Found > Resources > WHITEPAPER

Kimara Saldanha, Head of PPC

- 30 Jan 2017

Essential

Paid Media Guide

AUTHOR
Kimara Saldanha

Head of PPC

Kimara Saldanha is an adept digital marketing professional with six years of diverse experience spanning both B2B and B2C sectors. With a keen eye for staying ahead in the rapidly evolving digital landscape, Kimara is dedicated to applying best practices and conducting meticulous tests to ensure innovative and effective strategies that drive success across her clients.

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OVERVIEW

Welcome to Found’s ‘Essential Guide to Paid Media’, written to provide practical guidance and insights on the future of individual channels and how they need to work together to provide an integrated marketing strategy for an increasingly integrated world.

Welcome to the future

The digital industry moves fast. Perhaps faster than any other. One minute, you’re cutting-edge. You’re leading the way and producing results your clients’ only dreamed of. Then, all of a sudden, everything changes. Perhaps a new platform is introduced, or a new technology. Something that impacts the whole industry and causes it to pivot. If you want to be successful, you must pivot too. It’s this dynamic nature of paid media that makes it so thrilling. But it can make it perplexing too. With so much changing so quickly and so much at stake, understanding where to focus can be a constant concern.

1. The rise of mobile

Mobile devices now outnumber human beings on the planet – and at current rates they are multiplying 5x faster than we are. According to recent statistics the average consumer is now connected through five addressable devices. This breeds opportunities and headaches of equal proportion for marketers wanting to build coherent brand experiences. Today’s proactive marketer not only has to recognise the same consumer across all these devices but also track any actions the consumer takes on each.

“UK digital ad spend is forecast to grow 5.7% annually in 2024

 – IPG, Magna

2. Rapid global growth of other platforms

It’s not just mobile, the number of online platforms continues to grow. The introduction of wearable tech and the increased popularity of social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram has created new opportunities and uncharted territory for marketers to target users in new and different ways. Only by taking a bespoke approach to these platforms and creating experiences tailored to make the most of the individual features of each, will we finally move away from the outdated marketing methodologies that are unsuitable for these emerging spaces and put our feet firmly into the future.

3. The need for integration

The strategies need to be all-inclusive and driven by learned data. Gone are the days of single channel communication, it is now about targeting prospective customers through multiple channels in ways that are appropriate and effective. But even that’s not enough. For maximum impact online and the most jaw-dropping results, brands need to ensure each channel is interacting with, and enhancing, the others, in a virtuous digital circle. In themselves, the channels are siloed, with limitations. Together, their potential is limitless.

Time for action

But these are of course just words. Words we’ve heard many times before. How we put them into practice to drive meaningful performance for our clients is what’s important.

Introducing the web of moments

The purchase funnel as we know it is dead. The path from awareness to conversion is not a straight line. It’s far more convoluted, so much so that, at Found, we don’t focus too heavily on funnel categorisation. We think less funnel, more web. We call it The Web of Moments – an ever-shifting plane of trillions of touchpoints between brands and customers where we focus on opportunities to reach, attract, influence, engage or convert at any relevant point in time. At Found, our ability to break the digital world down into a Web of Moments means brands can now accompany their customers in these moments, whatever the channel and whatever the device, and target the right level of communication, at the right time with the right message.

Choosing your moment wisely

We help brands to understand how each channel in this web effect and influence one another. By highlighting this, we can unlock previously hidden secrets about channel performance which can change the whole complexion of a media campaign. 

From these learnings, we are expecting another abnormal year around the corner. Expecting the unexpected in the upcoming year is impractical and also a little dangerous. The face of retail has changed forever, and with it means changes to how and what people search for, how and where they shop, and how and why they make the decisions they do.

How is the world, industry, audience, and behaviour changing, and how do you change with it?

Paid Search

Changes to the paid search landscape

Paid Search is evolving at an unparalleled rate. Through our varied roster of client campaigns, the team here at Found are seeing rapid developments across all areas of Search Marketing. This is not only the big changes in the way ads display in the SERPs, but also in mobile targeting, how data is being used and improvements in transparency that allow for more integrated solutions. From our point of view, all these factors are going to have a profound bearing on how brands will be using Paid Search over the coming years and demonstrates the obvious need to take a proactive approach.

Paid Search has never been more relevant than it is today; it remains one of the key digital channels for driving conversions and improving targeted reach. The average person spends several hours a day connecting with digital media, and of all this time search is still the area where they show the clearest intent to purchase. If your ads aren’t there to meet them, you can guarantee that ads from one of your competitors will be.The search engines are continuously making changes to make the search experience much more streamlined and consistent between desktop, mobile and tablet. It’s important that advertisers keep up to speed with changes like this, as they can have a huge impact. Google’s removing of the right-hand side ads from the SERPs, double headlines and expanded search descriptions are great examples of this, as they have dramatically changed the landscape.

“Paid search has never been more relevant than it is today”

The mobile search space specifically is even more rapidly evolving, both in terms of how users are presented with ads and what options are available to advertisers. If mobile is not already a substantial part of your strategy then, let’s face it, you’ve already fallen behind. It’s now essential for pages to be optimised for a mobile audience, to ensure a good user experience, but it is just as important that you treat your mobile ads with equal attention to detail. With a little care and understanding of the tools, you can fully optimise your mobile ads with sitelinks, callouts and review extensions, to counter the threat of greater competition for reduced real estate.

The ability to highlight your audience and target them more accurately has also become significantly enhanced and holds implications for both your bid strategies and your creative. Tactics like remarketing and audience-bidding allow you to show ads to sets of people (for example: by gender, age or location) who have already shown a vested interest in your brand or product. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how you can leverage your data in your favour. New segments you may not even have considered marketing to before are opening up through strategic audience targeting.

Staying on top of these advances in search technology, so that you can squeeze the maximum advantage from search, can present a significant challenge to even the best resourced company. In a fragmented digital environment, not every business has the time, or the internal resources, to focus continuously on each channel.We’ve put together this ebook to help you understand the different areas of Paid Search and how they are being used. We’ll cover current trends in search, and best practice guidelines for each, so you can ascertain which will have the most impact on your business.

Programmatic Display

Programmatic display is best defined as the automated purchase of ad space, or impressions, on a web page, either through a bidding process, or buying direct. To some extent, it has revolutionised the relationships between advertisers and purchasers. From the outset, programmatic display has the potential to dramatically reduce the amount of time and resources needed in successfully marketing to web users. But, beyond that, the process delivers a vast array of benefits to all parties:

  • Helping brands establish stronger, more relevant connections with their audiences, increasing the CTR.
  • Capable of real-time responsiveness, ensuring every impression counts and improving campaign performance.
  • Optimising the use of video advertising, the biggest trend in content.
  • Allowing for greater audience insights and more targeted marketing.
    Helping brands take advantage of an extremely complex purchase funnel that can encompass multiple devices and stages.

There are two types of programmatic display: Programmatic real-time bidding (RTB) and programmatic direct, both of which we’ll run through below.

