DG and Marin integration is a win for clients, say media agencies

Multiscreen ad management company, DG, and revenue acquisition management platform, Marin Software, this week announced an integration partnership that media agency search heads are saying will benefit clients who use both Marin Software’s platform and DG MediaMind’s Channel Connect SEM solution.

Channel Connect is designed to pass data back and forth between specific channel providers for campaign analysis purposes. Channel Connect SEM intends to provide a seamless, discrepancy-free integration between the Marin and MediaMind platforms.

The move aims to alleviate potential data discrepancies that come with maintaining separate conversion tags for display and search platforms. The improved integration is aimed at eliminating discrepancies by only using DG MediaMind’s conversion data and settings.

Ricky Liversidge, CMO of DG, says the goal is to make campaigns less complex so that agencies and advertisers can accomplish more within their digital campaigns. “Integrating our platform with Marin Software’s solution is an example of the value created for advertisers when technology partners are willing to cooperate and share data.”

Roland Irwin, Marin Australia’s general manager, says the move has scored the company a significant increase in client acquisitions in the last two weeks since the integration. “With this partnership discrepancies are a thing of the past. The simplified conversion and attribution settings will save time and help create more accurate data for campaign planners and buyers to optimise campaigns.”

Head of search at MediaCom, Stuart Beckingham, says that by consolidating management of both search and display campaigns, the integration will see agencies of all kinds improve upon their strategy to better serve their clients.

“We are pleased and excited to see two leading technology companies like DG and Marin join forces and integrate to this large extent.

“This new streamlining solution provides no barriers and we have already painlessly integrated six clients. The solution eliminates the need to deploy and maintain duplicate conversion tags, which have and will alleviate months of campaign set-up time. The impact of this is that we’ve migrated technology platforms faster than we could usually have expected, thus providing immediate value to our clients levelling the playing field with competitors,” Beckingham says.

 

Open Universities Australia performance marketing solution implementation

Campaign: Implementation of performance marketing software solution

Client: Open Universities Australia (OUA)

Partner: Marin Software

 

Background

Open Universities Australia (OUA) provides students the opportunity to study a range of online units and courses and achieve a nationally recognised tertiary qualification.

Unlike traditional on-campus study, its students can study online anytime, anywhere. OUA offers over 180 courses and 1700 units from over 20 leading Australian universities and TAFEs. Students have the added bonus of choosing their electives from any of its partner institutions to create a truly customised learning experience.

The manual optimisation and monitoring of OUA’s cache of approximately one million keywords across Google, Yahoo and Bing search engines, as well as other channels including Facebook and Criteo, was costing OUA the equivalent of 5000 hours per year.

In addition, the company’s monthly reporting was taking in excess of 40 hours to complete. The sizeable task of manually monitoring and optimising one million keywords was making it difficult for OUA to effectively ascertain the value of each of its campaigns, ultimately hindering its conversion rate.

Meanwhile, the strain on OUA’s marketing resources also meant the company was paying high costs per acquisition (CPA). Most importantly, the company had very low visibility into the effectiveness of its digital marketing campaigns and little understanding of how its online marketing activities were converting into offline sales leads.

Objectives

  • Increase online enrolment and enquiry conversion rates (primary objective),
  • increase visibility into the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns and better understand how online marketing activities convert into offline sales leads,
  • significantly decrease time spent on reporting and optimisation,
  • significantly decrease cost per acquisition (CPA), and
  • increase audience engagement to help drive conversions.

 

Strategy

OUA chose to partner digital ad management provider with Marin Software. The digital marketing challenge was clear: Marin needed to implement a highly successful revenue-based optimisation solution that would compliment OUA’s overall marketing efforts, significantly save time spent on reporting and optimisation and provide the visibility needed to improve its level of audience engagement, conversion rates, CPA and offline conversations.

Execution

From the completion of the procurement process in April 2012 onwards, Marin provided ongoing support during the planning and implementation phases, as well as during the crucial deployment phase in August 2012. Working in collaboration, Marin and OUA successfully aligned all of the data from the various digital marketing channels to OUA’s online goals, as well as connecting its call tracking conversions with the help of Jet Interactive.

