Home > search engine marketing

Why Your Merchandising Team’s Effort is Lost on Your SEM Team, Part 1: Leveraging Your Product Catalog

Posted on Jun 20, 2012 by

Many etailer’s merchandising teams and SEM teams operate as independent silos.  In fact, much of what the merchandising team works on directly impacts the SEM team. In Part 1 of a two-part series, we discuss how SEMs can best leverage the merchandising team’s most valuable asset:  the product catalog.

Read the entire article here on Retail Online Integration:  http://www.retailonlineintegration.com/article/leveraging-your-product-catalog/1#

MediaPost’s Search Insider Summit

Posted on Apr 02, 2012 by

Adchemy is proud to sponsor MediaPost’s Search Insider Summit (SIS) – Spring 2012, taking place April 22nd-25th on Captiva Island in Florida. SIS is a fun and focused forum that educates attendees on the most current issues facing paid search advertising and search engine optimization. This Spring’s conference will focus on the evolution of search:

Recent announcements from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Apple, among other companies point to integrating semantic, voice, and gesture technologies into search and apps for desktop and mobile devices, as well as connected TVs. Join us to explore these technologies and how each influences search engine marketing through data, metrics, attribution, social and more.

Get in on the Fun – for free!

If you’re in charge of search engine marketing for a major brand or retailer, MediaPost offers complimentary passes to SIS. To begin the application process simply send your full contact info and one or two sentences about your role to Rob McEvily at rob@mediapost.com.

Complimentary Brand Marketer pass includes:
* Summit registration ($2995 value)
* Accommodations at the South Seas Island Resort for three nights
* No Charge Activities such as golf, fishing charter, kayaking, dophin cruise, and more
* Meals, drinks and functions over three days

We hope to see you there!

SES NY Roundup – Learnings from Our Retail Roundtables

Posted on Mar 28, 2012 by

I spent my week at SES New York talking to retailers and hosted two “Meet the Expert” roundtables focused on retail SEM. Retailers big and small shared their challenges and the ways they deal with them.

Starting Out

Some roundtable guests were just getting their start with ecommerce for chain stores in Mexico. The table chipped in with tips to help them:

  1. Make sure you’re able to define and track success. If you can’t define and track success, there’s almost no point launching a paid search campaign.
  2. Plan out the structure of paid search campaigns carefully. Make campaign and ad group naming conventions consistent with categories and products. Keep seasonal and event promotions in separate campaigns.
  3. Bid competitively when starting out. You’ll need to break into the auction against competitors that can rely on quality score history to help their page rank.
  4. Determine whether you need an agency. Will your company have the budget to support full-time SEMs?
  5. Find tools and technology that can help you scale your paid search, and make sure they fit with your individual business needs. For example, would you like to manage social campaigns through the same platform? What about display campaigns?
  6. Use ad extensions and product feeds.
  7. Have a mobile-friendly site and extend your search campaigns to mobile.

Further Down the Road

Whether just starting out or veterans managing existing campaigns, the retailers at SES talked about facing the same challenges: deciding which parts of their product catalog to cover with long-tail keywords and relevant ads — and dedicating the time and resources to do so — versus broad-matched keywords and more generic ads. Retailers are forced to pick their battles and prioritize due to lack of resources.

Similar to the retailers we met at eTail West’s Search Summit, the majority of retailers aren’t leveraging their existing assets to discover new keywords or create more relevant ads. Existing product catalogs, on-site search query logs, and broad match reports for AdWords and AdCenter can help retailers increase their exact match keywords to serve more relevant ads to consumers.

Can Mobile Search Advertising Make or Break Retailers?

Posted on Mar 26, 2012 by

When I’m in the middle of a brick and mortar store and I’m about to make a significant (or even insignificant) purchase, I increasingly find myself whipping out my iPhone and conducting a mobile search to see what the online price is at competitors. Sometimes, I even complete the purchase on my iPhone — all while standing in the aisle of a competitor’s brick and mortar store!  Moreover, I’m perfectly content to walk out of the store empty-handed — but with iPhone in my pocket and purchase confirmation in my email inbox.

