Posts Tagged ‘trends’

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.

Who’s your Dadi? Marin Software & MoneySupermarket Win at Industry Awards

By October 3rd, 2014

Marin Software’s team in the UK has had a good start to October. The big news was our victory at The Dadi awards run by The Drum on October 1st. We were delighted to partner up with our client, MoneySupermarket, and win the award for “Use of Paid Search (PPC)”. The entry highlighted how MoneySupermarket took advantage of Marin’s open platform to integrate best-of-breed platforms and optimize search marketing using audience data, as described in this case study.

This is the second time this work has been recognized after it was awarded the “Best Use of Search – Finance” award at the European Search Awards earlier this year; the team at MoneySupermarket and the Marin Software team who worked on the account should be very proud! Congratulations to all our clients who also won at the Dadi’s. On top of this awards win, we also picked up a nomination for “Best PPC Management Software” at the UK Search Awards, which will take place later this year, cementing Marin Software’s position as a leader in the UK market.

Finally, we also spent a great couple of days over in Istanbul, Turkey where we were speaking and exhibiting at Webit Congress, a leading tech and online advertising summit in Eastern Europe. It was great to be there along with our new partner, Yandex, and a number of other leaders in the online advertising space exploring the trends in the Eastern European online advertising market. There are a number of thriving ecommerce brands and digital advertising agencies using online advertising in very interesting ways.

Jon Myers from Marin Software presented his thoughts on search and social integration from our white paper during the conference, and with Turkey having Europe’s highest Facebook penetration in terms of the percentage of the population with an account there was a lot of interest in the topic. We also spoke to a lot of advertisers interested in integrating Customer Lifetime Value into their online advertising optimization and shared some of the thoughts from our recent white paper on the topic. All in all, it was a very well organized conference with some great speakers so congratulations to the team at Webit!

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.

6 Reasons You Should Pay More Attention to Mobile

By June 11th, 2014

Back in March of this year, we predicted that mobile was on pace to surpass desktop paid search on Google by the end of 2015. Tablet conversion rate has already exceeded that of desktop, and mobile adoption and engagement continues to grow.

The pie charts above, taken from the Marin Global Online Advertising Index at the conclusion of Q1, show that marketers have yet to catch up to the growth of this increasingly important medium. Take the US for example – click share on desktop was only 64%, yet spend share was significantly higher at 73%.

Still trying to get buy-in for greater investment in your mobile programs? Here are some stats you’ll want to know:

  • 93% of people who use mobile research go on to complete a purchase of a product or service. Most of these purchases happen in physical stores. (Source: Google)
  • 55% of consumers using mobile to research want to purchase within the hour. (Source: Nielsen & Google)
  • 86% of US smartphone users say they use their devices as second-screens while watching TV. (Source: Nielsen)
  • The average US consumer spends 34 hours and 17 minutes using browsers/apps on a smartphone per month. (Source: Nielsen)
  • eMarketer predicts that by the end of 2014, 1.76 billion people will own and use smartphones monthly, up more than 25% over 2013. (Source: eMarketer)
  • Facebook ranks as the top mobile app, reaching 74.1% of the app audience in April 2014. (Source: comScore)

As marketers catch on to mobile, there is still some low-hanging fruit. For example, be sure to provide your customers with a good mobile experience. Don’t send them to a brick-and-mortar store if there’s no inventory for the product they’re searching for. Consider whether you’d be better off providing a mobile browser or an in-app experience. And always provide immediately helpful sitelinks.

Looking for more mobile data or best practices? Check out our previous blog post 3 Tips Every Mobile Marketer Should Know, or click over to our Benchmark Report: Mobile Search Advertising Around the Globe.

All About Ad Types

By May 28th, 2014

Marketers now have a dizzying array of advertising options at their disposal across all channels. There are search ads, Google PLAs, Bing Product Ads, News Feed Ads, Promoted Posts, Sponsored Stories, Promoted Pins, Promoted Tweets and Trends, banner ads, display ads, remarketing, retargeting, mobile, in-game, in-app, Reddit sponsored links, Gmail ads, video ads, and the list goes on…

While some of these are more established and mainstream than others, it’s always a good idea to keep new ad types and formats on your radar. Here’s a quick look at 4 clever types – old and new – that advertisers are currently having success with:

Pinterest - Promoted Pins

Pinterest started testing Promoted Pins in late 2013. They look just like regular pins, but with a special “promoted” label. About a dozen brands are participating in the beta including Old Navy, Target, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, ABC Family, Expedia and more. Pinterest promises Promoted Pins will be tasteful and relevant to users’ interests.

Pinterest Promoted Pins

Tumblr - Sponsored Posts

Tumblr sponsored posts come in many varieties – mobile, web, Radar, and Spotlight. Companies can choose to use static images, GIFs, videos, or audio. These formats are highly engaging with a long shelf life. Sponsored content is noted with a small dollar sign icon at the top right of the post.

