I learn new things all the time about how to improve our ad campaigns here at AdStage. This week, I thought I’d share a quick tip that will help beginning advertisers improve ad targeting:
Focus on the intent of your audience, rather than the audience themselves.
Many of the users currently beta testing the AdStage Platform are small online businesses. For any business, it can be difficult to understand exactly how to reach customers. First, you have to be aware of your target customer. Assuming you know your audience, you still have to reach that audience most effectively. This is where the importance of targeting on different channels comes into play.
The biggest social networks online like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all let you target and reach different audiences. For Facebook, one of the best ways to target an audience is through broad categories and precise interests.
Try to understand a few interests that would make people interested in your product. For instance, if you sell a basketball related product (jerseys, shoes, tickets, etc.), it’s not effective to only target say, males under 30. There are lots of guys under 30 that don’t like basketball. You would have more success using interests like: a particular sports team, top athletes in basketball like Lebron James, and other related interests. A similar approach works on LinkedIn, where you can use skills and groups for targeting.
Once you’ve added relevant characteristics to your targeting for each network, no matter the age or gender of the user, there’s a higher probability that they’ll see your ad and find it relevant. Try different variations of targeting: skills, interests, and other characteristics on Facebook and LinkedIn to learn what works best for your campaigns.
Effective search advertising relies on bidding on good keywords. There’s no way around it. Your ads have to display when someone is looking for the solution your company provides. Using the same example from above, try targeting people checking sport scores, or looking up an athlete or well known sports brand.
Products and services solve problems and provide benefits for customers. For a lot of online businesses, whether a customer is male or female, 20 years old or 50 years old, you’re still solving the same problem and offering the same benefit (of course there are exceptions to this). Narrow down and use targeting options specific to each network to reach the audience that needs help with the problem you solve. That will help make your ad campaigns much more effective.
Come check out our private beta at https://www.adstage.io. We bring everything into one place to help you build, deploy, and manage cross-channel campaigns easily and effectively.
Thanks for reading!
How does online advertising relate to the bottom line of a business?
Businesses rely on a few things to succeed and sustain. The primary goal of a business, which will never really change, is building and sustaining a strong customer base. This is the what sales and marketing teams spend their days working on, and this is why developers and designers build the best product they can.
It’s not a simple task to grow and sustain customers, and it’s even harder to have customers that stay highly engaged with your product or service. There are several pieces that really help solve this puzzle, and one of them is online advertising. Online advertising can be incredibly impactful in helping new startups and businesses that have been around for years. Nothing has changed – businesses need to effectively reach their users.
There are obviously changes to business and the way people spend time and money, in comparison to say, 50 years ago. But ultimately, people still spend their time consuming information and using products and services, just like they did 50 years ago. A key difference for businesses has been the development of the internet. Today, a much wider group of businesses have the ability to reach a large and diverse audience from all around the world (or alternatively, a very specific audience in their local area if that’s their target).
Online advertising makes this possible for businesses. The enormous scale of the internet, the growth of data, and the resulting growth of a variety of advertising networks, let businesses identify who they want to reach and actually reach them in a cost environment that didn’t really exist before online advertising developed. Unless you’re a giant company, you can’t put billboards across the world (or any other large scale promotional campaign really), and even if you could, it probably wouldn’t get you very far.
Even online advertising has evolved enormously in the past few years. Look back to the late 1990s. There were a few web destinations like Yahoo! that had huge traffic and therefore they were attractive space for advertisers. Compare the few that existed in the 1990s with today – there are many contexts on the web – commercial, social, professional, educational, any many more. For most of these contexts, there are networks specifically reaching a targeted audience.
Some of the big ones include: LinkedIn, which of course helps businesses reach professional individuals. Facebook lets you reach just about anyone based on personal data like jobs, personal interests, connections to other brands, etc. Google lets advertisers reach the biggest audience online that are intent on finding all kinds of things (ie. products, places, services). Bing (which of course is smaller than Google) also lets businesses reach yet another, large and distinct audience of people intent on finding information, products, and services. Those are a few of the larger networks. There are many more networks, that help advertisers target specific audiences around the web.
The bottom line is that no company will ever say: we want to reach fewer customers, or we don’t see value in targeting our audience, or we want to spend more time getting customers. Businesses want efficient ways to grow their customer base, and online advertising is one of the major pieces that enables, cost effective customer growth. And now that there are many ad networks online, each with different audiences, it’s becoming more difficult to manage campaigns across multiple channels effectively.
