consumers who don’t use other search engines. Featuring images of the products you offer, this rich ad type takes consumers directly to a page where they can make a purchase. Additionally, they make it possible to take up more real estate on the search engine results page – even allowing for multiple listings in the form of text ads and Product Ads. Marin’s workflow allows you to manage both ad types in our platform for valuable time-savings.


Looking for additional resources? Read our intelligence report for key data, check out our case study with Sykes Cottages, or if you’re not currently using Bing get started with a $1000 credit.

Winter is Coming! Prepare Your Strategy for the Arctic Blast

By November 11th, 2014

Remember the Polar Vortex that hit in January? Well grab your warmest coat, because forecasters are predicting another bout of frigid temperatures across much of the United States later this week. As the mercury drops and the arctic blast sweeps the country, consumers will be cozying up inside… which has some very real implications for digital marketers.

Let’s take a look at the data from the last Polar Vortex. Marin found that search impression volumes were 1500% higher than historic trends, whereas click volume and spend only increased 268% and 79% respectively. This indicates that consumers weathered out the storm by shopping online, but it also shows that advertisers missed out on a captive audience and failed to fully optimize for the dramatic shift in purchase behavior.

So as people across the country brace for the cold, marketers should be busy preparing too. This is an excellent opportunity to reach holiday shoppers who will be staying indoors. To make sure your online marketing strategy is ready, consider boosting bids for retail and seasonal items. And if you’re using Marin, we recommend leveraging Dynamic Actions or Context Connect to adjust audiences, creative, and bidding across relevant campaigns.

For more ways to capitalize on external information such as weather data, download your copy of The Hidden Power of Optimizing for Competitive Spend, Weather, and the Second Screen Effect. And stay warm out there!

Google Exact and Phrase Match Search: 2-Month Performance Review

By November 7th, 2014

Google rocked the search world this August with the announcement that they were changing the definition of Exact Match and Phrase Match to include close variants of their keywords, such as misspellings or plural variants. This caused a huge uproar from search marketers over the potential effect this could have on their search performance. Almost two months later, were their fears founded? I took a look at our Marin Global Online Advertising Index to see how performance has, or has not, changed over the last month and a half for Google Exact and Phrase Match search.

To start, I looked at click-through rates between August and October for both 2013 and 2014 for Google Exact and Phrase Search. While these searches make up only about 3% of all Google searches, this still means billions of impressions daily. Surprisingly, I found no real change in CTR trends between 2013 and 2014. While there is a small drop the week of the change, this is also mirrored in CTR behavior in 2013 on the same dates.

On the cost-per-click side, we also see very similar trends to 2013. While there is a jump in CPC during mid-September, we see a similar jump in 2013. This coincides with both the beginning of the holiday season sales and back-to-school sales so this is not unexpected. While the jumps were less pronounced this year than last, overall, trends show that this change to Google Exact and Phrase Match search have not affected CTR and CPC significantly, at least not yet.

The 2 Basic Steps for SEM Traffic Forecasting

By November 6th, 2014

In search marketing, the bidding and optimization are fairly standardized across different marketers and agencies. Most search engines and bidding platforms enable users to conduct sophisticated optimizations. But for traffic forecasting, there isn’t an industry standard process. During my 7 years in search, this is the one subject no two marketers can consistently agree on.

Traffic forecasting is important, because accurately assessing the investment and performance potential could help set the appropriate expectation between different stakeholders. Secondly, it almost always needs to be determined weeks if not months ahead of the activity, in order for the clients or other budget providers to procure. Lastly, in a large agency environment with multi-channel campaigns, having an accurate SEM budget forecast allows different media teams to allocate the right relative investment and create the most optimal media mix.

In addition, most marketers have the resources to do it. But sometimes, important factors are left out of the process. In a large multi-million dollar per quarter campaign, missing a key factor during forecasting could lead to a large absolute deviation.

For me, the forecasting process should include two steps. The first is to project what you could spend, by estimating the full market capacity. The second is to define what you should spend.

Step 1

To estimate market capacity, you need three factors: historical performance, historical Share of Impressions, and the projected change in search volume.

  • Historical performance: it’s the foundation on which other factors could modify. On a basic level, you could start with spend and clicks. If needed you could also add in other metrics like conversions.
  • Historical share of impressions (also coverage or share of Voice): it is the percentage of one advertiser’s earned impressions among all possible impressions, for a defined set a queries. Past Share of Impressions is what calibrates between what we have achieved and what we could at full capacity. In our case example, I have highlighted historical performance and share of impressions. Based on these, I’m able to assess the full market capacity. But it’s not yet complete.

