GMB Posts Now Available for Business Chains

GMB Posts Now Available for Business Chains

Chains, defined as 10+ locations, will be able to create Google Posts via the Google My Business (GMB) API on an on-going basis. Google has decided that chains, defined as 10+ locations, will be able to create Google Posts via the Google My Business (GMB) API on an on-going basis.   This feature is here to stay and will not disappear once the COVID Pandemic subsides. “Google temporarily lifted restrictions to the Posts feature back on March 27, 2020, but they have now made the Posts feature permanently available to chains.” (“Google Posts - Everything You Need to Know About GMB Posts”)     / BRIEF HISTORY Before the COVID Pandemic, Google My Business Posts had to be published manually listing by listing. This made Google Posts hard for enterprise-level accounts to maintain and justify the ROI.   As a response to the COVID Pandemic, Google released an update to the Google My Business API allowing for only COVID-related content to be published in bulk. Google My Business API documentation stated that “Note: In response to coronavirus (COVID-19), chains may now create Posts via the API for a limited time. Posts made by Chains should be related to business updates relevant to coronavirus (COVID-19).”   The COVID Posts update helped educate clients about Google Posts and more importantly ensured clients were able to get the word out about store locations’ COVID updates – i.e., Store closures, limited hours, health & safety protocols, and well wishes.   Using the Google My Business API, COVID Posts for promotional content was against Google Guidelines for chain businesses with more than 10 locations.   / WHY IT MATTERS It’s time to start incorporating Google Posts into your brands Local SEO strategy to make your branded search results stand out and increase listing engagement. Through testing, iProspect’s Local SEO programs have seen listing engagement and conversion rates lifted as much as +25% MoM when Google My Business Posts are published on location listings. Local SEO conversions are measured as clicks to the website, calls to the business, and request for driving directions.   Google Posts are an excellent opportunity to:   ·       Entice customers to choose your business over the competition ·       Drive brand awareness through engagement ·       Partner with paid channels to support campaign messaging organically ·       Display fully optimized Google location listings that support Click-Through Rate results   Google Posts are visible on desktop, mobile, and even voice searches. Google also recently updated Posts visibility to from 7 days on listing knowledge panels to 6 months.   Please reach out for best practices, questions, and case studies to the Local SEO team - local@iProspect.com.   / EXPECTATIONS ·       Hotel chains cannot utilize the Google Posts function. ·       This update does not include the ability to create Product Posts. ·       Google My Business API access is required to use the Bulk Posts function. Please note: Clients using listing managers such as Position Tech, Chatmeter, Rio, and Yext are connected to the API.   / RESOURCES ·       Google My Business Help Center GMB Posts Now Available for Business Chains 0

3 mins read

Google Marketing Livestream 2021

Google Marketing Livestream 2021

Google kicked off their flagship marketing event last week (Google Marketing Livestream) via a one-day livestream event. Google uses this annual occurrence as a platform to share new products & features which will help change our digital marketing industry over upcoming months. This year saw a slick event which flew by and you are not alone if you were too absorbed by Alicia Keys and Emmanuel Acho, only to look back and think “wait, what were the key takeaways?” Every digital marketer is preparing for the looming cookieless future, and weaved within the event were several tools built to navigate this change. This year saw an expected focus on privacy-first innovations and new measurement capabilities to better surface impactful insights. New Insights In addition to being a fantastic marketing channel, search is the world’s largest ongoing consumer survey. Google announced several new and updated features focused on surfacing more insights that marketers can leverage strategically. During this era of increasing automation, a significant amount of search marketing data has been removed from our visibility, and advertisers are desperate to get it back to inform strategic decision making. Last year Google made two high-profile changes: restricting data within the Search Terms Report (STR), and launching an initiative to offer free product listings within the Google Shopping Tab. Both were met with similar feedback from the industry – “We need more insights!” Google also introduced conversion reporting for free listed products, in addition to competitive visibility based on displayed impressions, doubling down on their philosophy of democratization of commerce. This is a step towards the creation of a holistic approach to Google Shopping which introduces the relationship between paid and organic. As advertisers, more insights result in a more informed strategy. The ability to dive into Google Ads or Google Merchant Center and surface these crucial details at a moment's notice is a powerful thing. New Tools for Action The value of an insight is significantly diminished without the ability to act upon it, and Google announced several new features that enable advertisers to both scale and optimize their campaigns across multiple Google properties. Google has increased the emphasis on Performance Max campaigns which they announced last October. There are 11 campaign types in Google Ads today and there is an argument that an advertiser needs to be live on at least 4 of them, targeted at the same goal, to get the best of Google's inventory. With that in mind, Performance Max campaigns complement your keyword-based Search campaigns to help you expand across all of Google's ad inventory to drive more conversions and value. GML also highlighted several other changes such as the introduction of tROAS targeting for Video action campaigns, in addition to adding more local attributes into Maps and YouTube. However, the update, which will impact the highest number of advertisers, will be the introduction of ad customizers within responsive search ads (RSAs). We truly believe that RSAs have the power to transform creative testing within the paid search industry. Combined with the option to pin copy, plus the reporting updates mentioned earlier in this article, and the ever advancing AI which powers it, RSAs are getting closer to becoming the omnipotent ad copy option we know they can be. Leveraging RSAs isn’t just a good idea, it has become a foundational best practice for paid search. Google is also continuing to make strides in the eCommerce space. Retailers need to build the best consumer experience and establish incremental places to get discovered. However, the core tool in the arsenal of a retailer is their brand, and yet it is this piece of the puzzle which seems to get lost as consumers increasingly start their search on a comparison site. Google has recognized this and is actively working to introduce “Storefronts”, a new brand experience and functionality within the Google Shopping platforms. Additionally they plan to launch Business Identity Attributes, allowing brands to highlight nuances such as “Female owned business”, and product feeds on Discovery, YouTube and Gmail, which will introduce incremental platforms for brands to be discovered. Continuing the focus on the Brand and Consumer experience, Google is building an inclusive ecosystem by developing new integrations and partnerships with Shopify, WooCommerce, GoDaddy and Square. The goal is to help all merchants to succeed with their eCommerce by lowering barriers and crafting an open ecosystem. Google even went as far as to mention the building of a cross-browser tab shopping cart within chrome which can work in conjunction with automated discount discovery tools to form a seamless shopping journey within Chrome which offers consumers the best prices for their chosen products in a single payment process.  This focus on empowering brands and streamlining the consumer journey excites us a lot and we are eager to partner with all involved to help develop such an impactful transformation.   Privacy & Measurement Google is looking to raise the bar on privacy while also building new solutions regarding first-party data. To achieve this they are increasing the functionality of Consent Mode, developing new modeling and workspaces within Google Analytics 4, and enhancing existing tech like conversion tracking, DDA, and Customer Match, to better fit this privacy-first world. Consent has been a huge shift in the online world over the past few years, starting with GDPR in Europe. Its goal is to establish a balance between data privacy and digital advertisements. Google launched Consent Mode late last year as a new way to measure conversions and get analytics insights when using services like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager (GTM), and Google Ads. The update announced at GML is the ability to integrate directly with Consent Mode via Tag Manager or Tag Manager 360 with no additional tagging required. Additionally, advertisers are expected to experience drops in measurable traffic due to privacy and consent regulations, so Google is launching a number of changes to increase data visibility and measurement. Through modelling, enhanced conversions will provide a new way to measure conversions even when fewer cookies are available. This launch will coincide with Google Analytics 4 Modelled Behavioural Reporting which will model on consented data to fill in gaps. Whatsmore, this data can be attributed in a more holistic DDA model which includes Display and YouTube traffic, and then can be analyzed and actioned within GA4’s new Advertising Workspace. Combined, these AI-driven data visibility and measurement updates should dramatically reduce any foreseeable data gaps and ease advertisers through this transition to a privacy-first world. Two lingering questions are how accurate will modeling conversions be over time and is there a diminishing returns effect which could be witnessed as increased benchmark data becomes concealed? Knowing that the aforementioned launches and updates are Google specific, some advertisers may still feel some distance between today’s setup and tomorrow’s privacy-first world.   CLOSING More data visibility partnered with innovative insight technology results in a more informed strategy and these announcements from Google truly lean into that approach. An integral part of these brand-building elements will be the ability for consumers to search by their personal values e.g. women-owned businesses, in addition to the ability for the advertiser to integrate loyalty program data and create custom pricing and experiences. While it may seem like a minor change on the surface, we believe it to be a huge stride towards Google that increases the empowerment of both the searcher and the advertiser. Google Marketing Livestream 2021 0

