USING YOUR SEARCH MARKETING DATA
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November 2006

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USING YOUR SEARCH MARKETING DATA


By Troy Lerner

You're a pretty good search engine marketer. You've spent countless hours researching keywords, testing creative, A/B splitting landing pages. And the bid management. We can't forget the bid management. You know how to tweak 10,000 keyword bids based on marginal profitability by time-of-day while waiting for the butter to melt on your morning toast. You are a great search engine marketer! So what are you going to do when the boss says, "performance is leveling off. What's next?"

No need to hide under the desk. You've been tracking your PPC campaigns closely, right? The data you've collected can be a real asset in your quest for new opportunities. Think of this data as your guidebook to online media. The trick to answering "what's next?" is really a matter of reading the book.

Consider the immense reach of the search engines, and this logic is easy to understand. For example, those ads you buy from Google show up in lots of places other than just www.Google.com. Some of those places are big, like AOL, and some of those places are not as big, like Feld.com. Google distributes your ad to tens of thousands of partners. Good tracking allows you evaluate these partners and take action.

Below, I've compiled data for a client and summarized it by referring domain.


Domain

Clicks

Cost

CPC

Sales

Revenue

1

www.google.com

26,702

$10,132.19

$0.38

814

$79,057.23

2

aolsearch.aol.com

3,390

$ 1,190.67

$0.35

127

$13,195.89

3

Others/Unknown

2,540

$ 984.37

$0.39

87

$ 6,887.87

4

www.bizrate.com

2,076

$ 865.60

$0.42

44

$ 6,991.12

5

www.amazon.com

2,056

$ 704.42

$0.34

122

$ 7,758.61

6

pagead2.googlesyndication.com

1,449

$ 583.46

$0.40

20

$ 1,919.16

7

www.shopzilla.com

1,226

$ 504.65

$0.41

23

$ 2,548.62

8

www.epinions.com

812

$ 344.05

$0.42

11

$ 2,239.93

9

mysearch.myway.com

743

$ 288.63

$0.39

26

$ 3,573.49

10

www.ask.com

618

$ 265.54

$0.43

16

$ 2,444.75

11

www.shopping.com

626

$ 247.74

$0.40

19

$ 2,244.10

12

www.nextag.com

522

$ 233.99

$0.45

12

$ 857.77

13

www.comcast.net

617

$ 213.34

$0.35

34

$ 3,483.96

14

www.mywebsearch.com

540

$ 206.99

$0.38

17

$ 1,297.74

15

froogle.google.com

505

$ 202.46

$0.40

12

$ 1,306.34

16

search.earthlink.net

443

$ 164.38

$0.37

23

$ 1,469.23

17

search.aol.com

461

$ 162.40

$0.35

19

$ 2,152.05


Five Marketing Opportunities to be Discovered from PPC Data:

1) Predict Success in the Shopping Engines
Check out lines 4, 7, 11, 12 and 15. These are all shopping engines. The interesting fact is that with the exception of Froogle (it's free!), I'm not running campaigns in the shopping engines for this client. So why are shopping engines showing up in my data? Remember, Google has a very broad reach and in fact shows ads in many of the shopping engines. Try a search at Bizrate.com for "tennis racquet". You'll see a ton of product listings. Keep scrolling, and you'll see some Sponsored Listings from...guess who? Yep, these are Google ads. If you search for something that Bizrate doesn't promote, like "stale pizza", you'll see the Google ads at the top of the page. (Note to the Google advertiser for "stale pizza", you might consider using 'stale' as a negative keyword in your AdWords campaign)

Your opportunity: Use this data to get a sense for your potential with the shopping engines. Based on my particular set of data, I should definitely run a test at Bizrate, and might consider tests at Shopzilla, Shopping.com and NexTag.com. And although Amazon isn't exactly a shopping engine, and is indeed a very expensive sales channel, I might consider a test there as well since the project to build a feed for Amazon is similar to the project to build a feed for other shopping engines.

2) Non-Search Media Buys
Maybe you should consider banner ads. Before you label me a fool stuck in the late-90s suggesting that you spend millions driving "hits" and "eyeballs", hear me out. There really is more to online marketing than search. Really. In my experience, the key is to test for audience potential through search, track a media buy very carefully, and have a quick out if it doesn't work.

Take a look at lines 2, 13, 16 and 17. These are all portals that syndicate Google AdWords in their search listings. However, these portals sell other advertising placements as well. If you have an audience that searches for your product or service in the portal search bar, maybe that same audience would be receptive to other forms of marketing.

Your opportunity: Do you have a competitive conversion rate in specific search portals? If you do, there might be something specific about that portal audience that is a match for your product or service. Your PPC data may help you to make the case for a media test on one of the portals. Just make sure you track the test down to a true conversion and bail out if your hunch about the portal was wrong. Banks don't accept hits and eyeballs as deposits.

3) Partnerships
There are many niche sites that won't show up on the top of your log reports based on traffic. However, these sites might be real powerhouses for conversion. For example, consider a site like TomsHardware.com. This is a relatively small site when compared to the big portals, engines and shopping channels. But the people that follow the reviews and advice here are very loyal to the channel. If you get a great review here, you might turn a lot of quick sales.

Your opportunity: Tom (I assume there is a Tom there!) shows Google AdWords on his site, but he sells his own advertising too. Dig deep into your log data to find the small sites with the high conversion. Many of these small sites don't make much dough from the AdSense program, and are delighted when you contact them about an opportunity for direct advertising.

4) Domain Names
This one will get your blood boiling. Check your log files for people squatting on variations of your domain name or product names. For our client Little Tikes, we found squatters on domains like www.lttletikes.com and www.litletykes.com. What can you do about it? Depends on how much money you have.

Your opportunity: Check the log data for squatters on variations of your domain or product names. With conversion data, you have the upper hand in any negotiation to buy the domain. Or, if you have an affordable attorney and don't mind getting into a tangle, you can pass the information along as potential trademark infringement. Not that I'm giving you legal advice or anything.

5) Let's go backwards
Most of the advice here works in reverse as well. Root through your conversion data summarized by referring domain and find the waste. In many cases, Google will let you block domains that send you junk traffic. Simply use the "exclude site" function inside of your campaign settings. Yahoo doesn't do this today, but may do it with their new platform release in Q107. Ask.com can help you out too, but you have to call your rep and get it taken care of on the back-end.

Your opportunity: Find junk sources of traffic and eliminate them from your campaigns. Also, use this data as ammo against salespeople from junky portals that want to sell you some really good, um, eyeballs and hits.

Conclusion:
Certainly, search engine marketing data should be used to make your PPC campaigns better. Sophisticated marketers take it another step and use the data to assist non-PPC decisions as well. Heck, we've even used PPC data to help make decisions for offline projects such as direct mail. The keys to success with these efforts are having lots of really good data that you can trust, and combining that with someone who can analyze data and spot the trends.

Troy Lerner, Director, The Booyah Agency
Troy oversees the strategic direction of online marketing campaigns with Google, Yahoo, MSN, ASK, etc. Troy brings hands-on experience with the entire online marketing landscape, including search (PPC, PI, SEO), display media, site design, and behavioral targeting, etc. He has managed accounts of all sizes including, Motor Trend, the American Automobile Association and Little Tikes. Prior to Booyah, Troy spent two years at Avenue A/Razorfish where he headed up business development and managed client teams.


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