Understanding the Complexities of Paid Search Marketing

ANYONE WHO CLAIMS that paid search advertising is easy is misguided. Sure, at its core, the components that make up a paid search campaign are easy to assemble – campaigns>ad groups>keywords>text ads>landing pages. Organizing an account for Quality Score, effectiveness and efficiency is easy however paid search is much more than the sum if its parts.

Adding organization of the components in a logical manner to budgeting, geo-targeting, bidding, testing, competition etc, and paid search advertising starts to become a very complex system to manage and control. There is a way to think about all this that can help you dance through your day as a paid search manager a bit easier and it begins by thinking in systems.

The Paid Search Dance

In 2001, the late Donella Meadows published an article Dancing with Systems about her journey towards understanding systems. Dancing with Systems is a 14 step approach to learning how to develop your own way of working within any type of system – paid search included. The 14 steps for consideration are:

1. Get the beat.
2. Listen to the wisdom of the system.
3. Expose your mental models to the open air.
4. Stay humble. Stay a learner.
5. Honor and protect information.
6. Locate responsibility in the system.
7. Make feedback policies for feedback systems.
8. Pay attention to what is important, not just what is quantifiable.
9. Go for the good of the whole.
10. Expand time horizons.
11. Expand thought horizons.
12. Expand the boundary of caring.
13. Celebrate complexity.
14. Hold fast to the goal of goodness.

As it relates to paid search, I’ve often thought that there is a certain rhythm, or beat, to managing ppc accounts on a daily basis. I’ve written about the idea of listening to keywords and letting them tell you their story. If you watch, listen and learn you will know what to expect from certain parts of the system and can prioritize work based on that knowledge.

It is also wise to approach each day and learn something and share what you learn not only with your immediate co-workers, but also with your clients. Like it or not, you are not isolated – everyone who touches a keyword is a part of the greater, global paid search system. It is irresponsible to withhold information and doing so will come back to haunt you in the long-term. Collaboration and sharing of ideas and results, good or bad, will help grow paid search advertising efforts.

Paid search advertising has the chance to be an increasingly powerful marketing tool, but it also has the ability to make 95% of the users look like used car salesmen. Understanding the implications of how your approach to paid search both benefits and degrades the greater system is critical to its sustainability.


Thinking in Systems: A Primer


Matt LeVeque is the Service Product Manager at Monetate. He is a Senior Member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and recently completed Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business Certificate in Customer Experience Program. He is a Registered Yoga Teacher, an avid cyclist and recommends living by Velominati Rule #6 - Free your mind and your legs will follow.

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