12 Inspiring Instagram Ad Strategies for B2B

Posted by on Nov 16, 2017 in Advertising
12 Inspiring Instagram Ad Strategies for B2B

Instagram doesn’t immediately spring to mind when you think about enterprise software and services, but it isn’t just for beauty brands and travel bloggers.

With over 500 million daily active users and exciting new ad types, Instagram ads attract over 2 million advertisers. The platform is at a lower ad load than Facebook, a much cheaper option than Linkedin, and a great medium for marketers to give B2B brands a personality and voice. 

Looking for ways to add Instagram to your paid social media advertising mix? Get inspired by these 12 examples from B2B brands.

1. Adobe: Announce a product update

Adobe InstagramAd 300x575

Product announcements, whether it’s a new feature or integration, can boost engagement, help acquire new clients, and reactivate existing ones. Adobe uses Instagram Ads here to announce its integration with Microsoft Teams.

2. Asana: Promote content downloads

Asana InstagramAd 300x575 Asana2 InstagramAd 300x575

Instagram Ads can be helpful in promoting your brand’s cornerstone content and acquiring new leads, especially if you use Instagram Lead Ads, which come with pre-filled contact forms to reduce friction. In this example, Asana uses Instagram Ads to promote its downloadable guide.

3. Canva: Showcase customer testimonials

Canva InstagramAd 300x575Canva2 InstagramAd 300x575

A good B2B marketing strategy builds credibility and trust. And what a better way to do it than with a customer testimonial? Canva lets the customer speak for the brand while adding a strong call to action to drive sign-ups.

4. ConvertFlow: Drive traffic to Product Hunt

ConvertFlowTeam InstagramAd 300x575

Product Hunt has built a great audience of early adopters and curious investors: a great opportunity for up-and-coming B2B brands to showcase their technical expertise and get some initial business traction. Here, Convertflow uses Instagram ads to drive traffic to its Product Hunt featuring.

5. Gusto: Give enterprise software a consumer brand feel

Gusto InstagramAd 300x575Gusto2 InstagramAd 300x575

Do B2B buyers make decisions based on rational thinking alone? How to build an emotional connection with the audience is something that B2B marketers can learn from their consumer brand marketing colleagues.  Gusto builds that emotional connection at scale by using relatable visuals in their Instagram ad.

6. Numetric: Build brand identity and thought leadership

Numeric InstagramAd 300x575Numeric2 InstagramAd 300x575

Numetric hits two goals here by 1) featuring their logo to boost brand identity and 2) building thought leadership with an industry report. Instagram Ads help get the logo in front of new audiences and promote content with lead forms.

7. Salesforce: Stay top of mind

Salesforce InstagramAd 300x575

Whether you’re buying shoes, a lipstick, or a CRM system for your team globally, the decision-making process is very similar. Who comes to mind first? To pole vault into people’s subconscious, frequency is key — across all channels. Salesforce uses Instagram ads to drive awareness and remind current customers and prospects about its brand through smart targeting.

8. Segment: Invite beta users

Segment InstagramAd 300x575

Public beta launch is often risky, because the first product release is rarely perfect. But here, Segment is likely using its beta launch to build interest and excitement among niche audiences of early adopters.

9. Sentient: Distill complex technology in a simple message

Sentient InstagramAd 300x575

Tech marketing is often about making the complex simple. San Francisco-based Sentient technology chooses not to speak about AI, ROI, and funnel optimization to their Instagram audiences. Instead, they post a picture of a magician.

10. TripActions: Capture the mobile consumer

TripActions InstagramAd 300x575

This ad caught me at the airport, so A+ for smart geo-targeting, and bonus points for the attractive creative that perfectly captures every business traveler’s love for caffeine.

11. WeWork: Location, location, location

WeWork InstagramAd 300x575

Instagram Ads are perfect for reaching local audiences. The account profile will show users where you’re on the map and help them find you while they’re out and about in your area. WeWork layers on detailed relevant targeting on top of location to woo startup enthusiasts to their SF coworking space.

12. OverOps: Jump on the meme bandwagon

Overops InstagramAd 300x575

When done right, taking a trending meme and applying it to your brand is the fastest way to resonate with audiences on Instagram. Hipchat was one of the first B2B brands to leverage memes in their print campaign back in 2011 (albeit not very successfully). Instagram is a better medium for memes, with one caveat: their lack of originality means you’ll need to double down on the fun.

Finally, if you’re looking to benchmark your Instagram as performance, grab a free copy of our quarterly report by clicking on the banner below.


Why Your Agency Needs Branded PPC Reports

Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Advertising
Why Your Agency Needs Branded PPC Reports

Back in 2013, Golden State Warriors’ star player Steph Curry was a part of the Nike family, not Under Armour, as he is today. So what happened? As ESPN highlighted in this story, during a meeting with Nike’s marketing team, not only did someone mispronounce Steph’s name, but a PowerPoint slide featured Kevin Durant’s name, presumably still in the deck because the pitch Steph was getting was a repurposing of what they’d already shown to Durant. *Cringe* According to a Morgan Stanley analyst, Curry’s potential worth to Under Armour as of 2016 was $14 billion. That is one costly mistake. So if you ever have any doubt about the power and effectiveness of branded reports and presentations (and triple checking the info they contain is correct), remember the story of how Nike lost one of the best NBA athletes in history.

white label URL for branded PPC reports -- AdStage

Though you’re probably not running reports and creating presentations for celebs like Steph, giving your clients the same amount of respect is equally important. Adstage’s Reporting feature allows you to customize reports with branded logos and share dashboards through branded URLs. And once set up, it happens automatically every time you generate a report. Here are a few reasons you should consider using branded PPC reports with your clients:

1. Clients Want to Feel Like They’re the Only One You’re Servicing

It’s kind of like when you first start dating someone. You assume they’re also seeing other people, but you’d rather not know about it. Same with clients – they want to feel like you’re going steady from the moment you kick off the very first project. Generic-looking reports feel like they could be for anybody. A one size fits all solution, when they feel they’re needs are unique to anyone else’s. A branded report and custom URL gives the impression that Client A is the only one in the mix, not just one in a pool of many.

2. Fosters a Closer Relationship

Some companies would rather keep everything internal, but budgets or politics prevent that. Make clients feel like you’re a part of internal workings with reports that look like they came from the inside. A report that looks like it came from in-house will make clients feel like you’re on top of the day-to-day just as much as if you were sitting in the next cubicle over. If a client updates their logo, be sure to update what you have on file, too. Showing something that’s old could be as offensive as using the wrong name…

3. Helps Build Trust in You and the Data

An unbranded report can quickly look like a copied and pasted mess, especially if you’re using a series of dashboards and throwing everything into a blank deck. Putting your client’s name on every page and sharing via a custom URL will give them confidence the data they’re looking at is truly theirs; not something that was accidentally carried over from a template, a la the Steph Curry story. You never want a client looking at numbers asking “Are you sure these are ours?”

4. Look More Impressive

In this report for the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc., you can see how just the inclusion of a logo helps give the report on the right a more grounded and professional feel. Think of it as the difference between receiving a piece of junk mail addressed to “Resident” versus a handwritten letter with your name on it.

Branded PPC reports with customer or agency logos -- AdStage

Even if your agency is small, branded reports and URLs give clients the impression you’re working with a robust team. Branded reports and URLs also make it look like you spent way more time drafting the report than you probably did. Little do they know it’s an automatic piece of the pie when generating a report through AdStage.

5. Shows You’re Taking the Whole Job Seriously

From end to end, branded reports show clients you’re not only interested in delivering results, but you’re also prioritizing their best interests throughout the entire process by providing them clear, understandable reports created just for them. Even if your numbers are the best your client has ever seen, don’t think that permits you to present a haphazard report. And conversely, if the results are less than you’d hoped for, a professional-looking report shows you’re not giving up or deterred and that you’re continuing to prioritize success.

Agencies run multiple reports per day for various clients, sometimes at a moment’s notice. Adstage makes it easy to create a branded experience with a few simple clicks. No going to great lengths to add additional cover pages, headers, or footers to reports, or working with web dev to create specific URLs. Check out how you can get started providing a white label experience for your clients.

Good On Retargeting? Here’s What’s Next

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Advertising
Good On Retargeting? Here’s What’s Next

Just when you thought you were on the bleeding edge of digital marketing because your retargeting capabilities are set up and humming, a report from Forrester Consulting, commissioned by e-commerce data company Criteo, says it’s time to build on that if you don’t want to fall behind. Aw, the life of a marketer in the digital age, right?

The report surveyed 152 marketers across industries, and focused in on “performance advertising (also known as performance-based advertising),” which is defined as “advertising whose objective is to drive a specific action and where advertisers only pay when that action, such as an acquisition or sale, is completed.” Probably sounds pretty familiar, and is something you’re doing day in and day out.

Why Use Performance Advertising?

Some of this may be obvious to you, but in the context of the report’s findings, it’s helpful to take another look at the benefits of performance advertising. Namely, it’s the new normal. According to the report, “Over half of customers expect digital media to work well for them all the time and across all devices, which is a shift Forrester refers to as ‘always-addressable customers,’ and these customers have the power to abandon companies that fail to deliver.” For that reason, nearly 50% of responders say they use retargeting and are now doubling down on personalized advertising. And of course, as mentioned above, if you’re not keeping up with current industry trends – like performance advertising – then you’re falling behind.

Marketers Are Moving Quickly

It seems like just yesterday the industry was abuzz about retargeting, and now it’s commonplace. Forrester’s study found 54% of marketers surveyed are already on to the next thing – delivering advertising content that is personalized for their customers, including product recommendations, personalized offers, and other content at the customer level. And they say it’s paying off. The graph below shows how “enhanced retargeting marketers” (for the report’s purpose defined as “marketers who have invested in at least two capabilities to enhance their retargeting efforts.”) feel about their efforts.

retargeting in performance advertising

That retargeting is being applied across devices, channels, and customer objectives. 46% of respondents say they’re already retargeting across multiple devices and channels, including mobile web, mobile in-app, email, and social platforms.

