Roses, GOATs, and More: February’s Top Marketing Trends

As we turn the page on a year we all look to forget, 2021 has already been off to a fast start. February has shown us not a lot has changed – Valentine’s Day will always be a special time of year regardless of a pandemic and Tom Brady will continue winning Super Bowls. It comes as no surprise that this month’s advertisements have gotten more creative, revolving around COVID-19 one way or another.

Finding a New Game Plan

Whether it’s for the game itself, the halftime performance, or the advertisements, every year, hundreds of millions of people tune in for the Super Bowl. The messaging for Super Bowl ads has always been about embracing happiness, good times, and an emotional approach. And now, more than ever, we need some inspiration. That’s where the likes of Huggies’ “Welcome to the World, Baby” and Michelob Ultra’s “Happy” ads resonated true inspiration across their audience.

As the Super Bowl kicked off, many were caught off guard by the lack of big-name brands on TV, including Coke, Pepsi, Budweiser, and Hulu, as they sat out of this year’s event. Going to show that many marketing budgets were greatly impacted by the results of COVID-19. Distribution methods for content have also greatly impacted the content we watch and how we watch it.

With the pandemic still raging in the US, many bars and restaurants remained closed, leaving more people home to watch the game. Led by the ever-growing cord-cutting phenomena, this year’s Super Bowl was the most-streamed TV event to date. This certainly changes the marketing approach for many companies moving forward, proving Connected TV (CTV) and Over-The-Top (OTT) media as great alternatives for household targeting.

The biggest catch here is that more brands are proactively keeping an eye out on the long-term shifts of where their consumers spend time and consume content. This unique pivot focuses on a holistic omnichannel marketing approach to engage with an audience through more effective household targeting.

Who Said Chivalry is Dead?

Yes, the most romantic time of year was a bit different from previous ones, but maybe that’s what made it better. During these difficult times, more people are looking to connect with loved ones. While a drop in evenings out to eat during a pandemic was expected, this meant that consumers spent more on their loved one elsewhere.

1-800-Flowers.com saw a huge spike in roses delivered this year with 22 million compared to the 18 million from last year. Some brands had to get creative this year to allow their candy to stick out versus the competition. The likes of Berkshire Hathaway’s See’s Candies, which started selling Valentine’s Day items online earlier this year. The 100-year-old brand paid homage to their rich history by selling an I Love Lucy-inspired collectible tin series to bring a nostalgic feel to the holiday.

The big winner in all of this? Cooking at home. Yes, some extra time in the kitchen with a loved one, cooking their favorite meals – a great way to spend the holiday. But what about takeout and food delivery? Funny you ask.

DoorDash and fast-food chain Shake Shack ran a promotion for Valentine’s Day featuring Boyz II Men, with limited menu items and date night kits to set the mood for couples. Shake Shack sold the “Berryz II Men” milkshake and kits included “Berryz II Men” scented candles, T-shirts, and lanyards.

Other brands trying out new Valentine’s Day-themed opportunities included Dunkin Donuts, which offered couples the chance to tie the knot or renew their vows at their ‘I Do Drive Thru,’ complete with proper safety measures. Dunkin also launched their first wedding merch collection just in time, ensuring couples around the world can be decked out for their own nuptials.

Here at NMPi, we were able to find success through new avenues for the holiday. With our client LoveHoney, an adult shop, this Valentine’s Day, we ramped up advertising on their plus-size lingerie set. Our efforts included implementing three new creative formats for Valentine’s Day to further our dynamic targeting efforts and convert users that had already been to their site. Our holiday strategy led to a higher click-through rate and a 20% increase in conversion rate for the plus-size lingerie set, Get The Look.

In the midst of the pandemic, brands have had to connect with consumers in different ways to comply with safety protocols and changing sentiment. Experimenting with innovative marketing campaigns, especially in our current environment, proves as another great opportunity to drive brand engagement.

NMPi by Incubeta Launches Trailblazing Amazon Ads Optimization With Awin.

Read Time: 2 minutes

It’s been a whirlwind start to 2021 for NMPi by Incubeta, and we’re thrilled to announce an exciting development, in the form of an Amazon Ads Optimization service, through Affiliate Partners, Awin.

