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paid search Archives - acronym

How-To Plan for SEO, Paid Media, & Social Media Success on #NationalPlanner Day

By Paid Media, Paid Search, SEO, Social Media, Uncategorized No Comments

Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”

We believe that to be a self-evident truth. After all, effective planning is the foundation of success. So, in honor of #NationalPlannerDay, some of Acronym’s group leaders are sharing their top three tips for effective planning across your SEO, paid media and social media programs.

3 STEPS FOR SEO SUCCESS – Winston Burton, SVP, SEO

1. Structured Data  

Marking up your content and having structured data is the best way for Google to find that content fast. Structured data gives your content to Search Engines in a way they can understand it in real time, as opposed to waiting and hoping that the bots find your content. 

This saves both bandwidth and time.  It is also important to understand Search Engines are playing a ‘long game’ with structured data as it enables a far more efficient way to effectively answer a search query with a personalized and factual set of results. This is called ‘data retrieval’ versus the traditional and time-consuming exercise of ‘information retrieval’.

2. Voice Search and Task Completions

Search will transcend mediums yet again in the very near future. Like the meteoric trajectory we saw with the mobile device type revolution, where the preference swapped from desktop to mobile driven search, text-based search will soon be surpassed by Voice Driven Search with more results sets being of the audible variety.

Being prepared for this future of Voice means creating resourceful dynamic experiences that not only solve for the micro-moment but also personify your brand to the customer, creating lasting affinities into the next frontier of Digital.

Critical steps to take now include creating Actions for the Google Assistant and Skills for Amazon’s Alexa. Voice assistants represent a powerful application of Voice search and represent one of the leading behavioral influencing sources for quickly moving consumers off text search and into Voice. Soon Voice assistants will be able to complete tasks and you should be ready for that moment.

3. Creating Content for 5G  

Be prepared for 5G. 5G will speed up and change the content experience allowing new and innovative ways to connect with customers.

Hyper-personalized content delivery, high-bandwidth digital experiences, faster websites will ensure the CX is exceptional. It’s also predicted that the usage of ad blockers will go down, allowing advertisers to serve ads effectively.

Digital will evolve from 2D to 3D, and interactive and live content will become the norm.

3 STEPS FOR PAID MEDIA – Gregg Manias, SVP, Performance Media

1. Establish Parameters for the Plan

Begin by defining the overall objective you want to achieve and the specific conversion goals to demonstrate success. You also want to determine the timing of the campaign and consider the opportunities and challenges inherent in that timing. Also, plan for the frequency of the message within that timing.

Next, you need to understand who the target audience is and examine their online behaviors and media preferences.

Finally, determine your overall budget and KPIs as this will drive the spend allocation and metrics for success.

2. Analysis Historical Performance & Research Landscape

After defining the parameters, you should review past media performance at every possible level to understand how it has traditionally performed. When you’re running ads online, you have to know what you’re spending your money on, and which ads are delivering the results you need.

This will help determine what needs to be changed to achieve the new goals based on where you’ve seen success in the past.

From there, you want to research the category landscape, target audiences, and all data and insights available to you.

3. Identify Proper Media Mix Tied to Parameters

After taking the learnings from historical plans and research, you want to create an integrated media plan that ties back to all the parameters.

It’s important not to throw money at every shiny new channel. Remember that each media channel you use might obtain a single objective from the parameter.

For example, YouTube might be used to capture a younger audience in the awareness stage, while Bing might be used to capture demand from an older demographic who use a desktop device.

So, be sure you know what each channel offers in terms of the target audience and types of engagements within each media opportunity.

3 STEPS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS – Mary Sutter, Director, Social Media

1. Use Social Listening to Stay Relevant With Social Trends

By listening to your target audience online and paying attention to the topics that most interest them, you can deliver organic content that meets their needs.

It can be very easy to believe you already know what your target audience wants from your brand(s). But, social media audiences, conversations and opportunities change constantly. So, listening to your target audience and even to your competitors can give you an edge in your content planning.

