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Planning and management key to paid search success

In my last article I explained the reasons behind the growth in paid search advertising and how organisations, charities and businesses were benefiting from it. This week Ill discuss some of the major issues surrounding strategy and effectiveness when using paid search.


While its still possible for smaller brands to run a successful paid search operation, quite often they find it increasingly difficult to maintain effectiveness against search engine advertising agencies who are retained by companies to boost results and professionally manage campaigns. This level of competition in search advertising is increasing and is starting to create a natural advantage for businesses that benefit from well-honed search advertising skills. 
While the disparity between big vs small advertisers is nowhere near comparable to the print and broadcast advertising world, increasing competition means that all advertisers on search engines need to continually improve their strategy and campaign effectiveness.

Campaign Planning

There are a number of important areas to look at if you are considering launching a search advertising campaign. Initially, youll have to decide which search engines to advertise on. Here the figures speak for themselves. Within the Britain / Ireland market Google has the dominant share of search engine ad spend at 87%, with Bing and Yahoo at 4%and 3% respectively. Consequently, most advertisers concentrate on Google for volume reach (This isnt to say you should avoid using Yahoo and Bing in a larger search campaigns).

Another important consideration at the planning level is to decide between  managing the campaign set-up and operation in-house or through a professional agency / consultant. For small and micro businesses the practice has traditionally been towards a DIY approach. While it can be a suitable strategy for businesses that are digital savvy and experienced at paid search, it too often leads to poor return on investment.

As noted there is a high degree of competition for search engine results and businesses that use internet marketing agencies will gain the skills and resources to outperform less experienced users. According to a recent report by eConsultancy, marketing departments are increasingly turning to agencies and relying less on in-house resources for paid search campaigns. Small businesses can also consider hiring a Google AdWords Professional, qualified professionals who can often provide a very cost-effective and hands-on service.

Campaign Intelligence

As paid search become more challenging, its even more important to ensure campaigns are succeeding. The latest best practice closely integrates data from Google Analytics, a free software tool providing key information on how your site is performing. Google Analytics is a gold mine of information and used well, can really add value to your paid search campaigns.  You can use it to measure the effectiveness of the campaign through assessing the level of engagement your site receives directly from paid search.

Competitive pressures on paid search campaigns are being mirrored across the internet marketing spectrum  from search engine optimisation through to email marketing. Its true to say that easy results online are a thing of the past and internet marketing, and paid search in particular, call for more planning and measurement.

Paul McGarrity, Director, Octave Online Communications