All posts by MichaelCampbell

Why Bother with a Search Management Technology?

Every once and awhile, I will come across a single three-word phrase which I never like to hear, but more importantly, I feel is unjustified in this line of work.

“Sorry, no budget”

A colleague I once worked with when I sold ad-space gleefully blurted down the phone to a prospect: “You gotta spend money to make money!” I always look back and smile on that moment. As I’m sure you can imagine, the call ended fairly abruptly, but never the less he made an impact on me.

Progressing in business is all about identifying risk, value and investment potential, then acting accordingly, whether that is investing time in your clients, assets in your workforce, or having faith in that new product. The best way to achieve this progress is by using a search management technology provider to do the dirty work.

The truth of the matter is that every day, you are in a position to make a change which will nearly always guarantee a positive ROI.*

Don’t worry, there is no small print. Those conditions are fairly simple:

  1. Have a large online presence, selling numerous products
  2. Support from a dedicated search team
  3. Contain a typical search spend in excess of £50,000 (or about $75,000) per month

First, with a large online presence, it’s assumed that you will have a vast and complex account and campaign arrangement across the major publisher engines. Furthermore, you are likely to be running a lot of activity through additional channels, such as display and social. You must ask yourself: How much time is spent operationally logging into individual systems to manage these? How much time is spent trying to compare data and draw any meaningful insights to action?

Moving onto your search team, whether in-house or through an agency: how much time is spent analysing difficult to obtain data for optimisation? This is a complex task if done manually; something which a computer can do in a fraction of the time, often with a greater degree of accuracy (sort term promotions, seasonal holidays, etc. are a different matter).

Finally, spend. The more you track, and the higher your click volume, the more you stand to gain: simple economics of scale. While online presence and search explain where the value is generated,  high spend is an indicator that you should now be starting to have those conversations with search management technology providers.

All in all, I approach many clients who exceed the above pointers and spend vast amounts of money in search but are reluctant to use a search technology. I can’t speak for everyone but I think the fact that they understand that such a change is no small feat is an accomplishment in itself. However, not forgetting the large degree of accountability, many senior marketers may be put off by taking that leap of faith.

Call me biased but I would always vouch for the use of a tool.  Whether it’s IgnitionOne’s DMS or another provider’s tool, it’s certainly a conversation worth having.


*assuming certain conditions are in place

Savvy Marketers Drive Attribution with User Engagement Metrics

At the turn of 2011, the buzz word ‘attribution’ began to garner attention as marketers started to realise value in customised attribution modelling. Understanding the true value of individual channels in a final conversion has always been an ideal strived for.

Reliable insight data allows marketers to understand the interplay of each channel, better enabling them to influence their end goals and increase efficiencies. What’s key, however, is that they can do this by allocating budget across those channels (or channel combinations) that drive results. With this in mind, it’s easy to see the flaws in last-click: a legacy solution with no real concept of applying credit where credit’s due.

With just over half of online marketers using custom attribution (72% of which use first or last-click),I’m sometimes left scratching my head wondering what the other half are doing with all their data.The old cliché ‘knowledge is power’ seems fitting about now; there are some justifiable reasons, the biggest being politics within marketing departments (different teams for different channels) and technological limitations (particularly of larger organisations that are heavily reliant on older tools). Of those who are using some form of attribution, only a tiny proportion had any faith in a totally accurate form of modelling being available.  This is the result of the huge variables that go into assigning credit. What is the value of a social media click vs. a brand search vs. video engagement to the end conversion? Do these values change with product or category, time of day or season?

With the insights currently available it’s no wonder that once marketers begin to tackle the issue of Big Data, it presents big fears. Tools and teams are available to marketers through agencies and technology providers who work together to try to alleviate these problems by investing large amounts of time and money in statistical modelling.

Marketers, however, can approach the problem from a different angle. IgnitionOne coined the term ‘attruebution’ at a Jump event hosted by Econsultancy in 2012 when they spoke of the pioneering approach they had taken to tackle the above issues. What if you were able to assess channel engagement by assessing user behaviour online and linking that to the referring traffic source?

IgnitionOne uses standard online media metrics as well as an audience scoring algorithm to determine a prospect’s buying propensity by evaluating the past behaviours of converters and non-converters. This is a big step forward, as many technologies only consider the average 3% of converters typically seen on a website. The data is then used to evaluate the effectiveness of media interactions and provide customer-driven scientific weighting that eliminates the guess work in delivering suitable attribution profiles. With the change in focus from latency and exposure models, it provides a greater insight into the value that is generated with each media touch point.

The graph above demonstrates that although PPC renders the highest conversion rate, it also produces the least amount of user engagement. With this in mind, how valuable was this channel towards the end conversion? Highest engagement was driven by the social channels so what would be the result of reducing budget in this area to increase PPC spend?

Do you really need to attribute your data? The short answer is yes. If not now, sooner rather than later. It’s a bigger priority for certain verticals, and management teams will need to evaluate the percentage of their conversions that are the result of multi-channel interactions. From this they will have a better idea of the ROI from any media investment they make.

When you finally do decide to take the leap and move off the legacy last-click, have a real think about what you hope to achieve. By thinking outside of the box marketers can take advantage of potential insights and use this to drive their hard earned budgets into the areas that they know are producing real results. No more squabbling between internal teams about who should get what, when the data speaks for itself.