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Google Optimize Sunsets in September – What You Need to Know

By Optimization, Paid Media, UX

Perhaps one of the biggest setbacks for testing marketers is the loss of a free tool. Long gone will be the days of testing and personalization within the Google Suite now that Google has announced that they will discontinue their Google Optimize and Optimize 360 testing and optimization tools on September 30th, 2023.   

How Does This Impact Me?  

This news might seem like it only impacts UX testing teams, but the effect extends beyond those teams.   

Analytics teams should ensure any new testing tools can be reported against and integrated into your current process. This means that you’ll need a team dedicated to building a strategy to anticipate any roadblocks that may arise when transitioning a testing program from one solution to another.  

Paid media teams will also feel the ripple of this change, considering there is no other testing tool available at this time that communicates as efficiently and effortlessly as Google Optimize does with Google Ads. Of course, all testing solutions can be integrated with Google Ads and Google Analytics but keeping all ad data and testing data within a single solution will no longer be an option.  

How Can I Be Ready? 

In a case like this, an analytics team comprised of UX and CRO strategists, digital analysts and a UX and CRO engineer will want to assess:

  • your testing program goals
  • the current testing velocity
  • the complexity of the concluded tests and upcoming tests
  • and the ensuring that the testing roadmap can be scaled up if velocity increases.

A CRO Engineer and CRO Strategist will then assess which tools are compatible with your testing program and will consider:

  • Will the new tool integrate seamlessly?
  • Will test reports be robust enough to inform a marketing strategy?
  • Will the tool accommodate for any website nuances that require additional coding to effectively run a test or personalization?
  • How will the new tool perform when multiple tests are running at the same time? 

Do I Really Need to Test? 

It can be extremely detrimental to paid media teams to take a testing hiatus.

Testing strategists and CRO engineers work closely with paid media managers to test ads and landing pages. After all, paid media managers strive to send as much traffic as possible to dedicated landing pages, and without testing on these landing pages, it’s nearly impossible to determine which optimizations will generate the highest on-page conversion rates, aka, the most “bang for your buck.”

This is why testing is imperative to build a healthy and successful marketing strategy. Through testing and the learnings we get from testing, paid media teams can ensure that new and existing landing pages are performing at their best.  

If your team used either the free or paid version of Google Optimize, you need to start the process to identify a new tool now.  

For more on testing for CRO and UX and how it relates to paid media, please read this article, which includes tips for success.

What About My Data?  

Although many are not surprised by the news, the question around historical data remains.

Google is encouraging all their users to download and export their data from within Google Optimize before the cutoff date at the end of September. Additionally, you can continue to run any tests or personalizations within the tool until September 30th, but any experiments that are still active on that date will be deactivated automatically.   

Where Do We Go from Here?  

If your testing team is impacted by this change, we can help. Now is the perfect time to begin exploring a new solution, but it’s imperative to begin understanding your current usage of the tool and your testing goals before you begin to compare your options.

There are a plethora of other testing and optimization solutions available on the market and most of them will integrate with your Google Analytics data… but finding the right one isn’t as easy as it may seem.   

In fact, this forced change can lead to improved digital experiences for your users and testing capabilities for your teams. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of choices or need a little guidance in locking in a new tool, reach out to us so we can help you identify your goals and your best next steps.   

Plan Ahead  

As analytics strategists, here is what we advise:   

  • Determine what you liked, and didn’t like, about Google Optimize.  
  • How did it help you and your team achieve your testing and optimization goals?  
  • Which Optimize feature is absolutely a must for your next tool? What could you do without?  
  • Who do I need on my team to make this happen? 

Next, identify your team’s short-term and long-term goals. This could be testing velocity or personalization opportunities, for example.  

Finally, narrow down the tools that you think could work for you. Will it integrate with the rest of your stack? Will its usability impact your workflow? Does it provide the functionalities your team needs?  

