The Future of Paid Search Marketing is Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning-optimized campaigns saw 71 percent better conversion rates and lower CPCs than those not using it.



Acquisio released a report (PDF) this month that argues machine learning algorithms can dramatically improve paid-search marketing performance vs. accounts that don’t use them. Acquisio calls its suite of machine learning tools “Acquisio Turing,” after British computer scientist Alan Turing.

The company looked at thousands of campaigns over a two-year period, comparing results from machine learning-supported accounts with those not utilizing machine learning. Acquisio concluded, “Across all business types and budget sizes globally, the accounts using Acquisio’s machine learning technology are outcompeting those that aren’t, giving advertisers an advantage.” This is especially true at low budget levels.

More than 30,000 accounts were analyzed and compared in the report.

Acquisio says that just over a third of its customers manage small or local accounts (e.g., media publishers that provide SEM to small business advertisers) and “just over 50 percent our client base is made up of marketing organizations servicing local markets, with a large portion of them focusing on the automotive market.”

About 60 percent of the company’s customers serve North America. The remainder of customers and accounts are distributed across regions, with a larger concentration in Australia.

Acquisio reported that machine-learning accounts saw improved metrics across the board, including higher conversions, lower CPCs and higher click-throughs:

  • Conversions increased by 71 percent on average
  • CPCs decreased by 7 percent on average
  • Clicks increased by 15 percent on average
  • 64 percent of accounts saw a lower CPA

These accounts were also better at achieving “budget attainment” (reaching their target spend levels) vs. accounts not utilizing machine learning optimization.

The company added that machine learning-supported accounts also experienced lower churn on the platform than those not using machine learning, and this was especially true for accounts operating at less than $500 per month. “Businesses with the lowest spend actually had the highest success in terms of lifetime value,” the report states.

I would expect to see more studies and results like these in the near future. It thus seems inevitable that automation will replace humans in most areas of paid-search marketing.

By: Greg Sterling

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Google Announces New YouTube Tools for Advertisers

Google has announced the release of four new tools for YouTube to help capture the attention of viewers.

Google knows all too well about the importance of catching consumer attention with advertising. In an ever-connected world, where we watch TV while flicking idly through our phones or listen to podcasts while working, advertising is everywhere and consumer attention is a valuable commodity.

xiStock-845589596.jpg.800x600_q96.png.pagespeed.ic.0Jgn-Je79jAnd while the majority of us have seemingly developed an ability to tune out TV adverts or billboards as we go about our days, the ability does not seem to extend to the world of online video.

The company has conducted research with Ipsos that shows that people are three times more likely to pay attention to online video ads when compared to television ads. And within online video, people pay twice as likely to pay attention to YouTube ads then those on other social media. The reason for this is likely that people go to the site specifically to watch videos, which is not always the case with other social media.

Here is a rundown of the new tools.

Custom Affinity Audiences

Since January, Google has been working on bringing the success it has had with search marketing to video. The key is intention. Campaigns that use intent-based audiences on mobile have 20% higher ad recall lift and 50% higher brand awareness when compared to those demographic audiences.

The company is expanding the ways people can use the Google ecosystem using Custom Affinity Audiences to deliver more relevant, useful as on YouTube. It is now possible to serve ads based the kind of searches users do, as well as the places they go and the apps they use.

Director Mix

Director Mix is designed to simplify the process of making different versions of the same content that are tailored for distinct audiences. By putting in the fundamental elements of your video ad (such as voiceovers, background and copy), the system will create hundreds of different versions to match whatever audience segments you are targeting.

Video Ad Sequencing

Video ad sequencing allows brands to create “an ad experience that unfolds over time”. A new feature in AdWords Labs let you tie together content in ways that react to the ways that customers react to ads and take them down different paths.

For instance, you start with an introductory ad that builds awareness and then continue with longer spots that communicate specific product attributes or pain point solutions.

Measuring Sales Lift

Finally, Google is releasing a new global approach to measuring sales lift. Based on the Nielsen Matched Panel Analysis, the geo-based solution is a fast way to work out with online ads drive to offline sales.

Taken together, YouTube hopes that this suite of new tools will help people create ads “that are relevant and useful, so that instead of interrupting people’s viewing experiences, you’re enhancing them.”

By: Colm Hebblethwaite

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Facebook has Developed a New Tool to Compare Social Ads to TV Ads

Facebook wants to show advertisers the impact TV has on social and vice versa.

