Making Sense of Cofunded Marketing

Co-operative marketing is nothing new: manufacturers and retailers agreeing to share the cost of an ad to either increase exposure to the manufacturer’s product or to run extra promotions. Whenever Apple promotes the latest iPhone with a TV ad referencing a phone network, or Samsung highlights the stores that stock their products, or when Vans launched their Harry Potter shoe collection; these are all examples of co-operative marketing in action.

Beyond offline channels, we should also note that you can run co-operative campaigns through digital channels. Here, you get all the benefits of co-operative marketing as well as the additional advantages of easily tracking and adjusting campaigns based on performance, and giving both parties a clear view of the return on investment. In the challenging economic climate we find ourselves in, co-operative marketing offers a great opportunity to retailers with tight budgets to source additional budget from elsewhere.

Amazon is the biggest example here, with a well-established model of cofunded activity. Manufacturers are able to promote their products directly within the Amazon ecosystem and directly track product views and sales associated with the marketing spend. With a 40% YoY increase in spend of Amazon advertising in 2019, brands are clearly seeing success with this model and so it’s no wonder that Google and Facebook are making a play for this portion of marketing budgets.

In this piece, we’ll be exploring the offerings for both Google and Facebook to highlight how cofunded marketing can benefit both retailers and brands.

Google: Shopping Campaigns with Partners

Google’s offering is “Shopping Campaigns with Partners”: a Shopping campaign that has a “cost-share” element between brands and retailers. There are benefits to both parties with this set-up, as it gives brands visibility over sales through the campaigns and retailers gain additional spend to drive more traffic and sales through their website.

Brands and retailers agree on the cost-share in advance, as well as the specific product SKUs to promote. The retailer’s Google Merchant Center is linked to the brand’s Manufacturer Center, and each side sets up the relevant campaign structure according to the agreement. Once the campaign is live, the retailer is able to see information like orders and revenue as standard, alongside their own cost input into the campaign. On the brand side, they can see traffic and sales data for each individual product within the campaign.

We should note that when either side runs out of spend, the campaign will stop serving the ads. So in terms of your budgeting, you should be sure to consider the appropriate pacing ahead of time.

Google recommends assigning all of the brand SKUs within the cofounded campaigns a “high” priority setting to maximize their visibility in the Shopping search results. This will also help to avoid competition from existing Google Shopping campaigns for the same products.

Facebook: Collaborative Ads

Facebook’s equivalent ad format is called Collaborative Ads, which doesn’t have the “cost-share” element involved in the campaign set-up. Instead, the retailer shares a segment of their Facebook catalog with the brand’s Business Manager, which can then be used to create ads that direct to the retailer’s site. Similarly to Google’s approach, sharing this segment gives the brand visibility of the sales and return driven through these campaigns to the retailer.

If you’re looking to set up collaborative ads, be aware that brands have full control over the ads they are running in this format. Retailers will need to make sure that they have an input into the way these are set up, in order to maintain consistency with their tone of voice or so that they feature any key callouts.

With the cofunded offerings from Google, Facebook, and Amazon, retailers can more easily partner with the brands that they sell through; opening up huge opportunities for retailers and manufacturers alike. With the current complexities in overall trading conditions, it gives a welcome break for retailers who are looking to source external budgets, and a place for manufacturers to push their budgets to see a clear return. We expect the take up of these opportunities to significantly increase over the next year, so ensure you reach out to Google and Facebook soon to avoid being left behind.

Efficiency in PPC: Automating Optimization

Whether you’re a small business owner managing your paid search campaigns yourself, or have a marketing team running them for you, we know that managing PPC campaigns can take up a significant amount of time and resources. That’s why we’ve used our expertise in running effective and efficient campaigns to put together our top tips into a 3-part series to save time on managing your activity. In our final piece, we discuss some ways you can automate your optimization.


PPC campaigns need almost constant management, and it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with all the tasks within an account. One of these crucial tasks is optimization: you want to make sure your campaign is performing as well as it possibly can. With so many things to stay on top of, claiming time back through automation is a great strategy for any marketer. In this piece, we’re going to look at two main ways to introduce automation into your optimization: bid strategies and scripts.

