GA4: Why You Can’t Ignore It.

Read Time: 7 Minutes 30 Seconds

GA4 has become one of the hottest topics in digital marketing over the last few months. Initially called the App + Web Property, Google rebranded their latest version of Analytics to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) after allowing Google Analytics users to vote for the new name. The name stems from the fact that GA4 is Google’s 4th generation of Google Analytics since they first launched in 2005.

With all the excitement around this new and free product, which boasts enterprise features, there has also been some doubts and nervousness about the launch of GA4 from users globally, because they feel as if they are in an uncertain position about the future of their analytics. The key point is that GA4 is important to any business with an Analytics account, and you need to be aware of what it is and why it’s important for your business.

Why Google released GA4. 

Three words: Cross Device Tracking.

In the world we’re living in now, where a lot of users are currently across multiple devices, and are  often across them at the exact same time (browsing a cell phone and watching TV; watching TV and working; working and browsing a cell phone; the list continues…) and advertisers are expanding their efforts to almost every device out there, Google wanted to provide a product that is truly cross device to give its clients a full view of their users’ journeys with their websites, apps and brand.

In 2016, Google launched their own app tracking platform called Firebase Analytics, which was later rebranded to Google Analytics for Firebase. Firebase works on an event-based model which is a simpler and more flexible method of collecting data than the website-oriented method used in Google Analytics Universal. Because of the vastly different methods of data collection between Firebase and Universal Analytics, it was not possible to merge the two products together or integrate the Firebase tracking into Universal Analytics. The flexibility and non-prescriptive nature of the Firebase event-based setup, combined with the fact that this platform was designed and able to track data across different devices, made the Firebase setup the obvious choice to track both Apps and Web, leading to the launch of GA4.

GA4 is a superior platform to the original Universal Analytics.

The key differences span across a number of areas which now boast better functionality and insight for the end user:

1. Data Collection

The most obvious difference between GA4 and Universal Analytics is the way that the data is collected: event and user based tracking in GA4 vs hits, session and user based tracking in Universal Analytics. The shift to event-based tracking also allows for quicker and more accurate data ingestion, allowing users a limit of 10 million events per query before they get sampled. This means that sampling will be a thing of the past for most Google Analytics users. Sessions are still available in GA4 in some reports, but the focus has completely shifted over to events, users, and user engagement in GA4.

2. Enterprise Features

The greatest and most exciting advantage of GA4 is the enterprise features that come with it. This currently includes an integration with BigQuery (allowing more advanced data analysis and integrations with Google Cloud Platform) and will soon include an integration with SA360, DV360 and Campaign Manager in 2021 and Salesforce in 2022.

3. The Interface

The navigation and look and feel of GA4 is also different from the Google Analytics we are all used to and comes with a cleaner and more consolidated view of the data in each report. GA4 also boasts data driven attribution across all reports (Google Analytics Universal currently uses the last click attribution model) as well as predictive metrics which are powered by the machine learning capabilities of GA4.

4. Metrics and Dimensions

There are a handful of new metrics and dimensions available in GA4 which include: parameters, user properties, engagement metrics and new ecommerce dimensions. With the addition of these new metrics, you will also find that the following Google Analytics Universal dimensions and metrics are missing from GA4:

  • Goals: these are now called conversions
  • Channel Groupings: this puts a larger reliance on you getting UTM source and medium conventions correct as this will be how you will report on channels and platforms moving forward
  • Event Category, Event Action and Event Label which are now replaced by event parameters

Event tracking is so much more flexible than web-based tracking. 

With every event set up, users are able to track 25 custom parameters with it, which allows for customisation of metrics and dimensions to a website and/or app and business. GA4 allows tracking of up to 500 distinctly named events per data stream so that essentially allows marketers to track up to 12,500 (25×500) custom parameters for their business.

Why upgrading is not a choice. 

While some marketers may not see the benefit in upgrading to GA4, the upgrade will ultimately become a necessity as Universal Analytics will eventually fall away. Google hasn’t released timelines yet but estimate that it will be in the next 2-5 years, however, our recommendation is that marketers upgrade sooner rather than later.

Upgrading to GA4  as soon as possible will allow the new property to start collecting data so that when Google Analytics Universal does fall away, there will be historic data to work with.

Furthermore, marketers can start navigating the new setup which will allow them to get comfortable with both the navigation, and the new reports, dimensions, and metrics available while continuing to report with the existing Google Analytics Universal property.

Implementing GA4 and Universal Analytics concurrently also ensures no loss of data. Dual tagging will be used to do the GA4 upgrade, which means that the GA4 code will run alongside the existing Google Analytics code. This will allow continued use and reporting from existing analytics properties, while starting to collect data in the new GA4 property at the same time.

Implementation might be easy but the complexity is in the tracking. 

If your existing Google Analytics Account is implemented through Google Tag Manager (GTM), the upgrading process is quick and easy. To upgrade, a new property needs to be created along with a data stream, and then the Measurement ID is implemented through GTM. If the Google Analytics property has been hard coded onto a website, developers can follow this guide.

