Tag Archives: PPC

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10 PPC Copywriting Best Practices for Extra Effective Text Ads by @AdamHeitzman

Get more clicks on your paid search ads by applying these 10 PPC copywriting best practices.

The post 10 PPC Copywriting Best Practices for Extra Effective Text Ads by @AdamHeitzman appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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5 advanced Google AdWords features to enhance your PPC

Google AdWords is a highly effective marketing channel for brands to engage with customers.

The auction-based pay-per-click (PPC) model has revolutionized the advertising industry, but beneath the seductive simplicity of this input-output relationship lies a highly sophisticated technology.

Within this article, we round up five advanced features that can help you gain that vital competitive advantage.

Google AdWords has undergone a host of changes over the past 12 months, some cosmetic and some functional. Google’s prime revenue-driver has a new, intuitive look and feel that makes it even easier for marketers to assess performance and spot new opportunities.Under the hood, AdWords is home to some increasingly sophisticated machine learning technology. Everything from bid adjustments to audience behavior and even search intent is now anlyzed by machine learning algorithms to improve ad targeting and performance.

All of this is changing how we run search campaigns, largely for the better.

Meanwhile, there are broad trends that continue to converge with search. Voice-activated digital assistants, visual search, and the ongoing growth of ecommerce all center around Google’s search engine.

At the intersection of Google and these emerging trends, paid search will evolve and new ways to reach audiences will arise.

Though this future-gazing reveals just how exciting the industry is, marketers also need to keep one eye firmly on the present.

As it stands, AdWords provides a vast array of features, all of which can impact campaign performance. Though automation is taking over more aspects of the day-to-day running of an account, there is arguably more need than ever before for seasoned paid search experts how know how to get the most out of the platform.

Below are five advanced AdWords features that can boost any PPC campaign.

Demographic targeting

For all of AdWords’ virtues, it has not been able to rival Facebook in terms of sheer quantity of demographic targeting options.

As part of Google’s ongoing shift from a keyword focus to a customer-centric approach, demographic targeting has improved very significantly.

This feature now allows advertisers to target customers by income and parental status, along with gender and age. Targeting by income is only available for video advertising and is restricted to the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand for the moment.

Nonetheless, this is a noteworthy update and provides an advanced feature that many brand will welcome.

The available options now include:

Demographic targeting for Search, Display or Video campaigns:

  • Age: “18-24,” “25-34,” “35-44,” “45-54,” “55-64,” “65 or more,” and “Unknown”
  • Gender: “Female,” “Male,” and “Unknown”

Demographic targeting for Display or Video campaigns can include:

  • Parental status: “Parent,” “Not a parent,” and “Unknown”

Demographic targeting for Video campaigns can include:

  • Household income (currently available in the U.S., Japan, Australia, and New Zealand only): “Top 10%,” “11-20%,” “21-30%,” “31-40%,” “41-50%,” “Lower 50%,” and “Unknown”

Combined with the improved user interface, this can lead to some illuminating reports that highlight more detail about audiences than we have ever seen in this platform.

It’s not perfect yet and has some drawbacks in practice, as creating audiences can be quite labor-intensive when combining different filters. Nonetheless, demographic targeting is improving and will be an area of focus for Google this year.

Our previous article on demographic targeting goes into more detail on how to set this feature up.

Click-to-call

A very natural byproduct of the increase in mobile searches has been an explosion in the number of calls attributed to paid search.

In fact, BIA/Kelsey projects that there will be 162 billion calls to businesses from smartphones by 2019.

5 advanced Google AdWords features to enhance your PPC

Search forms a fundamental part of this brand-consumer relationship, so businesses are understandably keen to ensure they are set up to capitalize on such heightened demand.

Click-to-call can be an overlooked opportunity, as it does require a little bit of setup. If advertisers want to add call extensions, report specifically on this activity, and even schedule when these extensions appear, it is necessary to do this manually within AdWords.

5 advanced Google AdWords features to enhance your PPC

Helpfully, it is now possible to enable call extensions across an account, simplfying what was once a cumbersome undertaking.

This is becoming an automated process in some aspects, whereby Google will identify landing pages that contain a phone number and generate call extensions using this information. However, some manual input will be required to get the most out of this feature.

Our step-by-step guide contains a range of handy tips for marketers who woud like to enable click-to-call campaigns.

Optimized ad rotation

Google made some very notable changes to its ad rotation settings in the second half of 2017.

In essence, ad rotation constantly tests different ad variations to find the optimal version for your audience and campaign KPIs.

Google’s machine learning technology is a natural fit for such a task, so it is no surprise that Google wants to take much of the ad rotation process out of the hands of advertisers and turn it into a slick, automated feature.

Perhaps this focus on the machine learning side of things has led advertisers to beleive that the process now requires no input from them.

A recent study by Marin Software across their very sizeable client base found that many ad groups contain fewer than three creatives:

5 advanced Google AdWords features to enhance your PPC

This is very significant, as Google recommends providing at least three ads in every ad group. Their official stance is, “The more of your ads our system can choose from, the better the expected ad performance.”

Creating a range of ads provides the resources Google needs to run statistically significant tests. No matter how sophisticated the machine learning algorithms are, with only one or two ads in each group there is very little they can do to improve performance.

There is a broader lesson to be taken here, beyond just getting the most out of this AdWords feature.

Even the most advanced technology requires the right quantity and quality of inputs. Although more and more elements of AdWords management can be automated, this doesn’t mean we can leave the machines to their own devices.

There are plentiful best practices that we still need to follow. Optimizing your ad rotation by including at least three ads in each group certainly counts as one of these.

