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 is honored 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. While we may not be able to celebrate in person, we are elated that all their hard work has been recognized, 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 honor to be shortlisted alongside so many fantastic agencies. View the full list of winners here.

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 optimization 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 utilizing 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 Optimization

“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 optimizing 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.

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, among 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 history.

Marketing to a polarized customer base will be the least of their worries, and while it may seem trivial to analyze 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 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 that will fundamentally cause drastic shifts in consumer behavior. As Biden tries to control the virus, we’ll likely see an increase in countrywide 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 has taken the lead here with the CCPA), but as technology continues to change and develop at a rapid pace and consumers vocalize 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?

Personalized advertising is the golden ticket of digital marketing, and over the past decade alone marketers have funneled 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’ newfound ability to personalize ad messaging. As regulations are rolled out, platforms and regulators will be forced to improve their data privacy and protection practices, which in turn 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.

Are you Overlooking the Value of Apps?

Read Time: 5 Minutes 30 Seconds

As we draw closer to the holidays, and the inevitable influx of consumer spending that accompanies them, we caught up with Google’s Head of Mobile Apps Partnerships, Pietro Bagnasco, to find out why Apps should be at the forefront of one’s marketing strategy.

Why should brands consider app campaigns for Q4?

People will probably be tired of reading and hearing this, but we are definitely living in exceptional times. If Covid has taught us anything, it’s that people’s desire to stay healthy, connected, productive, and informed has only increased. And that smartphones and Apps are now, more than ever before, the closest and most-used access point for users to all of that.

In fact, worldwide, the average weekly time spent in Apps grew 20% year over year in Q1 2020, suggesting that Apps are making a difference in how people navigate through this unprecedented time.

Our Director, Lowell Doppelt, recently spoke about this, during the peak of what’s now been referred to as “the first wave” and discussed how Apps can deliver helpfulness.

What’s your philosophy on how brands should approach their Apps?

In my experience, brands should always start by asking themselves why they built the app in the first place, and how they can use it to deliver value to their customers.

For the many brands who might have an App but aren’t necessarily leveraging it, investing in it, or using it as a customer touchpoint, should circle back and reevaluate their strategy. Apps are proving to be invaluable and compared to all other channels, have a higher retention rate, a higher average order value (whether retail or food delivery), and better brand loyalty over the long term.

As mentioned earlier, now more than ever, consumers are turning to Apps to satisfy their needs. Think of the increased adoption of food and grocery delivery Apps as an example, which played a key role during the lockdown globally. Additionally the boom in video conferencing and fitness Apps in 2020, which helped everyone stay fit, healthy and connected with their families.

The time users are spending in front of a smartphone is surpassing 2019’s figures. Customers’ attention is on Apps, and those advertisers who are not there now, risk losing their market position in the coming 2-3 years.

How do you recommend brands get started?

When we talk about investing budgets into user acquisition for your App, there are three things to consider:

  1. Having a clear goal and strategy for your app
  2. Having the right measurement in place
  3. Having a solid creatives strategy and capacity

1: Always start with defying the goal and the strategy for your App user acquisition. 

Why? Because this will allow you to then translate this into actions and specific implementations on our Google Ads platform, leveraging the right product at the right time. Are you looking for new users? Google App Campaigns for Installs will help you find new users at the cheapest possible cost per install (CPI). Are you looking for users to complete specific actions, for example a purchase or a signup? Google App Campaigns for Actions will let you set a specific Cost Per Action (CPA) that your brand is willing to pay for a new user to download your App and complete said action –  leveraging over 300 million signals thanks to our machine learning. Are you looking to re-engage with existing users, who might have lapsed or stopped using your App? Google App Campaigns for Re-engagement will allow you to define the audience you want to reach out to (for example people who have the App installed on their phones but have not opened it over the last 30 days, or people who have added an item to cart but not purchased) and bring them back to the App.

2: Measurement is instrumental to this all.

