New Year. New SEM Budgets. New Ideas.

2013 has come to a close, but with it, many new changes to the traditional Search Engine Marketing landscape have emerged. Google, in particular, has given us a bounty of new options for our SEM campaigns: enhanced campaigns, flexible bid strategies, Dynamic Product Ads, Remarketing Lists for Search Ads…seriously, I could continue, but I think you get the idea.

While not all of these campaign options are useful for all clients, or even manageable for all SEM professionals, the new year might be a great time for some of you to introduce some new SEM ideas to your advertisers. Below, I have taken a look at some of the new SEM ideas I’ll hopefully be incorporating into my accounts in 2014: what are some of yours?

 Remarketing Lists for Search Ads

As someone who has worked in both display & SEM advertising, this is particularly exciting to me. RLSAs will now allow you to utilize cookies being placed on users who visit your site within the search network. You now have the ability to target users that have already been to your website with different products or services; cross-promotional messaging, so to speak.

In regards to the practical application, let’s say you own a pizza restaurant that offers dinner specials, but is looking to increase its in-restaurant lunch service. A cookie placed on the browser of a converting dinner reservation would allow you to create a remarketing group with keywords focused purely on lunch service. If I were managing this campaign, I’d bid these keywords slightly higher for this subset of users, since they are already customers of the restaurant & potentially are just un-aware of the lunchtime service.

Review Extensions

Has your advertiser’s business received a good review in the Chicago Tribune or NY Times? Google is now offering a way to showcase this right within search results. Full information is available at Google. Personally I cannot wait to give this a try, as I believe there has to be some potential here for increased CTRs by including reviews from reputable, well-known sources.

Similar Audiences & Affinity Groups

Similar Audiences, better known as Look-Alike Targeting by large data providers, is new to the Google Display Network, as are Affinity Groups. Both targeting options are based on data collected by Google (and, presumably, other Google data partners); Similar Audiences are largely composite make-ups of the audiences hitting remarketing and/or conversion tags placed on the advertiser’s site, while Affinity Groups are collections of users with a search or browsing history tied to a major product or service (such as Luxury Travelers or Auto Enthusiasts).

The great thing about the Google Display Network and these two options is that advertisers will not be charged for data costs, which is unusual in the display space. I would recommend taking advantage of both of these if you are using GDN; at the very least, Similar Audiences based on a conversion pixel should be able to bring in new audiences with relatively high conversion rates.

Enhanced & Flexible Bid Strategies

While I plan on getting into this more thoroughly in another post this month, these options essentially boil down to this: instead of a straight manual CPC bid on keywords, you can enable Google to adjust your bid to focus on:

  1. Max conversions (Conversion Optimizer)
  2. Max Clicks (typically, Auto Bid)
  3. A bidding test (Enhanced CPC)

All of these bid options have their ups & downs, but their availability alone does offer some new, free tools outside of SEM management platforms such as Kenshoo & DoubleClick.

Is anyone else already testing these that would like to share some results (high-level, client-anonymous of course)? I’d love to hear from people who have already put some of these tools into play, whether positive or negative.

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