Google Adwords Exact Match Expansion

In the current setup if your keyword match type is an exact match, your ad will appear for the exact keyword or the close variants- a close variant being a misspelling, singular and plural forms, misspells and acronyms.

In the coming months Google has announced this will change and the definition of exact match will now include even function words ( a, for, to from etc..) and also ignore the word orders.

The good news is that you would no longer need to need to create keywords with re-ordered or re-worded ones. However, this change also means you would need to check the search query report more often than earlier and start weeding our irrelevant searches.

One thing to note is that this change doesn’t mean google will show ads for keywords/ search queries that do not have the same meaning. For example a query which say “Dubai to timbuktu flights” will not trigger an ad that is relevant for ” flights from timbuktu” or ” flight timings to timbuktu”.

Also, this emphasises trust of goole on machine learning and letting algorithms take control over small changes and let marketing experts utilise their time on other important tasks.

The change is now being reported only for English and Spanish languages, with the rest of languages to follow in 2017


Facebook Shoppable Feed Ads

Facebook started testing new product ads few weeks back( still in beta), shoppable feed ads. The ad allows retailers and e-commerce players to show a multi-product ad/ image in the Facebook news feed. 

For those familiar with Dynamic Product Ads, this is slightly an evolved version of it.

The ad format consists of two parts, one a hero image and a second page( within the Facebook environment) consisting of a page with more products. It also take two clicks for a user to land on the retailers landing page. 

Whats surprising is that it took Facebook so many years to finally evolve into providing shopping ad formats( google had product listing ads way back in 2012). Google continued to give ample importance to these formats and now they form a significant part of the search page results real estate.

Of course it goes without saying that improving mobile experience could also have contributed to such a format.

Initial reaction to the shoppable ads have been questions related to the “clicks” that the ad can deliver. Whats important to consider are the interactions that this ad can provide and not chase vanity metrics like a click.

Considering that no 100% first click actually result’s in a conversion/ purchase, what a retailer should take advantage is the detailed experience the ad format allows for. If used correctly, this format should also allows for a better user experience.

The format is still in beta, but hopefully should become available soon. Let me know once you start using this and the results.


Facebook to embrace third party media audits

For those who have been following the media space, this doesn’t come as a surprise. It was bound to happen….eventually.

Talks between the company and MRC had started way back in December 2016 and finally seems to have concluded with the social media platform agreeing on plans to commit to independent audit to verify the accuracy of measurement it delivers to its ad partners.

Initial resistance seems to have given way finally as media buyers demanded better accountability on part of Facebook and more recently with the P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard demanded that media platforms/ publishers fall in line and support the MRC standards or face consequences with P&G pulling of media spends.

So what has really changed?

For a start, Facebook will now provide more detailed information on viewability for display ads which include 

  1. Milliseconds that an ad was on the screen
  2. Milliseconds that 50% of the ad was on the screen
  3. Milliseconds that 100% of the ad was on the screen

Facebook historically defined viewability as the “moment an ad enters the viewable window” with no specific time-based restrictions. Considering how quickly users scroll through their news feeds, it’s highly possible that many of the ads are on screen for far less than one second.

And, later this year, advertisers will be able to buy video on completed views, sound-on views and two-second views. MRC video standard is of 50% of pixels in view for two continuous seconds.

Overall, the move seems to be a positive one with Facebook finally realising that even a big player needs to fall in line when it comes to a question of accountability and measurements.

For more detailed version of what Facebook released on its blog this Friday, click the below link-

What is Header Bidding?

Programmatic buying, in literal sense means automation, but still requires a lot of work to connect buyers and sellers. These connects also involve publishers trying to make a lot more money and buyers trying to get maximum value for the inventory bought.

Techniques like header bidding are one of the ways publishers try to get more revenue for their inventory. It has different names like advance bidding, pre- bidding etc.

The concept is that publishers offer inventory to multiple ad exchanges simultaneously before making a ping to their ad server. By letting multiple demand sources bid on the same inventory at the same time, the yield or the returns earned by the publishers go up.

It will be a dream come true for publishers to see their inventory make enough returns on inventory and drive maximum efficient utilisation of the inventory. Its often called “publisher waterfall”, where impressions are sold to sales channels in descending order until someone bids it. This obviously means money is lost along the path.

. Publishers usually don’t get much value when they plug into AdX as due to its technology, AdX is able to beat other demand in the adserver and place a bid even if its not its turn.From a buyers perspective, header bidding allows for them to bypass the relationship that DFP( DoubleClick for publishers) and AdX have.