Having the right measurement means being able to provide our machine with the right signals that will lead to a performing optimization. But right measurement also means, on your side, the ability to look into the data and accurately measure the performance of your investment.  Google Analytics for Firebase is our analytics solution that will open you the doors to a detailed measurement, as well as a performing optimization of Google App Campaigns. For those of you more familiar with the Web side of things, this is our Google Analytics product, built specifically for Apps.

3: Finally, good creatives are imperative to the success of a campaign. 

Capture the user’s attention, convey your unique selling proposition, entertain, intrigue….leverage AdGroups to group your message and cater it to different audiences (for example if you are a Food Delivery business you could group your creatives by food type) to increase your chances of success. It’s important that you have the right bandwidth to produce creatives, test them and iterate on what works. My recommendation would be to assess whether your design team has the capacity to sustain a continuous effort, and if not, identify a strong partner in the market.

Do you have any predictions for what we will see in Q4?

I believe Q4 will provide an even further acceleration to the above-mentioned trends.

Given the world’s current situation, Apps provide a unique way for users to keep socializing and entertaining, whilst also shopping and consuming content and services in a safe, protected and convenient way during the holiday season. A staggering stat, reported by TechCrunch indicates that “consumers will spend more than 1 billion hours on Android devices alone during the fourth quarter, a 50% increase from the same time last year”. As user trends accelerate towards Apps, they become even more ingrained into user habits, substantially redefining the user journey across a continuously increasing number of businesses beyond the usual suspects.

What advice would you give to brands starting app campaigns now?

Get started, measure & iterate. Because our product leverages the power of machine learning to help bring you the best results, keep in mind it’s a learning journey. Therefore, get started: test, measure the right KPIs and scale what works. There is no magic behind what our algorithms do, it’s all based on data and iterations.

Define your strategy and plan, launch it, give it time to optimize, then measure results and start iterating on creatives, bidding strategies and bidding amounts. Most importantly, if you are just getting started and do not have the full skillset in-house or the bandwidth to follow and successfully deliver on your App strategy, I would encourage you to look out for the right partner that can help you capitalize on this opportunity.

AppOn!

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

The Importance of SEO – NMPi by Incubeta partners with Alibris

Read Time: 3 Minutes, 40 Seconds

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often overlooked by advertisers for the ‘quick wins’ that paid media can offer. While a PPC campaign does have its advantages, it’ll only get you so far, and disregarding the benefits reaped by SEO could come at a major detriment to advertisers. With approximately 75% of searchers ignoring paid advertisements on the SERP (choosing to focus solely on the organic results), identifying how Google crawls your site and optimizing your website to complement Google’s algorithms has never been so important.

Here is an example of the impact that SEO can have on your site, and how NMPi by Incubeta helped online book merchant Alibris obtain actionable recommendations to help improve their website’s performance.

Server Log Reporting for Alibris.

Alibris is an online store that sells new books, used books, out-of-print books, rare books, and other media through an online network of independent booksellers. Due to the nature of Alibris’ separate mobile and desktop configuration, it was not possible to emulate how Google crawls its website. Having access to this data is fundamental to the SEO process as it would allow us to identify any indexing issues Alibris was having, and implement solutions to fix them which would boost their product ranking on the SERP. Even Google’s own analytical platforms such as Google Search Console couldn’t provide Alibris with a clear, single source of truth when analyzing their website’s crawlability. NMPi by Incubeta was tasked with determining how often the website (both mobile and desktop) was being accessed by various web crawlers and agents (including Google’s own web crawlers).

Without the availability of this data through Alibris’s analytics platforms, NMPi by Incubeta had to access the logs kept by their cloud security company, CloudFlare. These logs generate over 100 million rows of data every single week, and the report we created needed to be updated in near real-time, which involved storing and processing large quantities of data. We used Google’s BigQuery database to hold the gigabytes of data for processing and Google’s DataStudio service to handle the reporting. We then partnered with Incubeta’s technology team to partner up to produce a server log report.