Benefits of RTB

  • Removes the need for purchasing ad space on a web page for a set time period, which is akin to having a virtual billboard – costly and not necessarily guaranteed to boost traffic.
  • Far more efficient than the traditional process of media buying, as the advertiser has no need to negotiate with the publisher over every impression.
  • Enhanced targeting means the wastage of impressions on users to whom the content is irrelevant is dramatically reduced.
  • Greater reach and faster speeds have the capacity to highly optimise every campaign.
  • Saves time for the publisher, as they have a better chance of selling their full ad inventory, and earning the maximum money for the space by selling to the highest bidder.
  • Evens the playing field so small- medium size publishers have a chance against premium sites.

Negatives of RTB

  • You’re taking part in a public auction, so there’s no guarantee you will be able to get the ad space you want – you may be outbid.
  • While RTB adds transparency, there is no direct contact between advertiser and publisher – everything is done through an exchange. The publisher doesn’t know who the advertiser is or why they’re interested in their ad inventory, and the advertiser will usually not know exactly what site its ads are appearing on, only the category, for instance, automotive sales.
  • The focus is now strongly on the user rather than the web page, so premium publishers are losing revenue and market share. Additionally, retargeting by embedding cookies through third- party platforms means that advertisers can track the users they want across the web, reducing their bid costs as the users migrate to long tail sites.
  • The publisher doesn’t know as much about the user as the advertiser does, so can’t always be certain how much its ad space is worth. It’s weighted in favour of the buyer, forcing many publishers to accept below market rates. Consequently some are reluctant to release their premium space to RTB.

Programmatic direct 

Many advertisers still prefer to buy ad space with publishers directly, or combine it with RTB, so they have some control over where their ads are going. This can be an elongated, complex process though, which is where programmatic direct comes in. Automating the process of buying a bundled package of ad space is an immense time and resource saver. With this method, the advertisers usually pay more, but they know they are guaranteed the impressions they want. The advertiser provides the publisher with data about the type of user it wants to target – young fathers for instance – and the publisher then displays those impressions only to visitors who fall into the right category. That data will usually come from the advertiser’s partner DMP (data management platform) which collects, sorts, analyses and stores a wealth of web activity and user data. Ad space on quality websites is premium. Larger brands want to be there, and so RTB is not always the process they prefer. Additionally, while big name global brands want to follow their users around the web with retargeting, there are naturally a few areas where they may prefer not to go. It’s all about being seen in the right places.

Benefits of programmatic direct

  • Advertisers know exactly where and when their ads will be displayed, and how much it will cost.
  • Enables the publisher to know exactly why the advertiser is targeting its ad space, so they can aim for relevant advertisers and create attractive packages.
  • Publishers can sell their ad inventory for more than they might get through RTB.

Programmatic display best practice

The buy-in to programmatic display has been intense and there has been an explosion in growth which shows no signs of slowing down. Brands not currently invested in either or both methods should be looking into it, if only for the potential cost-savings involved.
Collaboration is key. Creative departments need to be involved at every stage of the process and, crucially, be data-driven, so they can craft ads tailored to specific types of user. That data might include: type of device, location, time, browsing history and many other useful factors. Aggregate data sources for a clear view across devices and channels, and consider an integrated tech partner for tighter execution of campaigns and to unify your brand message.
Ensure content works across all screens and channels. With responsive technology such as this, there has never been better potential to forge meaningful connections with audiences but, simultaneously, the competition has never been so intense either. Successful engagement with consumers requires consideration for the medium.
Choose the platforms you work with carefully. Publishers should consider the nature of their inventory before selecting a partner, and advertisers should consider whether their partners can help them place their ads where they will be most effective – are their algorithms sophisticated enough? Decide which process is best for your brand; lower costs but no guarantee of the impressions you want? paying more for guaranteed impressions on premium web pages? Or a mix of the two?
One of the first rules of marketing is that context is everything. The significance of advertisers being able to display the right content to the right person, at the right time, cannot be overstated. At its essence, programmatic needn’t be problematic – it is, after all, simply automating a process that already existed.
True, it’s still a fairly young technology with many wrinkles to be ironed out, particularly around transparency and giving publishers the confidence to release their premium ad inventory to RTB. But the potential benefits it offers to both advertisers and publishers ensure that take- up is only going to move in one direction, and any brand not yet considering it as part of its marketing arsenal is likely wasting resources it needn’t, at the same time missing out on substantial benefits.

Native Advertising

Age is no barrier to innovation. The Associated Press, founded in 1846 and the largest news-gathering organisation in the world, is to begin rolling out high-value native advertising on demand for clients such as Hearst Publishing. Web users are losing their appetite for traditional forms of display advertising. While many consider advertising as a ‘necessary evil’ in order to access free content such as journalism, still around 40% of UK users are now actively taking steps to avoid encountering what they view as obtrusive marketing online.
The proliferation of ad-blocking software is causing consternation amongst publishers and marketers alike, and banner ads are seeing ever-lower rates of clickthrough. But it is pop-ups and autoplay video that draw the most ire, advertising that can easily distract from the content that the visitor is looking for, and can often delay loading speeds. Sites which make substantial use of this type of advertising tend to see high bounce rates.
Consequently, many marketing teams are searching for alternative means of communicating and forging connections with consumers, and native advertising has evolved as one potential solution. Yet there remains considerable confusion among both sides about what actually constitutes native advertising, how to identify it, and how best to practice it.

“Around 40% of UK users are now actively taking steps to avoid encountering what they view as obtrusive marketing online.”

Native advertising, explained

While there are various definitions available, native advertising can be neatly summed- up as content that simultaneously meets the editorial standards of the publisher and user expectations, while also featuring an actionable goal for the advertiser.
Essentially, it integrates so cohesively with the rest of the website’s content that it could potentially not be recognised as an advert at all. For the most part, this is content that has been paid for, though other forms of mutually-beneficial arrangements are not unknown.
A subset of content marketing, native advertising can take many forms from sponsored posts on Facebook to paid ads that appear alongside organic listing on search engines, but it is most commonly associated with sponsored, or branded content such as editorials or video. A natural follow-on to product placement, the product is no longer embedded within the content, it is now actually merged with the content.
Designed to closely emulate the other content on the website on which it is being published in both tone of voice and format, this native advertising typically sees high levels of engagement, is viewed for longer, and is more shareable. It will often aim for virality, but can also be controversial, as demonstrated by the Scientology debacle at The Atlantic.

Benefits of native advertising

Native advertising fosters greater levels and depth of engagement and is particularly useful when reaching out to younger web users who are more familiar with encountering brand activity online. One publisher that attracts a young audience with its lighthearted approach to journalism – Buzzfeed – is especially adept at native advertising.
Due to the potential for virality – good examples include sponsored online quizzes or video such as Under Armour’s ‘Funny or Die’ comedy skit which attracted over 2 million views – native advertising can be immensely scalable.
Native advertising is an effective approach for marketers and brands wanting to leverage the credibility and authority of the publishing website, and is becoming increasingly popular everywhere from Spotify to Forbes and Twitter. It gives marketers the capacity for bold innovation and, for the user, it is normally far less intrusive and distracting than standard display ads.