This is why we built the AdStage Platform. If you’re interested in simplifying the management of your ad campaigns across Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Bing please come sign up for our private beta.
How does a small business new to online advertising take the first step?
A common place to start is with a campaign on Google AdWords, and this makes a lot of sense. Google is the most visited destination on the web and paid search advertising lets businesses reach an audience that is explicitly looking for information, products, and services.
Setting up an AdWords campaign is comprised of a few main tasks – creating your ads, including your relevant audience with targeting, adding keywords and keyword bidding, and setting your campaign schedule and budget. I went over this process in a post a while back, which you can read it here. The bottom line is that for a new advertiser, this isn’t the easiest process.
If the advertiser wants to test another network, it would be nice to avoid recreating everything they have already built and spent time on for their AdWords campaigns. It would be much faster to import their campaigns into another large ad network like Microsoft’s Bing Ads.
Luckily, this feature exists and it’s called “Import From Google AdWords”. Using the Bing import tool is easy enough.
Start by clicking on “Import From Google AdWords”:
Once you’re on the importing page, you can see the various steps needed to complete the import from AdWords. After you’ve filled in your account AdWords account information so Bing can fetch your data, you’ll see your active AdWords campaigns to choose from (you can also click the checkbox to also see your paused campaigns).
Check the campaign(s) you want to import:
Now that you’ve selected your campaign, the next step is to select exactly what you want to import and how the data will be brought into Bing Ads. This includes importing a completely new campaign that’s never been imported to Bing Ads, or you can import changes made to an AdWords campaign that you’ve already imported to Bing Ads.
Select the options from your AdWords campaign that you want to import:
Click Import, and you’ll either see errors that need fixing or a summary of your import.
If there were any errors during the import, you’ll see them here. Included are errors and warnings for campaigns, ad groups, ads, keywords, and ad extensions. If you’re importing a campaign that is completely new to your Bing Ads account, there shouldn’t be any errors. If there is an error (ie. your keyword is a duplicate), you’ll need to fix the error in your AdWords campaign, and start the import process over again.
A successfully importing campaign’s summary tells you the new, updated, and skipped features from the campaign so you have a good idea of what’s been imported into your Bing Ads account. Your campaign will be up and running on Bing!
That’s the best way to quickly bring your AdWords campaign into Bing Ads, but as we’re seeing, many advertisers are trying other networks and mediums like Facebook and LinkedIn to reach a large audience in different contexts (ie. search, and now social as well)
If you want to launch campaigns quickly and easily across multiple networks like AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, and LinkedIn from one place, you can check out the AdStage Platform. We help you get campaigns running quickly and we give you tools like our recommendations and insights to make sure you’re building the best possible ad campaign to reach and convert the customers you’re looking for.
Sign up here today!
We had an awesome day presenting at the Launch Festival yesterday. If you’d like to stop by our table to say hi, we’ll be around all day (located near the lunch area) and we would love to tell you about our platform!
The AdStage Platform lets you build, launch, and manage cross-channel ad campaigns on Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
From one place, advertisers can build fully customized and targeted campaigns across each network, using our pre-flight insights and recommendations to optimize your campaigns before spending any advertising dollars. We also track campaign goals and help allocate more of your budget toward the networks that are achieving more conversions at a lower cost. Once you’ve launched campaigns, we built full dashboards to show you all of your high level metrics, and let you dive back into campaigns for curation and optimization.
We’re going to be adding new advertisers that sign up for the platform as soon as possible. If you haven’t already, you can sign up here to get in line for a beta key and access to the platform. Thanks for all the support and we hope you enjoy using the AdStage Platform!
The biggest advertising event in the world
The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting event in the world. There are a few other huge events like the World Series, the World Cup Final, and the NBA championship, but something sets the Super Bowl apart. Because it’s in a league of it’s own, eager advertisers buy up 30 second commercial slots (for approximately $3.5 million each according to USA Today) to appear in front of the huge audience the Super Bowl attracts.
This year, something interesting came up that highlighted the power of online advertising through social media. When the lights temporarily went out early in the third quarter, companies had an interesting opportunity to promote their brand in real time. Television ads would keep running of course, but other options were available to show how clever advertisers could get. A lot has been written about it, but Oreo was one brand that took advantage of the unexpected event. Shortly after the lights went out, Oreo posted this picture on Facebook and Twitter, along with the tag line “No lights? No problem.”