Let Us Help  

Although our beloved tools within the Google stack like Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics will remain, the future of testing within the Google stack is uncertain. This means that planning ahead is critical, and here at Acronym we have already begun to consult with our clients on what actions are needed for them to ensure minimal disruption to their testing programs.  

If you need assistance identifying the right solution(s), please contact us today. We’re here to help.

POV by Maria Vera, Manager, CRO & UX, Acronym

Google Launches New Features to Performance Max in Time for the Holidays

By Paid Media No Comments

Google is upgrading Performance Max campaigns with new features specific to promoting holiday sales more efficiently.

Compatibility With Performance Planner

Brands and marketers can now forecast the results of Performance Max campaigns with the Google Ads Performance Planner tool. The feature was previously available for Search, Shopping, Display, App, Video, and Local campaigns and is now compatible with Performance Max.

Google explains:

“You can forecast how your campaign may perform in the future and simulate what could happen when you adjust elements like your campaign budget and ROAS or CPA targets. Assess how changes to campaigns could affect key metrics like conversion value. Performance Planner’s forecasts are also adjusted for seasonal events so you can explore your potential holiday opportunities in the upcoming weeks.”

Asset Group Scheduling

With this update, Asset groups in Performance Max can now have automated rules. This allows marketers to schedule campaigns and utilize asset groups when needed.

With automated rules, you can also set ads to run at specific times of the day and schedule asset groups, such as preparing a set of holiday-themed content ahead of a special sale or key moment in time.

More Testing of Headlines

Google is increasing the number of test headlines you can upload to Performance Max asset groups from five to fifteen.

Adding more headlines enables Google to test a greater variety of combinations to identify the grouping that performs best.

Explanations For Online Sales Campaigns

Google is also adding new explanations specific to Performance Max campaigns for online sales with a product feed. When running a Performance Max campaign for an online sale, you may see explanations that offer an analysis of your product status and top sellers.

With this data, retailers can understand better which products had the most significant sales spike during the holiday shopping season.

First-Party Audience Insights

It’s no secret that cookies are going away in the coming year. So, marketers are seeking new alternatives to capture data insights.

Advertisers can now add data segments as audience signals in Performance Max campaigns, which helps Google find more customers for your brand who are likely to convert.

Data segments will be added to audience insights on the Insights page in the coming weeks. This allows you to learn more from the data you’re collecting firsthand and see which of your customer lists are converting best.

Best Practices for the Coming Holiday Season

Google has shared the following best practices for advertisers using Performance Max during the holiday shopping season:

  • Adjust campaign budgets and ROAS or CPA targets leading up to peak holiday periods. This will help maximize visibility when customers are actively shopping.
  • Consider using seasonality adjustments when running a sale that will drastically change conversion rates for longer than seven days.
  • To promote sales of specific products, create separate campaigns with their own targets and budgets.

If you need assistance leverage Google’s Performance Max or with any of your digital marketing needs, please contact us today. Our experts are here to help.

New AdWords “Conversions for Optimizations” Empowers Reporting and Bid Automation

By Paid Search, SEO, Web Analytics No Comments

Google is rolling out a new Conversions for Optimization setting in AdWords over the next couple of weeks that isolates a conversion action for reporting and bid automation.

With the Conversions for Optimization setting enabled, you’ll now be able to set bid strategies for specific conversion actions.

Google AdWords Conversions for Optimization

Optimizing Google ads is another way of saying you are improving the relevancy of your campaigns. This requires understanding how your ads connect to what your potential customers are searching for and how your messaging is carried through your campaigns—from click to conversion.

With the Conversions for Optimization setting enabled, brands can set bid strategies for specific conversion actions.

For example, if you’re tracking content downloads and sign-ups, you can set up bid strategies to optimize only for the higher value sign-up conversions.

The new reporting columns that come with this change are applicable and can be used with nearly any bid strategy, including Target ROAS and Enhanced CPC.