There are a number of terrific tools that enable you to follow the topics, issues, concerns and trends that matter to your target audience. We recommend Sprout Social as a terrific Social Listening and planning tool.

2. Utilize a Social Media Calendar to Stay Organized, But Be Flexible for Timely Posts

We all know content calendars are a useful way ensure you consistently deliver compelling content that addresses all key messages and product positions.

But, it’s also important to allow for spontaneous content that leverages memorable moments in time and/or allows you to include your brand in trending conversations.

There is something amazing about ‘spontaneity’, especially on social media.

People love it because it’s authentic. It’s not produced. It’s real. It just comes out of the moment. Of course, you want to ensure your in-the-moment content remains “on-brand.” Spontaneity in social media works when it’s still relevant to your audience. Don’t just jump on any bandwagon. Be selective as you mix spontaneity with planned content.

3. Track & Analyze Your Content To Determine What Works & What Doesn’t.

Too often, brands take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to social media. But, this could result in putting time and resources behind content that doesn’t deliver engagement or click-through.

It’s imperative you review the social media analytics (tied to your specific KPIs) so you focus on the content types that truly connect with your customers.

If you would like assistance with your planning process in Search, Paid Media, Paid and Organic Social Media or Business Analytics, please contact us today. In the meantime, Happy #NationalPlannerDay!

The Top 7 PPC Trends of 2017

By Paid Search No Comments

As 2017 winds to a close, here’s a look back at the seven biggest trends in PPC – and what lies ahead in paid search in 2018:

1. AI and Machine Learning

Search Engine Land (SEL) went as far as calling 2017 both the “year of the machine” and the “year of AI in search” because in part search engines are increasingly integrating machine learning into their products, such as ad rank thresholds, smart display campaigns and data-driven attribution, as well as automated bidding strategies and dynamic search ads.

In Search Engine Journal (SEJ), Purna Virji, senior manager of global engagement at Microsoft, agreed AI will continue to impact search marketing in 2018, enabling marketers to more effectively target and engage their audiences. This is in part because AI helps ensure results are more accurate and tailored to individual consumers and it yields better analytics.

2. Better Targeting

SEL noted audience targeting options expanded throughout 2017, such as Bing Ads (and Google) launching in-market, custom, custom intent and similar audiences. Google also expanded Customer Match – the AdWords feature that lets users show ads to their customers based on the data about those customers that it shares with Google – to include retargeting lists based on customer phone numbers and addresses.

“The popularity of Facebook’s audience-focused, people-based marketing approach largely precipitated this shift over the years as Google has loosened the reigns on its user data and shifted to signed-in data for audience development and targeting,” SEL said.

Virji said she expects to see even better targeting thanks to in-market audiences in particular. These curated lists of consumers are created when predictive intelligence identifies users who have shown purchase intent signals within a particular category. Virji said these lists make it easy to deploy campaigns and allow brands to get in front of new consumers.

In the same post, Ilya Cherepakhin, executive director at Acronym, agreed additional audience targeting capabilities mean marketers can better tailor ads, experiences and monetization strategies.

“Successful marketers will set themselves apart by customizing their efforts at scale and creating dedicated strategies for paid search prospecting together with retargeting,” he said.

In addition to targeting, Aaron Levy, senior team lead of paid search at Elite SEM, noted audiences and automation will work together to dominate PPC in 2018. Thanks to all the data Google in particular has on consumers, it can map audiences into categories and Levy expects to see more robust automation tools added to the mix as a result.

3. Attribution

SEL noted Google also launched multi-channel attribution service Google Attribution in beta in May, which aims to give users a bigger picture of how their channels and campaigns — at all stages of the funnel — are contributing to the bottom line and – what’s more – the data can feed back into AdWords or DoubleClick to inform bidding strategies.

“That’s the real motivation here; it’s not going to be the silver-bullet answer to everyone’s attribution challenges,” SEL said. “From a Google campaign perspective, it will provide more cross-channel insights than AdWords or Google Analytics does currently.”