Best practice in native advertising

Sponsored content ought to be labelled as such
Not making this clear leads to cynicism from web users and detracts from their relationship with the brand. There have been numerous examples in recent years of sponsored posts by celebrities endorsing products on social media without payment being disclosed, drawing the attention of regulatory authorities. When producing
a piece of native advertising, it pays to consider how the audience is likely to receive it if they aren’t aware that it has been sponsored.

Don’t treat native advertising as a press release
Brands should aim to become part of the conversation, rather than seeking to broadcast their message as loudly as possible. In order to evoke a positive and genuine response, the advertising should be engaging. It should try to understand the audience, and meet a need. Honest case studies are a popular approach in this regard. A balance must be struck in the effort to pose as genuine content, while not being deceptive.

Correct placement is crucial
The key to native advertising is fitting in naturally with a website’s existing content but brands and marketers must also keep in mind that there are some locations where people would prefer not to encounter it. Lifestyle publications such as motoring or fashion websites offer a fertile environment for native ads – brands are already prevalent in these areas. Yet native advertising when extended to serious news content will, research indicates, be received unfavourably.

Different types of native advertising provoke different responses
Note that the techniques in which native advertising can be employed typically engender varying responses from web users. Sponsored tweets, for instance, tend to be more favourably received than sponsored video content which is often seen as misleading.
Native advertising is still a relatively new concept and, as such, many marketers struggle to define it. There also remain questions over its true value, despite the greater levels of engagement it receives than other forms of display advertising. Some research indicates that native advertising may have little to no effect on brand perception – either positive or negative – perhaps because it’s so well-disguised as genuine content that the message doesn’t get through.
The most successful ads are frequently useful and/or fun in tone. Serious publications have more to risk from native advertising, especially if the line between editorial and advertising is too blurry. When it doesn’t work, it tends to be the publisher that suffers rather than the brand.
As a means of communication and relationship-building, there is great scope here, but maintaining trust is essential.

Gmail ads

We don’t use it just to stay in touch with friends and family, but also to communicate with brands we like and to be alerted to offers, sales and new products that are of relevance to us. Naturally, Google wants to serve users with the ads that best represent their interests.
One way it does this, besides methods such as harvesting search-and-click data,
is by automatically scanning the content of emails sent through its Gmail platform for keywords and topics that can be of use to brands which can then advertise directly to individual users through the Gmail Ads platform.

Gmail ads explained

Gmail ads are a form of native advertising and were formerly known as Gmail Sponsored Promotions until the service was rebranded in early 2015, then relaunched the following September as Gmail Ads. Previously a beta product, it is now available to all AdWords clients on a cost-per-click basis, which gives a sense of familiarity to Search Engine Marketers (SEMs) when targeting audiences, executing campaigns and reporting. Campaign functionality has
been enhanced since the earlier version, such as allowing SEMs to schedule ads and optimise campaigns. The ads appear to Gmail users at the top of the Promotions tab in their Priority inbox, separate from marketing emails that have been sent from brands to which the user has subscribed and clearly marked as ads.

Formatting and targeting

Google’s research into user preferences has resulted in there being several different customisable formats for Gmail Ads that aim to integrate seamlessly with the ‘inbox experience.’ These range from single promotion ads that feature one image and some descriptive text to multi-product promotion templates, and custom HTML uploads that allow advertisers to embed videos, forms and multiple links, and introduce functionalities such as click-to-call. Display targeting, to narrow an audience down and assist with campaign scalability, is done through standard AdWords options such as type of device, demographics, keyword/contextual, topic and affinity. So a car brand using Gmail Ads can easily target men in their 30s to 50s, with an interest in sports cars, with messages tailored to their smartphones.

Benefits of Gmail ads

The ads themselves take the form of a Collapsed Ad, or teaser, which replicates the look of regular emails. Clicking into them takes users through to an Expanded Unit which visually resembles a landing page. Any further clicks, either from the ad through a CTA or to forward it on to a friend, for instance, cost the advertiser nothing. Gmail Ads are a valuable tool for the content marketer. While, comparatively, not as effective in boosting sales as other forms of marketing, they are particularly useful in developing leads, raising awareness, generating ‘soft’ conversions, such as free trial offers, and building incremental value through existing customers.

Best practice for brands in using Gmail ads

Design
Brands using Gmail Ads must keep in mind that, as opposed to search – where a user is telling advertisers that they are interested in something at that precise moment – this process is essentially asking the user to take an action when they may not be actively considering it. This should drive creative efforts and targeting segmentation. Vary your ad design and subject line messages to prevent ad fatigue. As with any form of marketing, experimentation at the start
can pay off in the long-run. As the types of templates which can be used are currently limited to just four, the most successful brands are those using rich visuals and video content to drive up user engagement. Follow standard best- practice guidelines for the creation of your ad, being sure to include clear CTAs and, if appropriate, phone numbers.

Greater Relevancy = Better CTR = Higher Quality Score = Lower CPC = Lower Cost Per Conversion.”

Targeting
An important rule to remember is as follows: Greater relevancy = better CTR = higher quality score = lower CPC = lower cost per conversion. Ensuring that your ads are useful, and placed in front of the right people, is vital. Single Keyword Ad Groups help improve message-matching. Targeting with multiple keywords can bring your CTR down. Another factor to consider is ensuring you target by device, to avoid poor user experience through content not loading properly. Targeting competitors’ domains, i.e. displaying your ads to users who receive promotional emails from your competitors is viewed as a high-performing tactic and placement is generally worth aggressive bidding. Remember that due to Gmail users’ privacy, certain targeting options such as remarketing (except through customer match) are not available. Unless you’re offering vastly reduced promotions, that customers will find it difficult to resist buying immediately, Gmail Ads should be used in conjunction with other methods, as this approach is unlikely to significantly drive up revenue on its own. Think of it as top-funnel marketing, where you’re meeting goals such as collecting email addresses or finding out who would have a potential interest in learning more about your products. Lastly, it’s vital to keep in mind that users can control the ads they see, either by blocking unwanted advertisers or by opting out of Gmail Ads altogether, so it’s in everyone’s best interests to create ads that people want to see, that aren’t inappropriate, and that don’t irritate with their ubiquity. Gmail Ads are a handy addition to the content marketer’s toolbox. The conversion rate may not be as high as with more targeted forms of advertising but the CPC can be low, meaning it potentially offers good value. It’s a relatively new form of advertising, so the time to experiment with it and understand how it can work for your brand is now. Success will come to those that take a strategic approach and get most creative with the format.

