Back to School Planning for Digital Marketers

back to school

Back to School is the second biggest consumer spending event of the year, right behind the winter holidays. While last year experienced a dip, things are expecting to bounce back. Is your business ready for it?

Hopefully you’ve already planned your company’s marketing strategy for back to school seeing as the spike in search has already started, but if not, there’s still some time. With almost 80 million students enrolling in high school or college this season in the US, according to Google’s latest ‘Back to School’ study, there is plenty of opportunity to capture.

Parents’ Journey to Purchase

As with any campaign, it’s especially important to keep the user’s path to purchase in mind. This means visibility and consistent messaging accross all devices. While users may not be converting on smartphones, they sure are using them to research. Capture your potential client on their mobile before they’ve made their decision, whether it’s on the road or while they watch a video on YouTube.

Some tactics you can deploy on AdWords would be:

  • Display phone number and relevant store locations to users searching on mobile devices (or computers!) to drive in-store sales. Increase bid modifiers around your store locations for maximum reach.

  • Generate awareness via Affinity audiences and Interest targeting on the Google Display Network. These features allow you to more precisely target the audience that is most likely to buy from your brand. For example “Bargain Hunters” or “Value Shoppers” are examples of Affinity audiences and “Shopping” or “Apparel” are good labels to use for interest targeting.

  • Remarket! Whether they’ve engaged with your website or watched a video of yours on YouTube, it would be unwise to not attempt to reach back out to potential clients.

Get Ahead of the Game

Since we’re a little late for this one, consider it an early tip for the 2015 season. Last year, 20% of shoppers began purchasing in mid-July. Each year, search interest grows around “back to school” keywords, and more specifically “back to school sales [year]”. Another early tip would be to make sure you’re ready for “back to school sales 2015” based on that data. You can see that “back to school sales 2014” (seen in green) is already starting to peak in the chart below.

 

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There’s even growth for just “back to school” each year too. What’s interesting to note here is the mini-spikes during January which is likely folks heading back for their spring semester of college.

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 Highest Spending Days

Plan around the highest spending in-store and ecomm days, maybe even more so if you’re strapped for budget. Typically, offline sales occur during the weekend while online sales are up early/mid-week throughout July and September. Considering this when bidding could help ensure you get the best ROI.

Complement Offline Marketing

Consider complementing your offline marketing with online campaigns. If you’re running a specific ad in a region or DMA, also have an online campaign counterpart, especially for mobile devices. If I’m reading a magazine or I see a billboard that interests me, I’m likely to pull out my phone to research. Hell, I may even do some research on my phone while I’m in the actual store itself. Note that this also aligns with our suggestion to think about the user’s journey to purchase. Getting in front of your audience at all times could be an easy way to increase sales and conversion rates, online and offline.

What are some tips and tricks you’ve tested in the past that helped create a successful back-to-school campaign?

 

The Art of the Thank You Page

thank you page

 

Attention Marketers! Do you sell something or collect leads on your site? Thought so. I bet you’ve spent a lot of time designing paths to convert visitors into leads or sales.

If I were to ask you who were your highest value prospects, you would tell me, “The people who have taken a step down one of those paths by filling out a lead form.”

Most marketers spend hours, days, weeks & months optimizing landing pages to convince more people to fill out forms, but invest far less effort to optimize the thank you page and the user experience beyond it.

thank you elvis

Consider for a moment that if you have built a solid lead generation page that is compelling enough to get five percent of visitors to download a white paper, only 50 of one thousand visitors ever get to the thank you page, but those who do are your most valuable prospects.

Make certain that your thank you page treats your most valuable prospects the right way.

I visited a provider of cloud services infrastructure and downloaded a riveting white paper called 5 Ways Cloud-Integrated Storage Reduces Costs.

Even though a great deal of effort and expense had been expended to create this white paper, it downloaded without even sending me to a thank you page, suggesting additional content, or giving me a way to inquire without scrolling to the footer of the second page of the report.

The company did not acknowledge in any way that I had downloaded the report.

