Tag Archives: paid search tools


ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Kenshoo

Search Engine Watch sister publication ClickZ recently launched an innovative new series of buyers guides, created with the aim of cutting through the complexity of the martech landscape to help our readers make better decisions about vendors.

The first in the series is dedicated to bid management platforms. With more than $90 billion spent on paid search in 2017, these software packages play a vital role in deriving maximum value from a brand’s digital media budget.

The role of a bid management platform has changed significantly over the past decade, in line with the increasing sophistication of the digital media industry. Although the foundations of a successful paid media management platform remain rooted in the effective spending of AdWords budgets, the modern marketer also requires support for social media advertising, attribution modeling, and cross-channel strategy.

Earlier this week, we profiled Acquisio, one of the leading bid management platforms featured in our buyers guide. In this article, we’re going to look at another leader in the bid management space: Kenshoo.

Kenshoo Company Profile

Kenshoo has been a leader in the bid management space since 2006 and its position as a third-party vendor allows space to innovate and work with clients without the potential for bias to enter the equation. This independence also allows Kenshoo to pursue new, promising channels and functionality that makes it easier for clients to work across channels – scaling, shifting budget, and measuring results across them.

Our survey revealed Kenshoo to be the market leader for enterprise-level digital media campaigns.

Although this is a highly competitive industry with many worthy contenders, Kenshoo shaded the assessment categories that matter most to advanced search marketers. These included cross-channel campaign management, strategic insight, and paid search automation. The overall scores can be seen in the screenshot below, with 5 being the highest possible score:

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Kenshoo

Furthermore, Kenshoo’s Creative Manager for search and social adds a further dimension to the platform and places the company in a prominent position as search evolves into a more visual marketing medium.

Overall, Kenshoo’s focus is on developing technologies that make a tangible difference to their customers’ businesses.

The usage levels of its features are monitored constantly and the company’s sizeable team of engineers focuses on delivering the innovations that its customer base craves. It is this approach that leads to developments including highly effective performance forecasts, real-time reporting dashboards, and the ability to load high volumes of campaign data almost instantly.

Kenshoo: The ClickZ and SEW customer survey

Throughout the search industry‘s evolutionary process, Kenshoo has remained at the forefront of innovation. Within our customer surveys, vendor interviews, and expert consultation, Kenshoo was a consistently high scorer and was roundly praised for the features it provides for large, complex accounts.

The three areas in which Kenshoo received its highest scores in our community survey were:

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Kenshoo

In fact, Kenshoo was the leading scorer out of all platforms in our survey in the cross-channel and bid management categories.

A particular highlight was Kenshoo’s adoption of audience management for prospecting and
remarketing across Facebook and Google. This helps its clients to nurture their audience lists and gain maximum returns on their data.

Due to the development of the industry from a keyword-led approach to intent-driven audiences, this will be a core consideration for brands assessing the vendor landscape.

Search is about much more than bottom-funnel acquisition nowadays, with the advent of much more varied visual formats and the ongoing shift to video. Kenshoo’s support for emerging media formats and channels was seen as a core strength of the technology, particularly its early adoption of both Pinterest and Amazon advertising.

These campaigns can be synthesized into one strategy alongside Search, Shopping, and Social campaigns to provide strategic insight into overall performance. A natural extension of this category, and an area of increasing focus within the industry, is the availability of attribution models that elucidate campaign spend and returns by channels.

Once more, Kenshoo was among the highest scorers in this category as it is host to a range of attribution models and allows for a degree of customization by marketers, based on their company’s weighting of each channel’s significance.

Kenshoo’s bid management algorithms that deliver improved returns on cross-channel budgets also received very high scores in our survey. Recent architectural changes enable clients to analyze millions of keywords in a matter of seconds with no volume limits, a significant benefit when managing large, complex campaigns.

One highlight from the vendor interviews was the ease of use of their new Budget Manager, which allows clients to visually model a range of future scenarios based on their planned media spend across multiple channels, objectives, audiences, product categories and geographies. This capability allows marketers to plan more frequently and to quickly get answers to questions about the impact of their budget.

It is also worth noting that Kenshoo was among the three highest-scoring platforms for client support in our survey. This was driven by the company’s focus on providing expert support for enterprise accounts, with customers citing both the availability and the knowledge of their representatives as notable strengths. Kenshoo also has a large research team, with whom clients can work to dig deeper into search data and uncover new insights.

