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.

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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?