Tools for Advanced PPC Management and Reporting

Last column, I covered base-level analytics to employ for your paid search marketing efforts. This week, I will focus on more advanced tools that are available to help you manage, evaluate, and optimize your paid search campaigns.

There are many options but today we’ll focus on two key types of search marketing analytics and management tools – automated campaign management (typically called “bid management” tools) and Web analytics suites that have a robust search marketing plug-in or product that integrates with the Web analytics platform.

Bid Management Tools

There are a multitude of bid management tools available. They all have relatively similar benefits and features, chief among them:

  • Centralized campaign interface (across all engines and campaigns)
  • Bulk campaign upload and editing of keywords, ads, and bids (campaign-wide changes)
  • Advanced campaign intelligence and reporting, including helpful dashboards
  • Automated bid management using business rules/algorithms
  • Time and cost efficiencies

Because there are so many players in this space, and they all do very similar things, what I thought I’d focus on are their key differentiators from other products on the market. As I have yet to test all of these tools, I won’t comment on how well they actually work in practice, but I’ll highlight the features or benefits that I think sound most compelling. In non-partisan alphabetical order…

  • Acquisio Search: Strong client-facing reports; flexible rule setting and customization
  • Atlas Search: Integration with Atlas display ad campaigns; conversion de-duping
  • Clickable Pro: Ability to white-label and “drag n’ drop” to create fully customized reports
  • Marin Software: Rapid implementation; “analytics-to-action” interface/dashboard
  • Kenshoo Search: High scalability; workflow process automation; client report log-in
  • SearchForce: High customization and integration; access to expertise and support

Web Analytics Suites

Only a few established Web analytics packages offer a fully robust suite of search marketing management tools. There are several advantages to combining your SEM management functions with your Web analytics tools, including:

  • A centralized, holistic view of all digital marketing activities, across all traffic sources
  • A view into search marketing performance across a range of key performance indicators (e.g., time on site, pages per visit, top content of SEM visitors)
  • One set of analytics code and tracking URLs
  • One less interface to log in to

Omniture SearchCenter is probably the most well known search management tool that is integrated into a major analytics package. Note that with the acquisition of Adobe, it has now been renamed Adobe SearchCenter (powered by Omniture). Some unique features of its search tool, beyond the benefits listed above due to integration with Web analytics, are as follows:

  • Automatically map keywords to dynamic landing pages
  • Measure impact of search on display ad campaigns
  • Customize the bid-management approach to your needs
  • Correlate keyword activity with offline sales

Coremetrics also has a strong search offering called Coremetrics Search 9.

They too have some unique benefits that are quite compelling:

  • “LIVE” profiles track a user’s engagement behavior over time, including browsing history and interaction with e-mails, search, display, site content, etc.
  • Strong attribution functionality and cross-session metrics to facilitate a holistic view of the contribution of your SEM campaign
  • Integration with landing page testing via Coremetrics Connect
  • Ability to import key product data (e.g., inventory, margins, etc.) to optimize campaign bidding and delivery

Clearly the tools I’ve reviewed here are not exhaustive and many other companies offer comparable tools. I’d encourage you to do your own research to determine which tool is right for your business and needs. Most companies offer free 30 to 60 day demos, so you can try these tools out on a low-commitment basis to see if they’re worth the investment.

Related reading

Brand Top Level Domains