Posts about paid search, display and other online ads.

How Google’s Real-Time Web and Personalized Search is Re-Shaping the Search Landscape

The internet is abuzz with news of Google’s real-time Web and personalized search queries and the potential implications for users and search marketers vary across the board. With live updates from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace appearing in the search results, marketers may need to add a stronger emphasis on social media to their rosters in the coming months.

In the initial rollout, the feeds show in a real-time scroll box above and below the fold. While these live updates don’t currently use a large amount of retail space, the ubiquitous nature of social media and the influence these feeds posses may urge retailers, especially business to consumer, to implement overarching and in-depth social media pushes. As the updates appear on the first page, this change could also push weaker sites to the second and third pages of search results indicating businesses may make a heavier push to PPC marketing to boost first-page present.

As the rollout for the real time search was only recently launched, only keywords such as Taylor Swift and Tiger Woods prompt the real time search.  Keywords such as Oprah and Obama SERP still do not contain the scroll box.  This demonstrates that although having the social media presence on the result page, that the real effects will not be seen until the update is fully integrated.  In the future if this real-time scroll bar does take up more real-estate, this will make the top organic listing highly competitive and a SEO campaign almost crucial for all online marketers.  It also seems that a social media marketing campaign is needed for online campaigns as well as top search results will show tweets from Twitter.  It almost seems that the roll out of this product creates the need for a blended online marketing campaign including PPC, SEO, and SMM.

2010 Online Advertising Forecast

Here is an interesting article that I came across.  The article takes a look at the forecast for online advertising for 2010.  You can read the full article and we have also listed some high level insights below:

Video Usage:

  • Senior Analyst David Hallerman suggests that more marketers will embrace online video advertising, and that more sites will support the growth of video.

Ad Targeting and Privacy

  • With the main stream availability of consumer behavior online comes more scrutiny about privacy policies:  What this means to us is users are becoming aware of ad-blocking software or add-ons and more deletion of cookies that makes the availability of what you’re doing, where you’ve been, and where you go online a lot harder to companies to gather.
  • On the government side there is potential for more federal legislation limiting website tracking
  • Again what does that mean: in order for search engines to get ahead of this legislation there needs to be a greater deal of transparency
  • In 2010 we should start seeing websites letting users know what data is being kept about them and give them access to remove themselves
  • Ultimately publishers will need to come up with better trade-offs if they want to garner any information from an individual

Search

  • Social sites and video results is something to change in search.  You will start seeing more of these results as part of general search queries.
  • Advertising is also predicated to continue increasing as we come closer to 2010
  • 2010 spend = $11.4 billion
  • 2011 spend = $12.2 billion
  • 2012 spend = $13.6 billion
  • 2014 spend = $15.8 billion

Internet Users and Usage

  • As we move into the new year internet usage is predicated to increase as the ease of accessing the internet continues to grow with the use of laptops, smartphones, and gaming consoles.
  • It is predicated that we see the most change within the adults ages 55 and older, who are now discovering social networks.
  • Number of internet users will begin to stabilize, as penetration reaches 66% of the US population, or 205.3 million people.

 

Direct From Google – Display URL Policy Change

In an effort to provide more relevant results and a higher quality experience for users, Google has made the decision to no longer allow multiple domains within a single ad group. Going forward, all display URLs within an ad group must be for the same top-level domain.  In an effort to ensure the least amount of down time for our clients, the team here at Leverage Marketing has been busy updating URLs for this coming change to Google’s policy.

It is important to note that this amendment to Google’s policy applies to all advertisers, regardless of previous exceptions or acceptability of any campaigns. While Google understands there are legitimate use-cases for multiple domains within one ad group, they ask that separate ad groups be created for any given domain.

PPC and SEO Work Well Together

When dealing with the complicated world of internet marketing, there are numerous headaches to getting a web site noticed. Whether it is the competition or the clutter, really driving prospective customers to a site can be a hassle. Some seem to think internet ads are the best way to go, while others would rather crawl their way though the ranks of search engines to come out on top. While many internet companies search intently for the solution, the true answer is easier than it may appear. The answer is BOTH: Paid search ads and natural search optimization together work more effectively and efficiently than either by themselves.

