HeroConf Session Recap: Advanced Competitor Intelligence

The below is a recap of “Let’s Get Visual, Visual! Turning Auction Insights into Actionable Data”, a HeroConf 2016 session presented by Point It’s Director of Paid Search, Maddie Cary.

Competitor PPC analysis doesn’t have to be just staring blankly at rows & rows of Excel data or trying to decipher Google’s Auction Insight tables. Instead, you can use straight-forward charts & graphs translate raw auction data to visual trends that help you derive actionable insights for your paid search campaigns.

Let’s start with a scenario. You get an email from your boss. She says she just did some searches for your keywords and saw quite a few competitors alongside our ads. She’d like you to send her a report that helps her understand what does your competitive landscape look like in PPC, are we missing any opportunities, and how has our performance been impacted by competitors overtime?

  • Your first thoughts? So easy! You’ll just pull a Google Auction Insights report, take a screenshot of the table, and send it back to her!
  • Her response back? Thanks, but this raw data doesn’t tell me anything. I need to understand the trends, opportunities, and the competitor story.

Suddenly, you know what you have to do. You need to go Olivia Newton-John on this thang. You need to get visual, visual!

Below are 5 examples of visuals you can create to answer the PPC competitor analysis questions we often ask ourselves (or like the scenario above, are asked by our bosses or clients).

After reading through the below, download our Excel file template to easily create all the visuals yourself with your own account data!

HOW COMPETITIVE ARE THE AUCTIONS YOU’RE IN?

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Creating visuals that juxtaposes your average impression share and CPC trends over an extended period time with the number of competitors in your eligible auctions helps translate the impact an increase in competition can have on your impressions and costs. In the above examples, you see that you saw lower CPCs in quarter with fewer competitors and capitalized on that, achieving higher impression share and also maintaining a lower CPC level once competitor volume increased in the following quarter.

WHICH OF YOUR COMPETITORS ARE CONSISTENTLY IN YOUR AUCTION?

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Using conditional logic formulas in Excel, you can create a competitor frequency table to diagnose not only which competitors are showing most frequently during an extended period in the auctions you are showing in, but also evaluate if they’re a threat based on their average impression share over that time period. In the above example data, we’ve deemed any competitor who is in the auction with us more than 50% of the time and has an average impression share > 25% a potential threat, and one we may need to take bidding action around.

WHERE ARE YOU MOST COMPETITIVE (AND NOT)?

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Pull auction insight reports and campaign reports by campaign, and then consolidated into one data set. Using this raw data to create a combined area and bar chart (where the bar axis is better mimic to reflect ad positioning on the SERP) allows you to identify in which of your campaigns it may be worthwhile to test different bid strategies to potentially increase impression share and drive more conversions.

WHERE ARE YOU MISSING OPPORTUNITY?

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Who is king of the auction per device type? Is it you or your competition? Is there opportunity for you to capture more from your competitors who aren’t running on mobile? Utilizing a segmented bar chart helps to identify your search impression share trends across devices and how you stack up against your competition.

HOW CAN YOU GO FROM REACTIVE TO PROACTIVE WITH COMPETITORS?

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This is actually a Google app script from Brainlabs that is fairly easy to set up (and one of my personal favorites to help proactive identify competitor bidding changes and the impact it has on your impression share & CPCs).

GET A LEG UP ON YOUR COMPETITION IN PPC!

Have other questions on paid search competitor intelligence or how we tackle it at Point It? Reach out to us on Twitter @MaddieMarketer & @point_it!

Maddie Cary About the author

Maddie Cary is the Director of Paid Search at Point It Digital Marketing in Seattle. Her role involves overseeing and developing an amazing team of PPC account managers, while also running the Global SEM Program for Point It’s largest client. In 2015, she won the US Search Award for “Young Search Professional”. You can find her speaking & learning at conferences like SMX, HeroConf, & PubCon, or writing posts for the Wordstream blog. Outside of PPC, her biggest loves are her family, friends, and her idol, Queen Beyoncé.

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