Guest Blogger: Miva on Content Advertising

Many thanks to the author, Miva’s Chrysi Philalithes, and Miva’s Tiffany Guarnaccia, Marketing & Communications Manager, for reprint of this article:

4 Pay-Per-Click Strategies that Win

With contextual pay-per-click ads, reach your potential customers where it counts: on content sites.

As the pay-per-click (PPC) ad market continues to mature, the ways in which the ad channel is perceived and used also evolves. There are two particular areas that are currently major talking points. First, how PPC is being increasingly used as a branding tool, and secondly, how advertisers can start to more effectively tap into the contextual PPC networks.

In today’s market, referring to PPC advertising as “search marketing” simply doesn’t paint the complete picture. A recent study by eMarketer revealed that in 2007, advertisers will spend around 13 percent of their online ad budgets on contextual ads compared to 43 with on paid search ads. Couple this with the fact that an estimated 45 percent of people’s time online is spent on content sites compared to just 4.7 percent spent actually conducting searches and you start to realize the central role contextual advertising plays in the online mix.

As the spotlight shifts onto the contextual networks, marketers need to ask themselves: What are the different rules of engagement between contextual PPC ads and search marketing? And how should contextual campaigns be integrated with search campaigns to deliver ROI and help increase brand awareness?

One size doesn’t fit all
Taking the same keywords and ads that you use on AdWords, placing them on other PPC networks and waiting for the conversions to pour in simply won’t deliver results. One of the key points to remember is that with the contextual networks, you are likely to be reaching people at a different stage in the buying or consideration process.

People are not searching specifically for your product or service; rather they are consuming related content. As a result, your ads need to create a real cut-through to drive clicks. From an ad copy perspective, special offers and promotions become arguably more important than on the search networks as does instilling a sense of urgency through the inclusion of time-sensitive elements in your copy. Your objective should be to use your ads to leverage the interest built up through the content of the web page, and in turn steer people from consideration to purchase.

Keyword planning
When it comes to keyword planning there are a number of differences between search and contextual networks. On the search networks, the key is not to think in terms of industry jargon, but rather to put yourself in the mindset of your potential customers. How would they be searching for your brand online? Those insights should underpin your keyword strategy both for short and long tail terms.

On the contextual networks, many of those same keywords are also important, particularly given that many of the contextual networks will also include a proportion of search traffic. But in addition, you need to think about how your product or service is actually positioned online. Remember that on the contextual networks, your ads will, in the main, be displayed on the basis of how your keywords relate to site content rather than specific typed-in search queries. As such, you should research how journalists and bloggers are referring to your sector online. These insights should help you build out your keyword portfolio.

Another important point to remember when it comes to keyword planning is that terms at the very tail of the traditional search curve will generate far less traffic on the contextual networks. Generic terms become increasingly important as a result and can typically be acquired at a lower cost than on the search networks.

Think about your bidding strategies
The importance of appearing on the first page of search results has been drummed into us since the early days of the internet. The same is true on the contextual networks, only even more so. By definition, contextual results appear on pages that will typically include other content. What this means is that site real estate on these pages will generally be at more of a premium than on traditional search listings. As a result, contextual implementations may include as few as two or three ads, meaning that by not bidding for the top positions, you will considerably decrease the volume of traffic you receive. Recent analysis from across MIVA’s network revealed that 94 percent of clicks come from ads in the top three positions in listings.

Optimize for success
Content changes, and these changes can result in considerable variation in the volume of traffic your ads generate from day to day, and in turn, the volume of clicks you receive. As a result, regular optimization is required to get the most out of your contextual campaigns.

This optimization should focus not only on reviewing the success of ongoing campaigns, but also looking at breaking news stories and how these stories can be effectively leveraged to increase traffic.

The immediacy of PPC means that as stories relating to your product or service break, you can optimize campaigns to help ensure it is your ads rather than your competitors’ that are associated with those stories. For big brands this approach helps drive category ownership; for smaller brands it helps you punch considerably above your weight in marketing terms.

With contextual PPC ads, you are reaching your potential customers where they spend most of their time on the web: on content sites. And with 13 percent of budgets in an expanding and increasingly competitive online advertising market being spent on these ads, the question you have to ask yourself is not just what opportunities contextual advertising can offer, but what are the risks to your brand if you don’t get involved?

Chrysi Philalithes, VP Global Marketing & Communications, MIVA. Read full bio.