SEM’s and CMO’s overvaluing paid search

Posted: Jul 12, 2013 in Data, Marketing, Paid Search, Prospecting
Tags: , , , , , , ,

truth_and_lies_t

Acquiring customers through brand paid search is in most cases not only the most cost efficient way of acquiring customers, but it’s also where most brands find where their most valuable customers originate from.

As Facebook and Twitter release more ad opportunities by the week which are meeting advertiser demands and paid search CPCs increase especially across mobile, SEM specialists are finding it increasingly difficult to add value or are just simply missing the limelight and therefore to combat this in some cases when presenting paid search performance, they are mixing in brand search data with generics without splitting them out to make ‘search’ look better.

This is just plain wrong. No matter how much the CEO or CMO likes the look of positive data especially through internal campaign tracked activity, as a media specialist they should be advising key stakeholders of the difference between both, letting them know that there’s no need to obsess around brand search performance because knowing what drives brand search is outside the SEM specialist remit and is a wider and bigger question / concern.

A CEO or CMO asking an SEM specialist to increase brand search volume and constantly saying that “paid search drives the most conversions” than any other channel and that paid search should be given more budget (when brand and generics isn’t split out) is bad for business.

I know that a lot of consultants and CMO’s are under pressure but there needs to be more effort from the SEM specialist and senior management team to understand what is driving search performance, splitting out generic and brand keywords clearly and focusing on driving incremental generic conversions leaving brand search volumes for another day.

I’ve heard a lot of moaning and read a lot of articles (example here) about display specialists adding remarketing data into prospecting results and the fact that it needs to crack down, but not splitting out brand and generic search results is far worse and equally shambolic.

There is an argument to have brand search data held in a completely different system to be used purely for online and offline brand attribution / to view halo effect, but what is clear is that brand and generic search data should never be mixed up on the same line and should always be kept separate.

SEM specialists and consultants should be obsessing about how to improve generic paid search performance whether it’s ad copy performance or building long term strategies on building up their QS to achieve lower CPCs in the future and higher rankings which will in turn increase volume incrementally.

There’s a time and a place to discuss brand search performance and it shouldn’t be when comparing overall digital channel by channel performance.

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