Heroview- The Future of Personal Computing and Its Effect on PPC

As we continue our monthly interviews with PPC experts, our February Heroview featured David Szetela (@Szetela), Chief Marketing Officer for Bionic Click, and former Owner and CEO of Clix Marketing. David is very involved in personal computing, and here he shares some insights on how technology is evolving as well as how PPC will be effected.

PPC Hero: Welcome to today’s Heroview, everyone. Real-time interviews featuring PPC experts from around the industry! Today, David Szetela will talk with us about The Future of Personal Computing and How PPC Will Be Effected. Welcome, David!

David: Thanks for having me “on.”

PPC Hero: To start, why don’t you give us a brief recap of your background?

David: I started my career in the personal computer industry. My second job was working for Apple Computer, where I spent 7 years managing developer-related departments. We spent a lot of time at Apple talking about how personal computing would evolve which is why I stayed interested in the topic. In 2004 I founded Clix Marketing, one of the first PPC-only agencies, and I sold the agency to Clix employees last year. During the past 7 years I’ve spoken at numerous conferences, hosted the weekly radio show PPC Rockstars, taught PPC advertising for @MarketMotive , written a zillion articles, and wrote two books on PPC – including the Wiley book “PPC on 1 Hour a Day” with @JoeKerschbaum. Now I’m CMO of Bionic Click, a vendor of call tracking solutions for PPC advertisers. Whew! Back to you, PPCH!

PPC Hero: Goodness, @Szetela! You’ve been busy! 🙂

David: I try 😉

PPC Hero: Even though we will be talking about the future, give us your take on PPC on Mobile devices. Has it been a game changer?

David: For many industry segments, mobile certainly has been a game changer. Certainly for professional services and local businesses, mobile-based conversions – mainly phone calls – have eclipsed website-based conversions. This has been enabled/driven by the meteoric rise in the adoption of smartphones and Google and Microsoft allowing multiple options for PPC advertisers to drive phone calls and traffic to mobile websites. As I say in the article and blog post upon which this interview is based, “For most people on the planet, following will soon be true; their first, and only personal computing device will be their smartphone.” So yes – game changing is happening FAST. Here’s a link to the blog post to which I just referred: http://www.clixmarketing.com/blog/2011/04/27/want-to-know-what-the-future-of-media-screens-are-try-looking-at-the-past/.

PPC Hero: In, “Is Search Dying?,” you mention that traditional browsers may become obsolete. Tell us more about small space search.

David: I meant two things; traditional search behavior – typing a search term into a search engine – is being supplanted by the act of searching in “smaller spaces” – searching on Yelp, iTunes, etc., where the search results are more relevant to the searcher, and less cluttered with irrelevant search results. The fact is, most people are not “happy researchers.” They don’t enjoy or have the patience to wade through irrelevant search results, or do repeat searches, in order to get what they want. Searching for an App on Google is nuts; searching on iTunes or the Android Market will deliver better results faster.

PPC Hero: Why would this change to the way we use our personal devices be so important for Search Marketers to embrace?

David: Because increasingly the search action will not lead to a traditional web site. When a search happens on Yelp, the “conversion action” is a phone call or an offline visit to a storefront. When a search happens on LinkedIn, the conversion action is an email to a profile owner, or a request for an introduction. So marketers will need to adopt new ways of ‘driving traffic” to these “small search spaces,” and the biggest challenge is for marketers to get an accurate, consolidated view of the aggregation of all conversion types.

PPC Hero: With technology and conversion actions changing, how do you suggest that Search Marketers keep up with the trends? What resources are helpful?

David: Lots of good resources. My favorite, of course, is PPC Hero…

PPC Hero: *blushing*

David: I use Twitter to follow @PPCHero and all of the great blog posts and links you produce. A few that I’ve created: first, a Twitter list that includes most of the people who regularly Tweet about PPC topics. URL is https://twitter.com/#!/Szetela/ppc-advertising-experts. I also recommend following #PPCchathttps://twitter.com/#!/search/%23ppcchat – for weekly interactive discussions. The LinkedIn group I created, now at 6,000+ members: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/PPC-Pro-People-1217347.

PPC Hero: What factors and metrics are going to be important to measure in the future?

David: As always, measuring conversions is uber-important – and in the future, as just mentioned, that’s going to become more difficult for advertisers as some/many of those conversions happen off-site. In the near term, I think it’s very important for PPC advertisers to measure all mobile activity – phone number impressions, phone calls, cost per phone call, etc… I leave it up to Google and third parties like @Acquisio to give us more tools to measure non-web, non-phone-call conversions.

