Time To Revive Your Search Strategy?

Thanks for subscribing to The Cache - a weekly summary of the most important stories, trends, & commentary in eCommerce marketing, curated by Rob Bettis.

Search campaigns are no longer what they used to be. You probably know that. Many brands that compete in crowded industries found this out many months ago.

Unfortunately, the most common response I see from retail brands is to scale down digital advertising to branded Search and Shopping. It allows brands to maintain a positive, trackable ROI and remain active in paid media. (This is especially common if you have an agency managing your account because it is easy and produces short-term results - two things agencies love.)

The unfortunate reality, however, is these brands are no longer growing their business through paid. Instead, they are coasting on the fumes of their brand equity. And without continued strategic investment, eventually, the equity and paid momentum dwindle.

Alternatively, other brands have similarly scaled-down, while also adding in top-funnel social campaigns. This approach, of course, is better. But it ignores the critical middle of the funnel. In most cases, I have observed, these brands are also not structuring their top-funnel campaigns to connect those efforts to growth in low-funnel campaigns, thereby failing to paint an accurate & holistic picture of their paid media.

I want to provide an alternative approach.

If traditional search campaigns alone are no longer economically feasible for brand growth in your industry, they can (and should) be an essential piece to a broader strategic strategy. Specifically, I see Search and Display campaigns play a vital support role in conjunction with video campaigns on YouTube and Social.

Instead of qualifying customer leads through expensive Search campaigns, advertisers should serve them inexpensive video content. Most of my clients are getting targeted costs-per-view of $0.01-0.03.

Then, remarket to the folks who engage with the video. We can remarket to them via Search, Social, and Display. Through well-tagged campaigns and well-designed landing pages, you can create your own trackable, multi-network funnel.

Imagine CPC’s in your industry are $25, and you have a conversion rate of 1%. Your cost-per-acquisition is $2,500.

For the same $2,500, you could spend $2,000 on top-funnel video ads, generating ~125,000 views. Let’s set aside the brand awareness value, which is significant. If your view-through-rate is 20%, you now have an audience of 2,500 educated prospects. Use the remaining $500 of your budget to nurture them through remarketing. If 500 of the 2,500 prospects return to the site and the 1% conversion rate holds, you now have 5 new customers for the price of 1. Plus, you are simultaneously investing in brand expansion through a strong top-funnel presence.

For a long time, ‘digital’ marketing was silo’d from traditional. And more recently, ‘Search’ marketing has been silo’d from ‘Social.’ But as conversion paths get exponentially more complex (multiple networks & multiple devices), the current reality is all of these digital channels need to support one another. And if a brand’s approach doesn’t include a cross-network strategy to guide buyers through the entire funnel, it is unlikely to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace.

🔎 Search

Google announced Prabhakar Raghavan, former head of Google Ads, is changing roles to head Google Search while simultaneously overseeing Ads. The move diminishes the traditional separation of product teams and has SEOs concerned about how it might affect organic search results.

Regardless, Google Search as a whole, has different goals than Google Ads. Google Search is perpetually trying to maintain and improve the search engine to return the best content and user experience. Whereas, Google Ads is driven by the need for advertisers to increase their ad spend. Combining the two would fundamentally change and corrupt Google Search as we know it.

The announcement was made even worse when they learned the new head of Google Ads would be reporting to the head of Google Search.

With Google Ads revenue plateau weighing heavier on the company, this feels like a defining change in the company’s history. And it’s hard to believe it will be best for advertisers.

We are seeing the removal of critical key phrases across broad match modified, phrase, and exact matching. Furthermore, it appears that the “same meaning” matching is expanding to terms that don’t share the same meaning… to the detriment of advertisers.

I have also experienced this in many of my client accounts. Despite endless pestering from ‘Google Reps’ to broaden targeting, having match-type controls over targeting has been an invaluable tool for advertisers - and it has truly set Google Ads apart from other networks that force advertisers to rely on mysterious, network-controlled algorithms for targeting.

