Today we get to hear from an industry-leader. Kenshoo has consistently put out digital marketing reports that serve as the gold-standard for data and is a software of choice for many professional PPC campaign managers, including us here at CPC Strategy.

kenshoo-bid-management-software-logoWith digital marketing strategy shifting as dynamically as it does, it’s a luxury to have a powerful and scalable digital advertising platform to rely on to ensure optimal campaign performance. The reality is, however, that it’s a huge investment to link up with a premium bid management platform and there are several to choose from.

Kenshoo’s Director of Marketing Research & Content, Josh Dreller, walks us through how he sees the current digital marketing landscape and how Kenshoo works with retailers.

Describe Kenshoo in 50 words or less.

Kenshoo is a global software company that engineers cloud-based digital marketing solutions and predictive media optimization technology. Our mission is to empower marketers worldwide with technology to build brands and generate demand across all media. Our core products include solutions for search, social, local, and cross-channel attribution.

Kenshoo consistently puts out a number of recognized industry reports. What fascinating, perhaps unexpected trends have you guys noticed in 2013 that we should expect to come into fruition in 2014-15?

bid-management-software-kenshoo-josh-drellerJosh: The biggest two trends that have been growing quickly and will blossom this year are paid social advertising and mobile marketing. There is major excitement surrounding these two channels and they are both expected to become major components of digital marketing plans very soon.

When social media first started, the emphasis was on leveraging owned media to drive earned media impressions and paid social advertising was just an afterthought. However, with social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others now refining their offerings, there’s tremendous opportunity to impact and influence consumers at scale using the unique targeting options and native ad formats.

Mobile is certainly something that marketers have been keeping an eye on for the last five years as many of us are very strong mobile consumers already. It’s just taken some time for best practices to be written, mobile inventory to grow, and for mobile to emerge as its own entity versus being just a sub-channel; i.e. mobile search, mobile video, mobile banners, etc.

Ecommerce brands are seeing more and more of consumer time share being spent on social and mobile (and even mobile social!) so there’s no doubt that these two channels are going to be on every digital marketer’s minds for the next few years.

What digital advertising channel do you recommend retailers check out to drive qualified traffic to their site?

Josh: Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are by far the most compelling new ad format for retailers to consider in the last five years. The first page of search engine results is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate on the web for any brand, especially ones engaged in ecommerce.  For years, search engines simply guided consumers directly to web stores, but it makes sense for them to evolve this way and be even a better resource for those looking for product information online.

As we saw at the end of last year during the peak festive shopping season, global advertisers spent 138% more year-over-year (YoY) on PLAs in 2013 versus 2012 and generated 269% higher revenue YoY with nearly a 9 to 1 return on ad spend (ROAS)! Additionally, with the new Google Shopping campaigns functionality, merchants will have even more control over how they advertising their product catalogs via PLAs.

When you consider that a consumer has to search on an engine, see a product image in a PLA, and click it – that’s a very strong engagement level that occurs before the merchant is charged for the ad and certainly correlates to “qualified traffic”.

If you were to advise a retail business to invest advertising dollars in one social media platform, which would it be and why?

bid-management-software-social-advertising-facebookJosh: Right now, for social advertising, Facebook is just killing it. It has the scale, the user base, the platform, the internal infrastructure – and it doesn’t hurt that it is several years ahead of the rest of its peers in terms of an advanced ad offering. The pricing is still very good on the site and the inventory is readily available. Facebook made a big move last year to simplify the ad offering and approach advertisers on their level which has also helped marketers better wrap their heads around how to

Facebook just turned 10. It isn’t the shiny new penny any more. It has to go head-to-head against other digital marketing options and prove its value. Advertisers don’t just want to be told, “You have to buy Facebook advertising.” They want to be asked if they’d like to drive more sales or more leads and be explained how to leverage the ad opportunities in the right way to get the highest return from their budgets. Facebook has embraced that message and seems focused on creating value versus just selling ads.

Mobile marketers would be remiss to not tap into Facebook’s ability to drive mobile engagement. In the final quarter of 2013, over 60% of Facebook’s ad revenue came from their mobile offering.  In January 2014, CEO/Founder Mark Zuckerberg declared “Facebook is now a mobile company,” and there will be a bigger investment dedicated to mobile side of that business moving forward.

With all that said, I do want to point out that Twitter’s made great progress with its advertising offering and API to emerge as a very strong option for retailers.

What is Kenshoo’s differentiating factor when you stack it up against other major players in the paid search software sphere?

Forrester PPC Search Platform Ranks

Josh: It all comes down to how our platform is built and who it’s build for. We’re laser focused on serving only the most sophisticated digital marketers. We have a long history of being first-to-market and invest more than half of our budget into R&D to make sure we’re offering the most innovative and scalable platform in the space. It’s definitely not for everyone. If you don’t need the most advanced algorithms or workflow automation, you don’t need Kenshoo.

Another key differentiator is that we’re solely focused on digital marketing technology. We have no competing business units or product lines nor do we make money from other areas like media or creative. All our best engineering talent goes into objectively helping our clients maximize their performance across channels.

As far as the product suite goes, we hang our hat on our bidding algorithms and predictive modeling. We’ve also got a lot of nifty tools to take insights from one channel and activate them in another – eg, Demand-Driven Campaigns and SmartPath dynamic attribution. Being the market leaders in search and social, we’re in a unique position to offer these solutions.

At the end of the day, though, it all comes down to results and we’ve proven to improve performance for marketers that invest in Kenshoo. We power nearly half of the Fortune 50 companies and all 10 of the top global ad agency networks. From a retail perspective, we have 40% of the Internet Retailer Top 50, roughly 30% of the Top 100, and more than 10% of the Top 1000. It’s our elite clients that push us to be the best and bring forward challenges that we can help solve through technology innovation.

What is Kenshoo’s target market?

Josh: Kenshoo works with clients that want to make digital marketing the most strategic capability in the organization. We have over 400 people in 22 international locations so we support clients in all regions. Our typical client spends more than $500,000 per month on search marketing but really anyone spending more than $100k will see value from the platform. From a social perspective, the budgets are a bit smaller and we work with folks in the $50k and up range.

We also offer a local product for companies that manage small businesses or national/global advertisers with many locations. These companies typically aggregate 10-10,000 individual campaigns and spend a combined $100k+ on search and social media.

Where do we sign up?

Josh: We’re happy to talk to anyone interested in Kenshoo. The best way to engage is by contacting us through our website.

Thanks for your support of Kenshoo and allowing us to share our perspective!

About Josh:

Kenshoo is a digital marketing technology company that engineers premium solutions for search marketing, social media and online advertising. As Director of Marketing Research & Content, Josh Dreller sifts through massive search and social advertising data sets to uncover trends and best practices. A media technologist fluent in the use of leading industry systems, Josh stays abreast of cutting edge digital marketing and measurement tools to maximize the effect of digital media on client goals.

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About the AuthorJon Gregoire is the Director of Demand Generation at CPC Strategy. Jon heads up the agency's inbound marketing program. A UC San Diego grad, Jon is a Chicago native and full-time San Diego tourist. He enjoys Bear Grylls-like backpacking trips, archery, weekend getaways in Southern California, watching his beloved Chicago Bears, and bidaily coffee consumption. See all posts by this author here.