Conversation: Where’s Paid Search Going In 2014? #smx #33A was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
It was a pleasure blogging you, SMX. But, as all good things come to an end, we’re going to be wrapping up our conference coverage with a long-view look of paid search and online advertising. The session description hints at how many new considerations may increasingly affect advertising online.
- the impact of Google’s Enhanced campaigns,
- sophisticated new retargeting options,
- new ad formats and changes in results page layout,
- and paid inclusion in shopping search.
Join us for this (virtually) PowerPoint-free discussion on how these significant developments will change PPC campaigns efficiency and effectiveness in the coming year.”
Pamela Parker, Executive Features Editor of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land (@pamelaparker), is our moderator along with this big-name PPC panel:
Gagan Kanwar, Director of Partnerships and Research , Marin Software
Joseph Kerschbaum, Senior Client Strategist, PPC Associates
Frank Kochenash, VP products and Services, Mercent
Changes in the SERPs
You never know as an advertiser, exactly how and where your ad will be displayed. Over the coming year, how do you expect SERPs to change on Google or Bing? How can advertisers prepare?
Joseph: SERPs change all the time, even just based on where you are. To say SERPs look one way or another, you can’t pin it down. Some recent changes by Google and Bing focus on local results, shopping search results — image carousels and shopping carousels, Sitelinks, Knowledge Graph. Bing now includes Pinterest boards in search results. For advertisers, this means… well you can’t adjust. Keep an eye on your core head terms and what SERPs look like for your core head terms. In the next year, Google and Bing will follow wher people are, what they want, because that’s where they make more money. That’s why we can continue to expect advancements in shopping. His company is doing great things for clients with PLAs. SERPs will continue to get shorter, he predicts, and paid will dominate more SERP real estate. The likeliness of someone clicking on a paid property will increase.
Frank: He has observed among retail and consumer brand space that there has been a lot of focus on shopping and product listing ads, and maybe Enhanced Campaigns, are the biggest changes to search advertising in the last few years. He expects the SERP will become “deeper” in its commerce friendly experience. An experiment by Google over the summer: detecting if a query was commercial and delivering a box of 16 products. If the user took another action on that panel, then that is considered confirmation of shopping intent, which lets Google provide a deeper shopping experience. In local, PLAs on mobile devices has a long way to go but he expects a lot of attention on this front – drive to store and purchase on mobile.
We think of Amazon as a store, but they do a lot to bring in a lot of advertisers and being the shopping search engine. How is Amazon’s development influencing the rest of the search world?
Frank: In the “where is SEO going?” session there was a theme of staying on top of the competition, and that’s true for advertising, and Amazon is a big competitor. Google doesn’t intend to copy Amazon, make a third-party marketplace, be a retailer, but we do see a reaction to Amazon by Google in vertical search. Consumer needs are well met by vertical search services like Orbitz and travel sites. Google has reacted and adjusted with PLAs as the first step, store quality scores, local PLAs, Google Shopping Express, Google Wallet — these are all programs tying the shopping experience to search and bridging offline and online.
Gagan: Verticalization is being driven by device fragmentation. Tablet, smartphone — constrained real estate and form factor, it may be easier to use an Amazon app or Kayak app. These focused apps create verticalization opportunities and formats, for user experience as well as commerce and ad dollars. Google is trying to figure out how they can provide more vertical specific content, and PLAs are a good example, but ultimately they’ll want to do it with all kinds of direct response performance marketing (like airline tickets). As a consequence of that, Google will be closer to the bottom of the funnel, and will want you to complete the transaction as close to Google as possible. Expect a lot of new ad formats to play with, optimize for specific goals. Going forward, a challenge will be attributing across the fragmented device paths. The next frontier will be making sense of the data, measurement and attribution.
Gagan asks who’s advertising on Yelp, Amazon, and other vertical search. A handful are.
Joseph: Nearly everyone who is advertising on vertical search, is getting good results. Volume is not as high, but management needs are not heavy handed. It makes sense to diversify your efforts so that if you have a bad month on Google, you are having a bad month period. Start thinking of the right verticals for your business.
