The following is taken from an interview with Rachel Cornish regarding managing paid search in a changing digital landscape.
How long have you been managing paid search campaigns?
"For longer than I care to remember – but I started when AdWords were playing catch-up to the initial market leader, Overture. And that was over ten years ago."
How has paid search changed over the years?
"The interfaces used, the usability and the ability to micro-manage campaigns has changed continuously, and not always for the best. But the general principles remain the same.
How we work with companies has also changed - as larger businesses are more aware of the paid search technologies, and employ AdWords consultants like ExtraDigital optimise and achieve better performance for an understood technology, rather than deal with an unknown and not well understood advertising medium."
You mention the general principles of search have remained constant. What are these?
"The overriding principle of paid search is that it is always profitable, and this is because it is so easy and fast to measure, and quick to optimise - so all campaigns should be profitable. Any parts of a campaign that are not profitable can be pulled before much is spent, with investments placed in more profitable areas. Within eCommerce this is always the case. With B2B lead generation the lead times are longer, but the same principles apply, ensuring investment is spent generating useful enquiries.
The second principle is of ongoing analysis. Market or keyword analysis goes out of date and needs constant updating to cater for trends and seasonality. By working with constantly updated information we can provide better optimisation.
And thirdly analyse your data. Every website is different, and each will perform differently, so you may need to ‘break the rules’ to get the best performance. I vividly remember running one campaign in a very competitive market on one broad match keyword for about nine days - a window of opportunity we spotted that goes against the ‘norm’ of paid search management."
What do you enjoy most about this area of advertising?
"The variety. Although the majority of our PPC clients have been with us for over 5 years (we must be doing something right!), there are always new approaches or changes in technology to test, evaluate and use. We work in a wide variety of industries or market sectors and in many countries and languages and this variety is helpful and often encourages us to try new and often very effective advertising strategies."
What is the hardest part of paid search management?
"This is almost always ensuring the website landing pages are well optimised. It can take a long time if many parties are involved and this slows down the rate at which paid search can show huge profits. It is rarely understood just how important the landing page content, design and layout are for conversion and hence profit. By contrast optimising the actual ads is a much simpler process."
Where do you see the changes in the next few years?
"The obvious answer here is mobile. Anyone who has been advertising in the Middle Eastern or Asian markets will (or should) already know that mobile is big now and not in the future. For quite a few years we have been optimising paid search for mobile and have been watching these shifts for a while.
The second area is social and our paid search management often includes social paid search. This requires a very different kind of management style but in many markets paid search currently gives the best return on investment on social networks."
Rachel Cornish can be contacted at ExtraDigital for further information on paid search management.