*12.6% of conversions credited to natural search were preceded by ad clicks

*Searchers use nearly as many branded searches as non-branded searches

*Branded ads increase new visitor traffic by 12%

Some internet businesses stick to one or the other, but the truth is that they are an effective tag team for many reasons. Most companies aren’t the number one result in an online search results page immediately when they begin their search engine optimization, so while your web site climbs in search rankings internet ads keep you in the customers immediate search results.While your natural rank may not show immediately, your ad will. This supplementation will lead to valuable traffic as your ad can drive interest to your web site. Many companies believe they are done with advertising once their site has a sufficient rank. Sadly, this is not the case. Many times customers’ searches are too long, too specific, or just to general. Paid ads can help insure that your relevant page is still displayed even in these instances. Another benefit with the saturation and supplementation of both elements is it can aid in brand association, so that customers think of your product or service in a particular category due to its dominate presence in a search.

A successful marketing campaign must include both advertisements and a high ranking natural search result. In the highly competitive internet market no company should simply be satisfied with a decent ranking or clever advertisement. Using both strategies ensures that you are receiving the maximum return on your investment. – J

Is Your Pay Per Click Account Holiday-Ready?

{Editor’s Note: This is one of a set of articles on ways to approach and prepare for the traditional Holiday Shopping season. I’ve dubbed these articles as “The Marketer’s Perspective” and “The Analyst’s Perspective.” A smart online marketer will use both of these approaches. Here’s the Analyst’s Perspective — Michelle}

As the weather cools down, leaves change color and football takes over the television it is clear that Fall is here.This can only mean one thing to any Online storefront….the Holidays are near!!!Over the years I have experienced the Highs and Lows of proper planning for what can be the busiest time of year for any online business in retail.Are you Prepared?Will you see December come before you realize the missed opportunity?Not if you follow the 3 steps that have helped me to prepare my clients for the Holidays:

1.Know Your Trends

The biggest mistake that any business owner can make is not knowing the online trends for search volume.Tools such as Google Trends:http://www.google.com/trends can help you to prepare for the significant increase in traffic that comes with the Holidays.Knowing when the traffic picks up will allow you to make the following adjustments to your accounts:

  • Adjust Budget so that you don’t lose out on impression share
  • Keep an eye on the competition’s strategy for possible marketing advantages
  • Knowing which regions/cities to target for regional targeting strategy

Let’s use the term “video game” as our example for the holidays.Here is the results that I get when I use that term:

The immediate trends that you can see circled above are definite increase in traffic volume which starts in October for this term in the US.This traffic hits its peak throughout November and starts to fizzle out during December.If you wait until December to run more ad budget, you will have missed the boat. The top cities and states that search for this term are below which may help allow for a regional targeting test to focus on areas which have a bulk of traffic for testing. This would be especially helpful if you are working with a limited budget during the Holidays and want to maximize impression share.Now that we know the trend of our term, lets move on to the next step, preparing our account.

 

2.Prepare the Account

Now that we see our trending, we need to prepare the account for what’s to come.The first area that I would get started with is a Competitive Analysis to see if your competition is offering anything like FREE SHIPPING, SALES, MONEY BACK GUARANTEES which all may provide them with an advantage.Also look at their ad text and landing pages to see if they using any of these benefits to draw the visitor’s attention.

Once you have the Competitive Research done, look to prepare your Content and Search Campaigns. Start with the Content Network Campaign that targets people that are in the “researching” phase of their shopping. Remember to always “think out of the box” and not target keywords, but themes for the Content Network.Think about the type of traffic that would be interested in video games and where they would be likely to visit on the internet.I would recommend testing out the products with the term “review” as well as use the site/placement tool to find where your target, “parents” would be researching games that their kids are asking for.Early in the buying cycle is the “researching” phase where the Content Network can provide branding for your site, so use it to its full advantage and make it work with your Search Network.To prepare the Search Network, always review the following:

  • Keyword Refinement: Always look to see if keywords have changed to add new Negatives or Longtailed terms
  • Refine Ad Copy: Make your ads stand out based off what you found in the competitive analysis {this does not mean copy other people’s ads – make yours stand out — Michelle}
  • Landing Pages: Update landing pages with any sales or offerings that you are adding for the Holiday Season
  • Have Analytics implemented to collect the Interaction Metrics on your traffic

I would always recommend starting the Holiday rush with a big net and once you collect initial data, you are on to the next step… weeding out the unqualified traffic.