The problem we faced was that CloudFlare purged its data fairly regularly. We had a good source of fresh data within the logs, but no historical data. This meant that the report was unable to show any historical trends. To combat this we worked with the client to gain access to their web server logs. The data stored in these logs weren’t purged often, so we were able to find enough information here to satisfy our historical data requirements. However, the web server logs didn’t store data in a “clean” manner, so when we tried to import a sample directly to BigQuery, the import job failed. We had to spend time writing rules that identified what the errors were so that we could fix them in the huge raw files. Once the logs were imported, we then had to familiarize ourselves with the CloudFlare API, and write a script that checked CloudFlare every 5 minutes and imported the latest log events.

Returning to the server logs, we then wrote code that converted the server log format into the CloudFlare format. We also now downloaded all of the server logs (going back to July 2019), cleaned them, and converted them to match CloudFlare’s data. Alibris now had a real-time database of server events, with historical data going back to July 2019. With the data in place, we connected it to DataStudio and worked with the SEO team to create a final report.

Knowing that high volumes of raw log data would be difficult to interpret, we processed the data so that it could be presented in a digestible manner through dynamic charts and tables. This allowed us to better analyze the data which would inform our SEO strategy and way forward.

The server log report gave us access to unbiased, real-world data, to compare against site crawls, Google Search Console, and data from other 3rd party tools – allowing us to identify a high number of crawlability roadblocks and errors originating from Googlebot requests such as:

  • Server-side redirect chains and loops (72% of Googlebot requests, June 2020)
  • Broken resources & inaccessible pages (1 % of Googlebot requests, June 2020)
  • Working pages (only 27% of Googlebot requests made in June resolved with a 200 status)

Through our combined efforts, we were able to provide Alibris with a clear, actionable strategy to tackle their website’s crawl inefficacies and boost indexation numbers which in turn improved their website’s performance across all channels.

Performance Marketing – Providing Certainty In Uncertain Times!

Read Time: 6 Minutes

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that the retail landscape has shifted dramatically over the last ten months amid the global pandemic. Online shopping has boomed, and with eCommerce increasing by 18% since last year (equating to roughly 15% of total retail sales), the post-pandemic hit to retail has had a profound impact that will undoubtedly send tremors well into 2021.

While some industries have steadily burgeoned throughout the shifts in demand, many are watching the colossal increase in online competition, and the subsequent 1.7% increase in digital ad spend with bated breath. Now more than ever, advertisers are seeking certainty in the face of adversity, and brands are vocalizing their need to cut costs, optimize budgets, and deliver against strict ROAS targets. It is times like these when Performance Marketing comes into its own, offering advertisers a risk-free approach that combats the rise in competition and guarantees a fixed return on investment for each action driven.

As we draw closer to the holidays, and the inevitable influx of consumer spending that accompanies them, now is the time to optimize your campaign and implement performance marketing within your digital strategy, and this article explores the way you can do this via four specific channels:

  • Google Shopping
  • Paid Social
  • Display
  • Amazon

Google Shopping

With over 3.5 billion unique visits a day, Google is a prime example of where performance marketing can be implemented to reign in one’s strategy and ultimately refine expenditure. While Google Shopping is relatively easy to set up, it’s not quite so simple to optimize. A perceived lack of control over campaigns often leads to an over-reliance on Google’s own algorithm which adversely impacts product performance, resulting in a diminished ROAS and wasted ad spend.

Working off of a performance-based model allows the advertiser to work with an incentivized agency that is aligned with the brand’s business objectives to the maximum possible extent, driving success and measurable results for both the advertiser and themselves.

The performance model drives innovation to improve campaign performance, and in the case of Google Shopping, this comes from implementing and combining the power of search query optimization, product insights, propriety machine learning, and feed management. By adopting a granular approach, advertisers ultimately achieve greater control to maximize the performance of the budget invested.

As it stands, Google is heading into the holiday season with a SOV of 70.07%, so optimizing one’s strategy for this channel is a valuable avenue to explore as we draw closer to Christmas and the deluge of festive shopping.

