KeywordFirst Predicts the Future of Performance Media

KeywordFirst Predicts the Future of Performance Media

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How is performance media changing in 2017? At KeywordFirst, we consider questions like that all the time. We have to. Our own performance depends partly on our ability to stay on top of the changing performance media landscape in order to be trusted partners to our clients. We surveyed our own team to find out what’s on their minds as we examine the changing nature of performance media. We’ve summed up our thinking below.

Three key themes emerge from our internal survey: the evolution of mobile, the increasingly sophisticated nature of attribution, and the rise of voice search. We see performance media strategies going through a mobile-first phase before ultimately entering a post-mobile phase. Meanwhile, attribution is getting more precise thanks to the development of better tools in discipline like paid search, and advances in voice search are challenging businesses to refine their paid and organic content for voice queries, which are much different from text-based queries. Read on for more detail:

  • “We’re entering a post-mobile world. With mobile now accounting for 60 percent of all searches in the United States, marketers are becoming more comfortable with integrating mobile into their media planning and implementation rather than calling out mobile as its own emerging channel requiring a standalone paid media strategy. Maximizing the value of mobile certainly requires an understanding of mobile’s distinct attributes, but in 2017 our industry will continue to shed a fixation with ‘mobile first’ thinking.”
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  • “No More John Doe. It was not long ago that targeting focused primarily on finding the best keywords and honing in on the most optimal geo locations when trying to reach customers. Now through both SEM and social channels, advertisers can further narrow their customer search based on demographics including age, gender, education, and income, as well as interests, topics, purchasing behaviors, and device preferences, to touch on just a few. Based on data collected about your customers, there is also the option to target lookalike or similar audiences – potential customers who share characteristics similar to those individuals currently targeted. Testing various targeting options can help paint a picture of the ideal customer and make advertising spend more efficient. These refined targeting options have opened the door for smaller businesses with limited budgets to engage in online advertising as they are able to focus spend on a tighter subset of potential customers and stretch their advertising dollars.”
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  • “With the continued growth of mobile on search and social channels advertisers will need to begin evaluating the appropriate metrics for a mobile first world. Click through rates though vital to the industry will need to be reengineered with mobile users not having the same motivation behind clicks. The continued study of interaction will be weighed heavily in 2017 as advertisers will need to understand what ad formats and text will work best for users at all times of day, whether it be shorter for the work day when users glance at their phone for a quick break or creating a longer story that will carry the user throughout the day and eventually lead to a conversion. With this interaction rate and attribution will need to be viewed alongside click through rate to determine a brands true returns from mobile advertising efforts.”
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  • 2017 will be the year that digital marketers embrace audience targeting. I’m not just talking about social platforms and remarketing, but also for search. In 2016, we continued to refine strategies around Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and Similar Audiences for Search. Both tactics give the opportunity to either exclude irrelevant audiences or to increase bids for more qualified leads. I believe keywords will still play a critical role for search marketers, but with CPC’s increasing, advertisers are looking for cheaper ways to reach relevant user types. Last year, audience targeting was something new that many people were just testing, but with the growing trend of a personalized ad experience, we can expect to see a dramatic increase this year.
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  • “The marketers that outperform their peers in 2017 will be focused upon utilizing analytics to optimize targeting. The publishers have altered the game so that by default ads will show to as broad a target as possible. Therefore, the skilled marketer will adjust and strive to narrow targeting layers in order to retain the most relevant audience. Efficiency is the goal and analytics will be the tool used to properly identify that refinement of targeting.”
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  • “The evolution of artificial intelligence is changing the way people search online. Voice searches are increasing due to a growing popularity of personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa. When consumers are speaking to these assistants, they are using a more natural language, thus altering their search behavior. As of right now, Google and Bing do not provide a way to track voice searches. Voice searches are translated into text and listed as regular search queries. At times you might see, ‘Siri, can you . . . ‘ or ‘OK Google’ before a search term, but that’s not always the case. Jumping into 2017, I predict that we will see more to come focused around artificial intelligence and voice-technology.”

We invite our readers to have a conversation with us about the direction of performance media. What trends do you see in the marketplace?

Want to Raise Your Google Quality Score? Shun the “Set It & Forget It” Mindset

Quality Score Spotlights

DONT FORGETTweak, tweak, tweak, tweak. If you want optimal results from your paid search program, that’s what you must do. Tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak.

You can build a successful paid-search advertising campaign using sound fundamentals, but you need to be willing to monitor closely and make adjustments continually – if you want success to last or increase. Tweaking for success will cause the Google Gods to smile down upon your ads and lead to better placements. We talk about this approach in “Want to Raise Your Google Quality Score? Shut the ‘Set It and Forget It’ Mindset,” which was originally published on The Social Media Monthly (January 21, 2015.)

The Social Media MonthlyIn that post, we explain the five factors that greatly influence your ad’s Quality Score:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR)
  2. Ad Relevancy
  3. Keyword Relevancy / Campaign Structure
  4. Landing Page Relevancy
  5. Account History

In a recent workshop, we further described each of these factors and covered the three powerful ways you can influence higher Quality Scores.

