What were the top search engine marketing takeways from the paid search experts at SMX Advanced 2017? Review the top PPC insights for social/mobile vs. search, audience targeting and Google Shopping here, and get new martech insights and a free digital copy of the acclaimedmartech book “Digital Insights” in our webinar.
SMX Advanced 2017 has come and gone, leaving paid search professionals with a wealth of new insights and best practices. So what were the biggest trends and takeaways that you need to be aware of? Let’s review.
1.) Social and mobile behavior vs. Search
We know that social and mobile behavior differs from that of intent-driven searchers who are deeper in the funnel than looky-loos who may still be in the early stages of building awareness or consideration of your company’s products or services. How, exactly, does the behavior of these different audiences differ?
- Mobile is higher in the funnel, but are not necessarily disconnected from lower-funnel behavior. Studies suggest that 65% of your potential customers might start their customer journey on a smartphone, but 61% will continue on a desktop. As researched by BusinessInsider, US adults shopping for retail products spend more than half their shopping time on mobile but spend only 15% of their money via mobile. Tests suggest that mobile paid search campaigns will drive as much as 11% lower return on ad spend (ROAS) than a comparable desktop campaign.
- Social is also higher in the funnel, but research suggests a close correlation. A significant shock of Facebook impressions for a search term tends to lead to a corresponding spike in Google Search traffic, peaking 3-4 days after the initial Facebook activity. Mobile Facebook campaigns have also been observed to bring in a ROAS that is as much as 2.3x that of a comparable desktop campaign on Facebook, suggesting that social campaigns work best on mobile.
2.) The continued development of audience targeting
Audience targeting continues to be a powerful strategy that sacrifices breadth in favor of yielding fewer, higher-quality leads. In some cases, layering targeting strategies on top of each other can create especially strong lead lists. Whenever possible, segmenting target lists for relevance, such as for demographics or sales funnel stage, is highly recommended. One of the most important goals for any advertiser is delivering the right message at the right time to the right person, and over time, this consideration has only become more significant.
- SEM professionals have a variety of tactics and tools to target and shape their audiences, including Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA), Customer Match and retargeting via Google Display Network.
- Recent additions to this stable include in-market audiences that target prospective customers whose recent browser behavior suggests they are about to make a purchase (now available for Search campaigns as well as for display) and life events, which let advertisers target customers who appear to be reaching a significant life event, such as bridal advertisers specifically targeting users whose recent search activity suggests they are preparing to get married.
- Remarketing continues to offer volume challenges – Customer Match, for instance, shows strong clickthrough rates, but still presents several steep hills to climb, requiring a minimum of 1,000 first-party-sourced email addresses and still accounting for only 5% of all advertiser clicks. However, the fact that AdWords continues to provide new targeting tools suggests to supplement existing tools suggests that audience targeting and segmentation will continue to grow in importance, particularly with Google’s own strong evangelism for using its newer attribution methods to properly ascribe credit to top-of-funnel clicks.
3. The continued growth of Google Shopping
Google Shopping is showing no signs of slowing, having recorded 50% revenue growth and 160% click growth last year. This powerful marketplace lets online retailers drive sales growth by way of the burgeoning Product Listing Ads (PLA) ecosystem, and Google has recently added numerous features to empower merchants to drive more top-funnel interest and traffic to their online stores.
- Google Shopping remains a competitive endeavor, as evidenced by the competition in even basic product listings. Tests run with 2,000+ stock-keeping unit (SKU) campaigns have anecdotally shown that:
- Items with the lowest total list price (including shipping) tend to receive the highest amount of impression volume – 60% of products in a 4,000-SKU test evinced this behavior.
- Sellers who lack the seller rating badge will tend to be disadvantaged in terms of offer position on PLAs, even when they have the lowest list price. Google Shopping merchants are advised to get the seller rating badge for their account immediately.
- Sellers who overbid on their PLA campaigns will not only see massive drops in efficiency as their products begin surfacing for irrelevant, broad-match keywords, but even worse, they will also tend to see an increase in CPC.
- Google Shopping has been expanded with new tools to help merchants drive top-funnel traffic, such as Showcase Shopping Ads (which serve the estimated 40% of all product queries that are broad, e.g. “women’s dresses,” “patio furniture” etc.) which are optimized for mobile to let users pinch and zoom to expand the primary image unit without charging advertisers for the activity; similar audiences for Google Shopping, which let advertisers combine their RLSA lists with predicted user behavior to target potentially more-qualified customers; and updates to Merchant Center to help advertisers more-quickly diagnose account problems.
- Due to the nature of broad-match queries leading to higher spends at higher CPCs with lower conversions, Google Shopping very much remains a game of precise bidding. Individual SKUs each tend to have an ideal bid level that will drive the highest margins. However, these bid levels change over time. Driving the absolute best performance from shopping campaigns tends to require a predictive advertising management platform that can use advanced techniques such as data science to accurately price ideal bids at the individual SKU level, and manage campaigns at scale, even for merchants with millions of products.
For more in-depth coverage of SMX Advanced, please see our Day 1 and Day 2 wrap-ups: