Tag Archives: SEO

Five Minutes with a Search Guru

IgnitionOne’s remarkable technology is backed by a global team of online experts, who are constantly building upon the company’s products through their extensive knowledge and expertise.

Based in the IgnitionOne UK office, Judy Chan has been working in the business of Search for the past 9 years in both agency and direct client roles, making her a seasoned veteran of all things PPC and SEO.

Is Search still a relevant channel for brands?

100%.  Search is the core part of any business.  When analyzing click path analysis, how often can you say search was not path of the click path?

Even if you disagree, test and learn.  It’s the only way to understand this fully. A handful of us are analyzing different attribution models, but not enough of us are moving away from the last-click model.  Search has always been one of our measurable channels.  We need to adapt and analyse attribute models to understand the conversion path.  Even for “brand” activity, yes I agree, tracking a conversion is difficult.  However, there are technology providers out there who can match back the analytical/ engagement data against your keywords to give you better insight and help you make better decisions on running search.

Google Enhanced Campaigns – good or bad for search marketers?

It depends on the vertical, to be honest.  A lot of us have spent the last few years breaking out our accounts, i.e. separate accounts for desktop / tablet / mobile.  We did this because we were able to target each device more specifically and become more granular and relevant in our campaign management. It was fantastic; we could suddenly see how CTR was affected. Google Enhanced Campaigns basically means reverting back to how it was, and managing devices at campaign level, the breakout including mobile, and desktop / tablet.

Regardless, Google has made its decision and we need to act as necessary.

Best piece of advice given to you about analysing search campaign results?

Focus on one target.  Try not to add too many variables, i.e. I want a £10 CPA overall, but I also want to monitor these generic terms and change them manually.  Use a technology to help you manage your time better.  You can then focus on strategy, testing and analysis.

We’re in an industry crammed with acronyms, any personal favourites?

SPOT, which is our predictive optimization technology.

This uses predictive bidding models to automate maximum efficiencies from search campaigns.

Does your work in search affect your personal computer use?

Yes!  I’m so analytical about what comes up and which ads I click on: bad habits.  I tend to make more searches to see who appears also, so my exposure sequence is probably 12 on average.  Geek alert.


Your Digital Media Is Integrated…Now What?

It’s not hard to imagine how larger advertisers can quickly find themselves caught standing still in a rapidly evolving digital marketplace today. As new tracking technology allows for greater integration between channels, advertisers should be thinking about how they can change their approach to increase efficiency. As advertisers become more sophisticated, the pressure grows to edge out competition and dominate the digital marketing space. Advertisers are finding themselves trapped between growing local online media, traditional companies investing in digital media, new e-commerce sites, OTA’s, review aggregators, blogs and social networking sites now earning margins on their revenue. Some advertisers are not sure if they should even view these new channels as friends or foes but regardless of channel, advertisers want their media budgets to earn/buy the most media possible, generating the most return.

Evolution is at the forefront of our industry. It has been a founding principle since Gutenberg fired the last town crier. As media has developed, the evolutionary curve has shortened. It is seen more recently with TV budgets overtaking radio ad space, DVR changing the pricing structure of the broadcast, and most recently with the Internet transforming print media and how businesses engage with customers.

Fact: It was 700 years from the invention of print to the invention of radio and nearly 70 years from the invention of the radio to the invention of the Internet.

Considering how rapidly online marketing evolves, advertisers can take advantage of this evolution instead of falling victim to it. Sometimes to their own detriment, advertisers can find themselves following the standard procedure and allocating media spend without considering the efficiencies of flexibility. Here are two ways advertisers can help their own organization evolve within the digital space. By strategically allocating budgets and making them flexible, marketers can earn/buy the most media with every dollar.