The complexity of the upgrade comes with the implementation of the new GA4 events and parameters, and migrating the events and custom dimensions you are tracking in Universal Analytics over to GA4. We see the GA4 upgrade as the perfect opportunity to re-address your measurement plan and ensure all tracking best practices are in place and that the key points on your website and App are being tracked. As a global Google Partner with vast GA4 experience, we have in-depth experience with this aspect of the upgrade and we want to ensure that our clients truly benefit from the superior features of GA4 by helping them with this crucial aspect of the upgrade.

The need for a strong data layer. 

Because GA4 is event and parameter oriented, the best practice would be to have a strong data layer in place across the site to accurately track all of the events and parameters for your reports, and this may have implications for current websites and data layers where developer work might be required.

For ecommerce/retail clients, the Enhanced Ecommerce Data Layer will need to eventually be updated to include the new ecommerce parameters that can be tracked and reported back by GA4. In the interim, we recommend that clients continue to use their existing ecommerce data layer to set up the GA4 events. Google has set up event mapping in the backend of GA4 to allow us to use the existing data layer until we are fully ready to switch our reporting over to GA4. It will be at this point that the new GA4 Ecommerce Data Layer will need to be implemented to get the full value of the new GA4 ecommerce dimensions and metrics available.

From a website development side, a unique and anonymous user ID will need to be generated to identify users on a site (and across your domains if applicable) once they have identified themselves on the site (i.e. logged in or signed up). This User ID provides the ability to tie Client IDs together as the cookie period gets shorter and shorter.

GA4 and GA360.

GA4 is not a replacement for GA360. Google will be releasing the enterprise version of GA4 in 2021 however, until this point, we recommend that GA360 clients set up GA4 for data collection while continuing to use GA360 to make use of its enterprise features (like the Salesforce integration) that won’t all be available in GA4 until 2022.

When to switch over. 

The majority of the key features of GA4 will be ready and available by mid 2021. Depending on how advanced your setup is, we would recommend switching over to GA4 as your source of truth once the ability to integrate with key Google products exists, and you are confident that all of the data in your new GA4 property is clean and correct.

For any questions and enquiries please reach out to [email protected]

Coming Together at Christmas – Collaborations in Creativity

Read Time: 4 Minutes 45 Seconds

Following a somewhat disruptive 2020, Christmas is going to take a different shape to what we’re used to seeing in previous years. The pandemic has changed many aspects of life over the last ten months, and as new habits have been formed, the way both advertisers and consumers alike have responded to the festive period has also changed.

The Christmas Season is already synonymous with compassion, humanity and togetherness, and as we pull closer to this year’s festive period, we can see the Christmas Spirit beginning to emerge throughout the industry. 

As brands come together, to spread positivity and joy in the midst of Covid-19, we wanted to share some of our favourite examples of creative collaborations from this year.

Burger King & McDonalds.

We definitely saw a more tender side to Burger King earlier this month as for the first time ever they put down their battle arms and released this sentimental ad campaign urging their followers to order from their arch-nemesis, McDonald’s. Although it’s unclear if McDonalds were actually aware of this creative collaboration, it hit the industry like a storm with over 41 thousand retweets and 21 thousand quote tweets in the first two weeks. 

Whilst many have enjoyed the two brands incessantly trolling one another over the years, this ad respectfully reflects the times we find ourselves in, reminding people that brands across all industries are suffering at the hands of the pandemic, with widespread unemployment as a result. Despite it being wildly out of character for the fast-food chain, the ad (which was posted on all social channels and within two French national newspapers – L’Équipe and Le Journal du Dimanche) hit just the right chord with consumers, as Burger King showcased a sense of solidarity within food industry as the UK, and other countries entered a second lockdown.

John Lewis & Waitrose.

Inspired by the UK’s response to the first pandemic, and the ‘acts of kindness‘ that emerged from communities across the country, John Lewis and Waitrose came together this year for a much-anticipated joint Christmas ‘Give a Little Love’ advert.  The campaign demonstrated themes of kindness and charity throughout, comprising nine different vignettes and styles of animation, that were accompanied with a drive to raise £4 million for Fareshare and Homestart

Although it’s the second year in a row that the two brands have come together on a Christmas Campaign, this year was particularly touching as viewers were encouraged to spread kindness and love through a storyline that showed how small and random moments of kindness can create a ripple effect, ultimately making the world a better place. Although John Lewis Partners has yet to disclose the budget for this year’s production, through the collaboration of the two brands, they were able to reduce the campaign costs, funnelling money where it was most needed, whilst supporting the UK’s creative industries, through the various art forms that were used within the advert.

Spotify & Google.

