Satisfied Advertisers Help Boost Twitter’s Q2 Earnings

twitter

Twitter just shared their 2014 Q2 earnings and it looks like the 140 character social media platform surpassed expectations despite previously disappointing results. Twitter’s stock rose 2 cents a share, compared to a loss of 12 cents a share last year at this time, and the company reported a 124% increase of revenue, earning $312 million.

Analysts predicted a 1 cent decrease in shares, so this news comes as a great surprise to many. Twitter’s stock shot up after the press release was made public.

twitter stock

But what was behind the platform’s improvement when user growth is slow? It seems like paid advertising is the answer.

Twitter Ad Revenue

Despite slower than expected growth in user activity, the social service has steadily increased their ad revenue.

twitter ad revenue

eMarketer forecasts that Twitter will have more than $1 billion in ad revenue in 2014, up 84% from 2013.

Right now, Twitter offers advertisers the opportunity to promote tweets, trends and accounts. The reasons these promotions are so attractive to advertisers are:

1. Twitter’s relationship with TV
2. Twitter’s real-time advertising opportunities, including targeting
3. Twitter’s willingness to collaborate on exclusive creative executions

“What Twitter has is more important than reach right now. They’ve captured the in-the-moment space, which is incredibly important to marketers,” said Scott Zalaznik, vice president of digital at Sprint to eMarketer.

Real Time Advertising

That in-the-moment space, or real-time social sharing, is what Twitter is all about. During large scale events like holidays or the TV specials like the Grammys, real-time tweets allow marketers to target an engaged audience with hashtags and respond and report on what’s happening live.

For example, during Pharrell Williams’ Grammy performance, Arby’s Restaurant tweeted:

arby's arbys-pharell-hed-2014

The tweet was so popular other brands like Pepsi and Hyundai retweeted it, calling it a Grammys Win. Plus, Pharrell Williams responded to the tweet the next day, which gave the tweet another 20,000 retweets and countless impressions.

This tweet even led to Arby’s and Pharrell partnering to auction the hat for charity, and the entire process was documented and shared through Twitter.

This is the kind of engaging cross platform advertising Marketers want to pay for.

The Twitter and TV Relationship

Real-time social sharing works hand in hand with TV advertising. Not only are Twitter hashtags dominating TV screens during both commercials and scheduled programs, but Twitter’s partnership with Nielsen for the “Neilsen Twitter TV Ratings” tracks the social impact of programs by calculating the number of tweets, accounts tweeting and impressions related to a given show right after the show airs.

For example, during the week ending March 9, 2014, AMC’s “The Walking Dead” was the top-ranked series, with 307,000 tweets by 146,000 different users, reaching an audience of more than 4.2 million people.These trackable numbers give advertisers somewhat of an understanding of their ROI.

These are the kind of metrics that excite advertisers and that’s why more and more Twitter Ads are getting posted during special events.

“For events like the Super Bowl, [Twitter] has become a regular part [of our advertising] year over year,” said Raashee Erry, media and connections planning manager at Volkswagen of America, reports e-marketer.

Twitter surpasses even Facebook in their cross platform TV tie-ins, and that’s a huge selling point for Twitter ads.

Collaboration

Because Twitter is still relatively new, the company is eager to work closely with advertisers in terms of creative development, media strategy and ecommerce partnerships. Unilever, for example, committed an estimated $500,000 to Twitter ads related to the Super Bowl after getting personalized guidance from Twitter executives.

This type of coaching and personalized assistance is common for Twitter advertisers, and it’s another reason marketers are satisfied with Twitter ads.

Conclusion

With everything Twitter offers to attract advertisers, advertising revenue is predicted to keep increasing. Advertisers have found a high quality engaged audience to target with Twitter and even if the user growth is slow, it’s still growing, and a growing platform is one advertisers want to collaborative with.

Advertiser support is what helped Twitter surpass expectations this quarter and Twitter Ads can keep Twitter performing well each quarter.

What I Learned about Paid Advertising – Reflections of a Newbie

what I learned about paid search

I’m no PPC expert, before I started working with Acquisio I didn’t even know that PPC stood for Pay Per Click – yikes – but by surrounding myself with Search Engine Marketers and PPC experts, like Acquisio Co-Founder, Marc Poirier, named one of the Top 25 most influential experts in PPC, I learned a few key lessons about excelling in paid search.

While I may not be able to teach Search Engine masters and Pay Per Click geniuses much in either department, I may be able to help campaign and account managers open their eyes to a few PPC truths they may be ignoring.

Here’s what I learned, in just two months at Acquisio, about Paid Search Advertising.

Automation is the only way to get ahead

The difference between a good PPC manager and a great one is insight, analysis and problem solving. But who has time to analyse and find insights from account data if PPC managers spend most of their time setting up, monitoring and generating campaign reports?