1. Break Down the Walls – Clients must learn that departmental divisions and internal competition for budget isn’t healthy. In many circumstances, advertisers compete internally for the same advertising budget and are incentivized based on growing media spend, not efficiently spending it. Factors such as product quantity or historically offline performing categories may cause advertisers to unfairly distribute budget from the top down instead of the bottom up. In an ideal scenario, budgets should be increased departmentally based on efficiency and departments should not be constrained to budgets set in a prior year. Advertisers must look holistically at their business and work together interdepartmentally to not compete against each other, but to ensure the internal divisions/departments with the greatest ROAS are fully funded.

2. Allow for Flexible Budgets – As consumer behavior continues to advance, media spend will change . Advertisers should prepare to shift budgets between search engines, display networks, mobile networks, etc. This budget shift doesn’t stop at the publisher level, but should be considered internally as well. Advertisers can find themselves pressured internally to ‘’support’’ new efforts instead of allocating media funds to proven and more efficient channels. Some ways to evaluate your media budget are to compare the shift in ROAS by date, channel, search engine, SEO provider, etc. and overlay this against your business cycle/seasonality. Next, determine how accurate your digital tracked revenue is by channel and the actual ROAS for each channel; you will then be well on your way to providing flexible budgeting and growing your internal revenue with the same media spend.

Ways to analyze media spend
i. month to month
ii. channel to channel
iii. engine to engine
iv. network to network
v. division to division
vi. seasonally/cyclically

At this point you might be thinking, “The big guys upstairs don’t like new ideas,” but I’ve discovered that the big guys upstairs always like ideas that are practical and generate revenue. Once advertisers make budgets more flexible and reallocate by performance, you will maximize your media dollars and increase your ROAS. It’s certainly easier said than done, however those who can will gain a competitive advantage over those who won’t.

Search Myths Uncovered

By Judy Chan, Head of Search, IgnitionOne UK

Have you ever been given advice that you’re not sure whether to take?  There are many myths and unhelpful assumptions in how to manage your PPC activity.  PPC has a complex structure, with a huge volume of data in constant evolution.  Hopefully with some truths, we can help unravel some myths for you, and support you in managing a successful PPC campaign.

Be visible 24/7 – Not necessarily.  There are two options here for you.  Work out your peak periods: when are your best converting times?  You can then either A) be visible 100% of the time and up-weight budget during these peak times, (i.e. increase budget 5% during 8-9pm) or B) pause the account during periods that are not converting to increase campaign efficiency.

Include an extensive list of broad match terms – Broad match terms are useful in driving traffic to your website.  You can pull the search query report which gives you the actual typed keywords to expand your keyword list for more defined match types to increase quality score.  Make sure you create a supporting negative keywords list across the account to exclude irrelevant traffic.

Create a structure with one keyword per ad group – It is important to have a granular structure so that you can allocate budget accordingly to a group of keywords, however this does not mean that you need to create one keyword per ad group.  Remember, budget is set at campaign level, so if you have top performing keywords within an ad group, you will need to structure the account so that these have maximum budget to convert.  If necessary, move these top performing terms into their own campaigns.  Make sure the structure remains the same so that you have the relevant ad copy and landing page for each keyword.  This is an on-going process as performance of each keyword will fluctuate due to multiple factors including offers, seasonality and price change.

Get ideas from your competitors – Why not?  It’s good to know what you’re competing against.  Understand their USPs and how you can improve on what they are saying.  If you can’t compete with a price or offer in ad copy, then use something more generic.  Test and learn!

Managing your own PPC account in-house is easy – This is really dependent on the size of your account and internal expertise. Agency side will give you knowledge, expertise, cross channel media planning and daily support.  There is obviously a cost to using an agency, but the efficiencies could outweigh what you have in-house.  If you do go in-house, there are technologies out there which can support you in managing your campaigns, such as the Digital Marketing Suite

Focus on long tail keywords – It is important to expand on long tail keywords, but the volume in general will be much lower.  This will be an ongoing process to review your account structure.

Once you have your optimum account, you can review it less frequently–PPC is a continuous cycle.  You can always expand, learn and improve.  Seasonality, offers, price change, new products, competitors will constantly impact your campaign.  Always be aware by checking your campaign daily.