  • Improve CTR
  • Improve Landing Pages
  • Build Quality History

 

While the algorithms that drive search results change frequently, these factors and techniques continue to be important in helping you achieve optimal success with your paid search program … as long as you don’t “Set It and Forget It.”

Always be tweaking.

Five Options for Attribution Modeling With Analytics Engines

Analytics Attribution Modeling Spotlights

Man-outstretched-arms2Making adjustments. That’s the key to success, regardless of whether we’re talking about half-time adjustments in a big game or changes you make in your marketing plan. You have to observe, learn and adjust to what’s happening in your field of play.

That is what you will learn from our article “Five Options for Attribution Modeling With Analytics Engines,” a version of which initially was published on MarketingProfs (December 11, 2014), though its principles remain relevant today.

The objective of attribution modeling is to evaluate (by using analytics) what led to every sale—so we can replicate success.

In that post, we described five methods that command the most attention or offer the most promise.
MarketingProfs

  1. Last Click
  2. First Interaction
  3. Position-based
  4. Time-delay
  5. Linear

While “Last Click” used to be the only game in town, the rise of powerful – and often-times free – analytics tools like Google Analytics have greatly expanded the playbook for marketers.

Busy marketers often stick with what they’ve previously used. We get it. Learning and implementing a new model can take time. But the payoff is often worth the effort. For example, here are “3 Reasons to Drop Your ‘Last-Click’ Crutch.” When you’re ready to change your game plan, our previous post “4 Alternatives to Last-Click Attribution Modeling” also gives you guidance on choosing the model that’s best for you.

But never fear. Despite our admonishment to drop the “last-click” crutch, we let you know in “3 Tips for Managing Attribution Modeling” that it’s okay to use that crutch to prop up your analytics.

Today’s digital commerce is complex. In turn, smart marketing dictates that you make adjustments and invest your budget dollars where they will do the most good. We believe our tips will help point you in the direction of success.

Nuts & Bolts: Why Mobile is Important to Your Paid Search Strategy

Analytics Mobile Nuts & Bolts

In this installment of the “Nuts & Bolts” series, which digs into the nitty gritty of paid search, I want to share with you some valuable findings on the importance of mobile in your paid search strategy.

In a PPC Workshop I presented recently, I outlined five ways analytics makes paid search campaigns better. Further, I recapped the three-part series on mobile search that explained the driving forces behind the explosion of mobile search (and why it will continue to increase), what this means to marketers, and how this affects your paid search strategy.

Links for further reading and learning occur throughout the slides. And if you would like to share the workshop, we’ve posted to SlideShare for your convenience. Just click on the LinkedIn button or the file’s title to be immediately signed into the SlideShare site.

3 Ways to Influence Google Quality Score

Analytics Quality Score

shutterstock_189431450In the last FirstWord blog post, you learned the “5 Critical Components of Google Quality Score.” Now, you’ll learn how to influence those factors using three basic tactics.

But first, a refresher course:

What is Quality Score? It’s the algorithm Google uses to estimate how relevant the ads, keywords and landing pages in your digital marketing campaigns are to someone seeing them after a search. A higher Quality Score means Google’s systems consider your ads, keywords and landing pages relevant and useful to each searcher’s particular topic.

The higher your ad scores, the higher your ad ranks in every search auction. And the more likely clicks will become sales. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to drive your Quality Score higher. Now, here are three ways to do just that:

  1. Improve Clickthrough Rate (CTR) – As the most important factor in Quality Score, CTR should receive the most attention. Four simple adjustments can improve CTR’s and drive up Quality Score:
    • Keyword Negatives – Continually add new negatives to eliminate unwanted queries.  Run your Search Query Reports weekly to identify opportunities and reach beyond eliminating bad clicks. Look to eliminate irrelevant high-impression terms that can drive down CTR.
    • Match Type Breakout— Breakout keywords by match types and separate match types by campaign or ad group.  This will further group not only like terms, but like match types and increase CTR on better performing Exact match groups. In addition, shy away from Broad match and focus on Broad Match Modifiers to improve CTR.
    • Sitelinks – Add Sitelinks to all campaigns and use ad group Sitelinks, when possible, to deliver more relevant Sitelinks. Traditional Sitelinks may increase CTR by 15%, and Enhanced Sitelinks may increase CTR by 20%.
    • Targeting – Eliminate poor performing targets for greater CTR by using all the targeting options available, including GEO targeting, ad scheduling and bid modifiers.
  2. Landing Pages – Because Google will crawl landing pages to determine how relevant they are to each keyword, picking the most relevant, most granular landing pages possible is imperative. When possible, regularly adjust content on landing pages and/or create specific paid-search landing pages that align with keyword to improve Quality Score.
  3. Build Quality History – Set up every campaign the right way every time and manage each and every campaign on regular basis. That’s the only way to build the account history Google seeks to reward with high Quality Scores. This is where discipline comes into play; if you can’t execute a campaign the right way, then maybe that campaign shouldn’t launch.