Programmatic TV

It’s over 60 years since the first TV ad, for toothpaste, was broadcast in the UK. Today, the market for television advertising is worth billions. Over the years advertisers have played around with the form, whether it be developing long-running serials for BT and Gold Blend, high-concept ads like the Cadbury’s gorilla and the Budweiser frogs, or adverts aimed specifically at cats, but the way that advertisers bid for ad space, and the way that TV ads are shown to viewers, have changed remarkably little.
Now, though, programmatic TV and automated advertising have the potential to revolutionise the market, to make it bigger, smarter and more efficient. It’s an initiative that is certainly still in its infancy, but with people watching an average of 3+ hours of television every day, there is immense potential. While not all broadcasters have the technological infrastructure in place as yet, companies, such as Sky (AdSmart) and Virgin Media, are currently trialling versions of programmatic TV.
Of course, TV is only one part of the digital equation as marketers chase their audiences across a variety of channels, and there are still concerns, particularly that programmatic TV will devalue advertising inventories.
But exciting developments are confidently predicted by the industry within the next few years. If experts are to be believed, then programmatic technology will soon completely upend traditional TV advertising methods.

What is Programmatic TV?

Data-driven automation of advertising allows marketers to use a programmatic platform for bidding on individual TV impressions. Where previously brands would pay for their ad to appear to the entire audience of a show, based on the number of likely viewers, now they can display their ads to subsets of that audience instead, for instance, teenagers interested in mobile contracts, or professional men in their 30s. So Mr and Mrs Smith could be watching Coronation Street and see an ad for a shoe brand, while their next-door neighbours, the Jones family, could be watching the exact same show but see an ad for a fast food chain.
The data, collected from a variety of sources, can be everything from household composition to financial and lifestyle needs, allowing for diverse combinations and therefore precise targeting that will ensure ads are much more relevant for their audience. There is no need for advertisers to determine the programme or channel for their ads to be displayed, as it will only appear when the targeted audience is watching. Ads are paid for on a cost-per-impression basis in a similar manner to online ads.

The three types of Programmatic TV are:

Linear TV
Traditional television watching, wherein the same ad is shown to the entire audience through set-top boxes. Advertising is purchased through automated platforms, and both targeting and metrics use standard TV metrics.

Addressable TV
Individual households watch TV through selected providers such as BT or Sky, via set- top boxes. Some viewers watching the same channel at the same time may see different ads. First and third party data may be used for targeting, and this is currently the most scalable option, due to how many people watch addressable TV.

Connected TV
This can be either smart TVs connected to the internet, or devices such as games consoles or Apple TV. Usually the content is watched through apps such as the BBC iPlayer, with ads inserted depending on the specific household. Reporting is done with digital metrics such as delivery and completion rates. Connected TV is growing in popularity as more devices go online, and more data is collected on consumers through both online and offline behaviour.

The great opportunity for programmatic TV lies in the evolution of consumer viewing habits – streaming, catch-up, mobile devices and multiscreen viewing are opening up new ways of displaying and watching ads. In turn, advertisers are sitting on vast quantities of data, while a lot of ad space is considered to be undervalued at present.

Benefits of Programmatic TV

Beyond the obvious – richer, more relevant advertising so that viewers will be less likely to mute it or go and make a cup of tea – there are substantial benefits offered by growth in Programmatic TV.
Distributors and programmers can better monetise their ad inventories, while advertisers can put their own data insights to use, and brands stand to get better ROI. There will be less waste and risk involved in ad production and distribution.
For smaller, niche or location-specific brands, the playing field is now much more level. They can harness the proven power of TV advertising for much less ad spend, and enjoy far better targeting – they can virtually cherry-pick their audience, restricting it to region, city or even post code, based on that audience’s known interests.

Best practices for Programmatic TV advertising

This is a nascent industry, with guidelines for platforms and advertisers still in the formulation phase, yet some best practices can be identified.
Early adopters could gain the most. At the moment, uptake is low but programmatic TV is likely to advance significantly over the next few years, and now is the time to be making small experimental campaigns to get a good understanding of the medium and what it can offer your brand.
Look to any first, second and third party data you hold for insights that can drive strategy, especially if that data can be broken down by household.
Remember that more and more people are watching TV now on mobile devices, so focus attention in that area. Be creative with custom ads for different market segments, and follow the example of online ads which need to be refreshed regularly to avoid going stale.
Do the maths – if your product has a narrow appeal then broadly targeted advertising may not make financial sense. But if you feel the rewards are worth it, neither should you see this as simply an opportunity for inexpensive TV ads. It is, instead, a chance to forge a better connection with your target audience and simultaneously achieve good ROI.

The future of Programmatic TV

Currently, programmatic TV is nowhere near as sophisticated as automated buying for digital video, which partly explains why it hasn’t yet caught fire. Take-up is bound to be slower, as TV ad space is limited and at a premium, so in the immediate future there will probably be moves towards preferred partnerships and brands launching small, experimental campaigns. Resistance must be overcome from some TV executives, who feel it will result in a ‘race to the bottom.’
The next few years will undoubtedly see explosive innovation in programmatic technology as it becomes another option for advertisers looking to unify campaigns across multiple platforms. We will eventually see the ability for marketers to manage planning, execution and measurement all in one place, with possibly even the potential to adjust campaigns mid-flow for maximum engagement.
Programmatic TV is just at the start of its journey into the mainstream, but it will cover that ground rapidly.

Paid Social

Budgets are increasingly being diverted away from offline advertising, to be used instead on crafting and promoting ads on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Paid social ads serve multiple purposes including:

  • Helping brands position themselves in front of the right customers.
  • Boosting engagement on social pages.
  • Driving qualified traffic to brand websites.
  • Increasing number and value of conversions.
  • Building brand awareness and loyalty through extensive reach.

Here we discuss a few of the most common social platforms for paid ads, and some guidelines for getting started with them.

Facebook

The world’s most popular social media platform has over 1 billion active monthly users, naturally making it of immense interest to advertisers, as well as virtually every brand out there.
It’s important to note that paid ads, which don’t show organically on the brand’s page, but instead appear on user feeds, are different from boosted or promoted posts, which also offer effective targeting.
Facebook ads can be paid for either on a cost-per-click or cost-per-1000 impressions basis. The latter works better for high-quality ads that have a good chance of generating interest on their own. Every paid ad must be reviewed and approved by Facebook before it can be seen, so it’s advisable to follow their recommendations.
When advertising on Facebook you can also make use of a number of reporting and insights tools that will help you understand each ad’s performance and improve upon it.

There are various types of Facebook ads available to you, each useful for different objectives. They will all have their own creative best practices such as sizing or character limits. Examples might include:

  • Clicks to website (to generate more traffic).
  • Website conversions (to increase specific conversions).
  • Video views. App installs.
  • Event responses (to boost event sign-ups).

Once you have determined the type of ad you need to meet your business objective, you’ll need to choose where to place it – in users’ newsfeeds (seamlessly blending with organic posts, but marked as sponsored), on the mobile newsfeeds or in the right-hand ads below the trending topics.

Twitter (X)

With over 300 million active monthly users, Twitter is also a very important social platform for advertisers, especially when one considers that Promoted Tweets have substantially higher engagement rates than most display ads.

