Search Advertising 101

Mar 19, 2008 • 2:40 pm | comments (0) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Search Engine Strategies 2008 New York
 

Paid placement is a form of search advertising that provides a top ranking in return for payment. Every major search engine offers a paid placement program. Learn what's available in this session that is especially geared toward beginners, with details on programs from major providers and advice on how to succeed.

Moderator: • Allan Dick, General Manager, Vintage Tub & Bath

Speakers: • Dana Todd, CMO, Newsforce • Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster

Dana Todd

How many of you have been advertising on search engines for the past year or two? This is a beginning class, fundamental, because believe it or not there are thousands of people every day who are doing their first campaign online.

So, before you spend one dollar, I want you to spend some time in training. Every hour you spend in training is going to save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in mistakes, missed opportunities etc. Google and Microsoft give you free wonderful training materials. A lot of stuff on the blogs doesn’t make it into the training material so check out the blogs too. The SEMPO Institute provides great online training, and there are free webinars on sempo.org. Do educate yourself. It will pay off.

Some of the best PPC managers are highly analytical people but if you are not don’t worry. This is a fairly linear progression. You need to start small, and test.

How many people know that you can buy your way into paid inclusion or paid submit? You should do it. This is where you can set and forget. Not huge volume, but it does convert. With Microsoft, you can buy your way into their shopping results.

You can also look at feeds like shopping search, white paper networks (tech target), B2B, of course the new Yahoo mobile, and of course yellow pages.com. You can do Pay Per Call too!

So how do you buy search?

- Flat cost per click - Traditional ad auctions - Hybrid ad auction networks like Google and Yahoo

With hybrid, your position in the ad queue is affected by quality position or quality score. That’s why it’s yield maximizing – or profit maximizing for the search engines. The hybrid auctions are blind auctions, so you are kind of guessing. It’s engineered to get as much possible money out of you as possible. This is though the most efficient ad buy on the planet. It’s a phenomenal change in advertising landscape.

Google is a bit more complex then Yahoo, they have quality score, and “other relevancy factors”. Quality score can ultimately affect your budget more than anything else so you don’t want to ignore it. If you have a low quality score you have to pay more. Be aware that you don’t want to get a low quality score.

Google will start looking at your page load times too which will start affecting your price. You also will need to isolate low-impression keywords in Yahoo!

So how do you build a good campaign?

• Good tracking software! It’s really worth the investment because you will be able to get more out of it. You also need good Key Performance Indicators. • Set values. • Establish baseline metrics so you can judge your performance and test. • Strategy – wrapped around your goals. What you would like to see happen. • Money – of course you need a lot of money! Those who get the most out of search ultimately spend the most! If you can spend more you will find better efficiencies. However you need to be careful will this – diminishing returns! • Rules – set rules. If a keyword does not meet certain rulles, get rid of it! • Organize your campaign – don’t be messy. • Keyword generation – you need several, maybe thousands. • Controlling the ad distribution. • Copywriting (last thing you do before you go live). • Look at an ongoing ad schedule, keep it fresh.

After launching, continue doing your testing, bid management, and campaign optimization.

Setting base values and goals – Conversion. Can be anything that has any value! Whether it’s an engagement or a transaction. It’s ok to have conversions that don’t have dollar signs. 95% of transactions occur offline or in an extended space, so you are only getting part of the story online.

If you don’t know, it’s ok to guess! You can always modify your assumptions as you go along.

Easy math:

-What’s your gross margin? -What is the conversion of your site coming from search? -Multiply those and you will get your break even costs.

Keyword generation: Where do you start?

Your site, competitors, thesaurus, trade literature.

Brand names will typically be your best performers. Some people put their brand in and the portfolio looks great because they convert at much higher rates. Some advertisers keep brands and generic terms separate.

Negative keywords: Most marketers do not do this! If you don’t have filters set, your ad could be showing for some really ridiculous queries! Don’t worry about thousands, but you want some so it doesn’t bring down the overall campaign performance.

80/20 rule: 20% of your keywords will always drive 80% of your revenue.

Microsoft AdLabs: upstream/downstream. You can see what people are putting in. Google’s keyword tools are phenomenal. You should set up a seasonality map around your keywords.

Building the Ads: Because CTR is one of the most important factors, you want to focus on it. You want to pay attention because it will affect your price.

Make sure you put your keyword in the title and description. It works best! Searchers are very focused.

Choose appropriate landing page URLS, not necessarily always the homepage.

Use Dynamic Keyword Insertion! It’s an advanced concept but it’s a shortcut.

Searchers prefer uninterrupted logic (shows some good ad examples).

Schedule: Don’t just set and forget! It will tank if you leave it alone. Set aside a few hours a week. Map out a calendar of the campaign rollout, testing periods, promotions, budget changes. Schedule promotional and seasonal messaging.

Day Parting: time of day, days of week. Can help you save a lot of money. Overlay any expected seasonality. Schedule quarterly “housecleanings” to correct any coding mistakes. Test. Makes sure all the landing pages work and are correct.

Managing campaigns: Daily budgeting technology is not perfect! Put your high dollar words in their own campaign to control that better. Start out with a bang on Google – overspend for 2 weeks on Google to achieve a good quality score than pull back.

Google has a conversion optimizer, a budget optimizer, preferred cost bidding and manual bidding.

20% of ads need to be managed every day, especially high cost/high volume words. Others you may be able to ignore for a week.

Popular tools: Atlas, Keyword Bidmax, Omniture, SearchRev, Performics, Clickable, Adapt. But people are still required!

Are you paying too much? Improve CTR and landing page. Data equals money. Delete low performing keywords or pause/isolate them so they don’t bring down the overall campaign.

