We all know that tracking conversions is crucial to optimizing PPC campaigns. But almost all conversion tracking mechanisms – including the ones used by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and most site analytics packages – are flawed in an important way.
Frequently a conversion happens after the customer has visited the site more than once. This is especially true for sites that sell high-priced consumer goods, or complex technical solutions. The first visit may have been elicited by a PPC ad, resulting from a broad search query like “digital cameras,” or a banner ad on a content network. Subsequent visits may result from clicks on natural search results, and/or PPC ads that are displayed as a result of progressively more-specific search terms.
The final conversion often happens following a brand- or site-specific search on a query like “Buy EOS Rebel XSi EF-S” or “B&H Photo.” But here’s the problem: the conversion is attributed to the most recent site visit. So the keyword that results in the ultimate conversion is highly valued by the PPC advertiser, all previous visits are disregarded, and the PPC keywords that elicited those earlier visits are undervalued.
This can lead to self-defeating bid management; the broad terms that send potential buyers to the site receive low bid prices, or worse, are shut off, since they don’t seem to be resulting in conversions. This short-sightedness afflicts advertisers using manual bid management strategies as well as most automated bid management software available.
Former Google employee Adam Goldberg is trying to lead the charge toward remedying this serious defficiency industry-wide. His company, ClearSaleing, offers analytics technology that lets advertisers track all of the site visits that lead up to the conversion, and attribute value to each action in the path.
That’s why today’s Search Marketing Now webcast, “Measuring an Ad’s Value: A Forum Discussion,” is a must-attend. Adam will lead a forum discussion intended to, in Adam’s words:
“…bring together the online marketing and advertising minds to work together as a community to help collectively identify, evaluate, vet and ultimately recommend the best attribution valuation practices and methodologies.”
We share Adam’s hope that the discussion will lead to better analytical tools from the search engines, and better bid management tools, that will incorporate attribution management that enables advertisers to make fully-informed ad investment decisions.
We’ll be participating in today’s forum, and we hope you will be, too.