Dayparts & Other Search Engine Paid Listings Evolutions

When it comes to gaining the most bang for the buck from paid search engine listings, micro-managing is a good thing, says our panel of experts.

A special report from the Search Engine Strategies 2003 Conference, August 18-21, San Jose, CA.

Advances in technology and marketing strategies are allowing search engine advertisers to reach a super-targeted audience. And with growing competition in the paid placement space, every effort to increase campaign efficiency is needed. The message of this session was clear: get granular, get analytical and get ready to take your search engine advertising to the next level of performance.

Prospects go through a buying cycle when becoming customers. What does this mean to you as an advertiser? Use different ad listings to communicate effectively with prospects in their stages of making a purchase. Chris Churchill, president of Fathom Online, identified four stages of customer acquisition: awareness, consideration, trial promotion and purchase. He also revealed that weekday sales peak on Tuesday (weekend sales peak on Saturday). Using this information, Churchill explained that advertisers can swap their ad listings daily from Sunday to Tuesday, increasing the intensity of the promotional message. This idea is: flow with the customer, lead them to the checkout line.

Check your Web analytics reports to determine your top-selling days. Next, identify your customer sales cycle and plan a corresponding ad listing for each phase (for individual or groups of keywords). But don't stop there. If Emeril did search engine advertising instead of cooking, he'd say "kick it up a notch." Test daypart targeting to determine if you can increase ad profits even further by reaching prospects at a certain time of day.

Cheryle Pingel, founder and president of Range Online Media, revealed what kinds of shoppers are on the Web and when. Men are generally buying before or at work between 6 and 8 a.m. Women, on the other hand, are shopping in the evening. So, if you're selling football tickets you might want to boost your listings to a top spot in the morning. But if you run a woman's shoe store, pause or delete your ad listings until after work hours. And where are men and women making purchases? News sites are hot in the morning, entertainment in the afternoon and financial sites after the market closes. Both "who" and "where" are important for paid listing advertisers to determine.

Daypart targeting isn't just for search engines either. Pingel pointed out that her agency has great luck working with publishers who allow daypart advertising on their sitesif requested. Companies that sell advertising on their sites want advertisers to experience a positive return-on-investment, so they'll return to spend more money.

Advertisers may soon have the ability to go even deeper into paid listing micro-management. Kevin Lee, CEO of Did-it.com, states that geo-targeting is absolutely around the corner. This is great news for local businesses, or manufacturers with a presence in select cities. Lee also sees an evolution in separate pricing and tracking for search versus contextual ads, demographic targeting, and direct monetized content feeds with micro-payments. Advertisers will have to wait and see which of Lee's predictions become reality, and how soon.

Fortunately, programs offered by Did-it.com and GoToast help advertisers manage paid listings based on their bidding rules plus cost-per-order goals. And BidRank just released an ROI component to their bid management software. Do you still have a headache thinking about evaluating these reports to optimize your campaigns at a granular level? It's ok, one magic word will make you smile... outsource!

Catherine Seda is a search engine expert who offers in-house training and a free newsletter on search engine advertising.

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