There are hundreds of data points to consider when managing a business. Each team has its own list, and evaluating success can have different meanings depending on their goals. Paid media KPIs (key performance indicators) measure the effectiveness of how your paid or advertising campaign is performing, and there are ways to get the most out of using KPIs to improve your results.
Sound challenging? You bet.
Undoubtedly, there should be little disagreement on the importance of the following 5 to track in your next B2B campaign when it comes to paid media KPIs. Let’s take a look.
By now, you have probably heard about Google moving to phase out third-party cookies. A third-party cookie is a little piece of code placed on a website to collect data. Marketers use this data to learn about user behavior and provide a better, personalized web experience. You make have also heard Google’s recent announcement they are delaying their cookie depreciation until late 2023 – almost two years later than their original deadline! So what does all this mean and how did we get here? Let’s take a look.
1. The cookie is an outdated method of tracking
Not only is it outdated, but it is flawed. Third-party data is often collected through an aggregator where the source of the data is unknown. Therefore, advertisers know little about how the data was collected making it challenging to evaluate the data quality and serve ads to the correct audience when it matters most. While many demand side platforms have seemingly endless targeting opportunities, the accuracy of these targets can be questionable.
2. The end of the third-party cookie was expected and is nothing new
The cookie was originally invented to remember website visitors but was limited to single site behavior. With the rise of ad tech businesses, the cookie evolved to track people across websites and the framework for ad targeting was born. It was an ill-fated change, though, with inherent user privacy issues.
Fast forward to today, privacy concerns are front and center as big tech muscles for more market share while trying to appease regulators. In 2016, the EU passed GDPR leading to the web cookie consent banner we have all become so accustomed to. In following years, Apple and Firefox started blocking third party cookies by default
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Image: iStock
3. Third-party data will remain
The end third-party cookies does not mean the end of third-party data. Although this cookie phase out will continue to change how we collect data, alternative tracking and targeting methods will continue to grow. Instead of tracking at the individual level, advertisers will likely have to rely on using aggregated, grouped data to get in front of their audiences. Behaviors within a group can still roadmap effective marketing strategies. These changes will force us to rethink how we reach our audiences at those crucial moments. And that is a good thing.
4. Alternatives to third-party cookie tracking will grow
Advertisers will need to adapt by using alternative targeting methods. Some methods are not new but will gain importance once again. Other solutions will become more prevalent. Take contextual targeting, for example. Often snubbed in favor of other behavioral targeting tactics, this method does not rely on cookies. Instead, ads are served based on the content of a web page. And with the advances in machine learning, contextual targeting no longer relies on just keywords.
While contextual targeting is not new, Google is proposing a new alternative to third-party cookies known as a Privacy Sandbox. It would allow ad targeting to continue on Chrome through the use of APIs. Advertisers would receive aggregated data about ad performance without identifiers. Google believes this addresses privacy concerns while still providing an optimal ad experience for advertisers. The skeptics, though, believe this could be another move by Google to control more market share.
Finally, we could not discuss alternatives without mentioning first-party data. This is data that a business owns and collects through actions on a website or subscription-based email campaigns, as examples. The data quality is typically much better and from high value audiences made up of leads and customers. It can, and should be used to create highly targeted, personalized campaigns.
Just like your business, any information you give Google is their first-party data. And with the development of new alternatives, such as their Sandbox concept, ad targeting on Google will continue is some form. While ad tech firms may be scrambling a bit, Google’s grip on the ad industry will not change. It may even expand. And that is ringing the alarm – both in the ad industry and from regulators – which is likely why the tech giant delayed the third-party cookie phase out until late 2023.
For more information on Googles announcement and how it may impact you business, please contact us. We are here to help.
2020 was an unpredictable year. It pushed us to think differently how we communicate and interact with one another. Typical marketing trends were thrown out the window! Creative thinking was more important than ever, and adapting quickly was often the key to success. The same can be said for paid search trends.
Campaign managers saw it all – data points changed dramatically, seasonal shifts came at new times, and certain benchmarks no longer applied, to name just a few. What does this mean for paid search trends in 2021? We see a continuing shift away from the keyword and more automation.