Again, you have several options for advertising:

  • Promoted Tweets (target specific groups of users and timeslots).
  • Promoted Accounts (encourage users to follow your brand’s account, ensuring you get more of the followers you want).
  • Promoted Trends (give 24-hours ranking on the trending topics list, guaranteeing a brand will be part of a big conversation, but often costing many thousands a day).

Paid Twitter ads can help meet objectives, from increasing follower growth or website clicks to app installations and video views. It’s easy with Twitter to test low-cost, small-scale campaigns, as you only pay when your objectives are met.

Other platforms

There are, of course, dozens of other busy social media platforms where you can place ads and find a suitable audience. LinkedIn is very successful when it comes to B2B or job-related advertising, while Instagram holds massive potential for brands, as it is image-based and mobile-friendly, with a young, often affluent user base. Aspirational brands in fields, such as travel or clothing, are blazing a trail with their sponsored images and videos.

Best practices for paid social

First steps
Begin by reviewing your existing marketing channels. Your marketing budget should always be focused where it will gain the best results. You may look at your display or offline advertising spend and feel they could be slimmed down to allow for experimentation in paid social.

Creative
Refresh your ad content regularly. It’s common, especially on Facebook, for users to get what’s known as “ad fatigue” and for engagement to drop off a cliff. This can, in turn, increase the amount you pay for those ads.
It is vital to optimise ads for mobile devices, as this is where the highest rate of growth is in social users. Your website must also be mobile-optimised so that when someone clicks through from an ad, they get the user experience they expect.

Reporting
Various free or low-cost monitoring and analytics tools exist that can help you ascertain the value of your paid social ads.
You can also direct your ads to landing pages where contact details can be gathered, delivering harder leads that make it easier to justify social ad spend.
Social media may be the defining channel through which brands connect with their audiences and meet their business objectives, whether it be increased sales, or just telling their story effectively. Paid social ads can, therefore, be incredibly effective.
The big advantage to paid social is that it allows newcomers to easily and cost-effectively run small, experimental campaigns that they can then scale up once they are confident.
When investing in social media advertising, the first rule of thumb is always to have a clear picture of which platform(s) your target audience use, how they use them and how similar brands to your own are interacting on there.
With a set budget, you can run small campaigns for A/B testing to see what works for you, and what doesn’t, before committing to any major ad expenditure.

Targeting
There is little point in crafting an amazing ad if it doesn’t reach your desired audience. In recent years, the targeting potential of platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, has advanced significantly – to the point where beyond key demographics such as age, gender, device and location, you can also identify and advertise to users based on an incredibly diverse range of interests or behaviours.
Note that pricing is likely to increase as this channel gains in popularity. Social platforms are unlikely to considerably increase the number of ads they place as this would be to the detriment of user experience, and so competition for limited impressions will naturally drive up the price. This makes the importance of accurate targeting paramount.

RLSA

Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is a clever optimisation and segmentation feature of Adwords. Used effectively, it enables you to show ads to previous visitors to your website or app as they continue to actively search using Google or partner sites with keywords on which you’re bidding. In this way you can boost conversions and reduce basket abandonment.
A statistic that is frequently mentioned in ecommerce circles is that around 96% of visitors to a website will leave without making a purchase. Google introduced RLSAs as a means of combatting this but, as yet, it seems many brands are either unaware of the technique, or not using it to its fullest potential.
With RLSAs, you can customise your search ad campaigns; tailoring your copy, PPC bids and keywords according to the behaviour of your website visitors, using lists created on the AdWords interface.
While the concept may sound slightly similar to traditional display remarketing, and does involve the use of cookies, it differs significantly in that it only displays ads to web users who are actively searching using the keywords that you’re bidding on. This allows for more precise targeting – the people seeing your ads are far more likely to be in a buying mood at that point in time.

Importantly, when assigning bids for your chosen lists, you have two options to choose from at the Ad Group level. You can either select:

Target & bid
This is where you only target users who form part of a specific audience, such as those who’ve searched for a keyword, AND those that have previously visited your site, in that ad group.

Bid only
A broader approach in which you can adjust bids upwards for previous site visitors, whilst also targeting a keyword audience that havent visited your site. Allowing you to gain better positions at a higher cost for these with a higher chance of conversion.

Why use RLSAs?

RLSAs offer a greater return on investment for your ad spend. Expenditure is more efficient, as the user is already familiar with your website; handy if your marketing budget is limited. It also means higher rates of conversion from more qualified audiences.
Plus, by using the Bid Only option, you can leverage the cost of bidding on more costly and generic keywords with the knowledge that your audience is more qualified. Bids can also be easily adjusted up or down depending on the value of a customer to you.
Your cart abandonment rate can be reduced as your ads stay in front of users who have drifted away, reminding them to complete their purchase.
Another benefit comes with the ability to upsell to previous purchasers. For instance, if someone has bought a dress from your online store, you can then serve ads to them that feature matching shoes or handbags. This can work to your advantage, even with lower-value items, since the audience is better qualified.

“RLSAs offer a greater return on investment for your ad spend.”

BEST PRACTICE FOR USING RLSAs

To begin creating your lists, you’ll be supplied with a snippet of code from AdWords, known as a ‘remarketing tag,’ which you can add to as many pages of your website as you wish. Don’t forget your privacy or cookies policy needs to indicate you’re using DoubleClick cookies. From this point, anyone who visits a page that has the code will be added to the specified list after a period of one hour. Membership of a list is limited to a maximum duration of 180 days.
The potential for developing either basic or more intricate RLSA strategies is vast, so ensure they are tied to your business objectives. It’s essential at the start to have a firm understanding of how your website visitors behave so you can determine the campaign settings. Useful data to collect might include your average basket value, how long repeat customers tend to spend between purchases or which product categories tend to attract the most, or fewest, new customers.

TIP:
Note: you can’t tailor your search ads until you have a minimum of 1,000 cookies on the list, so you should learn how long it takes your site to acquire 1,000 unique visitors, and use that time period as your minimum duration. Remember that visits needn’t only come through PPC.

Keep in mind that segmenting your audience is only one part of good RLSA practise. You should also develop strategy around your bids, keywords and ad copy. For instance, Google allows you to modify your bids from -90% to 900%, but some research indicates that ambitious bids of 100%+ are the optimum. This is particularly useful when targeting high-value returning customers who will be more responsive to recognised branding. They may also react well to more generic keyword terms since they’re familiar with your site.
Playing around with campaign duration can also yield results. For instance, short RLSA campaigns, lasting just a few days, as opposed to the maximum 180 days available, has been shown in some cases to produce better results.
Other profitable tactics for RLSAs range from campaigns that target only mobile users, if you want to push your mobile site, to bidding on competitor names, increasing bids for people who have spent time on a page containing high-value products, even to testing brand recognition.

TIP:
When creating a RLSA campaign, it’s vital to ensure that you select the correct option: Bid Only, or Target & Bid. If you make a mistake, then you could find yourself paying more for generic keywords without the advantage of placing your ads in front of a qualified audience, or instead missing out a huge chunk of your intended audience.