Next “Need To Have”– Cross-Device Personalization

There’s always a “next” in digital marketing, isn’t there? When going up against other companies with a similar offering which also have a good grasp on digital marketing strategies, personalization can be a powerful, and often crucial, differentiator.

The study found that 22% of marketers can target customers based on a single view of the user across devices and channels today, and over half will be investing in cross-channel retargeting capabilities over the next two years (check out the graph below). Marketers say they feel customers are already demanding it, and it’s just a matter of them catching up to give customers what they want.

retargeting in performance advertising

Integrating Performance Ads is Necessary, But Not Easy

If it were easy, 100% of the study’s respondents would be using performance ads. The study found the most common challenges included integrating various customer data sources, overcoming a lack of internal skills or knowledge, maintaining customer data quality, and getting funding for the program, as seen in the table below:

retargeting in performance advertising

But top-performing marketers aren’t letting anything hold them back and are dedicated to investing in capabilities like delivering campaigns seamlessly across devices, expanding retargeting, and extending enhanced features to a wider swath of marketing efforts. More than half are preparing to build in-house teams and systems to manage the programs going forward.

How Are Marketers Measuring Success?

Most are still improving their approach, with 70% saying they plan to get better measuring their ad spend effectiveness and 64% saying they will invest in better integration of CRM with attribution/marketing performance.

Attribution modeling remains the standard for now. The report showed that 76% of marketers and 84% of enhanced retargeting marketers used at least some form of attribution to measure their campaigns. Of the attribution approaches, predefined rules-based attribution was most common.

But top-performing marketers aren’t letting anything hold them back and are dedicated to investing in capabilities like delivering campaigns seamlessly across devices, expanding retargeting, and extending enhanced features to a wider swath of marketing efforts. More than half are preparing to build in-house teams and systems to manage the programs going forward.

Most Important Finding: Don’t Get Left Behind

Probably not a surprising conclusion, but the report emphasized the importance of retargeting, and soon, cross-device personalization advertising. The marketers that are performing well, and will continue to perform at the top, are those that aren’t letting anything stop them from moving quickly to give customers what they want.

Other key conclusions from the report include:

  • Don’t stop at retargeting. Figure out how to keep innovating to the next level, and assume the competition is right on your heels.
  • Cross-channel is crucial. Customers expect your messages to follow them across devices.
  • Use data to prove to key team members the potential and efficacy of performance advertising. Twenty-eight percent of respondents stated that making the business case to executives/management was a significant hurdle to adopting their program.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The study found the most common approach saw marketers managing their programs cooperatively with agency partners.

One of the biggest questions marketers are always asking is, “What do customers want?” According to this study, customers are speaking loudly and clearly. They want relevant, personalized messaging that delivers a seamless and cohesive experience across devices. Now it’s up to marketers to make that happen.

You can read the whole report here.

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7 Simple Steps to Boost PPC Results with A/B Testing

Posted by on Sep 27, 2017 in Advertising
7 Simple Steps to Boost PPC Results with A/B Testing

Every successful PPC campaign starts by finding the right combination of targeting, bidding, and creative copy. As soon as you find success with your campaigns, you’ll want to start optimizing them to increase results. One way to increase performance is to run A/B tests to find what works, and then scale it.

In this article, we’ll break down the process for running run A/B tests in your PPC campaigns.

1. Define the Success Metric

The first step is to define the metric that will determine the success of your tests. This success metric will help you develop your test hypothesis and separate the winning variation from the losing one.

Here’re the metrics you can use to measure the results of your PPC A/B tests:

  • CTR (Click-through-rate)
  • CPC (Cost-per-click)
  • Cost per Conversion
  • Conversion rate
  • CPA (Cost-per-action)
  • ROAS (Return on ad spend)

Which metric should you choose? It depends on what you are trying to find from your tests. There’s no right or wrong metric; rather, there are the right metrics for the goal.

For example, if you want to see what specific attributes make people click on your ads, then CTR is the best metric. If one of your experimental ads gets a higher CTR than the control, you know the attribute you are testing is driving the increase, assuming everything else is the same.

Action step:

  • Write down your test goal.
  • Pick a metric that is closest to that goal.

2. Define Your Hypothesis

Behind every successful A/B test, there’s a clear hypothesis. The more clear the hypothesis, the better the outcome of your test. In the simplest terms, a hypothesis is a prediction of your test. In a hypothesis, you define what you will test, what the possible outcome is, and why you think so.

Chris Goward, CEO and Founder of conversion optimization agency WiderFunnel, puts it this way: “A hypothesis is simply a question you can ask of your target audience or test sample.” Creating a test hypothesis is easy. In his book You Should Test That, Chris provides a simple structure to create one:

Changing [the thing you want to change] into [what you would change it into] will lift the conversion rate for [your conversion goal].

While you can test many variables in a website, ad networks offer few options. This simplifies the testing process. To create a hypothesis, pick one ad variable, then define what specific thing you will test in it and what result you expect. The variables you can test in your PPC campaigns are the following:

  • Headline
  • Copy
  • Ad description (in Facebook and LinkedIn)
  • Image (in Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter)
  • Sitelinks (in Google Adwords)
  • URL
  • Call-to-action

If you were to create a hypothesis for a PPC A/B test, it could look like this:

Changing the headline to feature our latest discounts will lift the CTR by 10%.

Although you can test just a few variables, you can create an unlimited number of hypotheses for each. For example, within just the headline, you can test adding discounts or social proof, mention the number years in business, among other things. You can get as creative as you want with your hypothesis.

Action steps:

  • Define a testing variable for each ad network you are going to run a test on.
  • Develop a hypothesis around the selected variable using the structure shown above.

3. Come Up with Test Ideas

Once you have defined your hypothesis, come up with as many test ideas as possible. Don’t worry if you come up with more than you can test because you won’t be using all of them. In the next step, you will see how to prioritize them.

For example, if you were to run a test on Facebook to see what kind of headline works best, you could test:

  • The unique selling proposition (USP)
  • The special deals or offers you have
  • The most popular products you sell
  • Key copy points and messaging
  • A customer testimonial
  • A specific result of a customer

To drive the point further, Melissa Mackey, featured in our recent article on the future of PPC automation, wrote a great piece about testing ad content.

Action step:

  • Take 15-20 minutes and brainstorm as many ideas as possible. Think about what things you could test for each hypothesis.

4. Prioritize the Test Ideas

Whenever you test your PPC campaigns, you will be effectively splitting your traffic and conversions in half. To make the most out of your budget, you must prioritize your test ideas, leaving only the ones that will have the highest likelihood of improving your campaign’s performance.

There are many frameworks you can use to prioritize your ideas. My favorite one is the ICE Score, invented by Sean Ellis, the founder of GrowthHackers. The ICE Score is made up of three attributes:

  • Impact: What will the impact be if this works?
  • Confidence: How confident am I that this will work?
  • Ease: What is the ease of implementation?

With this framework, you make a list of all the testing ideas (something you have done in the step before), and then for each one you define a numerical score from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) associated with each ICE attribute. Then, you would sum the three attributes and get a number for each test idea. Finally, you would compare the final number of every idea with each other, and the one that had the highest number would be the first one you would use in your test.

For example, if one of your ideas was to add the Scarcity principle to your LinkedIn ads’ headline, you could say the impact expected is 4, the confidence is 3, and the ease is 4. This would give the idea an ICE score of 11. If this was the idea with the highest number, you would test this idea first.

Action steps:

  • Using the ICE method, give all your test ideas from the previous step a numerical number for each of the three attributes.
  • Organize all the test ideas by the highest ICE score, and test the ones with the highest score first.

5. Define the Sample Size for each Metric

Before you start running your test, you must know what’s your sample size for each metric. You want to define the minimum amount of traffic (or conversions) any ad group should receive. After the ad group receives the set amount of traffic, you’d stop the test and analyze the results (which you will see how to do in step #7).

The amount of traffic you should set depends on your current numbers. For example, if you currently have an ad group that receives 500 visitors a day, you’d like to take 5 to 10 times that amount as a sample size. You want your ad groups to have enough traffic so that a single visitor doesn’t affect the overall results.

Also, you must make sure each ad group receives the amount of pre-set traffic (or conversions) before analyzing the results. If you defined a sample size of 500 conversions for each ad group, and one of them received 600 and the other one received 450, you need to wait until the latter reaches 500 to stop the test altogether.

Action step:

  • Define the minimum sample size for your metrics. You can use one of the countless sample size calculator tools on the web. Based on personal experience, I’d recommend you to use this one.

6. Run the Test

With your ideas and sample sizes in order, you need to start running the first tests. Don’t stop them as soon as you see a result or even if you hit your sample sizes. Wait for at least a week before you pause them. Many times, people behave differently depending on the day of the week. That’s why you should wait for at least a week.

After each ad group reaches the sample size, you can pause each test. This, however, doesn’t mean the testing is over. You must take the results of your tests and see if they are statistically significant. Choose a threshold that you feel most comfortable with (95% or 99% are the most common), and run them with an a/b testing growth tool, such as the one linked here from Kissmetrics. Take a look at the following example:

ppc a/b testing best practices

The first variation got 300 fewer visitors and 30 fewer conversions than the second one. Statistically speaking, however, the former beats the latter. Take notice of the fact the confidence level in this test is 97%. If my confidence level was higher – say, 99% – then I’d need to keep testing until I get statistically significant results. Only after every variation of your tests reaches statistical significance, you can compare the results. If they don’t reach significance, keep testing.

Action steps:

  • Based on your hypothesis developed before, start running the tests. Stop only after all your ad groups have reached minimum sample size.
  • Analyze the statistical confidence. If your results haven’t reached it, keep going until they do.

7. Analyze the Results

By now, you have taken the results of your tests and compare them with each other. If everything is OK, you will have a winner. But before you call it a day, you need to do a final thing. Take the numbers of your metrics previous to the tests and use them as benchmarks. Compare them with your current metrics and see how they compare with each other.

Also, take into consideration the timeframe of the test’s results. If you ran a test for 2 weeks trying to reduce your CPA, you must compare the result of that test with the performance of the CPA for the previous 2 weeks previous to the test.

Action step:

  • Compare your test’s results with your previous performance. If the new results are better than the previous ones, the test was successful. Otherwise, you’ll have to restart the process.


