‘Mad Men’ versus PPC Men

On occasion I have found myself longing to be a “Mad Men” style advertising executive from the 1950s. It isn’t just the Bourbon at 10am, or the glamorous PAs, it’s the blissful ignorance that advertising lived in. This was a time before data and analytics, where the sharply dressed creative director could hypnotise his clients with an intriguing story and have them sold, hook, line and sinker on a single catchy tag line.


Alas, those days are gone. Now clients, correctly, ask their marketing agencies to do more than simply sell them on intelligent strategy. A typical PPC monthly review meeting will not only outline the overall results of the activity, but will dig into the exact details behind performance, identifying the definite reasons behind any fluctuations.


The level of transparency that Net Media Planet can provide within reporting would have been unthinkable ten years ago let alone sixty. All of our clients can now see total sales and revenue down to the specific keyword, meaning there are no question marks concerning the nuances of their results. The vast array of data and insight that we provide has led to our clients becoming ever more confident in their marketing decisions.


Increasingly the issue is not whether the data is available, but how we draw the correct conclusions from what we are seeing. A mistake that is often made is to assume that the story the data is telling on the face of it is an accurate portrayal of what is really happening. For example within the realm of PPC clients often look at generic keywords and immediately ascertain that because the data indicates they are not profitable they are not valuable. This has led to clients incorrectly taking the decision to cut back spend on generic keywords, usually resulting in a negative impact on overall performance.


The key for marketing professionals is to look beyond the early indications from the data and dig into the core of what is really happening. Most reporting from PPC campaigns still centres on a “last click wins” model. Through this method the keyword that receives the last click before a sale is made is assumed to have been responsible for the entire sale. Measuring campaign performance through this model is deeply flawed. For a start numerous studies have shown that the path to conversion almost always includes more than one click, with consumers usually starting their journey with broader generic keywords before narrowing down their search to the brand name.


The nature of the “last click wins” model means that brand is regularly overvalued and generics undervalued as the branded search comes later in the search funnel than the generic search. It has always surprised me that so many clients, and indeed agencies, continue to base the majority of their decisions on a “last click wins” model. Giving 100% of the credit for a sale to a branded search is the equivalent of saying the sign above a shop was responsible for a sale rather than the friend who recommended them, or the TV advert that inspired you to leave your house in the first place.


The solution is to start looking at more than just the last click. What initiated the sale? Which media/keyword was present the most often throughout the path to conversion? Once you start asking these questions the data starts to tell a very different story. For example for one of our clients we found that the “last click wins” model was undervaluing their generic keywords by 120% when compared to a “first click wins” model.


The truth is that none of the “last click”, “first click” and “most present” models is perfect, and each will over or under value different elements of the campaign. Organisations that wish to see the most accurate interpretation of their performance must move to an “attributed” model. Within this model credit is assigned based on weightings in relation to the frequency, time and type of keyword used. Implementing this model with clients has helped us to demonstrate the true value of the keywords that we are using. Generic and competitor keywords that were once deemed too unprofitable to run have become some of the most valuable keywords within the account.


Using data correctly has allowed our clients to gain a crucial advantage over their competitors. Where their competitors are miss-assigning value due to incorrect measures we are helping clients to be truly confident in the strategies they are undertaking, allowing them to see where the true value within a PPC campaign is held.


Yes, Don Draper may have his slick hair, wit and charm, but we have the knowledge to be comfortable that the decisions we are making are the correct ones. Maybe working in advertising in the 2010s isn’t so bad after all, although the Bourbon still sounds attractive…What do you think?!


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