3 Reasons Why Advertisers Should Not Ignore YouTube

YouTube’s success graph over the years, seems to resemble that of the stock markets. It’s never a strong, consistent line. There are phases of strong growth, consecutively followed by lags. That said, it’s not a medium that advertisers can ignore any longer. Here are the reasons:

1. It’s not just an alternative but a complement to television: If ads have become popular, YouTube has had a good role to play in their success story. Here’s a stat call.

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month. That’s over 13% of the world population.
  • And over 6 billion hours of YouTube videos are watched every month. That’s about an hour for every person on earth.

SuperBowl ads possibly owe their popularity, more to YouTube than to television.

2. Other social media have supported its growth instead of competing with it: More than 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month. And these include posts, web links, pictures and videos. Facebook understands the power of video well and possibly that’s what it tried to bank on with its lookback videos too. Instant messaging services like WhatsApp have helped promote YouTube videos too. YouTube, therefore, faces competition, from very limited quarters.

3. YouTube has matured: For an advertiser, YouTube has come of age. The stats that it provides are not just limited to the number of views and clicks but rather engagement. Today you can even get data on what percentage of your viewers actually watched 100% of your videos. Based on the engagement numbers, you can take a marketing call on what’s popular and what’s not. The insights can even guide your next production. Besides, in the case of TrueView ads, advertisers only pay if the user watches at least 30 seconds (or the entire ad in case of less than 30 seconds ads). Again, a win for spend based on engagement. Not surprisingly, YouTube’s revenues in 2013 were estimated to grow 51% than the previous year. 

YouTube still contributes in single digit percentages to Google’s annual revenues. However, it’s a medium that will survive and grow. As an advertiser, it definitely is something to keep a close eye on.


Tips To Run RLSA in AdWords

As search marketers, we typically tend to focus on the regular bricks-and-mortar paid search campaigns. We build keyword lists, pause under-performing ones, write effective ad copy and direct to the best converting landing page. We are skeptical about the bells and whistles like image extensions or remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA). I have followed a similar path too. However, recently, I had the chance to experiment with RLSA for a client. I must say that I am impressed by its potential, when implemented strategically. Here are some guidelines based on the experiment.

What is RLSA?
Remarketing Lists for Search Ads lets you customize your search ads campaign for people who have previously visited your site, and tailor your bids and ads to these visitors when they’re searching on Google.

How does it work?

  • A visits www.xyz.com.
  • A gets added to the remarketing pool.
  • So the next time A searches for a keyword you target, you can serve ads that would incentivize him/her to convert.
  • It could be a discount offer (for retail), a financing offer (for a car company), different content (maybe a new yoga trainer for someone looking for yoga videos) etc.

Why does it work?

  • You are targeting someone who is already aware of the brand.
  • You know what keywords / ads brought them to the site and did not work.
  • You know that since their need was not met they would be searching for related keywords again.
  • The potential for conversion will be higher for someone who clicks on the ad the second time after knowing where it is coming from.


  • Ensure that remarketing pixels are added to the site. You can verify in AdWords UI->Shared Library->Audiences.
  • Once the remarketing tag is added and you collect a good audience pool (at least 1,000), you can implement it in your existing ad groups (Campaign->Audiences->Remarketing).

Learnings based on experiments

  • Don’t just focus on one component like bids or ads or landing page change. It is better to have an all-encompassing RLSA strategy. So set up a new campaign just for RLSA. Don’t modify existing campaigns.
  • Add broad match keywords. Exact and phrase match variants may have less traffic. A big advantage of RLSA is that you can target keywords that you otherwise wouldn’t. So if your existing campaigns have [yoga videos], you could even add ‘yoga’ as a broad match keyword. This will help you cast a wider net in terms of targeting.
  • See how it can be tied to the overall marketing strategy of the company. Eg: if your remarketing list targets non-converting site visitors, is there an incentive you could give them to sign up? We used an offer that allows people to pay less for 3 month signup instead of 1. This worked well for us in terms of conversion rate (close to 20% while the account’s average is about 2%) and CPA ($15 while the account’s target is $80).
  • Make sure your new ads are relevant to the new keywords and landing page.
  • Don’t forget including brand keywords to RLSA campaigns too. 

Have you experimented with RLSA too? Share your experiences.

New Year, Old Funda

Remember what we were told when the online retail euphoria was beginning? That it wouldn’t last for long as local mom-and-pop stores had something that online stores didn’t – A Personal Touch. The vendors at these stores knew you by name, knew what you liked, knew whether you were experimental or not, knew if price was a factor for you. They added a personal touch by asking if your day went well and letting you share your two cents on the state of affairs of the country. And they did special favors once in a while to make you feel privileged – home delivery free of charge or getting you a product that they usually didn’t stock. 

