Some Questions ahead of the Adwords Enhanced Campaigns roll-out

The new Adwords Enhanced Campaigns interface is being introduced to agencies over the next week with training webinars lined up from this Friday. Search meetings all week have been dominated by speculation over what the changes would mean. While all will presumably be explained and any loose ends smoothened out eventually, I started to put down a list of questions for myself that I thought I’d share here. Bear in mind, I’ve purposely stayed away from reading articles on the change outside of the Adwords blog or having speculative discussions with colleagues. So if some of the updates you’ve read on the internet this week have already addressed some of my questions please excuse me for that.

Structure

Plenty of studies have highlighted how the 3 screens have different usage patterns … why then have PCs and tablets been combined.

If intuitively I know that some campaigns are better suited to a particular device eg End Funnel terms convert better for PCs, how do I shift my weightage to favour one device if the budget is shared.

Search managers have shied away from implementing too many separate mobile campaigns as everyone in the industry is time poor. With every keyword (anywhere between 10,000 to 80,000 in some accounts) now opted in to mobile by default, the required oversight and attention to detail has increased probably more than the savings expected by merging all device targeting.

Keywords

Does an individual keyword have a separate Quality Score for each device or a single one affected by performance (CTR etc) on each device?

Will separate destination urls be assigned to the same keyword for PCs/tablets and mobiles to account for different domains eg full site vs m.site. Campaign managers have been adding unique parameters to urls by device so web analytics systems can differentiate and stack incoming traffic in dashboards.

Bidding

In the introductory post, Adwords mentioned that bid multipliers could be applied to have differential bids by device or other contexts like location, time of day etc. Will these multipliers be at the campaign level i.e. apply to every keyword in the campaign or can they be assigned at the individual keyword level.

Large agencies use goal-based (traffic, CPA, position) bidding at the keyword level. Will the new Adwords interface be mirrored in the bid management platform to be able to still set keyword bidding (and different bids for different devices for the same keyword)

How long until 3rd party SEM management platforms used by large agencies, are ready to work with Enhanced Campaigns. Some platforms are yet to offer support for one-year old features like Adwords for Video.

Creative

Presumably there will be separate sets of ads and site-link extensions (click to call, location etc) by device. eg if an advertiser utilizes branch phone numbers from his Google Places account for PCs but a nationwide 1300 number for mobile search phone extensions.

Will there be an easy way to vary extensions by day-part, eg make phone extensions invisible post work hours when a customer service number is unmanned.

Will separate reporting on site-link extensions be available by device. Will we ever get individual site-link reporting as well. Fingers crossed.

Miscellaneous

Is Adwords for Video also going to adopt the compulsory mobile opt-in interface. With tablets largely used as a personal entertainment device, this is one landscape where I would strongly recommend tablets being separated from PC’s so in-search and in-stream bids can be set accordingly.

When I create a display remarketing campaign with banners, is this also an all-device campaign. Should I create separate audience lists (one of mobile visitors and one non-mobile) and can I then use both in the one re-marketing campaign with separate creative.

Well that’s my list I’ll be taking into the training session. If you’ve got any additional areas I’ve missed please ping me. All the best.

Word of Mouth and Internet – Google Study

Every marketer recognizes that Word of mouth conversations are the holy grail of advertising, helping to amplify paid campaign buzz and give messages longevity far beyond booked media schedule periods.

A new study on Googles Think Insight website explores the  relationship between the Internet and WOM conversations. Not surprisingly, the study emphasizes the role of search at all stages of conversations.

Google WOM & Internet Study

Some key findings:

1. The Internet is the #1 spark for WOM conversations and the first source for information after
2. WOM impressions generated by search are 27% more credible and 35%  more likely to lead to a purchase decision, compared to online or social media.
3. Smartphone users reference Internet a lot around WOM conversations

Implications
1. Increase SEM budget before and during a new campaign to capture impressions at all stages.
2. Bid on campaign related themes and words.
3. Send traffic to a microsite or YouTube channel so users can get more information (prices, buying locations) and continue discussions online.
4. Use advanced ad scheduling to upweight spending around TV spots when conversations are likely to spike (often at home)
5. Create separate mobile  campaigns for smartphone users

Have you used search to capture incremental campaign related queries? Please share your experiences with us in this blogs comments section.