I visited the site of a large CPA firm and signed up for its newsletter. Once I did the email opt in, I went to this thank you page:

thank you content

Although the content on this CPA’s site is engaging and professional, he is missing an opportunity to make the most of the people who are ready to connect with him and his firm in a deeper way. His thank you page could let prospects know that he will soon be sending them the latest issue and a guide to other free information on the firm’s site.

I visited a leading firm providing chain of custody services and other specialized courier services. Here is a part of the page that firm sent me to when I filled out a lead generation form for one of their white papers:

thank you whitepaper

Now that I have expressed interest, this courier company does seem to want to talk to me, but under their terms. An additional nine-box form is a precondition of a conversation. This courier is making it hard for prospects to talk to them at a point when they have already taken a step to engage by trying to dictate when and how the next conversation will take place. Instead, this thank you page should offer options.

There should be a phone number to call an expert and the tone and substance of their thank you page should be friendlier. They should do better than offering a generic email address to those who are having problems getting the white paper.

Making the path so narrow and placing control with the company communicates a lack of interest in service and a lack of urgency in solving problems. Neither will make an inquiry warmer.

So what should your thank you page include?

  1. It should actually thank people and acknowledge the step that visitors have taken to engage.
  2. It should include additional suggested content that makes sense based upon the conversation that has taken place.
  3. It should promote social channels to invite deeper engagement and to turn prospects into fans.
  4. It should be clear about the next steps that will happen next.

Relationships start on the thank you page. Your thank you page is your first chance to impress someone who has placed trust in you. Make yours worthy of the King of Rock and Roll.

I hope this post has motivated you to reexamine your thank-you pages. Let our thank you post recommendations be a starting point. Here are some additional tips from Bruce Clay, User Experience Expert, Sandra Niehaus and GetElastic’s Linda Bustos to help you create superb thank you pages.

Thank you… Thank you very much.

Dan Golden is the President and Chief Search Architect with Be Found Online in Chicago. You can find Dan on Google+.

Alternative PPC Success Metrics You Should Be Using

Success Metrics

The amount of cool stuff you can do with advertising in the digital space is mind blowing, but as PPC specialists I find that we get pigeonholed out of “advertising” and pushed into the dark corner of direct marketing. All too often, the C-suite sees PPC as an ROI machine only; Put dollars in, get more dollars out. That’s awesome, and surely something PPC is good for, but we’re much more.

If we’re stuck with one definition of success, we’re selling ourselves short of what PPC can really do for a brand. I’ve outlined a few alternative success metrics besides form submits and whitepaper downloads, these metrics were inspired by a few recent client conversations and Gary Vaynerchuck calculating the “ROI of your mother”:

Revenue Per Impression (RPI)

We have a long running client who is obsessed with valuing impressions. It puzzled me for years, but after getting insight into the exec team the proverbial light bulb illuminated over my head. Historically this client spent their entire marketing budget on Yellow Pages (the old school, doorstop version), Billboards and other offline media.

This long running team had been conditioned over the years to think in x-per-impression. Over time, the client slowly shifted to a near 75% digital budget, but they still needed to make the case to their board. Enter revenue per impression.

The client has three major product types, each with different values; call them $5 cats, $10 dogs and $50 lions. We know that it’s going to take longer for someone to buy a lion than a cat (read: CPL may be higher) but using RPI as an indicator metric helps find the most effective way to allocate budget. We can then go to the board and say “hey, we earn 31 cents per ad impression on cats, 23 cents per impression on dogs and 19 cents per lion impression.” We guide spend towards the less sexy product (from a sales perspective) because we spoke a language that the executives understood.

Marketing Dollar Efficiency

Imagine this; an in-every-mall retailer wants to move their entire newspaper budget online; they have no way to tie store sales to offline. What are you gonna do, say “nope, can’t measure success?” Not if you want the project!

Let’s unpack how a traditional advertiser could measure return. You know the cost of newspaper ads. You know how much revenue the store made. Simple, right? Why try to reinvent the digital wheel? You know how much PPC ads spent when you moved everything online. Which was more efficient?

