Category Archives: Search & Display

Behaviors That Matter: Personalization Based on Data

The importance of a personalized web experience cannot be overstated. In a world where customers already know their data is being mined, they don’t just expect personalization, they’ll avoid experiences that don’t deliver it to them. In other words, if my social media platform exists, I expect to be served ads that are relevant to me, and I expect websites to know what I want even before I do. After all, all of my information is already out there – isn’t it a brand’s job to use it in a way that benefits me as a customer?

Data is the key to successful web personalization, but oftentimes it isn’t used in the most effective manner. It’s vital to set up the correct set of variables that is most relevant to your brand. This can be done by looking at the traffic and engagement you already have on your website, and working backwards from there.

Ask. What patterns are emerging here? Where am I finding trends?

Look at the most popular pages on your website. Determine where that traffic is coming from, and what those users have in common. Your own first party data is the most valuable insight you have because it’s a direct line to your audience. Their actions and origins give you the recipe you need for success.

Target. Determine your targeting variables.

These should be based on the answers you find to the questions above. Variables could include things like location (are most of your users in a few concentrated areas, or more spread out?), device, customer history, and time spent navigating your website. Pay attention to how users interact with every individual webpage or post related to your brand. Mine your data and discover who is always close to clicking the “purchase” button but never does, who buys frequently, when they visit and whether it’s spurred on by a particular event. For example, a customer who visits your site to make a purchase most often around the 15th or 30th of every month may make purchases relative to pay day.  Variables like these  will help you personalize content and experience for multiple audiences.

Personalize. You know your audiences, so talk to them.

When personalizing the content or ads you serve up to your audience, testing is important. Run multiple ads, try out taglines, test headlines and subject matter in your blog posts and social media. There is no magical “one size fits all” personalization guarantee, but thorough A/B testing can help you find the right fit for your audiences.

Register Now for the IgnitionOne August Webinar: Smarter Search Strategies for 2015 Holiday Shoppers

On Wednesday, August 26, 2015, IgnitionOne will host an exclusive webinar that highlights mobile search strategies that marketers will need heading into the 2015 holiday season. Mobile shopping has hit an all-time high and it’s no question that search marketing is on the rise. With the holiday season just around the corner, it is crucial that marketers implement mobile strategies that break through the noise and reach their target audiences.

The webinar, “Smarter Search Strategies for 2015 Holiday Shoppers,” will feature a collaboration between Dave Ragals, Global Managing Director of Search for IgnitionOne, and Rob Lenderman, COO and Co-Founder of Boost Media.

Participants in the webinar will:

  • Gain insight into the latest trends in mobile paid search
  • Explore considerations to impact your strategy development
  • Learn how to optimize ad creative for mobile and why context matters
  • Discover the 10 best ways to engage holiday buyers

“Smarter Search Strategies for 2015 Holiday Shoppers,” takes place on Wednesday, August 26 at 1:00 p.m. ET. Registration ensures access to the recorded playback.

Sign up now!

SEARCH ADVERTISING: New Bing Campaign Cloner for Google AdWord Campaigns

By Claire Hite, Media Manager & Harvey Sutton, Product Manager of IgnitionOne’s Search team
 Claire Hite, IgnitionOne Search
MagnifierIgnitionOne introduces the Bing Campaign Cloner into its Digital Marketing Suite. In our simplified marketing approach, we wanted an easy and painless way for advertisers to extend efforts across various search engines. Advertisers save time by not repeating their efforts of adjusting and optimizing campaigns. A simple button allows advertisers to optimize for one search engine and clone into the Bing search engine. 
The Bing Campaign Cloner tool allows for advertisers to easily recreate one or more Google AdWords campaigns for use in the Bing Ads network. We modeled it after Digital Marketing Suite’s existing Bulk Management functionality.
In a real world scenario, many media managers find themselves creating a new campaign only to realize at upload that they forgot to build out keywords for the other engine. IgnitionOne’s Bing Campaign Cloner feature allows the user to quickly and easily duplicate that campaign and export into a bulksheet for final review.

