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The importance of search and harnessing its growth

The importance of search and harnessing its growth
Kevin Kirby, head of paid search at iProspect UK, discusses the importance of search and what further opportunities exist in this space.

Search, already a crucial part of most online advertisers’ arsenal continues to grow in both scale and complexity. Search represents a vital step in most users' online journeys, bridging the gap between research and action, and as a result it is hugely important for advertisers to ensure that the way in which they are interacting with those users is fully optimised to encourage the right action; be that to buy from an online store, consider a new insurance provider, or visit a particular supermarket.

The search engines are well aware of this too and continue to develop their offerings, with many recent innovations elevating paid search ads to more than just text ads. These include image extensions showing products themselves, product listing ads showing up to date price and stock availability, and form extensions allowing quotes to be generated within the search results pages themselves are all recent inclusions in the search space, and all require careful setup and use to garner positive returns.

Then of course there’s mobile: mobile continues to see phenomenal growth with no signs of slowing down. The advent of enhanced campaigns last year helped reduce the complexity of actually deploying paid search on mobile devices, but also meant that it is no longer feasible for advertisers to not consider their mobile bidding policy, with every single keyword in a campaign now having a separate modifier for the mobile auction, requiring detailed understanding of the mobile search space and specialised optimisation.

It doesn’t stop there – geographical targeting and location based bid strategies are becoming more and more important in ensuring that the right message is deployed to the right audience. Remarketing lists for search ads can give advertisers a huge amount of control over messaging and bid levels based on actual user activity.

Technology can help advertisers to pick through some of this complexity, but which technology is the right one for a given advertiser? Is the key requirement rapid deployment of large volumes of keywords or intricate tailoring and optimisation of a small subset? What attribution factors should be taken into account? Which other channels will need to be de duplicated against before the results ring true enough to make key decisions on?

Finally there’s the deployment issue – it’s one thing to know about these features and products, but when is the right situation to use them, and how do you do it?

As a search agency with over 80 PPC specialists this is clearly a set of issues we grapple with, and part of our solution is the IPA Search Certificate. A comprehensive and impartial training course it gives a solid grounding in the fundamentals of paid search management curated by the IPA Search Group rather than the individual media owners and technology providers. This ensures that the information is up to date, and not skewed to push any individual business’ agenda. It forms part of all of our graduate intake’s basic training and forms a key part of our approach to providing our team with the very best training.

However, this isn’t just of value to practitioners – search generates huge amounts of data about customers’ interactions with brands and businesses as well as providing a fantastic route to market. As time goes on and targeting options improve it is increasingly important for clients themselves to understand how this data is generated, the context of where it sits within their overall marketing mix, and what further opportunities exist in this space in order ensure that this growth is fully harnessed. The IPA Search Certificate represents a great way to achieve this.

The next IPA Search Certificate exam takes place on 12th June 2014. Find out more here.

Kevin Kirby is head of paid search at iProspect UK.

Last updated 23/04/2014

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