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Friday, January 27, 2023

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Enhanced Brand Keyword Ads = Industrial Strength SEM

Are you still arguing with your management about whether you should buy your brand keywords or not? Good news for you: I’m here to make sure you have two more good reasons to go ahead and buy that brand and feel good about it.

A few months ago I wrote about how advertisers should think about buying their brand keywords on search engines. Since then I have been happily buying a number of brand keywords and can safely say I’m delighted by the fact that there are now several viable enhanced ad products offered by the major search engines that can bring absolute joy to the open-minded search marketer who loves traffic from brand keywords.

Let me give you a brief summary of what’s out there before I further extol the virtues of these enhanced ad products for brand keywords.

Google ad sitelinks

Google offers a nice new ad product for brand keywords that is an extension of its Sitelinks product. As you may know, Sitelinks appear in the algorithmic listings and are set up by Google. Websites can opt out, but have little control over the links themselves beyond “blocking” individual Sitelinks that Google has generated via the Webmaster Tools console.

However, there is now a new product available for advertisers, so-called Ad Sitelinks. This product gives advertisers more control over their AdWords ads that show when their brand terms are searched. Advertisers can add up to four links at a time with tracking URLs. Ads have to be white-listed by Google weekly for inclusion. I would assume that over time Google may expand the Ad Sitelinks program to include a richer feature set, but for now the unit exists and operates very efficiently. This is Dell’s Ad Sitelinks unit as an example:

Sitelinks_Dell

Rich ads in search (RAIS) from Yahoo

RAIS was designed specifically for brand owners as a way to showcase their products to brand searchers. The RAIS unit allows advertisers to put in multiple trackable links on the ad, directing users to specific calls to action. This is great because advertisers can choose how commercial they want the ads to be. Some advertisers go completely direct-response, while others provide links for existing customers, like login links or customer service links.

In addition to the links, advertisers can also include video assets such as product demos or 30-second commercials. The big bonus here is that when a user clicks on a video asset to watch it, the video expands in the unit and renders right there on the search result page, temporarily pushing all the other ads down at or below the fold. Perfect if you want to showcase your company or product via video. Another nice feature RAIS offers is the ability for an advertiser to put a drop down menu or even a search box into the RAIS unit itself, giving users the ability to drill into your site in a self-guided way. This is what our RAIS unit looks like for our Toolbar product.

Yahoo Toolbar RAIS screenshot

How they perform

What does this mean to you, the search marketer? I can tell you empirically what we, as an advertiser, are seeing as a direct result of using these products. As you can imagine, your results will vary depending on how commercial or acquisition-focused your ads are. For us, as you can see from the screenshot above, the ad headline is primarily direct-response focused (“Download Yahoo! Toolbar”), but we also mixed in more educational messaging in the ad itself (“Learn about Toolbar Apps”). The results of using these products have been nothing short of spectacular. Because the ad units are more complex, and the links more varied and numerous, we typically see conversion rates dip in a small but noticeable way. However, the dramatic increase in clickthrough rates on these ads and the resulting increase in conversions more than compensate for this by driving additional profit to the bottom line.

Before you get started, here are a few tips for managing these new ad products:

  • Start with your main brand term. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself—these ad units don’t behave like the keywords ads you’re used to.
  • Be open-minded but cautious. Be willing to increase your bids to get traffic, even if it means paying a higher CPC than you’re used to. With some of these systems you need to outbid your previous brand term ads in order to get volume. Don’t panic, your results should still be fantastic.
  • Be ready to test different elements in your ads. Once you have a handle on performance, try altering your links and assets based on what you’re seeing. Tinker with it until you think you have the right balance, then tinker some more!
  • Add “other” brand terms, but create different ads for different terms. For example, we have a different ad unit for “yahoo toolbar” than we do for “yahoo.”
  • Differentiate from your organic listings. I’ve found that we get the best results when we have a different tone and call to action between the two listings.

Still not convinced you should be buying your brand keywords? Take a run at RAIS and Ad Sitelinks before you turn your back on this lucrative traffic source. Also, tune in next month when I take a deeper, data-driven look into the eternal paid vs. organic debate. Until then, happy searching!


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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