For the second year in a row Spotify joined forces with Google to offer a free smart speaker (Google Home Mini) to any user who signed up for their Premium subscription. Whilst this partnership may be nothing new, Spotify ramped up the promotion this year offering thousands of customers the chance to get their hands on a brand new Google Home, with the offer also extending to existing Premium subscribers who missed out on a free speaker last year. 

The partnership reaped benefits for both parties involved, with Spotify boosting their subscription rates through increased customer incentivisation, and Google being given the means by which to penetrate as many homes as possible, in a bid to rival Amazon’s Alexa. The collaboration was in fact so successful that the offer expired a month earlier than planned as consumers completely wiped out Spotify’s supply of smart speakers within weeks of the promo launch. 

Papa Johns & The Trussell Trust.

In a bid to raise awareness for both homelessness and hunger, Papa Johns partnered with Crisis and The Trussell Trust in their ‘Giving More This Christmas’ campaign. Hunger and homelessness are currently the two most pressing issues the UK is facing, and Papa Johns responded to this by taking a ‘DIY’ approach to their Christmas ad, giving the money they saved from creatives and production costs directly to both charities. Not only did this collaboration provide work for internal staff, as they designed and created the assets, it also allowed the food-chain to give more this Christmas than ever before as they cut back on printing costs, marketing costs and introduced a 50p donation from every meal deal sold, throughout the festive season, to go directly to Crisis and The Trussell Trust. 

Collaborations are just the starting point for these campaigns. Whether it’s the John Lewis Partners campaign with multiple animation styles, or Papa Johns advert with an in-house DIY cardboard-box video, producing engaging and eye-catching content should be the key focus of any marketing strategy. Implementing creatives in the right way, helps brands project themselves to the forefront of the industry, and cut through all the noise during the holiday season. With the likes of Tesco’s ‘No Naughty List’ and Amazon’s ‘The Show Must Go On’ this year’s Christmas adverts have only highlighted the importance of creatives and the immense talent visible throughout the creative industry. 

Incubeta can help you amplify these talents by building impactful digital ads, that brings these creatives to life, whilst showcasing the value of the creative industry within your branding. In order to help you stand out,  the UK team have put together a Q4 Creative Hamper containing a series of social and dynamic bundles to help amplify your company this Christmas

For more information please get in touch with our Creative Commercial Manager, Eddy Walker ([email protected]).

Success at the iPMA’s – One Win & Two Highly Commended for NMPi by Incubeta

Read Time: 1 Minute

Last night was the 2020 International Performance Marketing Awards, a virtual extravaganza celebrating the best campaigns, companies, and individuals in performance marketing. NMPi by Incubeta are honoured to take home one trophy and two highly commended for the following categories.

Wins

Best Retail and E-Commerce Campaign: NMPi by Incubeta for Superdrug: A Cut Above the Competition

Highly Commended

Best Use of Programmatic: NMPi by Incubeta for Lovehoney: Stimulating Display to Reach a Performance Climax

Best Performance Marketing Campaign – Western Europe: NMPi by Incubeta for Quintain Living (formerly Tipi): Closing the Online/Offline Gap

A huge congratulations to the teams who worked tirelessly on these campaigns. Whilst we may not be able to celebrate in person, we are elated that all their hard work has been recognised, and are raising a virtual glass to Superdrug, Lovehoney and Quintain Living.

We would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every brand that was nominated at the iPMA’s, it was such an honour to be shortlisted alongside so many fantastic agencies. View the full list of winners here.

Building Seamless Search – 5 Minutes with Paul Rauff, Head of Technology at Incubeta

Read Time: 5 Minutes 20 Seconds

Paid search advertising expenditure currently accounts for 55.3% of total digital media spend globally, and 72.7% of total digital media spend in the UK, yet the relationship between organic and paid search still remains complex. Until now, there has never been a way to see the true value of search and whilst there are many search tools that look at paid and organic search in isolation, there are few, if any that manage both search channels holistically. Seamless Search by Incubeta is the first search management platform of its kind that manages paid and organic search collectively. By using ML to assess thousands of internal and external factors that impact the correlation between paid and organic search, Seamless Search determines the true value of each channel and provides advertisers with a clear, actionable report. 

With the platform still very much in its infancy, we caught up with Incubeta’s Head of Technology, Paul Rauff to discuss what Seamless Search will mean for advertisers, and the challenges faced by the team when building the one-of-a kind software.

1: Aside from the noticeable gap in the market, what were the fundamental reasons behind building this tool? 

Primarily, because we could. Over the years we’d done a substantial amount of work with data analytics – cracking underlying issues with data access and processing . We knew how to pull together various sources, manipulate the data, analyse the insights and build machine learning models to support and learn from our findings. The next challenge was translating this knowledge at a larger scale.

We found ourselves in a position where we had a lot of data and wanted to make the most of our learnings. We could see the path we wanted to take, and had all the pieces to implement it – realising that, if we pulled it all together, we could build something that really made a difference to the way advertisers operate. Enabling businesses to answer the age old question of whether or not they should spend money on paid search if they already have high organic coverage.