Tumblr Promoted Post

Facebook - News Feed

Facebook has provided advertising offerings since 2004, but in late 2012 they introduced a truly effective format – News Feed ads. On average, Facebook News Feed ads have a click-through rate 44x higher and a conversion rate 5x higher than right-side ads. This format has made for a more enjoyable user experience, on both desktop and mobile.

Facebook Mobile News Feed Ad

BuzzFeed - Promotion & Story Units

Advertisers on this social news and entertainment site frequently sponsor fun BuzzFeed stories and lists. Relevance is high and the content is ripe for social sharing. Popular sponsored lists have included “20 Things That Affirm Led Zeppelin Is The Greatest Band To Ever Exist” sponsored by Spotify, and ”10 Reasons To Be Insanely Excited For Season Three of ‘Girls’” sponsored by HBO.

BuzzFeed Advertising

Are you testing out any of these formats? Let us know how it’s going in the comments!

#MarinMasters NY 2014 Streamcap

By April 15th, 2014

Last week, we were proud to host another engaging Marin Masters in NYC! Customers and partners gathered to network, share insights, and take in presentations from some of today’s top digital marketers. A big thanks to everyone who attended, and here’s a transcribed streamcap in case you missed it (#MarinMasters on Twitter):

The Marin Vision: Turning Complexity into Opportunity 
Matt Ackley, CMO, Marin Software

Customer Targeting and Optimization in Action
Cameron Urry, Senior Interactive Marketing Manager at Extra Space Storage

Audience Targeting and Building a Database of Intent
Molly Parr, Director of Product Marketing at BlueKai

Deconstructing Digital Daily Habits: A Deeper Understanding of How Gen Y/Z Affects Online Advertising
Edwin Wong, Senior Director of B2B Strategic Research & Insights at Yahoo!

Attribution & Optimization Techniques for Multi-Channel Success 
Panelists: Matej Horava – Head of Partnerships at LiveRamp, Paul Pellman – CEO of Adometry, David Greenbaum – CEO of Boost Media

Mobile Audience Targeting
Cathy Boyle, Senior Analyst of Mobile at eMarketer, Inc.

Combining Search & Social: The Performance Marketing Multiplier
Dan Morris – Senior Product Marketing Manager, Marin Software

The Digital Transformation of an Industry Vertical
Brian Long, Senior Manager of Performance Marketing at AutoTrader and Ian MacDonald, Senior Manager and Director of Consumer Marketing at AutoTrader

Fireside Chat
Chris Lien, CEO of Marin Software and Melissa Esmundo, VP of Marketing at Though Mudder

  • Got the faux fire going for our fireside chat with Marin CEO and Tough Mudder’s Melissa Esmundo #marinmasters
  • Internationally, Tough Mudder uses a lot of Display advertising since social and search channels more fragmented #marinmasters
  • Interesting marketing tactics from @ToughMudder to drive obstacle course event sign ups. #MarinMasters #measure - Paul Pellman (@ppellman)
  • @mesmundo Story telling & content narrative campaigns start in fall in “off season.” Move into direct with start of season #marinmasters
  • @mesmundo Better mobile experience and better mobile optimization drove 40% increase in engagement on mobile #marinmasters
  • @mesmundo Build awareness over social leveraging iconic images. Constant changing landscape of mobile a challenge #marinmasters
  • @mesmundo Conversion process starts early with educating consumers what a Tough Mudder event is. Starts with Social. #marinmasters
  • #marinmasters – brought to you by Melissa Esmundo Senior VP Marketing, Tough Mudder – “the mo moment” understanding the mobile experience- Ken Solano (@kensolo_2345)

Miscellaneous Fun

3 Key Trends From SES London 2014

By February 18th, 2014

Last week, the Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference wheeled its way into London. Marin was heavily involved across the three-day conference with Clive Morris, Matt Ackley and Jon Myers speaking in multiple sessions. I just wanted to wrap up three key trends from across the show:

1) The Rise of PLAs

As our white paper The State of Google Shopping found, there is no stopping the growth of Product Listing Ads (PLAs) in the e-commerce industry. Chris Howard, Head of Digital at Shop Direct Group, said that PLAs are one reason why paid search is interesting again. He also mentioned that they generate better ROI for retailers than traditional PPC.

Brendan Almack and Alan Coleman at Wolfgang Digital ran a great session, diving into detail on PLAs. They shared these useful insights:

  • We process images 60,000 times faster than text (study by 3M), so it makes sense that we now have far more visual search results with image extensions and PLAs.
  • When PLAs and search are run in combination, the performance doubles, possibly because users who see multiple ads view the brand as more established.
  • PLA CPCs increased by 70 percent in Q4 of 2013 due to advertiser competition.
  • If your pricing is not competitive for a particular product, don’t use PLAs for that product.
  • Make use of AdWords labels in your feed to label things like profit margin and sale items. This way you can bid accordingly and target your PLAs to gain competitive advantage.
  • Google introduced PLAs to become more like a comparison engine and, as a result, more product related searches are being conducted. 

