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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Microsoft’s Free Windows OS + Bing Ads Could Change Everything

option 2 microsoft

In a world where Google is a common verb and where Apple iPads are toddlers’ favorite toys, it’s hard to imagine anything that can crumble the Google/Apple empire. But there’s been a new development, one that could potentially turn into a digital David and Goliath story.

Microsoft’s announcement

windows_bing_0_1Microsoft announced last month that it will soon give away a free version of Windows (yup, completely free) for small devices like smartphones and tablets. Recently Microsoft shared more details about the plan, saying the free OS will be a new operating system called “Windows 8.1 with Bing” and will be available for small devices (including low cost computers) with screens of less than 9 inches.

“Windows 8.1 with Bing” will be preloaded on small devices and in some cases may come with a free subscription to Office. In all cases, when a users opens their internet browser, Bing will be the default search engine.

This announcement is great for Bing, and if Bing does well that’s great news for Microsoft who will soon rely on Bing Ads as a new source of revenue once their OS is available for free.

While many people may dismiss this announcement, Marc Poirier, SEM expert and founder of Acquisio, sees the potential in the new Microsoft/Bing strategy.

Why is this meaningful?

Right now Microsoft generates money by selling licensing to their Windows software and programs, but Microsoft is in a position where they can no longer hope to grow their company by selling licenses alone.

“The world has changed,” explains Poirier, “Google is out there with free Google apps and people can use Microsoft Office-like environments in the cloud.” Microsoft needs to think of alternative ways to exist or else the company will face the same problem Yellow Pages once did.

yp old new

Yellow Pages was in denial about the success of the company up until they hit a wall. Realizing that no one wanted a paper book anymore, the directory restructured themselves, and with a lot of work they successfully transitioned online to new media.

Microsoft is at that same critical stage. Revenue from sales is limited, too many users have access to free alternatives, or even hacking, and the incentive to pay for operating systems is shrinking. Free OS is the way to go for Microsoft, it’s just a matter of executing it well.

If Microsoft changes their business model and gives away their OS, they need to make money somehow, and that is where the partnership with Bing comes in. By partnering with Bing, Microsoft will benefit from income generated through Bing Ads. Ad money will become their new source of revenue when sales profit no longer exist.

The Microsoft + Bing Potential

Bing has limited traction, with 30 percent reach in the Unites States and a mere 2-5 percent reach in other countries around the world. However, Microsoft has a popular OS that is used on the majority of computers worldwide.

Approximately 90 percent of computer owners have PCs and use Microsoft’s operating system. Because Microsoft Windows has such presence on computers all around the world there is a very significant opportunity for the Microsoft/Bing pair to upstage Google really quickly.

“If Microsoft effectively bolts Bing into the OS experience and the Bing search engine works well, users should have no reason to open up a new browser window with Google for search, and at that stage Bing Ads would become a real threat to Google as the next big global ad network,” explains Poirier.

The release of the free OS is not for PC computers, it is for small devices, and it’s no secret that Microsoft has not been very successful in getting people to adopt their mobile platforms. Giving the mobile operating system away for free, the way Apple does with iOS, may change that. More people may bundle the Microsoft OS, using it both on their PC and mobile or tablet devices. We’ll have to see how Microsoft handles it, but there is definitely strong potential.

Microsoft will also share the free OS with low cost computers, which are becoming more and more popular for audiences with low income or even those in developing countries. With the free OS available on these devices, Microsoft and Bing will reach a wide international audience, which is key to their success.

If people all over the world start using Bing rather than Google, Bing Ads will increase in value and popularity. With this massive potential  to change the way marketers distribute advertising efforts, if things go as Microsoft hopes, get ready to split your advertising budget between Google and Bing Ads.

Maybe we’ll even start saying “Bing it” instead of “Google it.” Who knows?

New Pinterest Ads Not for Performance Marketers

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We hear the buzz about Pinterest ads and we’re telling all you performance marketers to quiet down. Here’s what you need to realize about Pinterest’s latest release on promoted pins.

After the initial announcement last fall, Pinterest’s product manager, Julie Black, has confirmed that the photo sharing platform is moving forward with promoted pins with select brands. The keyword here is “select.”

Joanne Bradford, Head of Partnerships at Pinterest, released the list of brands taking part in the first paid test. Here are the brands within the small group:

  • ABC Family
  • Banana Republic
  • Expedia.com
  • Gap
  • General Mills
  • Kraft
  • lululemon athletica
  • Nestle
  • Old Navy
  • Target
  • Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
  • Ziploc®

Unless your brand ranks among these giants, it’s unlikely Pinterest will allow you to advertise on their platform. Here’s why.

Pinterest wants brands to commit to spending between $1 and $2 million on promoted pins and the image platform intends on pricing CPMs between $30 and $40 according to AdAge. We can assume that range is out of most performance marketers budgets.