2: What about Seamless Search excites you the most?

Working with data at such a large scale, and doing something that nobody else has ever done before. We had all this knowledge and technology, but there were still so many unexplored aspects of search management. 

We knew how to manually identify the incremental value of search (at a small scale), and wanted to work at a large scale with hundreds of clients at the same time. It’s how we took those learnings, and goals, and projected it into a large scale project (which we then took to the market) that is the most exciting aspect of Seamless Search. Although we have a various collection of inhouse technologies, none of them are client facing, and it is exciting to finally have something that we can pitch to clients that will streamline their strategy. 

3: What makes Seamless Search revolutionary and special?

It’s the only tool out there that solves the age old question of how much paid strategy cannibalises organic coverage. Search marketing is fundamental to digital strategy, yet many advertisers still do not know the true incremental value of their paid search. With over $300 billion being spent a year on digital advertising, you have to wonder what proportion of this annual spend is unnecessary. Seamless Search answers that question for advertisers by enabling actionable keyword insights, true search bid management and straightforward UI. 

4: What challenges did you face whilst building Seamless Search? And how did your team respond?

We faced two kinds of challenges whilst building Seamless Search; Personal Challenges and Technical Challenges.

Seamless Search was being built right in the middle of the coronavirus outbreak, which naturally caused an increase in pressure for the team. Office restrictions and an increase in working from home meant that the majority of the team were in different places, and some in different time zones. We had to continue the project momentum in an almost totally virtual environment. 

In terms of technical challenges, it was all about scaling the technology to accommodate a larger volume of clients. Once we overcame the challenges surrounding data handling and technology, we then had to think about the user experience and platform interface. Building something that’s client facing will always pose a challenge, as it has to be 100% polished and easy to use with a top notch interface and “seamless” user experience. 

5: Going into 2021 how will advertisers benefit from Seamless Search?

There’s no doubt that the impact of Covid-19 has triggered an undeniable surge in digital, which will only increase as we enter 2021. Everyone is trying to sell online, and any boost that will give you an edge over your competitors is invaluable. Seamless Search can give you that edge.

Our technology will give advertisers and businesses alike peace of mind that they’re not wasting their ad spend, whilst helping them achieve up to 25% incremental revenue uplift. Gone are the days of worrying whether you should pay to appear for keywords that you already hold a high organic position for. Seamless Search can show you exactly how your paid cannibalises your organic search and vice versa. Going into 2021 advertisers who use Seamless Search will finally understand the value in paying for brand and brand generic terms.

This blog was originally published on Seamless Search.

5 Top Tips for Universal App Campaigns

Read Time: 3 Minutes

When one is looking to acquire new mobile users the first place they should be looking is Google’s UAC (Universal App Campaigns) as a great means by which to drive downloads and in-app actions for your brand. UAC – leverage Google’s landscape and place your ads across numerous networks, including the Play Store, Display and YouTube all within one campaign.

Unlike what you may be used to with traditional Google Ads campaigns, let UAC do the heavy lifting for you by leveraging machine learning to reach conversion goals, whilst testing copy and creative combinations to find the best performing solution.

So what should advertisers consider before diving into UAC? Brands should be considering the following five points to optimise UAC and drive performance:

  1. Tracking
  2. Event Selection
  3. Budgets
  4. Creatives
  5. Audience Strategy

Tracking your performance 

As with any paid activity, it is vital to track your campaigns, especially if you’re running UAC alongside different platforms, so you can accurately assign credit to the relevant sources. You can choose from Firebase, Google play (Android installs) or use a third-party app analytics provider, but it’s fundamental that you have a source of truth to track and measure your campaigns so you can make the right decisions based on the right information. 

Choose your event selection wisely

Based on machine learning, App campaigns need a minimum of 50 conversion in order to optimise, so make sure you balance your KPI’s and choose an event that will provide enough data for the campaign to work effectively. We  recommend starting with installs and then expanding into in-app actions (such as purchases). If you are revenue based, ROAS campaign goals can then follow on from this. 

Budgets 

If  you haven’t run App campaigns before and are unsure of where to start with budgets, Google recommends a budget of at least 50x your tCPI or 30x your tCPA goal. When managing budgets and bidding, note that Universal App Campaigns run using machine learning and extreme changes can affect campaign performance. Campaigns have a 7 day learning phase as they gather enough data to optimise, making smaller more consistent changes allows you that control without restarting or resetting the learning phase. 

Creative is Key 

With there being less levers on App campaigns to work from, the main capability we have is creative refinement. It is crucial  to have a wide set of ad assets (ranging from text to video) in order to allow your campaign to succeed. Google recommends 4 text ideas, 3 videos and 2 of your top 10 images. Google has said that adding video to your ad groups assets can drive an extra 13% uplift in conversions. If you don’t have video assets available, there are plenty of tools we can use to transform your static imagery into compelling video. Take time to think about your creative strategy when starting up with UAC. Good practice includes ensuring your key headlines, Call to Action and brand are communicated first. Google Play allows you to localise videos so consider using this and localising language and device based content if it differs between markets. Also take into consideration videos are often not watched with the sound on so make sure it’s just as effective when it’s silent. 