Custom intent audiences

Google is clearly making a play for more of the traditionally ‘top of funnel’ marketing approaches.

The launch of more granular custom intent audiences with the Google Display Network is part of a wider strategy to take on the likes of Facebook by providing greater control over target audiences.

Google’s guidelines provide clear definition over how this recently launched feature works:

For Display campaigns, you can create a custom intent audience using in-market keywords – simply entering keywords and URLs related to products and services your ideal audience is researching across sites and apps.

In-market keywords (Display campaigns)

  • Enter keywords, URLs, apps or YouTube content to reach an online audience that’s actively researching a related product or service.
  • It’s best practice to add keywords and URLs (ideally 15 total) that fit a common theme to help AdWords understand your ideal audience.
  • Avoid entering URLs that require people to sign in, such as social media or email services.
  • Include keywords related to the products and services that this audience is researching; these will be used as the focal point for building the custom intent audience.

Custom intent audiences: Auto-created (Display campaigns)

To make finding the right people easy, Google uses machine learning technology to analyse your existing campaigns and auto-create custom intent audiences. These audiences are based on the most common keywords and URLs found in content that people browse while researching a given product or service.

For example, insights from existing campaigns may show that people who’ve visited a sporting goods website have also actively researched all-weather running shoes. AdWords may then auto-create a new ‘waterproof trail running shoes’ custom intent audience to simplify the process of reaching this niche segment of customers.

Once more, we see the addition of machine learning into a core Google product.

These automated audience lists are generated based on activity across all of your Google marketing channels, including YouTube and Universal App Campaigns, along with Search and the Google Display Network.

Although this does not yet provide the level of targeting that Facebook can offer, custom intent audiences do dramatically improve the product and they move Google closer to a truly customer-centric approach.

Sophisticated advertisers will find thata this advanced feature improves performance for both prospecting and remarketing.

Smart bidding

Smart bidding has some crossover with the other AdWords features on our list. In a nutshell, smart bidding uses machine learning to asses the relationships between a range of variables and improve performance through the AdWords auction.

It is capable of optimizing bids to ensure the best possible return on investment against the advertiser’s target KPIs. Smart bidding does this by looking at the context surrounding bids and isolating the factors that have historically led to specific outcomes. Based on this knowledge, it can automatically bid at the right level to hit the advertiser’s campaign targets.

These targets can be set based on a target CPA (cost per acquisition), ROAS (return on ad spend), or CPC (cost per click).

The latest option available to brands is named ‘maximize conversions’ and this will seek to gain the optial number of conversions (whatver those may be for the brand in question) against their set budge.

As we have noted already, these algorithms require substantial amounts of data, so this is a feature best used by this with an accrual of historical AdWords performance data.

Smart bidding is also not quite a ‘set and forget’ bidding strategy. Some marketers will still prefer the control of manual bidding and it would be fair to say that smart bidding levels the playing field somewhat across all advertisers.

Nonetheless, it is a hugely powerful AdWords feature and can create multiple account performance efficiencies.

Google provides some thorough detail on smart bidding on the Google Support blog.

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Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

PPC data can be overwhelming. The more you dive into it, the more complicated it can get.

And when creating a PPC report to present your campaign results to others at your company, you need your data to be as easy to understand as possible.

What’s most important when putting together your first PPC report is to understand why you are adding the specific data points to your report. That’s why you need a PPC report that fits your goals and the KPIs that you want to measure. 

A PPC report needs to reflect your goals to ensure that you’re measuring what matters most to your business.

Here are four steps to follow that will guide you through the process of creating your PPC report, and some examples of templates that you can use as a basis for your report.

1) Decide on your objectives

The first step to creating your own PPC report is to agree on the company’s objectives for a paid search campaign. By understanding what the company wants to achieve through future campaigns, you are able to create a useful report that only focuses on the most important metrics.

For example, if your company wants to increase awareness through ads, then you will probably want to focus on metrics like reach and impressions. However, if your company is looking for new clients, then you’ll want to measure conversions and how much acquiring them will cost.

Every graph or table that you’re adding to your report should be directly relevant to the goals you’ve set and whether they have been met.

By aligning company objectives with your report, you will be able to present a relevant report that will facilitate your reporting during the campaign. It will also help your stakeholders to understand how your work contributes to the objectives that have been set.

A good idea is to add a summary or an overview of your report to highlight the objectives and whether you were able to meet them as part of your work. This is the best way to measure the success of a campaign, but also to prove how your work contributes to the company’s overall success.

2) Find your key metrics

This is the most important step when creating a PPC report. It’s time to add the metrics that matter most to your business in your report. It’s good to remember that not everyone has the same experience with you in the realm of PPC, so try to strike a balance between your technical knowledge and a more general report that makes sense to your stakeholders.

You need to include metrics that will reflect your key objective in a clear and structured way.

In general, the most common metrics that a PPC report includes are:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Cost
  • Conversions
  • Cost per conversion
  • Ad performance
  • Keyword performance

Moreover, if you’re running different campaigns, you need to provide the metrics that will measure their performance:

  • Overall campaign metrics
  • Cost per campaign
  • Device performance
  • Channel performance
  • Best performing ads and keywords
  • Lessons learned for future campaigns

In addition to these, if you’re creating a report that goes beyond the past month, you can also include:

  • Month-over-month data (change in conversions, impressions, clicks, etc)
  • What worked (and what didn’t work)
  • Lessons learned
  • Benchmarking to compare the success of your work

In general, your stakeholders will want to know:

  • The overall PPC performance
  • How your work has contributed to an increased awareness
  • How many conversions you’ve generated
  • The cost for each conversion
  • What worked and what didn’t
  • Your next steps towards meeting more objectives

Add context to your data

A PPC report is not just a series of metrics all added in one spreadsheet. You need to make sure that the metrics are presented in a way that makes sense to everyone.