PPC Hero: Do you think tracking conversions will be more difficult due to number of technological choices people will have?

David: Absolutely. I think tracking all aggregate conversions – especially sales of physical goods – is a really tough problem, but I know it’s a high priority for Google, Microsoft & third-party analytics companies to make headway. Don’t expect tools and methods to be prevalent, cheap, or free for many years. Remember that a really good estimate is better than no data at all.

PPC Hero: How do you think conversions will be effected? What kind of conversion goals will companies find valuable?

David: #1 on many advertisers’ list is phone calls. Even though not every phone call is a closed lead or completed sale, a good estimate or extrapolation is better than no data at all. For many advertisers, the second new conversion goal will be interaction with an App. Since it is relatively cheap & easy for any company to create an App, there’s little barrier to reaching people who prefer apps over search. And Apps can be wired to feed data into analytics packages like Google Analytics, so aggregating conversion data is within reach now.

PPC Hero: With new technology, where can we expect searchers to fall into the sales cycle? Will it shorten the cycle for businesses?

David: Yes, I believe so. Look at Yelp: people wait until the last minute to research restaurants, tire stores, etc. Then they make an immediate decision to call or visit the business. Or look at Apps – i haven’t seen data to prove this, but I suspect that most people who download apps run those apps immediately or within a short time.

PPC Hero: Can you tell us what the top 3 elements to optimize in your PPC accounts will be with this expansion of personal search?

David: Yes – first, get your feet wet with all Google and Microsoft phone PPC capabilities. This includes all Google Call Extensions (which includes the ability to display and track phone numbers in ads on the SERP even on desktops and laptops) and click-to-call ad formats. Second, when appropriate, use AdWords Location Extensions, which, especially on mobile devices, provides a Yelp-like experience. Third, something we haven’t discussed yet: experiment with Google’s variant of Display advertising called Interest-based Advertising – whereby ads are targeted to individuals, not sites or via keywords. It’s a step towards a future where the advertiser need not know or direct exactly where ads will appear – Google takes care of ensuring the person viewing the ad is a member of the advertiser’s target audience. It’s not perfect, but it will give advertisers experience with ad-targeting methods that will become more important in the future.

PPC Hero: What kind of changes can we make now in our accounts as Search Marketers to be better prepared for the future?

David: Make sure that the campaigns directed to each channel are separate so that you can fine-tune parameters for best results. For example, Mobile click-to-call campaigns should be separate from campaigns that are intended to bring visitors to mobile-enabled web sites.

PPC Hero: How can we try to tailor our PPC ad copy towards all of the different technology options to best capture our audience?

David: Every ad should include a call to action that matches the conversion action the advertiser wants the respondent to take. So for example, click-to-call mobile ads should include “Call Now!”

PPC Hero: What is your personal take on the advancement of personal computing? Any cons to go with the pros?

David: Every tool can be used for good or evil. While people like to know about goods & services that match their desires & needs, eventually ad fatigue could set in – imagine ads on American currency, for example. A big con could be the “creeped out” factor – ads seeming to follow people wherever they go on the Web – and eventually wherever they go in physical space – see the movie Minority Report as an example. Two good recent articles on the topic: http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/a-guide-to-the-digital-advertising-industry-thats-watching-your-every-click/252667/ & http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?_r=4&pagewanted=1 (thanks to @itsjustshelley & @askhowie).

PPC Hero: To wrap things up, what is the number 1 thing that Search Marketers should keep in mind while preparing for these future changes?

David: #1 thing: stay informed about what is happening in the Mobile space. Several of the topics I touched on today will be reported “there” first. One great resource: regular stories published by the Mobile Marketing Association. See http://www.google.com/sites/help/intl/en/mobile-landing-pages/mlpb.html – and read my article that was the basis for today’s chat http://www.clixmarketing.com/blog/2011/04/27/want-to-know-what-the-future-of-media-screens-are-try-looking-at-the-past/. Download the associated PowerPoint deck to see additional suggestions for marketers.

PPC Hero: That was such great information! Thanks so much for joining us today! Yet another successful Heroview!

David: You’re welcome – I’m very grateful to have been invited!

PPC Hero: Everyone make sure to check out next month’s #Heroview on PPC for eCommerce with @slivengood