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When Your Exact Match Isn’t Your Exact Match…

Google announced important changes coming to Exact Match last month and implemented these changes last week. Google is including (and excluding) function words, such as ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘and’ in an effort to reduce the workload for advertisers, and swapping terms in an attempt to make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking for online. But is this really a positive change? 

The move can go both ways. One the one hand, it can make it more expensive for advertisers because of the sudden increase in generic search terms triggering for brand keywords, which are more competitive, resulting in higher CPCs. NMPi Account Manager, Sophie Worton, noted, “Looking at brand exact in the UK after the first few days of this roll out, the close variants have 15p CPCs, and Exact Match has 7p so it’s a big increase.”

In terms of word swapping, it can also negatively impact conversion rates since user intent is not the same: i.e., ‘The Perfume Shop’ (brand) and ‘perfume shop’ (any perfume shop, or ‘shopping for perfume’) – the intent here is unclear as to whether the user is searching for the brand, or for a generic perfume search. If advertisers set up an exact match keyword in the headline of the ad, word swapping can decrease the relevance.

As for the idea that this will alleviate advertiser work loads, it’s been the opposite. Google has tried to sell this as full coverage, so that advertisers no longer have to create a lot of keywords, but this latest tweak has actually increased workloads. Before the change, advertisers were able to allow exact match terms to run, now, they must perform negative SQRs across all exact matches focusing on brand terms to ensure accuracy. 

It will be interesting to view the results three months down the road.  It’s still ‘early days’, so whether the change is a blow to advertisers, and a boon to shoppers remains to be seen. 

 

 

Transparency: Marketing’s New Currency – Part I

In part I of our two part series on transparency in advertising, we look at the recent demand for transparency from brands and consumers, who is affected, and what needs to be addressed.

The term ‘transparency’ has been bandied about the advertising industry for years but will take on exceptional importance in 2017. After a dismal year plagued by fake news, fake news ads, algorithm blunders, improper metrics attribution, security breaches, and an unwillingness to quickly act on hate speech, marketers will feel the backlash from disillusioned consumers fed up with murky tactics and feeble apologies.

Advertisers are more concerned than ever with where their ads land with regards to ad fraud, viewability, and brand alignment, i.e., is this the image we want associated with our brand? We’ve seen large brands begin to take action as public opinion has forced their hand. The threat of financial loss has finally caused brands to mobilise and do something about transparency, or risk losing future business.

Who is Affected?

In short, everyone. Politicians were not the only casualties in 2016’s trust fallout, social media brands, agencies, and marketers were also caught in the fray, and will continue to pay the price for missteps in the coming year.

Brands were recently taken to task for (unwittingly) appearing on sites that are deemed controversial for their political views. Advertisers are being asked to be aware of their social and political footprint, to be accountable for where their ad dollars land, and for stepping up and admitting any wrongdoing. Brands that don’t comply are swiftly, and publicly denounced. The Twitter account,  Sleeping Giants, names, shames, and call outs brands for appearing on hate sites and right wing publications such as Breitbart.  Sleeping Giants’ campaign has witnessed unparalleled support as consumers quickly jump behind their initiative and boycott brands that show ads on these sites.

Even as brands cry foul and claim surprise that their ads have landed on such sites, saying ‘we didn’t know!’ is no longer an acceptable excuse.  Advertisers are expected to know where the company logo lands.  Consumers have moved beyond just being happy with ‘great low prices’ and ‘excellent customer service’. Shoppers have higher expectations and want to feel good about where they spend their hard earned cash. They want to be assured that they aren’t supporting a potentially harmful organization that runs contrary to their political beliefs.

In early February, Procter & Gamble rolled out a transparency charter, adopted MRC standards to implement third party verification, and created ‘transparency contracts’ with its suppliers. If suppliers don’t conform to P&G’s new policies, they simply won’t do business with them. The announcement sent shock waves through the industry, but also saw many other brands immediately follow suit.

