SMX Advanced 2016 Paid SearchRecap Part Deux  –  Navigating Paid Search

By Sean Bucher, Account Manager

And we’re back! After sharing some of my top takeaways from SMX Advanced SEO, I’m bringing you the highlights and must-know items of all things Paid Digital. This includes PPC bidding tactics, paid social must haves, and new best practices to shape your campaigns.

Again, there were a ton of great minds sharing their insights across all services, but there were some pretty strong themes that came out of the paid digital realm, including:

You Have to Pay to Play
Very few brands have the liberty of sitting out paid promotion these days. In fact, you could have one of the best optimized sites in the world, but in order to truly thrive in the digital space you have to be willing to spend money outside of organic methods like organic social and search…

There has never been more opportunity, in terms of real estate, to promote your brand or product. Outside of the exhaustive list of paid management platforms like Marin, Kenshoo, WordStream and more, we’re now seeing paid placements for pre-roll, native, display, and paid social dominate placement across the web. The benefit here is there are a multitude of ways to reach new customers, all of which can be accurately tracked and attributed as part of the paid marketing landscape.

Outside of traditional SEO, much of the placement where eyes are does not come for free. Social networks, with Facebook leading the pack, are challenging brands to pay for placement. While this may be frustrating, it can also be a benefit to organic. YES! Because even though you may be paying to promote a post in Twitter or Facebook, the live link (reference back to your site) as a social signal still gets attributed as it would had the post been strictly organic. So while the days of paying for links are long gone, social ad platforms have created a new method of amplification.

It’s Not Just PPC Anymore
Think back to the early days of PPC, and how excited we were to be able to bid up or down on keywords. Then platforms and networks became more sophisticated, with day parting (the ability to choose what time of day, and what day of the week) your ads run.

Flash forward, and now we can go beyond the PPC basics (which are still extremely powerful) to promote content through native placements, and content syndication with tools like Outbrain and Taboola. You can target interests, context, demographics, and more. Take that ability one step further by layering your existing customer data into retargeting lists, or create like audiences across paid platforms, and start to see customer acquisition soar.

We mentioned paid social before, but we can’t neglect how often our customers are on social networks. These networks each offer their own advantages and disadvantages. Leveraging tracking pixels allows you to optimize campaigns and amplify your remarketing frequency.

“Paid Social and PPC drive a 30% increase in engagement when integrated,” – Maggie Malek.

Advertising on these networks has become much more accessible over the years. However, this doesn’t mean you can do it all yourself as a brand, since agencies still get access to betas and new tools, but providing the right ad to the right audience is 10 times easier than it was just 3 years ago. Couple this with the fact that 86 million people are projected to have ad blockers installed by 2017 and there’s no reason not to seek out new advertising avenues.

Running and managing online paid advertising campaigns has improved for local businesses, e-commerce sites, and less “Lead-Gen-only” acquisition methods.

New Advances Include:

  1. Paid location promotion with maps programs via Google (AdWords Express), Waze (promoted pin), and other geo-specific ad real estate.
    waze mobile phone image
  1. Reddit Ads – A social experience that many marketers are still learning how best to use. Their user data, layered with topic and forums offers some highly targeted placements.
    Reddit listings
  1. Speaking of highly targeted campaigns, advertising on Amazon offers great real-estate options within a Top 5 search engine (yes, Amazon is proving that product search starts with them). They are highly targeted and layered with strong product and customer data. This typically provides a better ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). Why spend more time in Amazon?
    • Different ad types
    • Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) vs AdWords
      • Lower CPC
      • Bottom of funnel targeting
      • Very manual
      • Low competition
  1. Another great paid placement that creates engagement and brand awareness are geofilters for Snapchat. The filters are relatively inexpensive (90$-$120) per filter. Snapchat is also considering ads between snaps as another means of revenue.
  2. LinkedIn & Bing – while no formal announcement of integration has been made, it’s safe to assume that there will be improvements made to LinkedIn’s network. The acquisition of LinkedIn may bring with it additional layers of targeting for Bing.

Know the Device
Not all paid interactions happen on desktop. In fact, most experts agree we’re reaching the full shift towards a mobile-first world, so placing ads where your customers are (in app, on the phone) is crucial.

Of the networks listed above, how many of those were applications? This isn’t a coincidence.

The Big Dogs are Doubling Down
Today PPC, Social, and Display experts have more data than ever to be able to serve highly targeted, customized experiences to customers. Ad platforms, particularly Google and Bing, recognize that. Which is why they are dedicated to driving the industry forward.

According to Google’s Sundeep Jain, Google is all-in on mobile (and if you weren’t aware of this by now, welcome to 2016). Google is explicitly creating a seamless experience between desktop and mobile, which is why we lost right rail ads, and will soon be seeing more card-based results on desktop. YES, more confirmed SERP changes in Google are coming!

Google is also bolstering its Adwords offering by rolling out:

  1. Expanded Text ads – These are a new ad format that will take over from the current format (so start prepping for the migration).
  2. Customer Match targeting – This is built around the idea of greater relevance creates better conversions. Google wants to move beyond the keyword. This will integrate with CRMs like Saleforce too.
  3. Demographic targeting for YouTube and Gmail (not available for search) are in beta – Early numbers indicate this will produce better CTRs and conversion rates.

Bing’s Lynne Kjolso further alluded to more advantages of the LinkedIn merger. Acquiring LinkedIn allows Bing to increase its market reach by 50%. Also, expect to see deeper integrations with cloud platforms and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, giving them space to compete with CRM tools like Salesforce.

While Bing continues to build its network with LinkedIn, they will also be winding down their agreement with Yahoo; which was not historically been as successful as either party had hoped.

Bing recently launched their Bing Ads Editor in beta. This is a few years late to the game, but a welcome addition, particularly for aficionados of AdWords Editor. This follows their previous move to make Bing shopping and Google Shopping feeds meet the same criteria in order to eliminate duplicate work. Along with that, Bing is going to be offering a Bing version of AdWords Academy, to further boost SEM knowledge for their partners.

Bing is also venturing into the native advertising space, which they will be beta testing with partners in the near future.

One thing is certain, both companies are committed to working together as the industry grows. Gone are the days of disjointed user experiences across both platforms. Bing was very vocal in acknowledging that users want consistency across ad platforms, so they will design with that idea in mind moving forward.

Keep an eye out for part three of this series, where we will discuss making your analytics work smarter, not harder, for your business.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding Paid Search, PPC, or campaign optimization – please feel free to contact us!

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