In a recent article in AdAge, Bert DuMars cites Forrester research which found that “only 11% of marketers set aside a specific budget for marketing innovation efforts, and only 9% make marketing innovation a part of every marketer’s budget.”
I won’t go into how to secure that budget, as he details some good tips — but as one of those lucky enough to be in that 11%, I’d like to talk about a test we ran with that innovation budget and some findings we learned along the way.
Testing Geo Bid Multipliers With Enhanced Campaigns
A new feature of AdWords enhanced campaigns, geo bid multipliers, allows you to boost your keyword-level bids for specific locations such as state, city, DMA, or zip code. So, if a specific location is worth more (or less) to your business, you can now make adjustments at the campaign level which increase (or decrease) your bids for that location.
We wanted to investigate and understand the effectiveness and scalability of this new feature. In order to select our geos, we aggregated data from a variety of sources — internal and external, public and private — to understand which locations presented the strongest opportunities for capturing additional interest. From here, we put together a specific set of locations, launched the geo bid multipliers to increase our visibility within these locations, and measured impact weekly.
Test Measure Of Success: Increased search volume in geographic areas selected.
What We Learned: While we succeeded in increasing search volume coming through our account by utilizing geo bid multipliers, there were some important considerations that we had to deal with along the way:
- Implementation & Optimization Of Bid Multipliers. It’s operationally very difficult to adjust geo bid multipliers on top of normal account optimizations, optimizations for your mobile multiplier and any other factors that may affect performance of the account such as seasonality, latency of conversions, and other external factors. Given the lack of API access to sync with AdWords for this feature, optimizations must be performed manually. Because of that, optimizations result in a very time-consuming process every time multipliers must be adjusted.
Reporting Capabilities. There are multiple ways to generate reporting on the geo level in AdWords — through the Dimensions tab or through the Settings tab. The difference between these two tabs is very subtle. The Dimensions tab reports all activity from campaigns in the geographic areas selected, in addition to activity qualified by geo-modified terms, regardless of whether or not the activity is being geo-bid modified. The Dimensions tab also may miss volume if Google is unable to determine the most granular breakout of the geographic area. For example: Google may not be able to determine the ZIP code of the searcher, but can determine state — so, if reporting is pulled at the ZIP code, that activity will go unreported.
The Settings Tab reports only the activity that is a direct result of your geo-bid multipliers, on the geo-level that you are explicitly targeting. Pulling both reports and comparing them will result in different values and metrics, in either a positive or negative direction. Additionally, generating and utilizing one report over another can skew performance in either a positive or negative direction, depending on your methodology and KPIs.
In post-mortem, one report that would be very valuable to have is the ability to see impression share reporting by geography targeted. This isn’t currently available within AdWords, but would be valuable in helping to guide optimization of bid multipliers, and understanding potential of the paid search account.
- Measuring All Factors & Metrics. As with any test that’s run within a search campaign, it’s important to continually measure performance from multiple angles and update your campaigns based on the results. In our case, while all geos selected had the potential to garner additional search volume, not all geos perform alike — thus, each geo needed to be optimized specifically based on performance.
We did see a significant increase in CPC across all geographic areas affected by the bid multiplier. Of course, paying a premium to target a highly profitable audience is not a new concept in the advertising world. But as search engine marketers, we have many opportunities to grow our accounts and reach potential customers.
Geo bid multipliers are one optimization tactic to attain additional search volume, and analysis should be done prior to implementation to vet if the tactic will work for the account in question.
Marta Turek presented an interesting idea at SMX Advanced about geo-targeting by inclusion or exclusion, and reported on the resulting impact on search volume and CPC. The followup to her presentation was posted in Search Engine Land on August 8, 2013.
As the presentation focuses on campaigns that are geo-targeted, it should be interesting to see if other advertisers continue to geo-target through campaign segmentation, or if geo bid scaling is adopted on a broader level as a scalable solution to campaign management. It will be interesting to see how geo bid multipliers (along with all of the other enhanced campaigns features) are adopted by marketers and see the impact it has to our accounts.
In conclusion, it’s up to you to determine if geo bid multipliers fit into your account management strategy. At the current time, geo bid multipliers are not supported by the Google API and are complex to manage due to the reporting currently available within AdWords. If you’re considering geo bid multiplier implementation, you should investigate and measure all KPIs and metrics to assist in optimization decisions, geographic area selection and success of the multipliers implemented.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.