By Dominic Trigg, CEO, Percept
During the many months of turbulence and unpredictability caused by the pandemic, brands have leaned even further into digital advertising, and particularly paid search which puts products or services in front of consumers at the time they are actively seeking them. Search traditionally attracts the lion’s share of digital budgets, and its portion increased 7% during 2020 to account for over half of UK digital ad spend.
But this doesn’t mean brands are issuing blank cheques to their marketing directors for search campaigns. While digital ad spend may be rising, overall marketing budgets are still contracting, albeit at a slower rate than last year, meaning marketers need to account for every penny spent and prove they are delivering real value.
With rising costs and new players entering increasingly saturated markets, it’s more difficult than ever to generate a healthy ROI from search, so how can marketing directors ensure they can show the c-suite how their money is being spent and that it is effective? To do this they need comprehensive insight into their paid search campaigns that is not only instant but easy to understand and entirely independent from a marketplace or agency looking to upsell.
Accessing instant insight
With consumer needs and behaviours evolving at lightning speed, the c-suite doesn’t want to know how paid search campaigns were performing six months ago, they want to know what is happening right now. Marketers need access to live, always-on data that gives a real-time view of the setup and quality of their digital media accounts, their performance and highlighting opportunities for improvement.
The speed at which insight can be accessed is strongly linked to the ability to justify increases in marketing budgets, as highlighted in the recent Digital Trends 2021 report from Econsultancy and Adobe. The findings of the report revealed 50% of companies that have a strong speed to customer insight are planning to increase marketing budgets this year, despite ongoing uncertainty.
Visualising true performance
Arguably, while board members do want to interrogate search spending to ensure it is delivering value, they don’t want to wade through a mass of statistics or spend hours interpreting rows of figures on an excel spreadsheet. Common revenue-focused metrics such as cost-per-click (CPC), or cost-per-mille (CPM) are also meaningless as they can blind the marketer to how effectively the campaign is performing and mean they are missing out on other ways to save money and use their budget more efficiently. A holistic approach is needed as the efficiency of setup, best practice, and structural data review play key parts in the effectiveness and outcomes of a digital ad media campaign.
Data visualisation is an essential tool for marketing directors, allowing them to present insight to the board in a way that is both enlightening and easy to understand. It can be used to illustrate valuable metrics and scores relating to impact and ROI, that provide a useful view of the quality and performance of paid search campaigns.
Visualisation can take place at different levels of granularity, with board members viewing high-level scores across brands and markets, while marketing teams access more detailed metrics with actionable insights. An in-depth view of search campaigns for marketing practitioners allows them to identify particular trends, such as sudden changes in search activity for a specific keyphrase, and to quickly take advantage of new opportunities.
Gaining an independent view
Insight into paid search campaigns is only really valuable if it is delivered by an objective, independent party. Data and advice is available from the tech platforms involved in search advertising, but marketers can’t be sure what motivates recommendations to increase spend in certain areas. Tech platforms have no incentive to drive efficiency or make brand budgets work harder and, as they are marking their own homework, transparency can be an issue.
To help them make a case for paid search investment, marketing directors need an independent source of insight that can give advice on how the budget is spent and clear guidance on where opportunities lie.
Paid search will continue to be a valuable tactic for in-house marketers navigating the bumpy road ahead. To tell the full story behind search campaigns, prove performance and secure buy-in from the board, marketing directors must be armed with the insight that is instant, easy to visualise and totally independent of the tech platforms involved.