It’s the New Year, alright. 2014. While Google Photos sent me a collage of pics I took in 2013 with music to add to the razzmatazz, Facebook did something similar by helping me relive 2013. WordPress too, for that matter, sent me stats on how 2013 went for me in terms of posts, comments, followers et al. And all of these made me feel special. Why? Because they took a slice out of my online life and gift-wrapped and presented it to me. 

Some things don’t change after all. 

How to analyze search funnels

As search engine marketers, many of us just focus on the last click before a conversion. However, there is a growing trend towards analyzing the path that a customer takes before an online conversion. Search Funnels, in Google AdWords, help you do that. They basically help you measure performance and make changes beyond the last click. Most importantly, they change the way you think about ‘conversions’.

Setting up search funnels

1. Go to Columns.

2. Click on Customize Columns.

3. Add Search Funnels.

4. Pick the metrics that you wish to see.

Analyzing search funnels

There are multiple ways in which you use the search funnel data. Here are some examples from my experience.

1.      Download a keyword report. Use ‘If’ formula to highlight keywords where impression-assisted conversions are higher than regular conversions. In these cases, it means that your target audience searched for a keyword you targeted, but didn’t click on your ad. The reasons for it could be many, but an easy win here could be to filter for keywords with a high average position (above 4 or 5). Bid higher on these keywords as these seem to be relevant (got impressions) but weren’t high enough to be clicked on.

2.      Download an ad report. Again, use the ‘if’ formula to check if the impression-assisted conversions are higher than the regular conversions. Some of the cases in which the impression-assisted conversions would be higher than actual conversions are listed below:

a.      A user just decided to click on organic search results rather than the ad

b.      Your ad wasn’t relevant

c.      It didn’t have a convincing call-to-action.

Filtering ads based on this report makes it easier to review ad copy and make changes, if required.

3.      Download an ad report. Again, use ‘If’ formula to highlight ads where click-assisted conversions are higher than regular conversions. This report will showcase ads which got clicks but no direct conversions. Again, the reasons could be more than one.

a.      The user was just browsing. Eg: in the case of those looking for ‘product reviews’.

b.      The user was looking for something that you don’t measure in terms of conversions. Eg: a physical store rather than an online purchase.

c.      The landing page wasn’t relevant enough. It may be that you are using a generic home page as the landing page rather than a specific product page.

d.      The url has an issue and is taking the user to an error page. In this case, the conversions will be 0 though.

e.      The landing page doesn’t reflect your ad copy text. Like, are you saying ‘30% off’ and directing them to a page which has discounted products but doesn’t clearly say ‘30% off’?

Some of these issues may be easy to find with search funnel data. The point to remember though is that it is not always important to measure ad performance via conversions. Sometimes ads / keywords are important assistants in the path to conversion too. What’s important is to find such keywords / ads.

What should paid search marketers learn in 2013?

If your world revolves around CPCs, CTRs and CPAs, it’s time for you to add some more arms to your bag of ammunition. In 2013, there is a lot for you to get a foothold in.

1. PLAs: Product Listing Ads or PLAs are product displays that you see on the right hand side of Google’s search results page. The fact that Google purchased BufferBox, a shipping locker startup, in November 2012, shows that it is trying hard to give Amazon tough competition. What does it mean for you as a digital marketer? A signal that Google is going to push PLAs further in the market. PLAs run on feeds. So there is definitely some learning involved in optimizing these campaigns. But it should be on your radar, as according to The Search Agency’s Q4 2012 paid search report, PLAs accounted for 13.6% of total Google spending for advertisers in Q4, a 236% increase from Q3.

2. Facebook advertising: Facebook Graph Search is still a mystery. Well, more or less. But we do know what the basic idea is all about. While for a user, it may mean better search results (if any) in terms of places / things liked by his/her friends, for an advertiser it may mean more targeting options. So ensure you set up an alert to read anything on this front. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open.

3. Mobile / Tablet advertising: This is something you may be doing already as most campaigns nowadays are segmented based on device. However, make sure it does not get a step-motherly treatment. Optimize it differently. Don’t paint it with the same brush that you use for analyzing desktop advertising. The platform is different and its usage is different. So search volume is different and keywords used are different too. For instance, auto-correct is big on mobile considering people dislike typing on mobile. Or CTRs tend to be inflated because of fat finger syndrome. According to The Search Agency’s report, advertiser spend on smartphones and tablets in Q4 represented 15.6% of total spend, a 79% increase YoY. The numbers speak for themselves.

4. Bing advertising: Agreed, advertiser spend on Bing is fairly small as compared to Google. However, Bing is taking small steps towards increasing its spread. As the report says, Bing had a 4% increase in click traffic. So understand the platform inside out.

5. It’s all about RoAS: This isn’t new. You’ve heard it before. But it’s worth reiterating. Clients are typically going to measure your effectiveness based on RoAS or Return on Ad Spend. Focus on that. Show them the hard facts.