Search Advertising: Google launches “Upgraded URLs” for AdWords

Beth Knetig

By Beth Knetig, Strategic Account Director at IgnitionOne

MagnifierIn February 2015, Google has announced  the launch of “Upgraded URLs” for AdWords. Advertisers, Agencies and Ad Tech vendors are currently working together to migrate their AdWords accounts before the July 1st, 2015 deadline.

Settings gears What exactly is being upgraded?

Google AdWords is allowing for easier means of tracking sources by parsing out root URLs from tracking redirects and parameters. This allows for smoother and faster switching of assets without having to resend everything through editorial before being served. Google is essentially removing the destination URL field and replacing with a landing page field. Tracking elements will be housed in a tracking template and/ or custom parameter fields.

Signing the contractHow should an advertiser update this?

For advertisers utilizing 3rd party tracking, they will need to work with their partners to discuss how to go about updating their URLs. For advertisers with complicated URL set ups, there will be some initial legwork and decisions to make before implementing any changes. Once this is completed, future management of assets will be much simpler.

Send symbolThings to consider before migration:

  • What tracking parameters will I need to remain intact?
  • What new tracking parameters will I need to start tracking?

Megaphone The benefits:

The upgraded URL offers customized tracking without compromising the editorial process for your ads.

IgnitionOne has been working with Google for the past few months to help ensure clients tracking set ups are carefully transitioned.

IgnitionOne’s URL builder will help transition clients to the new format. Current and new clients will be ready for the transition by April 2015 and we plan to migrate clients with complicated set ups well before the July 1, 2015 deadline.

Introducing the Big Book of Digital Marketing

IgnitionOne and Netmining proudly present the Big Book of Digital Marketing. This all-inclusive resource provides marketers with an overview of the latest trends and fundamental changes in the marketing landscape, a compilation of articles and thought leadership from recent months. Use it as a roadmap to marketing success in 2015. This gorgeous guide is now available as a free download here:

Get fresh insights on topics including:

  • Understanding Ad Tech
  • Mastering Programmatic/RTB
  • Using a DMP with Cross-Device Customer Data
  • Navigating in the Marketing Landscape
  • Best Practices for 2015

This hefty edition is loaded with information designed to help digital marketers and agency rock stars stay on top of their game. Download your complimentary copy now.


Is your AdWords Account Set Up for Failure?

I clearly remember my first day as a junior PPC analyst where I was eagerly sitting in the meeting room with a metaphorical funnel in my hand, awaiting a waterfall of knowledge to rain down upon me. Instead I was told the three words that would hang over my head as a noose for as long as I was in PPC:


We all know the feeling. That word “OVERSPEND” makes your heart stop, stomach sink and that falafel wrap you had for lunch start to claw its way back up your throat.

However, there is something that has always been more important than overspending – something which if PPC people started to pay more attention to at the start of a campaign, they could significantly decrease the chances of wetting their desk chairs: campaign structures.

When mentioning campaign structures “Measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once” comes to mind. There is such little time for PPC people to get new accounts up and running that they don’t have time to philosophize over which campaign structure will work best for their client in relation to the budget they have.

Although it may not always be apparent, every half decent PPC person knows that any budget can become considerably easier to manage and oversee when you actually put thought into the campaign structure of an account you are about to set up.

Coming over to the technology side of the industry, I have had the opportunity to speak to some of the greatest minds in search and get a peek into hundreds of different AdWords accounts. So I’ll take this opportunity to put my newly gathered wisdom to good use and give you the top 3 tips about how campaign structures can be used to keep a tighter grip on your budget.

1) Priority Campaigns

We all know most clients don’t have unlimited budgets, and sometimes the number of keywords in an account or the number of products offered is just not proportional to the amount of budget available. Logically, the majority of the budget should first be spent on brand, but once you have gained 100% impression share on these terms, what next? Which generic keywords should you target and which ones should remain?

