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Data: the lifeblood of search and social

Data is not just making a difference in search advertising – it is now the lifeblood of fast moving paid search and social campaigns.

Search is often the first thing a person does if they want to find a product, service, or make a transaction. It forms a major part of the digital mix for many ecommerce opportunities, from retail items to travel, hotels, telecoms services, or any kind of consumer query.

In the middle of these billions of search executions every day, data tools and dashboards now provide brands with an edge in search more than ever before. Marketing technology has now advanced to automate all they key daily functions, including campaign reporting, bid management, audience management and portfolio optimisation.

Those tools are crucial in enhancing and fine-tuning paid search campaigns and driving click-through and impression volume growth.

Search agencies need automation to manage the scale and volume of digital marketing programs, and they require dynamic optimisation and software-based rules to effectively manage their client’s budget. They are also under pressure to ensure the media mix of a given campaign is balanced and targeted. Again, data leads the way by showing how brand campaigns are performing in real-time.

Data also enables brands to strategically target their most profitable prospects, broaden their reach to engage with new high-value audiences, and importantly, enable advertisers to make the shift from purchasing ads to buying audiences.

The search market has long been focused on getting the best search keywords at the lowest possible price. However, marketers have started to pay close attention to social signals and focus on conversion data and performance metrics. The next step is the creation of audience profiles, derived from detailed search and social intention data that is pulled from millions of queries and paid search clicks.

Advancements in search marketing and social advertising technology, and their rapid convergence has significant implications for the digital brand manager. Brands will have more cross-platform data at their fingertips, and they will quickly know what’s working, and where and when to place their budgets.

At the same time that search is becoming more data-intensive and complex, an avalanche of new algorithmic-based tools are making the management process easier. The focus is now swiftly moving from keywords and click-through rates to audience insight and the intent that drives their digital actions.

Leveraging search intent
Cross-channel coordination plays a larger role as we look at how to leverage search data. In an ideal world, a consumer searches, clicks an ad, visits a brand’s website, and successfully converts. In reality, the process is much more complex.

Oftentimes, consumers migrate across the web and devices, prompting various interactions before converting. Today’s technology offers the power to connect with key audiences throughout this lifecycle.

So, when the person who clicked on your search ad but didn’t take action later arrives on Facebook, he or she can be targeted with relevant messaging based on search intent.

2014 saw this innovation in the form of Kenshoo Intent-Driven Audiences (IDA). The opportunity for marketers is that, for the first time, we can harness the intent signals from search across channels into Facebook to target audiences – not just keywords – and then expand reach even further with Lookalike targeting.

Is this just cool tech? A leading global retailer saw 110 per cent uplift in ROI, 66 per cent drop in CPC and 30 per cent drop in CPA after implementing IDA as part of its cross-channel strategy.

This shift from individual campaign metrics to a cross-channel customer lifecycle heralds another sea change in digital engagement, and moves the market to the nirvana of serving the right ad to the right consumer, at the right time. Because search is a value of intent, or an indication of what a consumer is interested in, marketers are able to build datasets on their interests, and also bring in social signals to inform their search strategy. Savvy marketers will fuse in first-party data and enhance their campaigns further.

The keyword will be important, but less so
Keywords will become less important for marketers. We’ll move beyond query-level targeting, reporting, and optimisation and focus on the people and products behind the keywords. Savvy marketers will take search intent data and combine it with social signals and first-party customer data to create complete audience profiles.

Search + social intersection
According to a study by Kenshoo which was commissioned by Facebook there was a 19 per cent increase in conversion volume and a 10 per cent drop in CPA when strategically pairing Facebook advertising with paid search, as opposed to running paid search alone.

2015 will be the year of the proactive marketer. Proactive marketing is about having the right data to make the right decisions not just now, but in the future.

To stay ahead in the evolving landscape, marketers should consider the following components:

  • Audience management – reaching your highest value customers across all channels and all devices
  • Campaign automation – streamlining functionality to simplify workflow and save time
  • Universal integration – optimising your ecosystem or marketing stack
  • Bid optimisation – meeting your goals at the right price
  • Data visualisation – finding actionable insights on key business metrics
  • Dynamic attribution – understanding the entire customer journey and how each channel impacts the path to conversion
  • Predictive marketing – using accurate forecasting and scenario planning to make the best use of every penny in every budget

Innovations such as those discussed above are allowing marketers to make informed predictions about forecasting, audiences, and optimisations and take those insights and make them actionable.

The write up is part of the DMA Annual Report ‘What’s Trending 2015‘.
To book your own hard copy of the Annual, write to marketing@digitalmarket.asia

Yukihiko Imamura

Yukihiko Imamura is the Managing Director of Kenshoo in Asia Pacific and Japan.
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