Optimization strategies for complex search campaigns

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Roger Barnette
Roger Barnette

As budgets and keyword lists grow — with multiple optimiza­tion goals — the complexities of managing paid search across multiple engines grow as well. Paid search can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Managing your paid search offers a tremen­dous opportunity to increase brand revenue and visibility.

Successful search strategies are largely dependent on having clearly defined and well-articulated goals. Before expanding keyword lists or allocating more budget to search, review your campaign strategy and overall goals. First, look at obvious perfor­mance metrics such as ROI, return on ad spend (ROAS), acquisi­tions and actions. Then determine any additional metrics that need to be tracked and define how these metrics align with your goals. Track the appropriate metrics down to the keyword level.

Search optimization involves determining the optimal amount to bid for each keyword in order to meet your goals. When bidding on tens of thousands of keywords, this can be quite a challenge. Understanding SEM optimization technologies and how to use them is integral to the success of any large search campaign. Some SEM technologies use advanced algorithms that employ statisti­cal modeling, analyzing factors such as historical performance and recency. You can then allocate spend across a large keyword portfolio by determining where you'll get the most bang for your buck. The best SEM technologies save time, allowing you to do “value add” activities such as landing page and creative testing — without focusing on hour-by-hour management of manual bidding on keywords.

Planning your bid manage­ment strategy based solely on a campaign's average historical performance ignores the bigger picture. Historical performance should be judged using aver­ages, but bid management deci­sions should be about under­standing what happens as the next (or “marginal”) dollar is spent. Knowing this enables you to set appropriate budgets when added media spending results in marginal profitability. This is where predictive modeling algorithms can be helpful.

Bid management and optimization technologies are improv­ing the level of performance and foresight that marketers can achieve. With the efficiency of search's auction-based market­place, they influence how other online media are bought and managed. If search — sold primarily at auction — is 40% of online spending, when will other media follow and who will be best equipped to profit from this shift? Auctions should soon become the dominant place for buying and selling all forms of online advertising, making bid management strategies technologies important for marketers to understand.

Roger Barnette is the founder and president of SearchIgnite. Reach him at rbarnette@searchignite.com.

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