More recently, large brands like Lloyd’s, McDonald’s, the Guardian, and the UK government have pulled their advertising from Google amid concerns of their ads showing up beside terrorist content. Brand safety is now top priority and the reprecussions for inaction are swift and severe. These aren’t small companies, they are major players that will impact Google’s reputation and revenue.

But is this really surprising? It is no coincidence that this has occurred alongside public outcry over corporate accountability. With grassroots campaigns like the one initiated by Sleeping Giants, companies can no longer hope to sweep social and political issues under the rug. Their feet are being held to the fire ,and announcements like P&Gs, no longer seem ‘revolutionary’ but more ‘reactionary’, in a climate where if brands do nothing, they can watch their revenues fall as consumer vote with their feet and shop elsewhere.

Fake News

Fake news has not only plagued social media and Google search, but has been a bane to brands and advertisers as well. In addition to landing on hate and extremist websites, brands have seen their ads land on dubious “news” sites. There is an industry wide crisis now with fake news generators selling ads on fake news sites via programmatic. According to The Drum, marketers aren’t always sure that ads won’t end up on these pages, ‘due to the automated nature of programmatic’.  The problem is also that controversial sites, like Breitbart,  are part of the Google Display Network. Even more problematic, according to Marketingland, is that ‘Google has no publisher policy against sites running fake news stories’. Although Google claims to be combating fake news, and hate sites, a lack of strong policy indicates this is nothing more than lip service.

Ad Fraud

An attack by Russian hackers in late December 2016 shook advertisers across the globe. The hackers made between $3-5 million USD per day with fake clicks on video ads. This was digital ad fraud of an unprecedented scale, by creating fake domains, they managed to trick  algorithms into displaying their most lucrative ads on these dummy domains instead of legitimate websites. Bots were deployed to click on these ads and supposedly “watched” 300 million video ads per day. What is disconcerting is that this ploy was so well thought out that they managed to bypass traditional anti-fraud detection measures, causing massive losses for advertisers.

Fake Metrics

Another pressing issue that rattled brands and advertisers was the revelation of the fake metrics scandal that rocked Facebook from September to December 2016. The social media giant came clean about incorrectly reported video metrics that miscalculated viewing times by counting views of only three seconds, thereby skewing reporting by as much as 60-80% according to Publicis.  Then, between September and December, another three blunders surfaced, leaving publishers and advertisers questioning the veracity of claims being made by Facebook, and platforms like it.

Stay tuned for Part II of our series on Transparency soon…

NMPi Continues to Grow in Benelux: Appointing New Managing Director, Gerard Moussault

We are extremely pleased to announce that Gerard Moussault will be joining the NMPi team as Managing Director Benelux. In his new role, he will grow NMPi’s digital agency brand in the Benelux market. Gerard takes over the role from Pieter Slingerland who will now focus on DQ&A.

Gerard Moussault will be bringing with him over 15 years experience in the online world. Previously he was responsible for Online Media, and Strategy and Development at Sanoma, VNU Media, and eBay. In 2012, Moussault joined IPG Media Brands in the position of Managing Director Cadreon, a branch responsible for programmatic solutions, where he grew the brand quickly.

“After five years of working with a lot of fun people at IPG Media Brands, I am very excited for this new step. There was a direct match in expectation and ambition. This function gives me a great opportunity to grow and distinguish NMPI.”

“We’re pleased to welcome Gerard to the NMPi team,” commented Luke Judge, Managing Director of NMPi. “It’s exciting to see just how far we have come in only four months since launching NMPi in Benelux. Gerard’s leadership will be an asset to NMPi and we look forward to building the future of NMPi Benelux with his guidance.”

New Year, New Client, New Office: NMPi Launches Second International Office in Switzerland

We’re excited to announce the addition of our newest office in Zurich, Switzerland. We’ve opened two offices in only four months; launching in October 2016 in the Netherlands. We’ve set our sights on continued global expansion, and this year we’ll keep that pace going with plans in the works to grow the business in Asia, the US, and Australia.

Along with the launch, NMPi has announced a new client win: Swiss-based premium denim brand, 7 For All Mankind.