A single, unified view of all of its performance marketing activities, enabled OUA to manage, report and optimise all of its campaigns across publishers and channels while saving a significant amount of time and money. OUA is now in the position to quickly and easily make changes to campaigns based on meaningful data and have a management solution that facilitates streamlined bidding and optimisation across multiple channels.

 

Results

Primary objective: increase online enrolment and enquiry conversion rates 

Implementing the automated bidding solution has seen a 227% uplift in OUA’s online enrolments and enquiry conversion rates.

 

Objective 2: increase visibility into the effectiveness digital marketing campaigns and better understand how online marketing activities convert into offline sales leads and drive conversions

The integration with offline conversion data through Jet Interactive allowed OUA to have complete visibility into the inter-relationship between its online and offline conversions. This puts OUA in a unique position to have full transparency of the value its activities are driving, and has empowered it to make strategic and actionable decisions to drive more conversions to the optimal conversion point. OUA reported a marked difference in its ability to optimise digital marketing campaigns, crediting this to a more holistic view of its activities including better insights into what channels are performing, and the ability to be nimble in making any necessary changes to campaigns in response to this.

 

Objective 3: significantly decrease time spent on reporting and optimisation

It now takes OUA just minutes to deliver the same monthly reporting that previously took staff 40 hours to complete. The hours previously spent collating the data are now used for optimisation.

 

Objective 4: decrease cost per acquisition (CPA) 

OUA has significantly decreased its cost per acquisition (CPA).

 

Objective 5: increase audience engagement to help drive conversions

The implementation has had a significant impact on the way OUA engages with its audience. Prior to Marin, the weighting given to generic keywords was much lower. OUA is now able to see the value of generic keywords and how strongly they influence the consideration phase of the customer’s decision-making process. By implementing an effective generic keyword strategy, OUA realised the assisted value that generic keywords is driving in the sales funnel.

 

Google Product Listing Ads: higher click-through at lower price (for now)

A benchmarking report into Google Product Listing Ads shows rapid adoption of image-based product listing ads by retailers based on positive consumer response. The analysis found that by July this year click-through rates were 21% higher than that of text-based search marketing ads, and that they remain cheaper, although prices are rising.

The report, from Marin Software, is titled ‘Google Shopping Ads: Product Listing Ads Deliver for Retailers‘ and consists of statistics and trends uncovered through an examination of the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, which is based on advertising data from global brands that manage more than $4 billion in annualised paid search spend through Marin’s platform.

The high click-through rates (CTR) of Product Listing Ads (PLA), coupled with a 93% year-on-year increase in click share, leads Marin to suggest a dramatic acceptance of PLAs by online shoppers. Retailers, in turn, are responding by increasing their investment in the ad type as they prepare for this year’s holiday shopping season.

PLAs came to the fore in February this year (in Australia – earlier in other markets) when Google transitioned Google Shopping results to a sponsored format, causing a rise in PLA impressions and clicks.

Marin Software’s report shows shoppers find PLAs more relevant to their product searches than they do text ads. Year on year, the share of PLA clicks to standard text ads increased 93%. Likewise, in July 2013 the CTR of PLA ads – the number of individuals that view an ad and subsequently click on the ad – was 21% higher than the CTR of text ads.

Advertisers continued to increase their investment in PLAs between October 2012 and July 2013, the share of PLA spend to standard text ads increasing 59% in that period,  with retailers allocating as much spend in June 2013 towards PLAs as they did  during the popular holiday shopping month of November 2012. Marin foresees the level of spend directed to PLAs increasing further in the last quarter of 2013.

Marin’s findings indicate the cost per click (CPC) of PLAs is also rising. In July 2013, PLA CPCs increased 53% year on year, while the CPC of standard text ads increased 10%. Despite the rise in cost, PLA CPCs still remain lower than the CPC of text ads.