When the “Optimization” conversion setting is enabled in a campaign, New Conversions Optimization columns show performance for the optimized conversion type, even if you are bidding manually.  Essentially, you can isolate the conversion data for the conversion type that is most important to you in the reporting even without having to use bid strategies.

What Does This Mean For Brands?

Acronym’s, SVP, SEO, Winston Burton, offered his perspective.

“This is great news for paid search practitioners. ​

By default, the Google Ads system will optimize toward any conversion. ​An advertiser will likely have multiple on-site actions that are valuable to the business (product view, add to cart, email signup, sale, etc.). But, each operates at differing values; this leaves the advertiser in a position of trying to manually match different conversion types to ad delivery data, applying estimated values to conversion actions to hack the ROAS bidding system, and overall, not as accurate as they could be. After all, the behavior that leads to an email signup is likely not the same as that which leads to a completed sale.” ​

Now, brands can optimize their bidding strategies based on the desired conversion metric as the “Conversions column” will show the total number of conversions accrued.

If you need assistance with your paid search or SEO campaigns, contact us today. Our experts are here to help.

Google Simplifies Tagging for Analytics and Ads

By Analytics No Comments

Google just announced an update that simplifies the tagging of websites for Google Analytics and Ads.

The MarTech landscape is always changing and improving so Acronym is here to ensure you are current on the latest news, tools and tactics to improve your measurement.

The Google tag (gtag. js) is the simplest way of connecting your entire website to all Google products and to multiple destinations and Google just announced an update that improves the tagging experience with a single, reusable tag built on top of your existing gtag.js implementations that helps you measure impact and preserve user trust.

Over the next few weeks customers who use the global site tag (gtag.js) file will have the ability to send data to both Google Analytics and Google Ads with one tag called the “Google tag”.

This allows for more capabilities without any additional tagging/coding.

Google explains this update on their Ads and Commerce Blog:

“We’re improving the tagging experience with the new Google tag — a single, reusable tag built on top of your existing gtag.js implementations that helps you confidently measure impact and preserve user trust. Starting today and rolling out over the next week, the Google tag will unlock new capabilities to help you do more, improve data quality and adopt new features — without requiring more code. As we’ve previously recommended with the global site tag, the Google tag should be installed on all pages of your website. For customers using Google Tag Manager, you will not experience any changes to your setup today. But, stay tuned for future updates on tighter integration and upgrade paths between the Google tag and Google Tag Manager.”

In the coming months, you’ll also be able to use your existing Google tag installation when setting up another Google product or account or creating new conversion actions, instead of configuring additional code each time.

As a reminder, Acronym owns the Adobe Launch Extension for the Global Site Tag. As experts in all things Google tagging, our Analytics team is here to support your implementation. Contact us today. We’re here to help.

Google Continues Third-Party Cookies For Another Year

By Analytics No Comments

Google Chrome extends the deadline for deprecation of third-party cookie support into 2024.

Google delayed the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome by another year, with plans to start phasing them out in 2024 instead of 2023 as originally planned.

Google needs more time to test its Privacy Sandbox initiative, which is a less intrusive solution for delivering targeted advertising. Anthony Chavez, Vice President of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, stated in a blog post:

“The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.”

Google plans to gradually transition from third-party cookies to the Privacy Sandbox rather than abruptly replacing them with something new. A trial version of the Privacy Sandbox API is available to developers. In August, the trial will expand to millions of people globally.

Chavez continues:

“By Q3 2023, we expect the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome. As developers adopt these APIs, we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024. As always, you can find up-to-date timelines and milestones on the Privacy Sandbox website.”

For marketers and advertisers, this means more time before adjusting your advertising strategies to target Chrome users.

At Acronym, we believe this move away from third-party cookies isn’t such a bad thing. Cookies were always directional. By focusing on the total customer journey and their engagement with your branded content or within your own app, you can capture more meaningful data, faster, and utilize it to deliver the experiences your customers crave. 

We’ll keep you posted on more cookie news from Google. In the meantime, if you need help transitioning to a more comprehensive view of your customer data, please contact us today. We’re here to help.