You get the picture; revenue divided by marketing spend equals efficiency. It’s not perfect by any means, but it can tell a story. Taking it a step further in this (true) scenario, you could conceivably split test thanks to the power of geo-targeting. In half of the locations, continue to buy newspaper ads as usual. In the other half, 100% digital. Who wins? My money’s on digital.

Engagement

No, I don’t mean likes, video views or tweets, I mean how many people actually did something with your site, page, graphic or content asset. It doesn’t get the true “how much did I make from this” answer that so many C-level folks want, but to Mr. Vaynerchuk’s point, some things you just cannot measure.

Engagement is a great way to measure success for something like video ads, sponsored stories or sponsored updates on LinkedIn, something that typically wouldn’t lead to an immediate conversion. For industries with a long lead cycle it can be a gold mine. If a prospect engages with an ad, the sales team has an outbound opportunity (and target). In my mind, that’s just as good as a lead form.

There’s a myriad of other alternative metrics available; page views per session, view through actions (yes, they’re useful), return visits, video views et al. I ask you fine Acquisio readers, what other success metrics have you used in the past?And no, “traffic” and “click-through rate” alone are not success metrics.

It may be time to dust off the old ROI routine and start measuring PPC success in a new, more dynamic, way.

5 Steps to Measure Purchase Decision Period with Paid Advertising

Purchase Decision Phase

Deciphering the time between the first brand interaction and the actual purchase has always been a challenge for marketers. Being able to forecast such data is key for brands to better understanding their customers, for setting client’s expectations, and for being able to predict the outcome of each ad dollar.

With more and more available platforms offering remarketing and conversion tracking (pixels or rules), digital marketers are increasingly more capable of capitalizing on the purchase decision period.

Here is a basic guide to help you start effectively measuring the purchase decision period.

1) Dedicate a landing page to each product or service you wish to sell

Building a specific landing page for each of the products or services you wish to sell or acquire leads for is easy to do but very time consuming. Luckily, it’s worth the work. The key to creating effective product landing pages (and deciphering the purchase decision period) is to not oversell or attempt to cross sell. If you build a purely dedicated landing page that avoids exits to other products or services it will be easier to track.

2) Pixel tracking 

Insert a remarketing tag on your landing page and clearly identify which product that tag is attached to (you can use a tag or create a rule using URLs). Also create a unique conversion tag to be placed on the confirmation page that shows when a user becomes a lead or a client for the specific product. Clear tracking on simple pages will allow you to gain understandable insights on the purchase decision period.

3) Link your campaigns properly (account architecture)

Make sure your account architecture is properly built. Use different campaigns for each product and isolate your branded and competition keywords in separate campaigns. You can also use different campaigns depending on geography in order to measure the purchase decision period for customers located in different areas. It just depends what you want to learn.

PPC Campaign for Product A > Landing page for Product A >Remarketing Campaign for Product A

In order for your measurement to be accurate, use very targeted keywords and make extensive use of negative keywords to avoid skewed results. It’s all about precision and clarity.

4) Measure the first click and the first conversion

Once your architecture and tagging is up and running, you can now calculate the period between the first click and the first conversion. It is important to monitor if clicks-to-conversions occur using only PPC or a combination of PPC and Remarketing. Using multiple channels is very important, so build your campaign across Search, Social, and Display to make sure you know which media affects the decision most.

5) Build your prediction model

Keep track of every single action and create a timeline of each occurrence. The objective of all these steps is so you can tell your client, in plain English, that their customers take on average X days to complete a purchase for product “A” at a CPA of X$.

Once you know this, and your client knows it, you can forecast Ad Spend more effectively and build automation using attribution. The steps to take in order to get clear and meaningful data are very basic, so it’s important to put these steps into practices.

Getting ahead of the curve

This quick procedure will help you make better decisions, influence the creative process, and transform raw data into useful insights. If you are not already building campaigns this way, start now! You’ll see just how simple and profitable it really is!

Meet Acquisio’s Competitive Cycling Team

CYCLING TEAM

If you’re sitting at your slightly stuffy desk wishing for the cool breeze that whips by your face as you race through the streets on your 10 speed bike, then you’re in luck. The Acquisio team’s passion for cycling reached a whole new level this year with the sponsorship of the Acquisio competitive cycling team. From the mild comfort of your desk, you too can experience the excitement of the Acquisio cycling team.

