4ppcAccording to Digital Marketing Depot’s report PPC Campaign Management Tools in the Facebook Era (2. Edition), paid search is growing faster than display with a 12% higher growth rate, and nearly three quarters of agencies said that their clients run PPC campaigns on Facebook.

The market intelligence report provides marketers with a lot of useful questions they should be asking themselves and potential vendors of PPC Campaign Management Tools, in order to chose the solution best for their company.

Here’s a summary, hope it comes in useful.

The Pros and Cons of PPC Campaign Automation

Increased productivity and improved campaign performance: By freeing up time once spent on manual tasks, search marketers can work on creative aspects of their campaigns, such as testing ads or landing pages, and other ‘human’ elements that go into a successful campaign. Paid search technology is built to optimize bidding, increasing performance through a more intelligent allocation of dollars. However, there is no guarantee that automation will improve campaign performance; thus advertisers need to carefully evaluate tools to find the best fit and the one they agree will not only improve campaign performance but also increase efficiency.

Streamlined reporting: Reporting functions and capabilities are built into most PPC tools, reducing the amount of time spent on manual reporting. Automated reporting can be a huge benefit for both agencies that must report back to multiple clients with different needs, and for marketers who create internal reports across an organization.

Scalability: Many marketers find that their PPC programs are growing and becoming more time consuming as well as less efficient without automating manual tasks. Most platforms are built to handle the uploading and management of millions of keywords across the search engines.

Buy vs. Build: Enterprise-level advertisers must make the “buy vs. build” decision. If a custom solution is needed, does it make more sense to build it in house or engage a third-party tool that will meet most if not all campaign requirements? Larger companies must also consider the issue of data control – are they comfortable with a third party having access to their data? While homegrown solutions are highly customized, they are typically expensive to maintain. Ad formats, search engine requirements and tracking methods are updated frequently, forcing internal teams to struggle to keep pace with industry innovation. Workloads can proliferate to unmanageable levels when having to support site links, product extensions, retargeting and building Facebook and other social marketing tools in addition to managing ad groups, ad copy, keyword lists, and bids.

Fees and pricing: Because of the increasingly complex nature of data integration and the varying levels of service required, few vendors publish their fee structures. However, it is typically based on a percentage of ad spend, with the percentage decreasing as the spend increases.

Evaluating your PPC campaign needs

If you’re uncertain whether or not it’s time to automate, here are a few questions to help evaluate your PPC campaign needs:

  • Are you running large, complex campaigns – with many account keywords that get clicks? Automation may not be necessary for search marketers with 100,000 keywords, where only 300 account for the lion’s share of revenue. But a campaign management tool will increase efficiency for marketers that have 40,000 keywords that get clicks, which is very likely for a retailer or reseller with many stock-keeping units (SKUs).
  • Does offline data need to be integrated into SEM strategy? For example, a product’s profit margin may vary based on vendor and/or sale price. A typical pixel/cookie doesn’t show profit and can’t track returns or cancellations at a keyword level. An automated tool could upload this information and allow you to bid based on actual profit, not just the marker on the “thank-you” page. With back-end complexity like this, there’s value in campaign automation.
  • Should business rules be factored into decisions? If items are in or out of stock, or if a retailer’s stores close early on Fridays, a campaign tool can automate that process so you can pause those keywords as needed.
  • Are reporting needs complex and/or ongoing? When marketing staff or agency clients have requests for specific reports and ongoing reporting needs, campaign management tools can automate these reports across all the major search engines and Facebook.
  • Are you spending more time ‘doing the math’ than running a campaign? If you find yourself with no time to manage creative, or evaluate overall campaign performance, it might be time to automate.

Once the decision has been made to automate – and before choosing a PPC campaign management vendor – conduct a self-assessment of your internal marketing and engineering staff’s level of knowledge and competence about your company’s paid search strategy and tactics.

Also consider how and if you want to integrate display advertising campaigns, and if more internal alignment will be required across teams.

Questions to ask potential vendors when choosing PPC Campaign Management Software

It is a good thing to be well prepared when evaluating different vendors, so here are some of the questions you should consider asking those offering PPC campaign management tools:

  1. How are you different from other vendors? (What should I ask your competitors?)
  2. How difficult is integration and dis-integration?
  3. What do you offer beyond bid management? What type of bid optimization does the tool use? Do I have full transparency into bid recommendations?
  4. Does your system support my specific business objectives (branding, revenue, margin, profit, etc.)? Do you have other clients in my vertical?
  5. With which search engines, social platforms and display partners do you work?
  6. How do you handle on-site analytics and SEO? (Through API integration, pixel tracking, etc.);
  7. How do you handle returns/offline transactions/other special needs?
  8. What conversion attribution model do you use?
  9. you work with international search engines and support multi-byte character sets?
  10. Pricing: Are there additional fees (consulting, add-on features, API quotas)?
  11. Do you offer a free trial?
  12. Who pays if your system/team makes an error?
  13. Who will be the day-to-day contact?
  14. What is the minimum contract length? Is there a short-term contract or an ‘out’ clause if things don’t work out?
  15. Can you provide references, preferably companies similar to mine?

The report goes on to provide 10 vendor profiles, so if this has gotten you interested, the full report is available at www.digitalmarketingdepot.com.

By MediaBUZZ