In times like this, priority campaigns can become your saviors. By dividing the generic campaigns by priority, you can make sure that you are spending money on generic keywords that matter the most! For example, a holiday client may have a variety of different countries on offer. Time should be spent with the client on understanding which countries generate the highest amount of ROAS or which countries have still have spaces to fill.

By splitting generic campaigns up into P1 (Priority1),P2,P3 etc. you are able to fully dictate how much of your spend should be allocated to each set of priorities. Thus making it easier to manage the more volatile part of your account.

2) Spreading it Too Thin

No one likes that part of the sandwich that has no filling and is all bread; the same goes for your AdWords campaigns. Having a large number of highly granular campaigns is a great idea, because you can have even more granular ads. We all know granular ads equal higher CTR and a higher CTR is likely to mean higher quality traffic to site, and more high quality traffic to site means potentially higher conversion rates and higher conversion rates equal to more revenue. No. Just NO.

The above statement is about as one sided as the Germany vs Brazil World cup game. Yes, all of the above is true in an ideal world where budget is unlimited, however the majority of clients do not have unlimited budgets and therefore the above is irrelevant.

Using the same example as before, if we were to create a campaign for each holiday destination for our travel client and set each campaign at a budget of $5 a day, very quickly we could end up with an insane number of campaigns to manage.

Let’s say we have 200 destinations (that is 200 generic campaigns based on an individual destinations). Some days they may spend a combined $5 , other days they may spend a combined $1000. You can see the volatility issue here quite clearly, especially if a client’s budget is only $10,000 for generic keywords in the month! You could potentially blow a tenth of the month’s budget in a day. Yes, shared budgets could be used to alleviate this giant pain, but everyone I have asked have still found them to be more of a liability, but that’s a whole post on its own!

If you have bigger and less fluctuating budgets feel free to take the time and build out more targeted campaigns. For smaller and more volatile budget clients, stick to splitting out on an ad group level and break out any particular ad groups that are taking majority of the campaign budget into its own campaigns as time goes on.

3) Broad Match Modified & Negatives

A colleague of mine once told me “you only need one broad keyword in an account, if your negatives are good enough.” As absurd as it sounds, in principle, this is correct. Negatives play a large role and many a time are overlooked in their importance within a strategy. They can also help to manage budgets more tightly if used correctly by making sure clicks are being directed to keywords with campaigns/ad groups with the lowest bids, especially when match type integrity is of question.

The way forward is to build out your exact match keywords extensively, and only have a handful of broad match modified keywords from which you will negative all of your exact match keywords, leaving your broad match modified keywords to only fish for keywords you have not yet come into contact with. Although with the latest upcoming Google update, which makes true Exact Match obsolete, this method may not be as effective as it once would have been, but nonetheless it is still by far one of the most efficient ways to manage your keywords and bidding.

The smaller the number of keywords in an account, the clearer the indication will be of which keywords are working and which keywords are simply a liability.

In conclusion:
“Measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once”
– (John, my very wise builder)

Forcing Close Variant Matching: The End of Exact as We Know It or Efficiently Reducing Clutter?

Google announced last week that it was enforcing “close variant matching” to all exact and phrase match keywords.  While this has been an option – and, to be sure, the default setting within AdWords Keyword Matching Options – for marketers since it was first introduced in 2012, starting in late September it will be the law of the land.  Advertisers will no longer be able to opt out.


Close Variant Matching allows advertisers to show ads for queries that are considered “plurals, misspelling, or close variants” of their Exact and Phrase Match keywords.  Close variations are defined as misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as floor and flooring), abbreviations, and accents. According to Google, many misspellings and abbreviations would be missed by advertisers given their low search volume.  Thus, matching to close variants allows advertisers to increase quality traffic by showing ads for queries that reflect the intent of their current keyword set, even if they don’t match their keywords exactly.

