Brands who realize the best possible return on their paid search investment do so by differentiating the search experience based on information known about the searcher -- such as location and the device they are using. Until now, that information has primarily been focused around the details of the search, and not the person making it.
Fortunately, Google has introduced new functionality that enables marketers to create a more complete picture of who is searching for a given keyword -- including elements like age, gender, life stage, and interests. Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) is a feature of the Google AdWords search platform that emerged from beta in June of 2013, and -- without sounding too hyperbolic -- could be a game-changer.
By overlaying audience targeting and keyword targeting, advertisers can know the people behind the behavior. While this presents a tremendous opportunity for brands, it also might seem rather overwhelming. So where should you start?
Below are seven ways you can use RLSA to optimize your brand's paid search efforts:
RLSA allows marketers to realign budgets, and concentrate spend where it will have the biggest impact. For example, you may choose to bid higher on searchers who have visited your website because they have expressed intent. Perhaps you may elect to increase your bid even further on searchers who have abandoned a shopping cart on your website.
Since RLSA gives advertisers a clearer view of various search segments, it also enables the intelligent expansion of keyword lists beyond what is most obvious. Advertisers can broaden the keyword list to reach past site visitors in "related" search areas that they otherwise would avoid bidding on.
This applies to organizations that generally have customers who only complete a one-time-purchase, such as a cable service provider. For these brands, it is a poor use of paid search dollars to target searchers who are already known customers.
For the many brands who rely on repeat customers, RLSA can help them identify existing customers. For example, a retail brand may utilize RLSA to serve search ads with custom messaging to previous buyers during peak or relevant moments throughout the year.
In some cases, a brand may want to identify existing customers in order to promote additional products or services to them. A good example of this is a financial services brand targeting an existing mortgage customer with an upsell offer for a checking account. RLSA can inform ad messaging that help build an existing relationship between a brand and customer.
RLSA can help you drive incremental growth by tailoring the search experience as the customer proceeds on their shopping journey. Customers will turn off from an ad's call-to-action if they are not in a sales-ready stage, but with RLSA, you can serve up sequential messaging that is appropriate for where they are in the buying process.
An advanced way to optimize search through RLSA is to custom-tailor the search experience by audience personas or attributes. Advertisers can do this by pairing RLSA with a data management platform (DMP) that has undergone custom development to integrate with RLSA. DMPs are able to look up behavioral information in milliseconds and enable persona-based search targeting by elements including age, gender, household income, life stage, and interests.
Building a successful paid search program is a difficult goal to achieve. With new ad products and technology being introduced at such a rapid pace, along with changing consumer trends and preferences, staying ahead of sophisticated competition can be a daunting task. By using Google's RLSA, however, marketers have the opportunity to further optimize their paid search strategy and increase their ROI by applying a few simple tactics to their approach.
Ty Martin is the director digital media strategy at iCrossing. Ty will be hosting a webinar about leveraging RLSA for your brand on June 4.
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