Enhance your strategy with Audience work 

Think you’ve got the above sorted? There’s plenty more you can do in terms of audiences, and Google has a set of Beta’s which can get you on the right track to effective re-engagement. 

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Want to learn more about Apps? Have a read of the first blog in our App Series with Google’s Pietro Bagnasco who discusses everything from strategy and budget investments, to re-engagement and Q4 Predictions.

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

Incubeta UK: A Holiday Season like None Other.

Read Time: 6 Minutes 40 Seconds

As England enters the third week of our second national lockdown, many have been left wondering how the retail industry will fluctuate this festive season in comparison to previous years. With the UK spending over 98 Billion GBP in 2019, a 1.8% increase from the previous year, questions are being raised on the transformative effects coronavirus is having on shopping habits. 

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the pandemic has altered the seasonal dynamics of the festive period. Economical uncertainty and personal finances has led many consumers to do their holiday shopping early, and as behavioural patterns change, so do industry trends and marketing campaigns.

Initial Impact:

Using the Google Store visits trend from a sample of our clients we saw a mini uplift in store visits from the day of the announcement (31st Oct) up until 2 days before the lockdown came into effect, meaning shoppers flocked to the high-street in a last minute attempt to make their festive purchases before the retail restrictions were re-introduced. Store visits then dropped by >50% when the lockdown started on the 5th November.

With the number of store visits dropping by >50%, we once again saw a substantial uplift in online traffic as consumers ditched the high street and switched back to digital shopping. Comparing data from the first 10 days of lockdown (5th-15th Nov vs the prior 10 days) online revenue is up 60% in England (compared to 29% in Scotland and 12% in Wales), with conversion rates up by 24%.

This shift in conversion rates started around the 1st November, just after the second lockdown was announced:

What we can learn from the last lockdown

As a result of coronavirus, and the subsequent global lockdown, there are two different types of trends that have emerged over the course of the year; Shock and Sustainable. Shock trends refer to the sudden rapid consumption of certain products such as toilet roll, canned goods and dried pasta – which went as fast as they came. And Sustainable trends refer to the trends that have fluctuated, but stayed constant throughout the year, such as the ones we identified earlier; online yoga, alcohol delivery and online games.

Although speculative, the consumer behaviour that arose from the last lockdown is a good indication, or predictor of what we can expect this time around. Similar to what we saw in March, we’ve seen a huge rise in digital ecommerce with a 60% uplift in online revenue since the start of the second lockdown, and a 24% increase in conversion rates. However, due to the timing of this lockdown, we have seen some characteristic differences between product preferences and consumer habits, with Christmas decorations and gift hampers replacing the demand for bread-making kits and gardening equipment that we saw in March. 

What does this mean for the Q4 holiday season

With the Q4 peak of the Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend (27th-30th November), set to take place completely during Lockdown 2.0, online retailers who can accommodate the increased demand on their supply chain, stock levels, delivery and customer service teams, are set to see record breaking online growth this holiday season

We have already seen a significant uplift in year on year growth since the start of the November lockdown, with online revenue growth across our retail clients accelerating by a further 94% on average during the first 10 days of lockdown (239% uplift YoY) compared to the already significant year on year average growth of 146% seen in the 10 days prior to lockdown.

Many advertisers have responded by launching Black Friday offers even earlier this year, in a bid to avoid a large spike in orders over the Black Friday/Cyber Weekend period, thereby reducing the pressure placed on distribution centres and maintaining appropriate social distancing regulations. However the YoY CPC growth we’ve seen so far, has not exceeded what we saw pre lockdown.

Research has shown that 46% of UK Adults are planning to take part in Black Friday sales this year, with nearly a quarter of shoppers willing to wait in a virtual queue for more than an hour in order to grab a bargain. With many people working from home during the lockdown, 17% will be prepared to wait in online queues whilst working, which will likely shift a higher proportion of sales to earlier in the day than seen in previous years. The research also highlights that, despite a significant 40% of shoppers being disappointed with an online purchase, only 14% would go to the trouble of returning a purchase – a trend which will likely increase as many shoppers who traditionally do their Christmas shopping in store are forced online due to current retail restrictions.

So what can we expect to see in terms of performance for the remainder of the Holiday season? Based on current trends and the timings of this year’s Black Friday weekend, our expectation is that the revenue trend for the remainder of Q4 will look something similar to the chart below, with two potential scenarios from the 2nd December – which will be very much dependant on whether or not the England lockdown is extended, and whether retail restrictions on the high street will remain:

Product & Category Trends

So what re-emerging trends have we seen so far in the second lockdown? Coronavirus has undoubtedly caused drastic shifts in consumer behaviour throughout the period of lockdown, and this is no different the second time around. Search volumes for “Alcohol delivery”, “Yoga Online” and “Online Games” continue to trend well above the pre-corona levels. And with the launch of new home entertainment systems (such as PS5/Xbox) this month, we will undoubtedly see the gaming category rise as we get closer to Christmas.