NMPi by Incubeta & Awin have worked together to develop a bespoke service offering Amazon Ads optimization that can be reported and paid for on a CPA basis. This is a partner first for Awin, and NMPi by Incubeta is excited to be using our Amazon Ad’s expertise & knowledge to provide impressive results via this service.

We’ve spoken at length about making the most of Amazon Ads before, and our resident Amazon expert, Senior Performance Manager Peter Munton, has expressed his excitement for this new opportunity:

“This offering is an amazing service because it is the first of its kind, integrating paid Amazon advertising into Awin’s reporting system. This new service will enable the client to compare the performance of their Amazon campaigns directly alongside that of their current affiliates. We’re excited to see where this takes us and the success we can bring to clients’ campaigns.”


James Bentley, Awin UK Strategy Director, has explained more about this “huge frontier of opportunity and value” in Awin’s Blog about this new offering.

This particular partner-based service is currently being rolled out to Awin clients, but this isn’t the limit to our bespoke Amazon offerings! If you’d like to learn more about how to unlock your Amazon Potential with NMPi by Incubeta, register for a Free Personalized Amazon Report today

Incubeta UK Welcome Sally Laycock as New CEO

Read Time: 2 Minutes 30 Seconds

We’re thrilled to announce the appointment of Sally Laycock as the new UK CEO of our parent company, Incubeta. Based in London, Sally will succeed Luke Judge, who has headed up the company as US and UK Group CEO for the past 5 years. John Cawdery who was appointed as US CEO in September last year will continue to lead Incubeta in North America.

Having joined Incubeta in 2008, as Financial Controller, and rising to Chief Financial Officer in 2017, Sally’s constant positivity and rigor has made her an invaluable and admired member of the Incubeta family. Her operational expertise and intimate knowledge of Incubeta has been instrumental to their success and growth as a business, and we can’t wait to see all that she’ll achieve in her new role as UK CEO.

In the last twelve months, Incubeta has gone from strength to strength, achieving double-digit year-on-year profit growth, and as UK CEO, Sally will continue to drive Incubeta’s growth trajectory through the innovation of services and products. Sally will also join the global Incubeta steering committee to provide active input for the group direction.

Sally, reflecting on her new position, says “Having worked side by side with Luke for many years, I have certainly learnt from the best and I am honoured the baton has been passed on to me. I want to ensure we carry forward the legacy of a strong people culture which has been built up over the years with a particular focus on creating an environment where people feel comfortable to be themselves at work. This is something I am absolutely passionate about. Over the past 13 years I have watched employees at Incubeta thrive and progress. I’m so proud of what we have all achieved together and I am excited to be at the helm to ensure this continues.”

Luke Judge, current CEO of UK & US comments, “It’s been a privilege over the last 13 years to be a part of Incubeta’s success and achievements. I am immensely proud and grateful of the amazing team that works incredibly hard to make the company what it is. I know Incubeta UK is in the safe, capable and caring hands of Sally who will continue to do great things and lead the company with positivity and rigour.”

Lars Lehne, Group CEO adds, “Luke has done an amazing job of leading Incubeta to the success it is today in the UK and US markets. He will be sorely missed by all. As the digital landscape continues to evolve and become more mature, Sally’s extensive knowledge and experience will drive Incubeta to achieve its objectives and further its growth. I’m very much looking forward to working with Sally in her new role as UK CEO and witnessing the great things she will achieve as this new chapter begins.”

We are thrilled to have Sally appointed as new UK CEO and we look forward to Incubeta’s continued growth and development as a global brand and beyond!

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

Seamless Search; Your Questions Answered

Read Time: 4 Minutes

Last week we were thrilled to host our second virtual event of 2021 – Seamless Search; Ask Us Anything. Incubeta’s Senior Commercial Manager, Sophie Dixon, was joined by our Director of Strategy Damien Bennett, to discuss our new proprietary technology – expanding on the methods by which brands can use Seamless Search to achieve the best results possible for their business.

Since our launch event in September, Seamless Search has been recognized as  “Best Martech Solution” at the Wires, and “Best SEM Solution” at the Martech Breakthrough awards. And we’re grateful for the recognition of the results that Seamless Search drives.