Position 1 is a must – not necessarily as you may be more efficient and profitable in lower positions.  It’s all about a combination of ad rank / quality score / CPC to hit your target.  Using a bid management tool can take the ease out of your day to day tweaking.  The tool will take into account the best CPC formula across your keyword set to meet your targets.  For certain terms you may want to take the strategic approach and maintain the number 1 position.

Make sure you run Google Display Network (GDN) – Treat GDN separately to your PPC campaigns, this will give different results to your PPC activity.  Create separate accounts to run these campaigns with individual budgets and targets.

A new account equals starting afresh with your quality score – True, but if you continue with the same structure you will end up with the same quality score.  Your quality score will only improve with constant optimisation of the account.

Monitor click fraud frequently – Don’t focus too much on this. Google and Y!Bing will have their own internal systems and teams monitoring this for you.  They will update the clicks to reflect this automatically.

Don’t bother with PPC, use SEO instead, it’s free! – PPC can give you instant ads appearing against your chosen keywords and positioning.  SEO is a long-term strategy and takes time and constant monitoring to retain the top position.  Although you may be in position 1 for SEO on certain terms, it doesn’t mean users will see your ad first as there may be multiple PPC advertisers appearing on the same term above your SEO ad.  Again, this is all about testing, and understanding whether running PPC and SEO alongside each other will give you incremental volume. Remember that each keyword will be different.

Remove keywords that don’t convert – Which attribution model is this based on? Most of us are still utilising the last-click model.  If this is the case, then this doesn’t mean these terms have not converted; you need to review your click path analysis.  When looking at a user journey, for example a holiday, which keywords do they type in before booking?  How many different display ads do they click on?  Each of these ads is a part of your click path. As they are different media, focus needs to broaden outside of solely PPC to include other channels such as display, email and Facebook. Take into account all channels, brand and generic terms that contribute to a conversion.  It’s not just Brand that converts.  Allocate part of your conversion to each click path and spend your budget wisely.

Use the best performing ad across all your ad groups – Test and learn!  Ad copy should be tailored specifically and relevantly to each ad group. Regularly rotate ad copy to identify your best performers and use the right tracking sources to support your goals e.g. if focusing on CPA, review your ads on CPA results to optimise and not just on CTR.

Musings of a Digital Newbie

5 Things I have learned in my first month working for a digital

marketing solutions company

  1. Don’t turn up to work in tight trousers on the first day because they will split and you will have to go and buy new ones during your lunch break so that you don’t show all your new team your underwear.
  2. I now see cookies in a whole new light. I thought that a cookie was simply a tasty and highly calorific snack, oh how wrong I was. Cookies make the interactions between the user and the website faster, having the ability to remember preferences, text and shopping basket information. I think cookies currently have a bad rep, but if websites didn’t use cookies the Internet would be a much more frustrating place. It turns out cookies can actually be an incredibly insightful tool for businesses to learn a user’s real interests and act upon this information. In terms of how this can benefit the consumer in the long term, by using cookies, users will be able to see advertising specifically chosen for them, and congruent to their interests – so no more irrelevant annoying pop-ups.
  3. There are so many digital companies out there, all with point solutions and unique angles. I found it tricky at first trying to figure out what each one does by sifting through all the technical jargon and TLA’s (Three Letter Abbreviations). It’s refreshing to be working for a company that does everything under one platform: consolidating online data, conversion optimisation, analytics, managing SEO, PPC and facebook, as well as behavioural attribution.
  4. You can never be too thorough. Mistakes like spelling ‘Stephen’ as ’Steven’ can be the difference between someone replying to your email and not (and thinking you are a mindless idiot) so don’t get the simple things wrong. This is so important in the digital industry which is growing and changing so fast. Doing the right research is also important, making sure you are contacting the right person. I’m finding that job titles can be as puzzling as trying to predict what Lady GaGa is going to wear tomorrow.
  5. This links nicely to the joys of LinkedIn. I have gradually learned how to use it and enjoy finding out lots of information about who’s who in the industry. You can easily spend two hours researching every page on a company’s website, getting the prices for every product, but finding out that the E-Commerce manager used to go to the same university as you and that they have 20 years SEO experience could be even more useful and proves that you’re contacting that person for a reason. It’s also really addictive to check who’s viewed your profile: lesson learned after becoming a little obsessed!