“We made a promise that 2017 would be a big year for NMPi, and we’ve made a strong start,” stated NMPi’s Managing Director, Luke Judge. “Switzerland is the next step for us as we continue to grow our business internationally, and we’re excited to be taking this step with a fantastic new client.”

The expansion into Switzerland also takes advantage of our international partnership with DQ&A, technology consultant and DoubleClick reseller.

“Continued international growth is incredibly exciting for our clients,” remarked NMPi’s Director of Business Strategy, Damien Bennett. “It allows them to work with us consistently across different markets, giving them access to a wider knowledge base, and local market expertise, ensuring that we can deliver on their wider international objectives.”

The launch of NMPi Switzerland boasts an experienced team of account managers, strategists, and analysts, who work with international and local clients including, HP, Swisscard, Avia, and Österreich Werbung. Their services will include NMPi’s full suite of digital solutions; Analytics, Paid Search, Paid Social, and Programmatic Display.

“Being part of the NMPi brand is extremely exciting for us,” stated Leonardo Kopp, Managing Director, Switzerland. “It is a perfect match for us; by combining our strengths and using NMPi’s proven processes, we can increase our local proposition and continue to drive better results for our clients.”

Herzlich Willkommen!

Pinterest Play? Instagram Takes Steps Towards Shoppable Ads

Instagram waded into the shoppable ads arena when it trialled its version of the popular ‘buy now’ button with twenty US brands. The social photo sharing platform has taken steps to close the gap between browsing and shopping by allowing users to learn more about products from within their app, and then purchase them seamlessly. If this sounds eerily like Pinterest, you may be onto something.

Instagram recently ran afoul of Snapchat when it was accused of copying Snapchat Stories with its Instagram Stories.  After several failed attempts to purchase the platform, Mark Zuckerberg did the next best thing, copied Snapchat’s most coveted feature, Stories, on Facebook-owned Instagram as Instagram Stories.

Instagram is ready to play copycat again with its venture into Shoppable Ads. It set about testing posts with select brands in the US to allow users to learn more about the products they see before buying them. Instagram presents the user with a ‘tap to view’ icon at the bottom left of each photo which expands tags for up to five products. The tags contain the details and cost of the items but don’t immediately appear, users must hover over the ‘tap to view’ indicator to see a featured item. Users can then scroll through the products shown and decide to purchase from within the app.

Pinterest has had this feature for some time, and has seen remarkable results. 75% of its users have purchased something on the platform or because of it.  Pinterest users stay on the platform for approximately fifteen minutes per visit, giving marketers plenty of time to deliver ads to them. The demographic for Pinterest and Instagram used to vary widely, with Instagram being the platform predominantly for Gen Z and younger Millennials, and Pinterest skewing predominantly towards women in their late 20s to early 40s. Recently, Pinterest has seen a spike in Millennial use, with 67% of its users falling into that category.  Instagram is eager to cash-in on this potential new source of revenue and is now strongly courting brands to use its platform to reach their younger demographic. Add to this, the eventuality of a ‘save for later’ button, and Instagram fully moves into Pinterest’s territory as a save and shop platform.

This latest development is aimed at Instagram’s discovery audience, i.e., those who use the platform to look for the latest items but aren’t sure what they want just yet. Much like Pinterest, it enables retailers to capture users as they are information gathering and turn them from inspired browsers to buyers.

Why is this development important?

  • It cuts out a step/barrier to purchase. Users don’t need to leave the app and open a separate search window to find out more about the products they like. They can navigate and get all the pertinent information they need all within Instagram’s platform.
  • The consumer can then hit ‘shop now’ from within the tags and be taken directly to complete their purchase on the retailer’s website.
  • It solves the problem of inserting unwieldy captions to redirect users to click on links to circumvent Instagram’s ban on organic links within posts.
  • Shoppable ads have the potential to steal revenue from online shopping giant, Amazon, as users are heading onto sites like Pinterest and Instagram to discover new products and get alternative shopping ideas.
  • Most mobile use is spent in-app. Instagram has the highest rate of mobile use among social networks in the US. Given that Instagram is primarily mobile-focused, making products shoppable is a vital step for the social media platform and for brands that have a significant following on it.