It’s the time to add context to the metrics that you’re going to focus on. This procedure will help you understand whether your PPC work has been successful, but also on how to present the results to the stakeholders. It helps you simplify the data to the extent that you’ll be able to explain it to everyone.

A good way to explain your data is to provide answers to these questions:

  • What are the goals of your PPC ads?
  • What changed from this period to what you were doing before?
  • How many campaigns did you create?
  • What were the results of each campaign?
  • How would you summarize the metrics?
  • Has there been a positive or negative change in the results?
  • Did you try anything different this time?
  • What’s next for your PPC work?

The answers to these questions will make your data more relevant and your report more appealing.

Create a template for your PPC report

Creating your own PPC report template can be helpful for two main reasons:

  • Efficiency: Once your report template is set up, you can use to quickly create new PPC reports without having to start from scratch each time.
  • Customization: By creating your own template, you can explain the data in the way that is more relevant to your business.

Here are some templates that could serve as useful examples for different types of PPC report:

Monthly PPC report

This is a quick way to create an appealing monthly PPC report that fits many companies and they way they present their PPC performance.

Source: Wordstream

Monthly high-level PPC report

If you want a different approach in the way you’re presenting your PPC data, then this template can make your analysis more visual while focusing on the high level data.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Supermetrics

In-depth PPC report

A PPC report can become more detailed through a series of graphs and data that offer additional insights. This is an example of a report that can offer a further analysis to your PPC work for anyone interested in diving into more details.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Supermetrics

Monthly campaign report

This is a good way to present your monthly metrics when it comes to PPC campaigns. It’s an overview of the performance with all the data that will explain its success.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Shimon Sandler

Monthly PPC report focusing on conversions

If you’re looking for a quick PPC report that provides an overview of the month while focusing on conversions, then this template can give you an idea of the data that you’ll need to include. It also serves as a good example of the visual representation that you can add to the data.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: ByDataBeDriven

AdWords comparison report

This is a sample AdWords report that focuses on comparisons and trends. It provides a historical performance overview along with further details on month-over-month and year-over-year comparisons. This is a useful way to present your work in longer periods, especially when you’re trying to prove how PPC can contribute to the wider business goals.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Jumpfly

Overview

Remember, a good PPC report tells a story in a way that everyone can understand. This will make your job easier and your work more visible.

Creating a template for your PPC reports can make your work more efficient and your stakeholders happier. There’s no such thing as the perfect template, but you can build a spreadsheet that works best for your needs.

Once you create your first draft of your template, you can revisit it anytime. This will serve as a time-saver template that can lead to many different variations. Whether it’s a monthly report or an analysis of a particular campaign, it is still useful to invest time in creating your customized template in order to lend consistency to your reports.

What’s most important is to align your business goals with your PPC performance to make sure that the presented data will be valuable to everyone at your company.

An introduction to advanced audience targeting in AdWords

A topic that is hugely important for any marketer is that of targeting – making sure your budget gets spent on the people most likely to buy from you.

With all the features available to us across digital advertising platforms, we’ve never had it so good.

Yet most marketers I speak to at events are unaware of the options available to them, and are unfortunately still wasting a lot of their click spend on irrelevant people who simply don’t convert.

In this article, I will explore how to carry out advanced audience targeting in Google AdWords, which features you can use to make your marketing budget work a lot harder, and how to use them.

Search audiences

When you talk about AdWords and/or PPC, most people first think of search ads, so we’ll also start there. The audience options on the Google Search Network are a good place to begin thinking about how you will adapt spend towards the people most likely to purchase or inquire.

These days it isn’t as simple as choosing a suitable bid for any given keyword. For half a decade we have been able to use bid modifiers to optimize the best performing parts of an account and automatically spend more money there. Advertisers can automatically weight budget and bids depending on a few criteria:

  • Location
  • Device type
  • Time (which can be the time of day, or the day of the week)

You can ask Google to apply a higher bid of up to 300% more than you would normally spend if certain criteria are met, or reduce bids by up to minus 100% (i.e. turn it off).

I am yet to meet a business that can’t improve their PPC spend by considering these factors.

Ask yourself questions like:

  • Does the location of where a search is made influence the likelihood of conversion?
  • Is someone using a mobile device worth more or less than someone on a desktop?
  • Are you happy spending as much on traffic during the evenings as you are during the day?

One way or another, each of these should influence how you spend your money.

As an example, if you are a retailer with high-street stores and an ecommerce site, then bid adjustments need serious consideration.

If someone is searching on their phone, within walking distance of one of your stores during opening hours, then they are probably worth bidding more for. Send them into the store where they will probably have a higher average spend than they would online.

If you take away one of those factors (it’s now an out of hours search, or they are on a desktop at home) then lower the bid and send them to the ecommerce site.

It is important to understand the difference in value for each type of search and reflect that in your bidding strategy.

A more recent addition to this is demographic bidding. You can now also choose to modify bids depending on:

  • Age
  • Sex

Is your target market younger males? Then bid more for them, and lower bids if searches are performed by females or older people. This allows you to bid on more broad keywords that you may have avoided before, as you can be more certain of the person clicking.

For example, a clothing company targeting men can bid on broad keywords like “skinny jeans”, which would traditionally have attracted more clicks from females, but that audience can now be excluded.

Display audiences

Before looking at the really interesting audience targeting options here, I want to talk about the basics.