In just one month, my whole perspective of the online industry has been changed. From day one my brain has been inundated with information far more interesting and useful than anything I remember learning in school IT classes. I know I’m touching the tip of the iceberg with regards to the possibilities digital marketing has for the future of advertising. I’ve started my journey in this fast paced industry and having a slightly embarrassing rip in my trousers is definitely not enough to stop me.


Media Mix Modeling, the Next Frontier

By now, most marketers understand the benefits of a multi-channel view of their marketing efforts. It provides a much needed strategic picture of where and how efficiently their media dollars are being spent (read more about it here and here).

But what does a marketer do with the wealth of information in front of him? How does he monetize this new found knowledge? The easy answer here is to use this acquired data to optimize.

At this strategic level, the marketer is not optimizing intra-channel efficiency (the profitability of an individual channel), but rather the mix of media dollars across all channels.  Media Mix Modeling can be a very useful tool, helping the marketer make decisions which are backed up by historical performance and statistical significance. It can be used to create a strategic, media dollar, potential efficiency curve.

The curve is created by stacking the individual efficiency potentials of each channel together and plotting them on the same graph. This provides a comprehensive view of the relative profitability of each channel at any particular budget. It’s easy to see at what level of media spend the diminishing returns set in for each individual channel and the entire media mix as whole.

For instance, SEO and paid search brand channels are extremely efficient at very low levels of spend. However, these channels quickly become maxed out and lose their efficiency. Using a chart like this, the marketer can quickly see each channel’s potential and distribute the media dollars accordingly.

In order to take full advantage of these optimization techniques, the marketer must have control of budget making decisions at the strategic level. The usefulness of Media Mix Modeling quickly dissipates if each, or even a significant minority of channels, is “siloed” into preset budget regales of their relative inter-channel efficiencies (read more here).

The historical performance of aggregate marketing efforts can be seen by plotting several Media Mix Modeling curves on the same graph. Assuming that overall media efforts are improving, the curves will move up and to the right, showing the increased efficiency and scalability of all inter-channel media.

IgnitionOne Industry Digest

August 2012

This is the most recent issue of the IgnitionOne Industry Digest, created to keep you up-to-date on the latest industry insights and news. If there are any interesting and relevant articles that you would like to see featured in the next issue, please email Vanessa.Ralls@IgnitionOne.com

Company Highlights

US Paid Search Spend Growth Slows in Q2; Mobile Keeps Rolling
Marketing Charts
June 29, 2012

Marketing Charts uses IgnitionOne Q2 data to compile their report on paid search and mobile growth.

Marketers Continue Upward Trend in Paid Search Advertising says IgnitionOne Report
Mobile Marketing Magazine
June 29, 2012

Mobile Marketing Magazine highlights information provided by IgnitionOne that notes mobile growth and paid search statistics.

Fully Utilize Attribution in Search Marketing
July 1, 2012

Roger Barnette’s byline encourages marketers to measure their performance through cross-channel attribution and move away from inefficient last-click.

Will Facebook Crack Mobile? IgnitionOne’s Michael Stephanblome on the Future of Social
The Drum
July 2, 2012

Q&A with Stephanblome covering his opinion on Facebook’s IPO valuation, how the company will crack mobile platforms, what he thinks will be the next big thing in social media marketing and more.

The New Millennial: Generation FB
Digital Marketing Suite
July 3, 2012

Lisa Arsenault, Head of Client Solutions for IgnitionOne, discusses how Facebook is the epicenter of a generation and makes suggestions for how marketers can appropriately advertise using the platform.