Google also launched tools to better measure online-to-offline conversions, like its in-store sales measurement tool and YouTube location extensions, which help retailers see the correlation between videos and foot traffic. (Bing, too, launched an Offline Conversion Import tool in 2017.)

4. Local Products

Growth in local search is driving the development of ad products aimed at connecting users to local businesses, such as Local Services by Google and a local services directory and lead generation via Google Assistant and Google Home, as well as local inventory ads in local knowledge panels in search results.

5. Testing

Another notable shift is in ad testing as Google has pushed for advertisers to let machines choose the best ads to serve.

SEL noted Google restarted its Ads Added by AdWords pilot in September in which suggestions are generated for text ads in some ad groups to get more advertisers running more ads in their ad groups.

6. Voice

For his part, Cherepakhin said voice changes mobile user behavior, which, not surprisingly, means mobile search strategies will have to evolve further in the coming year.

“True leaders will go beyond executional adaptation, rethinking the entire marketing planning for the voice user,” he said. “It will be necessary to have new marketing objectives, reconsider what products or services are the best fit for voice users and create new mobile experiences for them.”

7. Amazon

SEL also noted Amazon loomed large in PPC in 2017, expanding ad offerings on Amazon.com, as well as via discovery and Alexa and this will also undoubtedly remain a space to watch in 2018.

Amazon’s Ten Most Memorable Moments of 2017

By Discovery, Paid Search No Comments

2017 has no doubt been a year for the record books, from the inauguration of the 45th president to protests like #TakeAKnee and #MeToo and mega storms like Harvey, Irma and Maria and wildfires in both Northern and Southern California.

But 2017 has also seen plenty of headlines from a single company: Amazon.

“There’s not a retail Client we’ve worked with this year that has not had discussions with us regarding Amazon,” said Daniel Olduck, EVP of Global Strategy at Acronym. “Some of those discussions have been in the context of an increasingly important advertising partner and leveraging its new platforms, others as a troublesome competitor encroaching on their activity and marketshare. Often a hybrid of the two. This has demonstrated how huge a 2017 Amazon has had in impacting retail in its advertising solutions, its marketing and its overall user prominence. We’ve had to be increasingly nimble as an agency to react to its growth in the marketplace and have had a big focus on Amazon solutions in 2017 and into 2018.”

Here’s a look back at the ten things we think are most noteworthy about Amazon in 2017:

  1. Soliciting pitches for HQ2.

In September, Amazon announced it was looking for a site in North America for a second headquarters dubbed HQ2.

This request yielded 238 proposals from 54 states, provinces, districts and territories eager to host Amazon, its $5-billion construction project and “as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs,” along with what Amazon expects to also include “tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.”

These 54 suitors were eager to flex their muscles – proposals included gimmicks like New York lighting up landmarks like the Empire State Building in orange; Tucson, Arizona sending a cactus (which Amazon could not accept); the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri writing 1000 five-star product reviews; Birmingham, Alabama setting up giant Amazon boxes and Dash buttons throughout town; and Stonecrest, Georgia offering to rename itself Amazon.

The location of HQ2, however, remains to be seen.

  1. Quietly ramping AAP.

Amazon shocked the digital advertising world in March when its Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP) was rated the most-used DSP in its inaugural appearance in a report from analytics firm Advertiser Perceptions, beating out even Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager. And, according to its third quarter earnings report, Amazon’s “other” revenue, which Digiday says is mostly ad sales, grew year-over-year to $1.12 billion.

That may be small potatoes compared to Google and Facebook, but Amazon certainly has growth in its sights. The ecommerce giant made its first appearance at the Search Marketing Expo conference in New York in October, an event that caters specifically to the search marketing community. There, Colleen Aubrey, vice president of performance advertising at Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), used her panel to detail Amazon ad products and tools, as well as tips for using them to maximize ROI.

