Isn’t Search Already Programmatic?

Therese Lundin / October 2016

Search advertising at a glance might already seem automatic. After all, once the campaign is set up you can just kick back and watch as keywords are matched to search queries and as ads compete in real-time auctions. Search advertising is actually already pretty smart. Doubleclick Search is a search management platform that facilitates what is known as programmatic search advertising. It marries smart search advertising with machine learning, using programmes or software to automate the search ad management, buying and measurement process. How is this different from managing advertising on the search engine itself? DoubleClick Search works like an umbrella that sits on top of all your different search engine activities, and allows you to manage everything in one place.

Search management made easier

Creating a basic search campaign is pretty easy. Pick a location to target, set your budget, create some keywords related to your business, write an ad or two and you’re ready to go. For big businesses with thousands of campaigns across several locations, search engines and products, search management becomes both complex and time consuming. Automating daily tasks can end up saving you hours each week, as well as alleviating the boredom of doing the same thing over and over. How does this automation happen? One way is to set up automatic rules that allow you to alter behavior based on the criteria you decide. Maybe you want to pause keywords that perform poorly, or automatically add new keywords to a bid strategy. This can be set up with rules and scheduled to run automatically daily or weekly, as you like.

Programmatic is also about being able to manage search on every level in one place - from top to bottom. Instead of going to the individual search engine accounts, you can see the overall performance across all engines in one view. If you want to check out how people searched for your brand keyword yesterday, while on their mobile phones, you can do that too. This scale and flexibility is one of the greatest advantages of programmatic search, as Performics were able to experience first hand. Through programmatic search they not only saved 3-5 hours per week through more efficient campaign management, but they also more than doubled the return on investment (ROI) for their client 1.

Bid management made smarter

What is the right bid? Should I increase my cost per click (CPC) or will this just cause extra cost? Bidding is in many ways the core activity of search advertising and it can be tricky to find the optimal spot between a reasonable cost and a high yield. Programmatic bid strategies can answer these questions for you. If you want to sell your products at a cost per sale of $5, you can simply tell the bid strategy to use this figure as its target and it does the rest. How this is possible is actually very cool. Our sophisticated machine learning platform considers a wide array of factors when determining every single bid change, such as overall account performance as well as individual keyword performance. It also learns from past performance and uses these insights to predict future performance.

The benefits of machine learning don’t end with the CPC bids. If people in Dubai who search on their mobile phones tend to buy more than people searching on their desktop in Abu Dhabi, the machine learning algorithm will figure this out and increase the bids accordingly.

eBags is an online retailer that sells all kinds of bags and they took advantage of this powerful feature. Through automating their spend with smart bid strategies, they not only increased their revenue with 38% but they also increased their traffic and sales from mobile phones specifically with 150%2. All of this almost sounds like science fiction but it is real and certainly beats manually going over thousands of keywords and adjusting bids yourself!

Data management made actionable 

Knowledge is power and it helps people make better decisions. What makes a good keyword? The answer might not be what you think. It is common to assume that brand-related keywords are the most valuable as most people who search for them have a strong purchase intent. By the time a potential customer has finished researching their ideal holiday, they will usually also have a pretty good idea of which airlines fly there, and which hotels are located in the area they are interested in.

The question is, would they have thought of your brand if it hadn’t appeared when they searched for the more generic “best beach holiday”? One would assume they might not have, but what’s better than assuming? Knowing.

By integrating with CRM tools, such as Google Analytics 360, that collect data on user behaviour on your website and combining this with attribution modelling, it is possible to gain useful insights about the journey before a purchase. Typically a potential customer will get exposed to your brand several times on their journey before making a purchase. Often the purchase is attributed to the last click before the purchase, but that’s not necessarily the full story.

Attribution is all about understanding what value every single touch point on the journey has. When looking at the data this way, you might find out that most of your purchases originate on a mobile device, or that the average buyer clicks on your ad from a generic search at least once in their purchase journey. By highlighting the importance of activities and devices early in the purchase journey, you have a much better idea of where you should be spending your money.

It is also possible to put these insights into action, by telling your bid strategies to also take into consideration the first click, or all clicks that take place before a purchase. This way the bid strategy knows that it should bid more on “best beach holiday”, as it is an important keyword even if it doesn’t always lead directly to a sale.

A good example of how this was used is the Turkish airline AnadoluJet, that thanks to attribution discovered that many of their customers did most of their travel research on mobile devices before eventually buying. Because of this insight they decided to let their bid strategies give more importance to the research behaviour early in the purchase journey and as a result managed to increase their bookings from mobile phones by 170%3.

In short, programmatic can make search advertising easier, smarter and more informed. Automating repetitive tasks and leveraging information to get the best possible performance frees up time. Instead of focusing on maintenance and reporting, advertisers can spend their time finding exciting new ways to make their business a success. Or perhaps spend their time enjoying that beach holiday.

DoubleClick Search gives advertisers the workflow tools, robust reporting and bid optimization they need to get more value from their search campaigns. Built on Google infrastructure and natively integrated with the DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform, DoubleClick Search makes it faster and easier to respond to an ever-changing market in real time and at scale.

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