Death of the Keyword
You have heard it before. It is discussed every year, and now we are joining the conversation. So, are keywords dead? The answer is still the same: not yet. Keywords are not going away anytime soon. However, as Google focuses more on automation and privacy, the effectiveness of keywords will change more than ever this year
2020 changed the way we think about digital strategies, and this was never more true than for e-commerce. Logistical challenges and low consumer confidence impacted conversion rates across many campaigns. Still, retailers continue to invest in and prioritize high performing ad formats such as Google Shopping. In recent years, Google Shopping ad spend generated close to 80% of retail search ad spend. Even with uncertainty around consumer spending, this keyword-less strategy will continue to be prioritized in the retail space. Spending on traditional, keyword-focused text ads will continue to decline.
Good-Bye Search Terms
In another push to change the use of keywords, Google started limiting the search query data in the Search Terms report. Campaign managers have less visibility into new keyword opportunities and irrelevant cost-driving queries. In fact, Google is removing search terms for close to 30% of account budgets. As Google continues to take control away from campaign managers, there could be cost implications that will deter the use of traditional keyword strategies.
Not So Exact Match
Expansion of close variant matches can be expected to continue. One of our larger volume accounts generated 1,324 unique close variant matches last year. We have also witnessed Google completely change the intent. The exact match keyword ‘rent my garage’ was triggered by a query for ‘garage for rent.’ The user intent is completely changed. What does this mean? Negative keyword management is now more important than ever. But with limited search term data, negative keyword sweeps are now more complicated than before.
In this New Year, we can expect the effectiveness of the keyword to change more than ever, as Google continues to change campaign managers’ control over their accounts. We can expect less data, which is hard to write since that is the foundation of any paid search campaign. But why?
First is privacy. A lot of the changes we discussed are moves to protect user privacy. As third party cookie restrictions increase, it will be more important than ever to evolve how we use data strategies.
Next is automation. The eroding value of the keyword is a result of Google’s push for automation and Smart technology. We can expect even more automation in 2021. We wouldn’t be surprised if Google moves to Smart Shopping only this year, and there is not much we can do about it.
Planning ahead and increasing the use of automation could result in stability and cost savings. Last year was unpredictable and as digital marketers we are expected to continuously evolve. Understanding the changing landscape of paid search ensures we are set up for success.
Paid advertising is often a great way to increase traffic and sales as you’re growing and sustaining your online presence. But the lingo can be a little confusing if you aren’t used to hearing it every day. To help, here’s Lake One’s B2B online advertising glossary, including a breakdown of the basic types of paid media to help identify which ones might be a fit for you.
Types of Paid Media
1) Retargeting Ads
Retargeting is a form of paid media that serves ads to users who have already engaged with your site or social media page. The goal of retargeting is to re-engage users with your brand.
Because retargeting works via cookie tracking, it allows you to target your ads to a specific behavior. For instance, you can retarget an ad to people who abandoned their online shopping carts or viewed a specific webpage. This can be especially helpful for B2B buyers since buying cycles tend to be long.
Pros to retargeting: Great for keeping your brand top-of-mind and moving users further along the funnel.
Cons to retargeting: Not a strategy for acquiring new visitors.
2) Display Ads
Display ads, or sometimes called Banner Ads, are static image ads. These are the ads that you see when browsing the web, outside of social media or Google. Display ads can be run as a form of retargeting, so this is why you might see an ad for the eCommerce site you just visited pop up on your fav news site. Display ads can also be interest-based: i.e. getting an ad for allrecipes.com after browsing a few different sites for summer dinner planning.
Display ads on Google all run through what’s called the Google Display Network. This is a vast network of over 2 million websites that are connected to Google and able to display your ad. Google estimates that this network is able to reach up to 90% of the internet.
Here’s are some examples of display ads not based on retargeting.
Pros to Display Ads: Retargeting through display ads can be especially effective when retargeting.
Cons to Display Ads: Display ads usually have low click rates and are typically used for awareness campaigns.
