Google Responsive Ads: What You Need to Know

Google Responsive Ads: What You Need to Know

Google

Google is working harder to woo advertisers as the company faces stiffer competition from Amazon and Facebook. For example, Google rolled out responsive search ads and responsive display ads to make the advertising platform more flexible for brands. It is important that advertisers understand these features and how to maximize their value.

How Responsive Search and Display Ads Work

According to Google, responsive search ads make it possible for advertisers to enter multiple headlines (up to 15) and descriptions (up to four) when creating a search ad. Then Google Ads applies machine learning to automatically test different combinations and learn which combinations perform best. In addition, per Google, advertisers can add a third headline and second description to your text ads, and your descriptions can have up to 90 characters.

Responsive display ads work the same way, with advertisers submitting up to up to 15 images, five headlines, five descriptions, and five logos for a display ad. As with responsive search ads, Google uses machine learning to test different combinations and show the ads that work best. According to Google, “On average, advertisers see 10% more conversions at a similar CPA when using multiple headlines, descriptions, and images with responsive display ads (versus a single set of assets).”

What You Need to Know

Based on our experience with clients, I see some near-term ramifications:

  • Your advertising will become more effective. These formats are exciting because they capitalize on machine learning to scale your advertising content. As Google notes, “Great display ads assist consumers using rich images and useful information. However, showing the most relevant and engaging ads across millions of sites and apps isn’t easy.” Responsive ads are a compelling solution.
  • Organic content pays a price. By making ads more effective, Google will push organic listings down in search results.
  • You need to invest more effort. Yes, Google does do the heavy lifting when it comes to executing on your ads. But to get the most out of this format, you’ll need to come up with more variants of your message and images. (That’s the point of responsive search and display: Google takes multiple inputs to give you optimal results.) In addition, you’ll want to monitor which assets are performing best, which takes time and effort (although Google provides tips for doing so on its blog).

What You Should Do

  • Review your messaging strategy. Having more variants of your content presents an opportunity to review your messaging and differentiators. You obviously don’t want to create content willy-nilly. All your content should support your brand in some way.
  • Learn. The Google blog links I’ve shared above contain a number of tips for maximizing the value of these ads. For instance, with responsive search ads, Google advises that you include at least one of your keywords in your headlines, and create headlines that are relevant to the keywords you’re targeting. Furthermore, provide as many distinct headlines as you can. Per Google, “More headlines gives Google Ads more options for assembling your messages into relevant ads, which may increase performance.”

At True Interactive, we’re working with clients to plan and execute advertising with these and many other tools. We’ll report our learnings on our blog. Watch for our posts, and contact us if you need help with your online advertising.

Coming Soon: A $1 Trillion Holiday Shopping Season

Coming Soon: A $1 Trillion Holiday Shopping Season

Retail

Get ready for a strong holiday shopping season. eMarketer has raised its 2018 holiday shopping forecast, with total retail spending growth expected to be 4.1 percent, up from eMarketer’s previous prediction of a 3.8 percent growth rate. The 2018 season will approach $1 trillion in spending, or $986.77 billion to be more precise. In addition, eMarketer says that retail ecommerce will grow at 16.2 percent, with that growth being driven largely by mobile.

“We expect that the 2018 holiday retail season will be one of the strongest in recent years,” eMarketer said in the October report, Holiday Shopping 2018. Reasons for a strong season include:

  • A strong economy that will fuel spending.
  • A lengthy shopping season, with 32 days occurring between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the longest possible calendar between these two landmark dates. “This will give shoppers ample opportunity to complete more of their holiday shopping online,” noted eMarketer.
  • The growth of mobile. “The other key growth factor is the extent to which mobile is fueling consumers’ ecommerce migration” said eMarketer. “Mobile now drives nearly two-thirds of online shopping activity, according to research firm comScore, and is inching ever closer to a majority share of ecommerce spending. Although shoppers are still much more likely to shop than buy on mobile, they are increasingly comfortable transacting on smartphones, thanks to more seamless, optimized experiences on both mobile web and apps.”

