Third-party domains pose a problem
A cookieless approach to the rescue
“Thanks to Universal Analytics we can track the iframe on our merchants’ domains and be sure we get all traffic.”
– David Fock, Vice President Commerce, Klarna
In Klarna’s new cookieless approach, the “storage: none” option was selected in creating the account in Universal Analytics. The checkout iframe meanwhile uses a unique non-personally identifiable ‘client ID’. These measures cause Universal Analytics to disable cookies and instead use the client ID as a session identifier. Because no cookies are in use, browsers that don’t allow for third-party cookies aren’t an issue at all.
Virtual pageviews are sent on checkout form interactions. Custom dimensions and metrics are used for tagging a visit, with a dimension indicating which merchant is hosting the iframe, and a metric showing what cart value the user brings to the checkout.
Complete tracking and assured analysis
With Universal Analytics features, Klarna ensures iframe tracking is complete across all browsers. By using the virtual pageviews as URL goals and funnel steps, goal flow visualizations are used to find bottlenecks in the checkout flow. The new custom dimensions and metrics together with ecommerce tracking mean that reports can now be set up to reveal how each merchant’s cart value correlates to its final transaction value.
We have a couple of reports that tell us that internet advertising grew quite nicely in 2013.
First up, Techcrunch has details from a new Nielsen report showing display advertising spend is up 32%!
Up next, The Search Agency would like you to know that the amount spent on paid search grew by over 37%!
It wasn’t all good news, with Bing seeing a significant drop in impressions served: a 7% drop YoY and 29% from the previous quarter…
So pop the champagne….except for you Bing. You need to go to the back of the room and think about what you’ve done.
Twitter has just released an update to its Android client (coming soon to iOS) that brings new photo editing tools to the service, which are likely meant to make it easier to share photos direct and keep people out of competitive apps like Instagram. The second change adds a significant element of event discovery and real-time trend monitoring to user timelines.
The event surfacing is the more interesting element, since it marks a considerable attempt by Twitter’s to meddle with the straightforward chronological nature of that part of its service (besides promoted content). In case a user doesn’t have any new Tweets to load when you manually update it, it now brings up recommended posts from people you don’t follow, as well as trending topics and suggestions about new people to follow. In the U.S. only, it surfaces event updates for things unfolding on TV, in sports and on the news.
Each content update features a link to click through for more Tweets centered on that conversation. It’s an extension of some of the other work Twitter has been doing around surfacing events and breaking news, including the Eventparrot experiment and a feature that was tested back in August to highlight nearby events via proximity-based alerts.
A couple of things to flag about this change: It only happens when there’s no other new content for a user to view, and when they express a desire for more content, which is very clever; and it represents a way for Twitter to secure its place as the source of live, real-time information about things unfolding on the ground, a reputation with Facebook clearly covets.
Others are already capitalizing on Twitter’s ability to identify and follow events as they unfold, including Banjo, but Twitter adding this as a native feature in its mobile clients could change the nature of the service at a basic level. Should it roll out globally, and expand its scope, mobile users could be using Twitter a lot more for things like local discovery than they had been previously.
Targeting a relevant audience is essential for PPC ads. Whether in the Search or Display Network, considerable time and attention is taken to ensure you are reaching an appropriate audience. A while back, Google introduced a new method to help determine uninterested viewers. In July 2012, Google ushered in a new tool to mute certain ads on the Display Network, using a small [x] in the upper right hand corner. This option allowed users to specify ads they no longer wished to see. No information was obtained, though, on why they wanted to hide these ads.
To remedy this, Google recently announced plans to take this concept to the next level. Throughout the coming weeks, Google will be transitioning the mute ad setup to include a three-question survey. The insights gained from these surveys will allow Google to better understand why users are opting out of certain ads.
What Ads this Affects
The news release from the AdWords blog mentions some of the Display ads will have this feature. Looking at information for the original tool, it appears that this feature is for Display Network ads that utilize either remarketing, or interest categories.
Why this Update Matters
Allowing people to specify why they no longer want to see the ads will give Google some potentially powerful insight. Google allows users to choose one of three categories for muting the ad:
- I don’t like the content.
- I’ve seen the ad too often.
- Ad is covering content.
