Search Engine Marketing allows for the purchase of positioning within a variety of search engine and directory results. However, the analysis of its effectiveness lies not in the positioning but in the conversion rate associated with searcher activity. One of the more difficult types of advertising return on investment (ROI) to measure is the offline conversion. Barring the download and use of a coupon by a customer that can be directly tied to a specific click, or the offhand chance that a salesman will remember to ask and the client will remember that he clicked on a paid link in search engine XYZ, most conversions of this type have to be measured as a "best guess." This difficulty is one of the reasons that SEM benefits so much when case studies and analysis are brought into the open for discussion.
A thread started yesterday at Search Engine Watch Forums describes a brief case study published on the Marketing Sherpa website, describing some very interesting results of a recent test. The test pitted Google Local advertising versus Google "Regular" search engine ads in AdWords, and seemed to be soundly controlled. The surprising results were that 100% of the coupons used in this test at a store location were tagged as coming from Google, not Local ads. The poster asks for people to share if they feel that
It's possible people are only going to Local if they are actually searching for the store itself
This could be an interesting thread. First, the test will probably be further questioned. Was the tracking code accurate? How many Local versions of the coupon were said to be printed, if that was measured? The list goes on. The discussions of whether Google AdWords converts better than Google Local can also be good. However, in my opinion, the real discussion gem in the report is the last part about the Google Local ads "feeding regular results for particular phases." This is research I want to run immediately...