Even though a frankly outrageous sum of money gets spent on Google search ads every single day, people don’t actually spend that much time searching. We spend the majority of our time online doing other things like reading news articles and special interest blogs, watching videos, chatting in forums etc.

PPC advertisers can also use Google AdWords to appear here, on the Google Display Network (GDN) with videos, banners and text ads.

Targeting options are plentiful. To start, you can use Placements and Keywords. Placements are the websites you hand-pick for showing your ads, whereas keyword targeting is based on the text showing on web pages, which you might want to appear against.

Taking it a stage further, you can also bid demographically (not only sex and age, but on the GDN you can also choose parental status). This isn’t a situation where you have to choose one or the other; instead, you can layer these options to really refine your audience.

For example, if you are launching a new range of baby clothes, then you may choose to advertise to females who are in their 20s and showing as parents, choosing only to place adverts on baby-related websites and on pages where your competitors are named or where certain target words are present.

Affinity audiences

The first of the more advanced targeting options that you can choose to implement, as well as or instead of the above, is affinity audiences.

Google refer to these as “TV-like audiences” and they are based around topics of interest. Data is collected as users engage with pages, applications, channels, videos and content across YouTube and the GDN. This information is then collated and used to build a profile of who they are, and what advertisements can be tailored to their personality and preferences.

You should view an affinity audience as a group of individuals who have a general, long-standing interest in a specific subject.

As advertisers, we can take advantage of Google analyzing someone’s overall interests, passions and lifestyle to get a better sense of their identity. If you think about your browsing behavior, there will be certain themes and patterns that are easy to spot and brands can choose to advertise to you and everyone else with the same interests.

If the ready-made audiences like “beauty mavens” or “running enthusiasts” aren’t quite specific enough for you, then you have the ability to build your own.

Custom Affinity Audiences can be created, where you give AdWords a list of keywords that detail the area of interest and also websites that would be frequented by your audience (authority news sites and strong rivals are good starting point) and then it creates a theme for you.

In-market audiences

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you knew someone was just about to buy a product in your market? Well now you can. AdWords can qualify someone as being “in-market” for a specific product or service, i.e. they are further down the conversion funnel and are actively considered purchasing a product or engaging with a service that is similar to what you offer.

In-market audiences take into account clicks on related ads and subsequent conversions, along with the content of the sites and pages that a person visits, as well as the recency and frequency of the visits.

You should view in-market audiences as individuals who are temporarily interested in a specific segment. For example, if I am not a car enthusiast and I don’t read a lot of automotive publications then I won’t be in the automotive affinity audience, but for a short period of time, every once in a while, I would fit into an automotive in-market audience when making a new car purchase, showing this intent by researching and comparing cars online.

I often get asked how accurate this is and, from the campaigns we’ve run, we have seen good results. This is down to a lot of effort from Google where AdWords examines repeated patterns of behavior, sets personalized algorithms and updates in real-time, so people not interested or who have already spent their money soon drop out.

Whilst you are able to target pre-defined in-market audiences, you may want to consider segmenting existing affinity audiences in order to re-engage with users already aware of your brand. This increases effectiveness and gives you full control of moving that user through the conversion funnel and toward your products or service.

At this point in the process, your marketing messages should showcase exactly what your brand has to offer and how it differs, alongside any promotions. Make use of all sales tools at your disposal here as these people are looking to spend now and may not be back for a while, if at all.

Life events

Very similar to in-market audiences is an additional type of targeting that came out last year – the ability to advertise to people just before or just after a few big events that take place in their lives. Namely:

  • Graduating from college
  • Getting married
  • Moving house

Even though there are just three options to choose from, there are huge industries that surround each one. Take someone moving home, for example: there are property lawyers, estate agents, removal companies, furniture retailers, kitchen fitters, and many more that should all be considering this audience and factoring it into their advertising strategy.

Remarketing audiences

So, when you’ve done all of this work and now have all of these well-targeted people visiting your site, the sobering reality is that most of them still won’t do what you want them to.

The stats show that you should expect over 90% of people to leave your site without converting, 70% of people to abandon your shopping cart without purchasing, and 2-3 visits before someone crosses the line. You need to have a remarketing strategy in place to start turning these stats around and getting visitors back to convert.

Remarketing works after a cookie is placed into the browser of website users and it gives you the ability to show different ads to people depending on the actions they have (or often more importantly, have not) performed when on your site. It’s powerful – Google data tells us that people on one of your remarketing list are twice as likely to convert as a regular visitor.

To make the most of this, think about what you’d say differently to someone who purchased your most expensive product, versus someone who purchased your cheapest. For the former you may use ads to invite them into a VIP club or ask them to refer a friend, whereas the latter you may just try to upsell.

What about someone who abandons the shopping cart? Could you entice them back with a discount? In this situation you could even layer up your targeting with in-market audiences – when someone who previously visited but didn’t buy from you now shows signs that they are close to purchasing, it is time to bring out your strongest offer.

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

When remarketing was first launched in AdWords, it was available across the Google Display Network, but the search side of things was left out. However, a few years ago we saw the launch of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs), which allows advertisers to also remarket on the search network.

This opens up huge new options for advertisers, as you can display different ad copy and choose different bids and landing pages for your Google search ads if the people searching are on your remarketing lists.

A good example of how game-changing this can be is in the retail sector. If I have a shop that sells gifts online and want more purchases at Christmas, then traditionally I would have had to be very careful with the keywords I bid on, making sure I only cover searches specific to my products.