Any PPC specialist with some experience and skills can create a successful campaign. What’s hard is to replicate it in each one you run. Today, you’ve seen the specific steps you need to take to get you started with A/B testing for your PPC campaigns. Running them will help you discover the specific things your audience likes and you will know how to scale them down the road.

Helpful Resources

  1. Facebook Ad Fatigue Best Practices — get ideas for your next test.
  2. Quick Guide to Writing Successful ETAs — learn the basics of writing ad copy that converts.
  3. 2017 Demand Gen Benchmarks — compare your ad performance with industry leaders.
  4. 2017 Facebook Ads Benchmarks — check out the average Facebook CTRs and how much your PPC peers are paying per click.

[The PPC Show] This Week In Ad Tech Headlines for Sept 11-15th

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in Advertising
[The PPC Show] This Week In Ad Tech Headlines for Sept 11-15th

This week on The PPC Show, Paul and JD break down the top 7 headlines and trends in ad tech and digital marketing for the week of September 11-15th.



7 Major Updates for Facebook Advertisers

Posted by on Sep 14, 2017 in Advertising, PPC News, Social
7 Major Updates for Facebook Advertisers

What a week in ad tech! While Apple was putting on a show in Cupertino, Facebook quietly revamped its Ads Manager, rolled out several updates for advertisers, and even launched a new video chat app. Here’s a recap of all the major announcements:

1. Power Editor and Ads Manager Are Now One.

Starting this week, advertisers will begin to see an updated Ads Manager interface. Here’s what you need to know about this update.

  • No features lost.
    The updated Ads Manager will look just like its old version, plus all the features from the old Power Editor and Ads Manager.
  • Quick or guided: choose your favorite creation flow.
    Whether you preferred Power Editor’s quick creation or Ads Manager’s guided creation, you’ll be automatically opted in to the same workflow you used previously. You can change it anytime in the top right of the ad creation window.
facebook ads manager updates

The Power Editor Interface.


facebook power editor guided creation 2

Guided Creation in the new Facebook Ads Manager. Source: Jon Loomer

  • Automated drafts: review and publish.
    You’ll still have access to the Power Editor’s Automatic drafts feature. However, you will now manually review and publish all the changes that need to go live. Nothing to worry about: if you leave the updated Ads Manager with unreviewed changes, Facebook will show a reminder.
  • All campaign data insights and reporting in a single interface.
    The updated tool will allow advertisers to view and report on campaign data within one interface.

2. Lifestyle Templates to Mirror Print Catalogs

On Monday, Facebook announced a new ad format which allows users to shop directly from the Facebook ad. The new ads carry the look of a modern-day print catalog: not as glossy, but with the added benefit of interactivity, mobile reach, and less consumer friction. The new lifestyle format should appeal to the Pinterest demographics (Williams-Sonoma was among the first brands to test these ads in beta).

Instagram ads

Facebook Lifestyle Templates replicate the print catalog experience for mobile. Source: Facebook

3. Canvas Ad Format on Instagram

On Tuesday, Instagram announced the integration of Instagram Stories with Facebook Canvas. Canvas ads can now run in Instagram Stories.

What does it mean to advertisers?

  • The ability to capture Instagram’s younger demographics with full-screen experience on mobile
  • New features allow uploading organic stories as ads in Ads Manager
  • Broader reach: you can now run the same Canvas ads across Facebook, Instagram, and Audience Network.
Instagram Ads

With 250m DAU, Instagram Stories are catnip to advertisers. Source: Instagram

4. New Rules for Branded Content and Instant Articles

On Wednesday, Facebook introduced monetization eligibility standards. Which means Facebook will now be more selective and cautious about Branded Content and Instant Articles. The new guidelines will control who is eligible to earn money on Facebook and what kind of content can be monetized. Starting today, the update will apply to videos and will extend to Instant Articles over time.

5. Third-Party Verification for Facebook Ads

You knew this was coming. Brand safety and ad fraud are major issues for advertisers. How do you make sure ads don’t show up next to questionable content? And who is clicking, a bot or a human? Facebook has been under scrutiny this year: first, fake news, and then inflated ad reach numbers.

To help assuage growing concerns, Facebook partnered with the Media Rating Council, the U.S.-based non-profit industry organization that reviews and accredits audience measurement services. Over the next 18 months, the MRC will work with Facebook in three key areas:

  • First-party served ad impression reporting
  • Third-party viewability partner integrations
  • Facebook’s new two-second video buying option.

To ensure advertisers have better control over brand safety, Facebook will work closely with third parties, such as DoubleVerify and Integral Ad Science.

As Facebook is looking to make more ad money on its original content, these changes will be critical to rebuilding the network’s trust with advertisers.

6. Get Ready for Instant Videos

Facebook is testing a new feature called Facebook Instant Videos. Facebook Instant Videos download and cache Facebook videos to a user’s phone while they’re on WiFi so that they can watch them later on the go without spending their cellular data.

Instant Videos could be a game-changer for advertisers in the developing countries with a slow mobile Internet connection. For places where mobile data is pricey, and the network is weak, the new feature can level the playing field — at the very least when it comes to ads. For example, the average download speed on cellular in Afghanistan is 2.2 Mbps, compared to 4.4 Mbps in South Korea.

7. No More Instant Articles in Messenger

While it’s clear from some of the earlier updates that Facebook will continue to focus on Instant Articles (and videos), this ad format will no longer be available on Messenger —  for now. The truth is, as of now, Instant Articles are still not as publisher-friendly as Facebook wants them to be. Publishers report traffic issues; according to TechCrunch, advertisers have also complained about attribution: you can’t easily add UTM parameters to the end of Instant Article URLs. Facebook is collaborating with publishers to give them more control over their content, so maybe we’ll see a comeback.

… and a Bonfire

To top this week’s updates, Facebook also launched a new video chat app called Bonfire. The app mimics all the features of Houseparty, a social network popular among teens. Facebook’s copycat strategy is strong and already caused Snap’s earnings to plunge in the first quarter. Which app is next?

Tune in to hear the experts’ commentary on AdStage’s PPC Podcast this Friday.

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[Podcast] PPC Chatbots and Digital Assistants

Posted by on Sep 12, 2017 in Advertising, The PPC Show [Podcast]
[Podcast] PPC Chatbots and Digital Assistants

This week on The PPC Show, Purna Virji, Senior Training Manager at Microsoft, shares how advertisers can capture conversions in a landing page-less world.

We spend so much of our time sending traffic to landing pages that the thought that they may not be the be-all and end-all is interesting to ponder. But then think about it. We have new places where we can engage with the brands that we like: through chatbots or personal assistants such as Amazon Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana. This episode will explore different these different methods and how to leverage them for success.

Fun Fact: Purna goes into grandma mode on weekends, where she likes to garden, knit, and make jams. If she wasn’t working at Microsoft then she would probably open up her own gourmet jam store. You can connect with her on Twitter.

Purna's Gourmet Jam

Purna’s Gourmet Jam Store

Three big highlights from this week’s show. Tune in to hear how:

  1. Chatbots are becoming the new app and how we can use them on our websites. Gartner is predicting that by 2020, 85% of our relationships with a company will be managed without human communication.
  2. Digital personal assistants are becoming the new browser and what does that mean for advertisers?
  3. AI is really the brains behind it all and how we can better use it to understand our audiences. AI is so good at being human, so of course it makes sense that it can help with these landing page-less conversions, right? From anywhere, like interactive ads, or like personal shopping.


More About Purna

Keynote Speaker. Ranked by PPC Hero in 2016 as the #1 Most Influential PPC expert in the world. Senior Training Manager at Microsoft. Columnist for Search Engine Land, Moz and The Drum. International speaker at conferences such as The Next Web and INBOUND.

Specialist in Voice Search, Future of Search, digital marketing and AI. An award-winning former journalist, Purna is an avid traveler, aspiring top chef and amateur knitter in her spare time.  Member of Vistage International- Key Executive Group – from November 2012- May 2015.

In my role as a thought leader and brand ambassador for Microsoft Advertising, I proudly represent Bing at events and conferences across the globe, while developing content and trainings on SEM/SEA, Artificial Intelligence and Conversation as a Platform for our premium partners and clients worldwide.

– The Next Web Conference 2017, Amsterdam
– SEJ Summit 2017, Chicago
– Big Digital 2017, Australia
– Retail Summit 2017 Australia
– HeroConf Los Angeles 2017
– PubCon SFIMA 2017
– SMXL Milan 2016
– State of Search 2016

Show Notes

Tacobot: https://www.tacobell.com/feed/tacobot

The Transform Blog: https://blogs.microsoft.com/transform/

Bot Framework: https://dev.botframework.com/

Microsoft AI APIs: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/cognitive-services/

Washington Post Heliograf: https://aitopics.org/tag/Heliograf


PURNA VIRJI:                         What they did was they took these people and they analyzed their history of search, searches that they had been doing and what they found, the computer was able to find these connections in data that were like, “Hey, these types of searches tend to be done and they tend to be an early indicator of cancer.” So, who knows if your first diagnosis of cancer can come, maybe not from your doctor, but from your search engine.

JD PRATER:                             Hey everyone, welcome to episode number 58 of the PPC Show, where we interview the best and brightest in paid search and paid social advertising. I’m your host, JD Prater.

My guest this week is Purna Virji, Senior Training Manager at Microsoft. She’s gonna walk us through conversions in a landing page-less world. Now this is one of the most thought provoking topics in digital marketing right now. And Purna says, “We should be paying attention and leveraging these three important trends.”

  1. Chatbots are becoming the new app and how we can use them on our websites. As Gartner is already predicting that by 2020, 85% of our relationships with a company will be managed without human communication.
  2. Digital personal assistants are becoming the new browser and what does that mean for advertisers?
  3. Last, AI. Which is really the brains behind it all and how we can better use it to understand our audiences.

Now grab a pen and paper and take some notes, as we discuss these three trends and how they’re intersecting with PPC. Enjoy the show.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Hi JD, thank you so much for having me.

JD PRATER:                             Aw man, of course. I mean, whenever Purna is going to be on the show, I put down everything. Really pretty pumped about this topic that we’re going to be talking about. Conversions in a landing page-less world.