From my experience (albeit limited) it seems like too many PPC managers are going through the motions when it comes to campaign management without really building and growing their campaigns. It’s understandable considering PPC managers often have hundreds of accounts to run, but if PPC managers had the chance to step back, thanks to extra time saved by automation, they could revisit their accounts with fresh eyes and improve and optimize them.

Automation frees up PPC managers allowing them to analyse and solve issues they otherwise couldn’t address.

This isn’t a sales pitch to start using Acquisio’s automated system, it’s simply a recognition of the facts. Automation for PPC advertising exists, and it works, so if you are wasting your time when you could be optimizing, it’s time to consider automation.

It’s been the “year of mobile” since 2008, but marketers still haven’t optimized yet

year of mobile

It seems like the “year of mobile” never ends. It took digital marketers several “years of mobile” to set up mobile offerings, and it will probably take a few more “years of mobile” until those offerings are fully optimized. For now, at least, more and more companies are admitting the importance of mobile platforms and optimized mobile content – it’s just a matter of implementation.

With so many people using mobile and so few converting, mobile search, mobile landing pages and mobile content need a lot of work. There’s huge potential for improvement in order to boost mobile conversion rates, and now is the time to take advantage of it.

Facebook ads are a bust

I learned from experience that using Facebook for paid advertising is like throwing coins into a wishing well – a waste of money and hope.

Let me clarify, not all social media efforts are a bust (cross channel efforts and LinkedIn posts can be very effective), but paying to boost a Facebook post won’t get you very far. After a few tests here at Acquisio (which will be detailed in a future post) we learned that despite strict targeting guidelines, the people who saw our ads were not the people we aimed for. Results of our campaigns looked exciting – thousands of views and hundreds of likes, shares and clicks – but they were coming from people who had nothing to do with our field. The results meant nothing and we saw no real conversions from our efforts.

“Paid social media advertising should be like hitting the nitro button in the middle of a video game where you need that extra boost to pass your competitor to finish first. It is not a parachute string you pull after jumping out of the plane without any idea where you want to land,” explained Josh Roberie, from TekNarus.

With so many paid advertising options out there, there’s no use wasting your money on something that doesn’t deliver results. Work on strengthening content and building organic search before using paid ads as a crutch.

What I’m saying is…

If a PPC newbie like me knows all this, you probably should too!

Top US vs Canadian Marketing Tech Solutions

us vs can tech

Working in the technology industry, where there’s an abundance of marketing tech tools available, I often wonder what marketing technology solutions are most commonly used by the major North American brands. What tech is most popular and how do major brands in Canada and US differ in terms of technology adoption and usage?

Looking at Fortune 1000 lists for both Canada and the Unites States, it became clear that Canadian companies are generally more conservative when it comes to marketing tech adoption – buying less, spending less and being less innovative.

Why does this matter? It may have an effect on a company’s bottom line. If Canadian companies use, on average, half the tools Americans do, and there is less variety in terms of tech tools being used across the country, big brands in Canada may struggle to grow on a similar scale as their American counterparts.

Methodology

Using the standard Fortune 1000 lists, for Canada and America, I used builtwith.com to find out what technologies and tools each of those 2000 companies were using. Then I organized a unique list of all the major technologies, organized by function, with the percentage of all Fortune 1000 companies in the US and in Canada that use that particular tech tool.

The only issue with this methodology is that builtwith.com can detect the technologies and tools connected with a brand’s website, but PPC platforms (like Acquisio) don’t usually show up in this type of search because they are connected with third party agencies and not with the brands directly. In addition, any internal solutions created by the brand will not appear on this list.

So leaving out PPC platforms and internal tools from this search, here are the top results of the comparison between Fortune 1000 marketing tech solutions in US vs Canada.

Web Analytics

Almost every company on the Fortune 1000 lists relies on Web Analytics technology to measurement and analyse website data. The few companies without web analytics tech solutions have likely developed their own internal solutions, which did not appear in the builtwith.com search.

The most commonly used technology solution, being leveraged by a majority of Fortune 1000 companies in both countries, is not surprisingly Google Analytics.

With Canada taking the lead (as you can see from the table below), the second most popular tool in Canada, Omniture, is only used by 6% of all Fortune 1000 companies, marking a huge majority for Google Analytics. An almost equal percentage of American brands use Google Analytics, but what is interesting is that a significant chunk of Fortune 1000 companies in America use the expensive web analytics solution, Omniture, almost 4x more than Canadian companies. Across the board American companies use other web analytics tools significantly more than Canadian brands.

It seems that US based companies have a stronger web analytics in terms of diversity and adoption compared to their Canadian counterparts, who focus most of their efforts on Google Analytics (an inexpensive analytics tool).