Twenty popular US retailers have joined the endeavour, predominantly up-market brands such as Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York, Coach, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Hollister. The tags will be initially rolled out to iOS users in the US, but there are definite plans in the works to expand globally. Currently, this is a free service to post to your followers but Instagram plans to monetise the shoppable format by allowing brands to advertise to relevant target groups outside of their followers.

While advertisers have seen success using Instagram ads, only time will tell how users will react to yet another form of advertising. If it does not alienate its original base of photography enthusiasts, it has the potential drive significant ROI from Instagram.

The Rise of Personalised Video Ads

Amazon recently made a foray into personalised video advertising. Video has been around for a while in advertising circles, but has only really exploded in the past year. Advertisers are moving away from traditional television advertising to online video channels like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, where individuals are now spending a lot of their time watching videos.

Amazon has capitalised on this development by going one step further: showing viewers personalised video ads. These personalised clips present items that viewers have recently shown interest in while browsing. Amazon’s algorithm automatically superimposes an images and text based on the user’s browsing behaviour.

Whilst this development is still in its early beta stages and on a small scale, it has advanced far beyond the usual pre-made video ads which target an audience based on similar interests or behaviours. Amazon’s ads differ in that they are created on the spot, and uniquely targeted to that particular viewer;  i.e., inserting their name, or personal statistics based on collected data, such as We Run Paris using viewer’s run times in their personal video messaging. Previously, this dynamic level of targeting was only available to static ads.

What Does This Mean for Video Advertisers?

Video advertising is a popular and engaging platform; a hot ticket that has tapped into a surge of interest in immersive, over static, advertising. According to Hubspot, 75% of online video viewers have interacted with an online video ad this month. Viewers also remember video advertising more than traditional ads; 80% of viewers can recall a video ad they viewed in the past 30 days.

Video advertising is increasing and is expected to continue to climb upward. The ability to target users individually, during micro-moments, immediately, versus pre-set ads and audiences, is the next step for advertisers in creating a truly personalised journey for their users, which ultimately creates a better experience and greater consumer loyalty.

This is a potential game changer for digital advertising. Due to a higher level of engagement from video advertising over static banner ads, this format could revolutionise an advertiser’s display and video strategy. Advertisers can expect YouTube and Facebook to follow suit with similar technologies if Amazon sees success with this new platform.

The Impact of GTINs on Google Shopping

In February, Google announced its latest PLA requirement would become mandatory on Google Shopping: the implementation of GTINs across products sold by multiple sellers. As of May 16, they formally enforced the rule across the board. Google first broke the news last August when it initially issued the requirement to only fifty brands. Now Google is expanding this to include all brand name products or services.

What are GTINs?
GTINs are the barcode of google shopping. Every product has one, but not every customer looks at them. However, they are a unique code that identifies and provides important details about every product in the Google Shopping catalogue; and now they play a vital role in Google Shopping.

Why Implement GTINs?
Google implemented this regulation to keep tabs on what retailers and service providers are selling on its platform, saying that by knowing what’s being sold, they can help merchants boost their ad performance. The addition of the GTIN has allowed Google Shopping merchants to serve their ads in more places, and with Google’s partners, thereby bringing conversation rates up by 20%. A successful test conducted in September 2015 determined that GTINs improved CTR by up to 40%. As a result, Google has required all brand name products within Google Shopping feeds to have a GTIN.

Who is Affected?
Merchants targeting Australia, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the UK or the US, must affix a corresponding GTIN on all new, in-stock, and branded products in order to comply with Google’s requirement for Google Shopping. Merchants advertising pre-order, used, handmade, custom made, or vintage items will not be impacted because these products are unique, and only being sold in one place.

What has been the impact?
This has been time consuming for advertisers who don’t already have this data within their feed. It required sourcing potentially 100s of GTINs. Regarding overall performance, GTINs have only been a requirement from May so there hasn’t been enough time to see any significant change.

Want to know more about 2016’s trends? Download our mid-year review