7 mins read

Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated

Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated

The new iProspect Future Focus report explores the intersection of consumer attention, commerce and data.    Today, we officially launch Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated as the essential read for conscientious marketers seeking to explore and exploit the latest consumer and industry advancements for brand growth. The 75+ page report addresses some of the most pressing aspects of modern marketing including; the battle for attention, wholesale changes in data privacy, and the emergence of assisted commerce.    Combining evidence-based research with interviews and responses from over 200 brand marketers in 29 countries, the Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated report delves deep into the challenges and opportunities faced in the current global climate and within the immediate media landscape. And, convenience and relevancy of media to the consumer is key, as 61% of marketers, polled for the report, considered ‘building a highly convenient experience for the consumer’ as the most powerful lever to generate business growth.i    The content of this sixth edition of the Future Focus series typifies the intricacies of bringing brand and performance together to achieve growth.     “Despite the challenging times we live in, I believe there have never been so many opportunities in media. With our new and unique approach of performance-driven brand building, we are firmly optimistic about the future and resolved to make it happen, today. With Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated as their guidebook, I hope all marketers will be able to leverage the growth potential afforded at these significant intersections of media, data, commerce and culture.”  Amanda Morrissey, Global President of iProspect    The findings showed that around 2 in 5 marketers (42%) still think the linear path to purchase is as relevant today as it was decades ago, despite the rise of digital. While at the same time 32% of marketers feel that expanding commerce capabilities is important for the 2021 roadmap, however 26% see this as one of the most difficult challenges this year.ii      Practical advice to marketers.   In addition to discussing and dissecting the impact of major global industry trends and innovations, the report spotlights the relevancy and opportunity for brands, regardless of sector, to capitalise on these seismic shifts in the media landscape. Examples of the report’s advice and guidance for marketers worldwide include:    #1: Commerce is Everywhere    Organisations should strive to build and maintain an accurate picture of their commerce capabilities across five key dimensions: desirability, availability, findability, buyability, and repeatability. This will help them define the most profitable commerce model for their brand, better integrate their e-commerce and stores into an actionable omnichannel strategy, explore new growth channels, and turn media opportunities into transaction opportunities.    #2 The Battle for Attention  Brands should consider factoring attention into their media optimisation and measurement efforts to elevate the impact and efficiency of their investment. To maximise audience attention, they should ensure the content and experiences they design truly align with consumer intent, and that the campaigns they develop do not relegate diversity and inclusivity as afterthoughts.  #3 The New Data Playbook    On the data front, organisations should embrace the new privacy-conscious world by re-evaluating the value exchange they offer to their audiences and anticipate technological changes to minimise business disruption. This is the occasion to explore opportunities for automation, evaluate the quality of the data they collect and process, and more broadly reflect upon how data is effectively used to inform decisions.    The last point is of particular significance as the report found in some circumstances there are huge disparities between what the consumer and brand marketer think, when it comes to assessing data value. Only 9% of marketers believe helping a company improve products or services is an incentive for consumers to share their data, while 44% of consumers believe it is a good enough reason to release personal identifiable information (PII) to the brand.iii     Download your copy of Future Focus 2021: Brands Accelerated now.    -----------------------------------------   [i] Proprietary omnibus survey: iProspect, 2020 Global Client Survey, 12 Oct–11 Nov 2020, 202 respondents. [ii] Proprietary omnibus survey: iProspect, 2020 Global Client Survey, 12 Oct–11 Nov 2020, 202 respondents. [iii] iProspect 2020 Global Client Survey (Oct 2020) and iProspect and Microsoft Advertising, Consumer Privacy and Data Survey (Mar 2020) 0