ClickZ overview: Kenshoo

Kenshoo is an effective technology that contains a multitude of advanced features that will help marketers extract maximum value from their media budget. Moreover, it provides additional value on top of the core bid management algorithms that marketers have come to expect.

By focusing on where the industry is headed and developing features that provide clients with a competitive advantage, Kenshoo looks poised to maintain its position as a market leader in this field for some time to come.

To learn more about our readers’ evaluation of the different bid management platforms featured, follow this link to download the Buyers Guide to Bid Management Tools on ClickZ.


ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Search Engine Watch sister publication ClickZ recently launched an innovative new series of buyers guides, created with the aim of cutting through the complexity of the martech landscape to help our readers make better decisions about vendors.

The first in the series is dedicated to bid management platforms. With more than $90 billion spent on paid search in 2017, these software packages play a vital role in deriving maximum value from a brand’s digital media budget.

Within this article, we take a look at one of the leading platforms covered in the first ClickZ buyers guide: Acquisio.

The core component of the ClickZ bid management vendor guide is a customer survey, sent out to the readerships of both ClickZ and Search Engine Watch. It received more than 1,600 responses and evaluated technologies across the following six areas:

The role of a bid management platform has changed significantly over the past decade, in line with the increased sophistication of the digital media industry.

Many of these software packages now employ machine learning algorithms to identify patterns in historical data and use this knowledge to predict future trends.

Based on this insight, budget can be shifted automatically to the areas that will deliver the best returns. This can be achieved across devices, across campaigns, and even across different media channels.

Throughout our survey, one platform that was consistently praised for its ability to deliver these improved results while also providing an accessible interface is Acquisio.

Acquisio: Company profile

Acquisio, which was acquired by Web.com in 2017, actually started life as an agency that developed a suite of proprietary tools. The potential of this technology to improve paid search performance was such that the company soon shifted its focus to specialize in bid management software.

The platform has developed rapidly since then and provides access to advanced machine learning technology to businesses of all sizes. This is primarily achieved through the Acquisio Turing (™) product, which powers predictive bid and budget management across search, social media, and display.

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Through its acquisition by Web.com last year, the company has maintained its focus on the areas that matter for its customers, such as the speed of the user experience, the performance improvements the platform brings to PPC campaigns, and insightful reporting dashboards.

Acquisio core strengths

Within our customer survey, there were some clear strengths highlighted by Acquisio customers. In particular, the platform’s core bid management technology drew praise for its clarity and efficacy. The ability to mirror campaigns across channels and keep this automatically synced over time was frequently noted by clients as a significant positive.

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Furthermore, Acquisio customers gave positive feedback on the technology’s reporting dashboards and the support clients are offered. In the case of the latter, Acquisio was among the highest scorers of all platforms reviewed in our survey. During our vendor interviews, the thorough nature of the onboarding and training process was clearly a focus for the company.

As we can see in the chart below (5 is the highest possible score), Acquisio was shown to be a very effective all-rounder in our survey, with the user experience and bid management capabilities both singled out for praise. This diagram shows the average score given to Acquisio across each of our six core assessment criteria:

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

This compares favorably to the competition, as we can see in the chart below, which shows Acquisio’s score in each of the assessment categories against the average of the other five platforms in the survey.

Bid management, strategic insight, reporting, and user experience all resulted in high performance for Acquisio. Acquisio’s reporting dashboard received particular praise for its intuitive and informative nature, showing performance data from search engines alongside Facebook and Instagram.

ClickZ Buyers Guide | Bid management platform review: Acquisio

Acquisio automatically moves budget around multiple campaigns and/or publishers to maximize traffic and budget attainment, which has contributed to its positive scores within the cross-channel category.

This vendor also offers some specific tools for SMBs within its Promote product, which simplifies the campaign creation and bid management process. Once more, this adds to the accessible nature of the platform for businesses from SMBs up to enterprise-level digital campaigns.

ClickZ overview: Acquisio

Where Acquisio excels is in its ability to offer advanced search management at a comparatively low price point. This is coupled with an intensive, supportive training program that ensures all team members are able to get the most out of the technology.

