This is a contributed post from Todd Mintz, SEM expert at 3Q Digital.
I love Marin’s bidding algorithm, and given the opportunity, I can write geeky, complex blog posts on its power that would confuse most of the folks on the bidding team. Since I do wish to contribute to this blog again in the future, I will refrain from doing so and focus my initial post on something super-basic that even Marin neophytes can implement and benefit from.
When onboarding a new account to the Marin platform, the project manager assigned to the account will stress to you that the system needs 30 days of data before Marin bidding can be safely launched. Since you’re likely a few weeks into the onboarding of the account, it’s tough to stay patient while continuing to rely upon lesser methods for bidding your accounts. Luckily for you, I’ve figured out a bidding technique that can be implemented immediately and doesn’t require 30 days of data.
For a while now, Marin’s system has been capturing Google Quality Score (and has recently begun to capture Bing’s). Smart marketers like Larry Kim have correlated high quality score to low CPAs. So, at a very basic level, we can use Marin to severely bid down low-QS terms while bidding up high-QS terms.
I divided my Google keywords into two folders: The Main Campaign and the Low-QS Campaign. All keywords with QS < 4 were placed into the Low-QS Campaign, and the remainder were placed in the Main Campaign. The Boost percentages here are good starting points but are somewhat arbitrary…different situations might require different percentages, and these numbers should be tweaked through the month based upon account performance
In 100% of the accounts I’ve worked with, this technique has boosted performance for the first 30 days of an account on the Marin platform. You can implement this hack while continuing to do all your other pre-Marin, non-automated bidding tactics. Once the 30-day mark passes, you can then do your full Marin bidding segmentation – though in all my accounts, I’ve kept the low-QS bucket. What’s really cool is that with Marin’s assistance, I’ve turned low-QS keywords into a profit center, which you’re not supposed to be able to do.
Please also note that Quality Score is a dynamic metric; certain keywords will rise out of the Low-QS Folder and others will fall into it. One needs to periodically update the distribution of the keywords in the folders in order to insure optimum bidding performance. Also, I have seen a correlation between this bidding technique for low-QS terms and an increase in Quality Score for many of said terms, though I’m not able to prove causation.
Good luck and feel free to add any questions or comments below!
Todd Mintz, who has been with 3Q Digital since March 2011, has worked in search engine marketing since 2000 and has used Google AdWords since it began. He also is very visible in the SEM social media space and is a curator/contributor at MarketingLand. He was one of the founding members of SEMpdx (Portland’s Search Engine Marketing Group), is a current board member, and writes regularly on their blog.
Of all the search publisher metrics available, Quality Score seems to always receive the most attention; yet search marketers have the least amount of visibility into how to effectively improve it and its impact on performance. What we do know is that every time a user conducts a search that triggers ads, a Quality Score is calculated based on a number of factors, including:
Notice that the first three factors on Google’s list reference performance history, even though the history of a keyword’s Quality Score is unavailable within the AdWords interface. Instead, rather than showing different Quality Scores across time, Google displays a single Quality Score that provides an estimate of that keyword’s overall quality.
For the most part this is adequate—search marketers analyze Quality Score at individual moments in time to understand keyword relevance and performance issues. However, this one-off-style approach to analyzing Quality Score fails to provide insight into how search marketers’ continuous efforts to optimize campaigns impact Quality Score, either positively or negatively.
Whether it’s testing brand new creative or introducing additional negative keywords, improving a keyword’s Quality Score can lead to a lower cost-per-click (CPC) and a higher ad position. Changes in these two metrics can subsequently impact, among other things: CTR, costs, and return on investment (ROI). Unfortunately, the influence each of those best practices has on keyword Quality Score is frequently lost with time, especially within larger accounts. Imagine having to record the daily Quality Score for two million keywords affected by new creative messaging.
To understand the impact of optimization efforts on Quality Score, search marketers need the ability to trend historical Quality Score, against other performance metrics, over time.
For example, by trending Quality Score and average CPC over a 3 month period, search marketers can understand the exact impact on cost that comes from an increase in Quality Score from 6 to 8. Trends that include other metrics like ROI and conversion rate highlight the indirect impact that Quality Score has on conversion and revenue goals. Though the concept of trending Quality Score over time appears basic, many search marketers are unable to do so.
To see a demo of historical Quality Score and other advance metrics in action, please contact Marin.