Here’s a preview of the survey interface:
There is a distinct difference between these options, so Google no longer has to assume you aren’t interested in the content of the ad. Perhaps there is a formatting issue on the site, or with the ad, and it is blocking part of the page. If it is from a remarketing list, it’s possible the user has just seen that ad too often, but would still be interested in ads for similar products/services. Previously muting this ad would have caused Google to assume the person wasn’t interested in that category, or product.
Not liking the content is a bit broad, so Google takes that selection to the next level. A second part of the survey comes up if they select that generic reason for muting the ads. The user can then choose from three options.
- The ad is too distracting.
- They aren’t interested in the offer.
- It is a possible violation of Google ads.
When reported correctly, the last option could help Google find possible ad violations and clean up the Display Network ads.
What Does this Mean for You?
So what does this mean for advertisers? It remains unclear to what extent the data will be utilized. What is clear, though, is that the feature can potentially help advertisers get impressions from a more relevant audience. If uninterested users mute your ads, it will keep you from wasting time/money in showing the ads to them in the future. The purpose of remarketing and interest categories is to get more of a qualified audience. Understanding why someone would prefer not to be shown certain ads will help Google get more appropriate ads in front of them.
I could see this new feature being beneficial to both Google and the advertisers. The more insight Google has, the better ad experience they can provide for the users, which can only help the advertisers in turn. The key to the tool’s success, though, relies on people taking the time to give honest (and true) feedback. Excessive reporting of Google violations when they don’t exist, or people not participating in the survey, will hinder the success of this new feature.
As Google continues working on this tool, it will be interesting to see what powerful insights can be gained from the feedback.
Paid search is a great way to kick off a new website or marketing campaign, offering the ability to immediately send traffic with just a few clicks of the mouse. Pay-per-click marketing can be used to test landing pages, gauge the interest and conversion rate of an offer, or simply start generating revenue while a search engine optimization campaign is laid out and in the early stages.
Heck, some campaigns are full-on PPC and don’t even rely on SEO in order to drive traffic. In very competitive industries this is common as it makes more financial sense to develop a very strong paid search marketing effort instead. When it comes to paid search, we all tend to focus on AdWords, and while that is a great pay-per-click resource (number one, we all know!) it is time to stop treating the Yahoo! Bing Network like the red-headed stepchild.
There are several benefits to adding this neglected PPC option into a paid search campaign (this isn’t to say that Google should be abandoned at all, because that would be campaign suicide). However, there are many reasons why also allocating some of the spend to the Yahoo! Bing Network is a good idea. Take a look at this quick snapshot:
This was a quick test that was run for a few hours the other day before the weekend, and the total spend was less than $ 17. These are incredibly competitive financial keywords that sometimes cost more per click on AdWords than the total spend for this initial test. This client pays between $ 16 and $ 22 per click for these same keywords on AdWords depending on the ad position. The bid was set at a quarter to see what would come of this. Yes, a whole shiny QUARTER per click. As you can see from the screen grab above one keyword had a decent 7/10 quality score and the other was a 2/10, yet both averaged around the number 5 ad position.
There were a lot of impressions, a horrible click-through-rate, but a mind blowing 15 cent and 11 cent average cost-per-click. This little test resulted in two conversions. Now, we aren’t talking email submits or information requests. These are full-blown sales with the online shopping cart singing “cha-ching!” Each conversion is worth about $ 150 monthly for a year to this client. That is $ 3,600 in revenue from a $ 17 test. Now the ads and website can be tweaked, optimized, and further tested to get a higher ad position, CTR, more conversions…and more revenue!
There is no denying that there is search volume via Bing and Yahoo, meaning there are clicks, conversions, and revenue opportunities waiting. Take the same raw data in terms of impressions above and imagine a better CTR. It only makes sense that it would lead to more conversions and revenue, right?
There is so much opportunity, yet the Yahoo! Bing Network continues to sit in the corner saying, “Hey, look at me!”
I am not saying you will automatically get dirt cheap clicks and huge ROIs, but what I am saying is that you owe it to yourself to at least try. There is also the opportunity to test ads and websites on a smaller (and less expensive) scale, find the perfect combination that delivers a nice CTR and then migrate what has been learned over to AdWords.
It is well worth running small tests on the Yahoo! Bing Network, as the payoff can be a massive ROI and an additional traffic source for paid search. The infographic below outlines some reasons why the YBN should not be ignored. Take a look at our below infographic to learn more.
