Are Paid & Organic Search Distinct Channels? Not So Fast.
Search marketing channels are often both data-driven and siloed, but contributor Andrew Goodman notes that clients don't necessarily see it that way. To improve performance, he says, we must understand the greater picture.
At our company’s informal book club, we recently had a nice discussion of David Hand’s The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day.
Belief in causation where there is only correlation, faulty assumptions about how “randomness” works and similar errors are shockingly common, even among the educated. Superstition can be a nightmare for the marketing practitioner, who can be praised or blamed for factors that fall outside of her control.
Better measurement helps, of course — but so does understanding how different channels work and interact with one another.
The Separation Of Paid And Organic
Rational people with years of digital marketing experience are supposed to know that paid and organic search are separate channels requiring separate budgets and different forms of optimization.
Sure, we understand that the buyer’s journey might involve research phases and multiple influences from different searches, exposures to display ads, email, the brand and more. In that sense, we should be aware that digital marketing programs are integrated.
Yet it often seems as though it’s not kosher to talk as if the paid results influence the organic results, since there really is a Chinese wall there (right?). It’s also unusual to attribute performance losses in one channel (paid or organic) to activities in the other.
The thinking is that “PPC results” should be analyzed unto themselves, and “organic traffic” should be looked at in its own right. Who could disagree? To believe otherwise would akin to planning your day based on the daily horoscope.
At least, that’s what we tell people. Have we been getting it wrong?