It's going to be a tough year for many pay-per-click (PPC) search marketers, a class of which you may be a member. Google and Bing have added additional functionality in both ad formats and targeting, and these new capabilities are likely to make your life more complex by making it more difficult to optimally prioritize your tactics and experiments. Mobile traffic (across both smartphones and tablets) is exploding and the emerging set of hybrid tablet/laptop/notebook machines is further confusing the marketplace.
In addition, every indication is that cost-per-clicks (CPCs) across the desktop/laptop segment, as well as the mobile segment of users, are starting to rise. The last couple of years saw a stabilization of laptop and desktop CPCs. This stabilization was driven to a great extent by new ad formats in Google AdWords that asymmetrically raised Quality Scores among the more aggressive advertisers, thus reducing their billed CPC or enabling them to achieve top position at a lower bid. PPC sitelinks and other extensions were the primary drivers of the increased click-through rate (CTR) (all other things being equal) and, therefore, the drops in CPCs.
Many of you benefited from this and experienced similar or better conversion rates, thus contributing extra profit to the bottom line, or - if the keywords you were bidding on were elastic (bid price increases resulted in position change) - an increase in position with an accompanying surge in profitable volume.
Most retailers running product listing ads (PLAs) advertising had a happy holiday despite the challenges associated with managing a separate PLA management system in tandem with AdWords. Advertisers who managed PLA effectively reaped the rewards and those who didn't handed customers to their competition.
As CPCs rise, as the traffic mix becomes more "mobile," and as new Ad Extensions are rolled out across Bing and Google AdWords, you may find it helpful to heed some 2013 PPC search advertising resolutions.
Start the year off right but also be vigilant. Campaigns need TLC all year 'round. Search engine marketing (SEM) is not a "set-and-forget" advertising medium even if your campaign management software is killer.
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Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
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.
March 19, 2014