4 mins read

Google Page Experience Update

Google Page Experience Update

Google have long made clear that brands should optimize their sites and content for people, not for search engines. In a move which takes this a step further, Google has announced an algorithm update that focuses on page experience, which will be a big ranking factor. SEOs have long questioned how much page experience plays a part in Google’s algorithmic ranking factors, which Google have been historically vague in answering. This update, due to roll out in May 2021, changes that – in a big way. How do we know it’s going to be big? Google is notorious for updating their ranking algorithm without any notification. This advance notice is demonstration of the expected significance of the update for websites – both good and bad. Those already savvy may know that the announcement of Page Experience updates was first made in a Google Search Central blog post from May 2020. Recently however, the rollout was confirmed for May 2021.   So how will this update impact the SEO landscape, and what should you do to make sure your website doesn’t lose Organic visibility?   What’s Changing? Google will now be using their Core Web Vitals metrics, first introduced in April 2020, as a ranking factor. These are technically a subset of a more general group of Web Vitals, “ … quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web.” Core Web Vitals however are most important, and measure three key usability factors: ·       Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures the load time of a page’s largest assets (video, images, text blocks, etc…). ·       First Input Delay (FID): Measures the time it takes for a web page to respond to user interaction (submitting a contact form, interacting with a live chat function, etc…). ·       Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures the amount of element ‘shifting’ that occurs on a page (ever accidentally tap on an ad or link that suddenly appeared on a mobile page? Yeah…). (image: https://developers.google.com/search/blog/2020/05/evaluating-page-experience)   The impact of this update may also play a part in the performance of paid campaigns driving to your website. The changes made to your site in supporting this algorithm update should also directly feed into Paid Campaign landing pages. What Should You do Now? This update is an added layer to some of the technical foundation items brands should have been focusing for the last several years: Security, Mobile Friendliness, and Speed. Core Web Vitals should be a major focus for your SEO strategy in 2021. Ignoring this update could result in your website losing SEO value and your competitors outranking you in organic search. We recommend getting a pulse check on your website’s Core Web Vitals ASAP. Use the Enhancements report in Google Search Console to find out which desktop and mobile pages are performing well, and which have room for improvement. Working with your SEO and Development teams will be critical in addressing the noted issues.   (image: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-search-console-core-web-vitals/370591/) Contact us to start preparing your website for the Page Experience update. 0

3 mins read

A Successful Content Strategy Includes Video

A Successful Content Strategy Includes Video

Video consumption continues its upward trajectory into 2021 as a popular source for information and entertainment on the web. By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic, according to a recent study by Cisco. YouTube is still the world’s second largest search engine, making it a great driver of organic traffic and brand awareness. The platform has progressed tremendously since the days of cat videos. While it is primarily a home for independent content creators, brands have traditionally kept a distance from the platform. Those that have, continue to produce short bursts of content akin to advertisements. These can sometimes prove to be ineffective as a strategy to engage your target audience. We suggest taking advantage of all the below platform features to enhance your YouTube strategy and to engage your audience. Suggested Clips: Google has always strived to improve search and make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for. The search engine giant first introduced “suggested clips” in 2017, a feature that allows users to jump to the point in the video where the answer to the search query appears. The purpose of suggested clips is to make it easier for users to find the answer to their questions. Consumer behavior often results in the user viewing the answer to their question then continuing to click through to gather more information.   (Source: Google) Key Moments: Google has also added another enhancement to video featured snippets by introducing the Key Moments Feature. This update shows users exactly what the video contains, organized by time stamps.   A Search Engine Journal article from May 2020, pointed out that “appearing in suggested videos can generate almost as many views as appearing in YouTube’s search results.” For the brands that have invested in YouTube, they have positioned themselves well for video search in both search engines – Google and YouTube.     Watch Time and Engagement: Google was granted a patent for an algorithm that uses “watch time” as a ranking factor for videos. An August 2012 article by Google explains that watch time is used as part of their video discovery feature, an existing part of their algorithm. To promote rich, informative content and combat click-bait, the video discovery feature recommends videos based on engagement. The greater the watch time, the more times the video will be recommended, and in turn the more traffic the video will receive. This “survival of the fittest” approach naturally buries low-value, click-bait content and rewards high-value, informative content designed to enrich the lives of its viewership. Informative and valuable content for viewers acts as a lever brands can use to speak directly to their audience and expand their reach. Brands should not be afraid to build out long-form content. Consumers will engage with their brand if it’s entertaining and valuable without clicking away. Some great examples of Brands building audiences on YouTube with engaging content includes Lego and BMW. Lego invests into building short movies using Lego characters. They also host podcasts with designers who have used Lego to build unique things such as models of race cars and skyscrapers. This, and other types engaging content has helped Lego build an audience of 11.5 million subscribers. BMW uses their YouTube channel to build How-to videos showing their audience – both owners and would-be owners – features of their latest model. BMW’s videos are much shorter, often just over a minute in length, but are extremely useful. Users will often watch the same video multiple times if they are trying to learn about a new feature in their car, thus organically enhancing watch time.   Mobile: More than 70% of YouTube views come from a mobile device. This makes YouTube a staggering tool for audience engagement. While mobile usage was already increasing across the world due to an increased number of commuters using mobile devices on their way to work, research from Statista.com shows that world wide mobile phone use has increased by 70% as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.   The average engagement time from mobile users is 40 minutes, meaning that users are looking to learn something new and research new topics as they spend more time in their homes. The NY Times reported that traffic to YouTube.com has increased by 15.3% since the start of the pandemic.   According to Think With Google, 91% of smartphone users use their device while completing a task. These tasks including anything from fixing a sink to shopping for jeans. With the mobile phone as a key research tool during a consumer’s journey, Google’s featured snippets updates allow consumers to find answers quickly and easily to their questions. Furthermore, users can use suggested clips and key moments to find the answers to their problems within a video, thus saving them more time. Convenience is what consumers are after, and brands can win in this space by creating video content useful to users.     Smartphone usage isn’t just a consumer trend. Google has also increasingly favored mobile devices over desktop. Since 2015, Google has pushed for a more mobile-friendly internet. YouTube is already optimized for mobile, offering a seamless jump from a Google video result to the YouTube app on a mobile device. In the below graph, we see the growth of video impressions over the course of 16 months for a CPG iProspect client in the shave care space. This growth was accomplished through a content strategy focused on long-form, how-to style video content.     Brands should consider YouTube to further establish themselves as an authority within their vertical. With over one billion hours watched daily and almost one-third of the internet using YouTube, brands have the potential to accumulate a large volume of views which lead to improved brand awareness and an increase in sales. As you plan for 2021, YouTube and video content are important strategies to consider for your brand to ensure you are meeting your customer during every stage of their online search journey. 0