3) Pay Per Click Ads
Pay per click, or PPC, is what the industry calls advertising within search engine results. These are the “paid results” you see on Google (or Yahoo or Bing, etc.) before the organic search results display. You will only pay for an ad if it gets clicked, and the amount you pay will vary greatly depending on your targeting.
Pros to PPC: Effective way to get to the top of the search engine results and generate traffic. For B2B, traffic generated from PPC can be highly targeted.
Cons to PPC: Can be expensive depending on your targeted keywords and often requires a higher level of expertise to be effective.
4) Social Ads
Socials ads are advertising served on any social media platform. Facebook and Instagram ads can be managed together while Twitter and LinkedIn need to be done directly through their ad serving platforms. (Here are some tips on LinkedIn advertising.) Depending on your audience’s social media savviness, advertising on these platforms can be hugely successful.
Here’s an example of a retargeting social ad. These shoes and the cellphone case are specific products I’ve reviewed recently.
Pros to Social Ads: Platforms range in expense but are generally cheaper than other options plus offer the ability to target very niche groups, especially when using LinkedIn for B2B online advertising purposes.
Cons to Social Ads: Focus is typically on visuals of ads and some platforms, like Instagram, have high aesthetics expectation. It can involve trial and error when getting started.
Ads served just to mobile users and not to desktop.
Ads that blend into the environment and do not look like ads; typically on social media.
Targeting an ad to a specific geographical area- can be down to specific zip codes. If your company only services other organizations within a specific radius, geofencing your ads may be a smart move.
Only serving an ad during specific times of the day (such as business hours) to increase targeting based on persona search habits. This can increase relevance and click-throughs when talking about B2B online advertising specifically.
5) Exact Match
In PPC ads, exact match ads are only served when your exact keywords are searched (e.g. exact match for “Best revenue generation firm Twin Cities” won’t serve an ad for “Best revenue generation firm”).
6) Phrase Match
In PPC ads, phrase match ads are served when there is a contextual match for your keywords. (e.g. phrase match for “Best revenue generation marketing firm” will not serve an ad for “Best revenue generation marketing firm Minneapolis ”).
The budget you’re willing to pay for your ad to display. Bids can be set by click, impression, and/or on a daily/monthly basis.
Paid Media KPIs
How many people have seen your ad. Unique Impressions are the individual people who viewed your ad vs Total Impressions which counts each and every view independently, even if one person viewed your ad more than once.
2) Click or Clickthrough
The total clicks on your ad.
3) Clickthrough Rate
The percentage of impressions that received a click.
4) Cost per Click
How much you’re paying on average to receive a click on your ad.
5) Cost per Acquisition
The average cost you’re paying for a goal to be completed (a goal can be a purchase, a form submitted, etc.)
It’s a common story. Inbound marketers do their diligence developing buyer personas; cultivating content plans informed by keyword research throughout the buyer’s journey designed to attract and convert B2B leads. We launch our campaign to the world. Check for form notifications. Hours go by. Days. *DING* WE GOT ONE! – oh, wait… it’s a guest blogging service in Croatia.
Well, shoot. Here’s the deal: it’s not that the inbound research is necessarily wrong. But the content and conversion paths are a long game. Driving B2B leads with content can’t always rely on the grit of our organic and earned efforts. Especially in the short term. Take this data from Hubspot for example:
It usually takes 3 – 6 months before we start seeing the blogs we’re posting today really start picking up steam in attracting the contact volume that can start to scale our business. It takes 12 months to really go crazy.
So what’s a marketer to do? Help crush your B2B lead gen goals with some help from the social network built for B2B. LinkedIn. If you sell B2B, you should already consider LinkedIn marketing. What we’re going to look at today, is sponsored content.
Get to Know LinkedIn Sponsored Content
LinkedIn Sponsored content is the promotion of a post from a page that appears natively in the LinkedIn feed [psst, here are some post ideas.] You can include a link to your site or landing page or build a lead generation form within LinkedIn that lets LinkedIn users request content, information, or other contact from your organization with the click of a button. The form will automatically populate with information from their LinkedIn profile.
