Season 2 | Episode 7

Cross-Channel Paid Search Strategies

While Google dominates search engines in terms of market share, your paid search strategy shouldn’t end there.

There are many opportunities to integrate various engines, ad platforms, and bid management tools into your strategy.

Listen as host Kelly Mancuso, along with Anna Swinyer, Oliver Brantley, and Jenn Vickery, delve into the role of non-traditional search platforms and how to drive success across platforms.

It’s never too early or late in the day to enjoy this episode with a cup of coffee in-hand!

Kelly: Welcome to Paid Media Coffee. I'm Kelly Mancuso. And today we're talking about the importance of having a cross channel paid search strategy. Today to talk to me about this topic, I have Anna Swinyer, Oliver Brantley, and Jenn Vickery. 

Welcome to the show, everyone.

Jenn: Thanks.

Oliver: Thanks for having us.

Anna: Thank you.

Kelly: All right. I do want to set the stage before we get into this because I realized that the term cross channel search could actually mean a lot of things. To set expectations, in this episode we are going to be talking about cross channel search as a way to explore things like the differences in the two search engines in ad platforms, including some non-traditional search engines.

We'll also be talking about developing a more cohesive strategy across the different search engines and then also how we can use search data to benefit or inform other non-search paid media channels. So, we'll be covering a number of different things here. All right, to start off, I know, we talk a lot about Google Ads.

I think because the majority of the market share is with Google, but a lot of advertisers have you know, strong performance across both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads, as well. For you, at what point in developing or running a paid search account, are you thinking about expanding beyond Google?

Anna: Step one is when you're rolling out search campaigns, look at Google, Google Trends and see where that's going. But I think a lot of times with advertisers, they can forget about Microsoft in a sense. You know, it does have 20%, if not more now, of the market share for search. It does play a big factor, and it also has different strengths than Google, right?

Google's a great way to step into paid search and really garner the broader audience of what's going on in the paid search industry world that we are in. But Microsoft has different touchpoints that they can use, as well. Especially now with their new features that they have with LinkedIn and things like that, that I know we'll dive into more, but Microsoft, what we've seen with our clients, they generally have a slightly higher household income.

They're slightly older. They might not know as much that they're using the Microsoft search engine world, but that doesn't matter as much. It's a great way to kind of hone in on a different audience in a sense. I've noticed that with my Microsoft audiences, they tend to convert quicker.

I think just because Google allows so many other ways to shop around to keep searching on different things, but I found with my Microsoft queries that they're quicker to convert, and it's less of a path to conversion for them. When I'm talking to my clients about different things between Google and Microsoft, I like Microsoft as a benefit to the search engine strategy as a whole, really.

Oliver: Anna, you bring up a really good point. Microsoft definitely has a different audience in terms of age and maybe household income. And when you think about it, it's a lot of people that are just using the default search engine on Internet Explorer, sorry, Edge now.

But it's mainly just people that are not on a different search engine or have not used a different browser. They're on Edge and then they're using Bing. But then I think on the other side of that, there's also just a ton of people that are really in tune with what they're doing. So, you know, Microsoft search advertising partners are DuckDuckGo and people like Ecosia.

Going through there, there's kind of like this small subset of people who are very in tune with what they're doing on the internet and like how they're searching. They're using a charitable browser or as a search engine, DuckDuckGo, or they're people that don't have as much knowledge.

It's two subsets of kind of the same niche audience that we're running through Microsoft.

Anna: I agree. When I'm thinking about my clients and the strategy that I want to give them... People are searching on Microsoft platforms, right?

If we're only focusing on Google in that space, then you're really limiting your clients to other queries that are out there that competitors can go towards. We do tend to see slightly lower CPCs on Microsoft still because it hasn't quite ramped up that same competitive landscape that we're seeing on Google.

It's a great way to add value to both engines and really have a cohesive search strategy.

Jenn: As you said earlier, Google has about 74% of global search share, but there are still over 60 million searchers not reached by Google. There are a lot of people on Microsoft using Edge. And you were talking earlier about the audiences being slightly different between Google and Bing. Household income tends to be higher.

The sweet spot age range is 35 to 54. If your audience has those demographics, then you might even want to go with the Microsoft first approach if that's where they're searching. Industries that do fairly well on Microsoft would be travel financial services, luxury goods because these target higher incomes and people with disposable incomes.

