Brand Bidding & PPC Optimization: How We Got Here (Part 1 of 8)
The biggest question facing paid search advertisers is how to get meaningful growth numbers out of PPC. Columnist Lori Weiman believes the answer lies with brand bidding.
Welcome to part 1 of a series for search marketers on brand bidding and PPC optimization. This series will answer the biggest question facing PPC advertisers in 2016: How do I get meaningful growth numbers out of a crowded and competitive PPC market?
Unless you are completely new to PPC, it is tough to get the big gains that we once saw. As a marketing tactic, PPC has been mature for years, and few “easy wins” still remain. Many categories are dominated by large players (e.g., Amazon), long-tail keywords have become expensive, and the most advanced marketers have complex technology and expensive agencies on their side.
When you look at CPC data from Google, however, you hear a different story. Their 2014 10K stock filing shows a decline of eight percent in aggregate CPCs across their entire network from 2012 to 2013, and five percent from 2013 to 2014.
Look at just AdWords, and just the all-important first-page bid, and you see a different picture. First-page bid costs keep rising for both branded terms (+300 percent from mid-2014 to mid-2015) and non-branded ones (+75 percent for the same period), as RKG/Merkle showed in 2015.
Further, many advertisers still struggle with how (and whether) to bid on their own keywords. Bing released data at the end of 2015 showing that when advertisers bid on their branded terms, they received 31 percent more clicks (for retail ads) and 27 percent more clicks (for travel ads).
The Bing data recommended a strong brand defense to save lost clicks. Their data showed that when a retail brand did not bid on its branded searches, 34 percent of the missed clicks went to other ads, and six percent went to other organic listings.
With first-page CPCs on the rise, however, advertisers are tempted to look for any opportunity possible to reduce costs, and sometimes brand campaigns end up getting the axe.
So how do PPC marketers achieve meaningful growth today?