Good luck for the year ahead and happy clicking!

Bing Vs Google: Is it about who markets better?

I love Bing’s home page backgrounds. They are always so colorful, bright and different.  There’s a zing to them. Something trendy about them.  Very unlike Google’s simple, white home page, with just the doodle adding hints of colors.

That said, there aren’t many people who use it. Sure, it’s about the results rather than the design. Yet, how many of us have compared results on both the engines. Not many right? Market share statistics don’t show much of a difference even after the ‘Bing it On‘ challenge. While close to 90% of Internet users search on Google globally, less than 5% do the same on Bing.

Bing definitely has a lot of distance to cover. And it’s trying. Hard. And yet again, not many people know it.

So did you know about Scroogled? That’s Bing’s idea of showing how Google’s shopping results are actually paid ads and not genuine listings. It’s call to action on the page? To try Bing or make it your home page.

There are still a few people who have seen Bing’s Scroogled ad. However, when it comes to Bing’s reward points strategy, it seems it is lesser than a few; at least based on the quick poll I did among a few random people.

So here’s what Bing is offering you to search through its engine and refer it to your friends. You can win Gift cards from RedEnvelope (I love this site!), ProFlowers, Amazon, Starbucks etc. You could even enter sweepstakes to win Windows Phone. Yeah, that’s the big one. But winning is tough. You get 1 credit for 2 Bing searches and you can earn up to 15 credits a day. Referring a friend brings you more points of course. You get 5 each for 5 friends who join. And for a $5 Starbucks card, you need 525 credits. That’s over 1000 searches on Bing. Worth it? Perhaps, if Bing becomes your default search engine.

So here’s my view on it.

a. If Bing wants to attract users to its site by this strategy, it’s not worth it. It’s a great idea to reward loyal users, but not really for first-time users. That’s simply because, it asks for a lot before it can reward you. So if Bing wants to get Google users to shift to it, this may not be the best idea.

b. Bing needs to market better. It’s coming up with ideas but a marketing blitz is missing. And that’s essential when you’re dealing with a Goliath like Google.

I still search on Google. It’s more like a habit. The shift is tough. But yes, a sweepstake is tempting and I did give it a shot. Did I win? Nah! :-(

5 Things You Should Test In Your Landing Page

It’s the holiday season! Bombarding your customers with emails for that final purchase on your site? Or structuring ads nudging them to gift more? This media blitz calls for new landing pages or at least redesigned ones, right?

So here’s the thing. While you, as retailers have got another excuse to push your products to your customers, what’s been your plan of action to ensure great user experience for them? If you’re not sure, then here are 5 essentials that should be on your testing checklist before taking your new landing page live.

1. Device compatibility: According to comScore, 4 in every 5 smartphone users, which represents 85.9 million U.S. users, accessed retail content on their device in July 2012. But how many times have you browsed through a site on your phone, only to see the website design, structure and content squeezed down to a mobile template? Many times, isn’t it? Sure, many sites are available as mobile apps. Nonetheless, responsive web design is essential so as to ensure that your website responds or adapts to the environment with multiple fluid grid layouts.

2. Browser compatibility: A common mistake made before a site release is to test the landing page only on one browser. While Chrome scores the highest in terms of web usage statistics, it is followed by Firefox, IE, Safari and Opera. The first three are essential when it comes to testing, as put together, they constitute over 95% of web usage. Plus, while testing, you will realize that your landing page behaves differently, in different browsers. The layout may look fine on one while it may be lop-sided on another. Some functionalities may work fine on one browser, while on others they may fail to perform. So test and test well.

3. Content: It’s important to test your content on your landing page. This includes reading, re-reading and reading again for grammatical errors, typos and SEO gaffes. Also, it is essential to do A/B testing on various titles, images and layouts to ensure that you use the one that is the most efficient in helping you achieve your goals.

4. Call to Action widgets:  Your landing page, invariably, may have a call to action widget. It may be an inquiry form, a click to call button, a group deal or a buy button. Have you tested the navigation to ensure that

a. The widget is visible and easy to spot?

b. It works just fine on all devices and browsers?

The importance of testing the call to action cannot be overstated. It’s the last mile. If it doesn’t come to the notice of your site visitors or doesn’t perform its task when clicked upon, your entire campaign can go a waste. This one requires thorough testing.

5. Backend integration: You may have various email ids, contact forms, web links and action items for your site visitors. Do you test if all of these are well integrated with the backend? For instance, you have an email id for contact. But did you test if mails are reaching? You may have your blog link on your website. But does it take the site visitor to the right URL on clicking? You may have Buy now buttons on your page. But does your backend update you immediately on every purchase?

Testing is not an ad-hoc task. It’s a recurring essential. Keep this checklist in hand before you take your landing page live.