I’m doing what I call a mobile “smash and grab.”  And I’m not alone, by far.

Last week Internet Retailer reported that 29% of in-store mobile researchers wind up buying online. There are two hugely important takeaways from this study:

-        Retailers have an opportunity to steal customers right out from under their competitors.

-        These same retailers need to safeguard their offline sales against mobile smash and grabs.

Why is this a big deal?  In-store consumers are a brick and mortar retailer’s most prized audience. These are the consumers who are so purchase ready, they have gotten in their cars, driven to the store, parked, navigated thru the aisles, and have (almost) found what they’re looking for.  They have taken many actions to qualify their intent.  They are motivated shoppers who know what they want.

A mobile smash and grab is not just a lost sale. It’s the loss of an extremely purchase-ready customer.  And, because the sale went directly to a competitor, it’s a direct shift in market share.  As such, I believe mobile search can make or  break retailers. And the sooner you get in on the action, the better.

For retailers to increase online profits and to avoid losing brick and mortar customers, extending paid search to mobile is crucial. Consumers are armed with so much data on the products they intend to purchase, retailers must price competitively and promote those prices through phone extensions, product extensions, product listing ads, mobile search ads, and even mobile-friendly sites.

Using mobile search ads to promote competitive prices and offer free shipping could be just the motivation that a customer needs to abandon their (physical) shopping cart at a competitor’s establishment in favor of your products and services.

Get Started Now

Because conversion rates aren’t quite on par with other channels (and because there is less competition right now), try copying your existing paid search campaigns and lowering your max CPCs. You may want to experiment with tweaking ad copy, e.g., try highlighting free shipping or discounted prices.

And of course, read up on the Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter mobile offerings to make sure you’re taking full advantage of them.

Intent in search is already high.  Intent in mobile search is even higher.  Retailers who climb the learning curve sooner will reap the rewards — and steal meaningful share — from retailers who are mobile laggards.

Does Google’s Semantic Search Spell Big Changes for Advertisers?

Posted on Mar 26, 2012 by

Earlier this month, Google made headlines in several publications regarding semantic search – updates to the search engine that would allow it to better understand a user’s intent and serve better results. The Wall Street Journal covered the update, saying that a refresh was coming to better answer users’ questions. Internet Retailer covered the story as well, speculating whether or not the changes to Google’s search engine would hurt or help advertisers. And then Danny Sullivan stepped in and explained in his methodical manner why this wasn’t NEW news, but possibly a result of Google’s PR team needing to remove focus from less positive developments.

Across all three publications, the impact of the news on advertisers wasn’t clear.

From WSJ: “It’s also unclear exactly how Google’s search ads—which appear next to search results and are handled by separate teams inside the company—would change in response to the overhaul. But people briefed on the initiative said that if the search engine better understands the meaning or intent behind people’s search queries, Google could find a way to show them more relevant ads.”

From Internet Retailer: “Google, however, expects to continue innovating new ways to present paid search ads as well as overall search results, a source familiar with the company’s plans says.”

Solving for Relevance at Scale

Interestingly enough, Adchemy is taking the same approach Google is taking — trying to better understand a user’s intent to serve better results.  However, instead of improving algorithmic search results, Adchemy is focused on improving paid search results by leveraging user intent to improve relevance at scale across millions of keywords.

The fact that Google is focusing on intent is terrific validation of Adchemy’s approach. We’re confident that the online experience can be dramatically improved — to both the benefit of consumers and advertisers — if the industry can focus more on the intent behind the query, rather than just the query per se.   And Google seems to think so too.