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Robert Duguay, a former bicycle courier turned competitive cyclist, has placed in nearly every competition.

We spoke to Acquisio President, Martin LeSauteur, about his passion for cycling, the team’s success thus far, and his (sort of) role as team water boy.

LeSauteur has been a fan of cycling all his life, venturing across the U.S and Europe for several weeks on his bike on what he called “cyclo-tourism” camping trips. More recently LeSauteur has been into road cycling, and last winter while training he ran into John Malois who coaches a local competitive cycling team. Acquisio’s President then got involved with the team and decided to sponsor the cyclists.

“Not only is the sponsorship a great way to support local amateur sports and my passion for cycling, it is great visibility for Acquisio,” explained LeSauteur.

Look out for the Acquisio brand whizzing across Quebec this season!

Meet the Team

photo

Acquisio’s competitive cycling team consists of more than twenty adult cyclists, from age 19 to 50+. Some of the members on the team are considering a career in cycling and have their sights set on the Olympics or the Tour-de-France. Others have a job and a family and only compete in cycling competitions for fun.

“Regardless of their level, all the cyclists are supportive of one another, even when competing against each other during the races,” said LeSauteur.

The team is run by head coach, John Malois, a former Olympian. Malois has a degree in physical education and, of course lots, of experience racing. Not only does he create the training plans for the team but he also rides with the team in competitions.

The Team’s Success

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Team cocah, John Malois, winning first place in St-Martine

“It’s Acquisio’s first year sponsoring a competitive cycling team and we’re already so proud,” said Acquisio’s President.

The team has competed in all the races in the province of Quebec since the beginning of the season, which means an event almost every weekend since spring.

The cyclists has traveled across the province, racing in Saguenay, Charlevoix, St-Agathe, Granby, Gatineau and more. Every Tuesday members of the team participate in “Les Mardis Cyclistes Jean Coutu de Lachine” where they race around the beautiful Lachine canal and calculate performance based on time trials.

In St-Martine, the team coach, John Malois, won first place in the Master’s category for the 94.5 km race. In Charlevoix, seven different team members made the podium in various categories.

“It was a pretty good weekend,” stated LeSauteur casually about their performance in Charlevoix.

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 At “la Coupe des Amériques,” held June 27-29, the Acquisio team almost had another first place victory. Zeina Loufti, an Acquisio cyclist, finished second place in the overall classification. She was ahead of the pack by more than a minute thirty seconds, along with another cyclist, Pascale Legrand. Loufti was in first position, following the volunteers marking the path, but unfortunately the volunteers took a wrong turn and unintentionally misled Loufti onto a longer route. Legrand, the cyclist just behind the Acquisio cyclist, knew the course and took the right turn, gaining on Loufti and winning the first place title.

Because of the mix up, Legrand was gracious enough to give Loufti his medal and flowers. The gesture was certainly appreciated.

Acquisio’s Role

“I raced with the team in Charlevoix,” admitted LeSauteur. “I wasn’t last, so I was happy.”

Acquisio’s CEO has been very involved with the team, going to all their competitions and even training and competing with them.

“When I’m not racing I’m the mechanic, team support, and I give them water bottles on the side of the road,” he explained.

photo (5)

LeSauteur has been by the team’s side through ups and downs, sometimes in the same weekend. When team coach, Malois, won his first place medal in St-Martine, two cyclists in another category crashed – one suffering a concussion and the other breaking his shoulder.

It can be dangerous and it can be uncomfortable and unpleasant, but “you still race,” says LeSauteur.

Keep pedaling Martin LeSauteur and the entire hardworking Acquisio cycling team, we’re proud of you. Keep up the great work!

The Science Behind Bid and Budget Management

bryan minor science smx review header

Search Engine Marketing events are perfect opportunities for marketing professionals to share knowledge and learn from one another. The Acquisio team frequents some of the top industry events across the globe and one of the favorites is SMX Advanced, Seattle.