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
(click image to enlarge)
I don’t know if it’s just the new year or something more pressing but I’ve never noticed this level of push from Google AdWords before. They’ve always done a good job of keeping their blog updated with helpful information but in the last few weeks, it’s been overflowing with news.
It started on January 15 with a post about upcoming features and improvements including – well. . . the title says insights for 2014 but it sounds more like a list of 2013 improvements.
. . .So last February, we introduced enhanced campaigns for AdWords. With enhanced campaigns, it became much simpler to manage campaigns across multiple devices while optimizing for your customers’ intent and context — like their location and time of day.
. . . .So in addition to the manual bid adjustments in enhanced campaigns (see our “Bid Like a Pro” guide), we launched new, more flexible automated bidding strategies.”
. . . . So in June, we introduced a valuable new audience-based capability to search ads: The ability to tailor your bids, ads or even keywords based on a user’s previous visits to your website.”
We also introduced a new metric, estimated cross-device conversions, to help you better measure conversions that start with an ad click on one device and end with an online conversion on a different device.
Finally, looking forward to 2014. . .
. . . So you can expect substantial improvements around workflow efficiency, campaign planning, analysis and reporting, opportunity identification, and testing.
So. . . what they’re really trying to do is make AdWords easy to use and less intimidating. I like that.
The next step is a series of Google Hangout training classes. In February they’ll be discussing location targeting, mobile targeting and real bidding with audience targeting. These are excellent sessions for beginners and they’re totally free. Learn more about the Hangouts here.
About a week ago, Google demonstrated their commitment to stopping bad ads and they released a series of ad mute surveys which will help advertisers understand why their ads aren’t working.
Last week Google rolled out a new, easier to read interface for AdWords then posted “The Performance Marketer’s Field Guide to AdWords Ad Extensions.”
Today, they want to remind you to use your six available deep linked sitelinks on your ads.
Personally, I rarely click anything but a home page button on these ads but I can see how they might improve conversions.
The most interesting thing I saw today was an email solicitation offering me a $ 100 credit toward mobile app promotion. I’ve seen these credits for general AdWords ads but never for mobile.
What’s with the push? Are AdWord dollars slipping? Are people switching over to Bing? AdWords is still the biggest game in town but I guess even Google can’t rest on it’s laurels (which sounds extremely uncomfortable.) It feels like they’re trying to pull in a fresh, young audience. Yes, it’s all aimed at putting money in their own pockets, but if it helps you put more money in yours then it’s a win-win.
For January’s series post we are taking a look at our PPC wishlists. What tools do we all wish we had available to make our lives that much easier? Where do our chief frustrations stem from and what band-aid solutions are we using to fix them?
One of my biggest frustrations with PPC has always been in dealing with accounts where conversion tracking wasn’t straightforward. PPC with conversion tracking is elegant, simple and logical. You work out which keywords are driving sales at low costs and optimize around them. PPC without conversion tracking is complicated and messy. It requires workarounds and estimations that leave a lot of room for optimization on the table. Therefore my PPC wish is for there to be a beautifully integrated system for tracking and attributing leads/sales from start to finish. As that is but the fevered dream of a madman (at least for now) here’s how I get round that problem with my current clients.
1. Call Tracking
Probably the most common way to get around the problem of conversions happening on the phone is, surprise surprise, actually tracking those calls back to their source. There are a lot of different call-tracking options available that will show you data from the account to the keyword level depending on cost and complexity.
Here’s a list of a few different call-tracking companies that you might want to consider:
I also recommend you check out this article from Brad Geddes about the types of call tracking available, this article from Andrew Lolk about why call tracking is essential for PPC agencies, and our call tracking Webinar from November.
If you aren’t inclined to sign up for an expensive call tracking service (although they really aren’t that expensive), you can also make use of Google Call Extension forwarding numbers to track call durations. Although not as elegant as actually tracking whether a call was booked or not, you can assign a conversion to all calls over a specified period of time – let’s say 60 seconds – and then multiply that by the percentage of callers who typically end up buying from you over the phone.
2. Analytics Metrics
If I have absolutely no way of tracking sales or leads back to the keyword level, I use Google Analytics metrics to influence most of my strategy on an account. This is kind of a messy workaround, but works better than nothing. By linking AdWords and Google Analytics you can import four key metrics:
- Bounce Rate
- Pages Per Visit
- Time on Site
- Percentage of New Visitors
I tend to use a combination of bounce rate and time on site to work out if a keyword is bringing in good traffic. By slowly tweaking bids in favour of low bounce rate, high time on site keywords positive trends start to emerge in overall performance levels. Of course, the metrics you use for this will depend on what you’re end goal is – new visitors might be more important for branding exercises and time on site for direct response.