Paid Search Drives Highest AOV for Travel Industry
July 10, 2012

Econsultancy uses IgnitionOne data to fuel their article on paid search and the travel industry, highlighting that paid search drives a 71% higher AOV than any other single channel.

Google Takes Mobile on Attribution Path
July 11, 2012

Information from IgnitionOne’s Travel and Retail Report is referenced to support this MediaPost article on attribution and analyzes the channel paths to conversions.

Paid Search Growth Slows, Mobile Spikes in Q2 2012
Search Engine Watch
July 13, 2012

IgnitionOne data is used to support claims in this article regarding paid search trends.

Seven Years In, It’s Time for Social to Grow Up
July 16, 2012

Will Margiloff’s byline questions how marketers value social and insists that social provides better advertising opportunities and an efficient method of measuring user engagement and interaction with brands.

Paid Search Drives the Highest Value for the Travel Industry
Fourth Source
July 17, 2012

Centers on IgnitionOne data that reveals paid search is the key driver in getting customers to spend more money.

Attribution Requires Marketers to Understand Display Ad Impact
July 17, 2012

The IgnitionOne Travel and Retail Report’s explanation of ways to reduce conversion times simply by rearranging media in the purchase funnel is mentioned.

Where Display Fits
July 18, 2012

In his byline, Eric Bamberger discusses the symbiosis of display and search in the end-result of a conversion and makes an argument against last-click attribution as it typically omits the importance of display in the path to conversion.

Still Buoyed by Search Business, Google Posts 21% Revenue Growth
July 19, 2012

Roger Barnette comments on the Google Q2 reported earnings.

Ollie Bath, Head of Client Solutions, EU for IgnitionOne, explains how understanding attribution can lead to faster conversations and higher order values
Travel Bulletin
July 20, 2012

Ollie Bath discusses how integrated campaigns are most powerful when you have a fully-attributed view of online advertising, providing insight into how digital channels work together.

PPC & SEO – How Well Do They Play Together
Digital Marketing Suite
July 26, 2012

Meghan McDonnell explores multiple studies on paid and organic search, concluding that paid media fuels overall search traffic.

James Yancey, VP of Global Strategy at IgnitionOne, on the Future of Facebook Sponsored Stories Combining Social Graph and Third-party Data
July 26, 2012

James Yancey discusses the future of Facebook Sponsored Stories combining social graph and third-party data.

What Do A BLT And Search Marketing Have In Common?
July 27, 2012

Roger Barnette’s byline focuses on search marketing strategies, and discusses how organic and paid search work in concert and when the two function together, CTR, conversions and profitability will increase. Search marketers must work closely with other digital media disciplines in order to garner results.

Industry Insights

Success through Testing: Don’t Forget the Scientific Method
Search Engine Watch
July 5, 2012

Similar to science, digital marketers can benefit from testing by using steps in the Scientific Method. Characterizations and experimentation show how to test and hypotheses and predictions show what to test.

Is Click-Through-Rate Still a Good Measure for Success?
July 10, 2012

DeShazer argues that in other digital channels, business objectives need to be clearly understood and made tangible through defined KPIs in order to gauge whether the advertising is effective or not. Can this be translated for Facebook as well?

The Ripple Effect of Following a Brand on Social Media
July 10, 2012

A study found that 22% of Internet users would buy a brand that a friend liked or followed on a social network. The impact of liking a brand continues to grow in significance for companies, who feel that catering to their fans on social media outlets is a method of cultivating brand advocates who will support and recommend the brand, as well as its products and services.

Search Marketing’s Influence on Mobile Commerce
July 12, 2012

A report was released on the influence from search engine marketing that puts US mobile commerce spending at $36 billion by 2015 and that global revenue from mobile advertising and content should reach $67 billion this year. The report indicates that search will increase advertising and commerce but that mobile marketing will also contribute. Search on mobile demonstrates immediate intent and because mobile is a personal device, recommendations and ads target the individual. Keywords in text messages, searches, photo tags, and area codes will all play a role in ad targeting and marketing, as well as the ability to push content and recommendations that will lead consumers to make more purchases on mobile devices.

