Tag Archives: Q4

IgnitionOne’s Q2 2014 Report: Second Quarter Maintains Positive Growth for Digital Ads & Smartphones Close Gap with Tablets

Today, IgnitionOne released its Q2 2014 report, which delves into the digital marketing trends from this quarter.

Key findings in the report:

  • Q2 continues growth for search – With year-over-year (YoY) growth slightly accelerated over the previous quarter, US search saw advertising spend up 9% when compared to Q2 in 2013.
  • Smartphones level the mobile device playing field  – Smartphone spend is now nearly equal to tablets as both mobile devices combined comprise 27% of total US search spend. Spending growth YoY for tablets is up 47% while smartphones spend is up 173%.
  • Google regains engine market share– The Yahoo!/Bing Network lost some US search market share in Q3, down to 21% of spend vs. Google’s 79%,  reversing several previous quarters’ small growth.
  • Product Listing Ads (PLAs)  – As marketers begin to move to Google Shopping Campaigns by this August,  Q2 PLAs comprised 32% of total search spend, 34% of total clicks and 27% of total impressions for those advertisers who leverage both PLAs and paid search.
  • Partner networks dim– When compared to the primary search networks, partner network performance has taken a hit with impressions down 37% and clicks down 27% YoY due to the decrease in efficiency with almost all metrics down when compared to the main search sites’ metrics.
  • Programmatic inventory shifts  – Facebook Exchange (FBX) continues to grow and is now a sizeable 18% of display spend (up from 8% in Q2 2013). FBX is now responsible for 42% of impressions, 66% of clicks and 36% of conversions.

Read the full report here.

Trends in Comparison Shopping

Digital marketers have the daunting task of understanding why a consumer does or does not convert. A great way to combat these online non-converters is to get inside of their heads. Despite the convenience of online shopping, many consumers may be overwhelmed by the process of sifting through various websites found on a simple search that yield the product of their interest.

Fortunately, there are tools available now that make purchasing products online more convenient for shoppers.  These should be leveraged by retail marketers and used to pique the interest of non-converters and in many cases, transform them into recurring online shoppers.

One of these tools is the increasingly popular comparison shopping engine, which are websites that offer a place for consumers to view the same or similar products at different prices across multiple retailers, encouraging stronger consumer engagement.  Aside from the obvious preferred giants like Amazon and Bing, there are numerous other comparison engines that consumers are frequenting to get the biggest bang for their buck such as thefind, shopzilla, PriceGrabber: the list goes on.

Many of these sites also offer apps for mobile devices that conveniently allow users to scan bar codes from their smartphone and compare offline prices with online alternatives.  IgnitionOne research has shown an increasing trend in paid search spend on smartphones early in Q4 2012 (http://www.ignitionone.com/pdf/ignitionone-q3-2012-online-advertising-report.pdf ).  With the use of comparison shopping engines on mobile devices combined with the increase in paid search spend on smartphones, retailers can rest assured that as more consumers adapt to using these tools, purchases on mobile devices will continue to increase.  By understanding who their customers are and how they are shopping, retailers have a tremendous opportunity in the mobile arena.

Consumers are also using multiple comparison shopping engines at one time to find the products they want at the prices they are willing to pay, making it more difficult for digital marketers to break down the path to conversion.  The readily available comparison information on the sites also provides a challenge for retailers who do not offer price match opportunities or who cannot lower their prices.  Why would a consumer spend more and pay for shipping if another reputable retailer is offering the same product for $20 less and free shipping? Not only do retail marketers have their hands tied in trying to understand the path to conversion, but it is also becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate their offerings from the competition, and customer loyalty programs aren’t cutting it anymore.  By understanding their shoppers’ demographics, continuously monitoring the competition, and implementing a solid promotional strategy in combination with optimizing their digital marketing media, retailers can avoid losing shoppers to the competition.

Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) can help retailers optimize their digital marketing strategies.  With PLAs, prices are easily compared across several online retailers.  Often, a potential consumer is unaware and unsuspecting that retailers and Google are offering options they may not have even realized they were looking for.  This is a great way for digital marketers to increase exposure on the path to conversion (I actually found myself distracted while typing this blog because of online shopping with PLAs, and I’m certain that the goal of the retailer has been met, as I am grabbing my credit card at the moment).