Anna: I totally agree. And definitely clients that have an older age persona too, that they give to us, we definitely would want to recommend Microsoft. And you know, even for clients that are just interested in trying it out, they've seen great success on Google. They're kind of capping out on impression share and they're ready to explore other avenues, that import parity feature that Microsoft has for Google as well, which is great.

It's less work on our end to simply just crossover our Google campaigns to Microsoft if they're interested in even just testing out the market. 

Oliver: One thing to note is that we talk a lot about Google being kind of the first mover in this space and obviously pioneered search advertising, but Microsoft has a few unique offerings. 

They were the first major mover on image extension, so they had those before Google. And then right now they're currently by owning LinkedIn Share. They're currently offering LinkedIn profile targeting, so it's only on observations.

You can only make bid adjustments and you can't target exclusively based on LinkedIn profile data. But adding that, especially for B2B clients is really valuable, I think.

Anna: Yeah, I totally agree. And then even further than that, with the syndicated partners that Microsoft offers, that's more for an advertiser.

I prefer to run syndicated partners because with Microsoft we can get an actual list of all of the publishers that we are running on syndicated partners. With Google, you're kind of dabbling into like a black box a little bit because they can't tell us. Even further than that, we can exclude certain partners that we don't want to run with Microsoft.

It actually gives us more control.

Kelly: In general, do you typically see stronger performance with Microsoft syndicated partners versus Google's search partners.

Anna: I do. What I like to do is I like to optimize them once a month. I'll check my own report. Sometimes our Microsoft rep, if I don't have time, they'll pull it for us because they're always willing to help us out.

But I optimize that on a monthly cadence where I pull the report, I assess based off of conversion rates and how they're doing. Microsoft will even segment it out with Yahoo and AOL, too, so you can see how they're doing there as well, which is great.

Kelly: Awesome. Anna, earlier you talked about the parity feature with Google and Microsoft.

Let's talk more about streamlining your strategy across the different engines. Obviously there are different nuances in terms of the audiences, ad platforms, which inevitably are going to drive different performance across the platforms. But at the root of your strategy, there does need to be some kind of consistency so you can manage things a little bit better.

But also, so that you're not putting out different messaging and your campaigns are completely different. How are you streamlining your strategies across the different search engines, both in terms of the approach and also from a management perspective?

Anna: I try and keep my campaigns as similar as possible between Google and Microsoft or any other platform that we're using just so it's easier to optimize and it's easier to understand the account and like what's going on from a performance standpoint.

I also try and keep the campaigns themselves going towards the same goals. An easy way for us to do that. a lot of our clients are on Google Analytics and using Google Tag Manager, so it's easy for us to transition to Search Ads 360. That's a great way for us to keep aligned. I also like to talk to my clients, too, about being open to freely moving budget between the engines.

Search Ads 360 or any ad management tool that you're using is a great way to see performance holistically and being able to shift money. Sometimes it happens that Microsoft is doing better on weekdays because more people are in the office and searching on Microsoft on the weekdays, and Google is a great performer on the weekends.

And so using something like Search Ads is a great way to be able to move the funds quicker, and just optimize real-time.

Kelly: You're almost optimizing without even realizing what platform it is. You're just going to where the strongest performance is. 

Oliver: I think that's a really strong case to be made for combining paid search budget splitting them out by branded and unbranded, but definitely not looking at them as a Google budget or a Microsoft budget.

And then, especially if you're using an aggregator, like Search Ads, it's a lot easier to manage that and then optimize, especially if you're making a ton of bulk edits a day, or you're doing various bid management things, that can simplify those across channels really, really, helpful.

Anna: With our bid strategies, we combine our Microsoft keywords in our Google keywords to allow those optimizations to happen between engines too. I think that's really important.

Oliver: One of the big things for us, especially for one of my clients is just making sure that our reporting is consistent across channels.

Use floodlight activities to report on everything. We're already using those for campaign manager, especially to report on programmatic display, adding search into those floodlight tracking as well. So, being able to report on search campaigns based on the same floodlight activities we're using for everything else.

And then now Search Ads 360 is allowing social campaigns to be added, so you can report on those based on floodlight goals as well.

Jenn: To really scale campaigns effectively, you need to be using some sort of bid management platform. Otherwise. I feel like you're either neglecting parts of campaign management or you're throwing too many manual resources at it.