In my last post I wrote about the flexibility of the internet and online advertising. What better example of it’s flexibility than this reaction to an unforeseeable situation that occurred during the biggest event in the world. Through social advertising, Oreo is able to send a message to followers and fans instantly. In this case, the context of their message will be obvious since nearly everyone watches the game. Think about how many people went looking for Oreo’s in their kitchen after the ad appeared in their Twitter or Facebook timeline. Or how many have purchased Oreo’s since the game, for the first time in a long time.
Tweets and posts that resonate well with fans and followers serve as excellent ads. For people not following a page or account, advertisers can use promoted tweets or sponsored stories to spread the same message to a bigger audience. It’s an amazing channel for advertisers, with a cost that comes no where close to a television ad (especially during the Super Bowl). I should note that more than one hundred million viewers watch the Super Bowl around the world, while only a combined 35,000 or so users liked or retweeted Oreo’s post.
Kai Ryssdal posted about this, including an interview with Ben Winkler from the ad agency OMD, that basically said Oreo’s post wasn’t a simple, spur of the moment success that would have worked for any company. Oreo has been working on their social activity for months to grow their audience and had their team working hard to be ready for any usual occurrences during the game. Still, as more people look online in between game play, rather than at their television screens, posts on Twitter and Facebook, become a new form of big event advertising that allows for quick reactions and immediate feedback by the advertiser.
Television ads can’t keep up with real time events, but a team watching the game and posting creative updates to social networks can. When something interesting comes up, they can take advantage of it at a relatively low cost.
In the future, I expect advertisers to place more focus on real-time updates to reach audiences during big events. The 30-second and $3.5 million commercials are great if a company can afford it, but big and small advertisers have the ability to promote their companies and brands by advertising through social networks.
Check out some of the other tweets posted during the game: http://blog.twitter.com/2013/02/the-super-tweets-of-sb47.html
If there were any good tweets or ads we should know about, please let us know!
Following up on last week’s post, I thought it would be helpful to outline the fundamental reasons that businesses should advertise online. Diving right in, there are at least 3 reasons that make online advertising a no brainer for businesses:
Are there better reasons for advertising online? Let us know what you think!
Where else can you promote your products and brand in front of millions of people on a budget of less than $20 a day? Looking back to last week’s post, I used the example of television advertising. When it comes to television, prime placement and production costs of advertisements are prohibitive unless you’re part of a large organization. I should mention that clearly some ads are not restricted by placement or production costs – of course those ads tend to look cheap and air in the middle of the night on channels most people never visit. In comparison, the average advertiser can immediately advertise online across search and social networks with quality ads and placement on a reasonable budget.
Placing an ad online is a function of proper targeting, keywords (in the case of search advertising), and bids. These variables are straightforward enough to build into an initial campaign and can be properly tuned as an advertiser gains more experience. Producing the ads is basically free. An individual or team spends some time putting together effective ad copy, headlines, and images. For the average advertiser there isn’t much else that goes into their production of online ads.
Are there any costs to online advertising that I’m missing?
Advertisers want to look for markets where the audience is growing. There’s no question that the place this is most obvious is on the internet. Again, as I mentioned last week, people are replacing offline activities with online alternatives – especially activities like watching videos, following news, and listening to music. Of course, a huge amount of social interaction is moving online as well. For instance, a word of mouth purchase (similar to liking a product on Facebook after seeing a friend’s like) twenty years ago was difficult to measure, but today, it’s becoming possible.
As the data from last week’s post showed, online advertising as a piece of the entire advertising pie is growing each year and will soon account for a quarter of all advertising dollars. In addition to the growth, there’s a fineness to targeting allowed by online advertising, that isn’t yet possible in offline advertising. Social networks and search engines collect lots of information on users, which allows them to help advertisers display ads to very select audiences. This leads to high ROI and more effective advertising.
Flexibility Possibly the most appealing feature of online advertising is it’s flexibility. Advertisers can run one campaign in the morning and a completely separate campaign in the afternoon. As an advertiser learns what ads, targeting, and keywords work, they can adjust with almost no delay. This is unique to online advertising and a huge benefit for advertisers (especially those on a limited budget). Immediately after realizing one campaign is struggling – you can shut it down and reallocate dollars toward a more effective campaign. Imagine realizing your newspaper ad isn’t working. There’s not much you can do immediately, other than tell the paper to remove the ad from future issues. Same scenario with television – you can ask the network to pull the ad once you realize it’s not effective. The beauty of online advertising is that you can take in immediate feedback (whether major and minor) and incorporate it into your campaigns and ad spending.
