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Is Web Analytics Hurting Paid Search?


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It’s becoming apparent that the emergence of Web Analytics with regard to SEM is revealing many more wounds than band-aids these days. I see a continuous trend where the marriage of Paid Search and Web Analytics  is becoming more like a  double-edge sword rather than a cure of the common marketer. Don’t get me wrong, web analytics is extremely powerful and we have yet to see the full explosion of overwhelming demand for it. However, as more and more SEM marketers start using web analytics to measure success in the paid search arena, they will start to realize that they cannot afford the campaigns that were once thought of as successful sacred cows.

So the idea of using great analytics to make really good decisions may reveal more than they want to see.  They may encounter a group of keywords that may drive alot of traffic and orders that affect the overall top-line revenue, but its those same keywords that are actually draining the profit margins, hence their ROI% is below par. (This is especially true when you add in the cost of Web Analytics).

On the other side of this sword,  marketers may find little "gold-mines" where competitors are no where to be seen, saturation levels are low and they find themselves controlling the SERP real estate space. Analytics companies know this and companies such as Omniture, Clicktracks, Coremetrics, Webtrends and others are pushing website data to the limits and driving new and exciting online marketing metrics that do maximize profit and success. The success can be felt in every online channel from SEM, to Email, to Social Media.

Funny thing. Now that we can get good data (which unfortunately comes at a hefty price these days, unless you use Google Analytics) telling stories of success and areas for improvement and overall smarter marketing decisions will continue to overshadow the days where search success was traditionally based on the amount of traffic to a website.

My opinion: Everyone with a website needs some sort of web analytics, regardless of the metric goal (sales, leads, downloads, etc..) and with regard to Paid Search it’s a must have. How can a company survive when it doesn’t know if they are breaking even or not. SEM needs to synonymous with web analytics simply due to the rise in costs, increased market saturation due to competitors, affiliates, partners and holistically the natural maturity cycle of the channel.

It’s imperative to know:

  • Who comes to your website?
  • What search terms are worth bidding on?
  • What landing pages are working the best?
  • Is your shopping cart/conversion process working?
  • Which products/services are even worth SEM?

So if you at least know or have a good idea of what is working and what needs improvement on your website, your already ahead of the game.

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One Response to "Is Web Analytics Hurting Paid Search?"

  1. The heading of your article definitely caught my attention! I would suggest that there are analytics solutions out there that provide significant value for an appropriate cost.
    Another point to consider is that all analytic solutions are not created equal!
    As technology moves forward, I think we will see more and more automation provided through packages of analytics and optimization tools.
    Advertising on the internet should not involve the level of guesswork that is commonly associated with advertising.
    Assuming there is demand for the products and services your business offers, the tools you use to manage your advertising could be the difference between increasing your profits or losing money.

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