In the first part of this article, we mentioned the different approaches that an account manager can use while optimizing an SEM campaign buildout. However, when dealing with a complex and robust account (for us that means an airline with more than 5,000 unique routes that advertises globally in 20 different languages), it is vital to adhere to an organized naming convention.  This will improve visibility and facilitate more informed and sophisticated decisions.

Key Dimensions of Campaign Segmentation

First, let’s identify the specific pieces of information associated with a single ad click that will allow a large international airline to better understand the type of users arriving to its site.

  • Brand vs. Non-Brand vs. Competitor: Is the search user looking for a specific airline?  Our airline? Or just a route, with no demonstrated brand preference?  Branded search users are fundamentally different from Non-Brand search users in how they perform post-click, and consequently how they are valued by clients.
  • Location: Where is the user located? For an airline, this is of fundamental importance.  Do they sit close to an airport within the airline route network?  The precision of this information will depend on the campaign settings and granularity of buildout.  Was the campaign targeting the whole globe?  A country?  An airport?
  • Language: In what language did the user search?  Is it the primary language in the location from which they searched?  Is that language supported by the client’s website?  Booking engine?
  • Route Information: For which route is the user searching? Is this route offered by the airline?  Is it offered non-stop?  Connecting?  Codeshare?  Did the user specify both an origin and a destination, or just one geography?  Did they search for a city or a country?
  • Match Type: Through which keyword match type did the user arrive (broad, BMM, phrase, exact)?  This gives us an indication of how closely the user’s query matches the keywords specified in the buildout.
  • Device: Did the user search from a Mobile Device? This is going to impact their performance post-click.
  • Engine: From what search engine did the user originate?

Each one of these dimensions, along with the questions they raise about the relationship between the search user and the airline, are all significant in evaluating the likelihood of a click turning into a conversion.  Of course, the extent to which one can label these campaigns depends entirely on the quality of the buildout.  However, in a perfect world, each of the dimensions listed above (including the nuances raised in their descriptions) should be segmented and clearly communicated in the SEM buildout naming convention of any large, international airline.

This level of sophistication and attention to detail may seem daunting, and without automated buildout tools, it is nearly impossible for an airline with thousands of routes and dozens of site editions.  Nevertheless, this level of advanced segmentation is a best practice to which air travel industry PPC Managers should strive.

One may note that a number of the above dimensions are readily available via standard reporting segmentation in the interface of Google AdWords or Bing AdCenter, and therefore do not require separate campaigns.  It is easy enough to pull a location report, segment by device, or determine from which search engine a click was registered when working within the interface of the advertising platform.  However, the possibilities become severely limited when pulling revenue data from a third-party tracking provider that only segments PPC traffic by Campaign Name.  With proper segmentation, every single one of the above questions can be answered by pulling a simple Ad Group report, and most should be available at the Campaign level.  Even more significantly, with this level of segmentation, one can more precisely hone in on specific attributes of a user, in order to better optimize and target one’s messaging and approach.

Reports, Labels, & Naming Conventions

The key to all this is simple: disciplined, consistent and detailed naming conventions.  Campaign and Ad Group names should include unique variables for each of the items listed above, or to the greatest level of segmentation achieved in the buildout.  But simply including these attributes is not sufficient.  The manner in which they are included must be perfectly consistent.  Strict naming conventions must be adhered to, in order to ensure the process of unpacking this data is fully scalable.

It may seem daunting, but once achieved, the potential to gain insight and leverage data is massive.

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