Bid Strategies

Manual or automated? It’s a dilemma that you constantly face when determining your bidding strategy. On the one hand, manual bidding allows you to take control of your account and optimize your campaigns on a granular level; setting maximum cost per click (CPC) at both ad group and keyword level. Automated bidding strategies, however, give managerial control over to algorithms, which use auction time bidding to select the most optimal bids to achieve your campaign objectives. A variety of bidding strategies is available depending on the desirable goal: whether that’s maximizing clicks or maximizing conversions, ROAS etc.

The main aim of these bid strategies is to help campaigns reach their maximum potential in a cost- and time-effective way. Automation gives marketers the freedom to manage large accounts and redirect brainpower elsewhere within the campaigns, such as in growth opportunities and strategies. Machine learning fully takes over campaign management with low levels of transparency, so marketers should still keep tabs on their account’s daily performance. Some settings may not be optimal for every campaign or might be more aggressive than desired, so ensure you monitor the implemented rules to determine their effectiveness.

Portfolio strategies are a way to further simplify the daily life of a marketer. This is a goal-driven strategy that groups together numerous campaigns, ad groups, and keywords. This ensures that the aggregate performance across the group of campaigns is maximized, without granularly associating bid strategies to every single campaign.

Remember, bid strategies need to be closely monitored compared to their initial set up and performance, to guarantee the desired outcomes. These will save time and resources in the long run, with an all in all stable campaign performance and fulfilled objectives.

Scripts

Scripts are pieces of Javascript code that are ready for you to copy-paste into your account; no existing coding knowledge required. They are designed to carry out commands in Google Ads, by creating, editing, or removing items from your account and can also liaise with external platforms, such as Google Sheets, to facilitate reporting. Scripts automate internal functions, providing you with more time to focus your energy on strategic or creative decision-making.

Some of the most used scripts are negative keyword conflict, time of day script, 404 landing page checker with hundreds more available and easily accessible; and can run 24/7, every day of the year and at both an individual level and a cross-account level. In leaving these mundane and repetitive tasks to scripts, you’re increasing efficiencies across your campaigns. Take a 404 landing page checker script, which checks landing pages in each PPC ad available in an account. Ordinarily, this could take hours to finalize, or else you end up paying for clicks to broken URLs or seeing your conversions tank, but a script can scan all of your links and report back.

As with every automation, it is vital to remember that human judgment and experience cannot be simply replaced. It is up to you to monitor account changes and performance trends, as there is always a need for human input in order to review and maintain seamless processes.

NMPi Wins at the Drum Digital Advertising Awards US

We’re thrilled to share that the NMPi team has won the award for Most Effective Use of Data at this year’s Drum Digital Advertising Awards US! It’s an honor to have our work with Marks & Spencer International recognized in such a competitive category.

We worked with M&S to help them break down their budget allocations across international markets in a more nuanced way, increasing revenue and surpassing goals. The team developed a custom, cloud-based platform to process countless data points for each market to give unique scores based on complexity and potential.

“M&S International are thrilled to see how effective the team at NMPi are at evolving parts of our international strategy to spot opportunities and present a more data driven approach. The exciting part is that we can revisit the methodology to ensure we are continually evolving and staying ahead of the curve”- Matthew Johnston, Senior Digital Marketing Manager, International Ecomm

We’re incredibly proud of the team for all of their hard work, and we’re hoping to share more good news in the coming months!

Efficiency in PPC: Automating Your Reporting

Whether you’re a small business owner managing your paid search campaigns yourself, or have a marketing team running them for you, we know that managing PPC campaigns can take up a significant amount of time and resources. That’s why we’ve used our expertise in running effective and efficient campaigns to put together our top tips into a 3-part series to save time on managing your activity. In our second piece, we discuss some ways you can automate your reporting.


The abundance of data available to paid search marketers is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a crucial string in our bow to tailor campaigns to our exact needs, but crunching the numbers is often a time-consuming task. Plus, too much data can take you down a rabbit hole without any actionable insights.

Streamlining the reporting process should be one of your biggest priorities for reclaiming more time in your day so you can actually action and implement some of the insights that you can glean from your data. Here, we’ll be covering a couple of methods to speed up your reporting, along with some tools that can give you instant insights into your accounts.

