"Needless to say, Google delivers us the best ROI" said the client as we kicked off the meeting. This client was rational, understood his math well and this was the best chance I had to dive deeper into the digital ROI jigsaw vis a vis Google. There are many myths propagated about digital marketing and Google is the biggest beneficiary. In most meetings, I found myself defending niche portals. The benchmarks set by Google for its scale, size, credibility and transparency can be countered by equally strong portals with everything Google offers, backed by strong content/product oriented niche portals.
Every marketeer must evaluate Google via a vis Niche portals in similar conditions. The comparison has to be like for periodicity, tenure, keywords etc. Here are just three illustrations demystifying the better ROI myth of Google Adwords.
Step 1: Have you calculated separate ROI for branded and non-branded Keywords?
Google makes your competitors bid and buy what is your trademark/IP. It forces you to defend your own brand by buying the same from Google. If I were blunt, it is a 'Hafta' or 'Protection money' you pay to maintain peace for your business. Assuming you don't buy what is legally your own, it sells your brand Adwords to your competitor and makes him sit on top of you on any search, thus passing your audience to your competitors. Without digressing into the legality of this practise,this is my illustration:
When Brand 'Alpha' talks of average ROI per enquiry being Rs.300, ask him to break it between branded and non-branded keywords. Marketeers and advertisers must remember that people searching for 'Alpha' would still come to them because that was the primary search. Niche sites like Tripadvisor or Zomato or Careers360 deliver non-branded audiences (audiences not looking for 'Alpha' in this case). The real cost is when you compare the non branded keywords cost on Google with niche sites.
In this case, the following happened.
Enquiries generated :1000
Average cost: Rs.300
Total cost :Rs. 3,00,000
'Alpha' branded keyword search cost: 100,000 Total enquiries with 'Alpha': 800
That means, the non-branded keywords cost them 200,000 for 200 enquiries. That is Rs1000 per enquiry.
2. Has the campaign been launched simultaneously on all portals including Google? Many marketeers kick off with the Google campaign while negotiating and closing deals with niche portals.
Let us take an illustration of a car being launched. Here is the illustration.
Car Launched : Zenith.
Date of Launch : 15 August 2014
Print campaign launched:15th August 2014 Google campaign launched: 15th August 2014 Other auto portals launched by 1st Septemener 2014. Total enquiries generated in 3 months:100,000 It is most likely that the 1st 15 days, because of launch euphoria and visibility, more than 30,000 enquiries were generated.
The average CPL should be separated when Google was operating alone at the launch phase. In all possibility, the niche sites, If compared with Google only for the next 75 days (from 1st September) will deliver a better ROI than Google. At least, this has been the experience of CAREERS360. The comparison must be for the same period.
In our experience, when you are inviting applications/bookings with a pre-defined opening and closing date, the bookings you get at both ends of the dates is the genuine brand traction. This audience always belonged to the brand, notwithstanding the marketing. What you get in the middle is the benefits of marketing. The better the brand traction, the more is the traction at the opening dates.
3. Have you measured ROI for current year, month wise Let us take an illustration of educational instruction AAA. As the campaign gets deeper into the season(which is about 4 to 6 months), the rate increases month on month because of greater competition on non-branded keywords. And most buyers ask the niche sites to match the benchmark Google ad rate of the previous year too, while paying more in the current year.
Recently, I told a client "I will trust you. I will bill every month at a 10% discount to the average Google CPL on non-branded keywords for each month". It set the cat amongst the pigeons. He increased the rare by 40% instead. This ensures the bench mark rate is current and moving month on month.
If I were the marketeer, I will remove any and all advertising for non-branded keywords and move those budgets to niche portals. You are most likely to get more bang for the buck! And please stop selling Google as if it is an not for profit organisation. There are enough and more players who are as ethical, transparent, can deliver impact and still be cost effective.
The author is Founder & Chairman, CAREERS 360.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of the publication.