I had one of those rare “bubble” flashbacks right in the middle of our team’s discussion about how to describe this blog. The words that had just come out of my mouth were that I thought we needed to “create a category.” Remember those heady days when “creating a category” was the holy grail of Internet venturedom?
That may have been madness, but sometimes….well…you need to create a category. So what is this “SEM Analytics” category we propose to create and embody?
Let’s start with this. Our heritage is in web analytics. For the last eight years we’ve helped a lot of big companies do serious web channel marketing using the best web analysis tools available. We haven’t been in the business of putting out page view reports – we work with companies doing detailed customer behavioral segmentation, targeting changes to maximize response, and analyzing results. Our tools have ranged from best-of-breed web analytics solutions like HBX or Site Catalyst to neural networks and statistical packages. We aren’t a design agency and we aren’t media buyers. We don’t do “colors.”
As our client base gradually shifted dollars and resources from online advertising to SEM, our practice shifted accordingly. And we found, gratifyingly, that Search Engine Marketing rewarded sophisticated analytic approaches even more than web behavior. Why is that? Here are a couple of reasons: SEM is more goal oriented, SEM changes can often be performed more quickly and measured more discretely than website changes, SEM involves additional factors that lend themselves to complex analysis (e.g. bid management, keyword discovery), and SEM is a competitive multi-player game – inherently more complex than simple situations like you and your customer face-to-face on the website.
So SEM Analytics (and this blog) is about the application of powerful statistical and analytic techniques to the understanding of almost every part of Search Engine Marketing. We’ve done work and even created tools in areas as different as Google bid optimization, competitive landscaping, brand analysis, keyword discovery, ad conversion optimization and content-match optimization. I’m going to talk about what approaches we’ve found to be interesting, what failed, and why we think people need to re-think Search Engine Marketing to take account of rigorous analysis.
This is all fascinating stuff – stuff we love – and I hope by talking about it more people will come to realize that most of what passes for knowledge in this field is nothing more than self-serving anecdotal nonsense.
I remember long ago reading a quote from a scientist asked about the existence of UFO’s – “Listen,” he said, “ I don’t know if UFOs exist or not – but I know how much work it takes to answer a question like that as a scientist – and I know those who say UFOs exist haven’t done the work.” I feel pretty much the same way about most of what I read and hear in the world of SEM. My goal is to help people understand how much and what kinds of work it takes to really think well about SEM.