Although other platforms in our guide provide a broader range of features beyond the core areas of search and social, marketers need to weigh up how important these factors are when considering a bid management vendor partner.

Acquisio has a clear focus on providing the best possible search and social media marketing platform and it competes very well on these fronts. With a 21 day free trial on offer too, it is an excellent option for marketers looking to take their search strategy to the next level.

To find out more information about Acquisio, you can download their Marketer’s Field Guide to Machine Learning on ClickZ. Or follow this link to download the Bid Management Tools Buyers Guide and learn about our readers’ evaluation of the other platforms profiled.


The must-have tools for paid search success

Paid search marketers look to technology to provide them with a competitive advantage.

AdWords is host to a range of increasingly sophisticated features, but there are also numerous third-party tools that add extra insight. Below, we review some of the essential tools to achieve PPC success.

The paid search industry is set to develop significantly through 2018, both in its array of options for advertisers and in its level of sophistication as a marketing channel. The pace of innovation is only accelerating, and technology is freeing search specialists to spend more time on strategy, rather than repetitive tasks.

Google continues to add new machine learning algorithms to AdWords that improve the efficacy of paid search efforts, which is undoubtedly a welcome development. This technology ultimately becomes something of an equalizer, however, given that everyone has access to these same tools.

It is at the intersection of people and technology that brands can thrive in PPC marketing. Better training and more enlightened strategy can help get the most out of Google’s AdWords and AdWords Editor, but there are further tools that can add a competitive edge.

The below are technologies that can save time, uncover insights, add scale to data analysis, or a combination of all three.

Keyword research tools

Identifying the right keywords to add to your paid search account is, of course, a fundamental component of a successful campaign.

Google will suggest a number of relevant queries within the Keyword Planner tool, but it does have some inherent limitations. The list of keywords provided within this tool is far from comprehensive and, given the potential rewards on offer, sophisticated marketers would be well advised to look for a third-party solution.

A recent post by Wil Reynolds at Seer Interactive brought to light just how important it is to build an extensive list of target keywords, as consumers are searching in multifaceted ways, across devices and territories. According to Ahrefs, 85% of all searches contain three or more words and although the shorter keywords tend to have higher search volumes, the long tail contains a huge amount of value too.

Add in growing trends like the adoption of voice search and the picture becomes more complex still. In essence, it is necessary to research beyond Google Keyword Planner to uncover these opportunities.

Keywordtool.io takes an initial keyword suggestion as its stimulus and uses this to come up up to 750 suggested queries to target. This is achieved in part through the use of Google Autocomplete to pull in a range of related terms that customers typically search for. A Pro licence for this tool starts at $48 per month.

Ubersuggest is another long-standing keyword tool that search marketers use to find new, sometimes unexpected, opportunities to communicate with customers via search. It groups together suggested keywords based on their lexical similarity and they can be exported to Excel.

This tool also allows marketers to add in negative keywords to increase the relevance of their results.

The must-have tools for paid search success

We have written about the benefits of Google Trends for SEO, but the same logic applies to PPC. Google Trends can be a fantastic resource for paid search, as it allows marketers to identify peaks in demand. This insight can be used to target terms as their popularity rises, allowing brands to attract clicks for a lower cost.

Google Trends has been updated recently and includes a host of new features, so it is worth revisiting for marketers that may not have found it robust enough in its past iterations.

Answer the Public is another great tool for understanding longer, informational queries that relate to a brand’s products or services. It creates a visual representation of the most common questions related to a head term, such as ‘flights to paris’ in the example below:

The must-have tools for paid search success

As the role of paid search evolves into more of a full-funnel channel that covers informational queries as well as transactional terms, tools like this one will prove invaluable. The insights it reveals can be used to tailor ad copy, and the list of questions can be exported and uploaded to AdWords to see if there is a sizeable opportunity to target these questions directly.

For marketers that want to investigate linguistic trends within their keyword set, it’s a great idea to use an Ngram viewer. There are plenty of options available, but this tool is free and effective.

Competitor analysis tools

AdWords Auction Insights is an essential tool for competitor analysis, as it reveals the impression share for different sites across keyword sets, along with average positions and the rate of overlap between rival sites.