You just got done presenting this at Digital Summit Philly, so this is pretty fresh, still in your mind. Let’s talk about it.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Let’s do that. I’m so honored to be here and share this with you.

JD PRATER:                             If we’re gonna have conversion, but it’s not going to be on landing pages. This only begs the question of, where are they gonna happen?

PURNA VIRJI:                         I know right, ’cause I think every time I bring up this topic of landing pages aren’t always going to be necessary for a conversion, I get this horrified look from everyone. It’s as if I told them that, “Hey, planes don’t need runways to land.” It’s true, it’s a fair point, we spend so much of our time sending traffic to landing pages, that it’s thought that they may not be the be-all and end-all. It’s sort of a bit interesting I guess to ponder, but then think about it now. We have new places where we can engage with the brands that we like, for example, with a chatbot, or with a personal assistant, like Cortana, or Amazon Alexa. It’s so easy for me to order something without even going to Amazon’s website, just by asking my Echo to order something for me, but that can always happen. I would say, we all need to be paying attention to chatbots, which are almost like the new app. Digital personal assistants, which are almost like the new browser and then AI that is like the brains behind it all.

JD PRATER:                             I love that breakdown. These are some of the most fascinating topics right now. Super hot, super trendy. That’s why I love this intersection of where these three in PPC meet.

You’re on the PPC Show, you know you got a bunch of PPC account managers listening, let’s start off with chatbot and PPC. Talk to me about how I can use these chatbots to get these conversions.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Well, I think the first thing that I should remind the PPC is to just why has chatbot become so popular and why are all the companies like Microsoft, Facebook and things like chat, all trying to push text messaging and chat back. It’s because of how popular they are and how accessible they are, like, JD, don’t you have somebody in your family who may not have a social media app, like they might not have a Facebook or Instagram, but they have a messaging app?

JD PRATER:                             Yeah, my dad. My dad is not on Facebook, but he will every now and then text with me.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Exactly. We all have people like that in our family, so it just makes sense that messaging is becoming so popular is because the number of users that it has. The reach is actually far more than that of a social media network. It’s also easy and a fast medium. Like if I get an email, I may, or may not open it. But if I get a text message then I usually check it within like ten minutes or so of receiving it. Usually right away. So just in those two cases, it’s got a huge lead. Then, a big example that’s actually, so many articles have been written that Facebook Messenger’s business model is modeled after what WeChat has done in China and what WeChat has done is really, really interesting and that’s where PPC experts need to pay attention. WeChat now has over 960 million monthly users and almost half of them have texted their bank, or their credit card information to the app, so that means within that same app, they can chat with their friends, they can book an appointment with their dentist, or they can buy their next Happy Meal, or pair of shoes, or whatever they want to buy.

Now, that’s got to be worth a lot of money, right? And if you think about it, according to numerous estimates, the average revenue per user, per year, is $7 in WeChat. That’s a lot of money, I mean 960 million, multiplied by $7. I’d be really happy with that.

JD PRATER:                             So would I.

PURNA VIRJI:                         I know. And people like engaging with these chat apps. Even in the west, here, where it’s in its infancy. Ovum did a study of people across the US and in Germany. They asked them how do you prefer chatting with businesses? They all preferred chat apps. 53% said that, or were talking with them via the phone. At first, I was like, “Oh my gosh, how is that possible?” But then I pose this question, JD to you, let me ask you. You have a choice of booking a restaurant for dinner tonight in San Fran, which has all the amazing restaurants and you’re trying to choose between two restaurants. One has these amazing five star reviews, but you have to book a table by calling them. The second one, has four star reviews, so good, but not as good. But you can just book your table online, through like OpenTable, or something like that. Which would you choose?

JD PRATER:                             Oh man. That’s an easy. No brainer for me, OpenTable. I absolutely hate calling businesses. I can’t even order pizza.

PURNA VIRJI:                         I know, I’m the same way. It’s like we all tend to do that, so it’s really not surprising that Gartner’s stat predicted that by 2020, 85% of our relationships with a company will be managed without human interaction. So all this unnecessary, fluffy, human interaction that we don’t like, can happen via computers and not via phone, ’cause who wants to be on hold, or listen to those awful multiple choice computer things. That’s not fun.

JD PRATER:                             85% customer relationships will be managed without humans. Where does that human, kind of talk to me about maybe where the humans will be and then talk to me about what you guys are working on over at Microsoft?

PURNA VIRJI:                         Yeah, so what the humans will be doing is their time will be freed up to do better things, so if you think about a business, let’s say a bank, or financial institution, or any company, like your cell phone provider, where people call your customer service, often are quite redundant, often they might ask the same questions that could easily be answered in an FAQ page, but again, who wants to navigate to that? But if you had a bot, like if I call my bank and I had to say, “Oh you know, what is my balance in my checking account? A. I’d have to be on hold for like three or four minutes. Then I’ll have to go through all the security answers and like give them my first born and then they’ll give me my balance. It takes a lot of time and it costs these banks a lot of money to service these calls. So it’s one thing like a chatbot that helps people answer those questions and get help that they want, much faster. It’s a win for everyone.

At Microsoft, first we were wondering like, “Are people want to engage with this technology, right? What is a way we can do that?” So in China, a few years ago, in 2014, our amazing, brilliant team in China created Xiaoice who is an AI bot that is designed to be your friend. She’s really high in IQ, but also really, really high on EQ. So JD if you told her, “Hey, I broke up with my girlfriend” she’d put you on a 32 day, breakup recovery plan.

JD PRATER:                             No way.

PURNA VIRJI:                         She’ll check in with you, she’ll empathize with you. You can vent to her, you can talk celebrity gossip with her, you can discuss Game of Thrones, like whatever you want with her, she’ll do that. ‘Cause she’s really smart and she’s designed to also have empathy, but in fact, we find that she’s been so popular, she’s got 40 million-plus active users, that one out of four, so 10 million out of those 40 million have told her that they love her-

JD PRATER:                             Oh wow!

PURNA VIRJI:                         … I know, it’s like, when was the last time you told your AI you love her right?

JD PRATER:                             That’s like the movie, Her. Yeah.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Exactly. But this is something that people are really enjoying. The conversations with her are like 26 turns. So I talk to you, you talk back to me, that’s two turns, right? With 26 turns, is the average conversation length with Xiaoice, that is just brilliant.

And it just goes to show that we’re really willing to engage with technology if it can make us forget that it’s not human. I think that’s fine, like if there was chatbot can comment and have sort of empathy and build a rapport and learn from the conversation and understand you, then it’s going to be something we wouldn’t mind engaging with and you wouldn’t miss the human touch. They think that chatbot’s brain really is convenient. Now, you live in a big city JD, do you use a tool like Lyft or Uber?

JD PRATER:                             Yeah, I do.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Why do you use that?

JD PRATER:                             Mostly like a utility, so I need to get from point A to point B and maybe I need to get there quickly, or maybe, San Francisco public transportation isn’t always the greatest, so maybe I don’t want to rely on that.

PURNA VIRJI:                         That makes sense. But why would you choose it over a taxi?

JD PRATER:                             It’s an app on my phone-

PURNA VIRJI:                         Right!

JD PRATER:                             … so it’s really easy. Yeah.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Exactly. A lot of people will try to give the reasons that it’s cheaper, it’s cleaner than a taxi, the drivers are more friendly. But you hit it on the head, it’s like A. it’s super convenient, ’cause it’s an app on my phone, I can control it, as opposed to trying to flag down a taxi, or B. and the biggest reason, is that you get in the car, you reach your destination, you get out, you’re done. You don’t have to take out your wallet and pay.

JD PRATER:                             Mm-hmm (affirmative). Correct.

PURNA VIRJI:                         That little frictional step is gone. So there’s no friction, it’s absolutely seamless and we like to do that, which is exactly what a chatbot can bring. I’ll give you an example. Say I’m looking up a website and I’m looking up some kind of software tour, do I need that software, do I need that software and it gives me just some options, but there’s not much explanation. My next step at that point would be either calling the helpline of the company, which let’s be honest, like we don’t always want to call, or B. I’ll just go to the search engine, which I’ll go to Bing and I’ll go and do a search for more information about what I want.

That’s been the way that we handle things when we want to do more research, now or if we can’t find the information that we’re looking for, we just naturally go to a search engine. The problem in a business scenario like that is that A. it’s an interruptive experience. I’ve got to stop what I’m doing in one place and then go somewhere else to try to find what I need.

But imagine now, if I just had a chatbot. I’m already in place that I am. I’m familiar with how it works and then if I’m looking for more information, let’s say I’m looking for furniture for my house and I’m saying, “Yeah, let me see sofas or loveseats.” The company will ask you, “Okay, what are you looking for?” “Looking for sofas.” So it will ask you, “Okay, what kind of sofa do you want? Do you want a tufted sofa, do you want a loveseat?” Like a normal person, I have no idea what a tufted sofa is, but rather than stopping what I’m doing, I can just ask the chatbot directly, “Hey, what is a tufted sofa?” And it will look for the answer for me and give it to me right then and say, “Hey a tufted sofa is also known as a Chesterfield, here are some photographs of it. Now, did I answer your question? What would you like to do next? Do you want more information, or do you want me to connect you with one of our experts?”

It’s very smooth. It’s all in one place. I don’t have to risk going through a search engine and doing a search then, this can use the power of search, but just embed it in a platform that’s easy for us to use.

The other advantage that chatbot can bring is that they can learn from the conversation. Say for example, if I used a chatbot in the past, the main goal for it to build a rapport and be more helpful with me, is if it learns my behavior. It’s the same way that search that are getting more personalized in a way, right? ‘Cause it knows what you look for, it knows what you’re gonna find, but here, if I ask it, if you and I were talking JD, “Well like Purna go to dinner in Philly.” I’d be like, “Hey chatbot, restaurant chatbot, where should I go?” It will recommend like, “Hey, about this Contessa restaurant? You went there three weeks ago and you posted a positive review in Yelp.” It already knew what I do and where I’ve gone. So again, it’s really helpful.