Matt Ackley, chief marketing officer at Marin Software, says PLAs are a break through format for advertisers, but also a big step toward improving the online shopping experience for users. “Google Product Listing Ads showcase what happens when users encounter relevant, engaging ads. There is no doubt the online shopping landscape has been significantly changed by PLAs and we expect even more notable results this holiday shopping season.”

 

Merging campaign objects in the transition to Google’s enhanced campaigns

This is the third of three pieces by Roland Irwin on how search marketers can prepare, migrate and merge their campaigns as Google flicks the switch on AdWords to ‘enhanced campaigns’ on 22 July 2013.

 

After adequate preparation and migration, merging campaigns is another critical step for search marketers to undertake in advance of the imminent 22 July migration deadline to Google’s enhanced campaigns.

In a recent article I discussed the migration workflow at a high level by highlighting the five key stages of the enhanced campaign migration process. I referenced five stages that should be completed for every set of matching campaigns, and the fourth stage was to ‘merge sibling campaign objects.’

In this article I’ll talk about the campaign objects that search marketers need to account for when merging a sibling campaign into its parent campaign. While not all of these objects will apply to all matching campaigns, I will give an overview of how to approach each campaign object and provide paid search best practices for successfully executing a merge.

1. Campaign settings

For matching campaigns, compare settings between the parent and sibling campaigns. Ensure the parent campaign settings are properly configured and they align with your business needs. Review the following settings: Status, Location, Language, Networks, Ad Schedule, Bid Type, Delivery Method, Ad rotation, Campaign Start and End Dates. Advanced settings include: Demographic, Social settings, Keyword matching options, IP Exclusions and Tracking URL. Note that Devices for targeting specific devices has been removed from the campaign settings page.

Location targeting: At this point in time, advertisers are not required to merge separate, location-targeted campaigns.

Without a Google ValueTrack parameter for location targets, paid search management platforms will be unable to report on and optimise campaigns based on location target. For advertisers that have separate matching campaigns targeting specific locations, continue to separate campaigns by location target. This will enable you to calculate optimal bids based on performance by location, rather than relying on campaign-level location bid adjustments.

Campaign budgets: Upon merging your matching campaigns, your enhanced campaign daily budgets will likely need to be increased due to the additional click volume from expanded device targeting. Add the daily budget of the sibling campaigns to the parent campaign. Review the budget of the parent campaign and ensure it meets your business requirements.

Mobile bid adjustments: For advertisers that separated their campaigns by device target, a mobile bid adjustment can now be set at the campaign or group level to bid on mobile devices separately from desktop and tablet devices. Mobile bid adjustments are set as a percentage of the keyword-level (desktop and tablet) bid.

The approach to bidding for the following types of legacy campaigns will be unaffected when migrating to enhanced campaigns:

  • If the campaign previously targeted all devices (or desktop and mobile), set the mobile bid adjustment to 0%. Your mobile bids will be the same as your desktop and tablet bids.
  • If the campaign previously targeted desktop and tablet devices and has no matching mobile campaign, set the mobile bid adjustment to -100%. This will prevent your creative from being delivered on mobile devices.
  • If the campaign previously targeted desktop devices only, or tablet devices only, and has no matching sibling campaigns, set the mobile bid adjustment to -100%.

 

2. Ad extensions

There are seven types of ad extensions that need to be addressed during a campaign merge. These include: Location Extensions, Call Extensions, Sitelinks Extensions, Product Extensions, Social Extensions, Dynamic Search Ad Extensions, and Mobile App Extensions. Ensure all the extensions in sibling campaigns are present in the parent campaign.

If your mobile sitelink or call extensions are unique from your desktop ad extensions, leverage Upgraded extensions. Specify ‘Mobile’ next to device preferences to customise your extensions for a mobile-optimised experience. Mobile-optimised extensions will be triggered more frequently over standard extensions for searches on mobile devices.

3. Ad groups

For matching campaigns, ensure all the groups in the sibling campaigns exist in the parent campaign. Copy any missing groups from the sibling campaigns to the parent campaign.