If you’re not using RLSAs yet you should be. For most ecommerce stores seeing decent levels of traffic, there could be immense untapped potential here.

Remarketing

The basic principle behind remarketing is putting the right message in front of the right people, at just the right time.
If someone has visited your website, given you their email address or used your mobile app, then with remarketing you can show targeted ads to them across more than two million sites and apps on the Google Display Network. Applied effectively, you can ensure that your brand and message have had exposure throughout the consumer buying cycle and are present at the key moments.
This form of behavioural advertising is considered one of the best methods for brands to stay connected with their audience – simple to set up, efficient and effective, and carrying with it a variety of business benefits, from increasing conversions to boosting engagement and brand awareness.

How remarketing works

Remarketing is differentiated from traditional display advertising by the way it allows for highly specific targeting and segmentation, and it can be done through Google AdWords and/or Google Analytics.
Campaign lists can be built around behaviours and visitor demographics, while ads can be customised with text, static and animated images and video. A series of pre-existing templates can be resized and reformatted to suit your branding guidelines.
Remarketing using AdWords involves adding a small piece of code to individual pages on your website, which then places a cookie in the browser of anyone who has visited that page. So, in one example, you might have a website that sells ladies’ shoes. You add a tag called ‘Heels’ to the six pages on your site that feature the high heels you have for sale. You can then begin building a list of people who have visited these URLs, and they will have ads offering high heels shown to them as they move around the display network. You might, alternatively, add a tag to your thank you page so that people who have bought something from you then see ads offering a 10% discount off their next purchase.

Refined targeting

In the most basic form of remarketing, you might advertise simply to those people who have visited your homepage, or to people who visited during a specific time period. But with analytics you can streamline it much further, such as with demographics, to drill down deeper, increase relevancy and thereby boost conversions.
Remarketing can be paid for either by CPC or CPM (a set price for every 1000 impressions) and so the broader your reach, the higher your costs. They can be reduced though,
by tactics such as capping membership duration or ad frequency.
There is an immense range of functionality within remarketing. You can advertise specific products or services that someone has viewed on your site, target people interested in your mobile app (even as they use other apps), show ads to people as they use Google Search for follow-up information after leaving your site, advertise to people on YouTube as they browse videos and, with Customer Match, also use email-list targeting to reach them across the display network and on Gmail.

Benefits of remarketing

Multiple options for creating custom campaign lists, so that you might target specific groups of people, including those who’ve abandoned a basket, or those who’ve visited your site and then one of your competitors.
Ads are easy to render, look professional, and can be scaled for any device.
Automated, real-time bidding helps give advertisers maximum ROI.
Excellent visibility on campaign performance, so you can easily see where ads are being shown, and how much they are costing you.

Remarketing best practices

Since it can take time to build up lists and create different ads for segmented visitor groups, once a commitment has been made to begin a remarketing campaign it makes sense to lay the groundwork early, before expected launch date.
You can remarket through either AdWords or Analytics but, by combining the two, you can really take targeting to a new level. Using the example of the ecommerce store selling ladies’ shoes again, one strategy might be to target women aged between 16 and 24, who browse using tablets, who have visited your site twice during the last 24 hours,and stayed for six minutes without making a purchase. There is seriously impressive potential for improving conversions by refining targeting with Analytics.
Smart remarketing adapts to changes in user behaviours. Let’s say you’re an all-in-one travel portal, and you’re targeting someone who has looked at one of the hotels on your site. After a week, they go on to book it. At that point your display ad might change immediately, no longer featuring the hotel, but discounted car hire in that city, or suggested excursions that might appeal to someone in that demographic.

TIP:
While you can remarket to someone for up to 540 days on the display network, it’s actually best treated as a form of short-term engagement. After all, if they haven’t converted after a month then, chances are, they’re not going to and you may be simply annoying them. Also, bear in mind that people regularly clear the cookies from their browsers or opt out of seeing a brand’s ads by changing their settings.

Remarketing gives you access to a vast and diverse range of strategies and is an essential part of any successful advertiser’s arsenal. Before beginning any campaign, outcomes should be carefully aligned with overall business goals, such as reducing cart abandonment rates or increasing the rate of conference sign-ups.
As with any online marketing process, there are endless possibilities for remarketing that can only be fully realised with constant experimentation.

Google Shopping

Google Shopping began life as Froogle, the search engine’s dedicated product comparison service, in 2002. In 2007 it was renamed Google Product Search, before a major rebrand in 2012 which saw the introduction of the auction model operated through AdWords, whereby merchants now pay to feature their products on the platform, with results affected by relevance and the size of the bid.
As such, when you key a search term such as ‘men’s trainers’ into Google, you now have a set of images displayed across the top of the search results – these are not organic, but sponsored, just like the traditional adwords ads directly below them, and they are labelled as such. If a searcher likes what they see from this ad, clicking on it takes them directly to the merchant’s website. This switch to bidding was a controversial move at the time, due to concerns that smaller brands would be priced out by dominant big-spenders, but Google Shopping is nevertheless now seen as a valuable tool by many e-commerce retailers.

Google Shopping is…now seen as a valuable tool by many e-commerce retailers.”

How Google Shopping works

To use Google Shopping, you need a Google Merchant Account that’s linked to your AdWords account – a straightforward and pain-free process. It’s through this link-up that you can then create and upload your Product Listing Ads, which feature standard attributes such as product descriptions, images and prices. There are various ways of curating this data, but it’s most simply done in a Google or Excel spreadsheet. Rule number one to keep in mind is that your data feed must be accurate and up-to-date at all times as, if there are mistakes in it, or links to 404s, then Google will not display the ad.

TIP:
While there is no minimum CPC rate, higher bids potentially mean higher rankings than the competition, and the relevancy of your product also carries significant weight, so ensure your product details are as accurate as possible!

So, with your data feed and Google Shopping account set up, you’re now ready to start bidding. Straightforwardly, it works on a cost-per-click basis, so the only time the merchant pays is when a customer clicks through the ad to its website.
Consequently, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your budget, as if your account drops to zero, your ads and products will automatically stop displaying.

Why use Google Shopping?

It’s still definitely worth adding a Google Shopping account to your marketing arsenal, as there are numerous benefits associated with it.

Lower competition
Yes, you may be up against some dominant brands, but it’s a much smaller pool than in regular search campaigns.

Better targeted visibility
Google consistently improves the way that product feeds are organised, so as well
as bidding to place your ads in front of
the people you target, you can also have confidence that the products you sell are presented attractively. Consequently, improved brand recognition and perception.

Higher CTRs
Richer listings mean more click-throughs, and you can also adopt strategies such
as adding special offer information, or generating Google Seller Ratings to further strengthen your ads. This also benefits the customer and should be reflected in fewer returns or abandoned carts.

Comprehensive reporting and analytics
As with any search campaign, reporting and analytics are key to ensuring your ads are hitting home and your budget is being well- spent and, as you would expect from Google, there is scope to drill really deep here.