The discussion of where to advertise is quickly becoming a discussion of where should I advertise online. There are all kinds of online advertising: traditional PPC advertising, retargeting, displaying advertising, and more. Surely, many new methods of online advertising will develop in the future as well.
This post highlights three key reasons for the importance of online advertising. There are many more and we would love to hear what you find most important and appealing in online advertising. You can tweet us at @getadstage or email me at email@example.com. Thanks!
What’s the big deal with online advertising?
You don’t need to be a big advertiser to see big returns
Online advertising gives even small budget advertisers the ability to grow a customer base with search, social, and display advertising. A single person with a computer and internet access can open ad accounts and build campaigns on AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook, and LinkedIn today. On top of that, an advertising budget of $10 a day can place your ads right next to ads of the top ad spenders like Nike or Apple. In contrast, I have no idea how one goes about launching a television commercial or how to get it shown on the proper channel and in the proper time slot.
Online advertising is available to anyone and successful campaigns are within reach for any business and for any business goal. Combining well targeted ads on social networks and good keywords on search networks, advertisers can make sure their advertising dollars are spent on viewers likely to convert into customers.
Will other mediums remain relevant or will online ads take over completely? Where do you think advertising is headed?
Where are advertising dollars going?
Today, people spent far fewer hours with newspapers, magazines, radio, etc. The reality is that there are internet replacements for most of these legacy mediums. To give advertising growth some context – ZenithOptimedia estimates the total growth in worldwide advertising spend in 2013 across all mediums to be about $23 billion. Online advertising is expected to grow by $13 billion. That’s more than half of the total grow expected in advertising spend. TV is expected to grow by $9 billion, while all other advertising is expected to stay relatively flat.
The remaining hold out in offline advertising is television. There are internet supplements to television like Netflix and Hulu, but there aren’t full replacements. Exclusive programming and old fashioned habits keep the television market an attractive place for big advertisers. But think about how quickly that can change if the right content deals are put in place, and the hold outs committed to television switch over to online alternatives. The advertisers will always follow the customers, and the customers are moving online.
If you’re an advertiser today, online marketing offers the most opportunity and growth by far. Think about the advertisers that spend money on the commercials and product placement that people really see on tv. It’s rarely new companies with small teams. Successful television marketers are huge companies like Nike and Apple that have the relationships and budgets to give their ads prime placement.
Worldwide ad spending
eMarketer’s report on worldwide digital ad spending in 2012 showed that growth was about 18% over 2011. Total digital ad spending now adds up to more than $100 billion for the first time. In addition, they forecast that online advertising will account for 25% of total advertising spend across all mediums by 2016. Continued growth is indicative of the huge value advertisers are seeing from their online marketing efforts. In the US alone, a separate eMarketer report forecasted digital spending to top $37 billion in 2012, at a growth rate of nearly 17% over the previous year.
Of course, the internet itself is growing substantially. This certainly helps the growth of online advertising, however, advertisers still have to find enough value in online ads in comparison to other mediums like radio or newspaper. Even in the US where there has been a large market of internet users for quite some time, online advertising is still growing quickly. In the emerging markets – the biggest of which are Asia and Latin America – we’re going to see huge increases in internet usage and online advertising in the next 5 years. The growth in emerging markets, like Asia and Latin America, is a huge opportunity for advertisers.
What kind of online advertising?
In IAB’s half year report released in October on US online ad spending, they found that search advertising still accounted for half of the internet ad of revenues. Will social advertising take market share from search advertising? The growth of social advertising should play the biggest role in changing the distribution of spend, but it may not decrease search advertising’s current market share. It’s a possibility that it will influence the distribution of spend in the not so distant future. Over the past year, performance based advertising accounted for roughly two-thirds of ad spend and impression based advertising accounted for the majority of the remaining third. For the immediate future, I expect the distribution to stay fairly consistent with search advertising and social advertising experiencing growth side by side.
Please let us know what you think!
CPA or Cost-per-acquisition, is the cost you pay per successful acquisition of a preset goal for your ads. These conversions can be any number of things: a user sign up, a specific page visit or duration, etc.
This post is meant to help you immediately start optimizing your CPA, but first it’s key to understand the fundamentals and recognize the importance of CPA.
A little background
Optimizing CPA lets you budget your campaigns directly. CPA is not measuring partial engagement like CPC or CPM. CPA tells you the average cost of an explicit goal you identify for your campaigns. At AdStage, we use sign ups as a conversion goal. If someone sees our ad, we want them to sign up. Other advertisers may want users to view certain pages or sign up for a newsletter. Different campaigns should have different goals.
