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Assess Brand Traffic Incrementality with Reports to Fill Holes in SEO & SEM

Published: October 31, 2013

Author: Eric Smith

Google’s launch of Paid & Organic reporting in late August got a fair amount of hype around the SEM blog scene, and for good reason. Direct analysis of paid vs. organic queries is a great tool for evaluating paid brand incrementality and identifying relevant, high-volume queries that do not generate paid or organic listings.
Well, I’ve gotten my webmaster tools accounts linked and accrued a good amount of data. So far my findings from the report have been incredibly useful.
Brand Incrementality
One of the most important features of this report is the ability to look at cannibalization of brand terms by paid ads.  Obviously, it doesn’t make sense to invest heavily into advertising on brand terms if you would ‘get those clicks anyway’ through SEO listings. Typical brand incrementality tests are on/off, which means they are time-consuming and often produce ambiguous results since they are not strict A/B tests. While still important and sometimes necessary (too evaluate conversion data), this report adds a new tool to the repertoire.
The clicks/query stats for combined and organic are the most important things to note here. You can see that the clicks/query (organic CTR) does drop a bit when an ad is shown; however, the large increase in overall C/Q when both are shown points to ad clicks being highly incremental. This is brand/competitor/vertical-specific and won’t be the case for all advertisers, so it’s best to evaluate this for every account.
Incremental CPA
After quantifying brand traffic incrementality, the next step is to take a look at channels’ specific conversion rates and calculate true incremental CPA by:
Incremental Conversions / Cost
Keep this CPA in mind when evaluating brand performance, as it is the actual cost per conversion that you wouldn’t get from organic traffic alone. It will be higher than the CPA you are used to seeing in AdWords, but hopefully still profitable since brand ads are typically highly incremental, cheap, and convert strongly.
­­Hunting for SEM and SEO Terms
If you are already looking at SEO data in another analytics platform, this report doesn’t really add any functionality. It does, however, make it easier to find areas where paid & organic overlap is weak. Having all the data in one place with simple filters (including average rank) makes comparisons much quicker.
Useful Filters
SEO traffic, no paid ads
This is a great way to find additional relevant keywords and tokens that aren’t currently in an account.
High SEM volume, little or no SEO traffic
Filter 2
These should be good, converting terms- you are paying for them after all!  Make these a priority for SEO optimization.
The addition of visible SEO data into AdWords is great for coordinating SEM and SEO efforts. It’s also allows for usable at-a-glance brand evaluation, which is a pain point for many advertisers who are concerned with brand ad spend. There are additional rank filters available as well, which allow for comparisons in performance between paid and organic copy in similar positions. Setup is simple, so there’s every reason to implement ASAP.

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