Automated Email Rules

If you are an SA360 or Google Ads user, you have the option to have some reporting insights delivered directly to your inbox. These can be flexibly applied to all levels of your account and can alert you to any changes in performance on a daily or weekly basis. Daily checks are great for spotting general trends to optimize towards, but there are some changes that might be time-sensitive, or that won’t fall within the remit of the daily checks.

These automated email rules are a really useful tool to help you save some time. Depending on the conditions you set up, they can be used to pick out any top performers, alert you to any drops in performance, or highlight any budgeting issues. Our top tip is to create a folder or label in your inbox to collect these email alerts so that they don’t get lost in the daily stream of information coming into your emails – and guaranteeing that you get your performance updates automatically. Consider setting up rule alerts for the following to get you started:

  • Budget constrained
  • Report a keyword or campaign with no conversions
  • Alert for campaigns seeing the largest weekly drops in revenue (using custom columns and formula on SA360)

Budget Monitor

Regardless of whether you have a restricted or unrestricted spend, the creation of a budget monitor is an easy way to make your day-to-day life running accounts that little bit smoother. They can be used to help calculate how to phase your spend throughout the month, as well as providing a daily view of how your actual spend is comparing to your plans. Back this up with daily conversion and revenue data, and you get an easily digestible view of your performance that saves you time crunching numbers on a daily basis.

An Example of Budget Pacing.

Performance Dashboards

Much like a budget monitor, a performance dashboard is an important tool to pick out specific data from your accounts. While they are the most time-consuming option to set up of the reporting tools listed here, they are also the most flexible; with the ability to pull out data from all levels of the account. Using Google tools such as Data Studio, your dashboards can update in real-time, quickly highlighting performance trends.

You can create performance dashboards in Data Studio.

When you’re putting together your dashboard, you’re able to tailor it towards your specific needs. If you’re in need of some inspiration, consider some of these ideas of what to include:

  • What reports do you pull the most often?
  • Which reports take the longest to gather data for?
  • What metrics are most important for your account
  • Who will be using the dashboard?

These are just a few of our favorite tools that make reporting a breeze. Whether you’ve just got a few minutes to set up some email reports or you have the resources to set up a full performance dashboard, there’s sure to be an option that will help speed up the reporting process.

Incubeta DQ&A Named a Google Marketing Platform Sales Partner in the Americas

We are excited to share that our sister company, Incubeta DQ&A, has been named a Google Marketing Platform Sales Partner in the Americas, adding to our group’s long-standing Partnership status across APAC and EMEA, and cementing our global Google Marketing Platform Sales Partner status.

In becoming a certified sales partner in the Americas, Incubeta brings a 17-year heritage of defining, deploying, and optimizing the digital marketing technology infrastructures of hundreds of brands across the globe. 

Michael Ossendrijver, Incubeta DQ&A Brand CEO and Chief Strategy Officer at Incubeta, comments: “This partnership in the Americas enables us to provide our sophisticated service levels and proprietary products at a global level. Incubeta has been a proud and effective partner of Google Marketing Platform in APAC and EMEA for many years, so it’s exciting to be able to deploy this offering in the Americas with some fantastic brands joining us from the beginning.”

With the power of Google Marketing Platform combined with Google Cloud Platform, brands will have the ability to implement privacy-centric digital marketing infrastructures. Brands will also be able to achieve data-driven dynamic creative solutions at scale and speed, delivered through highly optimized paid media campaigns. Our proprietary technology further augments Google Marketing Platform’s functionality, providing clients with a unique proposition.

Luke Judge, CEO of Incubeta US and UK, adds: “We expect big things with Incubeta becoming a GMP sales partner in the US, and strengthening the service value of our specialist creative and media solutions in North America through Incubeta Joystick and Incubeta NMPi respectively. Our teams are geared up and ready to meet the needs in the US region from our offices in New York and Los Angeles. I’m excited to see us amplify and grow the success we have already seen in the US region in recent years.”

We’re looking forward to new opportunities to combine our group expertise across media, tech, and creative in the Americas.

Efficiency in PPC: How to Streamline your Ad Copy

Whether you’re a small business owner managing your paid search campaigns yourself, or have a marketing team running them for you, we know that managing PPC campaigns can take up a significant amount of time and resources. That’s why we’ve used our expertise in running effective and efficient campaigns to put together our top tips into a 3-part series to save time on managing your activity. In our first piece, we cover how you can streamline your ad-copy creation processes.


