Enterprise PPC Campaign Management Platforms 2014: A Buyer’s Guide


Paid search, mobile, display/banner ads, and social media advertising lead an expanding group of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) digital media that are now being managed by PPC campaign management platforms. This report examines the current market for enterprise PPC campaign management platforms and the considerations involved in implementing PPC software. If you are considering licensing an enterprise PPC campaign management platform, this report will help you decide whether or not you need to.

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from “Enterprise PPC Campaign Management Platforms 2014: A Buyer’s Guide,” published by our sister site Digital Marketing Depot. You can download the report here for free.

The Benefits of Automated PPC Campaign Management

The PPC marketing landscape has become increasingly complex, as the speed of search engine algorithms and development changes accelerate and marketers demand more integrated channel capabilities. Automating PPC through an enterprise platform can improve efficiency and productivity by providing the following benefits:

  • Workflow Efficiency. Workloads can proliferate to unmanageable levels when you have to support site links, product extensions, retargeting, and support for Facebook and other social marketing platforms in addition to managing ad groups, ad copy, keyword lists, and bids. An automated PPC platform can simplify day-to-day campaign management and reporting.
  • Increased productivity. By freeing up time once spent on manual tasks managing keywords, bids, and campaigns, search marketers can spend more time on creative aspects of their campaigns, such as testing ads or landing pages.
  • Improved campaign performance. PPC technology optimizes bidding, potentially increasing performance and campaign ROI through a more intelligent allocation of dollars. To reap these benefits, marketers need to carefully evaluate platforms to find the best fit and the one they agree will not only improve campaign performance but also increase efficiency.
  • Streamlined reporting. Reporting functions and capabilities are built into most PPC platforms, reducing the amount of time spent on (and errors that can creep into) manual reporting. Automated reporting can be a huge benefit for agencies that must report to multiple clients with different needs, and for marketers who create internal reports.
  • Scalability. Many marketers find that their PPC ad programs are growing and becoming more time-consuming without automating manual tasks. Most platforms are built to handle the uploading and management of millions of keywords across the search engines, as well as multichannel campaigns in social and display advertising.

Do You Need an Enterprise PPC Campaign Management Platform?

Deciding whether or not your company needs an enterprise-level PPC platform calls for the same evaluative steps involved in any software adoption, including a comprehensive self-assessment of your organization’s business needs, staff capabilities, management support, and financial resources. Use the following questions as a guideline to determine the answers.

  1. Does it make more sense to buy or build a PPC campaign management toolset? Issues to consider include resources – both staffing and financial – as well as data control. Are you comfortable with a third party having access to your data? Do you understand the total cost of ownership of a third-party platform? Can your internal staff keep pace with the rapid pace of changes in ad formats, search engine requirements, and tracking methods?
  2. What features are most important for our business needs? If you’re an online retailer, robust bid optimization for millions of keywords towards a CPA goal will be an important factor. If you’re a B2B marketer focused on lead generation, a platform that can optimize based on CPL targets will be a key capability. Other companies that are short on internal resources may find that a PPC partner with a full-service approach is critical. Make sure you have gathered all of the relevant feedback from your team so that you can prioritize your criteria.
  3. Who will use and/or maintain the platform? Staffing is key to the successful adoption of any digital marketing platform. Without the proper skilled people in place, the tool can end up becoming an expensive reservoir of untapped data with unfulfilled potential to increase revenue and improve user experiences.
  4. Do we need self-serve, full service, or something in between? Different platform vendors provide different levels of customer service and strategic consulting services. For example, can you internally manage keyword creation, landing page optimization, bidding, ad text testing, account structure development, integration with site analytics, and integration with cross-channel data? It’s important to have an idea of where you fall on the spectrum.
  5. Are we spending more time ‘doing the math’ than running a campaign? If you find yourself with no time to manage creative, or evaluate overall campaign performance, it might be time to automate.
  6. Do we want or need to integrate display and social media advertising campaigns? For many marketers, PPC advertising now includes search, display, and social media. If this is true for your organization, you may need a platform that can integrate these channels, and you may need better internal alignment across teams to make it work.
  7. Do we have complex or ongoing reporting needs? When marketing staff or agency clients have requests for specific reports and ongoing reporting needs, campaign management tools can automate reports across all the major search engines and social networks including Facebook.
  8. How will we define and then benchmark success? What key performance indicators (KPIs) do you want to measure and what decisions will you be making based on campaign performance? Set your business goals in advance to be able to benchmark success later on. Without them, justifying the expense of the platform or PPC marketing programs to C-suite executives will be difficult.
  9. What is the total cost of ownership? PPC campaign management platform vendors typically charge clients a percentage of their monthly advertising spend. There may be additional fees for platform set-up, integration or staff training. Professional consulting services may also be available if you need additional expertise in PPC channels such as display and social media marketing.

Choosing an Enterprise PPC Campaign Management Platform

Once you have determined that an enterprise PPC campaign management platform makes sense for your business, spend time researching individual vendors and their capabilities. Make a list of all the PPC capabilities you currently have, those that you would like to have, and those that you can’t live without. This last category is critical, and will help you avoid making a costly mistake.

For example, whether or not to choose a full-service platform vs. an ad text or bid optimization point solution, or an independent vendor vs. a tool owned by a large organization can be an important factor for some marketers. If you have already invested in other tools offered by a large company (e.g., Adobe Analytics or Google’s DoubleClick for Advertisers) you may prefer to use the respective company’s PPC platform for ease of integration. On the other hand, if you are willing or able to use an independent platform, such as SearchForce or Acquisio, you may like being able to choose the best fit regardless of the other digital marketing platforms you are using.

Take your list of capabilities and then do some research. Speak to your marketing peers at industry events to find out who is using which PPC campaign platform and why. The “Resources” section at the back of this report includes a list of blogs, reports, and industry research that will also help. (Many of the vendors profiled in this report also provide white papers and interactive tools that can help.)

Once you’ve done the necessary research, narrow your list down to those vendors that meet your criteria. Submit your list of the PPC capabilities you’ve identified, and set a timeframe for them to reply. Whether or not you choose to do this in a formal RFI/RFP process is an individual preference, however be sure to give the same list of capabilities to each vendor to facilitate comparison. The most effective RFPs only request relevant information and provide ample information about your business and its PPC advertising needs. It should reflect high-level strategic goals and KPIs. For example, mention your company’s most important KPIs and how you will evaluate the success of your PPC campaigns. Include details about timelines and the existing digital technology you have deployed.

Learn More!

Download “Enterprise PPC Campaign Management Platforms 2014,” The 52-page PDF includes additional valuable information including:

  • Updates on the current trends and issues in enterprise PPC campaign management, including how mobile is spurring innovation in local search targeting and how marketers and platform vendors are adjusting to Google’s Enhanced Campaigns.
  • Profiles of 9 leading vendors.
  • Analysis of the impact of recent acquisitions and funding activity.
  • …and much more
Enterprise Social Media Management Software:  A Buyer's Guide
  • Table of Contents
  • Section I: Scope and Methodology
  • Section II: PPC Market Overview
  • Section III: PPC Campaign Management Market Trends
  • Section IV: Enterprise PPC Campaign Management Tool Capabilities
  • Section V: Choosing an Enterprise PPC Campaign Management Tool
  • View complete Table of Contents

Companies/Tools Profiled:

  • Acquisio
  • Adobe Media Optimizer
  • DoubleClick Search
  • ESV Digital
  • IgnitionOne
  • InsideVault
  • Kenshoo
  • Marin Software
  • SearchForce