Because it behaves like a native post you get the benefit of the engagement functionality resulting in brand awareness via the social nature of the network. This reach is extended beyond that of your company page with the assistance of an ad budget.
Setting up Sponsored Content
Getting your sponsored content campaign up and running requires a LinkedIn advertising account. For a complete guide to doing that, check out the Getting Started with LinkedIn Advertising chapter in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.
Some things to consider as you plan your advertising strategy.
LinkedIn, like most online ad platforms enable total and daily budget parameters. Bids can be set per click or impression if sending InMail. Because of the niche element of LinkedIn (focus on work) costs are generally higher than you’ll see on other networks.
There’s a multitude of options for targeting ads from audience development around LinkedIn profile parameters like job title, professional interest, industry. etc.. But another powerful tool is combining LinkedIn with your own data whether using matched audiences like those who visit your website or for account-based targeting. All of this is covered in depth in our LinkedIn Marketing Guide.
Aligning Sponsored Content with Inbound
The LinkedIn B2B lead generation goal crushing comes in when LinkedIn sponsored content aligns with a well crafted inbound marketing program. If your marketing plan and website is built to be a lead gen machine, give the machine some extra horsepower by plugging in another channel.
First, look to your personas when you build out your audience targeting in LinkedIn advertising. Structure campaigns around them, their stage in the journey, and use the LinkedIn Insights tag to create audience groups for people who engage with content as they move through the funnel, adjusting the content you show them during their journey.
Second, make sure that the audiences are aligned with the timing delivered in your email nurture sequences. The goal is to create a multi-channel soft touch to attract and nurture your prospects along their journey.
Hubspot gave us a nice Valentine’s day gift today – integrating LinkedIn ads to their ad product. As inbound marketers who look at a multichannel approach that includes ads – this is welcomed news (especially because we found a lot of problems with alternative solutions). On this Valentine’s day, we’re swooning over this product update. So what does this mean for B2B marketers looking to add LinkedIn marketing to their mix? What’s got us all excited about the Hubspot LinkedIn ad integration? Let’s break it down.
Seamlessly sync Linkedin leads with Hubspot CRM
This is probably the most exciting thing we’re looking at. Historically, you’ve either had to use third party tools like Zapier to connect Linkedin and Hubspot or assign someone manually to go in daily to download your lead list and update your CRM. Yuck! With the native integration to Hubspot, when a prospect submits a lead gen ad, they get created as a new contact in Hubspot (winning!)
Easily report ROI through the CRM
LinkedIn’s ad product is coming along from where it was even last year, but reporting ROI is still a struggle. Now, closing the loop at the contact level, you can report ROI either by assigning a static value to all contacts or with real data from your CRM’s pipeline and opportunities that flow into it from your LinkedIn marketing activity.
Another area of challenge with LinkedIn ads, is referral sourcing and tracking. Ads don’t always seem to get tracked well in Hubspot – now, campaigns are auto tracked. Of course, you can still append additional parameters, but if the idea of tagging a bunch of blogs that you’re running as sponsored content sounds laborious – take a breath.
Close the gap on remarketing
Similar to Facebook, reaching customer and prospect lists with audiences is even easier now with a direct connection between your CRM. Shortening any step in a day full of tasks is a welcomed event.
Very B2B friendly
What we’re most excited about, is that while Google and Facebook have their place, for B2B clients who really benefit from inbound, sometimes Google and Facebook is hard to advocate for in aligning with inbound further up in the funnel. Now, with the LinkedIn ads product for Hubspot, it feels truly useful across a customer’s journey and fully aligned with the mantra of being helpful.
Word of caution
When connecting, Hubspot will sync past LeadGen Forms. This has caused some weird timeline details on some portals we’re working in. The benefits of the sync going forward far outweigh any quirks with some of the retroactive data, but if you see some historical changes to the way you were tracking your Lead Gen Form contacts, be aware there is a historical sync that takes place.
You are currently browsing the archives for the Online Advertising category.