Ad copy creation and maintenance can become a time-consuming and complicated task if not managed properly, especially if you have a lot of promotions to handle which means you have to update copy frequently. Although ad copy is incredibly important in terms of branding and user experience, a performance marketer’s time would be better used optimizing the account to improve return on spend. In the first part of our PPC Efficiency series, we cover how you can speed up and simplify the ad copy process.

Text Ads – Ad Customizers And Their Feeds

Example of an Ad Feed

Ad customizers are a dynamic portion of a PPC ad that links to a feed. This allows us to change the copy of the ads quickly and efficiently through the feed, rather than by downloading and uploading Ads using programs such as Google Ads Editor. Furthermore, ad customizers can also be used to customize copy depending on a variety of factors such as device, audience, or even location.

Ad customizers save time and improve the manageability of your account in two ways. Firstly, they allow you to avoid cluttering your ad groups with multiple versions of static ads. This way, you can have a single ad with different copy that can dynamically change through the feed. This is opposed to uploading a new static ad every time a new offer goes live or if information changes – saving you time and effort in the long run.

Alternatively,  they can be used to slimline your campaigns. Using ad customizers, you won’t need to create multiple segments in your campaigns or ad groups with different targeting or messaging strategies. For example, rather than creating a campaign for your returning users and one for your new users, you can harness the power of ad customizers so that the same ad can display different messaging depending on the audience a user falls into.

Ultimately, ad customizers are a great way to ensure your ad copy is closely tailored to the user and their search term which, in turn, improves click-through rate, increases ad ranking and thus lowering cost-per-click. They also come in handy if you are advertising information that is frequently changing, for example, pricing information or a countdown to a sale.

Extensions – Sitelink Manager

Example of a Sitelink Manager

Sitelinks are a great way to increase your presence on the SERP, improve your click-through rate, and promote specific products, pages, or offerings from your site. However, they are often neglected and can become out of date and muddled in the account. This is where a Sitelink Manager becomes essential to your success.

A Sitelink Manager is essentially a handy Google Sheet where you can clearly see which sitelinks are live in the account and across which campaigns they are live. Conditional formatting allows you to easily view what is live and where very quickly. This lets you control the number of sitelinks you have live in any one campaign at a time, otherwise, you may end up reducing the visibility of each sitelink during a time when you’re trying to gain awareness of an important promotion.

Most importantly, you can also use a Google script to control your sitelinks through the Sitelink Manager. This gives you the ability to update, add, or remove sitelinks within the sitelink manager across multiple campaigns quickly and efficiently. This allows you to support multiple promotions, across multiple categories, across multiple timelines with ease. You can even schedule sitelinks within the manager easily.

In summary, a Sitelink Manager allows quick updates to the portfolio of sitelinks across your accounts, easy management of promotions which is particularly useful on retail clients and prevents old sitelink build up in the account which can make the account bulky and disorderly.

Ad Builders in Excel

Ad copy creation can be a long, confusing, and error-prone process if handled incorrectly. This can lead to disaster if copy containing errors is shown in the SERP to customers. Ad builders are a way to semi-automate the process of ad creation, simply by splitting your campaigns into categories and utilizing excel formulas to quickly create an upload sheet of error-free copy for a single campaign or even a whole account.

Reducing the amount of complexity in the ad copy creation process allows ad builders to speed up the process and also future proof ad copy by ensuring it is standardized across the account which makes any future changes to copy simpler.

4 More Nominations for Effective Digital Marketing Awards

We’re excited to announce that the NMPi by Incubeta team has been shortlisted for 4 more awards, following our recent win at the Drum Search Awards and nominations at the Drum Digital Advertising Awards US! This time, it’s the Effective Digital Marketing Awards, run by the team at Masterclassing. The categories are:

Most Effective Tech Platform: NMPi by Incubeta – Delivering Seamless Search for Marks and Spencer

Most Effective Retail or FMCG Campaign: NMPi by Incubeta and Marks and Spencer International – Not All International Markets are Created Equal

Most Effective Search Campaign: NMPi by Incubeta and Tipi – Closing the Online and Offline Gap

Most Effective Paid Social Campaign: NMPi by Incubeta and Eurail – Tapping into Eurail’s Endless Supply of Creatives

A huge congratulations to the teams and clients that worked on these campaigns. While we may not be able to celebrate in person, we’re keeping our fingers crossed for more good news when the winners are announced in September.  Check out the rest of the shortlist here.