2) Audience Data in Search

With SERPs becoming more personalized and advertisers increasingly targeting people – not keywords or positions – we talked a lot about how audiences and audience data can be integrated into both paid and organic search.

Ian Carrington, Director of Performance, Northern and Central Europe at Google introduced Retargeting Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) into the conversation during the very first session on day one of SES London. Ian recommended using RLSA remarketing if you want cheaper CPAs and increased conversions, which is a no-brainer for most advertisers.

Marin Software’s Matt Ackley and Jon Myers both suggested that audience data is the next frontier in search. In reference to our recent integration with BlueKai, both said it’s essential to understand and utilize audience data, because it will make your PPC more strategic. Matt also speculated that Google could eventually use its own user data to bring audience targeting and analytics even further into paid search. For example, you might have the ability to adjust bids for searchers with different incomes and family sizes.

3) Context Increasingly Plays a Role in Search

With recent algorithm updates across paid and natural search, the impact of context on search was a also hot topic. Matt Ackley talked about how context is going to become more integrated with search, for example by integrating weather forecasts to adjust your bidding strategy.

Allistair Dent, Director of Paid Media at Periscopix, agreed saying that Google AdWords new features will use the enhanced campaigns structure, where context is just as important as keywords and other targeting. He suggested blending contextual items together to make decisions about your audience. For example, if a user is searching for your brand near your store, then you can send them to a special local-focused landing page.

Were you at SES London? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments!

Global Ecommerce Sales Exceed $1 Trillion for the First Time In 2012

By February 11th, 2013

In today’s tech-savvy world, consumers are increasingly shifting their media time away from traditional channels such as television, print, and radio, towards the emerging digital channels of search, social, video, and mobile. Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses are seeing customers take to the web thanks to the convenience, selection, and price-transparency of ecommerce. Consequently, the battle for revenue is experiencing a seismic shift and marketers are increasingly allocating their investments towards these emerging digital channels.

The research firm eMarketer estimates that global B2C online sales grew 21 percent last year to $1.09 trillion, the first time sales have topped $1 trillion. The US ecommerce industry chipped in $365 billion and eMarketer expects that amount to grow to $409 billion in 2013. With the average sales per US consumer reaching $2,466 this year among those who purchase goods online, advertisers are seeking more efficient and effective ways to reach their audience.

eMarketer Top 5 B2C Ecommerce Sales

Following suit, a new Strata survey found that nearly one-third of ad agencies expect to spend more on digital advertising than on traditional media within the next three years—indicating that digital media may eclipse traditional advertising in the near future.

“Focusing on revenue acquisition is an absolute necessity to thrive in today’s digital marketing landscape.” – Linda Harjono, Senior Manager of Search, Symantec

To win the battle for revenue, smart marketers are breaking away from their competition and overcoming the challenges of a highly complex and data-driven digital landscape with Revenue Acquisition Management (RAM)—an emerging category of technologies that enable advertisers to improve revenue outcomes and return on investments from digital advertising. RAM solutions allow marketers to manage digital advertising across multiple channels, publisher, geographies, languages, and devices; providing them with complete visibility and control over their programs and enabling them to optimize their digital advertising to meet desired revenue goals.

Compelling Trends from Marin’s 2012 Q1 Report

By April 13th, 2012

Marin is proud to announce the release of our 2012 Q1 online advertising report. This report, which identifies significant year-over-year paid search trends, was compiled using data from over 1,500 advertisers and agencies who invest over $3.5 billion annually in online advertising through Marin.

At a glance, our study revealed an increase in click-through-rate (CTR), with cost-per-click (CPC) remained relatively steady. More specifically, we found a significant increase in CTR and a drop in CPC on Google. Some of our key findings include:

  • 46% increase in Google click volume
  • 14% increase in CTR on Google
  • 4% increase in the share of clicks coming from Exact match

Q1 2012 Industry Click Through Rates










So what does all this mean? The increase in CTR coupled with a 12% lower CPC points to Marin users increasing their efficiency on Google. This finding is further validated by the increased usage of exact and phrase match type keywords, as users continue to identify and fill gaps using Marin’s keyword expansion tools.

Q1 2012 Click Share by Device











Device targeting, specifically smart phones and tablets, continues to soar in popularity. Increases in click volume give evidence of the growth in consumer adoption. With smart phones and tablets showing higher CTRs and lower CPCs compared to desktops, mobile search should continue to be top of mind for advertisers.

Want to see other Q1 industry trends from 2012 with our recommendations? Download the full report here.

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