4. Keywords

For matching campaigns, ensure all the keywords in the sibling campaigns exist in the parent campaign. If matching keywords have different bids, set the bid in the parent campaign to the keyword bid set within the campaign targeting desktop and tablet devices. A mobile bid adjustment can be set at the campaign or group level to bid on mobile devices separately from desktop and tablet devices. Mobile bid adjustments are set as a percentage of the keyword-level (desktop and tablet) bid.

If matching keywords leverage different destination URLs that direct users to device-optimised landing pages, use the {ifmobile} and {ifnotmobile} ValueTrack parameters.

5. Creative

For matching campaigns, ensure all the creative in the sibling campaigns exist in the parent campaign. If you have creative that specifically target mobile devices, set the device preference to ‘Mobile’ for these creative in the parent campaign. Note if you have only mobile-optimised creative, these creative can also be delivered on desktop and tablet devices. If you copy over groups from a sibling campaign that only contain mobile-optimised creative, be sure to create separate desktop- and tablet-optimised creative in the parent campaign.

To preserve historical Quality Score information for mobile-targeted sibling campaigns that contain unique creative, copy those creative into the parent campaign and set their device preference to ‘Mobile’. Remember, historical Quality Score information for all devices will remain intact as long as keyword, creative, landing page, and device combinations remain the same.

6. Negative keywords

For matching campaigns, ensure all the negative keywords in the sibling campaigns exist in the parent campaign. Keep in mind as you add or remove groups and keywords during the merging process, your negative keyword lists may require adjustment.

7. The display network

At this point in time, advertisers are not required to merge separate, network-targeted campaigns. For advertisers that separate campaigns by search and display, continue to separate search campaigns from display campaigns. This will enable you to calculate optimal display mobile bid adjustments based on display performance.

For matching campaigns targeting the display network, compare the placements, audience categories, and Remarketing lists between the parent and sibling campaigns. Add any missing placements to the parent campaign. Copy all audience settings from the sibling campaigns to the parent campaign. Add any missing Remarketing lists to the parent campaign.

 

Migration to Google’s enhanced campaigns

This is the second of three pieces by Roland Irwin on how search marketers can prepare, migrate and merge their campaigns as Google flicks the switch on AdWords to ‘enhanced campaigns’ on 22 July 2013.

 

The migration deadline to Google’s enhanced campaigns is 22 July and for search marketers, preparing, migrating and merging campaigns in advance of this fast approaching deadline will be critical to the future success of their paid search programs.

In a recent article I talked about how search marketers can adequately prepare their campaigns and understand the requirements for a successful migration. I shared how every campaign could be identified as mixed, mobile or matching, and how each of these three campaign types would fit in the migration process. I also looked at the effects migration has on quality score and the URL migration process to ensure that each campaign is ready for migration.

In this article I’ll walk you through the migration workflow by highlighting the five key stages of the enhanced campaign migration process. For every set of matching campaigns, the stages below should be completed in order. Matching campaigns are campaigns that target separate devices, but contain the same or similar groups, keywords, creative, and other campaign objects.

1. Select the parent campaign. Within a set of matching campaigns, select a parent campaign that will be migrated to an enhanced campaign. For most advertisers, the campaign targeting desktop devices will represent the parent campaign. Other criteria for selecting a parent campaign include: largest keyword list, most groups, longest history, and largest daily budget.

Once a parent campaign has been selected, the remaining campaigns within the set of matching campaigns represent the sibling campaigns. For most advertisers, these will be the campaigns targeting tablet and mobile devices. Note sibling campaign objects are merged into the parent campaign during migration.

2. Merge campaign settings. Evaluate the settings for both the parent and sibling campaigns during this stage. Ensure the parent campaign settings align with your expectations and business needs.

3. Migrate the parent campaigns. This stage represents the actual migration of a legacy campaign to an enhanced campaign. Select the parent campaign and migrate it to an enhanced campaign. Keep the following in mind when migrating parent campaigns:

  • Once a parent campaign is migrated, it cannot be undone.
  • Campaigns do not need to be migrated all at once. However, the migration deadline is 22 July 2013, at which point legacy campaigns will automatically be migrated to enhanced campaigns.

