In February 2016, Google ended one of its longest running tests ever and ceased running ads on the right side of its search results for desktop users. This change now brings search results in sync with how mobile search results are displayed, which is quickly becoming the largest percentage of Google’s user base.
With the removal of the right-hand side ads, Google increased the possible number of ads at the top of the search engine results page (SERPs for short) to 4 and added up to 4 ads at the bottom of the SERPs as well, while the Google Shopping Product Listing Ads and Knowledge Graphs appear unaffected.
Location Matters! In Both Geography and Search Rank
While many addiction treatment facilities choose to locate in areas of the country that have favorable regulatory, economic, real estate and climate conditions to attract admissions, their competitors are also choosing to locate there as well. This makes location-based advertising significantly more competitive in key markets within the U.S. Therefore, the removal of right-hand ads will decrease the number of possible ad slots available and increase ad prices for those who want to remain competitive within the same geographic markets.
In addition, fewer ad slots means fewer positions in which to compete for high converting key words. This will drive up auction prices for those who want to maintain a consistent click-through rate and keep admissions flowing.
The current positioning of a facility’s paid search ads go a long way in determining the impact that this change will have on its campaigns, with more than 90% of traffic from paid search results coming from the ads at the top of search results.
Who Will Feel the Impact The Most – The Little Guys, That’s Who
Companies in the addiction recovery industry who currently spend less than $50,000 per month for Google Adwords and Bing search campaigns are at the greatest risk of being impacted by Google’s latest change because advanced bid management tools are usually not included in budgets of this size.
Bid management tools allow users of the systems to optimize paid media campaigns based on certain objectives (such as cost-per-click, conversions, or ROI) and then using inputs from Adwords, a company’s information systems, Google and other market sources, the program can make decisions in milliseconds, including if to bid and how much to bid on certain keywords that will maximize a user’s objective.
Businesses with an average paid media budget of $300,000 or more per month will almost certainly have a bid management system in place making this latest Google change less of an issue. Many marketing agencies who aggregate spend of multiple businesses utilize bid management systems, but if you are unsure, reach out to your service provider today to find out more.
Make no mistake, having or implementing a bid management tool will not ensure that your company will be immune to this market change, nor will it allow you to potentially capture any upside due to the market turmoil that will ensue. Why? Because there are fewer clicks to go around, and search ads may get fewer conversions due to the cost per click increase.
How To Stay Competitive On A Budget
- Focus on your consumer intent more than just keywords – Think about what your audience really wants to know and then design content and paid media landing pages that meet their needs so that every click counts. This will improve your quality scores and skyrocket your paid ads to the top of search results at a lower cost than competitors.
How do you do this? Gather and analyze consumer data from your customer relationship management system (CRM), Google Analytics or other available data sources. Segment the audience based on demographics, interests and behavioral patterns and refine your message to speak to your audience. The key is to focus on consumer search intent and the only way to find out what works best for you is to analyze the historical data you collected in the past.
- Diversify your paid media platform – The effectiveness of the search media platforms has dominated the online advertising space for over a decade, but that dominance has begun to fade and new, more effective, and better targeted media outlets can be leveraged to level the playing field for those with austere budgets. Social, display and video advertising is already outpacing search ads in audience targeting functionality and usability and should be considered as key component of your online advertising budget, even to the point of supplementing your search budget if need be.
In addition, combining advertising channels has the added benefit of an exponential effect on overall marketing performance with consumers lending more credibility to those brands they have seen multiple times in different locations.
- Automate and integrate your paid media with your existing systems – As the online marketing space continues to evolve, so do the tools for automation and integration. These software programs keep track of important data points that can change quickly, ensuring real-time analysis of marketing mix performance and attribution models. With up-to-the-minute data from the right automation suite, you can allocate resources appropriately without the cost of additional labor.
Pivot and Prosper
The new Adword changes coupled with continued increasing costs of paid search will continue to shake up the online marketing world, affecting millions of businesses. Don’t stay with the crowd, stay ahead of them, and pivot to new ways of paid media campaign management to keep your campaign competitive while taking advantage of the latest tools and data to automate and integrate your systems to keep your operations nimble and fresh.
Challenges are an opportunity to grow and improve, and Dreamscape Marketing is here to help you break through the barriers of change and excel through transition to new heights.
Call us now to see how we can help you optimize your paid media budget.