This year, Chief Scientist, Bryan Minor, Ph.D., shared some of the science secrets behind Acquisio’s automated Bid & Budget Management solution (BBM) and the response was overwhelming. Industry experts were lining up to hear more.

To satisfy demand, it’s time these insights were shared with the public.

The Problem

The problem most businesses want to solve is how to optimize SEM efforts. More specifically, companies want the lowest cost per click with the highest generation of clicks or conversions. Finding that balance, while effectively spending the budget, is what Acquisio’s automated Bid & Budget Management system (BBM) does. Here’s how.

How does BBM work?

Algorithm expert, Bryan Minor, postulates that adjusting bids and examining budgets many times a day generates better results. Why? Because SEM optimization is a non-linear problem; it’s highly dynamic.

Once a day adjustments are like shooting a cannon ball – shoot, see where it lands and adjust the cannon. Constant bid adjustments are more like a cruise missile – so accurate they can go through a window of a building 2000 miles away. That’s because cruise missiles steer onto their target the whole time by making small adjustments every short period of time.

No, Acquisio doesn’t use cruise missile algorithms (although the brain behind the bid and budget management solution did work on space and rocket technology from a theoretical standpoint). The algorithms simply take the data provided and make the best decision scientifically possible.

The idea is not to steer all the way to the solution, but to steer towards it, adjusting to changes as they come. The algorithms are able to deal with changes in:

  • Time of day market changes for bidding
  • New constraints (maxCPC, avg. Pos.,…)
  • Creative changes
  • Google Settings changes
  • Google algorithm changes

This proves to be a more accurate way of getting the most clicks and conversions for the lowest CPC.

Other BBM features

With BBM, the daily budget is guaranteed to last all day, running out just before midnight. For example, if it is Black Friday and businesses are paying out the ear for clicks, the BBM system automatically lowers the bid. When other brands have exhausted spend by noon, BBM optimized campaigns last the whole day and pay far less per CPC, especially those at the end of the day, resulting in far more clicks for the same daily budget (resulting in significant saving).

Also, budget precision is plus or minus 2 percent meaning spend is, on average, 98 percent of the budget for every campaign, even ones with small budgets. And when working with groups of campaigns that share a monthly budget, the automated bid and budget management solution fairly competes the campaigns, so each one gets a chance to spend the daily budget without the use of hard allocations.

More science, less sales

This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a science talk. So here’s the work Bryan Minor did to get BBM to where it is now.

abc graph

Dr. Minor wanted to find a way to always know the lowest CPC for the highest return on clicks and conversions, that way determining what to spend and bid would be much clearer. His algorithmic quest to discover the sweet spot of SEM resulted in this ABC graph:

  • The X axis shows CPC, or what was paid, on average, per click.

  • The Y axis shows how many clicks a day were bought given the average CPC.

  • The red dotted line below C shows all the cases where no clicks were received. Below a certain bid ads will not appear on search, and this red line represents the minimum average CPC paid that is necessary for ads to be seen. Its value varies widely depending on topic.

  • The blue line, C, represents all the cases where the entire budget was not spent (underspend).

  • The green curve, B, represents all the cases where the daily budget was spent.

  • Point A, where B and C meet, is the ideal. It is the point where the entire budget was spent and the most clicks per day were received.

A is the point the BBM “cruise missile” steers towards. It offers the maximum number of clicks for a fixed daily budget obeying all constraints.

This graph is meaningful because it explains how the algorithms approximate where A is as a function of CPC. For example, this graph helps determine how the maximum number of clicks per day varies with daily budget, and what is the associated CPC. The process of continuously steering to A not only provides validation of the methodology used but over time reveals a deep understanding of the true advertising opportunity.

Not just a theory

Here is real data from a client over the span of a few months with BBM.  The B data is represented by the oval points fitted around the curved line. The C data is represented by the hexagon points fitted around the straight green line. The intersection of these two lines is the  first estimate of A. This real life example clearly validates the ABC theory.

example

These graphs may seem complicated at first glance, but the key point is that the data matches the ABC theory, and this validates the use of this information as the basis for BBM. The system can confidently decide what to pay for CPC in order to achieve the most clicks, so campaign managers don’t have to.

