Chris Sherman presents: Paid Search for Big Brands

By Amanda Sides | Jan 23, 2009
More Articles by Amanda

Last week, Search Engine Land’s Executive Editor Chris Sherman led a webinar for Search Marketing Now entitled “Paid Search for Big Sites, Big Brands.” The presentation offered tips for leading efficient paid search campaigns designed for large-scale brands. The main issues I took away from this presentation follow.

Bidding Strategy

Sherman suggested thinking of your keywords as you would an investment portfolio. Not all of your keywords will be high performers; be sure to have a good balance of high performers to low. You will notice that keyword performance may fluctuate and you may need to adapt your keywords to better perform. It’s a good idea to periodically evaluate and rebalance your keyword lists.

Fold, Call, or Raise?

It is a good idea to learn to watch, learn, and react to your brand’s performance. Just as in a game of Texas Hold’em, you need to know when to appropriately fold, call, or raise. For anyone who has ever played the game, you are aware that doing any of these at the wrong moment can cause your funds to quickly deplete and ultimately lead you nowhere fast. Sherman also noted “Unlike in poker, bluffing rarely works in paid search.” Do not raise bids to get your competitors to do the same and spend more of their budget. One more thing to keep in mind is to stay objective in your opinions; don’t fall in love with a certain set of keywords.

Communication is Key

Clear indications of roles and also communication are crucial for success. Sherman suggested mapping out the role of influencers and owners of content, making sure everyone clearly understands their role and the role of others, and everyone’s responsibilities and evaluation metrics.

Since we are talking about big brands, a lot of times there will be more than one team contributing to paid search efforts. Communication between all contributors is extremely important here. Even if you feel that another team on the account is your competition, you must share information between everyone. This will help avoid conflicting or inconsistent information that could skew your marketing messages. The last thing you want is to confuse searchers.


The webinar advised to use both PPC and SEO for maximum effect. PPC is best used in situations where content is fluid and constantly changing. It is also valuable in regards to promotions and any beginning stages of search. PPC is less effective when using static content; SEO would be better suited. Sherman recommends using PPC to test your creative for SEO campaigns.

Branding ≠ Direct Marketing

Remember: branding can LEAD to conversions, but getting conversions is not the primary goal. Direct Marketing’s focus is on conversions and outcome; the focus should align with the stages of branding.

1. Building brand awareness

2. Reinforcing brand awareness

3. Enhance preferences and favorability

4. Reinforce brand loyalty

In conclusion, paid search for big brands requires not only skilled search marketing techniques, but leadership and effective communication as well. Paid search can be utilized alongside other forms of media to aid in branding efforts; your success will be determined by how well you execute your goals.

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