 

4. Merge sibling campaign objects. Groups, keywords, creative, and other sibling campaign objects will be merged into the parent campaign during this stage. Once you have started a merge, it is recommended you complete it, as partially merged campaigns will still be eligible to serve ads. Sibling campaigns will be paused or deleted once they are merged with their matching parent campaign.

5. Review the enhanced campaign. Review newly migrated enhanced campaigns to ensure quality and post-migration success.

Significantly, once you have successfully completed the migration to enhanced campaigns, be sure to monitor the performance of your new campaigns and ensure they are achieving your performance goals and satisfying your business requirements. Generate recurring reports segmented by device for your top campaigns, groups, keywords, and creative, and create alerts to identify significant shifts in key performance metrics.

Remain agile and efficient in your management and optimisation of enhanced campaigns. As more and more advertisers complete their migration, anticipate continuous shifts in competition and the auction environment. Search marketers will need to continue investing in technology and new best practices to successfully drive media and acquire revenue in a redefined multi-device paid search landscape.

 

Preparing for migration to Google’s enhanced campaigns

This is the first of three pieces by Roland Irwin on how search marketers can prepare, migrate and merge their campaigns as Google flicks the switch on AdWords to ‘enhanced campaigns’ on 22 July 2013.


In February of this year we saw the launch of Google’s enhanced campaigns, a major development in AdWords that attempts to simplify the management of search marketing campaigns across devices.

By using enhanced campaigns, search marketers can target consumers based on device, location, and time of day through the one campaign. And since its introduction they have raced to not only understand how this change will reshape their campaign structures and strategies but also how it will impact their ability to acquire revenue.

The rapidly approaching migration deadline of 22 July 2013 adds a sense of urgency to understand, plan, and optimise for enhanced campaigns. For marketers, preparing, migrating and merging campaigns in advance of the deadline will be critical to the future success of their paid search programs.

Before migrating to enhanced campaigns and merging campaign objects, it is important for search marketers to prepare their campaigns and understand the requirements for a successful migration. In this article I’ll walk you through how each campaign fits in the migration process, how to identify these campaigns, and how the migration will impact Quality Score. I’ll also examine the URL migration process to ensure that each campaign is ready for migration.

 

Campaign categorisation 

Mixed campaigns: If you have campaigns that target all devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile) then no merging is required. However, these mixed campaigns must still be migrated to enhanced campaigns.

Mobile-only campaigns: If you have campaigns that target only mobile devices, they will be required to target desktop and tablet devices as well. Once these campaigns have been migrated, you can set an adjustment for mobile bids as a percentage of desktop and tablet bids at the campaign or group level.

Matching campaigns: These campaigns target separate devices, but contain the same or similar groups, keywords, creative, and other campaign objects.

Parent campaigns: Within a set of matching campaigns, select a parent campaign that will be migrated to an enhanced campaign. For most advertisers, the campaign targeting desktop devices will represent the parent campaign. Other criteria for selecting a parent campaign include: largest keyword list, most groups, longest history, and largest daily budget.

Sibling campaigns: Once a parent campaign has been selected, the remaining campaigns within the set of matching campaigns represent the sibling campaigns. For most advertisers, these will be the campaigns targeting tablet and mobile devices. Groups, keywords, creative, and other objects will be merged from these campaigns into the parent campaign during migration.

 

Identifying matching campaigns 

Naming convention: If your campaign naming convention includes the targeted device, use this cue to identify matching campaigns. For example, the campaign ‘Muscleform Sports Desktop’ and ‘Muscleform Sports Mobile’ are likely matching campaigns.

Overlapping keywords: Use a keyword-level report to identify the campaigns that contain the same keywords. For example, both of the matching campaigns in the example above contain the keyword ‘Muscleform sports.’

Overlapping creative: Use a creative-level report to identify the campaigns that contain the same creative.

 

Historical Quality Score

Since Quality Score takes device into account, migrating to enhanced campaign does not result in a loss of historical Quality Score information as long as keyword, creative, landing page, and device combinations remain the same. However, Quality Score estimates reflect a keyword’s overall performance across all devices.