JD PRATER:                             Yeah. It’s like scary helpful. I love seeing it play out and it’s something that we’re actually experimenting with ourselves here at AdStage is a chatbot on our own website. Just trying to understand how that works and so, it’s actually kind of cool whenever you’re bringing in your traffic, right? You’re bringing in, maybe I’m on my Bing ads, driving traffic to AdStage and then having a chatbot that’s ready to help answer those questions that you may have. I’ve actually been on it for maybe like a month and we’ve seen really great results from it. Anecdotally 100% agree with everything that you’re saying. I love the idea of it learning. I love the idea of the right types of questions at the right time. This is all just like extremely fascinating, especially when you think about people coming to your website and looking for answers and finding those answers in a way, like a needed experience for them.

PURNA VIRJI:                         1-800FLOWERS, they said that two months after launching their new chatbot on Facebook, 70% of their orders came from brand new customers. It was able actually reach a younger demographic that they couldn’t have otherwise. Or before I boast that once they launched their chatbot, once they had more interaction with it, they went on to average like ten interactions a day. That’s phenomenal engagement and chatbots can make that happen.

So as PPC, let’s think about how can we use this, because if, A. If it’s a nice medium people, as you’ve seen JD, from your chatbot, you can engage people like on a one-on-one basis, but add scale right? To scale the one-on-one. You can run ads. If I’m running Facebook ads for example, why should I always send people back to my landing page? I can also have closer action, be like, “Hey, message us for 20% off” and send people to our Facebook messenger bot, or to any of the messenger bots that you may have. It’s a good way of A. promoting your bot and B. getting people to engage with it so that they can have the higher quality interaction once we’ve proven it to work.

It’s the same way with your PPC that you can have your destination euro go to your bot, or something that we are looking to pilot in coming months, the pilots aren’t open yet at Bing, but I’ll give you the sneak preview-

JD PRATER:                             Oh, oh. Here it is.

PURNA VIRJI:                         It’s a chatbot annotation that we’re looking at coming out with, I think in the early stages right now, it will work if you go to your chatbot through Microsoft Bot Framework, but it will just be an annotation as part of the ad and if you click on it to engage with the bot, there will be no charge for that click initially at least. This is the early things that I’m hearing about now. We’ll wait and see how it goes.

Bots, I think are only proving themselves to be so helpful to so many different companies. Hey, do you guys use Slack?

JD PRATER:                             We use Slack, we do.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Have you played with the Taco Bell bot?

JD PRATER:                             No, I haven’t.

PURNA VIRJI:                         So they have Tacobot and I read, I think on the Drum that Tacobot on Slack has taken in 10 million dollars worth of orders for tacos. I’m like, that is amazing. And just how successful and how people are hungry for good, well for fast Mexican food.

JD PRATER:                             That’s something that we built up, so just last month, we built out our Slackbot, so within AdStage, if you’re a customer, you can type into Slack, “What was my ads since the last 30 days” and it will pull it out your spent by channel. It’s actually really kind of cool. You can say, “Ads” you can say, “Show me this” all the way down and it even has some access of enable and pause, so you can say, “Show me ads that had PPA above $100.” You could actually pause it within Slack, it’s something that we were betting on in the future as well.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Oh my God, that’s amazing. That sounds super helpful. You’re way ahead of the curve at AdStage. I am applauding you from here.

JD PRATER:                             That’s lovely. We’re slowly getting there.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Wow, I have to check it out. So at Microsoft, we really found that if you want to make your chatbot a success, it should follow like three easy steps. A. it should be able to solve the user’s problem in minimum steps, which for example, your AdStage chatbot, people can just ask it questions and find information. So already that’s minimum steps. Is it easier than the alternative? Which, the alternative could be like looking it up yourself on the website, that sounds as it is. Is it intuitive? Do people automatically know what to do when they’re interacting with the chatbot and if you do these three things and then that’s already helping you get more share of voice and have a reasonable investor score people who want to play with your chatbot, interact with it, versus the other options. So, good going.

JD PRATER:                             Aw man. This is so shiny, I love, I just love the chatbot, I love this entire conversation. Let’s keep it going. You knocked out the chatbots, we got a really great checklist, so again, minimum steps, is it an easier for me alternative and is it intuitive? So now, I’m really excited about digital personal assistants as well.

I was just watching this new Netflix show, Ozark and there’s this one scene where the guy comes in, Jason Bateman is kind of the main character. He’s like, “You shouldn’t be messing with this money.” I’m not trying to give any spoilers, but he’s like, “You need to make sure you give me that money back, because it’s not my money. It’s actually like this kingpin drug lord guy’s money, so if you steal it, he’s just gonna come for you and kill you.” Everyone was there and there was this one 13 year old kid and he’s like, “Well, who is it?” He tells him the name of the drug lord and the kid does a voice search and I just thought it was like, oh man, perfect, this is how we’re moving. Everyone else was just like, “I’ve never heard of him” and he just does the voice search and it pulls up the search result and the kid was the one who tells these guys who this person is and they all freak out. But anyway, digital personal assistants.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Oh my God, that is awesome.

JD PRATER:                             Yeah, yeah. It’s kind of cool.

PURNA VIRJI:                         I know. That’s really cool, I have to check out that show. I have not watched it. I’m always looking for recommendations. The sad thing, every time I talk about any of the futuristic stuff that I’m obsessed with, everyone is like, “Oh my gosh Purna, this sounds just like Black Mirror.” I’m like, “No!” I haven’t watched that either. Maybe I just should so I can reference it.

Personal assistants are making such a land-grab in our lives and it just makes sense, like who wouldn’t want to be able to, do your Christmas shopping, while doing the dishes and get multitask to the best ability. Even things like voice, have to be proactive at times where mentally you can be active, but you can’t physically. So for example, when you’re driving, you shouldn’t be typing, but you can actively plan and do things like that, so you would want to use voice while driving, or in the shower, where you can’t be typing. So it’s actually opening up this whole other time in your life to start solving way more searches.

In terms of personal assistants, we should pay attention in terms of skill. Chatbots are the ones that you can type on, the skill is like the vocal interaction that you can train. A skill is literally what it sounds like; you train a personal assistant, like Cortana or Siri, or Alexa to be able to interact with your brand via the skills that you teach it.

We should be paying attention to this, like businesses definitely need a bot and also maybe a skill because of how many digital personal assistants there will be in use.

According to Juniper Research, their research is very good; there will be five billion digital personal assistants in use by 2021. That’s not very far away at all.

JD PRATER:                             No. Not at all.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Again, out of these four billion, of that five billion are going to be mobile-based and that makes sense ’cause the mobile phones will be with us everywhere we go. A lot of people are like, “Well you know, voice search, we use it now, but how do we get to the point of like using the personal assistant to be normally part of our lives?” It’s one, language accuracy reaches 99% or higher, because again, it’s all down to removing the friction in your life, it’s now, I don’t understand you. There’s less frustration with the back and forth is gone. It gotten so much better over the years. Have you noticed that JD?

JD PRATER:                             Yeah, I would definitely agree with, it’s so much better. I don’t use it as much as other people do, but I definitely love the personal assistants for some activities like you were talking about, texting. Like I love, “Text Meg.” And I can say, “Dat, dat, dat, dat dah, meet me here at this time” like if I’m driving or I don’t want to take time to actually type something out, so that’s where I use it a lot, or I’ll use it a lot for restaurants, or like, “Where am I?” Just moving to San Francisco, “I don’t know where I am.”

PURNA VIRJI:                         I would be so lost there. No, no, no, I get that and it’s gotten so much easier because they understand us more. Microsoft just a few days ago announced that we’ve reached our lowest error rate ever, at 5.1%, so we’ve exceeded human comprehension and Google is around the same as us. If we could be, we’re not that far off, so we’re at what, 94.9% accuracy. We’re not that far from 99%. The more information we give it, the more we use it, the better it will get.

We’ll talk to it, we’ll talk to it, but why do they not use landing pages? To give us something as simple as, repeat that. I have some of the really, really funny commercials where it shows the kid trying to be a magician and take the table cloth from underneath the big Thanksgiving dinner that’s laid out and then in trying to do the trick where you slip out the table cloth from under the food, he destroys the entire table of food and it all falls on the ground. The people are like, harass mother, is like, “Alexa Dominos, easy order” and what’s less than five seconds, she was able to still have dinner for her family ordered, but not the feast that she was hoping for, but it’s so simple.

JD PRATER:                             Great example.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Even booking travel, we see amazing things like skyscanner, or Kayak where you can ask it things, like, “Hey skyscanner, where can I go for $300?” Or, “What do you recommend me some hotels in Barcelona” and you can have a back and forth conversation with it. It’s amazing.

But for PPC people, I think what we should, why we need to be paying attention to these personal assistants is because of what they know. Now if you advertise on Facebook, or we do things like similar audiences, or customer audiences, we really like that because it gives us preferences and likes and dislikes and behavioral things, but some things that a personal assistant knows that none of these other ones can know is contact. So they know that A. not only do I really like Chinese food and I always order from this one restaurant, but I’m working usually days and chances are, I’m hungry, because we always eat dinner at 7:30 p.m. so maybe it’s a good time to ask me if I want to eat Chinese food and maybe the Chinese restaurant wants to send me a coupon for free egg rolls. That could be so fantastic, or because it knows where we are and even in situational awareness, it knows where I am location-wise due to the phone.

Say I’m driving to work and I’m like, “Hey Cortana, what’s my day like?” It would be like, “Well, you’ve got a really busy day today. You’ve got a meeting with your boss at 1:00 p.m. but hey, it’s JD’s birthday today.” I’m like, “Oh, gee, that’s awesome!” I know you love donuts; I can ask it, “Hey is there a donut store on my way to work?” Cortana can check around me. She knows where work is, she knows where I’m driving. She’ll say, “Sure, Krispy Kreme is on your way to work.” Then I can say, “Great, order me a dozen donuts.” She can talk to the Krispy Kreme bot and be like, “Krispy Kreme, have a dozen donuts ready for Purna in eight minutes. She’ll get there in eight minutes.”

JD PRATER:                             Wow.

PURNA VIRJI:                         It’s so cool. I mean, okay, some of this is still being worked on, but this is something that could be a reality. It’s so convenient.