We can also expect to see a secondary uplift in ‘Click and Collect’, ‘Home Delivery’ and ‘Take-Away’ trends throughout this lockdown due to physical retail restrictions. Businesses should plan their logistics and advertise their home delivery cut-off dates early to avoid client dissatisfaction and disappointment.

With the current UK retail restrictions, and nonessential stores only opening for click & collect, the focus is back to ecommerce, as the only place for consumers to browse is online. As a result “Christmas gift” and “Christmas decorations” shopping started earlier this year than in 2019. 

We also saw trends emerging in the popularity of Gift Hampers and Baskets. As lockdown measures tighten, interest for hampers and baskets is rising – compared to previous years where they only gained popularity closer to Christmas. This trend is expected to increase as we move towards the festive period.  

Hot or not?

As the weather gets colder, search trends increase drastically, with products such as loungewear, pyjamas, socks and slippers all seeing an increase in popularity YoY. This is no different to what we’re seeing now, however the lockdown period has triggered an uplift in these search terms significantly earlier than in previous years.

It will come as a surprise to no one that last year’s uplift in search volume for “Party Dresses” is unlikely to be repeated this year. Consumer interest in both “Heel Shoes” and “Men’s Suits” plummeted in March, and has not recovered since.

Certain verticals, such as Home & Garden and Gifts & Special Event items saw a significant and continual uplift in searches since the March lockdown. Following the second national lockdown announcement on 5th of November 2020, it is interesting to see which search volumes are trending up again.  We found there to be particular uplifts in; Computers & Electronics, Beauty & Fitness and Hobbies & Leisure.

Verticals that saw a big hit following the March lockdown were: Travel, Sports and Jobs & Education. Interest in real estate and vehicles saw a temporary drop, followed by a gradual increase, putting them back to (almost) pre-corona levels last week. The second lockdown has had the biggest impact on Travel and Sports, with travel suffering most from the second hit as they were still struggling to recover from the first.

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Google’s New Search Criteria

Read Time: 3 Minutes 25 Seconds

Last week Google announced that, as of May 2021, Page Experience Signals would be included within the Google Search ranking process. Since their initial announcement in May, Google has identified a 70% median increase in the number of users engaging with Lighthouse and Page Speed Insights, with many site owners using Search Console’s Core Web Vitals report to identify areas of improvement. Changing their algorithms to include user experience within search ranking will allow Google to streamline the user journey, whilst pushing advertisers to improve their page experience, for fear of being knocked down the SERP. 

So how should one prepare for this? Despite Google introducing the idea of page experience signals within search ranking close to seven months ago, the new feature is relatively unexplored, and as so often happens whenever Google launches a new update, it has been met with a flurry of queries. We asked our Director of Search Experience, Joe Comotto what this update will mean for the search industry, and how businesses can prepare their strategy in advance of the launch in May 2021.

1: What is Page Experience

“Page Experience” is a Google Algorithm update that will be introduced to Google’s search ranking process. The update will focus specifically on how a user will perceive the experience of a specific web page, combining the Google Core Web Vitals with the pre-existing search signals which includes mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and intrusive interstitial guidelines.

After introducing the idea of page experience signals within search ranking back in May 2020, Google have now formally announced that the update will be included in Google Search ranking from 2021 onwards, specifying that the inclusion of page experience signals will:

“measure how users perceive the experience of interacting with a web page and contribute to our ongoing work to ensure people get the most helpful and enjoyable experiences from the web.

2: Why is this important?

If your site performs poorly or doesn’t comply with these requirements, then you can almost certainly expect to see some sort of downturn in Organic Google performance.

Sites that not only answer the searcher’s query, but provide a good user experience will now be ranked by Google at the top of the SERPS. You might have really great content but if you’re providing users with a lousy site experience and they can’t easily access the information, then Google isn’t doing its job. This has become even more of a requirement as user adoption of mobile has increased, emphasising the issue even more.

3: How do you prepare for this?

If you haven’t already started planning then there is still plenty of time left, and understanding how you currently perform is a good place to start. The best way to ensure that your website is meeting Google’s standards for site quality is to measure your performance using Core Web Vitals. 

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
  • First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.

Knowing where the issues exist on your site is the next step and this is best achieved through a site-wide audit of your pages. Identifying some of the quick wins that you can implement between now and May will put you in good stead for when the update is rolled out. However, don’t ignore the bigger projects because of their complexity. They may take up more time and resources, but the more complex the task the bigger the performance uplift and getting key stakeholders to buy in will be key to your success.

And don’t forget, whilst these changes are being driven by an SEO requirement, the benefits are far reaching and will impact the performance of other channels within your marketing strategy such as PPC.