Broad keywords like “presents” and “gifts for men” ordinarily would not be profitable and would just burn through my budget. RLSAs let me target those keywords, only showing to people who had purchased gifts from me last Christmas.

As I know they are far more likely to convert, I can afford to out-bid the other advertisers and can write ad copy that rewards repeat custom. You can think in a completely different way and have the freedom to almost abandon traditional PPC rules when someone is on your remarketing lists.

Customer match

If you have a database of customers and prospects that you want to advertise to, perhaps to get them to repeat purchase, or to get them to actually purchase for the first time, then you can use Customer Match to speak to these audiences.

Your email lists can be uploaded into AdWords and you can then approach these people in a similar way to how you’d remarket them. When they are logged in to Google you can show them unique adverts and use different bids across Search, Shopping, YouTube, and Gmail advertising.

The big win here is that it works cross-device, as people tend to be signed in to their Google accounts on phones, tablets and desktops. This is where remarketing often fails, due to the cookie being device- (and even browser-) specific.

This can be powerful for cross-selling (e.g. if someone bought a flight with you, use this to sell them car hire) and it is great for informing existing customers of new releases and any special limited-edition runs.

It is also quite a safe environment to test out new sales offers, as you already have a relationship of some kind with these people so can judge how well things are received here before rolling them out to unknown audiences.

Similar audiences

Remember that for remarketing to work really well, you need to be as granular as possible, meaning that by their very nature, the lists often aren’t huge. But if your remarking lists are performing strongly and you’d love the chance to have more traffic just like them, what can you do? This is where something called Similar Audiences comes into play.

If you have used lookalike targeting on Facebook or the prospecting tools within many of the programmatic platforms then this will be familiar. It’s where you ask Google to look at the audiences within your remarketing lists and go find more people just like them.

Available on both the search and display networks, this is a simple way to find new, prequalified users and often returns additional audiences around 5 times the size of your remarketing ones. It automatically updates, so when someone clicks on an ad and joins your site, they become a remarketing list member and are removed from the similar audience list.

Google data shows that brands typically experience a 41% uplift in conversions here. In our work for clients in retail and finance in particular, we’ve seen this go even higher.

Start your audience strategy

If you are keen to try out these features but don’t know where to start, take a look in your Analytics data.

Begin to identify the types of people coming to your site and those that convert. Where are they located? What devices are they using? What times are conversions highest during the day or week?

Bring those themes into your search and display targeting and use the tools within AdWords to find out where these people hang out online, what topics they are passionate about. Additionally, start thinking about how you’d show them different offers once they’ve already been to your site. You’ll be glad you did.

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ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Kenshoo

Search Engine Watch sister publication ClickZ recently launched an innovative new series of buyers guides, created with the aim of cutting through the complexity of the martech landscape to help our readers make better decisions about vendors.

The first in the series is dedicated to bid management platforms. With more than $90 billion spent on paid search in 2017, these software packages play a vital role in deriving maximum value from a brand’s digital media budget.

The role of a bid management platform has changed significantly over the past decade, in line with the increasing sophistication of the digital media industry. Although the foundations of a successful paid media management platform remain rooted in the effective spending of AdWords budgets, the modern marketer also requires support for social media advertising, attribution modeling, and cross-channel strategy.

Earlier this week, we profiled Acquisio, one of the leading bid management platforms featured in our buyers guide. In this article, we’re going to look at another leader in the bid management space: Kenshoo.

Kenshoo Company Profile

Kenshoo has been a leader in the bid management space since 2006 and its position as a third-party vendor allows space to innovate and work with clients without the potential for bias to enter the equation. This independence also allows Kenshoo to pursue new, promising channels and functionality that makes it easier for clients to work across channels – scaling, shifting budget, and measuring results across them.

Our survey revealed Kenshoo to be the market leader for enterprise-level digital media campaigns.

Although this is a highly competitive industry with many worthy contenders, Kenshoo shaded the assessment categories that matter most to advanced search marketers. These included cross-channel campaign management, strategic insight, and paid search automation. The overall scores can be seen in the screenshot below, with 5 being the highest possible score:

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Kenshoo

Furthermore, Kenshoo’s Creative Manager for search and social adds a further dimension to the platform and places the company in a prominent position as search evolves into a more visual marketing medium.

Overall, Kenshoo’s focus is on developing technologies that make a tangible difference to their customers’ businesses.

The usage levels of its features are monitored constantly and the company’s sizeable team of engineers focuses on delivering the innovations that its customer base craves. It is this approach that leads to developments including highly effective performance forecasts, real-time reporting dashboards, and the ability to load high volumes of campaign data almost instantly.

Kenshoo: The ClickZ and SEW customer survey

Throughout the search industry‘s evolutionary process, Kenshoo has remained at the forefront of innovation. Within our customer surveys, vendor interviews, and expert consultation, Kenshoo was a consistently high scorer and was roundly praised for the features it provides for large, complex accounts.

The three areas in which Kenshoo received its highest scores in our community survey were:

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Kenshoo

In fact, Kenshoo was the leading scorer out of all platforms in our survey in the cross-channel and bid management categories.

A particular highlight was Kenshoo’s adoption of audience management for prospecting and
remarketing across Facebook and Google. This helps its clients to nurture their audience lists and gain maximum returns on their data.

Due to the development of the industry from a keyword-led approach to intent-driven audiences, this will be a core consideration for brands assessing the vendor landscape.

Search is about much more than bottom-funnel acquisition nowadays, with the advent of much more varied visual formats and the ongoing shift to video. Kenshoo’s support for emerging media formats and channels was seen as a core strength of the technology, particularly its early adoption of both Pinterest and Amazon advertising.