Our ‘Ask Us Anything’ session took a deep-dive into Seamless Search itself, answering a range of questions from the audience, to provide more of an understanding of Seamless Search’s capabilities, and how it can solve key business challenges.

The Origins of Seamless Search

The concept of Seamless Search is very much an idea that’s always been in the background. For many years we’ve had clients asking how incremental their paid search activity is – particularly focusing on the true incremental value of their search activity once you remove the cannibalization of their organic coverage performance. While the market was somewhat saturated with tests trying to assess this impact, none of the tests were optimal. Most weren’t comprehensive – running on a broad range of keywords, with many keywords within these sets producing remarkably different behaviors, which ultimately impacted the accuracy of the results. We realized that using advancements in machine learning, we could produce a comprehensive and confident answer to whether or not you should pay to appear for keywords that you already hold a high organic position for.

Initially, Seamless Search started as a project to develop and run an advanced and accurate incrementality test, however, what it ended up becoming was much more comprehensive. As we started building out the test methodology, we considered the benefits of automation – making the insights derived from the test actionable through bid adjustments based on the incrementality of the two channels.

Seamless & Search Ads 360

It’s important to stress that Seamless Search is an extension of SA360, not a replacement. Platforms such as SA360 are there to manage the scale of paid search activity, whereas Seamless Search is there for specific keywords that have a question mark around the incremental value of paying for them. Seamless Search acts as a complementary platform to the existing paid search software that advertisers are already using.

Bidding

When one assesses the interplay between paid and organic search, there are multiple factors that can impact incrementality – which can be split into external and internal:

  • Internal factors are those that you can control, such as; current paid position, current organic position, and promotions.
  • External factors are those outside of your control, such as; competitor paid coverage, competitor organic coverage, and wider marketing activity.

Seamless Search takes all these factors into account, using ML to understand the different combinations which produce an incremental click. Once identifying the optimal position to appear in a paid perspective a bid adjustment is then made.

Seamless Search & Google Ads

When discussing the difference between Seamless Search and Google Ads/Organic reporting it’s important to remember that Google Ads/Organic Reporting is looking at a single channel, whereas Seamless Search looks at the revenue attributed to that channel, minus the cannibalization. Seamless Search handles the reporting and actioning on a basis that would not be possible through Google Ads or Search Console.

ROI Uplift

The best way to witness the ROI driven by Seamless Search is to analyze what happens when you add the two channels together. As it stands, using data from existing Seamless Search clients, we’re seeing the best of both worlds. Advertisers are seeing both an increase in revenue and an increase in ROI, as Seamless Search is finding areas where the advertiser can increase their coverage, and also identifying areas where the advertiser can create efficiencies..

Forecasting

Aware that Seamless Search is a new platform to market, we’re helping all prospect clients build a business case by providing them with a projection of the likely impact that Seamless Search will have on their overall search results. This helps businesses decide whether or not the platform is the right fit for them. Click here to request your Incremental Revenue Forecast.

During the onboarding process, you will be provided with specialist-led guidance which will comprises of two sessions to enable the use of the Platform: i) Session one: A demo covering the platform functionality ii) Session two: An open Q&A session with the team which will be scheduled the following week. Pre-recorded videos providing an overview of the platform and its basic functionalities will also be available to support the users. There is also an option to opt for customized training on the more advanced uses of the platform, although this comes at an additional cost.

Click here to watch the full Seamless Search; Ask Us Anything session, or visit our Seamless Search FAQ page for more information.

This blog was originally published on Incubeta

ASO Optimization

Read Time: 4 Minutes 50 Seconds

According to Apple, 65% of all App downloads are generated through app store searches by users searching for a specific keyword. Research provided by AppTweak shows that 38% of these downloads came from a generic keyword and that the division between brand and generic keywords varied drastically between brands.

A famous brand such as Uber would receive as much as 80% of its downloads through its brand term. Whereas a less well-known brand could receive almost 75% of its downloads from generic keywords.

So how do I optimize for the App Store?

App Store Optimization (ASO) is similar to traditional SEO, where certain techniques are used to get your website to the top of the Search Engine. While there are similarities to traditional SEO, ASO is a completely separate discipline with its own unique set of algorithms.

