Blog | Paid Media

User Contextual Awareness: The New Key to Paid Search

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Gone are the good old days of out-bidding your competitors by a penny to gain Google’s top ad spot.  To get that prime piece of real estate and maximize your ad campaign results you need to account for a greater number of variables than in the past. You need to apply user contextual awareness. That creates a good news/bad news scenario.

Let’s start with the good news. You no longer need the highest bid to earn one of those top spots.  The bad news… to get that coveted position you need to prove your value to Google.  

An algorithm measures your value against several factors that combine to give you an Ad Rank.  A host of factors figure into this measure, but we’ve boiled it down to the following three elements.  These form the basis for what we call an Enhanced Google Campaign, a way to improve success through bid strategies.

user contextual awareness

User Contextual Awareness

Where is your customer?

Proximity plays a big role in where and if your ad appears.  A lot of this has to do with the increase in mobile devices.  But a lot of it comes from Google’s desire to increase click-through rates.  The more clicks you get, the more they make.  (And ideally, the more you make.)   

So how can you capitalize on an increased emphasis on localization of search?  The simple answer is optimization.  In rural areas, ten miles could be your “just around the corner” while in a city like Chicago, you might bid higher for an area that’s only a few blocks.  Outside of that range, you might offer a lower bid on the same keyword.  

What is your customer doing?

For great results, you need to know what type of device your customers use most.  Is it desktop or mobile?  The answer here has different ramifications for a pure-play eCommerce company and an Omni- or multi-channel business.

Regardless of your business, the type of device gives you a lot more insight than simply what device type to target.  Mobile devices indicate you’ve got a population on the go.  This helps you customize your message for greater impact.

Let’s not forget Google either.  If Google knows your ad has historically gotten more clicks from mobile users, you’ll get a boost when mobile users search your keywords, even if you’re not the highest bid. Talk about user contextual awareness!

Know your own data

The last piece of the Enhanced Google Campaign relies on demographics.  Google doesn’t track this piece of data directly, but their qualifiers like expected CTR, landing page experience and relevance indirectly reflect how well you mine your customer data.  

When you know your customer, you can segment ad campaigns and align your keyword bid strategy to drive the best results.  For example, maybe men buy from you at half or less the rate as women.  So, you bid $.75 for men who search your keyword while you bid $1.50 for women who do the same search.

Get the most from Google

Strange as it may sound, Google wants you to succeed.  If you’ve got a good ad, bid competitively and built around the three factors of location, device and demographics, you’ve got a good chance to find yourself in Google’s top ad spots targeting the people who want to buy from you.

The Enhanced Google Campaign combines these to boost your ad rank that will fill your business with leads and drive revenue.  Making the most of your data is one of the ways we at BFO help our clients create successful Google ad campaigns.  

Which devices are most valuable?

You’ll want to know which devices are most valuable and the metrics you’ll use to optimize each device. If you’re a pure-play e-commerce retailer versus a multichannel or omnichannel retailer that has stores and ecommerce—each device will be worth something different based on past performance.

You’ll also want to remember that it’s no longer possible to have separate bids for tablets, since tablets and desktops/laptops are now bundled together. This may affect your bidding, since a good deal of e-commerce traffic comes from tablets and conversion rates on tablets tend to be higher.

Customer and audience layering

Additional audiences layering may also be factored into your search ads. You may not make financial sense to do so on general keywords, such as a search for “T-shirts,” since the search would be so broad. But if someone has visited your site or a prospect matches your buyer-persona you can raise or lower your bids for those keywords based on the user context.

Another cool thing about user contextual awareness is the ability to leverage customer data, such as a large email contact lists. This data can be uploaded and you can bid differently, based on previous customer usage. You can do so in both directions. For example, if you’re going after incremental new customers then you can lower your bids on certain keyword for contacts that are already customers. You can also go after more generic keywords, but give the presence of owning search results for a very small segment of the market.

You can layer on and leverage demographic bidding as well. So, if you have a product that’s more skewed toward men than women, you could bid incrementally—$1.50 for women, and $.75 for men.

To conclude, keywords still matter and bids still matter, but considerations like audience and customer data, offline data, and what different customers are worth are now equally important to the paid search optimization equation. Like we said, user contextual awareness is the new key to paid search.


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