For more information on what page experience signals will mean for your business, join us on the 10th December at 12:30pm for Incubeta Ignite: The Next Steps in Search, with Incubeta’s Joe Comotto, and Binary Bear’s Joe Doveton. Sign up link here.

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

Last Top-Tips for Black Friday

Read Time: 3 Minutes 50 Seconds

With Black Friday and Cyber Weekend looming right around the corner, we asked the team for some last minute top tips to help see you through the four day extravaganza. Covering everything from audience optimisation and tailored ad content, to interactive creatives and lead generation ads, here are their thoughts.

Stand Out Creative Design

“Over the Black Friday period users are saturated by content, so ensuring your creatives stand out is vital. Including interactive formats and creatives that drive user urgency such as, countdown timers in your creative strategy is a great way to ensure you don’t become lost in a sea of content.” – Beth Vaughan, Creative Development Executive

 

Amazon Ads Strategy

 

“When it comes to Amazon, make sure you’re utilising all of Amazon’s advertising features and start showcasing your brand well before Black Friday (keeping the momentum going all the way  through – until the end of the year). Black Friday sees a 129% increase in traffic, and a 250% increase in sales compared to the October average so I recommend using a three step approach over the course of the weekend, focusing your product strategy on:

  • High potential products before Black Friday
  • Product deals during Black Friday
  • Top performing products after Black Friday

With 30% of users on Amazon planning to make Christmas gift purchases in November, advertisers need to understand their customers and tailor their seasonal keywords accordingly, as well as increasing bids & budgets to allow for the spike in demand.” – Peter Munton, Senior Performance Manager

 

Display

“Make sure you remain flexible over Black Friday and Cyber Weekend as it’s hard to predict how consumers and competitors will behave during this time. Running ads focused on lead generation in the lead up to Black Friday will allow you to generate excitement and guarantee you an audience ready to retarget over the weekend, and on Cyber Monday. 

You should also consider your target audience, tailoring your content to target deal-savvy users, who purchased last Black Friday, and advertising on deal websites where users will likely be browsing options before purchase. 

Lastly, as time spent on YouTube has rocketed during lockdown, ensure you also take the time to consider your YouTube strategy, as well as a brand measurement piece, to get a better idea of the impact this activity has on users.” – Alice Malthouse. Account Director

 

PPC Optimisation

“My top tip would be to build out specific Black Friday campaigns with extended keyword coverage on both exact and broad modifier match types, rather than integrating these within your existing search campaigns. Not only will this enable efficient budget management, but you’ll also find it easier to monitor your bids – as these will likely have higher CPCs due to the rising competition associated with the holiday season. 

Advertisers should also remember to preserve enough budget to spend on both the day of, and Cyber Weekend,  remembering to double check campaign budget caps to avoid capping out. A good idea would be to check how much each Black Friday campaign spent last year and get an additional 20% on top of that for this year, giving a rough idea of what to spend each day. 

Additionally,  make sure you’re fully taking full advantage of the variety of audiences you can create; from last year’s Black Friday purchasers, to users who have visited your deals page but have not completed a purchase. Targeting cart abandoners is always a good audience to focus on, as they tend to have a higher intent to convert than ‘just browsing’ customers.” – Emma Pilaviou, Account Executive

 

Social Urgency

“In a society where everything is at the touch of one’s fingertips, now is the perfect time for advertisers to get their brand in front of their audience, creating a sense of urgency and demand for their product. My top tip for Black Friday would be for brands to use the time sensitive nature of Black Friday deals to play the ‘for a limited time only’ card, boosting the consumers’ sense of urgency, and incentive to buy. 

Brands should be optimising the Facebook platform, to generate this sense of urgency – creating clear and straightforward ad content that targets intended audiences. Although Facebook has declined over the years on the hierarchy of Social Media Platforms, it still remains the best platform for targeting specific user demographics. Brands should also be using Instagram and the stories feature to interact with users, identifying which ads are resonating with their audience and which are not.” – Louis Basileo, Partnership Sales Associate

There’s not long left until the big day, but with these top tips you’ll be able to pick up some quick wins across the Black Friday weekend. If you want to get some external insights into how your campaigns are performing, get in touch with the team today.

NMPi by Incubeta Wins at the DADI Awards

Read Time: 1 Minute

We are thrilled to announce our fifth award win this year , at the 2020 Drum Awards Digital Industries (DADIs) for our work with M&S International.

With advertisers having more data than ever, more channels available and more tools at their disposal, The DADIs recognise the very best that the industry has to offer. And with that being said, we are honoured to have won the Best Use of Data award for our campaign with M&S International.

The campaign focused on audience optimisation across M&S’s 34 target markets. The client needed guidance on how best to break down their budget allocations in a more nuanced way to increase revenue and reach their goals. With countless variables and hundreds of thousands of data points in play to make these decisions, NMPi by Incubeta developed a custom, cloud-based platform to process the data points, giving each market their own unique score (based on their complexity and potential). This allowed M&S to gain insights on how to split their budget to drive performance and international revenue.

