Here at AUDIENCEX (and likely every agency that offers paid search) we often hear the concern from clients that paid search campaigns that bid on branded keywords are in effect “cannibalizing” clicks. Meaning, why should they pay for traffic that would otherwise occur “organically”?
It’s always tempting to see silo marketing tactics and see them as discrete efforts working in isolation. Treating each channel as its own island generally requires less analysis and lends itself to simpler conclusions (A+B = C) but cross channel analysis isn’t optional anymore and ignores the fact that customers often take a multi-channel path to conversion.
Here’s one client example that clearly illustrates the potential relationship between PPC and SEO. In an isolated channel mindset, May through October represents a coincidence – that organic search traffic declined due to algorithm updates or a new site launch and that it just so happens that paid search was decreased in that month in an effort to improve profitability. But what if paid search spend what was actually generating organic search traffic? That’s what November and December potentially indicate.
How would that be possible? A couple options:
- You believe that part of Google’s organic search algorithm is how much a site spends on paid search. Possible but less likely.
- What’s more likely is…
- The more you spend, the more your ads appear
- The more visitors see your brand, in turn the more visits are recorded via Direct
- After a period of increased Direct visits, the algorithm that Google uses to evaluate this type of session gets triggered, and Google improves Organic rank for non-branded terms
This second option speaks to something that we know to true: Google and search engines in general value the quality of a user’s experience. What’s the true answer to this puzzle? Only continued testing will tell. Whether its experimenting with how programmatic can improve paid search profitability or how landing page updates affect conversion rate, the bottom line is individual marketing efforts cannot be analyzed in a vacuum.
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Especially in the prospecting phase, or when you are talking to audiences that are just starting the shopping cycle you have the obligation not just to build awareness for your brand but also to get your target audience to know your brand. We all recognize that this is hard with a 40K banner, no matter how gifted your art director or your flash designer.
One simple example is the practice of audience segmentation which as an applied science has been taken to new heights by programmatic media buyers who use ever more precise targeting tools to refine audiences. They overlap targeting filters by time of day, geography, recent search behavior, sites visited, credit worthiness, and where they fall in the purchase funnel. Ecommerce and B2B marketers, in particular, may work with audiences of a few hundred or a few thousand if they find their targeting parameters yield highly engaged and highly profitable audiences.
As a seasoned marketer, by now you’re well aware of the value of relevant audiences. When it comes to quantifiable results, nothing is more important than putting the right offer in front of the right eyeballs. How do you know the audiences you’re targeting are indeed relevant?
As a buyer you have probably noticed that your highly valuable audience segments don’t get much brand messaging; at least, not through RTB. To a certain degree that is because of concerns about the quality of the inventory available through exchanges.
Retargeting is a great way way to keep the conversation going with your customers after they leave your site. People that come from paid search but do not convert on their first visit, may have a lot of value as prospective customers in the future. Keep your brand, company or services top of mind with retargeting so they are more likely to return to your site when they are ready to convert.