Gagan: Bing is a good place to start. Conversion rates are good. He has many clients on Bing and no one is pulling spend off Bing but rather is adding it.
Frank: Bing has PLAs.
Joseph: Bing will give you keyword data where Google won’t.
Audience question: What’s your stance on mobile sites with m. URLs?
Gagan: You face issues when you have to ask which URL to point your ad to.
How can you make sure your product ad stands out?
Frank: Even if you’re selling the same product, your data (in your site or feed or driving your ad) is not necessarily the same. Semantic search and entity search puts a premium on high-quality data that search engines can consume. If you want to get your products seen and to perform well, you need high-quality data. The PPC marketer has to think about data quality and site timeliness, thinking of what they’re sending Google and putting on their site in a structured way, in terms of structured data and markup.
Gagan: Channel Intelligence (Google acquired) gets product data straight from a manufacturer, normalizes and standardizes it, then makes it available to pull in my sellers. Google has acquired a direct pipeline into product data from the manufacturer. They can now allow advertisers to programatically create product feeds when they wouldn’t otherwise have access to that data. This takes out friction in the marketplace related to photo data quality, descriptions, etc. Marketers should think of product feeds in terms of quality. If it comes out of IT with a SKU, it’s meaningless to the consumer and doesn’t help with indexing. Another thing that stands out in PLAs is sexy images. Make those great.
Joseph: For PLAs on Bing, create a Bing Merchant Center account, call up the Bing Ads help line and ask them to link up your Bing Ads account and Merchant Center. Then upload your product feed into a Dropbox account they sync it up.
Data and Encryption
Frank: He takes Google at its word and that they’re really concerned with privacy. SEO, IT and marketing departments have to work closer together to get data.
Gagan: Do you have a data strategy that you leverage? That’s the future. You’ll see results changed based on users’ cookies. Female vs. male shoe results. Advertisers may pay more for a male consumer than a female because they know average lifetime value is higher, for instance. No longer can you use SEO data as a proxy for SEM side, which means you have to take Google’s word for it and use the information they’re willing to give you.
Joseph: Would the last 10 searches you did predict something about where you are and what you’re interested in? He expects that in the next year, you’ll see demographic bid modifiers. Next steps for SEMS is to think about things that allow you to better identify your audience. We’re moving away from targeting keyword data and targeting people. He tells the audience to look at Remarketing Lists for Advertisers, which he calls RLsAs, pronounced “rilsas”. (Note: He may have said Remarketing Lists for AdWords… )
Mobile: The Future of Device Convergence and Cross-Device Tracking
Gagan: Cross-device tracking and retargeting is here. It’s not ubiquitous, but there are platforms doing this now without collecting PIIs (personally identifiable information). And if you look at what large publishers as well as the search engines can see, they know who you are across devices. They just haven’t done it yet. Using apps across multiple devices makes it easy to reach consumers across their devices. Google is working on it and Facebook is an interesting way to do it.
Joseph: Google Estimated Total Conversions – a user must be signed in to the Google account across devices. This is why it works well with Facebook already, since you probably only have one login.
Frank: The other big company with a cross-device ecosystem is Amazon. On Amazon app and Amazon Local site, users are generally logged in to the same account.
Joseph: Along with responsive design, think of responsive content. Think of what the content should say and do based on the device, what content does someone see on a mobile device that will give the viewer value. Can you get them to convert right in the mobile device, maybe a lower value action.
One Last Thought
Joseph: We’re talking about all the new(ish) things Google can get you to click on an ad. Where will it all end up though? The people go to your website. The magic bullet has been the same for years: conversion optimization. If your landing page or shopping cart stinks, you’re out of luck. Always be improving your conversion rate.
Gagan: It’s the basics. Have good creative. Write better creative, and leverage technology resources to do so if you can’t on your own. Differentiate your brand.
Frank: Data and data quality. Look outside your budget, your existing PPC capabilities and make sure you’re optimizing the quality of your data you’re creating on your site.