The No. 1 Concern of Digital Marketers: ROI
July 17, 2012

In a survey by the Association of National Advertisers, 62% of marketers said the inability to prove ROI in new media platforms is their top concern. They expressed unease over having proper metrics to determine the right media mix of traditional and digital media and 53% said there’s a lack of understanding about digital media among key people within their organization. Further, 40% of marketers are not measuring social to business results at all.

Mobile Search to Hit $15B in 2017
July 18, 2012

Juniper Research issued a new forecast projecting that revenue from mobile search and discovery will nearly triple to $15 billion worldwide in five years.

How Blank Display Ads managed to Tot up Some Impressive Numbers
July 23, 2012

Ted McConnell created an ad that offered no message and then enabled the ad to ask anyone who clicked why they did so (whether it was mistake or if they were curious). The average CTR the 500,000 impressions received was .08%, leading McDonnell to question what a click is: “Is it just an indication of a person solving a little mystery along the route of his quest? Is it an experiment? Is it a nervous tick? Or all of the above?”

Balancing Dueling Goals: Quality and Scale
July 23, 2012

Netmining’s Chris Hansen discusses how to effectively run an audience targeting campaign. By balancing quality, where on the page the ad appears and how well it can viewed, and scale, a marketer will likely achieve his goals.

Consumers Willing to Offer Personal Info for Better Ads
July 20, 2012

A recent survey found that consumers are happy to give their personal interests to marketers if they see a positive return. The study also found that consumers are excited by the idea of getting rid of the noise and removing irrelevant marketing messages, even if that means that they have to take a little time to rate different brands, ads, and segments.

Email and Search are Most Popular Mobile Tasks: Infographic
July 24, 2012

An infographic by Deloitte that shows that more than half of the UK population (52%) now own a smartphone, while tablet penetration stands at 16%. It also indicates that tablet users spend an average of £2.50 per month on apps compared to just 80p for the average smartphone user.

Trusting the Brand Enough to click on the Search Link
July 24, 2012

About.com released a study, revealing that consumers must trust a brand before they click on its ads. 84% of survey participants said trustworthiness has become a requirement before interacting with a brand. About.com identifies ten elements of trust. Some 99% of survey participants consider accuracy the most important element to gain consumer trust. Relevance follows with 98%; and fairness, format, transparency, and expertise tie for third at 97%. Choice and reliability are next at 95%, and awareness at 93%.

Tablets to Lead Mobile Advertising in 2014
July 23, 2012

A Yankee Group study forecasts that tablets will account for 53% of mobile ad dollars in 2014 compared to 47% for mobile handsets. They also found that 24% of tablet owners clicked on ads while using apps and 29% purchased extra content and indicated that tablets outperform smartphones across advertising, direct payment and in-app commerce.

A Timeline of Recent Facebook Ad Changes
July 24, 2012

A summary of news announcements regarding Facebook’s new advertising opportunities in 2012.

Why Brands must combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media
Social Chorus
July 24, 2012

The Altimeter Group published a report that states that brands do not integrate and align paid, earned and owned media, putting them at a disadvantage. In ten years, most media will encompass elements of all three. Digital, social, and influencer marketing programs are commanding larger portions of brand’s overall marketing budgets.

Facebook Tests Sponsored Results in Search Bar
July 24, 2012

Ads will begin to appear among organic search results in Facebook when users conduct searches for pages or places.

Display’s Future Hinges on Integration with Other Digital Channels
Marketing Pilgrim
July 25, 2012

A study by eConsultancy shows that 59% of marketers say increased integration with social media is very significant, 56% say the same for search and 50% for the personalization of online advertising. 44% of respondents are now integrating on-site content management and 37% are integrating search engine marketing.

Google Presents Strong Case for Online Political Advertisements
Search Engine Journal
July 25, 2012

An infographic that highlights facts about television, mobile, tablets and personal computers that should encourage the presidential candidates to re-evaluate their online advertising methods and strategy.