For a detailed look at how to use Google Analytics metrics for judging ads and changing bids check out this article.
3. Long Term Thinking
As much as I dislike comparing performance over time due to issues like seasonality – you can still look to it as a yardstick for success. Were things better this month than last? The big changes you made probably helped if so. The main trouble with this approach is that if you do too many things in one month, as many an eager young PPCer might want to do, you don’t know what helped and what made things worse.
As a side note, for accounts without conversion data I tend to heavily focus on click through rate and cost per click metrics over time – mainly as they are some of the only metrics I can focus on – but also because accounts with above average CTRs will be rewarded with better quality scores and cheaper clicks.
4. Back End Data
If you have access to any kind of back end data, trawling through it for clues about your best performing campaigns can help a lot. I have an ecommerce client that does all of their business over non-call-tracked phone lines. Every week I get sent a detailed report of sales by product category. I can then multiply the revenue by the percentage of traffic to that product page that comes from PPC and compare against costs. It’s a total hack and it’s not perfect, but it helps give us a broad picture of what’s going on.
5. Universal Analytics
On the subject of back-end data, if you do have a longer sales cycle that uses third party platforms, or you want to be able to link in-store purchases back to your PPC campaigns, consider making the upgrade to UA. Check out the description in this blog of how you might be able to make use of such a system, and see this post by our very own Carrie Albright for more info about UA.
As always if you have any thoughts or comments, let us know in the section below!
Instead, the big drop in Apple’s stock price has become something of a ritual purge every time the company announces big news. See, for example, here, here, and here. Similar disappointment greeted CEO Tim Cook’s announcement of the iPhone 5s and 5c back in September. The 5s looked especially great — best in class, even — but for Apple, sometimes even great isn’t enough. The same holds true for sales and profits. It’s not about how big they are. It’s about how much bigger they could be, but aren’t.
During the first decade or so of the new century, Apple went from a company that made a device that transformed the music industry to a company that made a device that transformed every industry. And its revenue growth reflects that trend. As the iPhone went from coveted status symbol to ubiquitous tool of the mobile age, sales began to rise. Once the iPad was introduced, Apple’s growth rocketed, setting the standard that has been nearly impossible to match as the market for smartphones and tablets has matured — a dreaded word. While iPhones and iPads are still setting new records, overall growth is flat, and this past quarter’s iPhone sales came in below expectations for the holiday season by 5 to 6 million units. Apple’s numbers represent a healthy consistency but not that next level of nose bleed-inducing altitudes .
It’s possible Apple could once again reach those heights with the release of a category-creating wearable gadget or smart device, and some of the pessimism around Apple arises from the reality that the company has yet to do this. Rumors of such Apple hardware have been around for ages. Apple poaching former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts was seen as the surest sign yet that the company is getting into the wearables game. The trouble is that Wall Street wants an Apple smartwatch now, and it hasn’t seen one yet.
Meanwhile, activist investor Carl Icahn sees other deficiencies in the Apple machine. Icahn’s version of “not good enough” is Apple’s $ 100 billion stock buyback plan, which he believes the company should hike up to $ 150 billion. So he’s using Twitter to badger Cook and company almost constantly.
In a sense, the problem with Apple is that all the numbers have become so large, they can’t get any larger. Then again, a majority of the world’s people still don’t own smartphones. If Apple can figure out how to get its devices into even a fraction of those hands — which it has struggled to do in emerging markets, compared to Google Android — maybe it could finally add enough billions to its balance sheet to make everyone happy.
“Consumers are now ‘pinning’ things like articles, photos and recipes to share with their friends more often than emailing links.”— ShareThis
“In a sign of how quickly social media has changed the digital landscape, consumers are now ‘pinning’ things like articles, photos and recipes to share with their friends more often than emailing links,” wrote Kurt Abrahamson of ShareThis in a blog post.
Facebook remained the most popular way to share, according to ShareThis. But Pinterest’s sharing stats are growing the fastest. Its popularity took a 58 percent leap, while Facebook came in just behind at 57 percent. LinkedIn’s growth was 40 percent, while Twitter topped out at 15 percent. Use of email, meanwhile, declined by 11 percent.