The company is launching two new brand measurement tools that analyze TV and Facebook performance. One of them, Facebook Cross-Platform Brand Lift, plugs into TV analytics company iSpot to crunch data on brand lift across Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Audience Network, or FAN, ads. Consumers are asked in surveys if they watched specific TV programs and then receive followup questions about ads that aired during the programs. Brands can then compare the results from people who were exposed to ads and those who were not. Facebook is slowly rolling out Cross-Platform Brand Lift to advertisers, with the goal of making it widely available in the first quarter of 2018.

“Mobile use has exploded in recent years and has become the new standard bearer in digital content consumption. And because of this, attention is at an all-time premium, and audiences are moving really quickly between devices and across traditional platforms like TV,” said Jessica Shoemaker, product marketing manager at Facebook. “It’s become increasingly difficult for advertisers to get a comprehensive view of their marketing performance, and today, there is no tool that provides an apples-to-apples comparison of brand outcomes across Facebook and television—we know that this is something that brands want and care about.”The second tool works similarly but Nielsen powers it, using its database of TV programming to determine whether someone who was watching TV also saw a Facebook ad. Nielsen will run its own polls and analyze data within the tool, and Nielsen Total Brand Effect with Lift is available for marketers in the U.S. and U.K.


Both tools compare lift across Facebook-only ads, TV-only ads or both types of ads.

House-care brand Shark recently tested Nielsen’s tool to determine brand awareness from Facebook and TV ads, finding a 22-point lift in ad recall when consumers saw both TV and Facebook ads versus a six-point lift for TV-only ads and a three-point lift for Facebook-only ads. The brand also found an eight-point increase in purchase intent when Facebook and TV ads were used together and a six-point lift in awareness when both formats were used.

In the future, Shoemaker said that the goal is to make the tool more precise, tracking Facebook activity during a specific commercial break instead of during a full TV program.

“We’re going to be using the iSpot database to power the learning through that—right now that reporting is not available,” she said. “That’s the ambition for the Facebook solution—that we will be able to report on what the consumers who also reported watching TV as well as those who didn’t were doing on their mobile phones specifically relating to Facebook activity while commercials were airing.”

A year after marketers asked for more transparency into the social network’s reporting and methodology because of a string of measurement issues, the new tool is Facebook’s latest form of addressing those concerns.

Last week, Facebook rolled out a large round of transparency and brand safety changes, including new guidelines for creators and a campaign tool that shows advertisers where their ads ran. Facebook now works with 24 measurement companies.

“Our commitment remains to helping businesses understand their marketing value both on and off Facebook,” Shoemaker said. “Is their creative actually working harder because it is diversified across platforms and do they have complementary messages that are actually helping to drive brand outcomes in a more effective way? Is it more efficient for them to reach one more person across those platforms than either alone?”

By: Lauren Johnson

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How These Powerful Influencers Use Instagram to Connect with their Audiences


It’s impossible to deny the growing power of Instagram for both individuals and brands: the social media platform has launched careers of influencers, given celebrities a chance to connect with their fans, and lets brands talk directly to audiences. How are the most successful accounts on Instagram using the platform? We spoke with panelists from Advertising Week panel The Instagram Effect | Where Business and Passions Meet before they took the stage to find out why they prefer to ‘gram.

Marne Levine, Chief Operating Officer, Instagram @marnelevine

Marne Levine

Levine has been Instagram’s COO since 2014, helping transition the platform from a popular photo-sharing app to a place where businesses are willing to spend time and money. “Businesses have always had a home on Instagram – 80% of people on our platform choose to follow a business,” says Levine. “My advice is to adopt a mobile mindset. Put simply, ‘Shorter, Faster, Be Yourself.’ We live in an age of visual communications where an image or a short video evokes incredible emotion and you have the ability to test this creative quickly and act fast on what’s successful. At the core of this success is being yourself and staying true to your brand.” Navigating a career path from Washington, D.C. to Silicon Valley has taught Levine a thing or two about staying true to herself–as she told Moira Forbes earlier this year.

Sarah Jessica Parker, businesswoman and actress @sarahjessicaparker

Sarah Jessica Parker

She’s known for and acting career and eponymous womenswear brand, but this summer, Parker made headlines for another reason.Her enthusiastic response to the solar eclipse, shared on her personal Instagram page, delighted the internet. Parker’s use of the platform, clearly, is an impactful way for her to transcend expected content and bring followers into her everyday live. “I have found that [Instagram is] not only the best way of communicating with those I know, but it’s a real opportunity to reach out to those I don’t know, have interesting conversations, exchange ideas, share images, share kindness,” she says. “The beauty of Instagram is that you’re constantly finding things that are moving, funny, inspiring and heartbreaking. But you’re able to have those experiences all day long from every corner of the universe.”

Rebecca Jarvis, Chief Business, Technology & Economics Correspondent at Good Morning America @rebeccajarvis

Rebecca Jarvis