Ten Important SEO Trends To Leverage Before The Year’s End

By Insights & News, Mobile, SEO No Comments

Staying current with SEO trends is like hitting a moving target while sitting in a roller coaster. From changes in algorithms updates to evolving search behaviors — the goal post is always moving as the tactics to boost your rankings look different from year to year.

With only twenty-five weeks remaining this year, brands should make sure they’re leveraging the most important SEO trends of 2022.

1. User Intent. Understanding the buyer’s journey and how to ensure your content connects at each stage of the funnel is more essential than ever before. At Acronym, we combine data insights with a neuromarketing approach so we take advantage of the emotional triggers behind purchase intent and intersect that with the keywords that feed search algorithms.

2. Content Quality. If your content isn’t valuable, it won’t convert. It’s that simple. Make sure you are creating the right kind of content in the most desired format so it’s seen at the right time for conversion.

3. SERPS. Google’s continued focus on SERPS creates both opportunities and challenges for brands. IT’s important to consider intent when optimizing for SERPS.

4. Visuals. Search engines continue to reward sites with unique images that feel authentic. In fact, SERPS will become more image-focused this year.

5. Automation. Finding the right tools for analysis, research and content creation is becoming increasingly important to improve efficiencies and results.

6. Machine Learning. We are seeing rapid advancements in natural language models and content generation. AI is also driving strategic planning as tools like Acronym’s KO and Synergy help brands to see the full picture of SEO opportunities.

7. Mobile and UX. Mobile-first indexing and exceptional UX will continue to drive the complete journey from consideration to discovery thought engagement and conversion.

8. Sustainability. Google is adding enhancements to incentivize sustainable shopping habits. Brands that meet this need will see early wins.

9. IndexNow. The days of waiting for search engines to crawl websites are over as IndexNow delivers those results immediately.

10. E-A-T Scores. there is no doubt misinformation is creating trust issues online making is more important than ever to ensures E-A-T qualities in your content and link-building.

If you need assistance with your SEO strategies, please contact us today. We are here to help.

How to Ensure your CTA Delivers

By Design, UX No Comments

A call to action (CTA) is one of the most important aspects of any marketing campaign. When done right, your CTA guides your visitors to take a meaningful step – whether that be a direct sale, a registration, downloading a piece of content, or becoming a new lead. Each CTA on your site should be well-placed, well-thought out, and well-executed to produce the desired results.

What Are CTAs and Why Are They important?

Without a CTA, there is no clearly defined action for your targeted customer to take and no way to measure the success of your content or campaign.

  • CTAs can be hyperlinked texts or buttons that lead to some sort of conversion.
Example: CTA as Linked Text
  • CTAs can incentivize a user to engage with a page, a product, a video, etc. if the button or link has compelling copy.
  • CTA placement, color, and copy can and should be A/B tested to ensure the greatest ROI possible.

How and where should CTAs be used on a website?

Too many CTAs can be overwhelming, and they lose their value. You always want to opt for quality over quantity.

  • Pick a primary CTA – this is the CTA that will hold the most value and will appear the most across the website and/or page.
Example: Primary CTA
  • Use bright and bold colors (as you brand’s design guidelines permit) for buttons. For example, the colors red, orange, yellow or white – depending on background, brand, and overall page design – can be be-catching.
Example: CTA Button on the Hero Image
  • Always place a CTA (and preferably a button) at the top of the page, or as we call it, in or near the “hero image.” If you cannot place the CTA on the “hero,” ensure you place it “above the fold” or “above the scroll.” You don’t want your customer to have to search for it. 
Example: CTA Above The Fold
  • The hero CTA should be the highest value conversion. If a form submission is the ultimate conversion for a page, then the CTA should link to the form, open a form lightbox, or direct the user to a form below.
  • CTAs should be used to give the user an option to do “more” once they are ready to stop browsing. i.e. – they’re ready to view a product(s) or they’re ready to download more info. Depending on the page, some users may look for CTAs that will help the contact someone for further assistance.
  • Always use action words in your CTA. These can include “Download,” “Buy Now,” “View More,” “Learn More,” etc.
  • For short-form pages, such as campaign landing pages or email landing pages, we typically only see 2-3 CTAs. If the page is short and doesn’t require any scrolling, recommend using only 2: one in the header, and one in the body. This ensures those on mobile see the header CTA first, and those on desktop can see both upon page load.
  • For longform pages, like SEO pages that have a lot of information and a long scroll depth, we typically recommend you include a sticky footer with an incentivizing tag line and a CTA button; include a CTA in the header, if it makes sense and break up long sections of copy with CTA buttons. This is important because it gives the user an opportunity to convert as they consume the information.

