Teaming up as technology partners boosts expertise

Kaplan run Paid Search in 26 different regions, and signed up with Merkle | Periscopix as a technology partner to get to grips with the DoubleClick Search platform.

Objectives

The most basic objective for team was to simply setup DS in such a way that made account management easier – after initial onboarding, formula columns, custom conversions, executive reports and automated rules were all planned and built, creating an efficient environment to work in.

The real challenge though was to create a bid management strategy that would not only save time but would provide a tangible improvement in results. It was put to Merkle | Periscopix and the Kaplan Search team to formulate an approach to automated bidding that would not hamper conversion volumes and also save on spend that could be redistributed elsewhere within their key regional markets.

The strategy

Picking a bid strategy type was never an issue – given the account KPI was cost per lead, we chose to run with DS’s CPA conversion bid management.

The first big decision to be made was which conversion metric to use. In order to provide the bid strategy with the best possible data volumes, we created a custom conversion amalgamating all lead types which the strategy would work towards. The next step was to prove the bid strategies could work on smaller accounts, before rolling out to a larger, key market. Having shown early signs of success being applied to smaller territories (Angola and Latin America), the decision was made to roll out bid strategies in one of Kaplan’s key markets – France.

Within the ‘test’ regions we simply applied a flat CPA across all generic keywords and saw good early results. The brief for France however was slightly different:

  • Provide a consistent volume of conversions for all generic exact match keywords, while reducing CPA by 15%. Internal data had shown that the quality and subsequent conversion rate of leads through exact match terms substantially outranked that of other match types.
  • Reduce spend on Broad Match Modified terms by 30%, without conversion rate suffering. Broad Match Modified had been used largely as a research tool to mine for potential exact match keywords, whilst providing incremental leads.

Two CPA bid strategies were therefore created, one for generic Exact Match terms and one for Generic Broad Batch Modified – an approach not taken by anyone within the agency previously, but one that suited the business needs of the individual.

The results

The bid strategies ran untouched for two months before first stage optimisation commenced. Compared to the same keywords for the same date range the previous year, the results seen exceeded expectations. For Broad Match Modified terms:

  • Spend was reduced by 45%
  • Conversion rate increased by 27%
  • CPA was reduced by 3%

For exact match terms, where the vast majority of valuable search leads stem from:

  • Spend was reduced by 18%
  • Conversion rate increased by 16%
  • Leads increased by 3%
  • CPA decreased by 20%

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Quote from the client

“As we hadn’t had any previous experience with DoubleClick Search, working alongside Merkle | Periscopix has helped us master the platform at a fast pace.”

Mihai Beldean, Paid Search Manager, Kaplan