New tools are making it more convincing for a potential buyer to purchase a product, and online advertisers are gaining the upper-hand in persuading them. With the use of insights from IgnitionOne, retailers can optimize their digital marketing performance and understand the different channels consumers are browsing in their path to conversion.

Now excuse me; I have some online shopping to do!

POV: What Google Enhanced Campaigns Changes Mean for Sophisticated Marketers

(a version of this appears in MediaPost, today)

Wednesday’s announcement from Google greatly affects sophisticated advertisers. While the change will clearly drive adoption of mobile search advertising it is unfortunately at the expense of advanced marketers, such as our clients.

Being able to schedule different extensions based on time of day (for example, using phone extensions only when your call center is open) can be valuable and the concept of “smarter” ads – mobile-preferred ads, sitelinks, etc. – is nice. However, many marketers already manage this type of targeting through separate campaigns.

The notion of separate campaigns (or accounts) by device type, of course, is part of what Google is trying to cut down on. Google hopes to make it “easier” and require fewer assets to manage with one campaign for all devices and a handful of modifiers as opposed to duplicating or triplicating campaigns. It will certainly make it easier to spend more across device types – something that I’m sure Google is aiming for.

For smaller accounts and/or those with limited resources to manage paid search across devices, this has the potential to make things easier, though not necessarily as efficient from an ROAS perspective. But for larger marketing teams with the bandwidth and knowledge to manage their accounts more granularly, these changes will inhibit the control they’re used to.

These sophisticated marketers take advantage of a device type structure to easily control spend by device type or target specific transactions or returns. That will no longer be possible. Instead, marketers will need to adjust the mobile bid multiplier for each campaign. And, even then, that won’t impact spend on desktops, just on mobile. Even more troubling is that marketers won’t be able to advertise just on mobile. They’ll essentially be required to advertise on desktops even for mobile app downloads, for example, with a bid at least 1/3 of their mobile bid. We feel there will be a lot of pushback on this and Google will likely need to reexamine.

The other big change is doing away with tablets as a targetable device type. Google makes an argument for the blurring of the lines between laptops and tablets, and while we agree there’s some truth to the notion that users are finding laptops and tablets more interchangeable, there’s still quite a difference. There’s a lot of value in being able to target, bid and design for different screens. As our Q3 report showed, tablet users spent 30% more time on-site and had 20% higher Engagement Scores than PC users. This is a significant difference in behavior.

These changes will require some significant reworking of accounts, particularly for more sophisticated marketers with larger, more granular structures. The good news is none of it has to happen overnight. Google is announcing this now to make sure everyone has time to be comfortable with the new structure by Q4. Advertisers should pay very close attention to these changes and take the time to make sure they completely understand them before transitioning. That said, it’s imperative they migrate before Google does it for them. The auto-updating of legacy accounts this summer is not likely to be in anyone’s best interest.

IgnitionOne will be working with our clients over the next two months to minimize the impact and migrate to the enhanced campaign structure. We will also continue to work with Google as they roll this out and take into account the needs of their most sophisticated marketers.

Q4 Report: Strong Quarter for Tablets in Paid Search Advertising

This morning, IgnitionOne released its quarterly report, which revealed that YoY US paid search spending growth for tablets doubled that of smartphones, as mobile devices in their entirety grew to 18% of total search budgets.

The report also indicated that the Yahoo! Bing Network saw a 48% increase in spend YoY, compared to Google’s 12%, elevating their ownership of the US search market to 24%, its greatest share since Q1 2009. Total paid search spending grew at 19% YoY, representing a continued acceleration from last quarter.

Download the Q4 2012 Online Advertising Report here.