This is undoubtedly true for some advertisers, particularly smaller, less sophisticated accounts, where the resources – whether people or tools – to help build out and manage large keyword sets just don’t exist.  Google states that advertisers who have used it over the past two years have seen an average of 7% more exact and phrase match clicks with “comparable clickthrough and conversation rates.”

IgnitionOne’s own research skews a little differently, especially by vertical.  By comparing the user’s query to the keyword it was matched to, we were able to determine whether or not that query fell into the close variant category, and then ultimately whether or not that ad click resulted in a conversion.   Of course, this kind of transparency no longer exists either, as Google has since removed the query from the referrer – another wall in what is becoming an increasingly black box.

The retail industry fared the best, with CPA’s roughly 11% lower on close variant queries.  However, advertisers outside of the retail vertical on average saw CPAs roughly 75% higher on close variant queries than they did on non-variants.  Clearly, based on this data, the close variant traffic for non-retailers is likely to be significantly less efficient, but that does not necessarily mean that it’s bad traffic.  That is up to the advertiser or their search partners to determine.

The primary concern is the lack of transparency.  While advertisers can still use misspellings, et al, within their accounts, the ability to vet the specificity of the matching engine – and, therefore, the efficacy of this new change – went out the window when Google removed the typed query from the referrer.



  • Continue to add in misspellings, abbreviations and other “close variants” with their own bids.  Google should match to them when appropriate and enforce their independent bids.
  • If you suspect a negative impact on CPCs for some keywords, try pausing them and see if similar terms pick up that traffic.
  • Utilize a portfolio approach to optimization and evaluate whether there are other paid search assets, or other advertising channels, that could use the capital more efficiently.
  • Be aware that “close variant” traffic is likely to be less efficient, so evaluate whether or not their performance still falls within your efficiency tolerance.

IgnitionOne will continue working closely with our clients to understand the ramifications of this change and to ensure campaign results and metrics remain strong. If you have any questions, please reach out directly to your IgnitionOne contact or email us at

Also available for download is our recent report on Google Shopping .

Introduction to Paid Search

We know that most of our customers are well versed in paid search, but there are many who don’t live in the space and have limited knowledge.  I was asked to write an introductory article to Search and I discovered that there are so many different aspects that go into search advertising: from bidding on keywords to the multiple search engines, it seems almost impossible to know every little thing about the channel.

Every day, billions of people encounter advertisements when they use a search engine.  These ads tend to differ depending on which keywords the user types into the search bar.  These paid search advertisements are getting increasingly important in the marketing and advertising world.

Paid search works on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis.  Companies bid for the most efficient advertising spot on a search engine based on keywords the user types in.  For example, a travel insurance company would want to bid for the top spot for the keywords “best travel insurance companies”.  The company is bidding for how much they will pay for each click their advertisement receives.  CPC prices can be as low as $.01 to as high as $54.91 (for the keyword “insurance”).  Is paying the high price for a top advertising spot worth it?  The top advertisements average 12.2% more clicks than the next advertisement. So in short, yes.

Every time a user searches on Google an auction is triggered based on a formula known as Ad Rank.  Ad Rank is calculated by multiplying the CPC of each keyword by the components that go into  the corresponding ad’s Quality Score, including the expected click-through rate (CTR), relevance and landing page.  Ergo, ads with a higher Ad Rank can pay less on engines for their ads to appear against the same keywords as someone else.

There are many benefits to using paid search.  Your ads receive increased visibility, you get instant results, and there is typically an increase in conversions.  Customers who purchase online are 30% more likely to perform a search and 17% more likely to have clicked on a PPC ad.

Paid search usage is growing at an exponential rate.  Every year more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon.  Just last year, search ad revenue totaled $18.4 billion, breaking the record.

There are a few search engines where the majority of paid search goes on, the most common being Google.  According to Search Engine Watch, 67.6% of all paid searches happen on Google .  Other major search engines are Yahoo!, Bing, and Baidu.  Google gets an estimated 1,100,000,000 unique visitors a month.  Bing gets an estimated 350,000,000 unique visitors a month.  Yahoo! gets an estimated 300,000,000 unique visitors a month.

