in Data & Insights

Search Marketer and Agency Lessons – Looking Back at the First Half of 2013

When speaking with search marketers and agencies recently, two topics continually came up in conversations. The first is what’s referenced as the “great unknown” surrounding Google Enhanced Campaign refinements, against a backdrop of media coverage highlighting possible cost-per-click increases that may result from the new features. The second is enthusiasm to learn about something else – anything else – that aligns to a performance goal, with potential scale to be impactful.

Outlined below are the top four best practices for success, regardless of whether you are considering Google Enhanced Campaign features or are already seeing performance impacted in early tests.

1. Focus on the KPI:

This may seem obvious, but it is always important to maintain focus on the goal and alignment with partners toward reaching that goal. On a recent agency visit, where we were doing extremely well and are a valued partner, they were considering reallocating their media plan to more branding rather than aligning to performance, which was meeting the campaign goal. We all recognize the value and importance of branding, but it is equally important to ensure that campaigns and media plans stay laser focused on hitting goals.

2. Work to Understand Attribution:

Every day I read trade publications, tech outlets and other information sources in the online space, and typically there is at least one article per day on attribution. The attribution coverage generally concludes, “You must do this,” but does a poor job of being instructive on how and why you should do this. At Quantcast, we live with the attribution challenge daily, and my best advice is to ask questions if you are unsure. Speaking with agency partners on the topic of attribution yields a multitude of viewpoints. These can range from, “We are completely dialed in to every dollar that we create for our client through our efforts” to “Hmm, what ad server do you recommend?” We understand attribution can be difficult, and we are happy to offer up our expertise with technologies to understand, evaluate and optimize campaigns. Having a proper understanding is crucial. Being able to answer questions like, “Does display affect search query volumes?” or “What are my effective levels of prospecting impressions and retargeting impressions to produce the greatest return?” is critical to understanding a campaign’s success.

3. Use and Leverage Innovation:

Innovation is so commonly used with online advertising that it often loses meaning and masks the value it provides. Today’s media planners and search strategists should be asking their technology partners to show them innovation in action. What critical issues are they focused on? How are they working to differentiate in an evolving and fragmented space? Can I be a partner in some of their innovation and show the value of this partnership? What should matter from an evaluation perspective, aside from a good example or a relevant case study, is what innovation is developing that can have a potential impact on my (or my client’s) business in the future. Answering those questions will be a key component of finding the best partner to achieve the desired goals.

4. Be Nimble and Scalable:

All agencies aim to be nimble and aligned with clients’ strategies, but executing this proves to be more difficult. An example of this may be the effects felt by the industry from Google Enhanced Campaign refinements. We are seeing numerous agencies married to search, and while there is nothing wrong with that, an important question to consider is, how scalable can search be? Increasingly, marketers and agencies are running into issues making search scale to new customers to an order. This is due in large part to rising cost-per-clicks, and with Google Enhanced Campaigns, it could become even pricier. If you are a marketer or agency challenged with scale and rising costs (especially in non-branded search), look for other alternatives that can scale to new customers and provide maximum return. One recommendation, if you see this effect, is to please reach out to partners, including Quantcast, and have a conversation about how they can boost performance for your campaigns cost-effectively.

Posted by Scott Linzer, Head of Search Agency Development