The prospect of a stronger holiday season is good news for retailers and consumer electronics firms. Per eMarketer, “Consumer electronics will prove popular during the 2018 season, particularly with an ever-expanding slate of voice-activated and connected home products hitting the market. Apparel and accessories will continue its online migration, while the toys and hobbies sector promises to get more competitive.”

The companies in the best position to thrive:

  • Have strong mobile commerce operations.
  • Capitalize on an expected intense period of spending around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Black Friday is no longer a single-day event. The day really begins on Thanksgiving now.
  • Effectively invest in advertising across the digital world, with a focus on Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

To make sure you benefit from the holiday spend, be sure to check out some recently published resources from True Interactive:

  • Advertiser Q&A: Amazon Sponsored Ads,” a post from Samantha Coconato that discusses one of Amazon’s popular advertising products for businesses that have a presence on the platform.

At True Interactive, we’ve been actively working with clients to create successful holiday advertising campaigns online. Contact us if you need assistance with yours. We’re happy to help.

Photo by Anna Dziubinska on Unsplash

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Marketing

WhatsApp is one of the most rapidly evolving and exciting apps on the market. The platform recently launched several new features for iOS users, such as status search, notification extension, and suspicious link detection. And with more than 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp is also arguably the most popular messaging app in the world. These points are all well and good, but does WhatsApp matter to advertisers?

Short answer: yes.

As I discuss in a new Adweek Social Pro Daily column, Facebook is making some big moves to monetize WhatsApp. For instance, the newly released WhatsApp Business API (application-programming interface) will make it easier for companies to communicate with current and potential customers through end-to-end encrypted messages. Businesses will now be able to send customized notifications with relevant non-promotional content such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders, or event tickets, all at a flat rate. According to Sale Stock, a company that uses WhatsApp to deliver product recommendations, order updates and customer service, customers read 90 percent of delivered messages.

My column discusses in more detail how and why Facebook is monetizing WhatsApp. Meanwhile, I believe businesses need to understand how WhatsApp can help them improve both their branding and online commerce strategies. Consider this: people spent 85 billion hours in WhatsApp in the past three months — versus 31 billion in Facebook.

Although Facebook Messenger has a larger base of users in the United States, WhatsApp dominates the messaging app space in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. In those countries, users rely on WhatsApp to share pictures, videos, as well as breaking news. As I discussed in a previous column, WhatsApp is also used around the globe for informal business, connecting local buyers with sellers.

Local businesses in the tourism and restaurant industries are already adopting this tool to connect with customers and prospects. Larger business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies (especially those with interests in the markets mentioned above) should consider implementing WhatsApp in their business development and PR efforts, as the app’s popularity seems to be as high as its potential of driving business.

WhatsApp is wide open for businesses. Contact True Interactive to learn how you can win on WhatsApp.

How Instagram Can Win More IGTV Fans

How Instagram Can Win More IGTV Fans

Social media

Instagram’s IGTV feature is off to a slow start.

TechCrunch reported recently that IGTV, which allows people to upload lengthy videos in a mobile viewing format, has seen a noticeable decline in weekly installs since its June launch.

As TechCrunch noted, “IGTV risks becoming the next Google Plus — a ghost town inside an otherwise thriving product ecosystem.” TechCrunch speculates that the main reason IGTV is struggling to gain a foothold is that YouTube already owns the market for longer-form video. In addition, IGTV has yet to give us any truly breakthrough, viral content, as other social platforms have. There is no “Chewbacca Mom” of IGTV to help people grasp the potential appeal of the app.