Easy set-up
With Google Shopping campaigns, Google does all the heavy lifting for you when it comes to showcasing the correct product based on what’s being searched for, making it easier to run than traditional text search campaigns.

How to use google shopping

As with any marketing channel there is a great deal going on below the surface. While setting up a Google Shopping account is relatively simple, there are many ‘Pro Tips’ that can give you a competitive advantage, and help you best optimise your campaigns.

Firstly, play around with the platform as much as possible, especially when it comes to adjusting bids and optimising campaigns to meet your individual business goals, and setting your product targets, as this will help you better understand your performance data, and which tactics work and which don’t.
The data feed, is crucial to success with Google Shopping. Make sure the data is high-quality and includes as much relevant information as possible; from size to colour to availability. Address any errors early, and use negative keywords to prevent your products being displayed for irrelevant queries. A word on imagery – Google has very strict guidelines – for example, the image must display the single product only and no watermarks – that can catch you out if you’re not on the ball.
Google Campaigns can be prioritised within the Shopping interface, so if you have a seasonal event such as Christmas or Black Friday coming up, or a special offer on winter coats, you can adjust your settings without difficulty.

TIP:
Google won’t display a product if the price on your datafeed doesn’t match what’s on your website.

The Bid Simulator is a handy little tool, helping you to estimate what effect adjustments in CPC bids might have on your results; be it cost, conversions, click-throughs or impressions. A little experimentation can save you time and money.
Remember that Google Shopping campaigns don’t use keywords, so while your product titles and descriptions should be keyword rich, you should focus on appealing to your buyer through readable text.
Prioritise your ROI – there are all manner of metrics you can consider when bidding, but what it boils down to is, for each specific product you sell, how much can you afford to spend promoting it?

Google Shopping is not the right fit for every merchant, and you may find that your ad spend is better focused elsewhere. That said, getting set up is so easy, and the potential benefits are so clear, that it makes sense to spend some time getting to know how it works, trying a few basic campaigns and applying some of the many tips available to see if it would work for your company. Sound like fun? Then let’s go shopping.

TrueView

Few marketing trends have as much buzz around them at the moment as video. With the average web user watching around 16 minutes of video ads online every month, it’s no surprise that many brands are looking to put video at the heart of their marketing strategies as soon as possible. Video can be used for everything from brand-building to product demos and company news, delivering information in a succinct, engaging format. Yet abandonment rates remain stubbornly high for skippable video ads, which is why TrueView – Google’s unique ad format for YouTube – appeals to advertisers and viewers alike.

How TrueView works

TrueView is based on the premise of giving the user a choice of whether to watch a video or not. The service is opt-in, so the advertiser only pays when someone elects to watch their ad, and the viewer doesn’t have to watch something they have no interest in. Result: – a more interested and engaged audience, lower abandonment rates and more satisfied YouTube viewers.
Ads must be hosted on YouTube, but the viewer can click through to the brand’s website at any point. There are no time limits involved, so you can experiment with the length of your videos as well as other forms of customisation. Plus, with advanced targeting techniques that drill down beyond age, location and gender to personal interests, beliefs and online behaviours, in conjunction with keyword tools, relevance is pretty much assured. There are two types of TrueView ad formats available: TrueView instream and TrueView discovery.

TrueView Instream

Instream video ads are shown either before or during videos from another YouTube partner. They can also appear on connected TVs, or on YouTube videos that have been embedded into other websites. After five seconds of the ad, the viewer has the opportunity to either skip or keep watching.
Importantly, the advertiser doesn’t pay until someone watches at least 30 seconds of the video, or when it ends, whichever is shorter. They also pay when the viewer clicks on
a piece of creative such as a call-to-action button.
The KPIs that can be tracked with Instream include cost per view, completed views, site visits and channel subscribers. Of particular note is the view-through rate, which is the number of people who watched the ad until the end. The higher that is, the better the ad is likely to perform when bidding for impressions, giving a lower cost-per-view. One of the best ways to improve view- through rate is by keeping the creative side of things as fresh as possible. With Instream you can also see how individual campaigns are affecting brand awareness or ad recall.

Best practice for TrueView Instream campaigns

As with any marketing channel, regular experimentation over time is the best way to ensure optimisation. Your bids, creative and targeting can all be refined according to your business objectives. Ensuring your bids are competitive and expanding your targeting helps to maximise your budget.

TIP:
Follow your cost-per-view closely. If it’s going up, then that could indicate ad fatigue or higher levels of competition. Solutions include either tweaking or entirely refreshing your creative, or adjusting your bid. Conversely, if you see the cost falling, that may be an opportunity to inexpensively increase your reach. Other metrics to watch include partial views – as these can still affect brand recall – shared views and people who go on to subscribe to a channel after viewing a video.

Remember that shorter ads tend to get the best view-through-rates. Since the viewer has the ability to skip your ad after five seconds, those are the most important. If you can manage to get your message across in that short time-span, then it’s technically free advertising! A minimum video length of 12 seconds is recommended, as TrueView’s analytics don’t track views that are less than 10 seconds. A compelling call-to-action overlay in the first 15 seconds is also known to improve clicks through to the brand’s website.

TrueView Video Discovery

Formerly known as In-display Ads, and now incorporating TrueView Insearch, Video Discovery differs from Instream in that the YouTube user must be induced to click on a thumbnail in order to view the ad. Rather than rolling before or during another video, these ads can appear across the platform:

  • In YouTube search results.
  • Next to related videos.
  • On the home page.
  • Overlaid across other videos on the watch page.
  • On video partner sites and apps across the Google Display Network.

Video Discovery ads display differently according to where they appear, but are usually composed of an image thumbnail and up to three lines of descriptive text. When a user clicks on the ad, they are taken either to the YouTube watch page or the brand’s own channel. This is the point at which the advertiser pays, regardless of how long the viewer watches.

Likely to have a higher click-per-view rate than Instream, Video Discovery is useful
in driving channel subscriptions and other earned actions. The trick is to be present, as much as possible, wherever your target audience is, to encourage engagement over time.

The trick is to be present, as much as possible, wherever your target audience is…”

Best practice for TrueView Video Discovery campaigns

As with Instream, all videos must be optimised for mobile devices. There is not so much demand with the creative in the actual video as with Instream, but you should still refresh both your video’s thumbnail and
the accompanying text on a regular basis. Look for vibrant images that will stand out, and remember that thumbnails can change size, depending on placement. Text should employ clear calls-to-action and be enticing, because with Video Discovery, you’re asking users to stop what they were about to do and watch your video instead. A recent update, TrueView for Action, lets advertisers place a fixed CTA button below the video footage.
Monitor the performance of your ads depending on where they are placed on the platform, and make adjustments accordingly.
Context is important with Video Discovery. Consider keywords that people may be searching for that your ad would be relevant to, or similar videos, and bid high for those impressions.
The two approaches are often combined to good effect. For instance, if someone is intrigued by your Instream ad, they are likely to seek out more information on the brand, and the chances are the first place they’ll start is on YouTube since they’re already there. Accordingly, your Video Discovery ads should be readied in time for the launch of the Instream ad.
Another benefit of TrueView is that you can link your YouTube account to AdWords, enabling remarketing to people who have watched your videos, liked or disliked them, or subscribed to your channel.
Video advertising, through TrueView, holds immense potential for brands, and offers fantastic potential for reaching a large, highly qualified audience. Coupled with TrueView’s cost-effective nature, and that video abandonment rates are far lower when they are opt-in, if you are considering incorporating video into your marketing, this may be the best place to start.