Here’s a clearer example.

2014-06-27_9-58-17

This is what Bryan Minor calls an “X graph” because of the distinct inversion between cost and clicks. The blue line represents the number of clicks, the orange line represents the CPC, and the yellow rectangle shows where the client started optimizing with BBM.

After a two day period of initial learning, the client quickly started to see more clicks for the same amount of money, resulting in a much lower CPC. With just 29 clicks per day as a starting point, BBM doubled the clicks to 56 and cut the CPC in half for the same Daily Budget.

What’s interesting about this example is that the client isn’t asking for hundreds or thousands of clicks but tens, and the system still works – it works for any sized business. Plus, the volatility diminished after optimization, showing that making many smaller and more frequent adjustments to CPC targeting results in more precise control of campaign performance.

Conclusion

Google settings and algorithm changes cannot be controlled, and new constraints cannot always be predicted, but just as the cruise missile doesn’t know why the tank driver turned left, it doesn’t matter. The missile turns left without knowing the reason, and the BBM system adapts to changes without any justification or explanation as well.

The algorithms simply use the data to make the best decision possible, and that’s quite literally the best available solution for SEM optimization thus far.

Have a question?

“A talk can always be judged by the questions,” explained Bryan Minor.  After he presented this information at SMX Advanced, Minor had a lineup of intrigued SEM experts waiting to ask him more about BBM. It’s only natural to have a question after this presentation.

Leave a comment and get an answer. It’s that simple. Bryan Minor has many more scientific secrets to share.

 

No Better Time to Give Bing Ads a Try

bing promotion

So, you’re spending all your ad spend with Google AdWords, how’s that working out for you? If you’re wondering about what other search marketing options there are beyond the seemingly infinite grasp of Google, you’ve come to the right place. At Acquisio, your success as an advertiser is our success, and we want to ensure that you get the most bang for your advertising buck by making sure you don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Simple, easy and effective solution - Bing Ads

3 Great reasons to use Bing Ads:

1)  There are 158 million people that search with the Yahoo! Bing Network who don’t use any other search engine. Your business is missing out on millions of potential clients by focusing too much of your advertising budget exclusively on other search engines.

And if you think those 158 million people don’t matter to your business, think again.

2) Bing searchers are proven to be more active spenders.

  • Bing searchers spend 23% more than the average internet searcher
  • Bing searchers spend 4.3% more than searchers on Google
  • Bing searchers are proven to make a purchase decision faster than those using other search networks

True, the reach is smaller, but you’ll be reaching higher quality users, and that’s worth it.

3)  Acquisio is offering up to $2,500 of free advertising on Bing.

Set up is easy and by participating in the promotion, if you are a new Bing Ads client, you can receive:

  • $100 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $500 to $1,000
  • $750 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $1,001 to $7,000
  • $1,500 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $7,001 to $25,000
  • $2,500 incentive for 3 months of Global Monthly Bing Ads spend of $25,001 +

The process is simple:

  1. Sufficient Budget will be Allocated to Bing Ads Campaigns
  2. Keywords will be Deployed and Managed with Acquisio Rules
  3. Monthly Reports of Bing Ads Performance will be Delivered

Diversify your ad spend; it can really help you grow. There’s no time to waste, our promotion ends July 31st 2014, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time.  If you want more information, or you want to try Bing Ads, contact us here.

Bing Ads Express – There’s Still Hope

bign ads express

With the recent announcement that Bing Ads Express is shutting down, Marc Poirier, Acquisio founder and SEM expert, looks into what went wrong and offers his suggestions on how Bing could turn the tables and potentially revive the Express Ads program in a new way.

The Announcement

“On July 30th, we will sunset the Bing Ads Express product and will offer search marketing opportunities to our customers only through Bing Ads,” announced Bing this week, on June 16th, 2014.

The Bings Ads Express program launched last October, 2013, and allowed SMBs to set up ads without fussing over any of the campaign details. Businesses simply filled out a short form with their basic company information, set their budget and the Bing team did the rest of the work.