How should CTAs change to better serve mobile users?

  • CTA buttons on mobile should be centered to the screen.
  • Sticky footers are strongly encouraged – especially for longer pages.
Example: CTA as Sticky Footer
  • You can leverage more CTA buttons (as long as they make sense and aren’t overwhelming) if a sticky footer isn’t available.
  • CTA buttons should not redirect the users to a new page. It’s preferred for the CTA to open a pop-up or lightbox instead.

If you’d like assistance ensuring your CTAs are effective, contact us today, we are happy to help.

POV by: Maria Vera, Manager, CRO and UX

50% of Marketers Hinder ROI by Underinvesting in Media, Nielsen Finds

By Paid Media, Uncategorized No Comments

Nielsen’s first-ever ROI Report demonstrates some of the gaps in marketers’ budgets, channels and media strategies that are negatively affecting ROI.

The report found that while about 50% of media plans are underinvested by a median of 50%, ROI can be improved 50% with an ideal budget, which Nielsen describes as the “50-50-50 Gap.”

“In a time when there are more channels than ever to reach desired audiences, it’s critical that insights on ROI are attainable and easy to understand. Brands can’t afford to waste valuable ads on the wrong audiences. By investing wisely and having a balanced strategy of both upper-funnel and lower-funnel initiatives, brands can reach the right audiences and maximize their ROI.”

Imran Hirani, vice president of media and advertiser analytics at Nielsen

The report found that media spend should be between 1% and 9% of a company’s revenue, with challengers spending more and larger brands spending less.

The report also found that overspending isn’t as problematic as underspending, which affects digital video (66% underinvested), display (60%), social (43%) and even TV (31%).

How to optimize ad spends, measure returns and improve metrics.

Nielsen’s “50-50-50 Gap” finding shows that while many media plans are often underinvested, results can be improved with better budgets.

  • Full funnel marketing: To grow ROI, brands should pursue a balanced strategy for both upper and lower funnel initiatives. Nielsen found that adding upper-funnel marketing to existing lower- and mid-funnel marketing can grow overall ROI by 13-70%.
  • Emerging media: It is difficult for brands to spend big amounts without proof that the new media works, but spending small amounts can make it hard to see if the media is working. Nielsen found that podcast ads, influencer marketing and branded content can deliver over 70% in aided brand recall, and that influencer marketing ROI is comparable to ROI from mainstream media.
  • Ad sales growth strategy: Ultimately, ROI will inform publisher pricing power. Publishers are not just competing against others in their channel, but also against other channels, so comparing channel ROIs can help set pricing strategy. The ROI Report uncovered that social media delivers 1.7x the ROI of TV, yet social gets less than one-third of TV ad budgets.
  • Audience measurement: Campaigns with strong on-target reach deliver better sales outcomes. However, only 63% of ads across desktop and mobile are on-target for age and gender in the U.S., meaning that on the channels with the most exhaustive data coverage and quality, over one-third of ad spend is off-target. To capitalize on opportunity and drive impact, advertisers should prioritize measurement solutions that cover all platforms and devices, with near-real time insights.

