Anointed As Facebook Ad Partner, Kenshoo Explores The Value Of Social

After a few months of preparation, digital marketing tech provider Kenshoo unveiled a number of new tools this week as part of its Kenshoo Enterprise 4.7 software upgrade, including integrated organic and paid search reporting. The Israeli company, which has U.S. operations in San Francisco, New York and Chicago, as well as in China and Europe, has bulked up its service offerings, in part, due to its position in Facebook’s Preferred Marketing Developer Program.

The use of the preferred developers is designed to make Facebook more user-friendly to advertisers and agencies, as the social network looks to drive revenues more quickly in the face of the heretofore unfamiliar pressures of stockholders.

We spoke with Kenshoo’s Zvika Goldstein, the company’s Social Product Director, about being a Facebook preferred ad partner, while CMO Aaron Goldman took questions about the company’s general focus. (This is the fourth in a series with Facebook Ads API certified PMDs. Earlier: UpcastNanigans and AKQA))

AdExchanger: How are you building/developing the app?

Zvika Goldstein: Within Kenshoo, we have a dedicated business unit for Kenshoo Social. This helps us make sure we have the right resources developing the app with the needs of social marketers in mind. Our product team is always working with clients to set functional requirements and prioritize the roadmap and our R&D team is working on an agile format for quick release cycles. We also stay close with our partners at Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others to understand what they’re seeing and what they’re creating in terms of APIs for developers. We’ve built Kenshoo Social on top of the Kenshoo Universal Platform so that our social solutions integrate with search and all other channels for reporting, tracking and attribution.

In terms of buying ads on Facebook or Zynga, where do you buy ads when you have access? Are there restrictions or limitations?

Advertisers can use Kenshoo Social to manage Facebook Marketplace ads, which appear on Zynga at Facebook’s discretion. All the same targeting options that are available through the Facebook Ads API apply to Zynga. For example, gender, geo, or connections.

What does it mean to be considered a preferred Facebook ad partner? How do you think it will impact your business?

Kenshoo Social is a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) for Ads. The PMD program helps advertisers understand which companies are officially compliant with Facebook’s API specs. In social, just like the early days of search, there are a lot of people out there claiming to be experts. The PMD badge gives Kenshoo a mark of credibility and keeps our roadmap aligned with Facebook.

When you buy on behalf of your clients, what are the ads they’re buying: Sponsored stories? Marketplace ads on the side?

Kenshoo does not do any media buying on behalf of clients. We provide the technology platform for them to do their buying. Many of the other players in social are offering solutions that are tech-plus-service. At Kenshoo, we’re staying true to our technology play. Many of the biggest Kenshoo Social clients are agencies and we don’t want to compete with them. Since the social ad space is relatively new, we realize there is a need for education and that’s why we created Kenshoo Socialities, a training and enablement program for Kenshoo Social clients. After going through our boot camp, clients are off and running to hit their business goals.

As for the types of Facebook ads that clients can buy through Kenshoo Social, we support Marketplace Ads, which show up on the right hand side of Facebook and in the news feed on desktop and mobile. Marketplace Ads are good tools for driving ongoing engagement and direct response campaigns. Sponsored Stories are quickly becoming one of the most popular ad types. We’ve seen them perform at 3x conversion rate compared to other formats. We also support Facebook Premium Ads, which are bought on CPM and show up on the right side of the homepage. These ads are great for promotions, brand awareness, events and product launches.

There are a lot of capabilities to the FB API – which ones are you covering, what are your clients asking for?

Kenshoo Social supports all Facebook capabilities for the Ads API including creation of ads, performance reports, bid submission and budget management across Marketplace and Premium. On top of this, we’ve built workflow tools to create ads in bulk and proprietary algos to optimize bids and budgets to meet campaign goals. The mission of Kenshoo Social is to illuminate the value of the social channel and this means seeing how everything works together. To make this happen, we’re building tools to help marketers understand the interplay of paid, owned, and earned social media. This shows all the brand touches with consumers and allows proper attribution and bid optimization across all channels.

What’s going to be the impact on major publishers of the Facebook Exchange? How will it influence them?

The Facebook Exchange is going to have a major impact but we can’t talk much about it because of our NDA. Let’s just say that the ability for advertisers to buy Facebook inventory based on user activity outside Facebook is very powerful. It’s about enabling retargeting without violating privacy concerns.

How has Kenshoo evolved? 

Aaron Goldman: When Kenshoo was founded in 2006, we saw an opportunity in the search space to create technology that would solve two major pain points for advertisers and agencies. The first was workflow inefficiency. It was just too cumbersome to manage millions of keywords, ads, bids and landing pages across multiple search engines. The second was performance stagnation. After a certain point of optimizing campaigns, marketers would trim out all the fat and results would plateau. So we built a platform to address these issues and, along the way, developed a lot of IP around controlled automation and algorithmic optimization.

Now, take that IP and combine it with the deep systems integration we completed with some of the world’s most sophisticated advertisers and agencies and you have the recipe for expansion beyond search. Social was a logical target based on the fact that we do really well with channels that require manipulation of huge datasets. Some of our biggest search clients are managing more than 100 million keywords on Kenshoo so we’ve already got the scale and the research analytics in place to optimize at that level.

In social, it’s all about targeting but it’s based on stated interests not stated intent like search. The key with Facebook is creating massive numbers of ad permutations and optimizing bids to achieve strong engagement rates. That was the focus of the research we just published with Resolution Media.

Between search and social, you’re looking at a potent combination to build brands and generate demand, which is why they make up 60 percent of online ad budgets and 100 percent of Kenshoo’s focus.

What are some of the company’s goals this year?

To do well in search and social, you have to have an understanding of all media channels and how the impact each other. You also have to understand the interplay of search and social activity across various screens from desktop to mobile to tablet. Finally, you have to understand the results driven by search and social campaigns offline, in store, etc.

At Kenshoo, we’re putting a lot of energy in the second half of the year to enhancing our solutions for attribution and integration. We just launched SEM/SEO integration with Rio SEO, BrightEdge, and Conductor, the three leading SEO platforms to allow clients to see paid and organic search results side-by-side. We also recently released an Attribution Simulator Report for marketers to see how bottom-line performance changes based on various models and adjust budgets accordingly. We also put out OS/Device reporting for tracking and optimizing campaigns for various browsers and formats.

Expect more from Kenshoo in H2 around the areas of attribution and integration. We have some pilots running now that will have significant impact for clients during the Q4 shopping season.

What trends are you following?

Mobile is at the top of our list. Mobile is changing the game in search, social and beyond. Within search, mobile is changing how we submit queries. More and more, we’re moving to voice and looking for contextual results based on location. Within social, mobile is becoming the key device for communicating and connecting from instant messaging to photo sharing. Again, layer on the location component and it becomes much more powerful for marketing.

Beyond advanced targeting, mobile helps us better gauge program performance. Kenshoo’s Call Conversion Optimization which tracks phone calls down to the ad level and optimizes bids based on call quantity and quality. We also have a POC running to bring check-in data to the platform and measure how online activity drives people in store. As things like Google Wallet take off, we’ll have another way to understand the impact of our online campaigns on offline sales.

And let’s not forget about Siri, the search engine of the future that completes actions rather than returning results. We’re nowhere near the potential of Siri, or mobile, today but Kenshoo is actively investing in helping our clients stay ahead of this trend.

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