  1. Coolly dropping $14B for Whole Foods Market.

Another surprise move came in June when Amazon announced it was buying the Whole Food Market brand for nearly $14 billion. The deal closed in August and has since resulted in lower prices “on a selection of best-selling staples,” Amazon Lockers in Whole Food stores, Whole Food product availability via grocery delivery service Amazon Fresh and lower prices on Thanksgiving turkeys for Prime members as Amazon seeks to find synergies between the brands and encourage consumers to not only become Prime members, but also purchase Echo devices.

Meanwhile, platforms like Google, Walmart and Jet.com are banding together to innovate in online grocery themselves, looking to offer perks like voice orders, in-store pickup, drone delivery and high-quality private label products.

  1. Launching a voice-enabled device with a screen.

Amazon rolled out a number of new iterations of its voice-enabled Echo devices this year, including Echo Show, an Echo with a screen so “now Alexa can show you things,” like music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts and to-do and shopping lists. Users can also make hands-free calls. And as similar devices from Google, Facebook and Apple are also reportedly coming out with screens – and perhaps even touchscreens – and voice assistants like Alexa are no longer theoretically limited to a single answer, there’s speculation we’re moving even closer to a search experience that flows across devices.

  1. Outselling pretty much everybody on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Amazon has had a very good holiday season so far, calling Cyber Monday 2017 “the single biggest shopping day worldwide in the company’s history” in which customers ordered hundreds of millions of products – including millions of Alexa-enabled devices. Per data from analytics company Slice Intelligence, Amazon accounted for nearly one-third of all online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as reports say Amazon could control nearly half of all US ecommerce sales in 2017.

Per Adobe’s figures, US customers spent $5.03 billion on Black Friday and $6.59 billion on Cyber Monday 2017. And while that’s nothing to sneeze at, it’s still just a drop in the bucket compared to Alibaba, which sold $25.3 billion overall on Singles Day, prompting questions about whether US retailers should start their holiday promotions even earlier in 2018 to capitalize, too.

  1. Making lots of money for Jeff Bezos.

Thanks to Black Friday, Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth pushed past $100 billion, meaning it’s been a pretty good holiday season for him, too. His evolution from online bookseller to ecommerce titan was also illustrated in a popular 2017 meme (of sorts).

  1. Winning its first Oscar at the 89th Academy Awards.

While Amazon won only two Emmys in 2017, it nabbed its first Oscars in February as Amazon Studios’ Manchester by the Sea and The Salesman picked up awards.

  1. Wearing rose-colored glasses for Prime Air.

In June, Amazon freaked out the nation when sketches of plans for beehive-like urban drone docking stations emerged, pointing to an all-too-real dystopian future. While Amazon seems to remain optimistic about this so-called Prime Air delivery service, speculation remains about how realistic drone delivery really is in the US.

  1. Rolling out Amazon Key – and letting itself into customers’ homes, too.

Similar to Volvo’s in-car delivery service for the 2015 holiday season, Amazon recently launched Amazon Key, an in-home delivery and access service that allows consumers to get packages delivered directly into their homes and to grant access to people they trust. Some, however – even in the Bezos-owned Washington Post – complain Amazon Key is the “most aggressive effort I’ve seen from a tech giant to connect your home to the Internet in a way that puts itself right at the center.”

  1. Still working on Amazon Go.

Amazon spent much of the year quietly testing Amazon Go, its checkout-less convenience store concept that allows customers to simply pick up what they need and walk out, in Seattle in a beta program open to employees. Amazon says the checkout- and line-free experience is made possible thanks to computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning.

“Our Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart,” Amazon says.

And, reports say, it is “almost ready for prime time.” (Get it?)

  1. Debuting Instant Pickup – and trying to win the hearts and minds of Millennials.

Finally, in August, Amazon debuted Instant Pickup for Prime members in multiple college towns throughout the US, enabling anyone with the munchies to order products like snacks and drinks and pick up those items at specified locations within two minutes.