TechBytes with Wesley MacLaggan, Head of Marketing, Marin Software

Wesley MacLaggan, Head of Marketing, Marin Software

Wesley MacLaggan,
Head of Marketing, Marin Software

In 2018, leading B2B brands are increasingly looking at the current crop of cross-channel advertising platforms to see better results from their ad spend— not just for the year, but every day. With the growing demands from the publishers’ side, the focus of leading cross-channel advertising platforms is to deliver transparent retargeting and prospecting solution powered by cross-channel intent backed by real-time performance metrics. To understand the current state of cross-channel advertising technologies and how would these technologies impact audience data ROI, we spoke to Wesley MacLaggan, Head of Marketing, Marin Software.

Tell us about your role at Marin Software.

I joined Marin Software back in 2008 and spent most of my time here in a product role, working alongside the team that built Marin Software into the leading digital advertising platform it is today—responsible for $100 million in annual revenue. Now, as the SVP of Marketing, I’m tasked with driving awareness around the next phase of Marin’s evolution—one that’s focused on uniting advertising across search and social.

After all, our customers are fighting for audiences in a digital landscape where Google and Facebook command nearly 80% time spend on the internet and over 60% of online ad dollars.

According to your Q4 2017 Digital Benchmark Report, social CTRs have remained relatively flat. What does this say about the industry and how can advertisers improve this rate?

This stagnant trend indicates creative personalization is not keeping pace with consumer expectations. Consumers have so many different sources vying for their attention, so without relevant and timely material, advertisers will miss their opportunity to attract more eyeballs and secure more clicks. To improve click-through rates, it’s important for advertisers to assign a budget to the formats that have proven to be successful with consumers, such as video advertising. According to comScore, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video.

There’s also room for increased engagement in some of the emerging technologies, such as Facebook Messenger. Businesses can use Messenger to start 1:1 personalized conversations with their prospects and customers. Google also provides a similar capability with click-to-message ads that prompt SMS interactions with customers.

But, as you work with these new channels and touchpoints, never forget to go back to basics. Ask yourself, who are you targeting and what message are you sending? If you’re struggling to improve CTRs, it could be due to outdated methods of audience targeting. Layering audiences on top of keywords can drive better results than using keywords alone.

In fact, we’ve found that advertisers see 48% more clicks when they use Similar Audiences in conjunction with remarketing.

What are the core tenets of the Marin platform? How does it integrate with modern Adtech and Customer Experience platforms?

The core tenet of the Marin platform is to unite advertisers’ search and social efforts. Our cross-channel advertising platform helps advertisers win more customers, increase revenue, and boost ROI. We’re able to do this through our independent platform, which takes an unbiased look at the customer journey and accurately reports how customers are interacting with a brand through search and social. Although Google and Facebook also have tools that help marketers understand the impact of their advertising spend, they only provide insights on their portion of the customer journey. Being an independent platform allows us to align better with customers’ goals and interests and gives them the holistic view that will maximize their campaign performance.

An open and independent platform also means our customers can integrate their existing adtech and customer experience platforms into our technology. By ingesting audience, revenue, and contextual data from any source, advertisers are able to improve insight and performance across their customers and preferred publishers. That’s a key component of Marin’s unique value proposition.

What are your predictions for Cross-Channel Advertising technologies? How would these technologies impact Audience Data ROI?

A cross-channel strategy is the only way brands can effectively follow customers on their complex journeys and deliver the seamless messaging they expect. In particular, brands that keep their search and social efforts in silos can expect to experience attribution failure, budget allocation mistakes, and mixed messaging across channels.

Cross-channel strategies offer higher returns on digital spend in addition to providing better control and visibility during campaigns. Marketers can make better budgeting and planning decisions when they unify the customer journey, and they can receive higher conversions when they deliver seamless cross-channel messaging. At Marin Software, we see a 2x increase in conversions for users who click search and social ads versus users who only click search ads. Social is even better, with a 2x increase in conversions for users who click search and social ads versus users who only click search ads.

How do you leverage AI/ML at Marin? Would AI/ML make media buying and brand safety compliance easier to deal with?

Machine learning is no longer just a buzzword—it’s starting to make a major impact on ad campaigns. For example, we see Google is leveraging its machine learning capabilities to match users with highly targeted ads, leading to substantially improved engagement. Activity on the Marin Software platform shows that advertisers are increasing spend on dynamic ad formats, like Shopping Ads, which deliver higher click-through rates and drive high-performance campaigns.

Marin Software’s Budget Optimizer uses AI to allocate spend to the highest performing ads so marketers can fulfill their performance goals. AI is also used to calculate optimal bids for low-volume keywords, and it can optimize campaigns for our customers using an algorithm that automatically considers granular data, such as ad performance, geographic locations, audience segment, and time of day.

We also use ML to automatically adjust keyword bids in near real time, so marketers can preserve their target keyword position despite any fluctuations—a significant value-add for advertisers on our platform. These intuitive tools automate and easily scale global campaigns, often with millions of keywords and sophisticated audience targeting, giving our customers more time to manage daily workflows, identify growth opportunities, and optimize revenue performance.

Google and Facebook are both doing amazing things with machine learning. Dynamic ads based on feeds and user behavior allow for personalization at scale with minimal human interaction. This is taking control away from the advertiser, but we believe many will accept this as long as the result is better performance. ML will also help them better match content with advertiser aims to help with brand safety and fraud prevention.

Thanks for chatting with us, Wesley.

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