6 mins read

Affiliate Acquisitions Kick off Q1 2021

Affiliate Acquisitions Kick off Q1 2021

In the first few weeks of 2021, four major Affiliate industry acquisitions/partnerships were announced: TopCashback-owner TOPG acquired Swedish affiliate Refunder, Global Savings Group acquired Shoop Germany, Button announced a major collaboration with CJ Affiliate, and the Rakuten-owned Cartera subnetwork has partnered with Bumped, a startup loyalty app that rewards through stock options rather than cashback or points. While all are newsworthy and meaningful, it’s the Bumped/Cartera news that will most likely impact our clients’ performance and also sparks some debate and discussion. Through the integration, Cartera will opt-in all live merchants to Bumped if they are ITP Compliant and Track on Mobile. The integration enables users an “entry point to investing” without a separate app, aka the opportunity to use their purchase rewards in the stock market. It’s a win-win for users, but it’s also advantageous for our clients. Why? The Cartera program (a huge program as it is, with major airline and credit card rewards programs in its network) can now be integrated seamlessly and without a setup fee. Integrating with Bumped through Cartera will reach a new audience of finance-savvy shoppers who are looking for great deals -- in many ways it is similar to the Capital One acquisition of Wikibuy in that respect. It’s a value add and an audience expansion opportunity. But unlike Capital One and Wikibuy, the marriage of a finance giant and a huge affiliate publisher is an example of the conglomerate Rakuten integrating yet another affiliate publisher (although not explicitly acquiring). Ebates acquired Cartera in 2017, and Ebates, now Rakuten Rewards, was acquired before that by Rakuten in 2014, in one of the biggest plays in commerce this past decade. Bumped is one more publisher to be absorbed by Rakuten, where Rakuten is now both the third-party tracking network and the affiliate publisher itself. Rakuten’s strategy to expand across network technology and publishers has proved successful for them thus far. Still, it’s also created a bit of the elephant in the room in the industry. All roads now lead to... Rakuten?   Except that Rakuten isn’t the only network taking such an overt approach in the affiliate space. Button’s partnership with CJ Affiliate is another example of a major network integrating with a publisher powerhouse. Button’s partnership with CJ is aimed to optimize mobile traffic and fuel app installations seamlessly. The fairness of this practice and whether there needs to be more regulation around these acquisitions is a hot topic in the affiliate world. Since there have been no regulations put in place thus far, it’s unlikely that the partnership land grab will cool down any time soon. Now that Pepperjam and Partnerize have joined forces in another big merger, it’s possible that such a play may also be in the cards for them as well. We see the competition's concern and reasoning behind it. On a tactical level, advertisers may be forced to join multiple networks to work with all the partners that would benefit the program, which we are wary of for our clients. However, in the case of Bumped, it helps advertisers, as there is a one-stop-shopping ease for consumers and brands themselves. As we work with each network in an agency partnership model, we feel confident we can help our clients navigate this tightening competition and conglomeration territory. 0

3 mins read

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dentsu bolsters global media offering by bringing together iProspect and Vizeum brands to form future-focused iProspect brand globally

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Google's Match Type Evolution drives smarter targeting