Along with channel underinvestment, Nielsen found that only 63% of ads on desktop and mobile are on-target for age and gender in the U.S., despite high levels of data coverage and quality in the channels. Advertisers should prioritize cross-platform and cross-device measurement solutions and near-real time insights to drive impact.

If you need assistance with your media strategy, contact us today. We are here to help.

Why You Should Integrate Data Across the Entire Enterprise — and How to Do It Effectively

By Analytics, Insights & News No Comments

Every day, the world produces 5 exabytes of data. By 2025, we will produce data at a rate of 463 exabytes per day. Insights from this data can help companies understand exactly what their customers want, as well as inform a company’s processes and activities. Data can reveal whether you’re moving in the right direction, which areas can be improved, and how you might implement those improvements.  

Still, with all the data available to companies today, Forrester reports that 73% of corporate data goes unused for analytics and is rarely shared across the enterprise.

Why does data-sharing matter?

Leveraging data within your organization has the potential to deliver value in many areas. It can help lower costs and increase profits while also reducing risk. Pivoting to a data-driven approach will allow your organization to anticipate changes and challenges more effectively and accurately.

Insights derived from real-world data will allow you to look farther into the future. Customers openly provide insights to help brands understand their wants and needs. With an integrated data strategy, you’ll be able to set solid, measurable goals several years into the future and transform your business, through:

  • Personalized customer experiences. Your communication, products, and services will be tailored to your customers based on insights derived from data, which leads to greater customer satisfaction.
  • Improved decision-making. Key processes will be optimized, allowing you to make smarter decisions faster.
  • Improved efficiency.  Automate time-consuming manual tasks, which reduces costs and ensures more accurate results.
  • Stronger cybersecurity. Using AI-driven data limits the scope and impact of potential cyberattacks by identifying potential vulnerabilities before they become issues.
  • Ambitious social goals. Greater insight into your organization’s data won’t merely benefit you financially. It also helps identify new opportunities, such as increasing diversity or pursuing sustainable business practices more effectively.

So, how do you ensure your data is shared and leveraged?

Here are tips to make your data more discoverable, pervasive, and reusable across the company:

  • Foster a culture of “data-sharing” vs. “data ownership.” Data that resides only within one department must be analyzed and shared more broadly across the leadership team. To do this, you must foster a culture of “data-sharing” versus “data ownership.” We recommend creating data stewards who are responsible for company-wide dissemination of all insights.

You will also need to gain Leadership buy-in to remove the inherent obstacles to data sharing. Within your IT department, distinguish your data management strategy between data warehouses, data lakes and data hubs. This will help prevent silos.

  • Heighten accountability with a data ecosystem strategy.With increased transparency into your data comes greater accountability. When you create a data ecosystem with clear expectations around the purpose of data sharing across all departments, it’s helpful to have a single leader who is entrusted with the oversight of company-wide data sharing.

Often, CIOs or Chief Data Officers can fill this gap while addressing privacy concerns, ethics and cybersecurity. This leader can establish the expectations for data-sharing, including what data should be shared internally, what data should be sourced from partners and how to align the insights from the total ecosystem for a model that works best for all teams. In some cases, your agency partner can help establish this strategy with your data leaders.

  • Embrace unwelcome insights. Data analyses often challenge conventional assumptions about your customers’ wants and needs, including changes to the journey. This can mean your data reveals information that leaders don’t necessarily want to hear. But, as the saying goes, you cannot change what you don’t know. View all new insights as an opportunity to transform your business processes or user experiences.

Meanwhile, Many brands struggle with existing analytics solutions. According to Gartner, only 12% have the ability to collect online data at an individual level, and though 65% of brands report using digital analytics software, more than half (53%) say they’re not completely satisfied with their current solution.

At Acronym, we employ 40 billion data points daily and offer our Clients custom dashboards to ensure these insights are easily digestible and can be applied across the entire organization.

If you need assistance with your data ecosystem strategy, contact us today. Our Analytics teams are standing by.