Search plus Your World is well underway in rolling out for English language Google.com searches.
The new evolution of Google is effectively live in the States and for many people in the UK, like myself, who search on the .com site by default rather than the .co.uk.
Search plus Your World impacts PPC just as it impacts SEO. Let’s look at seven reasons why your PPC strategy might need changes due to Search+
Brand bidding has always been controversial. The important rule in any brand bidding scenario is to test and learn and see whether it works for your campaign and brand.
The Google+ integration on the top right is attention grabbing. You should test your brand bidding scenarios again. Previously PPC ads might have been needed to own the brand space or address traffic leak.
Is that still an issue in Search plus Your World? It seems likely that for some brands, competitors will get less traffic and Google+ may get more.
Similar test and learn scenarios should be run by anyone who has, until now, found it profitable to bid on competitor brands.
We’re yet to really see how easy or difficult it is for competitors to get into the “recommended” space for Google+ profiles. It may be that Google regulates which accounts are shown in response to brand searches quite carefully.
It feels equally likely that well known blogs or authors with a strong brand affinity also qualify. After all, it is not hard to imagine some of the biggest Apple news and rumour blogs having Google+ profiles promoted in response to an [apple] search.
Greater need to coordinate earned media and paid media
Search plus Your World does more than just show recommendations for Google+ accounts in spaces formally held by PPC ads. Search+ allows brands to explicitly connect their own Google+ Page for Businesses with their AdWords accounts.
An immediate benefit of linking a Google+ Page with an AdWords account is that it allows the +1s earned by the AdWords account to be credited to the associated Google+ Page. The rollout of Search+ is likely to increase the number of +1s in the system as users become more familiar with the concept.
AdWord creatives that point to landing pages with a large number of +1s (over 1,000 in general) are enhanced with the recommended notation.
Strictly speaking, this is not new to Search+ as it was introduced with Google’s earlier +1 rollout however the click through impact of the notation rises as searchers become more familiar with it and becomes more important as the competition for clicks increases.
Just has the addition of influencer Google+ accounts as recommendations in response to brand searches impacts brand bidding strategies so does do they influence earned media strategies.
The importance of influencers discussing your brand and sharing branded media assets rises as Search+ becomes more popular.
If keywords associated with expensive keyword bids are driving traffic to influencer Google+ accounts then there are tangible benefits whenever that Google+ account discusses your products and brand in a favourable light.
Even better if the Google+ is sharing pictures of your products that can be shared by other Google+ users or will encourage searchers to find your site via natural search or less expensive, product specific, paid search terms.
One of the tactics that a search campaign successfully blending PPC with SEO can run is to use natural search to rank for specific products and services while using PPC to highlight reasons for shoppers to click and convert.
For example, the natural search listing could be one of ten results for a particular computer game while the paid search ad, positioned nearby, might point out that there’s a pre-order bonus of exclusive content if the game is bought from you.
Such a tactic still produces a PPC creative that’s impactful and able to stand alone but, when shown alongside the natural search listing, the ad might boost the free click traffic while also providing an uplift to conversions.
Search plus Your World allows for new possibilities along similar lines. One of the potentially strongest new tactics is the ability to align images shared via Google+ with PPC ads.
With this tactic advertisers can take advantage of the fact that the latest pictures from Google+ accounts may well show for brand searches.
These illustrations can be used to showcase those products or services that “pre-shoppers” would ideally see.
Right now we tend to see basic product pictures or photographs from events but in the near future advertisers might start to create and share visual sales messages or calls to action via their Google+ account (with or without PPC in mind) such as visually impressive two-for-one banners.
There’s little doubt that powerful images from a brand just before a shopper visits the brand’s site will have an influence on conversion rates.
Greater need to use Product Extensions in PPC
It has been possible to include images in PPC for a while. This is achieved through the ad extensions known as Product Extensions and involves coordinating with the Google Merchant Center.
As Search plus Your World introduces more visuals to the search results and as search savvy brands begin to experiment with coordinating the images shared via their Google+ with their PPC campaign the need to use Product Extensions in paid search rises.
Search+ intensifies the battle for clicks from Google’s results and although Product Extensions are not perfect it seems likely that paid search teams will find they become more helpful over time.
PPC for the new stuff
An effect of Search+ being used to surface what you and your contacts have previously found is that the new Google has a greater tendency to old content near the top of the results.
It might be a bit harsh and simplistic to say that Search+ surfaces old stuff as Google has a good history of success in understanding the balance of recency with relevancy.
However, it is still true to say that Search+ does create something of an echo chamber in the premium search space. This is an opportunity for PPC. It means brands with something newer than the current fad to sell can use paid search to position their related but updated offer in positive contrast to the echo chamber.
For example, Asus have a possible hit on their hands with the second Transformer Prime. Not an Autobot but an Android tablet. The device is due to ship, should have but is beset by delays and other rumours.
There are plenty of people searching for the latest Transformer Prime news. Controversially, at CES, Asus revealed that they have a revised model in the works.
This means that Search+ results for the Asus Transformer Prime will be dominated by discussions around the delay of the TF201 model, leaving it to the paid search ads for the newer, more expensive, TF700T model.
Celebrity brand ambassadors as a risk
Brands are already aware of the danger of being too closely associated with a celebrity advertiser or ambassador.
Such a connection can be advantage, and often is, but brands may also find themselves dragged into any story the celebrity finds themselves in.
Search+ means that companies could find that important and relatively cheap brand searches become associated with celebrity Google+ accounts.
Once Google starts to recommend a celebrity Google+ account based on a brand search then the dynamics around that brand search change.
Advertisers might find that their ambassadors start to ‘steal’ a larger percentage of their brand terms than ever before.
Ads at the bottom of the page
Google runs ads on the bottom of their search results. Although this has been tested before its addition to the default Google interface is relatively new for most people.
Google says that users sometimes prefer ads after the natural search results and find them less obstructive. That may well be true.
However, the addition of extra ad space and all the challenges that brings to PPC bid management software and even basic paid search reporting has created some of the space Google uses for Search+ Was the creation of PPC space at the bottom of the search results a precursor to Search plus Your World? Some will say so.
As way of a closing statement I wanted to share a good example of what a typical branded search might look like on Search+.
In this case we're looking at a search for [macy's] on Google.com but from a Google.co.uk IP address. I'd like to draw attention to the impact of the sales messages that are being shared via Google+.
Also consider the battle for clicks and how Search+ includes older content from my connections and the placement, right at the bottom of the page, of the brand bidding.