Additional findings include:

  • 2012 ends with a strong Q4 for search – Ending with a robust holiday shopping season, U.S. search saw advertising spend up 19% YoY in Q4. The fourth quarter also saw YoY increases in impressions (19%), and clicks (6%).
  • Tablet search breaks away from smartphones as mobile devices continue to explode – U.S. YoY search ad impressions for tablets are up 212% compared to smartphones’ increase of 20%. Spend for tablets is also double that of smartphones with increases of 163% vs 87%.  Mobile devices now account for 18% of total search budgets.
  • Yahoo! Bing Network picks up steam – Yahoo! Bing continued to accelerate their growth in the U.S. with a YoY increase in Q4 spend of 48% compared to Google’s 12%. This helped Yahoo! Bing grab the biggest share of market (24%) since Q1 of 2009
  • Shoppers splurged on higher value orders in Q4 – U.S. Retail search advertising saw YoY increases greater than average on impressions (+28%) and clicks (+10%) and Average Over Value (AOV) increased an impressive 46%.  However, transactions decreased 31%, pointing to consumers checking out with fewer, but higher-value carts.
  • 2012 was a good year for paid search – When comparing to 2011 for our top U.S. clients, paid search metrics for the full year increased across the board with spend increasing 31% and impressions and clicks increasing 21% and 22% respectively.

“Tablets have become a very important device for advertisers, especially retailers,” said Roger Barnette, President of IgnitionOne. “Smart marketers took advantage of the high level of engagement on these devices during the critical Q4 shopping season and we will continue to see budget shifts to mobile campaigns in the New Year.”

This report is the latest in a series reviewing trends across the online advertising landscape. This and previous quarterly reports can be downloaded here.

Planning for the Holiday Season with an Unexpected Change in Consumer Behavior

This holiday season is expected to be more competitive in the e-commerce space than last year. It might even prove to be the year of the savviest shopper. Consumers are now armed with more knowledge of retailers’ deals and strategies during Q4 than ever before. Research also suggests that the purchasing process will take ten days longer than last

year, indicating that people are shopping smarter and comparing goods among competitors. With the asymmetric information gap closing between consumer and retailer and the development of the more patient, knowledge-seeking consumer, retailers need a way to finesse this nouveau consumer behavior into their Q4 Search Engine Marketing strategy.

The key factors to help leverage the new consumer behavior in Q4 2012 are:

1. Understanding your assist data
2. Identifying changes in product trends
3. Using on-site data to gauge category interest

Understanding your assist data will help you leverage your budget during the holiday season. This is particularly important as the consumer will be extending her purchase latency. It is plausible to have keywords in your account that drive a lot of traffic, but do not convert, especially earlier in the season. However, since your ad appeared early in the purchase cycle, the consumer is likely to return to your site from a different media or search engine marketing keyword. By attributing credit to keywords and media that occur early in the path to conversion, you can justify staying competitive on terms that may not be the last click before the conversion.

Identify changes in product trends by using Google trends. Whether you are introducing new products for Q4 or trying to gain a fresh perspective on the products that you already have, it is important to understand how the consumer is searching for, viewing and shopping for your product. This differs from the standard search query report, as you are able to see the full picture of how people are searching rather than looking only at terms that triggered your ads. If you type in an exact match term that matches one of your products, Google Trends will show the growth over time, allowing you to anticipate what the demand will look like during December. It will be important to leverage the top and rising terms by placing them into your account. What this will do is put you right in front of the consumer demand you are looking to capture and help to assess any competitors that may be outperforming you.

Using on-site data to gauge category interest is the most important aspect of planning for Q4. Category interest groups can be tracked by IgnitionOne after a consumer clicks on your ad and navigates your site. The interest groups indicate which category or product the user looks at during the session, in order to understand the consumer’s intent and the interplay among the products you offer.

For example, a consumer queries “youth jeans” with the initial intent to shop for their teenage daughter, however, they see there is a category which interests them to shop for themselves. It is this type of on-site activity that is important to gauge in order to finesse consumer conversions rather than forcing a behavior through arbitrary sales. Identifying trends in related category interests and putting together meaningful sales and/or messaging towards consumers will aid in achieving this outcome. This tactic is similar to the in-store Black Friday sales, where you put a particular item at a deep discount in order to attract sales in other sections of the store. This works better online because we have data to confirm that the people who are converting on clothes for their children are also buying a new coat for themselves. Strategies such as serving the consumer a message that reads “Buy any full-priced junior item and get 50% off of one women’s apparel item,” will encourage consumers to act and allow retailers to gain conversions on highly competitive items by bundling them with something else of interest to the consumer.