George Michie

George Michie is Chief Marketing Scientist of Merkle|RKG, a technology and service leader in paid search, SEO, performance display, social media, and the science of online marketing. He also writes for the RKG Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @georgemichie1.

Google Shopping

Paid Search Portfolios: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Last month, I suggested that spending beyond observed profit maximization in paid search can make a great deal of sense on a number of grounds. In a nutshell, the argument is that a combination of other factors can make “losing money” on the incremental investment rational. Here’s why: You might not actually be losing money. […]


How Hard Should You Press The Gas Pedal In Paid Search?

The following post contains a number of metaphors strained to the breaking point; viewer discretion is advised. An enduring truth in the paid search business is that paid search managers and marketing teams spend far more time thinking about tactical minutia than they do thinking about what are far and away the most important questions […]

Google Ads

Not Provided Comes To Paid Search: What Will The Impact Be?

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that Google is making changes that will bring the much-maligned “(not provided)” to paid search. The AdWords world has been abuzz about the change for the past few days. The gist of the development is that when people using secure search click on AdWords ads, the user’s search […]


Analyzing Paid Search To Maximize Customer Acquisition

Sophisticated marketers think about building business from two different constituencies: new customers and repeat customers. In industry vernacular, this is often framed as customer acquisition and customer retention. And sometimes, marketing efforts are split along these lines. Paid search is a tremendous vehicle for both of these constituencies. In the case of new customers, ads […]

Google Ads

3 Components Of Geo-Targeting Excellence For 2014

Smart use of the geo-targeting controls through Enhanced Campaigns in AdWords will prove to be the single largest opportunity for paid search marketers in 2014. Geo-targeting is nothing new. It has been a foundational element for local and regional businesses since the very early days of AdWords. What Enhanced Campaigns gives us is the ability […]

Google Ads

Coping With Enhanced Campaigns & The Problem Of Modifier Stacking

As we predicted a few months back, Enhanced Campaigns and mobile modifiers have been a benefit to those companies that employ them wisely. We’re excited to fold Google’s cross-device and in-store tracking into this mix as well as our own system for understanding micro-conversions. We’re also excited about the future of Enhanced Campaigns as more […]


Paid Search Drives Store Revenue… But How Much?

RKG has long been interested in the question of online to offline spillover. We’ve also long been critical of the sloppy, ill-conceived tests that have misled many advertisers on this spillover in the past. We’ve recently participated with a few of our retail-chain clients on more carefully designed studies to get a more responsible answer […]

Google Ads

Average Position: A Distracting Lie

A great many folks spend time thinking about position on pages, both for their ads and for their organic listings. People care about position, but it’s really a proxy for what we should pay attention to: traffic volume and quality. Indeed, position itself as a KPI is pretty meaningless, and focusing too much attention on […]


Overthrow The Tyranny Of Paid Search Budgets

Budgets are a fact of life for many paid search program managers. Budgets are essential for some firms, unnecessary but required nevertheless for others; and, on too many occasions, an onerous impediment to success in paid search. I’ve argued in the past that many in the e-commerce space should not budget search at all. If […]

Google Shopping

PLAs: Cannibals? Allies? Or Both?

The spectacular growth of Product Listing Ads (PLAs) over the past 2-1/2 years has been a boon for Google and advertisers as well as for consumers. This growth was spurred by the visual appeal of the ads themselves, by Google’s increasing sophistication in serving the right PLAs for the right queries and by Google’s decision […]

Google Ads

3 Location Requests For Enhanced Campaigns

The shift to Enhanced Campaigns is important to every advertiser, but critically important to Enterprise programs, particularly those with meaningful brick and mortar footprints. The reality of Enhanced Campaigns today doesn’t create much urgency to switch over. We don’t get any more controls, and in fact, we lose some. However, the near-term future of EC […]


Enhanced Campaigns: The Future Is Now

Enhanced Campaigns are the most important architectural change to Google AdWords since it moved from the right rail to take the place of “premium placements” in 2004. Much of the early commentary has focused on the version 1.0 implementation. It is important for Enterprise SEM program managers to start thinking hard and deep about the […]

Google Algorithm Updates

3 Top Line Search Marketing Resolutions For 2013

The beauty of working in the digital marketing industry is that it is difficult to get bored. There is a new advertising option available every week, it seems, a new Google algorithm update, a new targeting option, and a new rocket ship social media platform clamoring for attention. The demands on the online marketing director’s […]


Why Changed Goals Require Changed Metrics

Enterprise businesses demand savvy communication from SEM managers. It is the nature of large organizations to have the following: Senior executives reviewing data from programs they don’t understand A shortage of institutional memory Consultants coming and going who offer opinions based on superficial data Each of these traits make performance reporting particularly important, and sometimes […]


3 Ways Time Can Warp Your View

The time delay between marketing exposure and marketing success creates tremendous opportunity for consternation for all paid search managers, but particularly for enterprise programs. Let’s look at three ways that time can distort one’s perspective, and consider a solution that can be helpful. In most paid search reporting platforms, the default setting (often the only […]


How Device Specific SEM Can Lead To More Valuable Traffic

Segmentation is the key to success in most marketing activities. Simply recognizing that how traffic gets to the site tells us a great deal about its value should prompt analysts to dive into data. Doing so often reveals big opportunities in device segmentation. Golden Tablets I’m not talking about Joseph Smith’s discovery, I’m talking about […]


What Is The Real Value Of Branded Search Campaigns?

Enterprise SEM practices apply not just to direct response advertisers, but to brand advertisers as well. We’ll dive into that logic after a brief stroll down memory lane. The earliest adopters of sophisticated paid search practices were those companies with deep roots in direct response marketing. In e-commerce, it was the traditional catalog companies that […]