JD PRATER:                             Wow. Yeah. How far do you think we are away from that? With that situation right there, you’re driving, some of that’s there now, right?

PURNA VIRJI:                         Yeah.

JD PRATER:                             How feasible and how far away do you think?

PURNA VIRJI:                         I would never guess timeframes, ’cause you never know in technology.

JD PRATER:                             Yeah, that’s true.

PURNA VIRJI:                         But it seems, to your question of what do we have? Well, hey, at CES at the start of this year, Microsoft already announced that we’re partnering with Nissan and BMW to put in Cortana technology in there, so Cortana in the car, yes. She’s on your phone app, which also knows where you are. We have all of these amazing projects that are in development in Azure. One of them literally is knowing where you are and knowing what’s all along the way. So again, I would say that we’re close. Like how close in terms of timeline, I think that’s something we can never, never be correct with.

JD PRATER:                             Yeah, I know. That’s always tough, especially here, Silicon Valley, up in Seattle, where Microsoft is based too, it’s like, things move so fast, I could say, “Yeah, we’ll have this ready” and it’s like, “Nope, it’s already ahead of the game.” It’s always a guessing game, so yes, fair, fair, fair response. I set you up there, but-

PURNA VIRJI:                         Oh no. Good ask.

JD PRATER:                             … I’ll let you get back into it.

PURNA VIRJI:                         It doesn’t stop us from asking that to engineering as well and they’re always like, “Soon” and I come to realize that soon, the search engine could be like next week, or like six months, or one year from now. Soon is very relative to speak too soon.

JD PRATER:                             Very true, very true. Cool. Let’s keep going. Let’s talk about personal assistants; again you’ve talked a lot about voice over the last couple of years. I’ve seen you present a couple of times and I’m always just like blown away whenever you talk about voice search and everything, but let’s kind of jump into personal assistants and voice becoming something for like simple informational types of tasks.

PURNA VIRJI:                         So they really are and at Microsoft, our data sciences team did a survey of about 2002 customers, people all over America and they tried to asked them just for their habits in using voice and all of that. Very unsurprisingly, what they found was most people tend to use voice for like very quick one-sided paths, like, “Hey give me this stock” “Start the music” “Tell me the weather” “Do this.” It’s very quick one-sided things. What we are seeing is that as these accuracy rates are getting better and people are adopting it more and getting comfortable with it, we have seen that complex starts, tasks that involve back and forth like ordering food, or making personal appointments, or finding like things to do in an area, like “Hey, I’m in Seattle today, what should I be doing?” You can have back and forth discussions. That’s on the rise and it’s getting increasingly more and more adopted.

Kayak was actually one of the big pioneers in it. I remember Greg Sterling had reported this on Marketing Land where he talks about the Kayak skill on Alexa, where you could literally ask it questions like, “Hey, where can I go for $300 Kayak?” Or, “How much are these flights?” It was so fascinating and again the skills that are being brought for Cortana today are so amazing and you can have these conversations, like “Hey, XYZ travel company, I need to book a hotel” and it can be, “Well last time, when you were in this city, you stayed at this hotel. Do you want me to book the same one?” “Sure, let’s do that.” “Shall I use XYZ credit card on file?” “Yes, please.” So things like booking a hotel, or accomplishing tasks, with some of Cortana’s skills from the different companies, are mind-blowing.

JD PRATER:                             That’s so fascinating. I get it. It’s something that I would actually type, right? So I guess, man, I’m just blown away by all this. I’m kind of speechless. I am without speech. It’s so fascinating to me. It’s so good man.

What can we do to start prepping for all these assistants?

PURNA VIRJI:                         Well, I always say that if you created a bot in the Microsoft Bot Framework, it’s really simple to turn that bot into a skill, so that way you can talk to it via Cortana. All it is, is just adding on the said language understanding to it and there’s a whole amazing guide to doing that on the Microsoft Bot Framework website. I was looking and I’m like, “No it can’t be that easy, like, no way.” And then I read it again and I’m like, “No, Purna, you’re re-reading it. You have to re-read it, it’s not true.” I’m like, “Oh, I guess this is so easy to take an existing bot.” I love that they’re making it so simple to engage your audiences in all these different ways.

But a big thing we think about, if I had to give you a checklist for a skill, for conversions, would be try to be as much like a human assistant. If you’re building a skill for Cortana, for example, try to anticipate what questions people ask. So with AdStage, maybe some days of the research phase be like, “What’s the difference between AdStage versus your competitor?” Or, “How much do you charge?” A what sort of questions people ask and have different kinds of info available so you can try to make the conversation as seamless as possible and that way, try to compare different pricing plans, for what AdStage has to offer like, “Why do I need this, versus that?” All of it can be easily done in a discussion and so it’s super easy for people.

The other thing, actually it’s a big thing that I always want to encourage people, because I’ve had chats with so many different PPC people and everyone is like, “Oh my gosh, what if there’s going to be no screens. What do we do? How do we serve ads?” I’m like, “Hang on a second, that’s not completely true.” According to research by Gartner, only 20% of web browsing by 2020 is going to be screen-less. So that means 70% of the bulk of it will still have a screen element to it. Even Amazon Echo has a show. Cortana on the desktop, or on the phone will have a screen. Your Google Assistant, same thing, they all have screens. So if you had to think about something like that, if I was talking to AdStage, I’d be like, “Hey, AdStage skill, I want to learn a little bit more about some of the reports you can help us pull.” Cortana can be like, “Sure, I’ve run it up on the screen, or why don’t I email you this information?”

So you should think about these hybrid interactions too. Whatever is best for the user, is what you can do with your skill. It’s super easy.

Now, none of this will be possible without of course, artificial intelligence. All of this intelligence technology has been helping us be so much more productive and helps cut out all of those little mundane things in our lives.

Now JD, I know both of us have this in common, we’re both ex-agency.

JD PRATER:                             That’s right.

PURNA VIRJI:                         But remember the end of the month, when it was like, reporting time? I would want to tear my hair out. I’m like, “No, not again. How did it come along so quickly?” But now, think about it, some of these reporting tools are made much easier. For example, with Microsoft Power BI, I can literally talk to it and be like, “Can you pull this report?” Or, “Can you pull this graph?” And it can make it happen. I know Google has something similar as well. It’s so much easier now and all of that is thanks to this kind of artificial intelligence and machine learning that is making us more and more productive. That’s where it shines and PPC people are always asking, “Well, what does it mean for us?” And where I think AI is going to shine for us, most practically is going to be in helping us reach our audiences better. We’re going to be able to much better understand our audiences and target and segments, and sort that out at the right time because of the intelligence that can be put together, and the different connections that AI can find that we can’t.

Here, for example. There was an amazing article that came out last year about how our artificial intelligence could find connections in data that humans couldn’t find. When they took a group of people who were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK and pancreatic cancer is really, really hard to diagnose and once you get a diagnosis, you’re a little bit further along, it’s a further stage than you can be. So what they tried to do was see if there were any clues that they could find before. What they did was they took these people and they analyzed their history of search, searches that they had been doing and what they found, the computer was able to find these connections in data that were like, “Hey, these types of searches tend to be done and they tend to be an early indicator of cancer.” So, who knows if your first diagnosis of cancer can come, maybe not from your doctor, but from your search engine.

JD PRATER:                             Oh wow.

PURNA VIRJI:                         That is phenomenal and that’s the power. So if you think about taking that kind of brain power and putting it towards finding your audience and understanding their behavior and the right time and right place to serve them, that’s where I see us growing.

I mean, already things like custom audiences and similar audiences, all of that, is relying on, lots of machine learning to help serve us better.

So that’s the first way. We can also help in all of these automated bidding platforms. Once again, another perfect example of machine learning in action, right? We’ve had AI probably before any of the other disciplines did and we’ve embraced it. I think that’s always a good thing.

These AI skills help put in more power behind your chatbot, or more power behind your skill in terms of searching for things of the different capabilities that can be added.

JD PRATER:                             I liked what you were saying there about, kind of picking up on these fact-based types of searches in being a diagnosis. Do you think it will be able to write my reports for me?

PURNA VIRJI:                         I wish. That would be fantastic; I’m like, “Please write my report.” “Please can you do my homework for me? That would be really good.” Oh I hope it writes my next blog for me. That would be so nice.

JD PRATER:                             Aw man, that would be really great.

PURNA VIRJI:                         I was reading in the news the other day, AI wrote this song. One of these artists, I think it was in all the different news shows. You could listen to the song and she had AI compose it for her, which it was like a really catchy, interesting song to listen to. I’m quite impressed.

One of my favorite examples, actually there’s a couple of ones, the Washington Post starting using an article writing bot called Heliograf, for fact-based articles. So think of last year’s election results, that’s pretty fact-based, right? This many votes, this person won in this region. So it used Heliograf to write some of these articles about that. So that’s kind of crazy to think about it. Like the Washington Post, a pretty well known publication.

JD PRATER:                             That’s great! It’s like perfect. It’s exactly what I need for my PPC report. I have a lot of facts in there. If it can write 80% of that, I’ll be psyched.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Exactly, I’m sure it will be such a nice wish-list item. It could do it, or something else that AI did at Microsoft, is one of my favorite stories. It’s especially interesting if you are an arts fan, or you like Rembrandt for example. This is called, the Next Rembrandt. Microsoft Research Teams, they had the AI study all the different works of Rembrandt, including his use of lighting and subject, the clothes that the subject wore and after studying all of his work, it was tasked with creating its own brand new paintings. It did. The AI came up with its own painting that if you looked at it, you would not believe that it wasn’t done by Rembrandt. The coolest part to me about that was, now if you look at the painting in real life, you see that there’s a 3-D effect of paint on canvas. This AI, they printed it out in such a way that they layered on the ink in such a way to replicate that 3-D effect of paint on canvas. Mind blown absolutely by that. So fascinating.

JD PRATER:                             Yeah, I’ll definitely make sure to include that in the show notes. I’m looking at this photo right now and it’s astonishing. Wow. I can’t believe AI painted that. That’s really impressive.