As Oliver mentioned, reporting can be chaotic as well. and really time-consuming if you're pulling from all of these different sources and APIs. Having it condensed into one area really helps to cut down on that reporting and analysis time, too.

Anna: That's very true. And then, you know, even further on both of those points, Oliver, you mentioned that Search Ads is rolling out more capabilities with social.

I mean, there's beyond Search Ads, there are also other platforms as well that we can use. I mentioned Search Ads as good for us just because we have so many clients on Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, but you know, in the past, Kenshoo's always had a good relationship with social platforms and Pinterest especially, I've seen great success with clients that are on there.

Kenshoo and Search Ads 360 are definitely two of the bigger bid management platforms. There's also Adobe. Some clients push for that just because they're using Adobe analytics.

Kelly: The whole suite...

Anna: The whole suite, which I can see from a client-side where that looks better just because it's, like you said, a whole suite and it's all together.

But from an advertising point of view, I haven't really seen their bid strategies be able to do the technology that a Kenshoo that a Search Ads 360 even a Marin has been able to do yet. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Search Ads 360 pairs a lot with Google, so if any beta releases, Search Ads 360 is pretty quick to come to be able to work with that beta as well as Kenshoo.

They typically align a little bit more with Microsoft, so any betas that are coming out with Microsoft, Kenshoo's a great ramp up for that as well. Kenshoo also has an offline editor, which is really great. Adobe just hasn't quite reached these steps yet, which is making it harder as advertisers to buy into the platform.

Oliver: It seems a little bit more catered to reporting and slotting in as part of your larger reporting suite. But yeah, not a full bid management tool. 

Kelly: They do have really strong capabilities from like an overarching portfolio management. So, putting all of your campaigns in and optimizing towards one or overarching goal, with much less manual oversight, I would say.

Then some of the other bid management platforms where you can still be in the platform day to day tinkering with things and making your manual adjustments.

Jenn: Adobe is really expensive, too. I mean, all of these platforms and aggregators come with a cost. You don't need to have, these are not necessary.

There are workarounds if you don't have the resource to invest in a bid management tool.

Kelly: Like what?

Jenn: Like Google scripts. I personally haven't worked within them but I know our team does some really cool stuff, especially with weather triggers, as well as different, bidding triggers.

And that helps us solve some of that automation issue and that tedious manual work that a bid management tool would help solve.

Kelly: Also a Microsoft, you can use scripts with them, too, so you can create a cohesive strategy there and carry over some of that automation that you mentioned.

Oliver: And you can theoretically, and Anna, correct me if I'm wrong, you could theoretically set an automatic import from Google every day into Microsoft if you wanted to maintain parity between any like bid adjustments you made in Google.

Kelly: Yeah. But do you guys necessarily recommend that? 

Oliver: No. Like just something you could do. I mean, if you, if you were in a situation where you needed to for some reason, you could, or any budget changes or something. But yeah, I mean, generally those bid recommendations are going to be engine specific.

Carrying them over isn't necessarily the best form of parity. If you made ad changes or something in Google on a day to day basis or keyword changes, you could import those to Microsoft really quickly.

Kelly: Cool. Something that we haven't touched on yet are some of the nontraditional search engines, so YouTube, Amazon, etc.

Obviously these are search engines, but I think what's different there is the intent behind it. You know, people use them in much different ways than they do Google or Bing. How are these incorporated into your strategies or how are you thinking about these when you have clients who are advertising across them?

Oliver: With a search engine like Amazon, it's something that we look at quickly. You definitely want to monitor the search results and what the ads look like, but unfortunately, you know, we kind of talked about earlier, sort of the black box environment that some of these things present, like Google and search partners.

But with Amazon, we can't really use their data outside of the Amazon DSP. That's something if you're a large enough advertiser and you can scale that, you can certainly use that data for that. Generally, it's a good place to start in terms of research.

Anna: For sure. And especially, when you're thinking about shopping campaigns in particular for Google and Microsoft, what I like to do when I'm thinking about these nontraditional search platforms and these ad formats is think about them differently, right? I mean, if somebody is going to gravitate towards an image and a certain product, they're probably going to naturally look for something different in the tech side if they're going to keep scrolling down the page. 