Adchemy Chosen to Speak at SES Chicago – and Offers a 20% Registration Discount

Posted on Oct 05, 2011 by

On the heels of closing out a successful investment round and expanding our partnership with Microsoft Advertising, Adchemy is proud to announce we will be speaking at SES Chicago. Put on your heavy coats and meet us in the Windy City November 14th-18th! Dan Morrison, our Sr. Manager, SEM (and a Chicago native), will be a featured panelist for the “Tools of the Trade for Paid Search” session scheduled Thursday, November 17, 12:15pm – 1:15pm.

SES Chicago – the leading search and social event – offers marketing and search engine optimization professionals 70+ sessions, intensive training workshops, and the opportunity to network with peers and leading industry vendors.

Use our discount code to receive 20% off your SES Chicago passes: ADCH20

What to Consider when Considering Google Conversion Optimizer

Posted on Aug 30, 2011 by

Considering dabbling in Google Conversion Optimizer (GCO)? You’ll need to rethink your Ad Words playbook, add a couple plays, and pay a lot more attention to what happens site-side.

Your CPAs should be a reflection of your Gross Margin data

Understanding what gross margin data you’ll have access to on an ongoing basis is critical to establishing accurate CPA targets.

Do you know the gross margin of every single SKU sold via your web site?  Are you able to calculate (or even accurately approximate) the gross margin generated from every single sale, and can you tie that sale back to a specific keyword?

If you do, you have the ability to calculate gross margin (and therefore CPA) by keyword.  But, do you have the bandwidth to monitor gross margin generated from every keyword?

If you don’t have either the gross margin data or the bandwidth to monitor gross margin generated by keyword, you may need to manage average CPAs by sub-category, category, or for your site overall.

Your Ad Group Structure should be a reflection your CPAs

Once you determine what level you’re going to manage your CPAs at, you need your ad group structure to reflect your CPAs.

GCO allows you to set CPA bids either by campaign or by ad group.  You need to make sure that your keywords are organized into ad groups (or campaigns) with similar CPAs.

Let’s say you have one ad group where some keywords linked to $10 products and other keywords lead to $200 products.  You might have an “average” allowable CPA of $15 for the ad group.  However, for the $10 products, your acquisition costs will be far too high and you’ll lose money on these products; conversely, for the $200 products, your acquisition costs will be too low – chances are, your bids won’t be competitive on these keywords.

The CPA-driven way of organizing these keywords would be to put the keywords related to the $10 product into one ad group (or campaign) and bid $2.50 CPA; and to put the keywords related to the $200 product into another ad group (or campaign) and bid $25 CPA.

You need to maximize post-click conversion

Because landing pages, site navigation, and product descriptions are typically managed by “someone else” it’s been easy to ignore them. Not anymore. Google Conversion Optimizer won’t do any good until customers convert (15 conversions per month per campaign!) so now you have vested interest in pricing, site copy and navigation, and the buyer’s overall site experience.

GCO is an opportunity to move from managing clicks and quality scores to managing a profit center. I can tell you from experience that the latter is a lot more fun and definitely more personally rewarding.

Happy conversions!

Accepting Instead of Innovating: Agencies Move Their Focus Away From Search

Posted on Aug 29, 2011 by

This past week, Ad Age reported on how several digital agencies have changed focus with the slowing of search advertising growth. Collectively, the agencies mentioned in the article own enormous chunks of paid search spend, and they have all widened their focus to take on projects in other channels. While taking on new business doesn’t necessarily equate to waving a white flag, it does seem indicative of a fatalistic viewpoint that seems to underlie search engine marketing: you must resign yourself to the fact that paid search is slowing, and – whether it be cause or effect — meaningful, valuable innovation in the industry is not probable.

This, I think, is nonsense. Search engine marketing brought a whole new dimension to advertising: consumers search based on their intent to research or purchase, and advertisers have the ability to compete (on a CPC basis!) to be in front of those stated intents. It was a revolutionary idea to make a connection between advertisers’ and consumers’ intents, and a whole new industry was spawned.