Paid Social

What with the fragmentation of social media and the unpredictable surges in mainstream social – such as the sudden emergence of TikTok as a staple to the industry- the paid social landscape may be difficult to navigate. That being said, with approximately 3.80 billion social media users worldwide, paid social should undoubtedly be the diamond within your marketing strategy crown going into 2021. Social engagement is the most popular online activity and the challenge for brands is understanding how best to capitalize on this opportunity. While many may be seduced by the upcoming trends in social platforms, it’s important for advertisers to view paid social channels holistically, recognizing that the volume and Q4 opportunity still firmly sits with the more established platforms, Facebook and Instagram.

Unlike conventional advertising, paid social allows advertisers to identify and engage with niche audience interests at an efficient cost, enabling a very targeted message to drive action. Niche audiences can then be enhanced through controlled expansion of targeting parameters in addition to lookalike profiling, expanding your target audience with ease. Paid Social is designed to facilitate business goals, gather marketing insights, and establish brand awareness – while generating leads and increasing traffic to the site. With all of this said, Paid Social can be a minefield to operate when trying to identify the performing audiences and scale effectively, citing the value of the performance model to remove the risk element of playing with this exciting channel.

Display 

Display is at the forefront of digital advertising and should be a crucial part of any marketing campaign, however, with display ads typically showing a lower CTR than that of other channels, the budget is often funneled elsewhere.

As we move closer to Cyber Weekend, advertisers should be focusing their attention back to display, implementing strong creative as a part of their strategy. By designing and implementing strong creatives within your display strategy, advertisers can establish a more innovative means of communicating with their target audience, enabling them to cut through all the noise during the holiday season and boost their customer engagement and reach. The use of smart, effective, and dynamic creative is the key to driving display performance, allowing brands to tailor creative messaging in line with the customers buying signals and web environment – re-engaging existing customers, site visitors, and new audiences.

Visually, performance display is the most compelling, and cost-effective way for advertisers to drive a significant performance uplight, and by implementing the perfect blend of technology, data, and artistry within one’s strategy, advertisers can target specific audiences, with the right message, at the right time.

Amazon Advertising

With Amazon accounting for roughly 50% of the entire US retail market, the platform offers undeniable opportunities for retailers, yet the advertising product is often overlooked by brands. The ad platform itself is somewhat limited, and many retailers are sitting on the sidelines, unaware of the untapped potential the platform can offer them. As a result, Amazon often falls below the radar as factors such as cross-competitor comparison, identifying areas of improvement, or analyzing the impact of strategy changes are difficult to determine within the platform, and many find this lack of insight frustrating. Although challenging to dominate, Amazon ads offer strong performance and ROI, and going into 2021 advertisers should be recognizing the platform’s ability to drive brand awareness, increase customer consideration, drive purchases, and gain consumer loyalty.

Delivering performance marketing via Amazon Ads effectively requires the use of AI-driven tools that synthesize and analyze vast quantities of behavioral data to help advertisers reach customers at every stage of their journey. This helps brands achieve their advertising goals while guiding customers to the products that they’re looking for.

Through the capabilities of Amazon ads, advertisers can drive performance and business growth, and as Amazon’s colossal dominance continues to grow, implementing a robust and reliable performance-driven strategy shouldn’t be overlooked.

Conclusion

While there may be no such thing as a perfectly optimized campaign, with the twists and turns of 2020, the performance model has never looked so appealing. And with so much uncertainty hanging over us, more and more advertisers are choosing to opt for a risk-free approach that guarantees results this holiday season and into 2021.

NMPi by Incubeta offers a bona fide performance-only marketing model that is 100% risk-free, guaranteeing our clients a fixed ROI for every action we drive. We’re only paid on performance, so our teams are rewarded for their ability to innovate and test, driving the best results for our clients.

In the run-up to Christmas, allow NMPi by Incubeta to re-evaluate your advertising activity and get your campaigns back on track. For more information on how NMPi by Incubeta can provide your brand with certainty going forward, get in touch with us today.