What I like to do is really focus on my feeds. Being most up to date with what's going on in my product sphere, and making sure that my product groups are optimized as best as possible.

But when I'm looking at my text ads, how I like to marry the two is maybe make those more like category-specific and driving to different pages, where the user can search around a little bit more and shop more on the site versus like a shopping image ad obviously would be directly to the product and they want to check out as soon as possible.

Kelly: It's interesting that you bring up shopping because you know, it is the same SERP that your text is showing on. But again, the intent is so different. People are using them in such different ways and the actions that they take, the clicking on each one inevitably is different.

Anna: I've even seen, too, you know, shopping campaigns will be potentially on a different bid strategy, even on a different bid management tool then your text ads. There are different ways that you can take it because they can play together obviously, but they do have different performance metrics and performance. Like CPCs are drastically different.

Oliver: There's definitely different expectations I think, as a consumer for what the top of the screen should look like.

When you're looking for something like running shoes and looking at PLS versus what text ads should look like versus if you're looking for  B2B enterprise software or something.

Kelly: PLA's old school term.

Oliver: Old school terms. Product listing ads. Yeah. I don't really know if those exist in the same way.

I think they're now just some conglomerate of Shopping Ads, but I mean, the general category I think could still be called PLAs. I'm gonna stand by it.

Anna: I support it.

Jenn: He's a PLA purest over here. I think a really interesting space is voice. Discoverability is still a huge issue for third-party app developers.

There are now over a hundred thousand skills in the Alexa store and the voice space is interesting because not only do we have a black box, as Oliver said earlier, but we have to think multimodal too. When people are searching for a smart speaker. They could be using an Amazon Echo show that also has a screen.

When they're searching, you have to think about, okay, what sort of visual aspects can I have? But also, if they don't have a screen, what sort of audio presence should you have? And you really have to think about it in different ways and think about how people are using smart speakers and what their intent is, and how you get in front of them.

Kelly: There aren't too many ways that we can put ads, in response to some of those queries currently. But what we can do is leverage that search query data that, if we're bidding on ads that are being triggered by those voice searches, we can look at that and then share that with the Organic SEO team and, and help them optimize or, you know, optimize our chatbots strategy or whatnot. So definitely ways to leverage that data regardless. And, you know, you need to definitely stay on top of it.

Oliver: We're entering a very interesting few years here when monetization of voice becomes a thing because I mean, it's happening.

Search results are going to get monetized on smart speakers. Figuring out how that happens. And if that happens quickly, where suddenly we just accept that as just like a part of our day to day lives, or if it's going to be a very slow thing that rolls out, you know, with, you know, huge advertisers first.

I don’t know, but it'll be interesting to see how that plays out.

Anna: Tying that back into what we can see now, in our search campaigns are looking at those queries, like you mentioned, Kelly, and being that facilitator to the client and telling them, Hey, this is the kind of content that people are looking for.

This is the kind of thing that people are questioning on Google or Microsoft or any other engine. How can we set up our clients best for success for the content on their pages when this monetization starts to roll out?

Oliver: That's an interesting thing I think that any advertiser can do right now is just take a search terms report and filter it for any queries that contain Google or Alexa and you can see how people are interacting with your brand's content from a voice perspective.

Anna: I like to bucket them, too. When I look up the search terms, I filter by like how or can or when, or something like that. And then I'll take, sometimes I have enough volume or I'll even bucket them into like a questions ad group or something like that so you can communicate with them a little bit better.

Kelly: Interesting.

We talked about sharing that data with the SEO teams and you know, with clients, but what are some other ways that we can leverage search data to benefit other channels? What kind of data are you sharing or how are you guys working with other teams to perhaps communicate performance of other channels?

Oliver: From a really high-level perspective, looking at the media team and the search team for programmatic display campaigns or OTT campaigns where you may not have the same direct response features. You can use branded search volume as an indicator of uplift from those.

You can look at the time period, the ads were running and then see how much of an increase you drove in search volume. That's one really interesting thing that we've done for a few different clients.

Anna: Yeah. I think too, on top of that, the content that's being shown in these campaigns, or like whether it's a video or it's a banner ad or something like that.

I've noticed when my clients are showing an incentive that sometimes people start searching them. That's also an interesting thing to kind of play on. When you see a video that's showing like $100 off or a certain kind of gift card or a promo on a certain maybe line of service. Sometimes I'll see those queries start to trickle in, too.