These campaigns can be synthesized into one strategy alongside Search, Shopping, and Social campaigns to provide strategic insight into overall performance. A natural extension of this category, and an area of increasing focus within the industry, is the availability of attribution models that elucidate campaign spend and returns by channels.

Once more, Kenshoo was among the highest scorers in this category as it is host to a range of attribution models and allows for a degree of customization by marketers, based on their company’s weighting of each channel’s significance.

Kenshoo’s bid management algorithms that deliver improved returns on cross-channel budgets also received very high scores in our survey. Recent architectural changes enable clients to analyze millions of keywords in a matter of seconds with no volume limits, a significant benefit when managing large, complex campaigns.

One highlight from the vendor interviews was the ease of use of their new Budget Manager, which allows clients to visually model a range of future scenarios based on their planned media spend across multiple channels, objectives, audiences, product categories and geographies. This capability allows marketers to plan more frequently and to quickly get answers to questions about the impact of their budget.

It is also worth noting that Kenshoo was among the three highest-scoring platforms for client support in our survey. This was driven by the company’s focus on providing expert support for enterprise accounts, with customers citing both the availability and the knowledge of their representatives as notable strengths. Kenshoo also has a large research team, with whom clients can work to dig deeper into search data and uncover new insights.

ClickZ overview: Kenshoo

Kenshoo is an effective technology that contains a multitude of advanced features that will help marketers extract maximum value from their media budget. Moreover, it provides additional value on top of the core bid management algorithms that marketers have come to expect.

By focusing on where the industry is headed and developing features that provide clients with a competitive advantage, Kenshoo looks poised to maintain its position as a market leader in this field for some time to come.

To learn more about our readers’ evaluation of the different bid management platforms featured, follow this link to download the Buyers Guide to Bid Management Tools on ClickZ.

The 2018 guide to B2B sales, Part 3: Using CRM data for lasting benefits

In Parts 1 and 2 of this B2B blog series, we discussed how to effectively use different channels for your B2B efforts as well as how to build your audiences, then segment and make use of the right content for mid-funnel remarketing and your overall nurture program.

In the last part of this series, we are going to discuss tying back-end results to front-end metrics so that you can ensure you are reaching qualified audiences with your paid media efforts.

With your paid media efforts, you can track and optimize toward on-site conversions. However, in B2B marketing, those onsite conversions are typically leads and more shallow conversions that do not indicate a sale.

At the end of the day, you want to understand what keywords, audiences, targeting methods, etc., are driving eventual sales – and reallocate focus and budget accordingly.

In order to do this, it is important to pass through parameters within your URLs to track at the most granular level possible; doing this allows your CRM system to identify what drives leads.

You’ll want to pass through campaign-, ad-, and keyword-level parameters in search or campaign-, ad set-, and ad-level parameters in social to identify how those areas are performing.

Back-end CRM data helps you do the following:

  • Campaign – understand what campaigns are performing to sales goals and invest more budget into the right campaigns and pull back on the underperformers.
  • Ad set (social) – understand what audiences are performing well (or not). You can then use this to test other similar audiences and push budgets accordingly.
  • Ad – identify what type of creative or messaging is pushing performance. This will help you in additional creative testing and message development.
  • Keyword – get down to the most granular level in search: understanding what keywords are driving the most qualified users

Now you will want to set up a frequency for matching up the back-end data with your front-end metrics. Think about how often sales volume comes in and the duration it will take to get significant data for optimization efforts.

You may want to set up a reporting cadence to be analyzing data anywhere from weekly, to biweekly, to monthly depending on the amount of sales you get.

As you continue to collect data, remember to take a step back and understand what is truly driving sales at a high level. Look at specific keyword themes, different types of messaging, and the audiences contributing the strongest value.

As you analyze this data, you not only want to optimize bids and budgeting accordingly; you also want to think about next strategic steps.

How can you continue to capitalize on these themes? Are there additional opportunities for keyword expansion? Can you test different variations of your top messaging theme? How can you expand on the audiences you see working – are there different ways to reach similar personas or types of people?

At the end of the day, you want to get out of the weeds when it comes to optimizations based on sales; you need to look at a higher level and refine your strategy to capitalize on what is working best.

This is Part 3 of our three-part series, The 2018 Guide to B2B Sales. If you missed Parts 1 and 2, recap them here:

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ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Search Engine Watch sister publication ClickZ recently launched an innovative new series of buyers guides, created with the aim of cutting through the complexity of the martech landscape to help our readers make better decisions about vendors.

The first in the series is dedicated to bid management platforms. With more than $90 billion spent on paid search in 2017, these software packages play a vital role in deriving maximum value from a brand’s digital media budget.

Within this article, we take a look at one of the leading platforms covered in the first ClickZ buyers guide: Acquisio.

The core component of the ClickZ bid management vendor guide is a customer survey, sent out to the readerships of both ClickZ and Search Engine Watch. It received more than 1,600 responses and evaluated technologies across the following six areas:

The role of a bid management platform has changed significantly over the past decade, in line with the increased sophistication of the digital media industry.

Many of these software packages now employ machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in historical data and use this knowledge to predict future trends.

Based on this insight, budget can be shifted automatically to the areas that will deliver the best returns. This can be achieved across devices, across campaigns, and even across different media channels.

Throughout our survey, one platform that was consistently praised for its ability to deliver these improved results while also providing an accessible interface is Acquisio.

Acquisio: Company profile

Acquisio, which was acquired by Web.com in 2017, actually started life as an agency that developed a suite of proprietary tools. The potential of this technology to improve paid search performance was such that the company soon shifted its focus to specialize in bid management software.