Is IGTV in trouble? I don’t think so. If we’ve learned anything about Instagram, it’s that the app is resilient. And IGTV enjoys a huge advantage: a large built-in audience on Instagram, with one billion actively monthly users. But IGTV does need to take some steps to gain more traction. Here are three ways Instagram could do so:

  • Make IGTV more discoverable inside Instagram. Unless you use the IGTV standalone app, you may not even know IGTV exists. For several weeks, Instagram hid IGTV behind a small icon inside Instagram. It was too easy for users to ignore the icon on their screens. Recently Instagram has been making IGTV videos more visible via a more prominent notification call-out with a clickable “watch” button. A more noticeable call-out should help. When Facebook relaunched Marketplace in 2016, giving the feature more prominent real estate on mobile devices helped Marketplace gain traction.
  • Make it possible to livestream IGTV content. The only way to make IGTV videos is to record them on your mobile device and upload them. The process is easy, but people can do the same on YouTube. IGTV should differentiate by giving people the ability to record in the moment as Facebook does with Facebook Live. Doing so would create more opportunities for real-time engagement through viewer comments as happens with Facebook Live.
  • Promote big names and big moments. Instagram could help its own cause by collaborating with its more popular names (such as blogger and performer Baby Ariel) to build excitement for their content. People might be more likely to stop what they’re doing and make room for IGTV if they knew their favorite internet celebrity was going to post a new song or blogging episode at 5:00 p.m. Wednesday instead of discovering the content after the fact. Building excitement for forthcoming content would raise more awareness and get viewers primed to watch and comment on what they see. If you know that Universal Pictures is going to air an interview with Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson from the set of his latest movie, you just might set aside time to watch if you’re a Rock fan – even more so if you know the event would be livestreamed (see suggestion one above).

IGTV’s biggest threat right now? YouTube already does everything IGTV can except give users an elegant way to upload content created in vertical mobile-only mode. But by building more excitement around IGTV and introducing a live experience, Instagram can succeed in the long term. For more insight into how to use IGTV to build your brand, contact True Interactive.

Image source: Embedsocial.com

Facebook Shows Mobile Games More Advertising Love

Facebook Shows Mobile Games More Advertising Love

Social media

It makes sense for Facebook to be paying close attention to mobile gaming, as this industry reportedly generated 40.6 billion dollars in 2017 worldwide. Last year, 42 percent of the industry’s global revenue came from smartphone and tablet games. According to some 2016 reports, U.S. gamers played an average of 3.6 mobile games per month, and 1.3 games on a daily basis. True value for game developers, however, does not usually come from game install volume, but from game usage (time and money users spend on it), especially for those games with ad-based revenue models.

With the recent launch of playable ads, Facebook seems to be focusing on driving real long-term value for gaming companies, rather than promoting mere app installs. With this new ad format, users can experience a preview of the game from within the ad. Giving users a chance to interact with the game in the feed before they install it creates higher intent, according to Facebook, and I agree.

At first, ad format will look like a simple video ad, but it becomes a rich experience once the user taps on it thanks to the capabilities of HTML5. Hopefully we will see Facebook releasing new immersive ad formats to use with other campaign types, or the highly anticipated capability to use 360 videos in ads.

After more than a year in Beta, game developer companies like Rovio have seen favorable results. Rovio, owner of the popular Angry Birds game franchise, claimed that it saw a 40 per cent lower cost per paying user when using playable ads, along with a 70 per cent lift in day seven ROAS. Similarly, Bagelcode, creator of Club Vegas virtual slot machine game, saw 3 times higher ROAS on Android as well as 1.4 times higher ROAS on iOS.

Furthermore, the new retention optimization will increase the chances of a game to be downloaded by a more engaged user. According to Facebook, gaming marketers will now be able to deliver their ads to those users who are most likely to play their game. Its official rollout is planned for later this year on Facebook, Instagram and the Audience Network.

Retention optimization is not the only refreshment Facebook has given to its app marketing toolbox. Its latest update to the value optimization tools include minimum ROAS bidding, which will enable advertisers to “set a minimum spend to find the players most likely to make in-app purchases, and eliminate spend on connecting with players less likely to engage.