Therefore, the Quality Scores of keywords after merging matching campaigns will be an average of those keywords’ Quality Scores from their original campaigns, weighted by search volume. Consider the following when migrating campaigns:

  • Once the parent campaign has been migrated to an enhanced campaign and the sibling campaign objects have been merged, the historical Quality Score information for all devices will remain intact as long as keyword, creative, landing page, and device combinations remain the same.
  • Historical Quality Score information for desktop devices will remain intact if desktop-only campaigns are migrated without any other changes. After the migration, keywords will begin to accrue Quality Score information for mobile devices based on mobile performance, if any.

 

Migrating URLs 

Google’s new ValueTrack parameter enables advertisers to track paid search performance by device. If destination URLs are tagged with this parameter, a ‘c’, ‘t’, or ‘m’ will be inserted, based on the device the user clicked and converted from. However, if not properly accounted for, the parameter can potentially cause issues, depending on your tracking system and revenue integrations.

Prior to campaign migration and merging, ensure you have a system or process in place for migrating destination URLs. It is critical to migrate your URLs correctly and confirm they function properly under your revenue integration/s and other business requirements.

URL migration can take place before or after campaign migration and merging, depending on your advertising management platform’s level of support for enhanced campaigns. If you choose to migrate and merge campaigns now, it is recommended URL migrations take place after sibling campaigns are merged with parent campaigns, as this will result in fewer required URL changes.

 

In the coming weeks Roland will look at migration and then merging campaign objects in the transition to Google Enhanced Campaigns.

Aussie named 8th Biggest Search Geek in the world

Australian agency exec Lawrence Yang has earned himself the title of eighth ‘Biggest Search Geek’ in the world in a global search marketing contest.

The performance director at FirstClick Consulting competed against a global field in Marin Software and Search Marketing Expo’s (SMX) ‘Biggest Search Geek Contest’, placing eighth with a score of 65%.

Yang says he hopes to take out next years’ title. “As a professional marketer, winning the next annual Biggest Search Geek title would truly be a testimonial of my skills in the industry. I think I can bring home the gold for Australia later this year.”

The contest comprised an online quiz of 20 questions about some of the most granular aspects of search marketing. An American, Adlucent account manager Renato Del Vento, took out top honours with a high score of 84%, finishing the quiz in five minutes and 39 seconds.

Marin Australia is calling for more Aussies to enter next years’ competition. “It would be such a coup to see an Aussie take the title out later this year so we are encouraging more Australians to step forward and get their geek on,” managing director at the digital ad management software provider, Nick Gill, says.

As winner, Renato picks up a return trip for two to SMX West and an iPad mini. Second- and third-place getters, Ashley Kennedy of Amplify and Michael Freeman of Shoretel, also received iPad minis.

A record number of competitors entered this year. The quiz is still live for search marketers wanting to test their SEM knowledge.

 

Mobile search leapfrogs desktop with higher CTR and lower CPC

Smartphone and tablet search ads result in higher click through than desktop search, with Australia the leading market globally for share of clicks from tablets.

Marin Software’s ‘Mobile Search Advertising Around the Globe’ study found Australian advertisers spent 9% of search budgets on smartphones and 8% on tablet devices, making us the most prolific mobile search advertiser in the world.

Managing director, Australia, at the digital ad platform provider, Nick Gill predicts this will rise even higher in 2013, with favourable click-through rates (CTR) and cost per click (CPC) figures currently offered on mobile devices.

“Right now Australia is demonstrating a slightly different trend than what is occurring in the rest of the world with Marin’s data indicating that the average CTR in Australia for campaigns on mobile devices is on par with that of desktop computers,” Gill says.

“However, I predict this is going to change with mobile devices continue to show great promise for advertisers in Australia given the strong CTR and lower CPC than desktop computers.

“Solid user engagement combined with favourable performance characteristics make search ads on tablets hard to resist for advertisers.”

