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Brands Talk SEM: Learning By Experiment By Alex Sutton


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From the Search Marketing Expo - SMX East Conference in New York City, NY, September 29 - October 1, 2015. SESSION: Brands Talk SEM - Given by Alex Sutton, Senior Manager, Paid Digital Acquisition - Avis Budget Group. #SMX #23D

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Brands Talk SEM: Learning By Experiment By Alex Sutton

  1. 1. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII Avis Budget Group Brands talk SEM: Learning by experiment
  2. 2. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII Alex Sutton III/ Manager Digital Media/ Avis Budget Group BRANDS TALK SEM: Learning by experiment – Avis Budget
  3. 3. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  The cost of going dark  Test & learn to change hearts & guidelines Learning By Experiment: Agenda
  4. 4. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII The Cost of Going Dark on Brand Terms
  5. 5. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  Faced with budgetary constraints ABG temporarily cut spend (went dark) on branded keywords - with the expectation that SEO would pick up the vast majority of branded click share A short term solution with long-term implications
  6. 6. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  Traffic and revenue generated through SEO & SEM branded search fell short of projections >15%  SEO share of branded traffic increased significantly (+50%)  Total branded traffic fell short of projections (~-20%)  Competitor paid click share increased ~3x* In the short run… *Compete/ MillwardBrown
  7. 7. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  Paid branded keywords cost more  When we turned back on again our quality score went down and our CPC’s went up But there were lasting implications… 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.60 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 January February March April May June July August ABG Exact Keywords - Avg. CPC vs. Avg. Pos. Over Time CPC Avg Pos Avg. 0 +0.2 +0.4 +0.6 +0.8 -0.4 -0.6 -0.2
  8. 8. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  And it cost us share of voice  Some keyword competitors were better positioned to drive traffic against ABG keywords in the long run But there were lasting implications… (pt 2) 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% Example OTA Impression Share against ABG Brand Terms
  9. 9. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  The cost of going dark on brand terms is not just limited to short-term click, revenue, and campaign momentum  In a competitive landscape going dark can have long- term cost and performance implications that are difficult from which to recover The Cost of Going Dark on Brand Terms
  10. 10. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII Changing Hearts & Guidelines With a Test and Learn Approach
  11. 11. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  Often brand guidelines for ad copy can appear to be at odds with performance media  ABG leveraged a simple test and learn approach to make a case for brand guideline exceptions based on ROI of brand copy versus performance copy Dealing with Restrictive Brand Guidelines
  12. 12. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  Proving higher CTR and overall revenue for “Book” vs. “Reserve” helped create exceptions for PPC Ad CTAs  Relative performance parity of “Now” vs. “Today” opened up the brand copy pallet for CTA used in direct media CTA Copy Matters Book v. Reserve 16.5% Higher Revenue 5% More Reservations 8.2% Higher Average Basket Value (ABV) 8% Higher CTR Now v. Today 2.6% Higher Revenue 1% Lower Reservations 2.7% Higher Average Basket Value (ABV) 1.5% Higher CTR
  13. 13. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  Given breadth of partners who can convert ABG bookings, “Official Site” proved to be the most valuable headline in helping customers who were searching for our brands know they are clicking on the ‘right’ link Official Site vs. Car Rental Official Site v. Car Rental (Headline) 6.5% Lower CPA 1.2% Lower Average Basket Value (ABV) 5% Higher CTR CVR Flat
  14. 14. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  ABG brand rules demand sentence case (e.g., “Save big when you prepay”) versus general SEM practice of capital case (“Save Big When You PrePay”)  We ran a test and the general practice of capital case won out and an exception was created Sometimes best practice wins… Capital Case v. Sentence Case 0.9% Higher CTR ~CVR Flat ~ CPA Flat ~ Average Basket Value (ABV) Flat
  15. 15. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  We were looking for an exception on an ABG brand that would allow us to lead with offers on RLSA remarketing campaigns  Common conjecture is that retargeting performance is enhanced by offers  At the end of the test we were wrong and glad for it Sometimes best practice doesn’t win… Generic Messaging v. Offer (RLSA) 32.6% Higher CTR 12.4% Higher CVR 75.0% Lower CPA 25.4% Higher Average Basket Value (ABV)
  16. 16. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII Partnering on Branded Keyword Bidding
  17. 17. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  ABG competes with a number of competitors (other car rental suppliers) as well as OTA and other partners on its own brand terms  ABG allows some OTAs, other partners, and even some affiliates to use ABG trademarks in their ad copy Partnering on Brand Terms
  18. 18. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  Going dark improved the relative quality score of its partners increasing CPC and making it more expensive for ABG to maintain top ad position on branded keywords Partnering on Brand Terms 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.60 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 January February March April May June July August ABG Exact Keywords - Avg. CPC vs. Avg. Pos. Over Time CPC Avg Pos Avg. 0 +0.2 +0.4 +0.6 +0.8 -0.4 -0.6 -0.2
  19. 19. #SMX #23D @AlexSuttonIII  ABG worked with partners to negotiate avg position terms  Partners actively managed bids to maintain a #2 or lower position on ABG branded searches  As a result, ABG’s overall CPC on branded keywords has steadily declined Partnering on Brand Terms