 

3.Weed Out the Unqualified Traffic

The holiday rush has started and you have the first7-10 days of data to review, it is now time to adjust quickly to the data.The first step is to run the following reports:

  • Ad/Keyword Reports
  • Placement Reports

Starting with the ad report, we are going to look to see which of our ad tests is performing best and run it with a new test based off the results.We don’t want to have an ad that is converting lower to be in rotation longer than necessary during the busiest time of year.Once you have made the adjustments to the ad text, look over you keywords to see which ones are performing well and which aren’t.Once you have that information, simply adjust by taking those that aren’t performing out of the mix and getting those that are performing more exposure.The placement report will show you all the sites that the are leading to conversions and those that are just costing you precious budget.The adjustments to this is quite simple as well; take out anything that isn’t performing and give the sites that are performing more exposure by creating an Enhanced Placement Targeted Campaign that focuses your spend on the sites that are converting well for the account.

The three steps above are just the ground work for being successful during the holiday season.Once the rush comes, the biggest factor will be the ability to adjust quickly to what is and isn’t working on your account using the tools available.

Christmas Time PPC for B2C

{Editor’s Note: This is one of a set of articles on ways to approach and prepare for the traditional Holiday Shopping season. I’ve dubbed these articles as “The Marketer’s Perspective” and “The Analyst’s Perspective.” A smart online marketer will use both of these approaches. Here’s the Marketer’s Perspective — Michelle}

In taking care of my nephew a few years ago I remember watching the movie, “The Lion King” and had one of my first Epiphanies in relation to PPC. The song “Be Prepared” is narrated by the evil Scar as a mantra for that which is to come. As non-intellectualized as this silly diddy may sound, it is the exact “Mantra” that should be used for PPC in relation to the Christmas Holiday Season as well as the other seasonal shopping cycles through out the year.

Christmas for most B2C retailers is by far their busiest time of year. Consumer impulse spending behavior, while it may slightly vary year to year, is generally highest for the Christmas Holidays. Because of this, intelligently designed PPC Strategies should take full advantage of the “shortened buying cycle” for consumers during this time. Not only is the buying cycle significantly shortened, but there is also a dramatic increase in online sales. In fact Christmas is the time that even “Grandma Janice,” who still doesn’t even understand what this whole “World Wide Web” thing is, will make online purchases for her grandkids! With this in mind, here are some suggestions for implementing seasonal PPC strategies:

1. Create your online campaigns early!

In measuring the effectiveness of PPC campaigns you need to be able to test, test, and re-test. Start formulating your Christmas Campaigns in September (seriously!) so that you have time to test out a couple of variables and hit them hard by mid-November. As the old saying goes, “The Early Bird Gets the Worm.” The same is true for PPC. Don’t let your competitors get a jump on you for the holiday season. Find out what works before they do so that you can capitalize and see the best ROAS!

2. Try out the Content Network

Many retailers, for whatever reason, run as fast as they can away from the Content Network. Sometimes this is due to poor experiences in ROAS and sometimes it’s just due to inexperience with the network itself. Realize that during Christmas EVERYONE is looking to buy something! This means that there will be a lot of shopper traffic that could be HUGELY beneficial to you. If you are wary of testing out the entire network, start with a very limited budget, find out which sites convert versus which ones do not, and go from there. Placement Targeted Campaigns can also show great results during this season as well.

3. Launch Image Ad Campaigns EARLY

Image ad campaigns are campaigns geared towards the Content Network in which you actually upload an image that will appear as an advertisement. Quite a bit of the time these are used for branding purposes. While I feel very strongly that PPC should not be used for branding itself, getting your name out there for the holiday season is EXTREMELY important. In fact investing a little in September, October on banner ads to get yourself recognized in your industry could definitely pay dividends at Christmas Time. You MUST be patient with this though. More than likely you are not going to see the return on your original investment until the Christmas season comes along. This strategy will not necessarliy work for everyone so really examine what type of market share and brand recognition your product enjoys currently.