Publishers obviously see a lot more value in header bidding. This also puts a lot of pressure on DFP, which through its dynamic allocation feature lets only AdX bid on every impressions.

But, there is a catch which essentially comes in the form of a complicated setup and affect page load time of publishers. Each SSP tag means a slow down on the load time of the web pages. As the name stand, the tag also needs to be implemented on the site header. The other challenge is agreeing a key value to receive the pre- bid price. This means a higher visibility on all the inventory and potentially limit incremental revenue. so….will a publisher be willing to allow for such things?

Well, one way ( in the future that is) will be to have a standard or universal header tag between all vendors.

But like I said, only in the future. Until then publishers just need to realise its a better way of doing things that the way they are doing now.

CES 2016: Connected consumer journey

This year at the CES, most of talks were around drones, wearable, VR headsets and TV. All said the CES was an evolution than revolution.
One common thread that mattered across the event was the use of data and how best to utilise these for marketers. Most importantly use these for driving a valuable brand experiences.

Wearable:- Considering the valuable data that can be generated through these, Fitbit announced its Blaze wearable, Fossil is getting into the wearable and connected device market by announcing 100+ new products/ launches. Around the health and fitness were Huawei’s Honor Band Z1 which helps track fitness, perform tasks like counting yours sleeping hours, record of how one sleeps etc.
All these mean that brand have an opportunity to target users in new ways. Fitness, sleep, eating habits all generate valuable data that can be used to market relevant one- on- one advertising and content. Exploring partnership opportunities is a way to go and ensure delivery of products that are complimentary to health and fitness.

Cars and IoT:– Cars will be an important platform with many hi tech cars getting released. VW had the concept cars- e- Golf Touch that lets you know what’s in your fridge. BMW had a similar technology which lets you control things like lighting, heating and appliances by staying in the car.
Toyota had a similar announcement with a foray into AI that will enable cars to communicate without human interactions. For a marketer this means that like any other media, brands can tailor ads and provide experiences. Finding a nearby store, delivering a in the moment message. Voice search will become important and brand need to understand how consumers are likely to use voice search and refine brand experiences to improve conveniences within voice search.

Connected Home:– A wealth of new smart, connected household devices were on display at the CES. Samsung had a family bridge and Whirlpool’s new Smart washers and Dryer lets to integrate Amazon Dash functionality to enable easy restocking.
Home is now being identified s a new battleground and data collected through these will be very valuable. But the journey doesn’t look easy as this is a very competitive Google and its Nest program is in direct competition with Amazon and its Alexa platform. The biggest announcement was obviously the announcement of Netflix, which is adding 130 countries to its list. It’s a huge step in the Internet TV services.
Treasures of advertising and content opportunities exist for brands. A smart fridge can send direct reminders to your phone if it senses that the food has been spoiled, food is over etc. Added to this when you connect everything in the house imagine the data and opportunity to deliver one- to-one messages across the ecosystem based on the IoT data.
Combining the data created at home and the automotive will only increase and make this space more competition.

VR and AR, the darling of CES:– For marketers the opportunity that exist through gaming and utility apps and creative advertising is ony getting bigger. What interesting is that both AR and VR have now become cheaper and more accessible.
Oculus- owned by Facebook announces that consumers will be able to order the Rift handset at less than $600. Gramin has a similar AR display which lets cyclists mount in their sunglass providing performance endurance information and directions. Hyundai developed a similar app called the Virtual Guide, which enables the users to use the phones to perform basic maintenance.
VR shopping experience is going to redefine path to purchase by creating more intuitive online shopping experiences and reduce length of shopping.
Brands should look to explore integrating VR and AR into their experiences and marketing strategy to create more realistic and engaging experiences to help improve the consideration phase of customers.
Creating immersive experiences on the go is what marketers can leverage by crating VR content and advertising.

Programmatic: The state of it

With 2015 coming to a close, one key buzzword in the digital space has been “programmatic buying”. I would like to take this opportunity to give my thoughts.

A recent Ad Exchanger survey showed that there has been some evolution from one of two players to more adopters across various industries.

The main industries seen investing in programmatic have been Retail, Financial services, Media and CPG.

Based on the survey, there have been both a cautious and bullish opinion on marketers adopting programmatic. This is expected to change as we see the overall market maturing with expanded pool and type of inventory. This would eventually lead to a more increase in investments on programmatic.

There three main areas of programmatic that will see an increase. These are.

