Segmenting Your PPC Campaigns (Part 2)

December 27th, 2012

Topics: Digital Marketing, Featured, Marketing Optimization, Optimization, Perspectives, Segmentation, Segments

In my last blog post, I began to cover some of the various ways we can chop up or segment  PPC Campaigns.  Today, we pick up this thread and look at Device Targeting and the Search vs. Display Network.  As a reminder, my favorite ways to segment campaigns include:

  • Content (covered in last blog)
  • Location (covered in last blog)
  • Device
  • Medium (Search or Display)
  • Network (Owned and Operated or Partner Network)
  • Match Type

Device Targeting

Both Google and Bing allow you to separate out your campaigns by targeted device.  This includes Desktop and Laptops, Mobile Devices with Full Browsers and Tablets with Full Browsers.  In addition, you have the option of breaking out Mobile and Tablet campaigns further by Operating System, Device Models and Carrier.  At the very minimum, you should be separating Mobile Traffic into its own set of campaigns.  There should be very few exceptions to this rule.

Similar to the discussion we had regarding location targeting, separate mobile campaigns allow you to target and optimize to the unique user base and competitive set in the marketplace.  According to the most recent Rimm-Kaufman Group Marketing Report, Smartphone Cost per Click was 53% lower than Desktop Cost per Click in Q2 of this year.  Clearly, having the same bid in one campaign across both devices is not optimal.  In addition, separate mobile campaigns allow you to tailor to mobile best practices.  This includes a focus on head-term keywords, ‘mobile’ ad copy and mobile optimized landing pages.  With Google recently announcing that they will now take Device Type into account when determining Quality Score, the benefits of segmenting traffic only increase.

For the majority of advertisers, the additional breakout of mobile campaigns by OS, Device Model and Carriers is likely not worth the additional effort.  However, there are a few exceptions to this rule.  Advertisers offering exclusively Mobile Products, such as apps and mobile phone accessories, would do well to have separate streams of traffic by device.  This would allow you to drive users to the various app stores or tailor messaging by device where appropriate.

The separating of Tablet traffic into separate campaigns has tended to be a bit more controversial among PPC aficionados.  But this is starting to change.  In many ways, the industry best practices surrounding Tablet Devices are not yet fully fleshed out in the same way  they are for Desktop and Smartphone traffic.  That being said, several recent developments have only emphasized the importance of looking at this traffic source as a separate entity.  The aforementioned Rimm-Kaufman Group Marketing Report found Tablet Traffic recently surpassed Smartphone Traffic.  Additionally, Google recently announced that it will be taking Device performance into consideration in their Quality Score Algorithm.  Accordingly, the only way to see your true Quality Score now will be to segment your campaigns fully by device.

Anecdotally, one need not look far for the motivation to separate your Desktop and Tablet traffic.  As Tablets make their way in to the mainstream, they are fundamentally changing the way many of us interact online.  During the workday, most of us will do our browsing from a traditional laptop or desktop; often from the office.  However, consumers who own Tablet Devices tend to use them almost exclusively during evening hours and weekends.  Last year, Rimm Kauffman posted a study on Mobile Traffic Patterns confirming these assertions.  My expectation is that these trends have only increased.

We are fast approaching the time when separating PC and Tablet traffic will become as much a part of the SEM gospel as separating Mobile Traffic.  Segmentation of your campaigns by device gives the granular level of detail needed to reach your customers where they are.  It gives better insight into your ROI, Quality Score and Spend.  And Segmenting your campaigns by device gives you the greatest control over the Landing Page and User Experience.  Ensuring that mobile users are reaching a landing page that’s mobile friendly is critical.  The same goes for Tablet devices.  For more on Mobile and Tablet Landing Page Optimization refer to Tom Waterfall’s 3-part blog series – Embarrassing Predictions: A Foray into Mobile and Table Optimization.

Medium (Search or Display)

I believe that most anyone in the SEM game knows about the necessity of this one by now.  But since it’s so absolutely crucial, it bears repeating.  You should never, under any circumstances, have a campaign that runs traffic on both the Search and Display/Contextual Networks.    The fundamental architecture of how these two networks are constructed so vastly different that combining the two can only pollute your stats and hinder your optimization efforts.  Be careful when creating a new campaign.  By default, Google has all newly created campaigns opted into both the Search and Display Network.  You have to physically check the radio button ‘Let me Choose’ under Networks and Devices and deselect the Display Network.  Make sure this is one of the first actions you take whenever creating a new campaign.

Let us know your thoughts.  What are some additional ways you prefer to segment your PPC Campaigns?