See full campaign results here.

As always, a huge thank you and congratulations goes out to the teams and our client who worked tirelessly on these campaigns.

What a Democratic Win means for the US Marketing Industry

Read Time: 4 Minutes 30 Seconds

After nearly two weeks  of vote-counting Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. is likely to be elected the 46th president of the United States, denying Donald Trump a second term in presidency, and making history with Senator Kamala Harris of California – who, amongst other firsts, will become the first woman to serve as vice president.

The 2020 presidential election recorded the highest voter turnout in over 120 years, as previously firm republican states edged blue in a bid to remove the current incumbent populist president from power. Barring recounts and valid legal challenges the results are now in, the outcome has given marketers a further ‘philosophical quandary’ to consider as the U.S. faces one of the deepest societal divides in their history.

Marketing to a polarised customer base will be the least of their worries, and while it may seem trivial to analyse how the election might affect marketers, Biden’s victory will likely mark the start of a dramatic shift in America’s recent attitude toward the world, which will undoubtedly have a widespread impact on both the the media industry, and advertising as we currently know it.

Coronavirus:

The initial priority for the Biden administration will be the eradication of the coronavirus pandemic and kick starting the economy back into action. A process which will fundamentally cause drastic shifts in consumer behavior. As Biden tries to control the virus, we’ll likely see an increase in country wide initiatives combined with state-specific lockdowns, including varying degrees of restrictions being introduced across the US. Although many advertisers may view this as an opportunity to showcase their digital literacy, even large-scale corporations aren’t immune to the pandemic pressures, and accompanying Biden’s plans to squash the virus, will be an increase in conscientious marketing across the industry.

How advertisers reach potential audiences during such uncertain times is a challenge in itself as lockdown restrictions will only heighten consumers’ awareness of brand messaging. The challenge many will face will be establishing a genuine set of brand values that are reflected at the heart of the company. Jumping on the coronavirus bandwagon with shallow or insincere messaging that disregards consumer emotions would only damage one’s image beyond repair. Going forward we will likely see changes in ad content and messaging, as brands tap into heightened levels of social consciousness, choosing to speak authenticity in their campaigns.

Data Privacy Regulation & Audience

Ad targeting has been a hot topic of conversation for both the Republicans and Democrats over the last year, as targeting and tracking practices have become front page news and the feature of many a legal battle. With research showing that, on average, US advertisers spend 20% of their marketing budgets on user identification and ad targeting, the new government will certainly try to regulate and control this area of digital advertising. 

As it stands the US has yet to pursue a federal privacy law akin to Europe’s GDPR (California have taken the lead here with the CCPA), but as technology continues to change and develop at a rapid pace and consumers vocalise their demand for increased data security/stricter privacy laws, the government will likely address user protection issues in congress and tighten the grip on data protection practices. That may however be easier said than done. Historically speaking, the Republicans and Democrats do not align when it comes to data privacy; the Democrats are advocating for a rigorous government controlled structure, while the Republicans favor a more muted approach to federal regulations. This means – taking into account that the Democrats are unlikely to receive a Senate majority – that any bill on privacy regulation and data protection will be challenging to pass. That being said, although differing opinions of each party, and a split Congress, may slow the passage of a privacy bill, the demand for a federal privacy law is ‘inexorable’ and the US should expect to see regulatory changes in the next coming months. So what will this mean for advertisers?

Personalised advertising is the golden ticket of digital marketing, and over the past decade alone marketers have funnelled millions of dollars into data activation solutions and audience identification. While the measurement of targeting may have improved fourfold, the introduction of privacy laws will seriously limit advertisers’ new found ability to personalise ad messaging. As regulations are rolled out, platforms and regulators will be forced to improve their data privacy and protection practices, which inturn inhibits advertiser’s access to third-party data and addressable advertising. Moving into 2021, marketers should be preparing themselves for the inevitable introduction of stringent regulations in a tactful and strategic manner.

Antitrust:

While there may be a rising consensus for the tightening of antitrust laws, with a split Congress we are unlikely to witness any drastic changes to the current legislative monopoly definition or existing antitrust laws. Although a full Democratic Congress would have seen a more aggressive policy regarding Big Tech companies (who’ve previously avoided sweeping antitrust regulation), we’re more likely to see a gradual approach with minimal changes to the existing laws, and an increase in tool availability for the Department of Justice. 

That being said, VP Elect Harris’s relationship with Silicon Valley will undoubtedly play a part when the Democrats bring certain issues concerning Big Tech companies to congress, and we can expect to see a real change in the accountability of these companies, as she uses her prior relationship with them to level the playing field for small independent businesses. Going forward, forcing Big Tech companies to compete on an even level will result in lower ad costs, greater transparency, and more innovation for advertisers.