Paid Search Marketing – The (other) Leanest Line Item in the Media Plan

There comes a time in the life of a search marketer; when we start searching for a purpose in our lives and the media platform we work on. Paid Search Marketing starts typically with less than 2 percent of the overall media budget – leaving many working tirelessly on daily spends of $1 – $10 against a daily spend opportunity of $100 – $500.

Over many years, marketers continue to see paid search marketing as a marginal or hygiene element of their media mix but never a core supporter; leaving it to certain mature categories like travel, automobile, tech and finance. Paid search is considered as another campaign launch platform, where the advertiser must be present against competitor ads – it is as simple as that.

Only a handful of advertisers fully leverage the power of paid search marketing. Here are some myths that are good to be cleared up:

  1. The start-stop approach does not make your campaign successful. It is important for the advertiser to know that search queries for your product are throughout the year irrespective if the advertiser has a campaign or not. A classic example is ‘shampoo’; users will search for ‘hair care’, ‘hair conditioning’, and related terms throughout the year whether the advertiser is advertising or not.
  2. Briefs go wrong at (most) times, to state another classic brief example for our region. I have $50k to run a digital campaign including search across 4 weeks. “Can you give me a plan with high reach and the objective is  to raise awareness?” You will struggle to run a paid search campaign. If this is an airline – you are looking at at least a million queries each month.  There is no way the $50k will have any impact on your marketing objective. Avoid parking paid search marketing – when your dollars are already stretched.
  3. If your budget has not been fully consumed, that does not make your campaign/media inefficient. Paid search marketing allows you to decide how much and where to spend. Estimated performance always stands to be realigned during the campaign period and this includes – budget, CPC, traffic, and search volume. If you just want to burn media money – try contextual network or other digital platforms.
  4. Avoid topping up an ‘always on’ search campaign with additional monies; unless you are really short of coverage. An always on campaign helps you achieve cost efficiencies; though it varies – industry to industry and country to country.
  5. Paid search helps in reinforcing your brand; it doesn’t help in brand recall. If people don’t know you; they won’t search for you. So, always layer your media plans with paid search.
  6. Estimate to target 50 percent share of impressions; anything below that as your budget – you will always consider paid search as an ineffective media platform.
  7. Be bold, and explore organic optimization if you are in the landscape for a long term play. Paid search is not your one stop fix all solution for online search. You really need to leverage the entire search results page. This recent study confirms that organic search wins 94 percent of the time!
  8. Use pretty much all the extensions where applicable; don’t stick to boring search ads. The landscape has significantly evolved. Google has introduced smart extensions like – site links (multiple links within the same ad unit), location extensions (allows you to show directions on the map), call extension (allows you to dial a number from your phone). These extensions improve the user experience on paid search – use them.
  9. Avoid chasing the competition on paid search or get competitive insights. Paid search marketing is best understood when you use it to achieve you marketing objective; not to understand what your competition is doing. Use ad tracking tools to know what your competition is up to. Most advertisers land up replicating what competition is doing; this is a big no-no for paid search. It is always advised to learn from your competition and improve.
  10. Go mobile if you haven’t. Mobile searches are growing 25 percent quarter-on-quarter in matured markets.

If you as an advertiser still feel search should be a small item. Move those media dollars into something more effective for your media plan. Don’t waste your money – use it wisely and effectively.

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