NMPi Shortlisted at the Drum Digital Advertising Awards US!

We’re excited to announce that NMPi by Incubeta has been shortlisted in 2 categories at the Drum Digital Advertising Awards US! These awards reward programmatic performance and give recognition to the best in the programmatic and ad-tech industry in the US.

We’re proud to be in the running for:

Best Paid Social Campaign – NMPi for Eurail – Blending Organic and Paid Social with UGC

Most Effective Use of Data – NMPi for Marks & Spencer – Not All International Markets are Created Equal

You can learn more and check out the rest of the shortlist here.

Winners are announced on June 23rd, and the team can’t wait!

MythBusting: Facebook’s Server-to-Server Integration

Here at NMPi by Incubeta, intelligent, accurate attribution is always front and center of our decision making. Social has always required a slightly different approach from our other performance channels due to the extremely limited insight available via third party tracking solutions. I wrote on this a couple of years ago here and sadly, not much has changed. It has always been, more or less, Facebook’s way or the highway. This is particularly the case with post-view interactions, where historically Facebook has only allowed third-party tracking such as from Google Marketing Platform on certain targeting groups. The insight you can gain from this small section of your activity is also extremely limited in scope; only allowing you to verify impressions delivered, but not attribute sales.

As a result of this, there was considerable excitement at NMPi HQ (or our respective bedrooms/kitchens/garden sheds) when reading that Facebook & Google are taking some steps towards playing nice together. This consists of server-to-server integration, which is essentially communications between Facebook’s servers and a third party via API, in this case, Google Campaign Manager. This isn’t a new tool, you can already use server-to-server integration to attribute offline conversions and other data points to Facebook. However, there has been some confusion around the capabilities of the Campaign Manager integration specifically.

A Breakthrough for Social Attribution?

While some commentators have heralded this move as a gamechanger for Social attribution, the reality is much less groundbreaking. Server-to-Server integration with Campaign Manager will only allow impression counting and verification, rather than more in-depth information about post-impression conversions. Instead, the biggest opportunity that this change offers is the ability to eventually allow impression counting across all target types, including pixel-based audiences, lookalikes, dynamic, and more.

Marketers have been crying out for a way to properly attribute Facebook’s post-view conversions and to be able to understand them within the context of their wider marketing mix. This change doesn’t solve this problem. Currently, all that is being shared across is a validation that the impression was served and the environment in which it was served. To allow post-view attribution, Facebook would have to share across a common identifier for the user that Google can read and match to a conversion. They can then place this in the wider path to purchase of this user, alongside all other channels tracked via Google Campaign Manager. However, this would likely lead to some issues with GDPR or CCPA around sharing this user data over – even if Facebook opted to do so – and any solutions to enable this would require more data being shared between the two tech giants.

A Step in the Right Direction

Server-to-server integration as a tool, in general, does certainly offer marketers an opportunity to gather more insights into the performance of their social campaigns. Most of the applications of this integration are designed to attribute more sales to Facebook ads (e.g. store & affiliate site conversions). However, we can still hope and this is certainly a step in the right direction in terms of sharing data more openly and effectively between Facebook & Google. There are unfortunately a few more hurdles to clear before we can start to glean full insights into the post-view performance of our Social campaigns.

Webinar Wrap-Up: SEO to the Rescue

In the fifth installment of Incubeta’s Virtual Learning Series, Joe Comotto brings his knowledge of SEO to highlight how this often overlooked practice can play an important role in getting your business through the pandemic and into the new normal.

The coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns have seen marketers cutting back, or even entirely removing, their marketing spend. With a dependence on paid media, we often find that brands overlook the role that SEO can play for your business. As budgets decrease, now is the time to evaluate your strategy to find a place for investment and prioritization in SEO; doing so will help your business to get through the storm and into the new normal.