PURNA VIRJI:                         I know, it’s so brilliant. AI is so good at being human, so of course it makes sense that it can help with these landing page-less conversions, right? From anywhere, like interactive ads, or like personal shopping. Like you’ve seen Northface, they have it with IBM’s Watson where you can go in and say, “Hey, this is the place I’m going. It’s going to be this temperature, recommend me some clothes” and it will, so it’s super, super smart. Or things like predictive analytics that can sort of predict the best time that you could serve a remarketing ad for example. You could be like, “Hey, people who buy this face cream will tend to use it up on average within the next four months, so your best remarketing ads can start like four months later.” There are lots of fascinating things you can do with it.

So if I had to give any business any advice, I’m like, “Hey, if you’re a business, try to plan to build a bot for yourself, or try to build a skill and leverage it across different channels and then as you’re PPC marketers, try to include that in your commercial strategy.” Really, whether you’re using the Bing chatbot, annotations is gonna come out in future, or if you’re using it as a destination, year round, send it to your bot, don’t send it to your landing page. See how you can make it work. And then look at how you can leverage all the different data from those one-to-one conversations you have and get it to work out and the best thing is, you can get everyone onboard at the company, so you get a lot more buy-in. You’ll have to get some IT involved, you’ll have to get marketing PR, all of it can come together and you can be the glue that is holding everything together and show people, we are more powerful than one thinks we are.

JD PRATER:                             Wow. Good stuff. Good stuff. Well, I can’t let you go without answering some rapid-fire questions. I’ve got a couple here for ya. You’ve got about 60 seconds to answer each one. You ready to go?

PURNA VIRJI:                         Oh, oh. No, but yes.

JD PRATER:                             You can do it. I know that you’re quick on your feet, so I have all faith in you. So first one. First one is, blogs. So you are finally, you’re not traveling, you’re not speaking at one of the hundreds of conferences that you present at, it seems like every day, but you actually have no meetings planned for the afternoon, you’ve got some time off. What are some blogs that you turn to, to keep up with the industry to stay on top of the PPC, skills and market and what’s happening?

PURNA VIRJI:                         I’m so nerdy. I read a lot. I think that’s the only way to keep up, ’cause there’s so much information, my favorite blogs are of course, I look at PPC Hero, I look at the Search Engine Land, I get a write-up email at the end of the day from Barry Schwartz, that makes it easier. I also look at Mauve quite often and I also try to read a publication like Digiday, or TechCrunch, because they have some really good stuff about the future, or The Drum, of course is one of my favorites. I also love our Microsoft, our Bing blog, or also the overall Microsoft blog called Transform, that is one of my favorite things to read, ’cause I’m always so inspired.

For example, there’s something on there about how they used visual recognition to help a father find his lost son who was lost for so many years. He was a special needs child and he was lost in a crowd. The father spent years and years looking for him and then using this kind of visual recognition software and also, the AI was smart enough to know how the boy would look as he aged, so all these years later, they predicted accurately what he looked like as he aged. They helped find him and reunited them. I was like bawling. I read this story that was so beautiful.

JD PRATER:                             Oh my gosh. Yeah. You got to send me that link so I can include that in the show notes as well. That’s awesome.

All right, next question. You’re gonna be hiring someone for, let’s say, to join you on your team and you’re looking for some PPC skills specifically. What are some skills that you look for in like a PPC person?

PURNA VIRJI:                         I think the most important one is his desire to learn. If people come up and want to rest on the path floor or anything, that’s not gonna cut it, ’cause even if they were like, “Oh, I’ve been doing this for XYZ, a dozen million years.” Yes, that’s a great thing, but you also know that it changes so much, so what you may have done five years ago, may not always count. So a desire for somebody to be like, “I read this, I’ve read this book, this is what I follow, here’s how I’m testing. So curiosity and willingness to learn is one of my number one metrics, ’cause then, you can teach them anything. So maybe they don’t know, XYZ, but they know just one part of that, they’ll learn. The other one is creativity as well. Can you think of different solutions? Do you have that grit and don’t give up, because so often we face so many setbacks in what we do, so I would say, if you’ve got these three, then I think that I can teach you anything under the sun and you will be fantastic, but curiosity, creativity and grit, you’ll do really, really well.

JD PRATER:                             I like that. Way to go. That’s a good answer. All right, next question is always one of my favorites, tomorrow, Microsoft shuts its doors. We know that’s not going to happen, but let’s just pretend that it might happen. What would be a fallback job for you?

PURNA VIRJI:                         Well, I could do one of two things. If I wanted to go down the nefarious path, I could be an illegal fake art dealer with all these fake Rembrandts that we can create JD. No, I’m only kidding, I’m only kidding.

My husband jokes that I have a grandma mode that I go into on weekends, where I like to garden and knit, I make jams, I would probably open up my own gourmet jam store. Weird right? But I love it.

JD PRATER:                             Follow-up question. Favorite jam that you like to, actually, I’m gonna say, favorite jam you like to eat?

PURNA VIRJI:                         Oh, strawberry rhubarb, or raspberry. It’s a tie. No, apricot. Oh, too many. They’re all delicious.

JD PRATER:                             I’m a blueberry, or like a blackberry fan.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Oh, I have not tried blueberry jam. I should give that a shot. Maybe I’ll make you some for Christmas JD.

JD PRATER:                             Let’s do it. Let’s do it. You will be out here in December, so I’m still holding you to it.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Exactly. For the holidays, that will be my gift.

JD PRATER:                             All right. Last question for you. Coming from agency, now you’re in-house. Give me some pros and cons of agency versus in-house life?

PURNA VIRJI:                         Oh my gosh, so I’ve been both before, that was even before Microsoft, now in Publisher, so it’s kind of just distant as well, ’cause now I’m on a different site. But I would say, pros and cons, in-house you get so much depth. You get to look deep inside. You can see how PPC is impacted all different other channels. Learn how the business works. You get all that fantastic business understanding. With agency, you get to win. I guess from learning across multiple different clients. But I may have less control of whether those recommendations are carried out or not, but the trends that you can spot, the type of learning that you get across different clients, that’s just so invaluable from an agency side and you learn like, people skills, a lot. You get to talk to different clients and keep everyone happy.

JD PRATER:                             Love it. And that is it. Purna, you made it through an entire episode of the PPC Show. It was so delightful to have you on and to discuss the future of PPC and what that looks like for chatbot digital assistants, and AI. It’s a lot different than our other shows, but you were definitely the person to come on and talk about it.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Aw, thank you. This was so much fun. I’m sad that our time is up. Thank you so much JD, chatting with you is always such a pleasure.

JD PRATER:                             Same to you. Well until I see you next time, which will be in December, I hope and wish you the best of luck.

PURNA VIRJI:                         Thank you so much.

How to Supercharge Your Retargeting in 7 Easy Steps

Posted by on Sep 12, 2017 in Advertising, Search
How to Supercharge Your Retargeting in 7 Easy Steps

As a marketer, it’s troubling to know that only a small percentage of your total visitors will convert from online advertising – especially with tight budgets. Retargeting can be one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising to help increase your conversion rates.

For those new to Retargeting, below is a diagram of how it works:


Source: ReTargeter.com

To ensure your retargeting ads are primed to drive results, we have put together a list of best practices to boost performance:

1. Test Different Ad Sizes

Not all websites and ad sizes will convert at the same rate. Some websites only support a select number of different ad sizes; while others will place ads in different locations on the website.

It’s important to create multiple ad sizes. This will help you:

  • Understand which ad sizes perform the best with your audience.
  • Receive the maximum reach for your ads. Your advertising will not be limited to a small pool of websites that support a select number of ad sizes.

As a general rule of thumb, larger ad sizes typically perform better. However, this is not always the case. It’s best to test multiple variations and determine the performance yourself.

Here are the top performing sizes, reported by Google AdSense:

  • 336×280 Large Rectangle
  • 300×250 Medium Rectangle
  • 728×90 Leaderboard
  • 160×600 Wide Skyscraper

You can find the full list of supported ad sizes on Google’s Guide to Ad Sizes.

2. Segment Your Audience

With one retargeting pixel, you can segment the audience you would like to retarget to into separate, distinct campaigns or ad groups.

Let’s say you’re are an HVAC (air conditioning) company. You may want to advertise differently to someone who visited your new installation page versus your unit repair page. Each of these audience types will have a different motive for visiting your website.

Segment your audiences into buckets based on which page or piece of content they visited on your website. This allows you to display more relevant ads that cater to their unique needs and emotional triggers.

3. Select Relevant Creative

Once your audience is separated into segments, serve those visitors a relevant ad based on their website behavior.

Reverting back to our example of the HVAC company — for visitors to the new installation page, you might want to include a picture of your new energy efficient unit with accompanying copy that mentions your outstanding 10-year warranty. While the ad for visitors to the repair page might reveal a broken unit with copy that includes a sense of urgency, “emergency 24/7 service, call for help now.”

Your ad should:

  • Include your branding so the audience knows who the ad is for.
  • Have a clear call-to-action to prompt action.
  • Contain personalized copy catered to the viewer’s needs or wants.

4. Personalize Landing Pages

Having your ad destination set as your homepage can be sometimes too broad and lead to a poor user experience. This causes repeat visitors to leave your site quickly.

Create personalized landing pages on your website that:

  • Mention the same product or service content as the page the visitor was previously browsing.
  • Include a clear call-to-action.
  • Are crafted with the intent to convert.

5. Watch Your Impressions and Frequency

Retargeting can become a nuisance, if not downright creepy, to someone who sees a barrage of your ads continually within a given day. Luckily, there is an option known as frequency caps. This limits the number of impressions (times) a unique user might see your ad in a given day. 3-4 impressions is perfectly acceptable; when a user sees your ad 8-10+ times, you might seem a bit clingy :).

Learn how to battle ad fatigue with ad rotation.

6. Block Poor-Performing Sites

Not every site is going to perform the same. Once you have a sizable data set on a website, you may notice that visitors are not clicking or converting. Add this website as a negative target so your ads will no longer show here. By cleaning up these sites at least once a month, you will lower your overall cost per conversion.

7. Try Dynamic Creatives

This really only applies to e-commerce types of businesses. There is an option with most major retargeting platforms to take your product feed and sync it with your retargeting campaign. This allows you to show the exact product(s) a shopper viewed or placed in their shopping cart, but didn’t complete the purchase process. For compulsive buyers (such as myself), this ad type works far too well.

