Bringing Order To Sequence In Search Retargeting

Last month, we started looking at the types of keywords that make search retargeting campaigns work. This week, we’re going to dive in even deeper by exploring the importance of sequence in searches and how to leverage that sequence to further improve campaign performance.

The order of the words your company enters into the search engine algorithm has everything to do with success in search retargeting.

For example, let’s look at the search history for someone who is in market for auto insurance. Let’s call her Sarah. Sarah has performed three searches in the past 24 hours relating to auto insurance. In no particular order, those searches are: “auto insurance,” “auto insurance” (again) and “Allstate.”

Now let’s look at the difference in purchase intent when we shuffle those search terms around to create new sequences.

Scenario A

Sarah performs the following searches in sequence over the 24-hour period:

  1.    ”Auto insurance”
  2.    ”Auto insurance”
  3.    ”Allstate”

Conclusion: Sarah has done her homework for auto insurance providers and is now considering Allstate. Allstate should definitely show her an ad, as we want Sarah to request a quote right away. Scenario B

Sarah performs the following searches in sequence over the 24-hour period:

  1.   “Auto insurance”
  2.   “Allstate”
  3.   “Auto insurance”

Conclusion: Sarah is in market for auto insurance, but has ruled out Allstate. She first did some homework, and then researched Allstate’s offering, and is now back to square one. Allstate should still show her an ad, but should be paying a very low CPM for this impression since it has a low expected value.

Sequential Next Steps

1.  To get the most out of your search retargeting campaign, it’s important to adjust your bid price not only based on the specific keyword that the user searched, but also based on their search history.

If you only look at Sarah’s last search in both Scenario A and B, it looks like you should show her an ad for Allstate. However, when taking into account her entire search history, it becomes clear that you should use different bid prices for each scenario due to the shift in her consideration.

2.  If possible, use sequential messaging based on the users’ search history.

We’ll explore this topic at a later date but, to put it simply, work with your creative team to create many different creatives with the purchase funnel in mind. Since we can gauge the user’s probability of converting based on their search history, it’s extremely beneficial to have different creatives based not only on where they sit in the conversion funnel, but where they’ve come from.

Using Scenario A, here is how sequential messaging can work for a search retargeting campaign:

Scenario A (with ads)

Sarah performs the following searches in sequence over the 24-hour period:

Query #1  – “Auto insurance”

  • An Allstate ad that is broad and only refers to the benefits on auto insurance is shown

Query #2  -    ”Auto insurance”

  • An Allstate ad that promotes the benefits of Allstate-specific auto insurance is shown

Query #3 –  ”Allstate”

  • An Allstate ad that detects the user’s DMA and dynamically displays local Allstate auto insurance rates is shown, driving the user to request a quote

Customers demand and respond to the delivery of the most relevant information at a time that is closest to the point of purchase. Ads need to respond with customized messages. If a customer searched for a brand or product and did not convert, then the logical next step is to retarget them with sequential messaging that directly relates to their sequence of searches.

For marketers, the ability to look back at the sequences of customer events helps them to make more informed decisions and ideally impact the end consumer result.

After all, haven’t you ever re-hashed a series of events over a certain period of time and wondered what would have happened if only you had slightly altered your actions?  That’s what keyword sequencing is all about. It’s about addressing the customer’s ability to consider and reconsider.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display | Search & Display


About The Author: is Director of Product Management at Magneticand is responsible for the strategic direction and innovation for Magnetic's product offerings.

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  • R.N.

    Sequential search ads that factor in search history are conversion catalysts

  • Evgeny Fogel

    Using Retargeting, or specifically remarketing in AdWords, how can you you know recent previous searches of a person on Google when planning your Remarketing message or purpose?

  • Aaron Doades

    Hi Evgeny – Great question. Sequential targeting isn’t possible in AdWords, which is one of the benefits of display-based search retargeting.


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