The goal was to help out small businesses that didn’t have the time or the expertise to manage their paid search campaigns. In theory, taking all the stress and work out of paid search was great, but in reality, Bing Ads Express just didn’t sync with users. Here’s why.

What Went Wrong

For one thing, Bing Ads Express presumably wasn’t being used by its intended clientele.

Bing wanted to target businesses with limited experience in paid search, people who didn’t know what keywords to use or how to manage their ads. But SMBs with limited experience and a limited budget more often than not invested their money in paid search they recognized and trusted – like Google.

Instead, Bing was likely working with SMBs who were” too savvy” for the Bing Ads Express program, explains SEM expert and Acquisio founder, Marc Poirier. “Likely the businesses advertising on Bing only knew about the search engine because they already had sufficient spend or experience with Google AdWords and they wanted to experiment with some other advertising route.”

In that case, the simplicity of the program would not appeal to the more experienced SMBs using it. Suddenly the entire premise of the system becomes a problem. Clients wanted more control over their ads. The SMBs wanted to decide where their ads were showing up, what keywords were being used and so on, and that kind of input was not compatible with the Express model.

Another problem Bing Ads Express faced was traction. “Bing would have had to spend a fortune acquiring new relationships with their clients, setting up accounts and supporting them,” said Poirier. Bing would have to spend a lot of time and money convincing SMBs to advertise with them, and it just wasn’t worth the effort.

One last problem Bing Ads Express faced was the limitations of their product. Express was a PPC program, but SMBs don’t care about clicks as much as they care about calls and conversions. There are no call tracking features with Bing Express Ads, and the basic features that come with the program didn’t do much to maximize conversions for local or mobile. True, these are not basic features, and true, Google Adwords Express has these same issues, but without offering too much in the way of paid search, it was difficult for Bing to attract new businesses and draw SMBs away from Google Adwords.

Express Ads 2.0?

Is there still hope for the Bing Ads Express product? It’s been retired, and reporters are saying R.I.P, but Marc Poirier feels there’s still a glimmer of life there.

“Working with resellers is the way to go,” explains Acquisio’s founder. “Removing the SMB facing portal doesn’t mean Bing won’t keep a lot of the work they did and use it for resellers. Bing Ads Express for resellers is still on the table.”

Trying to address SMBs one by one didn’t work. It will more strategic for Bing to work with resellers who already have thousands of clients and can introduce a new product, like Bing Ads Express, easily.

Plus, it will be better for Bing to work with resellers who you can incentivise to promote their product to SMBs. That way, instead of selling to SMBs themselves and making little headway, resellers can help Bing push their product on already existing clients.

Bing may have lost the Express Ads battle so far, but they’re still fighting the paid search war. According to Poirier, with smart strategies and partnerships, the underdog might just come out on top.

 

3 Ad Tech Acquisition Trends of 2014 and What They Mean

acquisition

It’s fun to hear about corporate giants gobbling up the latest and greatest start-ups or businesses to grow their empire, and there’s always a thing or two to learn from the most recent ad tech acquisition trends. This year, in 2014, corporations are doing whatever they can to grow their marketing departments and cloud offerings. Looking at the big name buyers and the companies they bought, here are the three key acquisition trends you should be aware of.

Trend 1 – Audience Data

Earlier this year when computer technology corporation, Oracle, bought data management company, BlueKai, for approximately $400 million, we saw the start of the audience data acquisition trend. Companies like AOL (who purchased Adap.tv for data mining and targeting) and J.D. Power (linking digital ads to car purchases with their newest acquisition, Korrelate) were also looking for ways to manage and match their audience data.

Corporations want to merge their online audience data with their offline data. Why is this worth $400 million for Oracle? Well, for one, BlueKai is one of the largest audience data providers in the world, and by acquiring it Oracle has complete access to its pool of audience data. Plus, using BlueKai, information about every person landing on Oracle’s webpage can be collected. Oracle will have access to potential customers’ interests, socio demographic data and more, and with that info they can retarget more effectively.

