This last month, we have been focusing on learning from agency experts on how to do better PPC. We recently published an eBook on this topic and are hosting a webinar on March 28th with agency experts on what big brands need to learn from PPC agencies.
Up until now, most of the experts we spoke with are based in the U.S. We thought it would be interesting to talk to European-based agency experts to see how they approached these same topics. As part of that European outreach, we chatted with Oscar Romero, the Head of Biddable International and Jafar Mahir, the Associate Biddable Director at Performics.
Performics is the performance marketing arm of Publicis Media, a Publicis Groupe collection of agency brands and capabilities focused on delivering “connection solutions” at scale. As part of Publicis Media, Performics clients and partners benefit from the combined investment and innovation that comes from being part of the third largest communications company in the world.
Below is a summary of our conversation:
1. What is one thing that you see in-house paid search people do that you just wish they would stop?
Oversimplification of media channels, particularly paid search. Oftentimes, as evidenced by applicants for agency roles, in-house people have a surface understanding of the channel. This is due to a number of reasons, such as not having the capacity to analyze their accounts, not adopting new features (limited access to alphas and betas that are readily available at agencies), and generally not staying ahead of the curve to the degree that agencies do.
Aside from account management, there are client and team management. This interaction and sharing of ideas spawns actions that facilitate more complex accounts; this is true for conversion tracking, audience bidding, and device attribution to name a few. It is this approach that distinguishes agencies from many in-house operations.
In terms of account specific things, it would be the continual use of Broad and Phrase match; these are now redundant with the capabilities of Dynamic Search and the efficiency of BMM of course.
2. When you take on a new client what is the first thing you do?
For clients who have been running activity already, we audit their accounts and identify initial areas for improvement; based on this, we put together a roadmap to roll out these improvements.
For entirely new clients, we implement our best practice approach to account management that encompasses account structure (match types, negatives, ad copy, extensions, landing pages), conversion type setup, bidding strategy, audience strategy (geo-targeting, day parting), etc.
3. What is the most common mistake paid search professionals make?
Not reviewing campaign settings periodically. These should be reviewed to maximize performing campaigns and pull back on poor performers. This relates to ad delivery, target inclusions/exclusions, language settings, bid strategies, ad scheduling, etc. Account managers should be checking these often enough to account for shifting market trends, user behavior, and competition.
4. What is the most interesting development in paid search in the last year? And what should people be thinking about in the next 12 months?
Mobile first has become much more of a reality—in line with user behavior trends—with Google doing away with mobile preferred ads, the right hand side ads, and introduction of more extensions for mobile activity (custom parameters being the only distinguishing element from desktop now). Bid modifiers can also be adjusted to 900% vs. 300% previously, illustrating the shift to mobile “thinking.”
Additionally, mobile app integration and cross-device conversions have seen greater development to help advertisers demonstrate ROI to their clients, from a last-click perspective. This development is with the intention to safeguard against dropping advertiser spend as more users engage with brands via mobile.
For the next 12 months, we should expect more development for mobile, in terms of voice search with Google Assistant proving a match for Siri, as well as dedicated products such as Alexa from Amazon.
5. If there was one thing you could change about AdWords functionality what would it be?
Audience buying capabilities, particularly for brand awareness campaigns, as available in Facebook (reach and frequency). For example, where the focus is on unique reach of target audience. This will prove more compelling for clients where current proxy measures for success are not considered robust. Visually building this into the interface with a forecast of campaign performance would not only be user-friendly, but an easier way to propose increased paid search brand investment.
6. What report do you wish AdWords would give?
In-depth competitor reporting, beyond the current scope of what Auction Insights provides. Greater insight into impression share, geo-targeting, day parting, etc. in a downloadable raw data format would be very beneficial for planning and understanding the search landscape.
7. What are the KPIs that you look to deliver to your clients. What are the most important KPIs?
KPIs could be anything from on-site metrics for branding clients all the way through to typical direct response (DR) metrics such as ROI/CPA. We’ve long since moved away from very top-line metrics such as CPC and CTR, as platforms have become far more developed in terms of the data they provide and clients have a better understanding of how this data ties into their business objectives.
We always endeavor to meet targets that are set out and develop proxy KPIs where DR metrics are not available. Given our experience across the full spectrum of clients by vertical and objective, we’re confident when setting yearly targets for any type of activity as we can benchmark this effectively.
The most tangible KPI will always be ROI/ROAS and we’ve been able to achieve very challenging targets for numerous DR clients across verticals, every year.
8. What is your strategy for bidding on branded keywords?
Brand keyword bidding is almost always recommended where there is competitor bidding. Given that SERPs are constantly changing (e.g. removal of right hand side, extensions), usually in favour of paid search over organic search, the need to be present and front-of-mind for your target audience is ever-increasing.
As mentioned, with the increasing use of mobile by consumers and the advent of Expanded Text Ads taking up the majority of users’ screens, it’s imperative to bid on brand terms in this environment to mitigate against conquesting by competitors. This is particularly the case for DR clients where competition to generate revenue is greater and brand terms often constitute the majority of conversions for well-established companies.
9. What is your strategy for bidding on competitors’ keywords?
Bidding on competitor keywords is dependent on whether there are agreements in place between clients and their direct competitors, in which case we would add these as negatives. Otherwise, this strategy will be more prevalent among DR clients, yet constitutes a very small proportion of spend to ensure bids are reasonable.
10. What should in-house people look for when selecting an agency?
They should certainly review the agency’s credentials, such as team size, client portfolio, business wins, global footprint, awards wins/nominations, tech partnerships, etc. as informative measures of their industry presence and impact.
Interested in seeing how other agency experts replied to these same questions? Read our eBook: Expert PPC Tips: Agencies Share Their Best Practices.