Google's Match Type Evolution drives smarter targeting

Today, Google announced changes to Paid Search keyword match types. While the depreciation of broad match modifier (BMM) will likely get the most attention, Google is also making two other more subtle changes which will give savvy marketers more control their search campaigns. Just like the good old days but with a lot more variants and AI and…on second thought, nothing like the good old days but still exciting.   The three changes: 1.     Broad match modifier (BMM)is being sunset and replaced by an evolved version of phrase match 2.     Exact match keywords will become more predictable in terms of query to keyword mapping 3.     Broad match keywords will deliver fewer irrelevant impressions due to the incorporation of incremental signals like landing page and other keywords in ad group to determine if a query is relevant One important note: None of these changes affect negative keywords.  Negative match types will continue to work as they currently do.   BMM and Phrase Merge Google is bringing behaviors of broad match modifier into phrase match and starting in February both phrase and BMM keywords will begin to serve using the updated phrase match behavior. They believe advertisers using phrase match are potentially missing relevant queries, while advertisers using BMM are potentially reaching irrelevant queries. Therefore, Google will be phasing out support of the BMM match type while simultaneously expanding the matching criteria of phrase match effectively consolidating the two match types into one.    Many within our industry have been doing this for a while with the phrase match modifier hack. This purpose-built version from Google removes the need for the ‘+’ syntax and utilizes AI to determine when word order is relevant to the meaning of the search. We know, we know, less control and more faith in Google AI but we will reserve judgement until the test results are in.   Here’s the timeline: ·       Between now and mid-February: No changes ·       From mid-February to April: BMM and phrase match types will start functioning in this new way. Both will have the reach of BMM, but the control of phrase Match. During this three-month period, only eight languages will be affected - English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, and Russian. ·       June to July: The process is repeated for all remaining languages ·       July onwards: Marketers will no longer be able to create new BMM keywords. Existing keywords will remain in the account but will function in the way described above, not like BMM functions now. The only remaining match types available will be exact, phrase, and broad.   Between February and April we do not know the speed of the roll out so advertisers should not presumptively make changes to account structures or match types unless performance dictates. Deleting BMM keywords in favor of phrase keywords, or converting BMMs to phrase, prior to the completion of the rollout could result in a more substantial loss in volume than if advertisers wait until April to make these changes.   Marketers should, however, establish regular reporting to monitor volume and performance by match type, adjust budgets where necessary, and consistently examine the search terms report, adding negative keywords to filter irrelevant queries. As matching criteria changes expand, it will be important to monitor corresponding campaign budgets in order to accommodate changes in volume, in addition to reviewing keyword coverage.   Here’s an example of where monitoring is necessary – “Car Charger For Sale” is currently a phrase match term reaching people who are looking to buy car chargers. If this new version of phrase match was to misunderstand the “meaning” of the term, that it could incorrectly match to “Charger Car For Sale” which would reach individuals looking to buy a Dodge Charger. We have faith in Google’s AI but strongly encourage all Paid Search experts monitor their keywords and anticipate possible errors.   Exact Match Becomes More Powerful Google will also be rolling out small, yet exciting, amends to other match types as well. For exact match, Google is making the most efficient match type easier to prioritize in complex accounts. No longer will other match types, or even close-variants with a higher Ad Rank, compete with a query that is identical to the exact match keyword.   You read that correctly. Search queries that exactly match the exact match keyword, live in the account, (or the spell corrected version of the query) will always be preferred vs other match types and variants. That sound you hear in the distance is thousands of search marketers cheering.   Previously, while and exact keyword that identically match a query was supposed to be preferred, there were cases where other keywords with lower bids and higher Ad Rank could be used instead. This resulted in Paid Search experts building exhaustive lists of cascading negatives to help alleviate any exact match anomalies. We can now sleep happily with the knowledge that any doubt has been removed and these inconsistencies are a thing of the past, at least when the query exactly matches the keyword.   While the effect on performance from this change is likely to be minimal, Paid Search experts should monitor exact match traffic to better understand if any uplift occurs through this slight alteration in match type preference, then adjust budgets and strategies accordingly.   Broad Match Becomes More Targeted Finally, there is a slight yet impactful change to broad match targeting. A common complaint is that broad match is too broad and triggers irrelevant spend. This new update will insert additional signals within the match type criteria to improve overall quality and relevance. For example, landing page content will now be used as a signal to better qualify relevance to a given query. Using the previous example of “Car Chargers”, broad match would be able to better appreciate that the landing page contains copious amounts of charging hardware and no Dodge Chargers, thus (hopefully) avoiding any irrelevant results.   Overall, we understand why Google is making these changes and believe there is long term benefit to be found from the new match type definitions. BMM and phrase served a similar purpose, and the phrase match modifier hack was just that, a hack. Making exact match more…exact again is definitely a great move and the update to broad match terms will offer some interesting future tests.   0

6 mins read

dentsu bolsters global media offering by bringing together iProspect and Vizeum brands to form future-focused iProspect brand globally

dentsu bolsters global media offering by bringing together iProspect and Vizeum brands to form future-focused iProspect brand globally

London, Jan 12th - dentsu today confirmed its intent to integrate iProspect and Vizeum to create a new, future-focused, end-to-end global media agency under the iProspect banner. By integrating these two award winning agencies, dentsu brings Vizeum’s media strategy and planning, storytelling, and brand building capabilities together with iProspect’s digital expertise, audience knowledge, and performance mindset. Clients will have access to the unique capabilities of both agencies, all from one integrated team leading the new territory of performance-driven brand building by delivering digital-first media strategies underpinned by data and technology at every touchpoint in the consumer journey. The new iProspect media agency will draw from the broader dentsu capability set, allowing clients the flexibility to seamlessly build bespoke and specialised teams with resources from across the network. Clients will gain access to expansive new audience insights, integrated and more effective strategies, market-leading planning and activation, and unparalleled business performance. Carat and dentsu X clients will continue to access industry leading digital performance services through our dentsu Media Scaled Services. The new iProspect entity will be led by Global President Amanda Morrissey, bringing together more than 8,000 media and performance specialists across 93 key global markets. “iProspect is designed for clients at the intersection of brand and performance. We believe brand drives performance, and performance drives brand. We no longer exist in an ecosystem where these elements can be planned and bought separately. We must look at business and brand goals through a combined lens, bringing accelerated growth for our clients,” said Amanda Morrissey, Global President, iProspect. “By focusing on how consumers behave in their digital world and applying that to real world scenarios via a highly connected and creative use of all channels, we position our clients to combine the learnings from the short and long term to drive more effective business growth today and tomorrow.” Peter Huijboom, dentsu international Global CEO Media & Global Clients, said, “At dentsu our goal is to help our clients to make meaningful progress and thrive in a world of change. Because we know people better than anyone else, we deliver human-centric solutions designed to drive growth for our clients and good in society. By bringing iProspect and Vizeum together we are creating a global digital-first, end-to-end media proposition. This will give our clients a scaled choice that sits alongside Carat’s brand-first approach and dentsu X’s experience-driven approach while also allowing greater access to our Creative and CXM service lines.” The new agency will now be launched through a phased market plan over a three-month period with a target completion date of 31st March 2021. This integration is a proof-point of dentsu international’s strategy to simplify how it operates to deliver even greater agility and flexibility for clients through a more focused portfolio of six leadership brands. 0