The platform has developed rapidly since then and provides access to advanced machine learning technology to businesses of all sizes. This is primarily achieved through the Acquisio Turing (™) product, which powers predictive bid and budget management across search, social media, and display.

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Through its acquisition by Web.com last year, the company has maintained its focus on the areas that matter for its customers, such as the speed of the user experience, the performance improvements the platform brings to PPC campaigns, and insightful reporting dashboards.

Acquisio core strengths

Within our customer survey, there were some clear strengths highlighted by Acquisio customers. In particular, the platform’s core bid management technology drew praise for its clarity and efficacy. The ability to mirror campaigns across channels and keep this automatically synced over time was frequently noted by clients as a significant positive.

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Furthermore, Acquisio customers gave positive feedback on the technology’s reporting dashboards and the support clients are offered. In the case of the latter, Acquisio was among the highest scorers of all platforms reviewed in our survey. During our vendor interviews, the thorough nature of the onboarding and training process was clearly a focus for the company.

As we can see in the chart below (5 is the highest possible score), Acquisio was shown to be a very effective all-rounder in our survey, with the user experience and bid management capabilities both singled out for praise. This diagram shows the average score given to Acquisio across each of our six core assessment criteria:

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

This compares favorably to the competition, as we can see in the chart below, which shows Acquisio’s score in each of the assessment categories against the average of the other five platforms in the survey.

Bid management, strategic insight, reporting, and user experience all resulted in high performance for Acquisio. Acquisio’s reporting dashboard received particular praise for its intuitive and informative nature, showing performance data from search engines alongside Facebook and Instagram.

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Acquisio automatically moves budget around multiple campaigns and/or publishers to maximize traffic and budget attainment, which has contributed to its positive scores within the cross-channel category.

This vendor also offers some specific tools for SMBs within its Promote product, which simplifies the campaign creation and bid management process. Once more, this adds to the accessible nature of the platform for businesses from SMBs up to enterprise-level digital campaigns.

ClickZ overview: Acquisio

Where Acquisio excels is in its ability to offer advanced search management at a comparatively low price point. This is coupled with an intensive, supportive training program that ensures all team members are able to get the most out of the technology.

Although other platforms in our guide provide a broader range of features beyond the core areas of search and social, marketers need to weigh up how important these factors are when considering a bid management vendor partner.

Acquisio has a clear focus on providing the best possible search and social media marketing platform and it competes very well on these fronts. With a 21 day free trial on offer too, it is an excellent option for marketers looking to take their search strategy to the next level.

To find out more information about Acquisio, you can download their Marketer’s Field Guide to Machine Learning on ClickZ. Or follow this link to download the Bid Management Tools Buyers Guide and learn about our readers’ evaluation of the other platforms profiled.

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Mystified by martech? Introducing the ClickZ Buyers Guide series

Search Engine Watch sister site ClickZ has just launched the first report in its new series of buyers guides, which aims to to disentangle and demystify the martech landscape for marketers.

The guide, which focuses on bid management tools, covers a range of market leading vendors and draws on months of research and more than 1,600 customer reviews.

This will be the first in a series of guides created using the collective knowledge of the ClickZ and Search Engine Watch communities to help our readers arrive at more informed technology decisions.

The modern martech landscape is complex and competitive, making it difficult for marketers to cut through the noise and select the right technology partners.

Our buyers guides are created with the objective of providing a clear view on the areas in which vendors excel, in order to allow our readers to establish successful relationships with the most suitable platforms.

What sets our guides apart is the use of a customer survey to hear directly from current clients of each software package. For the bid management tools guide, we received more than 1,600 survey responses, which has provided a wealth of valuable data across our six assessment categories.

 Graphs in the report are interactive to allow comparison.

The series of guides begins with bid management tools because of the importance these technologies hold in the modern martech stack. Along with deriving maximum value from the $92 billion spent annually on paid search worldwide, these platforms also help marketers manage their display advertising and social budgets, with some even providing support for programmatic TV buying.

This creates a varied landscape of vendors, with some focusing on the core channels of Google and Facebook, and others placing bets on the potential of the likes of Amazon to provide a real, third option for digital ad dollars.

Though the vendors we analyzed share much in common, there are subtle distinctions within each that make them suitable for different needs. A combination of customer surveys, vendor interviews, and expert opinion from industry veterans has helped us to draw out these nuances to create a transparent view of the current market.

Within the guide, you will gain access to:

  • Tips on building a business case for investing in a bid management platform
  • Questions to ask of potential bid management tool partners
  • Profiles of the six vendors we analyzed
  • The ClickZ and Search Engine Watch customer survey results

Follow this link to download the Bid Management Tools Buyers Guide on Search Engine Watch.

 

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Event recap: State of Search with Brainlabs

On February 22nd, leading digital media agency Brainlabs hosted the latest in its series of PPC Chat Live events at its London HQ.

With speakers from Google, Verve Search, and of course from Brainlabs too, there were plenty of talking points to consider and digest. In this article, we recap the highlights from an enlightening event.

The theme for this edition of PPC Chat Live was ‘the state of search’, with the focus squarely on the trends set to shape the industry in 2018 and beyond. The speakers delivered a wide variety of presentations that reflected on the industry’s beginnings, not just for nostalgia’s sake but also to illuminate the future too.

Brainlabs has carved out a position as an innovative, data-driven search agency and this tone was carried through the evening, all ably assisted by Pepper the robot receptionist.

Although paid search took up the majority of air time, there was still plentiful room for ruminations on the evolving role of SEO and what the nature of search tells us about the modern consumer.

Digital assistants: empowering or simply enabling?

