This was posted at SearchEngineLand yesterday in case you missed it: How often have you heard that Keyword level performance data can be misleading? That PPC managers need to consider the phases of the buying cycle when evaluating terms? That specific keywords tend to steal conversions from the more general keywords that started the customer's consideration? It's pretty obvious why the engines trumpet this story: it makes them money. By convincing advertisers that they should spend money on general search terms regardless of the observed efficiency advertisers are encouraged to spend without the moorings associated with ROI goals. Is it surprising that Google's quarterly profits were strong in spite of the fact that most advertisers are struggling? Google and Compete Inc. presented a study of this subject that managed to answer none of the salient questions. We presented a study almost 3 years ago at SES that challenged the notion of the buying cycle, but decided it was time to revisit the topic. First, we grabbed data from a number of retail clients representing different verticals and different business models (pure plays, catalogers, brick and mortar retail, etc). We then sought to answer the questions:
- How often are multiple ads touched prior to an order?
- Does the interaction happen the way they say it does?
- Do these data suggest that crediting the first touch or the last touch or some smeared credit allocation would be closer to the truth? and finally,
- Do the different types of retail businesses witness different behaviors?
- The engines are not evil, but neither should they be expected to look out for your interests;
- Cookie Windows matter and should be carefully considered.
- Within Paid Search, "last click" credit schemes seem to be a better proxy for the truth than either "first click" or "shared credit"
- If Keyword level performance data suggests a keyword is underperforming, it probably is.
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