Those days, however, may be numbered.

Google to allow removal of counterfeit goods from search results

Google is now allowing users to report counterfeit goods within the organic/free Google search results for removal. This works similar to the DMCA process, where you can request removal of stolen copyrighted content from Google’s search results.

What are counterfeit goods? Google Ads already prohibits such products from being advertised on Google and it describes counterfeit goods as goods that “contain a trademark or logo that is identical to or substantially indistinguishable from the trademark of another. They mimic the brand features of the product in an attempt to pass themselves off as a genuine product of the brand owner. “

A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that this policy only applies to counterfeits. This does not apply to non-counterfeit forms of trademark infringement.

🗣 Social

Pinterest Shows Shoppable Pins in Visual Search Results

Pinterest is enhancing its Lens camera search functionality with a new ‘shop’ tab in search results full of shoppable pins.

Lens is a feature built into the Pinterest app that allows users to search for a specific item by taking a picture of it.

Simply take a photo and Pinterest will return a set of search results with similar-looking items. Users can also upload photos from their camera roll.

Lens search results were previously limited to regular pins, which means they may or may not have linked to a product that could be purchased.

Now, people with purchase intent can conduct a Lens search and immediately find something similar to buy, or maybe even find the exact same item.

Fashion and home decor retailers may have another product feed to manage.

Snapchat redesigns its app with new action bar | TechCrunch

Starting today, you can tap on your favorite places and view some information, such as the address, hours of operation and reviews from TripAdvisor and Foursquare. In the U.S., users can also tap on a button to order food using Postmates, DoorDash and Uber Eats.

This represents a new revenue opportunity for Snap as well. Local businesses will be able to buy ads on Snap Map to highlight their bar, restaurant and business.

Instagram: You Probably Need Permission Before Embedding Posts

Remember that case a while back where a photographer lost her copyright claim by posting a photo on Instagram? Long story short, Mashable asked a photographer for her permission to use one of her Instagram photos in an article.

The photographer said no, but Mashable embedded the photo instead. The photographer sued, but lost, with the judge saying that she granted Instagram the right to sublicense her photograph to other Instagram users, and “Instagram validly exercised that right by granting Mashable a sublicense” to display it.

However, according to an Instagram statement in a recent Ars Technica report, it’s probably best for websites to get permission before embedding people’s photographs, as Instagram apparently doesn’t sublicense embeds.

“While our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API. Our platform policies require third parties to have the necessary rights from applicable rights holders. This includes ensuring they have a license to share this content if a license is required by law.”

Several weeks back, I covered the outcome between the photographer’s legal case against Mashable. Well, it turns out the story isn’t over.

Facebook/Instagram has really become Switzerland lately.

📈 Reporting & Revenue

Landing Page Conversion Rates by Industry | Charts

The median conversion rate across all landing pages examined by the researchers was 3.2%. However, that rate varied significantly among industries.

This is a study of Unbounce pages, which by their nature would have a stronger conversion-focus than most landing pages. However, if you are curious about your industry, this might provide a nice top-end guide.

🛍 Marketplace

Amazon to Face Antitrust Charges From EU Over Treatment of Third-Party Sellers - WSJ

The European Union is planning formal antitrust charges against Amazon.com Inc. over its treatment of third-party sellers, according to people familiar with the matter, expanding the bloc’s efforts to rein in the alleged abuses of power by a handful of large U.S. technology companies.

I’ve mentioned before, I truly don’t know what to make of Amazon’s blatant rip-offs of high performing products in their marketplace. On one hand, it feels like every other big box retailer. On the other hand, there is something different about Amazon doing it. I just can’t put my finger on it. It will be interesting to follow this story to see how regulators approach it.

👋 Holla!

Questions, comments, inquiries? I’d love to hear from you! Email newsletter@robbettis.com.