Wrap Up

Retargeting is a great way to re-engage your website visitors and nudge them back into the sales funnel. When done right, it serves as a friendly reminder to those who have shown interest in your products or services. Use these techniques to continually refine your retargeting campaigns and increase overall conversion rates.

2017 Demand Gen Benchmarks To Accelerate Growth

Posted by on Sep 7, 2017 in Advertising
2017 Demand Gen Benchmarks To Accelerate Growth

When laying out your marketing strategy, it often feels like you have nothing and everything to go off – historical numbers, KPIs, industry projections, social platform claims, and so on. One of the best ways to benchmark your plans is by looking at what other marketers are doing, but that insight can be difficult to get a hold of.

Luckily, HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales platform, surveyed 350+ companies for their new Demand Generation Benchmark Report. We’ll dive deeper into the results, but first, let’s take a look at the key numbers and takeaways.

Demand Generation: Key Numbers

  • Marketers are paying an average cost per lead just under $200
  • Email campaigns on average get a 17% open rate and 4% click-through
  • Average website visitors = 470,000, leads = 1,800, and new customers per month = 300
  • Companies with revenues under $500 million pay about $180 per lead; companies with revenues above $500 million spend more than double that, at roughly $430 per lead

Key Takeaways:

  • Halted growth for larger companies – Smaller organizations are more likely to exceed revenue expectations, while larger organizations seem more likely to achieve, but not exceed, their revenue goals.
  • Larger companies pay higher costs per lead – The largest organizations (1,001+ employees) generate greater web traffic, more leads and more customers per month, but pay a higher price per lead.
  • Leads are crucial for revenue – Organizations that fail to meet their revenue goals tend to generate fewer leads and sales opportunities in spite of having similar website traffic to more successful organizations. Open rate and click-through rate for email campaigns are also significantly lower for organizations not meeting revenue goals.
  • Content hugely impacts success – Organizations exceeding their revenue goals are more likely to use content creation, online advertising, and branding/public relations marketing tactics, with content creation leading the pack by a substantial lead (as shown in the graph below).

demand generation benchmarks

Results By Industry

As we previously covered in our post What’s A Good B2B Conversion Rate in 2017?, understanding results by respondent, company size, and revenue is helpful, but often, numbers by industry are most relatable. The graph below lists the industries included in the study, along with data on whose exceeding or falling short of revenue goals.

demand generation stats

But again, how are marketers achieving these numbers, or what may be causing them to fall short? As shown in the table below, tactics vary by industry, but content creation rose to the top for consumer products and marketing agencies, while other top performers like financial services and industrial and manufacturing rely more on PR and branding and email marketing, respectively. Website optimization came out high on the priority list, but few people listed SEO in conjunction with optimization, a sign that though companies are making efforts, they may be overlooking important factors.

demand generation stats

Now let’s talk leads per month in terms of the most valued – marketing qualified leads. The IT and services sector wins this one with a mean of almost 7,000 leads generated per month, and nearly half of those marketing qualified leads. Marketing agencies are focused on quality leads to begin with, but need to figure out ways to increase the number of monthly leads. Hubspot suggests companies look into marketing automation as a tactic to improve their lead to qualified lead conversion rate.

demand generation stats

Here’s a clue as to why the IT and services sector is pulling in such a high number of qualified leads: marketers in these sectors are paying a lot more for them, as shown in the graph below.

demand generation stats

Notice the lower CPL for Consumer Products and Marketing, though. As we highlighted above, those two industries rely more heavily on content marketing as a top tactic. For that reason, companies looking to lower their CPL (and who isn’t?) should pull back on traditional and paid tactics and introduce more inbound techniques.

Results By Revenue Achievement

Perhaps the most intriguing and useful part of Hubspot’s report is the section broken down by over and underachievers, which examines the marketing tactics used by the two groups. As shown in the graph below, top tactics used by organizations exceeding their revenue goals are content creation (65%), online advertising (49%) and branding/public relations (43%), while the underachievers are spending time on branding/public relations, email marketing, and social media. If the majority of your budget falls into email marketing or social, consider shifting dollars to one of the categories that’s yielding better results for competitors.

demand generation stats

Though every industry, organization, product, and situation differs, Hubspot did turn up some universal considerations when it comes to identifying tactics to improve your demand generation:

  • Consider content creation if you aren’t already, or shift more budget toward it if you haven’t been taking it seriously
  • Don’t let SEO fall by the wayside, especially if you’re pouring money into website optimization
  • Find the budget and be willing to spend more per lead, it will yield higher-qualified leads from the start
  • If you rely heavily on email marketing, figure out ways to improve performance since click-throughs are way down
  • For any company looking to improve their lead > qualified lead conversion rate, marketing automation is a simple and proven tactic to move people down your funnel and along their buyer journey
  • To increase CPL across the board, companies could consider the emphasis that they are putting on traditional and paid advertising tactics, and consider introducing more “inbound” techniques
  • Larger organizations, to reduce their demand generation spend, could try to re-allocate time toward lower-cost marketing tactics like content marketing, SEO, and email

You can read the whole report here, including a look at the numbers broken down by organization size and overall revenue.

What PPC Marketers Need to Know about Third-Party Data

Posted by on Sep 6, 2017 in Advertising, Analytics
What PPC Marketers Need to Know about Third-Party Data

Data. It’s the fuel of every marketing campaign. Marketers won’t stop talking about it. First-party data, second-party data, encrypted or masked data… So much data, and so little understanding of what it all actually means.

If you advertise on Facebook or Google, you likely run remarketing campaigns. You’ve installed a tracking pixel on your site and show your ads to people who have visited this site recently. In other words, you’re using first-party data. W-w-wait a second. First party? Third party? Where are all these parties and how do you get invited?

Glad you asked! This article will help you learn the real story behind these parties, what they have to do with your customer data, and why marketers say that GDPR means kiss your third-party data good-bye.

1. Which Party’s Is My Company’s Own Data?

That’s first-party data. Your company’s privacy policy guards this type of data: who’s visiting your website or app, how your visitors interact with your brand, and how it changes over time.  If you have an app, your users share information about their devices and operating systems. That’s also first-party data. The clicks and conversions you measure in Google Analytics? First-party data. If you — not your vendor — are tracking data, you’re dealing with first-party data.

2. How Should I Use First-Party Data?

Your company’s privacy policy and terms of use protect customer data, and you can use it in accordance with that policy. Marketers usually use first-party data to make ads more relevant through personalization and remarketing.

3. What If We Share Our Data with Partners?

That’s second-party data. If people shop with Brand A and Brand B, A and B have an overlapping marketing segment. If these businesses don’t compete, they could partner up and share data with one another. Think hotels and car rentals, airlines and credit card companies, fashion brands and media publishers.

4. How Should I Use Second-Party Data?

Second-party data can increase the relevance of your advertising campaigns and help you reach highly-qualified leads. If you find the right partner, you could benefit from enriching your first-party data with new insights for better segmentation. Second-party data is very valuable. Anyone can buy third-party data; second-party data comes from a direct relationship with your partner. Second-party data can help you understand what kinds of content your potential buyers prefer, and reach them once they’re on your partner’s website.

5. So Is Second-Party Data Basically Someone Else’s First-Party Data?

Pretty much. Second-party data is another company’s first-party data that you can use through a partnership agreement.

6. We Buy Our Data. Which Party’s Is It?

That’s third-party data. This third party doesn’t really have a relationship with your audience. They collect data from multiple sources, piece it together, and sell it to advertisers. These third-party guys are data brokers. They purchase data from media that people consume, quizzes they take (“Which ‘Games of Thrones’ character are you?’”), and through other channels.

7. How Should I Use Third-Party Data?

Combining your first-party data with third-party data is where the magic happens, because you can really nail down the segment through lookalike modeling. Like if you needed to target audiences of 25- to 35-year-old women who like dogs and eat vegan. Data could be inferred. For example, Yelp recently partnered with LiveRamp to offer location and search activity for its 100 million users available to advertisers. Assuming people who go to $$$-rated steakhouses may also shop for luxury watches, you could create a custom segment similarly to Facebook and Audience Network.

First-party, second-party, and third-party data. Image source: Clearcode

8. So What’s the Deal with Third-Party Data and GDPR?

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect on May 25, 2018. Under GDRP, businesses must obtain explicit and freely given consent from users to use data. Which means, consumers will be asked to give permission to sell their data to third parties, and they don’t have to agree to access the business’s product or service.

9. Should I Care About GDPR If I Don’t Live in Europe?

Yes. GDPR applies to anyone that collects information from EU residents.

GDPR, third-party data, first-party data, privacy regulations

GDPR requires a person’s consent before a website can drop a cookie on his or her browser

10. Any Other Type of Data I Should Know of?

There’s also self-reported data, or data your customers share with your brand proactively and intentionally (for example, through surveys or preference centers). It doesn’t come cheap. In fact, you can’t really buy it. But this type of data is essential because it builds trust and loyalty. Once you receive this data, it becomes first-party. I wanted to group it separately from first-party data, because there’s a difference between software fetching your clicks and a human proactively saying what kinds of offers they want or don’t want to see from your user acquisition team.

Imagine an online shopper who once bought baby clothes for a friend’s baby shower and instantly got bucketed into the “parents” segment by an advertiser. Now she keeps getting ads for strollers and nursing pillows, and she’s not interested. If that person is a loyal customer (clicks on the brand’s  Facebook ads, opens emails, and frequently spends X amount of money on orders), she may be okay with sharing her preferences if she gets a quick survey. A little self-segmentation goes a long way!

Sum Up: What’s First-Party Data, Second-Party Data, and Third-Party Data?

Confused about all the different types of data in advertising? Here’s a quick primer:

  • First-party data is data owned by your company. For example, it’s the site clicks, conversions, and user paths you track in Google Analytics.
  • Second-party data comes from partnership agreements where two or more partners with an overlapping marketing segment choose to share consumer data with one another.
  • Third-party data is sold through data brokers to enrich first-party data for more precise targeting.

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