This should be viewed as the starting point for competitor analysis, however. There are other technologies that provide a wider range of metrics for this task, including Spyfu and SEMrush.

Spyfu’s AdWords History provides a very helpful view of competitor strategies over time. This reveals what their ad strategies have been, but also how frequently they are changed. As such, it is a helpful blend of qualitative and quantitative research that shows not just how brands are positioning their offering, but also how much they have been willing to pay to get it in front of their audience.

A basic licence for Spyfu starts at $33 per month.

The must-have tools for paid search success

SEMrush is a great tool for competitor analysis, both for paid search and its organic counterpart. This software shows the keywords that a domain ranks against for paid search and calculates the estimated traffic the site has received as a result.

The Product Listing Ads features are particularly useful, as they provide insight into a competitor’s best-performing ads and their core areas of focus for Google Shopping.

It is also easy to compare desktop data to mobile data through SEMrush, a feature that has become increasingly powerful as the shift towards mobile traffic continues.

A licence for SEMrush starts at $99.95 per month.

The must-have tools for paid search success

Used in tandem with AdWords Auction Insights, these tools create a fuller picture of competitor activities.

Landing page optimization tools

It is essential to optimize the full search experience, from ad copy and keyword targeting, right through to conversion. It is therefore the responsibility of PPC managers to ensure that the on-site experience matches up to the consumer’s expectations.

A variety of tools can help achieve this aim, requiring minimal changes to a page’s source code to run split tests on landing page content and layout. In fact, most of these require no coding skills and allow PPC marketers to make changes that affect only their channel’s customers. The main site experience remains untouched, but paid search visitors will see a tailored landing page based on their intent.

Unbounce has over 100 responsive templates and the dynamic keyword insertion feature is incredibly useful. The latter adapts the content on a page based on the ad a user clicked, helping to tie together the user journey based on user expectations.

The must-have tools for paid search success

Brand monitoring tools

Branded keywords should be a consistent revenue driver for any company. Although there is no room to be complacent, even when people are already searching for your brand’s name, these queries tend to provide a sustainable and cost-effective source of PPC traffic.

Unless, of course, the competition tries to steal some of that traffic. Google does have some legislation to protect brands, but this has proved insufficient to stop companies bidding on their rivals’ brand terms. When this does occur, it also drives up the cost-per-click for branded keywords.

Brandverity provides some further protection for advertisers through automated alerts that are triggered when a competitor encroaches on their branded terms.

This coverage includes Shopping ads, mobile apps, and global search engines.

The must-have tools for paid search success

Custom AdWords scripts

Although not a specific tool, it is worth mentioning the additional benefits that custom scripts can bring to AdWords performance. These scripts provide extra functionality for everything from more flexible bidding schedules, to stock price-based bid adjustments and third-party data integrations.

This fantastic list from Koozai is a comprehensive resource, as is this one from Free Adwords Scripts. PPC agency Brainlabs also provides a useful list of scripts on their website that is typically updated with a new addition every few months.

The must-have tools for paid search success

Using the tools listed above can add an extra dimension to PPC campaigns and lead to the essential competitive edge that drives growth. As the industry continues to evolve at a rapid rate, these tools should prove more valuable than ever.

#ICYMI in 2014: 4 Paid Search Tactics Your Campaigns Can Still Benefit From In 2015 by @michaelaknight

In 2014, there were a lot of new tactics and products to help influence a paid search campaign’s optimization strategies. In this post, I have highlighted four areas that will still be useful on your 2015 to-do list. The four tactics we will be covering include: Callout extensions Bid strategies Custom affinity audiences Engagement ads Implementation of Best Practices These paid search tactics can also work together, in the right context, to create an even better user experience and campaign performance. If these tactics are new to you, I sometimes suggest implementing in a way that it is easy to track the […]

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14 of The Best Paid Search and SEO Tools by @wonderwall7

It can be difficult to decide which search tools to use when it comes to your company or client’s paid and organic search campaigns. I have found a great selection of tools; some which are recommended often, with good reason, and others that shouldn’t be discounted. Many of these tools have similar features, but they usually have something unique that makes them useful in their own way. Here are 14 of the best paid search and SEO tools, in no particular order. Disclaimer note: Some of these companies have done sponsorships with Search Engine Journal in the past, but these are genuinely tools […]

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