To give you an idea of the change in the landscape to date, 1 in 3 consumers have already changed their approach to shopping. Google Search ads – the starting point of many a digital advertising campaign – lost 7% of their impressions from January 13th, 2020 to March 9th, 2020. Finally, with the vast majority of the population now at home, we’re seeing a huge increase in mobile usage. With these shifts, there is an opportunity for SEO professionals and content marketers to ramp up their impact, creating content that drives conversions now and builds their brand long term.

In his webinar, Joe highlighted the top 6 tips for anyone wanting to invest more in their SEO strategy during this period, including some areas that should be your immediate focus for right now.

Be Aware of the Trends

Search behavior is changing rapidly, so it’s more important than ever to stay on top of market trends. Tools such as Google Trends will be incredibly useful here to help you identify new keywords and themes.

For example, we’re seeing customers moving online in increasing numbers, and instructional searches – think “how to’s” and recipes – have risen dramatically since the lockdown began. Searches for exercise classes online have quickly overtaken those for exercise classes “near me” as people look for workouts that they can do without leaving the house.

Schema

Schema markup is a specific kind of code you can add to your site to help search engines return more informative results for users; think rich snippets! Naturally, this means that Google loves schema, and it really helps your brand stand out in the SERP.

There are 818 different kinds of schema to take advantage of. Some common types you might already recognize (or even be using!) include FAQ, HowTo, Opening Hours, and Item Availability, but there’s new COVID-19 related schema that you can make use of throughout this period. These can be really useful when you’re looking to provide date-stamped updates for things like travel bans or school closures, as well as to indicate where an event may have been canceled or moved online.

In terms of implementation, it’s fairly straightforward as most have a CMS plugin you can use. You don’t need any coding skills to be able to get set up and there are lots of free tools available to create and validate the schema.

Content

Customers will likely have many questions about your brand’s approach to COVID, so make sure to keep them updated with relevant FAQ content. A lot of this content can then be repurposed or slightly modified for a post-lockdown world, giving you evergreen content that you can continue to share.

Instructional pieces on how to care for and clean products will be useful to your current customers, as well as anyone researching how to care for specific products during lockdown. Similarly, consumers will be looking for activities to stave off the boredom, so DIY guides will likely see some good performance over this period.

It’s also worth noting that many consumers will be limiting their spending throughout this period, so creating content that’s tailored to the awareness and consideration stages of the marketing funnel. With more people working from home, a retailer might see success from a piece around how to style a perfect WFH outfit. Advice on how to make money go further will also likely be appreciated and helps to present yourself as a thought leader within your space. When those consumers are ready to purchase again, your business should then be front of mind.

Business Listings

During this period, it is crucial that your Google My Business Listing is up to date. This way, you can quickly and easily let customers know if your store is temporarily closed, so your customers don’t leave the house for a closed shop. You can also let your customers know if you’re providing a pick-up service and add special hours to your listing. If you own thousands of stores, Google has made this easier by providing the ability to update your special opening hours in bulk.

Google recently updated their Google My Business support to prioritize listings for critical health businesses, as well as any new listings, claims, and verifications for these businesses. The Review and Q&A functionality, on the other hand, has been disabled for the time being.

Speed

Page speed is somewhat of an outlier here, as it’s certainly not a quick win and you’ll likely need additional support from your developer team. However, if you have the bandwidth, capacity and the time to look at increasing your page load speed then it will pay dividends in the future – not only to your SEO but your paid media as well.

For most organizations, we strongly recommend that you look into AMP, with the exception of retailers as there is a lot more additional work required to maintain it. But, if you’re pushing out lots of news or updates, AMP is the best way to get that information out there and featured on Google’s Carousel. If you have the time and resources to invest here, it’s certainly worth the returns.

Plan and Measure

The most important point to take away from this is the need to plan and measure. One of the biggest problems we have as SEOs is proving the value of what we do, so being able to get enterprise-level focus on SEO and educating people internally is key to keeping SEO on the table.

The best way to do this is to relate your goals and KPIs back to business measurable outcomes. More often than not, if you want to get C-Suite buy-in, you’ll need to relate everything you do back to revenue. You need to show that your action caused a specific increase in revenue. By planning effectively and understanding the best way to measure, this will ultimately allow you to keep SEO on the table as a priority for the business.

This post was originally published on incubeta.com