Final thoughts:

-Don’t be afraid to start small and grow your success. -Don’t be so conservative – set aside 10% to buy crazy keywords and experiment. -Reinvest a portion of profits back into budget -Leverage the engines for knowledge but don’t believe everything they tell you. -Provide enough resources to support the campaign. -Strive for integrated strategy across all media.

Matt Van Wagner

The whole idea is that it’s not a set and forget. You need to be involved every day.

PPC is great because you can get people to the site for less money than it costs to run a newspaper ad! We show to people in the target area and it works great.

I also love PPC because it’s measurable. One client had a good product, good campaign but they were being too shy about their budget, so we increased it 3 fold – and they increased their returns 4 fold!

PPC and SEO are complementary. You can discover what words convert, and it gives you a predictable dependable flow of traffic. PPC allows you more control over messaging though. You can determine what page the user will go to, unlike in organic listings.

Your real advantage to PPC is your process! Other stuff like ad copy and bids get discovered. Just fine tune your process.

Make sure you align your PPC goals with larger company goals.

Be methodical. Google keeps a history log for 90 days of all changes you have made to your campaign which is great! You can see what you did when. Don’t be too trigger happy on the campaigns though.

Here is a structure of a PPC campaign: ad group, keywords, ads, landing pages. You need to think about the landing pages.

Keyword stuff: one of the biggest problems you can make is to not understand how the match types work. Things like broad, phrase, exact and negative need to be your friends.

Broad match: present ads to greatest number of people with greatest keyword combinations. If you are getting too much traffic that’s unfocused, you can tighten it up with phrase match. It shows for less searches – shows the exact order of your query but you can have words before, and words after. If you really want to tighten things up – exact match: only and if only your query matches the keyword exactly.

Yahoo works in a similar way, they’ve got standard match which is sort of like broad match except you can’t differentiate between singular and plural. Advanced match will do queries in any order.

Use broad match to get going and then fine tune. I would recommend using one word keywords rarely, if it all, it will be too unfocused.

One you have the traffic you see what works, you narrow it down.

Negative match reduces ad impressions. Google gives you an infinite amount of negative keywords but be careful with this. MSN gives you 1,022 characters worth of negatives. Yahoo gives you 250 negatives at the ad level and 250 more at the account level. They just increased the number from 150 to 250.

Let’s talk about how we use this information (gives client case study of “sockmonkey.com”).

Where do your ads show? There are 2 places. SERPs, and content sites. With the content sites users do not type in a query for your product, users encounter ads while they are doing something else. When you first start your campaigns, if your spend is equal, kill the content campaign right away and get the search part right. Unclick the content button in Google and move on, because you can rack up a lot of clicks.

Search ads give you more control on placement and more directly relevant visitors.

Content ads you have no control over, and traffic can be spikey – good or bad. Traditionally more click-spam lives on content sites.

Ads serve 2 purposes: They are designed to draw clicks, and they can also be designed to filter clicks! You want to make sure you use good descriptions that filter out irrelevant clicks. So it’s not always the case that you want the highest click through rate.

Writing ads: Which is the best ad? There are a lot of different styles. Price appeal, convenience, informational, we’re different from “them”. Get other people involved in ad writing because you have a specific style. Then test.

You need to take into account Conversion Rate. Not just CPC and CTR. Conversion rate will tell you what’s really the best-converting ad. Don’t get caught in this click through rate thing because it’s a partial result.

What is the primary goal of your campaign? Leads, sales, brand building? How do you define success? Offline vs. online sales conversions. How do you measure success? Google, Yahoo, and (soon) Microsoft Free Conversion Tracking. 3rd party web analytics tools. How much the phones are ringing. Hybrid reporting approaching using Key Performance Indicators.

So, how does PPC really work? What’s the best position for your ad? Does the highest bid always get the top spot? How much do I really pay? What is all that stuff about Quality Score?

In general, the higher ads appear, the more clicks you get and the more you pay. You don’t always need to be in the top spot though. Men and women search differently. Women will take a look at the page, scroll over a couple of links, take their time, and then they will chose. Men come to the page and click right away, they are fast clickers. So there is an anthropological basis. Women’s behavior translates into the online space! While men try to spread their seed as fast and far as they can! So if you are selling to women, maybe you don’t need to be in the top spot!

How the auction works: So you have a bunch of ads competing. The order should be the most relevant results on the top first, right? But advertisers always want to be in the top spot, so whoever pays the most is on top, right? So there is this hybrid auction to control this. It takes the maximum bid multiplied by the quality score and other factors.

So who wins this auction? It’s a combination. Maybe the most relevant is in the 4th spot because he is not paying the highest bid. Also, someone in a top spot can be paying less per click than someone in a lower spot.

When you organize campaigns, don’t name things “Campaign 1’” and “top keywords”. Give yourself a break. Put in the effort.

Geo-targeting is a really good tactic as well. Cool stuff.

Day parting is also cool. If you can’t do anything on the weekend, take your campaign off line! Google makes day parting very easy. Microsoft gives you the ability to do demographic targeting. Be aware though that Microsoft uses fractions while Google uses percent.

Use cool text manipulation tools which will help you.

Choose your battles and win.

Some wrap-up stats by the moderator, Allan Dick:

1. About 30% of searches have a local search modifier. 2. Start a campaign with exact match, then expand as you get more comfortable. Don’t start looking for all the taffic in the world. 3. Landing page optimization. Huge. 4. Capitalize the first word of your URL in your landing page! Makes it easier to read. 5. Misspelled words. Be careful. 6. Go through the SEMPO training. Just a tip. 7. When you have a question, ask people.

This session is provided by Sheara Wilensky of Promedia Corp.

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