Much like the Search Engine algorithms, the true algorithm for ranking in both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store is not actually known and can change regularly.

However, there are certain criteria that we do know that will help influence the ranking of your App:

Primary

  • Title, Keywords & Description
  • Total number of downloads & velocity
  • Conversion Rate

Secondary

  • Quality Reviews
  • App Retention (Uninstalls)
  • Backlinks (Google Only)
  • Quality Imagery/Screenshots
  • Including an App Preview Video
  • Category Selection
  • Icon Design
  • Periodic testing

Google Play Vs Apple IOS App Store

The mobile app store market is dominated by two major players: Apple and Google.

Similar to SEO, Google Play Store works more like a real search engine, with its algorithm often providing more precise results, whereas, the Apple iOS App Store is driven more by phrases.

Various factors are taken into account by both these algorithms with a number of similarities and differences:

App Name

The App title is a strong ranking signal in both Apple and Google stores; therefore brands should always include the most important keywords in their app title.

However, the actual app title serves a very different purpose within each store. In Google Play search results, only the app icon and app title show, therefore the title needs to explain to users what the app is actually about. However, in the Apple App store, this is less important, as advertisers are also allowed a subtitle, screenshots, or video in the search results which help convey to the user what the app is about.

In terms of character limit, the Apple App Store has a standard limit of 30 characters, and a limit of 50 characters for Android apps. The character limit for a Google Play description is 4000 characters. Unlike the App Store, Google stores use keywords in the app description as a ranking factor.

Subtitle (iOS) Short Description (Android)

Similar to the title, the subtitle and short description play a significant role in app ranking visibility. Both Apple and Google use keywords in the subtitle to index the app – repeating a keyword in the app title and short description might improve one’s chances of ranking in the Google Play Store as keyword density is an important ranking factor. In the Apple App Store, repeating keywords is a waste of valuable space, as it will not help one rank higher.

The subtitle for Apple and the short description for Google are displayed in very different locations. iOS the subtitle appears under the app title in the search results, below the screenshots on the app page. Whereas, in Android, the short description doesn’t normally appear in the search results, but is featured in the app listing – below the screenshot above the long description. The subtitle ultimately serves a different purpose in conversion optimization.

iOS Keyword  Field

Apple has a similar attribute to the Meta Keywords used in old SEO strategies,  – 100 character limit, invisible to the user but offers an option to add relevant keywords that describe one’s app. Google Play does not provide this attribute, using keywords solely from the subtitle and long description

Long Description

The long description is used to convey the Apps main features and benefits. The long description is not a ranking factor in the App Store, and for the Google Play store, the recommendation is to maintain a keyword density of 2-3% for the most important keywords.

Screenshots

The Apple Store can feature up to 10 screenshots whereas Google Play is limited to 8. In the Apple App Store, the first 3 screenshots are normally displayed, however on the Google play store, screenshots are hidden in the app listing

In comparison to Google Play, screenshots have a much more important role in the Apple App Store in terms of Conversion Rate.

App Previews (iOS) vs Promo Videos (Android)

You can add up to a maximum of 3 App Preview videos in either portrait or landscape mode for Apple with the first video appearing in the search results alongside the first 2 screenshots. The remaining two videos will show on the app page before the screenshots.

Apple guidelines stipulate that the videos should be short and to the point, showing the user’s journey through the app. App previews play a significant role in conversion optimization for the Apple Store and testing different creatives is a great way to improve downloads.

In comparison, Google leverages its relationship with YouTube here with all videos required to be in the landscape format, YouTube’s default. Google refers to the videos as ‘Promo Videos’ and allows just one video per App. However, Google allows for a lot more freedom and creativity here, allowing users to showcase their Apps more freely than you can on the App Store.

Backlinks

Unsurprisingly, Google takes into consideration the number of backlinks to your app webpage. This helps Google determine the authority of your app, much in the same way it does for traditional SEO. More backlinks will indicate more authority, which will in turn mean Google trusts and rates your app.

Digital PR promotion can help improve the number of backlinks to your webpage.

Apple does not factor Backlinks into its Algorithm.

This blog was originally published on Incubeta.

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.