It would be interesting to test this minimum ROAS bidding in conversion campaigns and compare results with the currently available Target CPA bidding. I believe there is much more yet to come, and that we will soon see new, more interactive ad formats like the recently released collection/canvas ads.

I encourage brands to monitor these new features and test them in conversion campaigns. For insight into how to maximize the value of Facebook advertising products, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Image source: https://marketingland.com/facebook-launches-playable-ads-tests-retention-optimization-for-app-advertising-245312

 

Why Facebook’s Woes May Have a Silver Lining

Why Facebook’s Woes May Have a Silver Lining

Social media

Last week I was surprised to receive both an email and phone call from a dedicated Facebook Ads representative interested in setting up a meeting to discuss my current Facebook Campaigns as well as future opportunities. On the surface, a call from a salesperson might not seem newsworthy. But for those of us who have been advertising on Facebook for the past few years, that level of customer service is a sharp contrast from what we have grown to expect from the social media giant. Is it possible that Facebook’s woes, including a steep decline in its stock value, are making Facebook pay a little more attention to customer service?

I sure hope so.

Then and Now

Let’s go back four ago when I first began testing Facebook ads for some of my clients. If I ran into an issue setting up a campaign, had a question about targeting features, or was interested in tips for better results, the chances of finding a way to connect with someone from the Facebook team were slim. There was no chat feature, no easy-to-find customer service phone number, and no email address. Among my agency teammates, it was common to hear, “Hey, does anyone know how to get a hold of someone from Facebook?”

So what’s changed? Frankly, a lot. Do a quick search of recent news stories, and you’ll see that Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth fell more than $16 billion in one day after the company’s stock plunged 20 percent and issued guidance that the financial future of the company isn’t quite as rosy as some investors thought it might be. This news, coupled with Facebook’s privacy issues and recent discovery of inauthentic social media campaigns ahead of the mid-term elections, has proven to be a PR and financial nightmare. Earlier in the year I, predicted that it would be tough sledding in 2018 for Facebook. It’s possible that the company’s woes will turn into improved customer service for advertisers.

Facebook Has an Opportunity

Despite negative press surrounding Facebook, I still believe the platform can be an effective marketing channel, especially when used as a brand awareness tool.  Advertising costs on Facebook are a fraction of those on Google, and there is still an impressively large number of active users to engage. My advice is to take full advantage of the more robust customer support at Facebook.

And Facebook’s customer service can help you, too. A recent call with a Facebook expert led to me testing some new targeting methods as well as adjusting my campaign structure. While it is still early in the test, I am seeing improved engagement and more conversions.  This is a critical time for Facebook as they work to rebuild the integrity of their brand. It is in Facebook’s best interest to help ensure advertisers enjoy as much success as possible using their platform.

Are you seeing better customer service from Facebook? Let me know!

Facebook Sees Success with Marketplace

Facebook Sees Success with Marketplace

Social media

Facebook has taken some lumps during a tumultuous year. After weeks of being dragged through the mud with scandals involving data privacy, the company suffered its worst day in its history as a publicly traded firm after announcing quarterly earnings that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations.

But the news is not all bad.

Amid the turmoil, Facebook is actually growing in some ways that are less visible to Wall Street. For example, Facebook Marketplace, which Facebook relaunched in 2016, is experiencing strong growth. Already, 550 million people across 51 countries use Marketplace each month to buy products from other people and business. By contrast,  55 million people visit Craigslist monthly.

And Marketplace is attracting more and more large businesses from sectors such as automotive. Based on the traction Marketplace is getting, Facebook recently announced that it is making it possible for businesses to advertise in Facebook Marketplace to reach people where they are actively shopping.

At True Interactive, we are helping businesses take advantage of Marketplace advertising. We just tested a conversion campaign for a client and achieved favorable results. In a new column for Adweek Social Pro Daily, I discuss our experiences with Facebook Marketplace and provide more insight into the growth of this feature.

For more insight into how to succeed on Marketplace and other online destinations, contact True Interactive. We are here to help.