With high click through rates, share of clicks from mobile devices was higher relative to spend, with 79% of clicks coming from desktop compared to 12% from smartphones 9% from tablet.

CTR was highest on smartphones at 4.7%, followed by 4.0% on tablets and 3.4% on desktop. Conversely, CPC was higher on desktop than on mobile devices, at US$0.95, compared to US$0.78 on smartphone and US$0.68 on tablet.

This gap will see costs of search ads served on mobile devices rise, as conversion rates from tablet ads in particular surpass those of desktop ads, Marin predicts.

Google recently revamped its AdWords platforms to help advertisers manage multi-screen campaigns. Rolling out throughout the first half of the year, the new system will enable advertisers to alter campaigns depending on where, when and via which device the consumer searches on in order to tailor message to the context of the searcher.

Marin’s report, compiled by analysing search spend on Google, predicts ad spend on tablets and smartphones to double this year, with a jump from 10.7% in December last year to 20% in December 2013 expected in the US.

 

The study was conducted in December 2012 and analysed more than $4 billion in annualised paid-search spend among Marin’s clients which are skewed towards large advertisers spending upwards of $100,000 per month on paid-search.

Google’s paid shopping listings boost CTR, cheaper than text ads: study

Google’s paid shopping listings, which are set to come into effect in Australia this week, boost the share of clicks on product listings by 210%, a study has found.

Global analysis conducted by digital ad platform provider Marin Software found click share of Product Listing Ads (PLAs) as a percent of total search clicks increased 210% in the past year.

Google transitioned Google Shopping to a commercial model in October 2012 in a number of markets, and has scheduled the switch in Australian for 13 February. The change means that previously free listings will now only be available on a paid basis via an enhanced sponsored placement similar to AdWords.

The new system has paid dividends for retailers and boosted consumer engagement, says Nick Gill, managing director, Marin Software Australia. “Google’s decision appears to be paying off with increased user engagement and advertiser investment,” Gill says. “During the fourth quarter of 2012, we saw some retailers allocate as much as 30% of their spend towards PLAs.”

According to Marin’s findings, advertisers increased their share of search budgets directed towards PLAs by nearly 600% in the last quarter of 2012. The study indicates users of Google search are seeing PLAs more often, and are increasing their engagement with the ad format. In the last quarter of 2012, the impression share of PLAs jumped 60% as holiday shoppers used the ads to make purchase decisions.

Concerns have been voiced that if not used correctly, the ads could become costly for retailers. But PLAs ended 2012 with a higher click-through rate (CTR) than text ads, and an average cost lower than of traditional text ads, Marin found.

Read: “The transition is both a challenge and an opportunity for retailers” – Mark Gray, managing director, Australia and Asia Pacific, ChannelAdvisor.

pla_trends_infographic

Aus marketers differ to US, UK in mobile search budget split

Australian marketers are investing more in search advertising than ever before, says digital advertising management firm Marin Software’s quarterly report on global online advertising trends, which finally includes data specific to Australia.

With international advertisers reaching record levels of investment in search on tablets and smartphones during the final quarter of 2012, the report discovered that Australian advertisers allocated their spend equally between the devices. Advertisers in the UK and US markets favoured tablets over smartphones, reflecting consumer preferences, but it was Australia who had the highest percentage of clicks from mobile devices, with a combined 26 percent from smartphones and tablets.

With impressions trumping the click volume, Marin found that paid search click volume rose 34%, with a 65% increase in impression volume. This suggests that while Australian advertisers are spending more on search advertising, “there is still vast opportunity for them to optimise their SEM campaigns,” says Nick Gill, managing director, Marin Software Australia.

“Finally Australian marketers can benchmark their campaigns against local spends and underrepresented channels,” he adds.

In another interesting discovery, Marin’s data indicates that the average click-through rate in Australia for campaigns on smartphones is on par with that of desktop computers in a unique trend to what is happening globally.

Australia has also experienced a higher average CPC than its global counterparts in click-through rates from Facebook. In this instance the social network is viewed as a cost-effective alternative that  when pitted against traditional search and display.

The full report can be downloaded here.