But innovations in search engine marketing have not allowed for continued, explosive growth. Subsequent enhancements like broad match features helped advertisers cover a higher volume of search queries, but can reduce the ad relevance and hurt a campaign’s performance if not managed closely. Bid management tools save time, but a major part of management still happens at the keyword level – from keyword research, to creating tightly-themed ad groups, to writing ad copy. SEMs are still limited – and conflicted – about how many keywords and ads they can personally manage, and the level of relevance they can give to consumers.

And that’s really the paradox of the situation: what makes paid search advertising SO valuable – being able to connect with a consumer on such a granular level as their intent – has also limited advertiser’s ability to create highly relevant campaigns at scale.

Adchemy does not accept this paradox, though: we are creating a breakthrough in advertising technology to move the paid search advertising model back into continued, explosive growth.

Eventful Learning: eTail East and SES San Francisco

Posted on Aug 26, 2011 by

It’s been a busy few weeks, but there are finally a couple spare moments to give a quick recap of two events that Adchemy had a presence at: eTail East in Boston from August 8-10th and SES in San Francisco from August 15-18th. Hopefully someone was able to take advantage of our discount codes for these events. Keep in touch with Adchemy for deals on conferences that we sponsor and invitations to exclusive events!

eTail East – Boston

As a first-time attendee, I was excited to see so many top-tier retailers in one place speaking candidly about their challenges in search advertising and beyond. eTail’s Search Day was a fantastic way for Adchemy to get in front of retail SEMs.

Adchemy hosted a roundtable discussion during Search Day, and learned some interesting things:

  • A wide range of investment – The retailers that did know their budget allocation varied widely, even among those in similar verticals. Some retailers dedicate a small portion (5%) of spend to Microsoft adCenter, while others are splitting budget 50/50 with AdWords and adCenter. The most common answer seemed to be 70/30, AdWords/adCenter. In many cases, retailers had little insight into how their search advertising budgets were divided between Google, and Bing/Yahoo. This was usually due to outsourcing SEM responsibilities to an agency.
  • Outsourcing – While the majority of the attendees of Search Day were SEMs, a good portion were only responsible for managing relationships with agencies. Among those dealing with agencies, transparency and agile management seemed to be challenges.
  • Minimal product coverage – Based on limited resources, most retailers focused their time and budgets on their highest-volume and highest-margin products.
  • “Ah-ha!” Moment: Lifetime Value – Ben Kirschner, CEO of Coffeforless.com, directed the crowd to consider lifetime value of customers when assessing keyword value in SEM campaigns. There were a lot of pens to paper and keyboards clicking after that!

SES San Francisco

I don’t know if it was the economic woes from the week before (remember the debt ceiling and S&P debacle?), or the sheer, mammoth size of Moscone West, but SES San Francisco felt a little thinly attended at first. Sessions were, however, well-attended and engaging. Google and Bing seemed to be vying for airtime with sponsored sessions, which did not go unnoticed, and I heard someone mirror a point from another blog post of mine: competition between Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter is good for advertisers and consumers alike.

It was great to see our name and brand around the event as a sponsor, too!

For the most part, sessions (and attendees) were focused on other channels like social, mobile, and how attribution across channels should work. There doesn’t seem to be any true innovation happening in the search space, which may be the reason that advertisers, agencies, and technology companies are more focused on broadening their focus. SES itself has grown beyond a search focus to accommodate these new and interesting channels as well.

At Adchemy, we’re still convinced that there are breakthroughs to be made in search advertising, we that we are leading the way with our IntentMap Technology.

Get a 20% Discount on SES San Francisco Conference Passes

Posted on Jul 26, 2011 by

As a newly-minted Silver sponsor of SES San Francisco, the leading search and social marketing event, the team over here at Adchemy is very happy to relay this offer: 20% off conference passes!

Register for SES SF, and be sure to use the special Adchemy discount code: 20ADC

If you plan on attending SES SF and would like to meet up with the Adchemy team, you can request a meeting on the conference site.

We look forward to seeing you there!