3 mins read

Apple Steps Up Development Efforts of its Search Engine

Apple Steps Up Development Efforts of its Search Engine

In what is perceived as a move in direct competition with Google, Apple has stepped up efforts to develop its own search engine. While the news of development may not feel like ‘news’ to some, efforts are ramping up following the recent spotlight of the multi-billion dollar deal Google has with Apple to be the default search engine for iOS devices. Google has been under scrutiny internationally for several years and is now facing legal battles in the US over anti-trust and monopolization of the search market, diminishing the possibility for competition to grow. These legal battles forced Google and Apple to halt renewal discussions of their partnership which could result in a significant impact on revenue streams for both companies. The development of Applebot Apple’s crawlers were detected by eagle-eyed SEOs as far back as 2014, with Apple confirming the existence of Applebot in 2015. Despite seemingly not making much movement outwardly, Apple went on to hire Google’s John Giannandrea, who was believed to be focusing on the artificial intelligence capabilities of Siri, while providing his wealth of experience after overseeing Google search for eight years. With speculation from former Google executives Bill Coughran and Sridhar Ramaswamy that Apple is uniquely positioned to enter as a competitor to Google, many feel that Apple’s efforts and focus areas still point to improving Siri’s capabilities as their primary goal, as opposed to creating a true competitor to Google. Privacy as a consideration Privacy is one of the main impact elements that would suggest Apple is well positioned to compete and eat into Google’s market share. Google has long been regarded as less than perfect with its history of using personal data, while Apple has heavily pushed their privacy features in recent marketing campaigns across its iOS products. Apple is also well positioned against Google as it is not reliant on advertising spend/income for its revenue – but of course does not have the same access to personalized data with which to target users. Much like Duck Duck Go, a relatively small but mighty – and growing – search engine whose focus is very much on privacy, Apple insists ‘privacy is a fundamental human right’ and ‘one of our core values’. Given the various changes across the globe and in the US regarding privacy, this could prove a significant selling point for an Apple search engine. So, what next? Considering the relative market share Apple has, as well as its own various legal battles when it comes to monopolization of the phone market, Apple would also be wary that they may face similar issues of perceived monopolization if they were to delve into the business of search.   While the prospect of Apple as a search engine would certainly shake up Google’s relative monopolization, the basic principles of optimizing for human behavior and intent will not change. While Apple’s ranking factors may be slightly different, it’s incredibly unlikely that they will differ vastly from what consumers accustomed to experiencing. It’s highly likely though that consumers will appreciate the lack of ads among their results. Brands already focusing on optimizing their organic presence for customer intent will likely only see benefits from the addition of an Apple search engine. However, brands too heavily reliant on paid traffic may see some performance declines if Apple is successful in eating into Google’s dominance of the search industry. Those reliant on Paid ads today should assess how their organic performance against paid efforts and act. 0

3 mins read

Prime Day 2020 Insights

Prime Day 2020 Insights

A jumpstart to everyone’s week was the launch of Amazon’s annual event, Prime Day. It officially started on October 13th (although Prime members got early access to the Amazon smart device deals on the October 12th) and ran through the end of day October 14th.   Our Marketplace and Retailer Optimization team, in conjunction with our Performance Delivery thought leaders, spent the week gathering real-time insights on how the week played out.   1.    Analysts were optimistic with their predictions Global sales were expected to reach $9.91B (+43% YoY) (eMarketer) with U.S. accounting for 69% of those sales (Stastista). Stock markets were also optimistic, opening +25pts and closing +70pts on Tuesday, October 13th.   2.    Prime Day had a positive impact on iProspect clients For the first day of Prime Day, all KPIs increased 5x to 6x and ROI improved nearly 2x vs. a typical Tuesday this month, despite Prime Day happening in October 2020 vs. July 2019 Prime Day initial sales are looking as good on Amazon as July of last year.  This is despite sales still coming in through the attribution window for this year. It is important brands still capitalize on the second day of Prime Day, where they can expect a similar 3-4x increase in demand over the two-day period as seen in 2019 even though demand on the second day is typically lower. Paid Search volume was flat overall and for general brand terms and shopping ads. Paid Social volume saw a slight 5% increase in impressions across all industries with CPG seeing the largest increases. 3.    How competitor’s piggy backed off of Prime Day The fact that Prime Day is an Amazon promotion, other retailers/brands (big and small) are capitalizing by offering their own deals often rebranded as “Fall Sales” and promoted on their websites and ramped up email efforts. Some retailers have amplified Prime Day deals in their traditional paid search, search engines, and Amazon efforts. 4.    Consumers are more overwhelmed and skeptical Consumers have become even more Prime Day pros this year, where they are now searching for specific flash/lightning deals on Amazon to maximize what they know about how sales tend to work. Consumers have come to expect deals from other retailers/brands during Prime Day, as reflected in their search behavior for their brand terms last year during Prime Day. They aren’t just looking for heavy hitters running deals, they also want curated lists to be sent to them vs. having to shop around. Beyond the clear benefit Prime Day has for Amazon Prime members, non-Prime members and deal hunters alike are also winning by taking advantage the saturation of deals in the marketplace, but this is also causing consumers overall difficulty figuring out who has the best deals and where. To manage the overwhelming number of options this year, people continued to look for highlighted deals across Buzzfeed, Reddit, and more category-focused sites like The Wirecutter, and are more aggressively searching for “best non amazon prime day deals.” Rising Google Terms for 10.13.2020 buzzfeed prime day 600% best prime deals 160% pt time 500% best deals on prime day 2020 150% wirecutter prime day 400% slickdeals prime day 140% top prime day deals 350% best prime day deal 140% top prime day deals 2020 350% what time does prime day start 2020 140% prime day deals reddit 250% prime day gaming deals 140% how long is prime day 250% prime day headphones 140% prime day book deals 190% best prime day deals 2020 140% top amazon prime day deals 190% best prime day 90% prime day meme 170% best amazon prime deals 60% when does prime day end 160% best amazon prime day deals 60% kindle unlimited prime day 160% prime day deal 40% best prime day deals 160%   For consumers who don’t already have a gift in mind, these sales can be viewed as incremental rather than holiday shopping starting super early. Prime Day was trending #2 on Twitter on October 13th before dropping down below the SCOTUS hearing hashtags, while overall Prime Day chatter was a mixed bag of sentiments, as expected. Some themes in conversations reflect consumers’ lifestyle changes driven by the impact of COVID-19: “buyaninstapotday”, “hiker” and “camper” Various brands stand out as popular, ranging from big-and-obvious (Beats by Dre, Vera Bradley, Gucci) to relatively niche (Aftershokz, Solimo, Osmo Pocket) Some people were excited by some of the deals while some people were highlighting injustices with phrases such as “amazoff”, “makejeffbezosevenricher” and “workersoverprofit” Some people unhappy/cynical that the pricing went up on a lot of products before they came down, the discount value was low, or the sheer volume of deals were “overwhelming. 5.    What we shouldn’t forget about Prime Day Prime deals are for Prime members, helping drive up membership up to 95 million in the U.S., per the last report, representing a huge household penetration. Looking back, Amazon started Prime Day during a non-traditional promotional period. To quote our head of innovation, Jeremy Hull, when Prime Day was first started in 2015 as an anniversary event for the website, he said “Amazon created a sales event out of thin air!” This is because the event of deals happened in the middle of July, a period not known to get shoppers parting with their cash. Other retailers over the subsequent years followed with their own sales promotions. The day also extended from one day of promotions to two days and other retailers have followed this trend.   Three Key Takeaways   Amazon’s ability to successfully “create an event out of nothing” remains unmatched. Amazon pivoted Prime Day to October this year (vs. July in previous years), a decision driven out of necessity due to supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, they officially announced this year’s Prime Day dates with only 3 weeks’ notice. Despite the changes this year, Amazon was the clear winner, capturing the majority of the surge in shopping interest and activity seen during the event.   Prime Day has made consumers more savvy, enthusiastic but also more skeptical. While consumers have become Prime Day shopping pros, they are also aware other brands typically run their own deals in tandem. Consumers have become more invested in, and critical, when looking for and comparing deals. To manage, consumers have turned to category-focused sites to compare deals and would rather have curated lists presented/sent to them to ensure they are getting the best deal possible.   Other brands continue to benefit from the Prime Day halo-effect. For iProspect retail clients, we observed lifts in front-end and back-end conversion performance comparable to Prime Day last year. To best cater to and win over these sophisticated shoppers, brands need to evolve their communication and promotional strategy around the deals their offering and focus on why now is the right time to take advantage of them. Furthermore, brands should account for consumers who are holding off on pulling the trigger as the Turkey 5 is next month.   In a year of unpredictability, Amazon’s Prime Day continues to hold strong as a successful sales event, ultimately forcing other retailers to offer their sales events to keep up with consumer activity. We are excited to see what momentum we’ll see for retailers from this event as we head into the holiday season. 0