Is your PPC Campaign tool on Red Bull?

If you follow Formula One racing you will know that Red Bull are suddenly the team to beat in 2011, staying ahead of established teams like Ferrari that have ex-champion drivers in their ranks. Much of their new found competitiveness is down to them now having the best car, which counts immensely in this most technology dependent of premier world sports.

PPC marketing is analogous to Formula One in some ways in that the pre-requisites for success are similar. Both need a top-notch driver (Campaign Manager), race strategy (Campaign Optimisations), an experienced team principal (Account Director) and the best in line race car/engine (PPC Campaign Management tool).

As I read a recently released report on PPC Campaign Management tools by Search Marketing Now, I was left to ponder on the extent we as Paid Search marketers are dependent on our own PPC tools. So is it all about the tool?

I think a good tool can certainly improve campaign efficiency and outcomes especially with large accounts (portfolio of products/brands, active keywords >20,000,  multiple online channels). A PPC tool allows campaign teams to automate campaign tasks and provides complex reporting, competitive analysis and cross channel attribution insights all in one place. This frees time to focus on work that cannot be automated, like creative writing, forecasting, developing long term strategies, setting up tests and staying up to date with new search enhancements.

I have optimised many campaigns manually or simply through Adwords Editor and the Google/Yahoo interfaces with equal ease though I admit it does increase time required. The decision on whether to rely on a 3rd party tool or to what degree, depends on each Campaign Managers style and the complexity of the account. SMBs and SEM consultants running small or seasonal campaigns might often find working with free tools simpler and cost effective. If you are undecided, the report has a useful section on the pros and cons of campaign automation.

Here is a snapshot comparing the leading PPC management tools.  Disclaimer: I have not used any of the tools myself so cannot endorse or comment from personal experience.

PPC Campaign Management Tools

The above list at first glance appears more North America focused to me and hence may be unfamiliar to SEM practitioners locally. But it does provide vital information on the capabilities that leading automated solutions can provide.

Remember the PPC landscape today in Australia is not just Adwords and Yahoo, but increasingly also Facebook which according to an AdAge report did 60% of 2010 revenue in self-serve ads, as well as LinkedIn. In a previous post I noted IAB figures showing online advertising in Australia is growing steadily YoY and Search is already 50% of that spend. Read on and make sure your team or Agency is using the best tool on the market.

Google Instant Previews Now Live for Search Ads

Google has launched the Instant Preview feature for its paid search Adwords program worldwide. Instant Previews provides a graphic overview of a search result and highlights the most relevant sections. An icon appears besides the ads allowing users to preview the landing page without having to click-through. The feature has previously been around for a few months for organic search results only. The feature is active here in Australia too (see example).

Google-Adwords-Instant-Previews

I have four early observations to make:

Paid vs Organic Distinction  The distinction between the paid and organic results on the Google results page has been completely blurred now. Look at the example above for instance. The three paid ads all use the Extended Search Headline format and now the Instant Preview icon, which could confuse users into thinking the organic results for the query ‘credit cards’ begin at the top of the page.

Ad Extensions  The Instant Preview displays only one landing page per ad. So if you have Ad Extensions Site Links you can’t offer a preview for each landing page.

Landing Page Design  The design of your paid ad landing pages is now more important especially if you are a category new entrant or not a top of mind competitor. If searchers preview your page before clicking, you must provide an enticing snapshot and pay attention to what relevant content on your page will be highlighted as per the users query. For established brands I expect that users will continue to click on their ads and not base their decision on previews. These brands must ensure that the colours and images users see on the landing page previews are synonymous with assets used in other media.

Mobile Search  Finally for the few mobile searches I did for ‘credit cards’, ‘car insurance’ and ‘savings accounts’, the instant preview wasnt available for the paid ads though organic searches are enabled. I think Instant Preview will be more useful for mobile search, where users are looking for immediate information and find it more cumbersome to go back and forth in search results due to the mobile screens limited space for navigation.

Are you a digital or paid search marketer – What do you think of the new feature?

Digital needs to grow up

In my last post, I discussed in length the 5 major challenges Digital Agencies face today as they try to grow their individual shares of the growing digital ad spend pie. Today I’ll offer a few suggestions towards this goal.