ShareThis says that the rise of Pinterest was driven in large part by women, a trend also identified by a recent Pew survey, and by users in the Midwest. The West Coast leaned toward Facebook and Google+, while the Northeast preferred Twitter and LinkedIn.
Given Pinterest’s apparently massive popularity, it’s hard to imagine the company will have difficulty getting advertisers on board, especially because its users are so eager to share their consumer preferences.
On Facebook, you’re more likely to share pictures of your kids than the next pair of shoes you want to buy. On Twitter, you’re probably linking to Justin Bieber’s mug shot. But Pinterest is perfectly tailored for aspirational consumerism. “I covet this” is the subtext of innumerable pins. For advertisers seeking to target a relevant audience, it looks like a pretty efficient way of spending their dollars.
The question is how Pinterest users will react to seeing ads among their pins. As with Twitter before Promoted Tweets or Facebook before Sponsored Stories, Pinterest feeds enjoy a certain commercial-free purity, even though much of what people share and see through the site amounts to free advertising for whatever is being pinned.
Pinterest must design its ad streams carefully to avoid alienating its users. So far, its design instincts have been spot on, judging from the figures from ShareThis. If it can extend this to ads, that $ 4 billion valuation won’t make our heads hurt quite so much.
While at NAIAS with the Ford Blogger Experience, I had the opportunity to catch Sheryl Connelly’s presentation on the forecasted trends for 2014. Sheryl Connelly is Ford’s “Futurist”, which means it is her job to predict new trends – 3 years in advance! Sheryl had some pretty interesting ideas about what the future might hold.
Many of the trends Sheryl mentioned in the 2014 report (which can be downloaded as a PDF here) are directly applicable to internet marketing and how people use technology today. Below are notes on some of the trends Sheryl has forecasted for 2014.
Vying For Validation
According to the report:
We are living in a world of hyper self-expression, complete with “selfies,” chronic public-journaling and other forms of digital self-expression. As authors, we have the opportunity to craft our own identity and tell the stories that are unique to us. What looks like—and perhaps started as—vanity showmanship is now a deep desire for validation…But as we smooth out the rough edges of our public self, do we gloss over our real character?
For consumers, this trend is about sharing your lifestyle and how you percieve yourself. Although Sheryl’s report says it could have positive effect and change social norms by increasing positivity, the fact remains that many people aren’t honest about themselves online.
- 74% of Americans paint a better pic of themselves than reality
- 62% feel better about themselves when people react positively to what they post online
The report states:
Across the globe, there are huge differences between how “old money” and “new money” narrate their place in society— and with it, marked shifts in the ways in which we express our wealth, status, and influence…In developed markets, displays of wealth were once regarded with admiration and aspiration. Today, post-recession, conspicuous displays of wealth are frowned upon— and there is a growing contingent of educated youth who see material ownership as an unnecessary burden when it comes to enjoying life. Access is a powerful, if also subtle, manifestation of status—so too is the luxury of time in an increasingly demanding world: How we choose to spend our time can be even more important than how we spend our money.
How people show their own status, as well as react to others’ has a big impact on the social media conversations that take place. However, there has been a change in how people show their wealth. For instance, 86% of those surveyed say amount of money isn’t important, it’s what you do with the money you have. In addition, 56% of those surveyed in the United States say displays of wealth are tasteless, versus 90% in Japan.
Other highlights from the presentation included:
- Consumers like purchasing from the manufacturer directly
- We are experiencing the counter-trend of FOMO (fear of missing out). Now it is JOMO – the joy of missing out
- Micro Moments: where we actively do small tasks so we have more free time later, like texting ourselves a grocery list in between meetings
- Myth of multitasking: only 2% are effective, for the rest, it does more harm than good. A study said you lose 10 points in your IQ when multitasking.
- Voicemail is now being translated into text to sort easily: this trend and dependence toward voice services will continue in the future
Ford is attempting to capitalize on the voice trend with Ford Sync and AppLink, which allows the driver to read texts or play playlists on their phone through voice command.
Overall, the trends report and presentation was very informative about the state of digital and social trends in the coming year. One question Sheryl brought up at the end of the presentation has stuck with me: “In the future, will it be that only the affluent are able to leave their phone at home? The Average Joe now uses their phone at all times to stay competitive.” Quite a change from years past when owning a cell phone was a status symbol!