How to run a portfolio-style campaign and meet objectives -- without damaging your business.
I’ve been asked a lot recently about portfolio-style campaign management. I covered the basic concepts in an earlier column. Today, I’ll provide a tactical foundation, and explain how to run a portfolio-style campaign, and meet your objectives, without damaging your business.
Portfolio-based campaign strategies are of particular interest to agencies that manage media beyond search engine marketing (SEM). They look at media plans from an overview perspective, often because they can’t accurately gauge the effectiveness of specific media buy elements. Portfolio-approach skeptics may point out a portfolio-based media campaign results in higher media spending than a campaign based on strict direct marketing maximum-allowable methods. After all, agency commissions are generally based on a percentage of spending.
Skeptics may also say search engines love when marketers manage their campaigns based on a mix of listings judged together, rather than on individual listing results, which contribute to the bottom line at a given metric. Several marketers and agencies have told me reps even use the portfolio-return concept to justify turning on contextual advertising or escalating bids on generic keywords.
I prefer a data-driven foundation when deciding whether to turn on contextual inventory or escalate bids. One example of this would early buy-cycle behavior highly correlating with both. A strategic decision can be made based on empirical data about a searcher’s buying cycle and the time between search and purchase. Data may also be available to support a conclusion that future purchase behavior and brand lift can be delivered through contextual or bid-escalation tactics.
A well-executed portfolio campaign can positively influence your business’s overall profitability. Yet not all portfolio strategies are the same. Portfolio-style campaign management isn’t for every marketer or even for every campaign within an overall strategy.
Before engaging in a portfolio-style pay-per-click (PPC) campaign, ask the following questions:
There are no easy answers to when and how much you should use a portfolio approach in managing a keyword campaign. By asking the above questions, you approach the campaign with eyes open. In a portfolio campaign some segments vary dramatically from the average return. You may have data supporting a portfolio approach based on measurable conversions because lots of conversions were less measurable but tied to the campaign.
Discuss this internally and with your agency or search provider, and make sure your campaign is managed the way you want it to be at both the micro and macro levels. Running a customized, profit-maximizing portfolio is far superior to running a boilerplate portfolio, just like investing in the stock market. Have your team do the customized math regularly and tune your keyword portfolio for maximum profit.
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Kevin Lee, Didit cofounder and executive chairman, has been an acknowledged search engine marketing expert since 1995. His years of SEM expertise provide the foundation for Didit's proprietary Maestro search campaign technology. The company's unparalleled results, custom strategies, and client growth have earned it recognition not only among marketers but also as part of the 2007 Inc 500 (No. 137) as well as three-time Deloitte's Fast 500 placement. Kevin's latest book, "Search Engine Advertising" has been widely praised.
Industry leadership includes being a founding board member of SEMPO and its first elected chairman. "The Wall St. Journal," "BusinessWeek," "The New York Times," Bloomberg, CNET, "USA Today," "San Jose Mercury News," and other press quote Kevin regularly. Kevin lectures at leading industry conferences, plus New York, Columbia, Fordham, and Pace universities. Kevin earned his MBA from the Yale School of Management in 1992 and lives in Manhattan with his wife, a New York psychologist and children.
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