Keyword Optimization For Retargeting: Why Automation Matters

Search marketing practitioners get the value of keyword optimization. When it is applied, honed and refined over time, a high-value corporate asset emerges: keyword lists that translate into powerful institutional knowledge.

But is there an opportunity to create the same sort of asset beyond search? Absolutely. Search retargeting can provide marketers with a totally transparent, multi-factor means to leveraging keyword expertise. And automation can play a big role in making it happen.

Evolution: Search Retargeting Today

Search retargeting has come a long way. While early attempts offered limited inventory, few keywords, incomplete reporting, inconsistent results, and scant optimization options, today’s advanced breed of retargeting solutions offers completely new optimization techniques and keyword management tools that both drive improved performance and provide insights for future marketing efforts.

All can be accomplished in a transparent, granular, multi-faceted manner to support high-volume, real-time bidding environments. In other words, today’s keyword decisions are happening at the speed of real-time bidding and at the massive scale of display advertising.

Why Search Marketers Should Care

This enormous scale and ability to optimize at the keyword-level appeals to the search marketer who already buys into optimization, and who seeks to scale their efforts beyond text-based search.

It takes them outside the silos of search and into their extended marketing and media mix, where they can leverage keyword intelligence in a much more holistic way.

Optimization Basics: Why They Matter In Search Retargeting Building Blocks of Retargeting

To best leverage your keyword optimization knowledge when delving into search retargeting, you should tap into the basic building blocks of optimization that you leverage for search.

Doing so will go a long way to boosting the results of your retargeting efforts.

Just as in search, be sure to start with a broad set of keywords that are a reasonable reflection of your brand, your market, or your relative consumer demand.

The initial set can be based on search engine and campaign data, and include other terms that are likely to draw the consumer demand you seek.

In addition, be sure to include competitive terms as well as high-funnel category terms that may be cost prohibitive in search engine marketing. And remember to consider multiple aspects of the consumer path to conversion.

Option One: Manual Optimization

Once you’ve covered optimization basics, your search retargeting efforts will be on solid ground, ready for refinement. Significant performance improvements, whether measured in CTR, CPC, or CPA, can be made with manual optimization, which typically refines elements one at a time, without full consideration of how various elements interact with each other.

An example of single element manual optimization would be eliminating keywords that do not deliver the desired CTR, CPC, or CPA results. Other examples would be eliminating poorly performing sites, ad positions, creatives, times of day, etc. In addition to eliminating poorly performing keywords, additional keywords can be added to categories that are working especially well.

For example, if competitive terms are working well in a campaign, additional competitive terms can be researched and added. Finally, adjusting recency from 30 days to an instant might reduce volume, but also significantly decreaseCPC / CPA.

The main advantage of manual optimization is that it is quick and easy. However, this method makes it difficult to account for the interaction of various campaign elements.

Option Two: Multi-Dimensional Automated Optimization

Automated optimization can provide you with multi-element approaches to refine and evolve retargeting efforts in real-time.

So what does it look like? Imagine that you are now able to change individual elements of any campaign – starting and stopping, yanking terms on the fly, in real time, based on observed performance of titles and descriptions, ad placement, exchange, bid, creative, frequency, per-period impression limits, etc.

However, because it’s automated, you don’t have to do all that work – the system does it for you. It essentially looks at variables that are impacting performance and decides whether or not to bid, how much to bid, and which ad to serve. And automation does it all in 30 milliseconds or less. In short, it will help you be quicker on your feet than ever before.

Below are just a few ways automated optimization can help: 

  1. Maximize Performance. Because multi-dimensional automated optimization looks at the interaction of many campaign elements, performance can be improved over manual, single dimensional optimization techniques.
  2. Improved Delivery. Single dimensional optimization requires more of a blunt instrument approach, in which some potentially valuable impressions are eliminated from consideration. For example, impressions targeted to a particular keyword may work well on some domains and not on others. Automated multi-dimensional optimization will allow continued delivery on the impressions with the keyword/domain combinations that are not performing well.
  3. Save Time. Automated optimization eliminates the time required to manually pull reports, analyze them, and implement changes.
  4. Dig Deeper. When you’ve attained a foundational understanding of your performance factors and your optimization outlook, you can then venture further into performance analysis. Doing so will allow you to look more deeply at combinations of individual components to identify weaknesses and opportunities for future efforts. Taking a more predictive approach here, you spot the correlations to help drive performance and help plan, budget, and manage future efforts.

Overall, marketers have a tremendous opportunity to parlay their keyword optimization knowledge into search retargeting.  The best way to successfully grow your efforts should include leveraging the power and scale of automation.

It will enable you to have aggregate learnings and cross-media trending data on your keyword assets at your fingertips — putting you in the best possible position to immediately and constantly tune your ROI, and model your path forward. It’s as close to predicting campaign success as you can come.

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

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Search & Display | Search Marketing: General


About The Author: is a seasoned online advertising executive, specializing in targeting, optimization, and technology. Frost is CEO and co-founder of You can follow him on Twitter @phrossed.

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