When Benchmarking SEM, always order the “Trio”

In our previous post we asked “Are you benchmarking Your SEM?” and posited that you really should be employing a “trio” of SEM Benchmarking to ensure that you are on top of the shifting shape of SEM and people’s evolving search behaviours. Last time we focused on Internal Benchmarks as key in determining a baseline set of key metrics from which to measure your SEM performance.

We also stressed the importance of leveraging the SEM “trio” of Internal, External and Cross-Channel benchmarking to properly measure your paid search programs and empower you to make sound, data- driven strategic decisions.

In this post, we will focus on the second in our trio, External Benchmarking, in which we closely examine competitive activity and industry averages to paint a better picture of SEM performance. We use a variety of data sources to help establish external SEM benchmarks including business reviews from Google and BING, third party research from eMarketer, Forrester, comScore, SEMPO, the IAB and competitive intelligence reports from Google Auction Insights and AdGooroo. While all this data is useful for benchmarking purposes, it is critical that your media agency has the type of data-analysis expertise, experience and intuition that permits the extraction of actionable insights from the information.

At Media Experts, we live for this.

Search Engine Business Reviews

Google and BING provide Media Experts with quarterly business reports that contain competitive benchmarking information. Although not always consistent in terms of content, context and form, this data helps our analysts understand a brand’s position relative to the competition and identify the size of the opportunity available on paid search in order to develop strategies to continually improve performance.

While this information is useful for external SEM benchmarking, we need to be mindful that search engines usually manipulate the data in an attempt to persuade advertisers to spend more. This is where Media Experts’ senior analyst interaction comes into play to ensure we are taking the best strategic decisions.

Industry Reports

We also leverage industry reports in our benchmarking practice to provide additional insights into SEM investments, year over year changes in those investments as they relate to global versus local search, SEM versus SEO, desktops/tablets versus mobile devices, search versus display, etc. This data, when combined with internal and competitive information, is very useful for both benchmarking, to better predict the future and to help forecast SEM investments by engine, network, device, platforms and geographic locations.

Competitive Intelligence Reports

For competitive SEM benchmarking, we leverage the auction insights data available on Google AdWords, BING Ads and Adgooroo. These reports reveal performance statistics against those of the competitors currently bidding on the same keyword auctions. Google and BING auction insight stats include impression share, average position, overlap rate, position above rate and top of page rate. Device and time segments are added for more granular analysis. We compare period-over-period auction insights data to identify competitive marketplace movements that could help improve performance and explain fluctuations in SEM metrics. For greater in-depth competitive analysis we also leverage the AdGooroo SEM Insight platform.

AdGooroo is another platform used by Media Experts for both brand defence and competitive SEO an SEM intelligence. It provides information on approximate SEM investments, keyword and ad coverage, SEM creative, landing pages and approximate CPC levels by competitor against a pool of keywords of our choice. The insights derived from AdGooroo are not only useful for benchmarking, but also keep our customers current on competitive activity and help identify rich opportunities to stay ahead of their competition.

External benchmarking is critical to understanding your position relative to your category and your competition and, as with Internal Benchmarking its power in fuelling data-driven insights is amplified when used in concert with all three disciplines in the SEM Benchmarking Trio.

In our next post, we will dive into Cross-Channel Benchmarking to explore how to measure the effectiveness of SEM relative to your activity in other media channels.

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