Many SEM firms develop automated bid management systems and sell their clients on the benefits of propriety technology that claims to maximize ROI. They compound this fallacy by running in broad match and using the keyword insertion feature to run thousands or tens of thousands of keywords in a campaign that has a dozen generic text adds and perhaps as many landing pages. This approach drives hefty PPC management fees, but doesn’t deliver the results that a well managed campaign is capable of producing.
Search users are becoming more experienced every day and their behavior is changing to reflect that. While it is certainly nice to be able to afford the luxury of having the top ranked site in PPC, it isn’t necessary. What’s necessary is having highly targeted keywords that are grouped by intent and are paired with relevant creatives that match that intent.
Take a search for “calendar printing templates” on adwords. Ten ads appear for “calendar printing”, yet none of them mention templates in the title. Only one of the ten mentions templates in the creative and none of them take you to a template page.
An algorithmically managed campaign would start in the first position and gradually move further and further down, trying to find the ROI sweet spot, never recognizing that the problem was a disconnect between the keyword intent and the creative/landing page content. It may appear to be prohibitively expensive to advertise in the top slot to give away a free template, but a well managed campaign would match the intent of the searcher with the keyword, develop a targeted creative and generate tons of traffic to their template page while paying a low CPC in the right hand sidebar.
Brandt Dainow published his 2007 study of CTR versus position, analyzing 500,000 impressions with over 40,000 clicks from 2002 to 2006. His conclusion:
“In my view the world has moved on– there’s no need to bid for top positions any more, any first page position will do. What’s important is the words you place in the ad itself. at PPC, but the ones who exercise the most care and attention to detail.”