In addition to these three tactics, practice Search Engine Marketing (SEM) best practices. In short, create a logical campaign structure, craft tight ad groups with similar-themed keyword clusters, develop granular ad copy using keyword themes within copy and, most importantly, continually test and tweak, tweak, tweak.

5 Critical Components of Google Quality Score

Analytics Quality Score

Paid Search is not “Set It & Forget It” media. If you want optimal results from Paid Search, you must build fundamentally sound campaigns, monitor their progress at every opportunity and continually tweak, tweak, tweak. Discipline is the way to win. And the key to winning anything is maximizing your scoring power.

That’s the reason Google calls its relevancy metric “Quality Score.” It’s the algorithm Google uses to estimate how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing pages are to a person seeing your ads. A high Quality Score means Google’s systems consider your ads, keywords, and landing pages relevant and useful to users searching a particular topic. The higher your ad scores, the higher your ad ranks in every search auction. The higher your ad ranks, the more likely clicks will become sales.

In other words, a high score increases your likelihood of winning business through Paid Search campaigns. And if you want to raise your Quality Score, you first have to understand how Google determines this metric. Google is protective of its algorithms, so I can’t say exactly how it’s done. But I can reveal the five most important factors:

  1. Click Through Rate (CTR) – CTR is a user influenced attribute so Google gives it the most weight. Theory is: Large numbers of users clicking your ad must correlate to a positive experience. So high CTR drives Quality Score higher.
  2. Ad Relevancy – Both closely related relevant ad copy and having the actual keyword within ad copy improve Quality Score.
  3. Keyword Relevancy/Campaign Structure – Google’s system looks for keyword relevancy across ad groups. When keywords within an ad group are closely related, Quality Scores go up.
  4. Landing Page Relevancy – The more relevant the landing page, the better Quality Score.
  5. Account History – The length of time a keyword has been active in an account impacts Quality Score, but more important than length of time is how the keyword has performed over time.

Knowing these five critical components leads the way to five techniques you can apply to building and adjusting Paid Search campaigns that will drive higher Quality Scores. And that will be the topic of my next FirstWord post. Stay tuned.

3 Tips for Managing Attribution Modeling

Analytics Attribution Modeling

For months, our rallying cry has been “Drop your Last-Click Crutch!

Our argument is straightforward: How can marketers track the digital pathway buyers followed to reach them if the only clue is the buyers’ final step?

Sure, not long ago, we had little choice but to rely on the last click. The data connecting each touch point along a customer’s path to purchase wasn’t available or reliable. What’s more is the tools for analyzing this type of information were neither sophisticated nor affordable.

And yes, time was spending most of your marketing time and budget figuring out whether or not marketing was working just didn’t make a lot of sense. What did make sense was giving the last marketing tactic in a campaign that produced a sale 100% of the credit, because the data was fresh and unambiguous. We knew it was real — even though we also knew a mix of campaigns and as many as five touch points preceded that sale. In those days, we just couldn’t see those facts in front of us.

Well, today we can. Google’s recent research tells us as many as nine of every 10 marketers has access to some form of analytics tool, and the reasons for using those tools are more compelling than ever:

  • 90 percent of media interactions today are screen-based, a statistic that includes TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets
  • 67 percent of buyers start shopping on one device and continue on another.

In other words, today’s digital commerce is complex. In turn, Smart marketing dictates that you invest your budget dollars where they will do the most good. And in my last post, we offered four ways you can approach this analysis – i.e., we’re pointing directions for stepping beyond the last click.

We understand that throwing down that last-click crutch and venturing into new analytical terrain can be intimidating, especially without a trusted means of support. So, here are a few pointers for approaching attribution modeling with new techniques:

  1. Know Before You Go. Earlier, we referred to the way today’s customers come to your company as a digital pathway. So, let’s stick to the analogy. If you want to discover a route to a new destination, you look at a map. In the case of attribution modeling, you should plug data into your analytics tool – just like you enter addresses into mapping software before hitting the road. Be sure full details – tactics, dates, dollars, etc. — about each digital campaign are entered into your modeling software.
  2. Walk First, Don’t Run. Explore alternative attribution models one at a time before trying combined or comprehensive analysis with any given technique. Before attempting an obstacle course, walking along the path and examining each challenge is a great way to prepare and minimize stumbling when the time comes to run the race.
  3. Carry Your “Last-Click Crutch.” Ok, we confess we were going for dramatic impact when we told you to “drop” your crutch. But that doesn’t mean we believe you should disregard it. Last-click analysis plays an important role in attribution modeling. Your picture of your customers’ journey would be incomplete without being able to see their final steps. So, you shouldn’t lean on that crutch, but you should carry the knowledge of how to use it along your way.

Expect some confusion at first but your competency will grow with time. And after a few trips, you’ll be finding efficient shortcuts and some more scenic routes than you’ve traveled before.