4. Test New Strategies Early

Ever tested out dynamic text insertion? Try it out with a product list. Regional targeting? Try it out on a new campaign. Actually trying a few strategies you normally do not use could be VERY beneficial for you. The important aspect of this would be to test them early (once again) but give your test enough time to see statistically relevant data. You shouldn’t arbitrarily run a test for 48 hours and decide that you have relevant data. Realistic results can take weeks to realize depending on the share of the search volume you can gain during your test. Also, note that if you see a SLIGHT increase in conversion rate in October it could mean 500X in December

In conclusion, don’t let this holiday season sneak up on you. Get ready now by testing new strategies and get your Holiday Retail in order. Better yet, pull your statistical data from the last 5 years if you have it available.

The Importance of Fully Integrated Analytics and Google Conversion Code

 

The longer I manage PPC accounts the more I fully realize the importance of Google Analytics. It is of the utmost importance in truly finding the ROI and ROAS that one is looking. This is true regardless if the site is E-Commerce or Lead-Gen. Many of my clients have the base Google Analytics Code installed for the site. While this is helpful in viewing traffic patterns and entry/exit points, having the Analytics fully integrated allows us to ACTUALLY find real ROAS for each of our clients. Let me use the following example to explain what I mean.

Client X came aboard as an e-commerce site selling Vet Supplies all over the world.  They had no Conversion Code, no Analytics, and no other real way to track conversions. When they came on we convinced our client to install Google Conversion Code, as they were not tracking individual conversion types thru the Adwords Account, simply sales overall. This is a but much more common fallacy than many people realize. Once the conversion code was place it became clear that the client was spending a quite a bit of money without seeing the result that he was looking for. In fact his ROAS was definitely in the negative.

Correct use of conversion code not only counted total conversions, but also separated conversion types and recorded transaction numbers. The “Transaction Count” in Google Analytics actually is a measure of how many specific conversion types occur over a month. The nice thing about “Transaction Count” versus “Conversion Count” is TC will actually measure multiple conversions for a single user. Case in point, Client X had a “E-commerce” variable as well as an “Email Sign Up.” The “Transaction Count” will consider each of these values separately, if both are applied. Google would normally only measure these 2 actions as 1 conversion. In fully integrating the Google Conversion Code to it’s highest potential we can also give each “Conversion Type” a numerical dollar value, which we did in this scenario. For our client we knew that every 15 “Email Conversions” tended to equal 1 sale. Thus we assigned a dollar amount value to each conversion. We also assigned a dollar amount value to a normal sale.

Google Adwords will also now allow you to assign several different conversion variables as well as several conversion variable dollar amounts. This is all essential information in determining the return on your ad dollar. That being said, Google Analytics lets us to go a step further. Getting the Analytics Code fully implemented will allow us to put a numerical dollar value for each sale online. In essence, if we are selling dental products we will know how much revenue we make if we sell a Mechanical Tooth Brush as well as a Tooth Pick. For Client X this information was of utmost importance, since he was selling items that ranged from $1.25 to well over $800.00.

Getting Google Analytics Integrated fully will also allow us to see information about bounce rates, not only of your regular pages but also on the Cart. We are able see how many people do not want to pay for the “Shipping Fee” as well as how many people are not able to pay with specific payment types. For Client X we were able to see that his “shipping fee” page was the cause of88% of his exits from his cart. Once we found this out we actually lowered the shipping cost and found an almost immediate up-swing in conversions.

There really are many other reasons to implement Google Adwords Conversion Code as well as the Analytics Code fully on your website if you are using PPC. Many of these will be highlighted in the future via very specific blogs concerning each issue in depth. That being said, the predominant reason to implement both is because it is the best way available to really track and increase the return on your investment without using 3rd party subscription-based platforms or tools. Analytics paired with Adwords Conversion Code are more robust together than a lot of software out there. The difference is that it is free! It is not possible to figure the exact increase in return that Client X found by getting all of the code in place, simply because they were not tracking sales effectively before the code was implemented. A rather conservative estimate was that he increased overall ROAS by 60%! Knowing this, do you think that you can afford not to get the code in place? We would venture to say no.

Below are some helpful links for people to teach them how to get the code in place, as well as how to define e-commerce variables. Many people think it’s a lot more complicated than it really is.

https://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55528&hl=en_US
This link will help you learn how to implement code to track e-commerce transactions.

https://www.google.com/support/googleanalytics/bin/answer.py?answer=55532
While this link will teach you how to install code on your cart so you can see traffic patterns

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