The iAd approach

“This reminds me of apple iAd, ” says Marc Poirier, SEM expert and founder of Acquisio.

“Apple invested a lot of money and made a lot of noise about the ad network that they created for iOS, iAd, but there were a few problems. For one, they insisted on maintaining control of the look and feel of everything and secondly, the cost of entry was absolutely prohibitive, so if you wanted to test you had to be a really large brand with millions of dollars to spend on digital media.”

It sounds pretty familiar, but what happened with Apple’s iAd strategy? Well, Apple lowered their minimum amount of advertising from close to $1 million to $50, abandoning their premium appeal and introducing self service tools to attract developers.

Pinterest may do something similar in the future, but as it stands right now performance marketers are not invited to the promoted pins party – it’s restricted to VIP only.

Why so expensive, Pinterest?

There’s a big up side to Pinterest’s premium ad strategy. If Pinterest maintains control of what people put on their platform, the way Apple did with iAd initially, they shouldn’t disrupt their audience experience. This is great for users who get ticked off whenever their favorite platform starts releasing advertisements, clogging up their screen with ads they don’t want (and let’s face it, that’s all users). With this strategy Pinterest fans shouldn’t notice any difference between promoted pins and the ones they usually see on their page.

If a company introduces paid advertisement, users may likely be turned off by the ads and leave. Pinterest doesn’t want their loyal pinners to run for the hills, and they don’t want their beautiful organic photos to be replaced with salesy banner ads, so they’re probably right in controlling which brands use promoted pins.

Pinterest is able to set their standards so high because they have something big brands want – a highly concentrated audience of women. The idea of having ads on Pinterest, where you can so accurately target women aged 25-34, is intriguing, so intriguing that the big brands listed above are willing to dish out a million big ones (potentially) to connect with these ladies.

We’ll just have to see how long Pinterest limits promoted pins to premium brands. Right now this seems like the only move the not yet profitable platform can make to generate revenue without sacrificing the integrity of the product.

But is there another option?

“I think the real play for Pinterest is in their data more than how they’re going to sell ads themselves,” says Poirier.

Pinterest is sitting on a goldmine of information concerning their mostly female audience, and selling that data may be just as important as putting up ads in their own environment.

“In other words, explains Acquisio’s founder, “leveraging Pinterest data to target women outside of Pinterest is probably a bigger play for the company. If Pinterest wants to go big into performance marketing it will be with an external network (like Google with AdSense). Or Pinterest could just resell their data for people who want to buy display ads with real time bidding based on Pinterest data.”

Today the news of promoted pins on Pinterest is not so exciting, but the promise of it for a greater audience of advertisers, extending outside of the Pinterest area into other websites, may be worth buzzing about when and if that time comes.

Measuring Does Matter: Acquisio’s New Agency Level Reporting

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You asked for deeper more aggregated internal reporting for your SEM agency and you got it. Agency Level Reporting allows your agency to build reports on both client and staff performance to see which accounts and employees are excelling.

This internal reporting feature was our most requested feature ever and we promise it won’t disappoint. Our updated reporting system will help your agency’s performance go from good to great, or better yet, from great to greater, thanks to all the new report components.

Using the new Agency Level Reporting feature from Acquisio will:

  • Allow account managers to translate the relevant data into profitable changes and improvements within the agency.
  • Measure progress of accounts and employees in a way that surfaces how individuals are doing and how the agency is doing as a whole.
  • Create clear and customizable reports, that Admin users can feel comfortable with, to better organize, present and share all the agency data.

For these reasons, and so many more, good internal reporting is essential for SEM agencies.

What have we added to our internal reporting?

In addition to new report components like the Top Accounts grid, you can now leverage old time favorites such as Line/Column Charts, Pie Charts, Executive summary and Pivot Tables at the agency level.

With Agency Level Reporting you can now:

  • Calculate the amount of revenue each client account generates for your agency, based on markups
  • Show agency revenue by account and by month
  • Show how much global ad spend your agency has
  • Aggregate agency level trends so you can easily find your average CTR
  • Show cost by publisher
  • List the accounts with the top agency revenue

and too much more to list.

How does this help your SEM agency?

To get you started, a best practice template has been pre­loaded to the new Agency Templates tab in the Report Manager. It is there for your convenience but you also have the power and flexibility to build your own templates and reports to ensure that the information most valuable to you is highlighted and clear.

For example:

  • You can build multiple templates, including agency wide templates to track performance
  • You can now build reports that span all accounts or a subset of accounts
  • You can regroup reports by campaign manager

These additions will reveal everything you need to know about your SEM agency’s performance and will clarify where your agency’s strengths and weaknesses are. This will make it clear where additional effort should be focused in the future.

Lastly, these agency level reports can be manually shared via published URLs. Everything in this new Acquisio feature is designed to share insights and make internal reporting easier and more beneficial for your SEM agency.

If you want to learn more, or try it for yourself, check out Acquisio’s Editions.