7 mins read

Key Takeaways from Google's AdWeek Product Announcements

Key Takeaways from Google's AdWeek Product Announcements

The wonderful world of Media is one which becomes ever more complex by the day. Advertising Week focuses on best-in-class tech and innovative ideas and as its 2020 event comes to a close, Google announced the release of three innovative tools to help advertisers achieve their goals: Performance Max campaigns Insight page Video action campaign Performance Max campaigns  For some products, consumers have over 500 digital touchpoints before they make a purchase. Performance Max campaigns is Google's latest offering to use machine learning to maximize performance and business goals across multiple touchpoints. It is a new way for advertisers to buy Google Ads that maximizes performance across all Google inventory using machine learning. Note that “All Google Inventory” initially includes the Display Network, YouTube, Gmail, Discover, Search etc. with App, and a handful of Shopping formats, arriving at a later date. The best part of this new campaign type is that the performance KPIs are explicitly defined by us, the advertisers, through the setting of applicable goals. And yes, that is not a typo, goals are plural – through Campaign-level Conversion Settings and targeted Value Rules, this new campaign type can optimize toward multiple goals to better meet our needs and nuances. Google will also be providing new reporting features for Performance Max to provide deeper insights into the AI’s decision-making process which will allow marketers to be more informed when driving Google Ads strategy. At iProspect, we are especially excited that we will have the ability to upload new data sources to help inform the AI. This added level of influence will allow us to better steer the AI and drive incremental performance improvements. Despite the welcome ability to set multiple goals for optimization, some advertisers may still struggle to integrate Performance Max campaigns into their strategies. It is never as simple as pointing budget toward a target and letting the machine do the rest. Advertisers have both primary and secondary goals to ensure their profitability is sustained in the long term - lead generation, awareness, new customer acquisition, current customer retention - are all vital considerations within Paid Search beyond a static KPI. Performance Max is unquestionably a big step in the right direction and an exciting proposition, but we must remember Paid Search has multiple roles throughout the consumer journey and needs to be viewed in differing ways within a larger media mix. Any “set it and forget it” tool tends to lack visibility across non-Google products, lack the multi-role appreciation of Paid Search, and lack media mix budget fluidity, to truly meet client needs. However, Performance Max campaigns are unlikely to be fully rolled out until mid-late 2021 and we hope there will be further developments by then to help make this a much more viable solution for larger, yet nuanced, accounts. Something coming in the much more immediate future is Google’s new Insights Page. Insights page A brand new Insights page will be rolling out within the Google Ads to help inform advertisers’ business and media strategies. The Insights page will surface current and emerging search trends tailored to your business. Use the integration with recommendations, so you can take action in just a few steps. With this integration, you'll be able to easily activate keywords and optimize budgets. We believe that the combination of Insights, Optiscore, and Recommendations will only lead to a beneficial output in terms of knowledge. It will then be on the paid search specialist to utilize this knowledge in the most beneficial way to drive performance for our clients. The tool is of course limited to just Google Ads data which can be a challenge for clients who use a different source of truth, such as Floodlight tags, and similar tools in the past have illustrated some bias towards increased Google spend. Rest assured that iProspect will factor these limitations into their analysis and future strategic recommendations.   Video action campaigns People are twice as likely to purchase a product they saw on YouTube v.s. the competitive average, and 70% of YouTube viewers say they bought a brand as a result of seeing it on YouTube. Video action campaigns are Google’s next offer to entice advertisers with a simple yet effective method of reaching this huge audience base. Similar to Smart Shopping Campaigns, they utilize the provided creative, combine it with a set budget and goal, and allow the machine learning algorithm to take over. The ad will be displayed across the YouTube Home Feed, Watch Page, and other Google Video Partners, driving performance through the machine learning algorithm. Google has rolled out extensive safeguards, policy updates and human review processes to combat past Brand Safety concerns so there is little to deter advertisers from using Video action campaigns to start testing YouTube ad formats and driving performance growth. Whatsmore, all new inventory will be added to Video Action Campaigns with no extra setup required providing incremental scale. In summary, Google continues to lean into machine learning powered products and we are excited to create new testing strategies to really put Performance Max and Video actions through their paces as BETA opportunities arise in the upcoming weeks. Google is also hearing our never ending cries for greater insights so the Insights Page will quickly become another weapon in our arsenal. The Insights Page will be coming to the U.S. and UK this quarter however we will have to wait a little longer for the much anticipated audience and forecasting data. 0