App promotion

App development is currently one of the most dynamic and lucrative fields in technology, but it is a crowded market. The Google Play Store has 2.4 million apps available for download, while Apple’s App Store is a close second with around 2.2 million. If you’re a developer then how do you go about making your app stand out?
Paid search ads, launched last year in Google Play and due to arrive imminently in the App Store, are an effective way to promote your app, drive downloads or meet other objectives. Though not uncontroversial, they do improve visibility for apps that might otherwise struggle to be noticed. Here we’ll run through why you should consider this method if you have an app ready for release, and the different approaches between the two leading app marketplaces.

Why use paid search ads to promote your app?

Beyond making it easier for developers to boost downloads, paid search offers other significant advantages to organic listings. Firstly, targeting features enable you to place your ad in front of exactly the users that you’re looking for, be they college-age gamers or iPhone users with an annual income above £75,000, living in the south- east. Improved relevance should result in a higher rate of downloads, more regular users and increased revenue.
The app stores will provide new layers of user data which can provide insights to advertisers that can help with the development of future apps.
It should also be noted that app stores serve two masters – both the developer, and the user. Paid search enables people to find useful apps that they may have previously missed.
Using paid search to promote apps is, of course, not without controversy – what was a fairly level playing field previously has now been disrupted, as the larger companies with greater financial resources obviously have the advantage over smaller operations. As such, not everyone is onboard with the idea, but take-up has been swift so far.

Paid search in Google Play Store

Google introduced paid search ads in 2015, and although it was a controversial move, it’s easily understandable from the business perspective. The app store serves over 1 billion Android-users in more than 190 countries worldwide, a huge potential market.
Developers have two options to choose from, both available through AdWords: Universal App Campaigns and Mobile App Campaigns.

Universal app campaigns
With a single campaign, developers can promote their apps across multiple networks, including YouTube, publisher sites and other mobile apps on the Google Display Network, Google Play and Google Search.
This approach saves developers a great deal of time and effort. Minimal setup is required. A few lines of text to describe the app, plus location, budget and bid objectives and, from there, Google dynamically creates ads and bids for impressions based on the developer’s required cost-per-install (CPI). It offers excellent scalability with few headaches.
Users search by keywords, and relevant ads are shown at the top of the list, clearly marked. Organic optimisation techniques are not being rendered obsolete, but those prepared to pay will now be clearly visible.

Mobile app campaigns
However, not everyone is prepared to leave everything to Google.
If you want greater control over your paid search ads, you can use Mobile App Campaigns which target a single network at a time. Multiple ad formats can be used and adapted, such as TrueView ads on YouTube. With this technique you can bid on cost-per-view or cost-per-click also.
Both of these approaches are positively affected by higher numbers of downloads, meaning the more users your ads attract, the lower your future bids will be.
Ads appear solely on phones and tablets. Targeting, keywords and the ads themselves can be customised through AdWords, while installs and conversions can be easily tracked to gauge the ad’s performance.

Paid search in Apple’s App Store

Users have a vast amount of choice currently with apps available for phones, tablets and watches but, unlike Google, historically Apple’s organic rankings have worked more traditionally, with app name and keywords as decisive factors rather than engagement.
Apple’s paid ad campaigns will be low maintenance for the most part, utilising existing descriptions and images unless the developer chooses to update them. A Search Match feature, similar to Google’s Universal App campaigns, simplifies and accelerates the process.
It looks as though, for the time being, Apple will feature just one ad at the top of search results for a particular keyword, which will enable downloads with a single tap. Targeting and data measurement will, of course, be available to developers but don’t expect it to have the same depth of functionality as the Play Store for now, as Apple remains keen to control its user data tightly.

Best practices for mobile app promotion with paid search

Simply positioning your ad at the top of the search results will not work magic all on its own. You will still want to have a compelling description and image to influence downloads, with clear selling-points and calls to action.
It will take time to find the sweet spot between your desired CPI and the number of installs you’re actually aiming for, so be prepared to experiment with campaigns, switching around ad text, adjusting targeting and perhaps creating video ads if you have the budget. The bid simulator in AdWords is a very useful tool, enabling you to see what effect tweaking your CPI might have on installs.
Remember that although paid search has been around for a while, the progression
to ads in app stores is still in its infancy.
It’s likely there will be many updates and improvements rolling out over the next few years. Early adopters could well see the most benefit.

Conclusion

Untangling the web

Paid media has become a lot more complex in recent months. While it’s true that this is, in part, down to increased targeting options and an explosion of new channels, it’s largely been driven by the increased complexity of consumer behavior. Users no longer just search on desktop using Google – they use video, social and mobile to find the answer to their queries, and blogs, reviews and recommendations to inform decision- making. They expect brands to be present in this web of moments and brands that are missing are not likely to be considered when the final purchase decision is made.
Each of the different elements of the paid search landscape can be a powerful tool in the modern brand’s marketing toolbox and, used correctly, can yield great results. Whilst it’s important to understand each of these individually, the strength of paid media lies in identifying how to combine these elements across this digital web of moments. With the right mix of content and paid targeting you can effectively reach the customer at all possible touchpoints as you capture them with brand and product awareness and drive them through to consideration and conversion to purchase.
So how do you create such a presence in this complicated digital process? Firstly, take the time to understand the digital information needs of your potential customers. Use multiple keyword searches, do the research, visit the review sites and YouTube, explore your competitor’s pages, do it on mobile, and then do it all again. It is through exercises like this that you will start to notice all the different opportunities you have to reach your target audience using paid media.

“take the time to understand the digital information needs of your potential customers”

To truly be effective across the web of moments you can’t just manage one channel in isolation without at least understanding what part the others are playing in the path to purchase. Our approach here at Found is strengthened when we are able to clearly attribute and place value on each and every digital interaction a brand makes. The ability to tie these moments together and harness increased performance from seamless management across channels, devices and locations gives us an advantage that always benefits the brand involved. By delivering the right messages at the right moments, we are present during the key touch points.
Many agencies and in-house specialists still treat paid media as a separate channel, measuring performance and effectiveness on the last-click model. Whilst this has been adequate until recently, it doesn’t factor in new opportunities provided by a deeper understanding of consumer behaviours and the ability to reach consumers at so many touchpoints, meaning huge volumes of traffic (and conversions) are often missed.
At Found our paid specialists are qualified across all areas of paid activity (search, social, display, native) so we can offer our clients a truly data-driven approach to paid media at every touchpoint on the consumer journey, ensuring that your media budget delivers real results from engagement to conversion.

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