There is a limited supply of good quality audience data pools out there and Oracle, AOL, J.D Power and others have already taken a fair few of these management companies off the market.

I’m willing to bet that we will see big Fortune 500 brands buying audience providers as well. Those corporations will have an in house advantage not only from merging their online and offline audience data, but by taking audience data resources away from competitors. Walmart has already gotten in on the action.

Trend 2 – Cross Device Targeting

With the explosion of devices on the market (smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc) cookie tracking isn’t as effective. There is now a growing acquisition trend where corporations are buying up cross device technologies and integrating them into their product offering. MediaMath, the global technology company, for example, bought Tactads to enable cookieless cross device targeting and measurement.

It only makes sense that corporations would want to follow their users across all devices without losing track of data, but this technology is so new and so complicated there are not a lot of players on the field yet. It’s definitely a technological field that will be growing, and big name brands want to get in on this trend now before it’s too mainstream.

Trend 3 – Attribution Offerings

Attribution is the third largest trend we’re seeing in 2014, with big buys coming from Google (purchasing Adometry) AOL (buying Converto) and Ensighten (buying Tagman in attempts to rival Adobe). Not only are corporations anxious to track audiences across devices and merge online and offline data, these big name brands need to know where their conversions are coming from.

Buying up attribution offerings is no big shock, but these big acquisitions mark the beginning of the formation of market leaders. In house attribution offerings are usually weaker, so by big companies buying attribution resources they are paving the way for stronger more accurate attribution models.

What does all this mean? It means more accurate tracking, management and analysis of audience data, and by extension it means stronger more informed ads.

Just as PPC platforms started as a trend, now there are only a few key players dominating the market. Soon we’ll see which vendors can grab the biggest piece of the audience data and attribution pie and we’ll see where that leaves all the little guys.

 

* The views expressed in this post are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of Acquisio. 

Acquisio’s Mad Scientist of Paid Search, Bryan Minor, to Present at SMX Seattle

bryan header
tshirtYou can always trust Acquisio to be at SMX Seattle with our stand-out t-shirts (come grab one from our booth), but this year we’re excited to have Chief Scientist, Bryan Minor, share his story and insights along with the other “Mad Scientists of Paid Search” on Day 1 of the Expo.

Since last year’s SMX Seattle event we at Acquisio have many things to be proud of, including our ever expanding team, making the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ Program list as one of Canada’s top 10 fastest growing technology companies for the third consecutive year, and our resident rocket scientist, Bryan Minor’s, game changing Bid & Budget Management technology.

Listen to Minor describe the experiments, testing and analysis behind his insanely successful discoveries and creations at Acquisio and beyond, and learn how you can uncover similar insights at your own business.

Search Marketing Expo – SMX Advanced 2014

9:00am -10:15 am
Room 11B
Paid Search Track
The Mad Scientists of Paid Search
Sponsored by:
channel advisor

About Bryan Minor
Bryan Minor, Chief Scientist, Acquisio (@BryanMinorPhD)

Bryan’s entire career has been focused on developing algorithms. He previously worked with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) on space physics nuclear threat mitigation and with many top flight biotech firms (Merck, Pfizer, ABI etc.) before focusing on internet marketing.

In 2001, Minor formed ScienceOps, a division of Tethers Unlimited Inc, to service algorithm development software projects for private industries. Over time ScienceOps clients evolved from space physics and biotech firms to internet advertising agencies.

In 2007 Bryan came up with the concept for AdMetrica for optimizing Google Display advertising and, at Ad-Tech SF in 2012, Bryan met with Marc Poirier of Acquisio. This resulted in Acquisio purchasing ScienceOps. Minor then formulated the idea of using AdMetrica technologies to optimize Google Search with Bid and Budget Management, and hence Acquisio’s BBM was born.

BBM continues to grow, with thousands of clients using it successfully every day.

Thanks Bryan and good luck at SMX! We’re looking forward to it.

Acquisio provides digital marketers with a performance media platform that enables them to optimize the results of their search, social, mobile, and display marketing programs with speed, accuracy, and efficiency, and with full control over every aspect of their online marketing initiatives.