USA

CANADA

Google Analytics

61%

67%

OmnitureSiteCatalyst

22%

6%

Google Universal Analytics

11%

6%

Web Trends

9%

2%

Omniture Adobe Test and Target

7%

2%

TeaLeaf

6%

1%

CrazyEgg

4%

3%

Conversant

2%

0.2%

ClickTale

2%

1%

Coremetrics

3%

1%

Cross Channel Media / Display

DoubleClick and AppNexus are the most popular cross channel media and display solutions used by Fortune 1000 companies, in America and Canada, but the difference in usage between the countries is staggering. Canadian brands used these solutions almost half as much as American brands.

How are Canadian companies remarketing and why are so few companies using available tech solutions? Whether Canadian companies are unwilling to invest in these technologies or they are investing internally it is unclear, but what is clear is that more American brands are investing more money into these existing cross channel media tools.

USA

CANADA

DoubleClick.Net

27%

16%

AppNexus

13%

7%

Facebook Exchange

8%

4%

Turn

6%

2%

Rubicon Project

6%

2%

Atlas

5%

1%

MediaMind

4%

1%

Google Remarketing

4%

5%

Casale Media

3%

2%

Twitter Ads

3%

1%

Bizo

3%

0.1%

Adap.TV

3%

1%

Rocket Fuel

3%

1%

ContextWeb

3%

1%

AdRoll

2%

1%

The Trade Desk

2%

2%

Mediaplex

2%

0.1%

Specific Media

2%

0.1%

Chango

1%

1%

Switch Ads

1%

0

Adometry

1%

0

LiveRail

1%

0

Tube Mogul

1%

0.3%

Accuen

1%

1%

Integral Ad Science

1%

0

Site Scout

0.4%

0.2%

AcuityAds

0.2%

1%

AdGear

0.1%

0.4%

Social Tools

At this point I saw the pattern – Canadian brands use one technology to a significant majority but overall fewer companies are using fewer solutions. The pattern continued with social tools and utilities. Even with Facebook tools appearing as the leader, the numbers were surprisingly low, for both countries, but especially for Canada.

USA

CANADA

Facebook Like

24%

19%

Facebook for websites

14%

8%

AddThis

13%

8%

Twitter Platform

11%

8%

Share This

5%

4%

Google+ Platform

5%

4%

Google+ +1 Button

4%

3%

Twitter Tweet Button

3%

2%

Linkedin Platform API

2%

2%

Content Management

With Canadian companies falling behind in terms of spend and diversity when it comes to marketing tech tools, I began to wonder what strategies these massive companies relied on. Content Management is the answer. Where a combined 23% of Canadian brands rely on various WordPress offerings only a combined 6% of American brands use WordPress solutions.

It appears to be a complete role reversal, where Canada finally comes out on top, but with both countries showing such low numbers (at a time when content marketing is all the rage) it seems like something else is in play here. Presumably many companies are implementing their own content management solutions.

In this case, while Canada uses the available tools significantly more, internal solutions must be a large piece missing from this puzzle.

USA

CANADA

WordPress

3%

9%

WordPress Plugins

2%

8%

WordPress 3.8 & 3.9

1%

5%

Drupal

3%

4%

Ektron

2%

1%

Joomla!

0.5%

2%

Conclusion

Tech tools for marketing automation, audience data, video, google apps, website chat and more were used so infrequently across all Fortune 1000 companies (with less than 6% majority in either country) they were excluded from the list. Despite the many gaps in data, collecting and sorting through all the marketing technologies used by major North American brands is something that has never been done before.

The first thing I set out to find was the diversity of technology solutions used across North America. The variety of tools used by Fortune 1000 brands in the US was impressive compared to Canada – with American companies generally using more than twice as many solutions as Canadians (this is easier to see in the original excel doc).

My second objective was to discover which marketing technologies were most popular among the highest grossing brands. There weren’t many surprises, with Google Analytics, DoubleClick.net, Facebook and WordPress rising to the top of their respective functions.

What doesn’t appear here (but can be seen in the complete list of Fortune 1000 technology adoptions) is that there are a surprising number of platforms being used. Canadian brands often had a clear favorite for each marketing function, but American brands used technologies both large and small, often integrating more tools into their offering.

The difference between the countries, if nothing else, shows that there are two very different strategies in place on either side of the border. Whether Canadian brands will be able to scale their businesses with half as many marketing tech tools is yet to be seen, but considering these businesses are all Fortune 1000 brands, both strategies must be working.

Learn the technologies used by top 1300 e-commerce retailers, or see the complete list of top marketing technologies used for US vs Canada Fortune 1000 companies.

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.

 

back_to_school.png

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.

back_to_school_genereal.png

 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.

photo (3)

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

photo (1)

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.

photo (6)

 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.

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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.