5 mins read

Holiday 2020: The Most Unprecedented Time of The Year

Holiday 2020: The Most Unprecedented Time of The Year

As we’ve all heard a countless number of times through news and commercials, we are in the middle of an “unprecedented” time. This encompasses everything from trying to find our favorite toilet paper brand, attending a Zoom wedding, learning your kid’s fourth grade common core math, deciding which mask matches your outfit today, and of course, planning for the upcoming holiday shopping season. Even with our long history of managing our clients’ holiday season planning and execution, we are having to pivot and revisit our holiday best practices ensuring we’re prepared for the changes this year. Based on our analysis from the last six months, measuring the impact of the shifts we made this summer, and how the back to school shopping period has reacted, we have found the below variables to be the biggest factors in play for the upcoming season. Factor #1: Fear of Going Out (FOGO) As we have seen over the last six months, COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders that have come with it, have greatly impacted consumer shopping patterns. The biggest pattern being even more people shopping online as stores have been closed, and as stores have started reopening in some areas curbside pick-up has become a larger trend. With the possibility that retail stores may see another round of store closures this fall and winter as COVID-19 cases continue to fluctuate across the country, online will see continued focus. Even where stores are open, consumers are looking for the quickest way in and out of the store. This will put more pressure on retailer sites to retain their in-store customers, as consumers are doing a larger amount of their research online, along with actual orders. This disruption of the consumer’s shopping behavior also opens up the risk of them changing the brands they choose to purchase from. Various studies have revealed nearly half of all consumers purchased from a new brand since March 2020. You’ll want to prepare for new features and betas from vendors that highlights buy online pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup services. Utilizing audience specific data within all your online marketing channels will also be key to ensure your ads and promotions are getting in front of the correct people at the right time to both earn new customers and retain your past customers. Factor #2: Shift in Category Trends With so much of people’s everyday lives and hobbies being impacted by COVID-19, we have seen the categories people searching for online greatly shift as well. Travel enthusiasts who are now homebound are not purchasing their travel accessories, and people who would dress up for the office each day are now moving away from their more formal attire as they work at home. We have seen these shifts within search interest as well. Searches for sweatpants are up nearly double compared to last year and searches for gardening gifts are up 58%, while gifts for travelers are down 14% compared to previous years. These environmental changes mean we cannot rely on last year’s trends to determine budgets or consumer interests. Continue to track search trends for your brand and top categories. Besides mining your own search data or social insights, year-over-year views Google Trends for Search or views in Shopping Insights can help you keep a pulse on search intent and brand health. You will want to track closely any dips that may mimic the significant decrease in search trends we experienced across industries since March 2020. Factor #3: Inventory & Shipping Inventory challenges will be impacting almost every retailer, including the supply chain in receiving product to stock, fulfilling orders within retailer factories, and demands on shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS. Due to the need to social distance within factories, as well as delivery services demands, many are forecasting the cut-off for Christmas delivery to be in the first week of December. This will be the same week as Cyber Monday, and about two weeks sooner than in past year’s cut off dates, creating a need for brands to communicate this change to consumers early in the season. Use your digital tactics to assist in encouraging consumers to shift their holiday purchases earlier. Beginning in your display and social messaging at the top of the funnel, following down to the lower funnel tactics like sitelinks messaging within paid search. Develop a plan for December, and consumers who may have missed the shipping cut-off. Focus on BOPIS features, gift cards, e-gift cards, and add a website functionality that allows gift givers to buy a particular item which then notifies the recipient to pick out their size/color for a more personalized experience. Factor #4: Amazon Prime Day As many insiders had speculated, Amazon Prime Day has been moved to October 13th and 14th, with some deals available to members now. This will add extra competition to all online retailers, both from Amazon, as well as the other retailers likely pushing promotions during the same time to compete against Prime Day. On the positive, Prime Day will play a big role in getting consumer’s mindset focused on Holiday shopping earlier. We predict this will also result in Prime Day stealing at least some sales away from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, especially for categories like electronics. Factor #5: Election Year And finally, as we witnessed in 2016, the chaos leading up to and potentially following the U.S. Presidential election may impact shopping confidence in Q4. At a minimum, brands should be prepared and forecast a decrease in purchase intent and researching within 10 days of the election. This disruption in consumer confidence, along with Prime Day and the shipping cutoff date being moved up, means you will most need to shift marketing dollars earlier than usual and allow them to be agile. In doing this you will want to also work alongside your inventory planning team to ensure your shift in marketing spend will align with product available to purchase. Impact & Forecast With all the additional factors this year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will actually be concluding the online holiday shopping season rather than starting it. With this shift, Black Friday and Cyber Monday expected growth should be tamer than years past. Shoppers have historically begun shopping earlier each year, but the need to evade crowds and avoid shipping delays will have consumers purchasing earlier than ever. While brands will be focusing on online revenue, they also have an opportunity to increase their impact beyond the bottom line this year. Not only are people’s shopping behaviors going to be disrupted this year, but so are their charitable traditions. People who historically spend time volunteering in soup kitchens or going to the mall with their kids to shop for a child off the angel tree, likely won’t be able to do that this year. There’s an additional opportunity for brands to offer charitable opportunities, beyond just adding a dollar to your purchase for charity, to their consumers during this time. Brands who take this intentional approach stand to increase their realm of influence to those in need, as well as build a stronger loyalty with their customers as we head into 2021. 0

6 mins read

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