  • Projected change in search volume: this information could help you further calibrate you forecast, but in the temporal dimension. The projected change should comprise of Seasonality and Trend. Seasonality is defined as the repetitive and predictable fluctuation in the volume and pattern of behaviors, such as search impressions, in intervals of days, weeks, months or quarters. Trend on the other hand is exclusively non-repetitive changes. An example of seasonality is the demand for allergy medications, which peaks every springs and falls. An example of trend is the search demand for Blu-ray DVD, which has declined over the years. To project search demand, I usually use Google Trends and other industry information, to review historical patterns and to extrapolate future changes. In our case example, I project a 15% increase in search traffic Year-Over-Year. Now the first two data columns show a different set of spend and click data.

Step 2

Now we have estimated the 2014 traffic at full capacity, we move onto the question of how much we should spend. In this step, we need two new factors: Internal KPI/goal.

  • KPI/Goal: defining a KPI and setting a goal refines the forecast from what’s possible to what’s reasonable. The goal can be a number of metrics such as impressions, sales, CPC, CPA. In our case example, we have a CPC goal of $0.50.
  • Desired future Share of impressions: This is the lever that determines the equilibrium between maximum engagements and staying within the goal. In our case, we know campaign B has a CPC lower than goal, so we should prioritize budget allocation at 100%. Next, we try a few different SOVs for Campaign A. But at the end, a SOV of 8% help us reach a Total CPC of $0.50.

Using this methodology, you’ll be able to forecast accurately and set the appropriate expectations across all stakeholders!

About the Author

Cong Picture 2Cong is a Paid Search & Paid Social Director at GroupM, leading the efforts across multiple clients and publishers. She’s responsible for driving market and performance analysis, SEM strategy, digital best practices and processes. Her industry experience spans across consumer electronics, pharmaceutical, consumer logistics, B2B technology, auto, finance, travel, and education.

Cong graduated from Swarthmore College, where she studied economics, statistics, and philosophy, after a short stint in Engineering. Before SEM took over her life, she sang in an Acapella group and enjoyed flamenco dancing. In August 2013 she climbed Indonesia’s most active volcano, Mount Merapi, and fortunately, it did not erupt that day.

Now Trending: Consumers Browse Bing for B2B Services

By October 21st, 2014

Historically, Bing has always been the primary contender when it comes to search engine share in the US. However, this Q3 we saw a significant benchmark for Bing where it had overtaken Google in impression share. In the B2B services vertical, Bing edged past Google, capturing 52% to Google’s 48% in the US.

Bing’s impression share for the B2B services vertical has always hovered closer to parity than other verticals, with 44% of all impressions last quarter, but this is the first quarter we’ve seen it overtake Google.

What does this mean for advertisers?

While it could be a fluke, it also signals a change in consumer behavior. The target audience of B2B advertisers has begun searching slightly more on Bing than Google, at least in Q3. This could be due to a few different factors:

  1. 1. The demographic of people searching for B2B services skews more towards Bing, which has always had an older audience, and are perhaps further along in their careers than the average Google user.
  2. 2. The amount of research needed before a purchase decision is made is high for the B2B services industry. It makes sense that the consumer would weigh his or her options and do their homework before any decisions are made. All this adds up to a lot of impressions, and particularly, Bing impressions.

What we don’t see is a corresponding percentage of spend and clicks on Bing. Advertisers have yet to adjust for this slow shift away from Google towards Bing and there is an opportunity for a B2B marketer to capture cheap clicks by shifting some share of ad budget away from Google towards Bing.

Do you have any additional thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below to continue the conversation.

Google vs. Bing: A Review of Click & Spend Share

By October 7th, 2014

While Google has long been (and still remains) the dominant search engine in the US market, there are signs that Bing is becoming more of a contender – at least in a few key verticals. Due to our curious nature, we decided to examine Google vs Bing US data over the last five quarters to see how much headway Bing has made in capturing click and spend share.

From our data gathering, we were able to see three verticals that have seen significant gains in click share since Q2 2013: B2B services, healthcare, and travel. While other verticals have seen minor fluctuations, we saw click share grow by at least 10% for these three verticals, compared to an average of 4%. In addition, we saw at least 12% spend share growth for these three industries, versus an overall spend share growth of 4% year over year.

Why is this happening?

It could be for a variety of reasons. One, Bing’s users have always skewed older than Google’s, favoring 35 and up, and especially 55-64 year olds. From this, we can infer that these users would show more interest in these three verticals than Google’s. As the economy picks up, it also makes sense that Bing’s user-base would be searching and clicking more often on ads within these verticals than on Google. People searching for B2B services would exclude a large audience of students and junior employees, who are more likely Google users. With the Affordable Care Act in play, we can surmise that the large jump in healthcare clicks is, again, an older user-base searching for information and signing up in the middle of this period, causing a sharp increase in Bing healthcare click-share. Similarly, travel may be more affordable to those with disposable income further in their careers, or heads of households, who are more likely to use Bing. In addition, these three verticals cover topics that require extensive research before a purchase decision is made, which may show that online searchers are going across multiple search platforms to do thorough research before any decisions.

