Supporting a Global Brand Campaign with Paid Search – part 2

For this column I thought a lot about how we set up our campaigns for tracking and optimization, as well as the launch and rollout process itself. I think there are a few parts of this that could be instructional for most marketers. I like it when others can learn from my mistakes J

Last month we took a look at how to plan, budget and organize around a Global Brand Campaign with paid search. Now I’d like to walk you through the launch process and talk a little bit about how you’ll need to set your campaigns up for tracking and optimization. Hopefully my experience will serve you in an instructional way so when the time comes, you will be equipped to execute flawlessly.

Tracking: Optimization vs. Analysis

Just a reminder, the goal of the brand campaign is to drive deeper engagement with Yahoo! products and services. In looking at how to execute on this, it became clear that the extent to which your site is (or isn’t) instrumented with web analytics support will dictate the amount of near-real-time campaign data you will be able to collect, and the degree to which you will be able to optimize your campaign. In our case we faced some really interesting challenges on this front, which forced us to split our world of data into two distinct halves – data we use to analyze overall results, and data we use to optimize the campaign.

In order to gather data that we can use to optimize our campaigns in near-real-time, we tagged a set of actions on our sites that we thought were good indicators of engagement – everything from page views on marketing microsites, to primary and secondary calls to action, on to to harder conversions like homepage sets (‘set my homepage to Yahoo!’) and downloads of the Yahoo! toolbar. Now comes the hard part (only since I’m a direct response marketer from way back). Because none of these events drive direct revenue, we had to look at all the conversions we tagged, and assign them values. We opted for a points system that would consider the relative engagement value of each of these conversions, so we could optimize our campaign to user engagement.

In order to evaluate the success of the campaign ongoing, we realized that we could leverage the awesome volume of data we collect on a regular basis. This process is much more post hoc (looking back) and not necessarily actionable, but for showing our success to upper management we decided this was the best route to take. More details on this in our next column.

Ready to Launch

Now that you know how you’re going to collect your conversion data, you have all your campaigns built out for each market (we covered this last month), it’s time to plan the launch. Naturally, you’ll want to launch SEM when the other media launches in each market. You’ll take your media flighting calendar, sit down with your agency, and work on a rollout plan that will synchronize your launches with in-market media across the globe. Not so fast. In our case we were doing our first launch, in the US, on a Monday morning at 12:01 a.m. EDT. Since I’m on the west coast, that meant 9:01 p.m. Sunday night. We set everything up for launch on Sunday night and naturally I got on my computer at the same time to look for our ads. Nothing. I started pinging our agency in a small panic – turns out we were having problems with the ads. Needless to say it was a late night and we spent quite a bit of time working through the issues with various parties.

We learned from this experience quickly and when it came time to launch in the UK and India markets the following week, we got a little smarter. Rather than launching on Sunday afternoon/evening, we set all our campaigns up and did what I called a ‘QA launch’ on Friday. We turned our budgets way down and flipped everything on. This way we could quickly identify and fix problems so that by Sunday, when the rest of the media went live, all we had to do was change our campaign budgets. No late nights, no lengthy calls with the engines. Beautiful. Looking back on this I really should have known better. Having executed countless launches in the past, I wouldn’t normally try to pull this off outside of normal business hours when search engine account managers are not standing by. Live and learn, I say.

That’s all for this month. Tune in next month when we look closely at what to do once your campaign is up and running, namely optimization and reporting.

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