Display Isn’t Dying – It’s Just Getting Started
July 27, 2012

The continuing discrepancy between consumer usage and ad spending in digital media, an online paradigm shift from direct response to brand advertising and the improving efficiency of online channels contribute to the argument that display advertising is only getting bigger.

Facebook is not Google
July 30, 2012

Google’s search revenue, a “once-in-a-generation business model” funded the company’s expansive efforts. But AdWords conveyed a message to VCs and entrepreneurs that the ad business was a basic engineering problem that could be solved with an algorithm. Facebook’s attempt at pioneering a new form of advertising based on social signals, in conjunction with its unproven advertising strategy, will take a long time to sort out.

PPC & SEO – How Well Do They Play Together?

The age old question: am I wasting media dollars advertising via PPC when my listing also appears in natural results?  It’s a completely valid question– why would I, as a marketer, waste any media budget on traffic and revenue I would pick up anyway via organic search?  This has been a concern for years now and there is a lot of research on the subject.  Theories that oppose paid search advertising argue that people value the perceived “editorial integrity” of organic listings, saying they are more trusted and unbiased; therefore, conversion rates should be higher (Hotchkiss et al. 2005). On the flip side, others stress the importance of paid search ads in being able to display controlled advertisements that speak more to the user and what they are specifically in the market for (Jansen 2007).

Both Google and Bing came out with their own case studies to address this hot topic.  The Google study looked at the impact of organic listings on click incrementality across paid results.  They found that the click-through-rate of paid ads with associated organic search results was higher and that this impacted the position of the organic result on the page (Google, 2012).  This research was built on another Google study, which found that 89% of traffic generated by paid search ads isn’t replaced by organic clicks when the paid ads are paused (Google, 2011). The Bing study also investigated whether paid ads provided a source of lift or was cannibalizing organic search results.  The result was that the organic click-through-rate increased whenever the paid ads were active, leading to the conclusion that paid ads were not cannibalizing natural results, but were driving more clicks through paid ads, as well as incremental clicks to the natural results (Roth, 2010).

Well that’s great, you say.  So, the search engines themselves conclude we shouldn’t hold back from giving them money and buying paid media.  As a marketer, we need validation from research that is completely unbiased and stands nothing to lose. On top of that, as marketers, we need to know how much running paid ads affects our overall revenue and net profit, not just traffic, something that neither of these studies addresses.

Marketing Science published an interesting article about a study from two professors at the Center for Digital Economy Research at NYU Stern, which analyzed not only the effect of paid search on incremental clicks, but also on conversion rate, and overall profitability.  The study was conducted on a major nationwide retailer store chain over the course of eight weeks and found that whenever paid and organic listings were grouped together, click-through rate was 5.1% higher (Yang, Ghose 2010).  This positive interdependence was found to be much stronger for brand terms.  The conversion rate was also 11.7% higher during times when paid ads were running alongside natural listings.  Interestingly, the study found that the overall profitability of the search programs combined was up between 4.2-6.15% during times when the paid listings were live.

So, is paid search worth it? IgnitionOne has heard this question before and one case study in particular hones in on this very query.  IgnitionOne analyzed brand terms across Google & Yahoo, answering whether paid search brand advertising is worth the cost.  We found that live paid search ads led to an increase of 17% more natural clicks, and the overall net profit for this particular client was over $24,000 (backing out paid search media spend).  The revenue increases came directly from paid search ads, as there was no revenue increase found from organic search when paid ads were on.  This indicates that paid search attracts more qualified traffic than natural.

The key takeaway is that all signs point to paid media fueling search traffic overall and that revenue will increase by running on brand terms in both your paid and natural programs.  The jury is still out on the impact on the generic terms, so the best thing you can do is isolate a certain portion of your nonbrand terms and TEST, TEST, TEST! The simple reality is that each company’s advertising media has a variety of products, as well as goals, which will certainly impact how well both search programs affect your bottom line.