What do YOU think? Feel free to leave a comment below to continue the Google vs Bing conversation.

Search & Social Score Big at World Cup

By June 30th, 2014

If your office is anything like ours, you’ve been tuning in for some very exciting World Cup games. We’ve seen crazy fans, incredible level of play, and even an unfortunate chomp to the shoulder. Through all this, hopefully you’ve been paying attention to your digital strategy, because it turns out that the World Cup has had a huge impact on consumer behavior. Let’s take a closer look…


  • There are already more social media posts about the 2014 World Cup than the 2010 World Cup. Pretty crazy, considering this milestone was achieved even before the group stage actually began.
  • Facebook CTR increased over 300% when compared to the same period last year, signaling increased engagement and targeted ads.
  • Facebook CPC has also been trending upwards, growing 11% since the beginning of the month when compared to May 2014. During the same period last year, CPC actually fell between May and June.

Twitter hashtag flags


  • Search CTR has increased by 22% since the World Cup started. This is in stark contrast to May and June of 2013, when CTR actually dropped.
  • CPC has also gone up 9.5%, with increased competition to capture consumer interest during event. CPC remained constant in May and June of last year.

Google World Cup doodle

Once the tournament moves to the single-elimination stage, there’s no doubt that more and more eyes will be on the screen. We’ll all be searching and posting as we wait to see who will become the next world champion!

Paid Search Worthless? The Other Side of the Coin.

By June 17th, 2014

There’s been some new stories recently about a report eBay did last year claiming that paid search for large brands was pretty much worthless. Many of these stories are focused on the fact that online advertising is not living up to its promise. Obviously this caught my eye because I oversaw digital marketing for eBay – a team of over 300 people back in the day when we built our own systems. This was a question we constantly studied in a number of different ways during my 5 year tenure in the role. We even tested it more explicitly by completing turning off Google for over 10 days during eBay live back in 2007. 🙂

This quote stood out from the study: “We find that SEM accounted for a statistically significant increase in new registered users and purchases made by users who bought only one or two items the year before. For consumers who bought more frequently, SEM does not have a significant effect on their purchasing behavior. We calculate that the short-term returns on investment for SEM were negative because more frequent eBay shoppers are accountable for most of paid search sales.”

It is important to keep in mind every advertiser on paid search is not like eBay. In fact, very few businesses in the world enjoy the brand awareness and penetration eBay does. However, there are two other factors to keep in mind when looking at this data.
1) The importance of understanding user acquisition and CLV? Too often search marketers get the value of the transaction and not on the value of the acquired user. Notice the part of the statement above that discusses new users. It is important to understand that paid search is a great acquisition channel. When considering the ROI of your advertising spend it is important to attribute some percentage of the Customer Lifetime Value to the acquisition channel. We did that very early on at eBay and it had a large impact on our ROI. This was the right move. However, a company the size of eBay has less Americans to acquire and more of the paid search activity becomes retention related. It is at this point that pure transaction value may not meet certain ROI hurdles when compared to other channels.

2) Search now has a way to solve the retention vs. acquisition problem? With the recent introduction of Audience buying in search through Google’s RLSA feature, this problem can now be solved. Google and companies like Marin allow you to create audience segments for search and adjust bidding and creative appropriately. In the case mentioned above, create a segment for “frequent ebay shoppers” and bid appropriately. We have customers at Marin who create segments for loyal users and choose to bid them down in search knowing that they will find their site directly or through some other organic channel like SEO. This approach can be applied rather simply to brand terms and then you can expand it from there. I know eBay has the capability to identify these users very easily. If you don’t want to risk abandoning your brand terms for fear of competition, you might want to change the creative to take advantage of an upsell opportunity. In the case of eBay, I know the CLV of an eBay user increases when they buy in more than one category. You could go so far as segment frequent users per category and only show them ads when they are looking for something outside of their normal category of purchase. There are many ways to break down this challenge to drive more efficiency in your advertising spend.

Back to the promise of online advertising. It’s alive and well. The same tools and techniques that made search advertising such a promising medium have been transferred to other channels. Advertisers now have the ability to combine the intent data of search with the audience data from various sources to move us closer to the goal of true personalization in advertising. While we don’t quite have the ability to fully solve Wannamaker’s conundrum, I feel we are getting closer every day.