I had a conversation with Dave Ragals, Global Managing Director of Search at IgnitionOne, where we talked about how search engines have been adding more advanced products like Google Shopping (formerly known as PLAs) and Ad Extensions.  He explained that with Google Shopping, retailers can now manage their products and inventory with AdWords.  Google Shopping now offers Benchmark Click Thru Rate, Impression Share, Products Tab, and Exclusions.  Imagine Google Shopping ad creation currently as your social circle. You can be part of multiple social circles concurrently, and have different attributes when in each.  But this could change, as, “Google tends to be the leader and Yahoo!/ Bing always ends up following suit,” he told me.  Ad extensions occur when there are numerous links associated with one ad.  For example, say you are looking at a CPO Commerce ad (client). With ad extensions, there can be a link to various pages that are not directly related to your search but may be of interest to you based on your query (see below).


IgnitionOne’s technology is able to figure out where a company should advertise and what the CPC should be, all within a millisecond.  In addition, they can determine which keywords are most effective to bid on. They are able to determine the marginal cost to marginal return ratio for each keyword/position.

The future of marketing is in search.  Every day, more and more companies turn to search to fulfill their advertising needs.  Those who don’t adapt to search will most definitely get left behind.

Are You Ready For Google Shopping Campaigns?

Google plans to migrate all remaining legacy Product Listing Ads (PLA) campaigns to Google Shopping beginning in August 2014. Here are some questions to ensure you’re ready.

What are the differences between the old PLA campaigns and Shopping Campaigns?

The Ads – Shopping Ads are still PLAs. The big difference is that now you don’t have to know precisely what is in the Product Feed to create valid groupings. AdWords now connects your Merchant Center feed to your AdWords account in a way that lets you drill down into Google’s category taxonomy to create Product Groups, or you can use other feed attributes such as Condition or Brand, or you can use custom labels to define your target set of products.

Product Groups = Product/ Targets – Each AdGroup in a Shopping Campaign consists of one optional ad (this is the promotional text that will appear with every product ad served from the group) and one or more Product Groups which determine the eligibility of products to be served based on more easily-defined parameters. Don’t let the rebranding of these campaign assets throw you off.

No Keywords – These are not keyword campaigns. They will behave differently and you will want to experiment to find the best way to structure your Product Groups. A simple start should include using Google’s product category taxonomy to group like products. Next break those groups down using additional attributes, such as Condition or Brand, or your own custom feed attributes. You can, however, add negative keywords to your campaigns to avoid unwanted impressions.

Google has provided several learning opportunities for marketers, including basic and advanced webinars:


Are your product feeds optimized for Shopping Campaigns?

Where the old PLAs used adwords_grouping and adwords_label fields for organizing your product targets, Shopping Campaigns introduces the availability to create up to five custom labels that can be used in conjunction with Google product category, brand, item ID, condition and product type to create Product Groups to be targeted.

These attribute filters can be combined and stacked to tailor your feed to meet your needs. Start with the highest level of categorization and break the category down to more granular levels. Your Product Groups are bid at the most granular level specified.


Do you have a plan for measuring the performance of Shopping Campaigns and comparing them to old PLA campaigns?

Gathering benchmarks now will help you see where differences may exist between Search Product Listing Ads campaigns and the new Shopping Campaigns.

Fortunately, Google has introduced some additional impression share and benchmarking metrics that will help you understand your place in the marketplace, too. Benchmark max. CPC and CTRs gives you an idea of the performance of similar product ads in the marketplace.


Is budget set aside for your Shopping efforts, or is it lumped into your Search budget?

If at all possible, segregating your Shopping budget from your overall Search budget can help ensure you have more time and freedom to experiment with the new Campaign type. CPCs have increased as more and more retailers have adopted product listing ads and it will be important to be cognizant of how those changes will affect your overall marketing spend.