Desktop display, which still dominates and is the most mature of the programmatic channel.

Programmatic video remains popular, however the challenge remains in getting premium inventory. YouTube still remains the most popular destination for most marketers.

Programmatic mobile, which is growing & expected to grow with industry maturity and ad unit prices remaining low.

All said and keeping a high hope for the year ahead, the main challenge still remains with the key issue of “ transparency”

This is not a surprise considering agency-trading desks and kickback concerns. Added to this the complexity of having layers and layers in the value chain.

As a result we are seeing many agencies having direct involvement by investing in technology or engaging in more oversight into agency and partner management.

Agencies continue to point fingers at “ inventory quality” as the biggest problem. This obviously leads to a lot of trust issue between the agency and the clients on roles, responsibilities and expectations.

The key benefit still remains the low CPM, which is very visible in the CPG industry who view programmatic as a mechanism to drive cost saving and reduce non-working media dollars. This is complete contrast to ROI driven clients who go to the extent of matching impression purchase price to the expected ROI.

Another interesting trend developing off late is the use of multiple DSPs- Turn, Double click Bid Manager, MediaMath etc.- to execute full scope of the programmatic media efforts. This does provide its own challenges in terms of data overlap, poor frequency management- this trend is likely to increase as marketers try to maximise reach and use channel specific DSPs.

The Next big wave?

The next big thing to look out for is programmatic TV, though in infancy the excitement among the buyers are increasing- granular targeting, flexibility and measurement in the television media space.

On thing is for sure, programmatic will be an interesting space to watch out for. Programmatic media has moved from “ tip of the iceberg” to mainstream.

Organic Reach of Facebook Pages on Decline

It already has, as shown in the study by Social@Ogilvy

Guess Facebook would now be positioned under the “paid” element in a Paid Owned and Earned strategy. 

APAC Social and Digital Scenario for 2014…Interesting read


In an ongoing optimisation effort, there are four key stages( not in the same order):

Renew, Attract, Conversion and Engagement.

Attract–Obviously the first step involves “Right Message” to your audience.

Right Message to the RIght set of Audience at the RIght Time….

Engagement–This involves “driving in” the audience and measuement of clicks and CTR.

Gives you an indication if the message is correct, re-writing the ad copies for optimisation purpose.

Conversion– Cost per conversion, CPC, Average position, COst, COnversion rate, Revenue per conversion.

ROI doesnt always need to be attributed to sales, it can even in some cases be value per pageview, time spent on a page etc.

Renew–At your conversion stage,either the user fulfils the goal you set or they may drop off. What do you do with them?

Well, you build loyalty and nurture those who converted through giving them incentives, special promotion packages.

And for those who didnt, you still can use those data for figuring out why they didnt convert–was it lack of an offer? did your landing page take time to load?was there a clear CTA?

The stages given above are repetitive in nature and most importantly you should be nimble enough to lug in loop holes if any.

Remember,metrics are not just for reporting, they are for you to take actions.

Twitter v/s Facebook PPC challenges


Hashtags and the latest IPO have made twitter the talk of the town. but the talk of the marketers have been…”can twitter challenge facebook when it comes to PPC model advertising”?


Is twitter a more brand channel or can we still fit in a fair amount of direct responses, much like facebook?

To look this through, we must evaluate what is in favour and what isn’t in favour of twitter.

What works for twitter?

—The self-service model is quite a remarkable and scalable oppurtunity much like ad-words account.

—It does cater to a global set of audience, can be an advantage if markters are looking to advertise globally.

—That said, twitter does allow and facilitate in Geo-tagged inventory, helping in delivering local specific messages.

—The engagement rates (read as CTR) are relatively higher than Facebook and quite comparable to Google. 

—By acquiring MoPub, it does make a statement on its seriousness to cater to mobile audiences.

What doesnt favour twitter??

—The IPO showed us that Twitter UV were around 200 million, which translates to less than 25% of Facebook and Google audiences.

—With majority of ad inventory and revenue coming in from mobile, it would be a challenge for direct response campaigns simply because of a lower conversion rates on mobile as against desktop.

—With multiple jargons and redefinition of words like “followers”, “tweets”,most of the advertisers still do not understand the implications of buying a specific hastags or a bunch of followers. 

—How does one create an engaging tweets? this is still a challenge and require more creativity.Getting followers is the easier part, how do you engage them?

Well, with a good IPO performance and lot of dollars made, it will still be interesting to see how PPC evangelists approach Twitter. Like Facebook, it may take time figuring out what to do and what not.