Peter Giles from Google opened the evening with a thought-provoking talk on the impact of new technologies on the way people find information.

Peter noted that the increased accuracy of voice-enabled digital assistants has led to a range of changes in consumer behavior. Some of these could be seen as empowering, while others perhaps play only to our innate laziness and desire for a friction-free life.

There were three core behavioral trends noted within this session:

Increased curiosity

Because people have access to an unprecedented amount of information, they are more inclined to ask questions. When the answers are always close to hand, this is an understandable development.

Google has seen some interesting trends over the past two years, including an increase of 150% in search volume for [best umbrellas]. What was once a simple purchase is now subject to a more discerning research process.

Event recap: State of Search with Brainlabs

Higher expectations

Although there is initial resistance to some technologies that fundamentally change how we live, once we are accustomed to them we quickly start to expect more. In 2015, Google reported that it had seen a 37x increase in the number of searches including the phrase “near me”.

Consumers now expect their device to know this intent implicitly and Peter revealed that the growth in “near me” phrases has slowed considerably.

Decreased patience

As expectations grow, patience levels decrease. In fact, there has been an increase of over 200% in searches containing the phrase “open now” since 2015 in the US. Meanwhile, consumers are coming to expect same-day delivery as standard in major metropolitan areas.

Event recap: State of Search with Brainlabs

Throughout all of these changes, Peter Giles made clear that brands need to focus on being the most helpful, available option for their target audience. By honing in on these areas, the ways in which consumers access the information are not so important.

The more significant factor is making this information easy to locate and to surface, whether through search engines, social networks, or digital assistants.

The past, present, and future of PPC and SEO

Brainlabs’ exec chair Jim Brigden reflected on the history of the paid search industry, going back to the early 2000’s when most brands were skeptical of the fledgling ad format’s potential.

In fact, only £5 million was spent on paid search in the UK as recently as 2001. The industry’s growth, projected to exceed $100 billion globally this year, should also give us reason to pause and consider what will happen next. The pace of change is increasing, so marketers need to be able to adapt to new realities all the time.

Jim Brigden’s advice to budding search marketers was to absorb as much new knowledge as possible and remain open to new opportunities, rather than trying to position oneself based on speculation around future trends. Many marketers have specialized in search for well over a decade and, while the industry may have changed dramatically in that time, its core elements remain largely intact.

This was a topic touched on by Lisa Myers of Verve Search too, when discussing organic search. For many years, we have discussed the role (and even potential demise) of SEO, as Google moves to foreground paid search to an ever greater degree.

Myers’ presentation showcased just how much the SEO industry has changed, from link buying to infographics, through to the modern approach that has as much in common with a creative agency as it does with a web development team.

Just one highlight from the team at Verve Search, carried out in collaboration with their client Expedia, was the Unknown Tourism campaign. Comprised of a range of digital posters, the campaign commemorates animals that have been lost from some of the world’s most popular tourist spots.

Event recap: State of Search with Brainlabs

Such was the popularity of the campaign, one fan created a package for The Sims video game to make it possible to pin the posters on their computer-generated walls. Verve has received almost endless requests to create and sell the posters, too.

This isn’t what most people think of when they think of SEO, but it is a perfect example of how creative campaigns can drive performance. For Expedia, Verve has achieved an average increase in visibility of 54% across all international markets.

The core lesson we can take away here from both Jim Brigden and Lisa Myers is that the medium of search remains hugely popular and there is therefore a need for brands to try and stand out to get to the top. The means of doing so may change, but the underlying concepts and objectives remain the same.

The predictable nature of people

For the final part of the evening, Jim Brigden was joined by Dan Gilbert, CEO of Brainlabs and the third most influential person in digital, according to Econsultancy.

Dan shared his sophisticated and elucidative perspective on the search industry, which is inextricably linked to the intrinsic nature of people.

A variety of studies have shown that people’s behavioral patterns are almost entirely predictable, with one paper noting that “Spontaneous individuals are largely absent from the population. Despite the significant differences in travel patterns, we found that most people are equally predictable.”

As irrational and unique as we would like to think we are, most of our actions can be reduced to mathematical equations.

That matters for search, when we consider the current state of the industry.

After all, companies like Google excel at creating rational systems, such as the machine learning algorithms that continue to grow in prominence across its product suite.

As Dan Gilbert stated, this gives good cause to believe that the nature of search will be fundamentally different in the future.

Our digital assistants will have little reason to offer us a choice, if they already know what we want next.

That choice is the hallmark of the search industry, but Gilbert sees no reason to create a monetizable tension where no tension needs to exist.

Google’s focus has always been on getting the product right and figuring out the commercial aspect once users are on board and this seems likely to be the approach with voice-enabled assistants.

Event recap: State of Search with Brainlabs

In fact, the technology is already available to preempt these decisions and start serving consumers content and products before they even know they want to receive them. The field of predictive analytics has evolved significantly over the last few years and the capability to model out future behavioral trends is already in use for companies like Netflix and Amazon.

The inflection point for this technology is dependent on people’s readiness to accept such a level of intrusion in their daily lives, rather than any innate technological shortcomings.

History suggests that, while a certain initial resistance is to be expected, ultimately we will grow accustomed to this assimilation of technology into our lives. And, soon after, we will grow impatient with any limitations we encounter.

That will create a seismic shift in how the search industry operates, but it will open up new and more innovative ways to connect consumers with brands.

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Which Is Better: Content Marketing or PPC? The Pros & Cons of Both by @JuliaEMcCoy

Content marketing or PPC? Find out which could be a better investment of your time and marketing investment.

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