It's really cool to see that and you can see the uplift and you can report on it, but then also how do we capitalize that on search as well? And how do we garner those queries and put them into keywords and give them messaging because we know that they're looking for it? Really real-time pulling in that cross channel is important as well.

Jenn: Yeah, that's a good point. I think also syncing with your SEO strategy is a no brainer. If you see that a few keywords are just way too competitive, too expensive, that's an area where you can sync with SEO and see if they can compete that way and vice versa. I know we've done that for clients in the past with just making sure our entire keyword strategy from SEO and paid media are aligned.

Kelly: And something we talked about with a client today, kind of on the other, on the opposite end of that is, they are about to launch a new website. And so obviously there are organic and SEO implications of that. And, you know, we're going to try and mitigate any losses that they see there, but in the meantime, we can increase our paid budgets to make sure that we have maximum presence on the SERP, or as maximum as possible while they're kind of going through that shift. 

Oliver: A lot of interesting studies that we've done and then I've seen, you know, in terms of industry case studies or the uplift that comes from having the paid a top spot and then the organic top spot, you know, the kind of share voice that, that gives you is, is really significant.

Jenn: Right.

I think you can also get content ideas from search queries. What are the most popular ways that people are getting to your site? Like Anna said earlier, there are a lot of question type queries, so take the content from that and see how you can build out some helpful resources. That you should start showing up for both, paid ads and on an organic perspective.

Oliver: I think definitely knowing how people are searching for things, because you know, at the end of the day we were pretty good at figuring out what they're searching for. Figuring out how they're searching for them can really help elevate our search strategies.

Kelly: Great ideas.

Jenn: Another thing that we've done with clients is synching up to a CRM system and pushing that keyword data into a Salesforce, for example. That the salesperson has some sort of background or context and a starting point to what the person that they're going to be talking to is actually searching and that just helps to frame the conversation. You're not starting over from the beginning.

And I know that's helped some of our clients have more meaningful conversations.

Kelly: Yeah, that's a great idea.

Oliver: And from just the user experience of that is great. It's a lot easier if you feel like the brand that you're talking to already has an idea of what you're looking for and can kind of start from square two instead of square one.

Anna: No, definitely. Something else that we haven't really touched on yet is a GDN, Google Display Network. So kind of flipping it a little bit, but what we've seen work really well is using Google Display Network as a remarketing tool as well, along parallel with our search campaigns. That way we can kind of keep them in the realm thinking about our client and the brand, and what they're doing, not only on search.

We found that being really successful by looping both those platforms together and then kind of maintaining them and thinking about the brand top of mind. 

Oliver: If you had video content, it's kind of staying within the Google ecosystem.

You can use your YouTube ads to target product searches or related queries and help find in market or high intent users, especially if you have the content that makes sense to serve before the video that they were looking for.

Kelly: I think that's a really great capability that Google has rolled out.

The ability to target people who have searched specific keywords on Google search, and then as they're conducting research on YouTube, target them again. I would love for them to roll that out on just regular Google Display Network as well, because, it's kind of like that search free targeting capability.

I know there are some other platforms that have similar features to that. Oliver, do you want to...

Oliver: One vendor that we've kind of had some exploratory talks with and have a little bit of experience from in the past is Captify. They have a variety of partners that own website search traffic, so just searches happening on an individual website and not a search engine that aggregates third-party resources. but one of those, and it takes, search data from all of their search partners and to identify users with intent and then target them with programmatic display ads. It kind of combines search, but search in a different way, and then hopefully aggregates one user’s last three months or something of search data to get a pretty good idea of what they're in market for, what they've been searching for it, and kind of what looking for on, say, an e-commerce site that they're shopping on.

Kelly: Cool. All right. Well, I feel like we've covered a lot here. Thank you guys for joining me today.

Jenn: It was fun.

Oliver: Thank you. Thank you.

Kelly: Awesome. Well if you as listeners have any questions at all, please feel free to email us at and you can also leave us a review wherever you listen to podcasts and subscribe as well.

And our next episode is going to be focused on story-based paid social advertising. We'll cover Instagram, Snapchat, and a little bit of Tik-Tok as well. Thanks for listening and we will see you next time.

Posted by Paid Media Coffee on April 10, 2020


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