To use a sports metaphor, Online needs to stop projecting itself as the new kid on the playground, with the shinier bat and pads. Fancy flash dashboards and a dazzling array of metrics will get you only so far with astute marketing heads. If you want to score then build partnerships, and you may get to bat up the order someday. The traditional guys own the relationships. If we keep telling them online is going to gobble up offline, they’ll only get more protective of their turf.

Online shops must start by understanding what it is that has made traditional media agencies so indispensable to clients. Firstly, Offline delivers tangible campaigns that touches all our major senses – hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, the last 3 through sampling and retail experiences. A billboard on a busy intersection, a full-page ad on the back of MX, a kiosk in the centre of a high footfall suburban mall are all examples we associate with advertising from our growing up experiences. To those of us who have made advertising and marketing our careers, these are the first channels we instinctively turn to for a brand activity. Online ads cannot deliver the same lasting impact or memorability as TV, as proved by a recent UK study.

Display agencies combat this by promising to deliver ‘bonus’ impressions and clicks to their clients. This is done in conjunction with publishers who provide cheap RON impressions across their vast network of sites. These are then presented within a ‘campaign over delivery’ section in the post analysis report. PPC agencies do not go down this route as Search is a ‘client pays only for clicks’ model. This leaves Search agencies at a disadvantage compared to their Display counterparts as their only USP is the promise of quality leads through direct response. But here’s the risk. Since Search agencies concentrate so much on search metrics not on marketing outcomes, clients see search as a commodity service. This lowers the barriers to exit and could lead to them either changing agencies or going in-house to save on substantial management fees. So Digital Agencies need to think of enhanced value and establish a clear differentiator.

There are 2 kinds of clients out there and we need to have separate approaches for these:
1. Those who don’t get online and let their traditional agency lead
2. Those who get online, but have all the online agencies knocking on their door or realize if they are spending all that money they may as well take it in-house

There are 5 things agencies need to do to make themselves resilient:
1. Start creating experiments to show finite effect of Search/Display on offline events. Eg Coupons available only on a search landing page
2. Build attribution models for clients to prove offline-online effect. They won’t do it so we have to.
3. Engage traditional agency heads and clients directly. Don’t leave the PR to your Search Engine rep. 
4. Cut the search/online jargon. It took years for people to understand GRPs and TARPs, don’t make them swallow CPCs, Quality Score and Rank now.
5. Think like marketers not search geeks. It’s all about market share. Hire a few MBA’s if you have to.

How Aus Pollies are using Search in the Federal Election

Couldn’t resist snatching a look at what the two major parties are doing in the digital realm for this election. This election was supposed to be the big digital one taking cues from Obamas election in ‘08 but so far both parties are doing just ‘enough’ with the Libs marginally ahead. A classic example was the morning after the PM’s solo appearance on ABC’s Q&A show when Google searches for the Labor party and the PM were expected to spike. On this day however, the ruling party was conspicuous by its absence allowing its competitor to easily capture all those searches of Labor followers or potential fence-sitters.  Searches conducted on Tuesday for  ‘labor party’ and ‘julia gillard’ brought up paid ads instead by the Liberal Party attacking Labor failures. The Liberal party has obviously cleverly included in its list, Labor party brand terms and the names of Labors leaders ensuring users typing those terms see a Liberal Party ppc ad instead. The ads also use the recently launched Sitelinks format which offers users multiple links to click on to enable voters to explore different facets of the Liberal Party’s campaign.

Google Australia Federal Election Page

Google Australia Federal Election Page

Paid search (PPC) can be effectively used in an election as messages can be updated and put live within hours in response to trending election themes or breaking news. PPC formats allow Election Campaign managers a low cost environment to test and run multiple messages which can serve as a far more credible means of testing concepts than traditional focus groups. Enhanced formats like Sitelinks allow Campaign Managers to integrate their offline and social media components into the Search strategy. Tailored messages can also be used focusing on the most relevant issues for different geographies eg states and cities in contrast to traditional advertising’s one message must fit all. With only a handful of major parties buying search terms in Australia, the costs of setting up running an effective search campaign would be far less expensive than buying primetime radio or television spots.

Google has set up its own page covering the Australian Federal Election which tracks election search trends on the major parties, leaders and issues along with links to a Google Map mashup to find polling booths and Electoral bases in your surburb.