Paying via CPA is not option on most networks, but it can always be measured. AdWords is the only major network with CPA as an available cost model. Even in the case of AdWords, it’s only available given certain requirements. From Google’s support page, here are the requirements:
- “Your campaign uses AdWords Conversion Tracking or is importing data from Google Analytics.
- The campaign has received at least 15 conversions in the last 30 days. This conversion history enables the system to make accurate predictions about your future conversion rate. So, the more data we have, the more accurate we can be.
- The campaign must have been receiving conversions at a similar rate for at least a few days.”
The reason CPA is not available on most networks is that a large part of the CPA equation relies on the advertiser’s actions. This is why even Google specifies key requirements that make sure your CPA goals are basically in line with what your previous ad performance has shown it will be. Otherwise, it’s either risky for Google to allow CPA bids, or their optimizer can’t accurately place bids near your CPA maximum bid. Regardless of where CPA cost models are available, it is much more important to understand that CPA is influenced mainly by the advertiser – the networks can’t ultimately do anything to ensure CPA goals.
This leads to another important point. Where CPA comes in really handy is when an advertiser knows what the customer’s action is worth. Say your company value’s a sign up (or new user) at $10. As long as your CPA is below $10, you should continue your campaigns and keep optimizing to lower CPA. If the cost is above $10, you need to optimize CPA before your advertising will pay off.
So what can you do?
Our CEO and co-founder, Sahil, had this to say on optimizing CPA:
“Improving a conversion has two steps – you want your ads and targeting to hit the right people who are likely to convert and you need to properly educate people about what to expect after they click over. Be clear about the offering, the process to get started, etc. Then, once they’ve been primed appropriately, the experience takes place on the landing page. Here, the content needs to meet the expectations that have been set by the targeting/ad unit they clicked on. This landing page needs to be optimized elegantly around holding the users hand to the point where they successfully complete a conversion (signup, purchase, etc.). That’s where landing page A/B testing can make a massive difference.”
Testing is key! Once you get to the point of optimizing CPA, you probably have a handle on the other characteristics of ad campaigns. Clicks, CPC, and CTR don’t really matter as long as your CPA is below the value of your customer. That is of course if conversions are your goal, which is the right goal in our opinion. No matter how targeted the ad placement may be, users may wind up at a landing page that isn’t relevant enough, clear enough, or right for the particular user. Your campaigns must do everything to make the complete experience perfect for your targeted users.
Here are 3 steps to help you start optimizing CPA today:
- Make a campaign with ads specifically targeting your product. (For AdStage, our current product is the dashboard. If we talk in generalities like “improve your advertising”, that doesn’t really pinpoint what the user will get from us. Instead, we might say “Try out our free ad analytics dashboard now”.) Tell the user what the product is and incentivize them with a free trial or promotional discount.
- Refine your landing page to the essentials. You don’t need to rebuild your page, but if it’s unclear how to sign up or if it’s not obvious what your company is offering in relation to what the user saw in the ad, make changes. The customer should have a general idea about what they are looking at on your site immediately, and if they stick around for any longer than that, they should be able to see exactly what using your product will be like and how it will benefit them.
- Lastly, put multiple goals in place. There are lots of ways to measure engagement. I’d suggest to start with goals for: a sign up, visiting more than one page on your site, and spending more than 2 minutes on your site. Even if your only goal is for someone to sign up, someone viewing more than one page or spending time on your site, means they’re interested on some level. If you have many people viewing pages and spending time on your site, but not many sign ups, maybe the landing page doesn’t tell them enough or maybe it takes them too long for them to figure it out. Either way, you can fix it. Give the user a call to action and try to make it a no-brainer for them to sign up.
Every network has different benefits. Facebook will get your brand in front of a huge number of people. LinkedIn has a distinct audience of professionals in different fields. And AdWords and BingAds show your ads to the largest audience in the world of people searching the web with terms related to your company.
Not every impression or click will result in a conversion, but you want people to see your brand and product in different contexts. Someone may see your ad on a social network and not pay much attention. But when they use Google and see your ad for the second (or third or forth) time, they will be more familiar with you, even if they don’t know it. And that will help drive conversions.
Track and optimize CPA in your AdStage dashboard by signing up here.
If you have any thoughts about CPA or know how an advertiser can improve CPA, please let us know. We would love to hear your thoughts! You can reach me anytime by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a tweet @getadstage.
Thanks for reading.