Oh, the auction insights report. You want to love it because it comes straight from AdWords, while most other competitive data comes with a grain (or maybe a pillar) of salt. Yet, while the information in this report is all nice to know, it might not seem to be immediately useful.
Don’t throw in the towel too soon, though — with auction insights, there’s more than meets the eye. Let’s talk about how to put the data to work.
This is, of course, the most obvious use of the report. Who seems to be dominating impression share? You can look at this a few ways:
You can garner a few things from this report at a pretty high level. For one, who are you really up against? Along with your competitors, you’ll likely see other businesses competing on your terms for other purposes outside of your organization’s offering. You’ll also note how often you are outranking your competitors and, overall, how your impression share stacks up.
A few potential outcomes from this data could include:
One of the lessons that stuck with me from many, many years ago came from a professor in a college advertising course. He teed up the lecture by explaining that during the Great Depression, many organizations pulled back advertising budgets. Naturally, they did this because they needed to find ways to cut costs. However, those brands that didn’t react by pulling back thrived and established market share. Why? Because not only did they continue advertising — but they were advertising with less competition.
This is a good lesson to keep in mind as you dig further into your auction insights reports to see where your competitors are, and are not, bringing out the big guns.
If you segment your auction insights reports within AdWords, you can get more granular information, such as day of the week. I like to look at this for two reasons:
Typically, I don’t respond to #1 above any further than looking into our own performance to see if the results are replicated — and then making optimizations based upon our own wins and losses. However, I do try to respond to #2, if it makes sense (still validated by our own data), because that’s our opportunity to get out front with even less competition bidding us up and competing for market share.
Likewise, with the analysis of day-of-week bidding, I like to do the same for device performance. Which devices are my competitors relying on? Do our results jibe with theirs? Are there opportunities to exploit their weaknesses by bulking up in areas where they aren’t going as hard?
Again — and I can’t reiterate this enough — I don’t recommend making any account changes that go against your own data. If a certain device doesn’t perform well for you, don’t push it harder just because your competitors aren’t. But if your competitors have low market share on mobile, and mobile performs pretty well for you, it might be worth seeing how you can further maximize your footprint.
So many ways to dig into this data. Where to begin? First things first, I like to look at a long date range — say YTD or rolling year — and organize it by month. Take a look at whose market share is fluctuating. Take note.
Then, dig into the reports that you just ran for device and day of the week to see if there have been fluctuations throughout the last six months to a year. Note that within the AdWords UI, you can only look at one segment at a time, but if you download the report, you can add additional segments so that you don’t have to pull multiple segments and mash them up.
These trends could indicate changes in strategy or competitors that are becoming more or less aggressive.
Who doesn’t love a great visual? Sometimes putting things into graph form helps to highlight trends and outliers. Throwing any of the above information into a graph is a great way to glance through the information quickly — and it makes for a much better presentation to higher-ups.
Furthermore, I strongly suggest taking a look at Maddie Cary’s auction insights presentation, “Let’s Get Visual,” for additional ways to graph out auction insights data against campaign trends for further (auction) insights. (See what I did there?)
Hopefully, this has given you a good start with some actionable takeaways, but your analysis doesn’t have to end here. You can use this data as a starting point for a deeper review. Here’s where you can go from here:
Check out your online reviews in comparison to your competitors’ to see if there’s any need for damage control, or even just a need to ensure that your advocates’ voices are heard. Reputation can absolutely play a role in the success or failure of other marketing channels.
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