local media insider

Ten tactics to sell paid search profitably

Alisa Cromer
Building internal expertise is worth it, say top media execs who have done it.

Margins are thin, and most of the money goes to Google. However, media companies successfully selling Google AdWords claim it's not only worthwhile, but also "foundational" to a selling digital services.  Here are ten tactics to make your Google Adwords sales ar profitable from day one. These tactics comes from  Amie Stein, Training and Development Director, Local Media Association and key media AdWords sellers at the 2013 Digital Agency Summit:

Tactic 1 – “Just do it” 

Google AdWords accounts for  33% of local  ad spend and 50% of all digital advertising and so just by getting in the game, local media can get a foot in the door with new businesses.

Less understood, but more important to net revenue growth,  is the use of  AdWords sales to  reduce churn.  

"My perspective is that the #1 reason to sell paid search is for customer retention. There is a real struggle in the organic space, and this is one more piece in the relationship,”  said Amie Stein,  Training and Development Director, Local Media Association. 

"Customer churn for publishers is huge. You don’t eliminate churn by single digit points. Selling paid search is critical to embedding ourselves in a deeper way and layering pieces on."

Tactic 2 - Bundle AdWords management into “be found” packages

The first place to add Google AdWords is to tiers of "be found" services.

Consumers prefer organic listings,  however  results often deliver too few local merchants,  so they will often scan right back up to paid. search. 

Bundle paid search with  listings verification and optimization, Google+ (the source for Google maps) and reputation management (the scarily dominant Yelp can never be factored out).  Correctly priced, PPC can be  "buried' in the SEO package.

Allow merchant to choose one of three, or  two of  four addtional choices,  in the second and third tier of monthly programs. So they could choose, for example to invest more in paid search or paid display ads. Add social media management or listing optimization. 

3. Add paid search to targeted display campaigns

Layering targeted display ads using the Google network into the buy can help fill highly targeted buys where inventory is  especially thin.

"This tactic supplements display reach of the media .com, since Google reaches 90% of internet users,"  Stein said.

Like traditional ad networks, Google provides targeting by  context, interest, behavior and retargeting.   Price campaigns managed on the Google display network  by marking up CPM's. 

Tactic 4 - Expand into the B2B market

Selling AdWords broadens the market and allows reps to sell beyond traditional categories and geographical areas.

Many local digital sellers now approach industrial parks, manufacturers and other companies in the B2B space, with Google AdWords management services as an important part of the digital offerings.   

Tactic 5 – Find “hidden gems” by analyzing category leaders

Top local categories by spend on Google AdWords include: Finance, Retail, Education, Home and Garden, Vehicles, Consumer Electronics, Telecom and Internet, Business and Industrial and Occasions and Gifts.

Stein suggest that digital specialists identify the key search terms for these categories, then look for companies which are dominant locally,  but do not have as much organic and paid search exposure that their  competitors do. These are ideal qualified prospects. 

Paid search allows companies to enter a marketing agreement without a challenging budget, so this can be a great foot in the door with some potentially large customers.

Tactic 6 - Sell 12 to 18 month contracts and take credit cards

Paid campaigns on annual contracts add "stickiness" to buys that include other high margin, but short term products.

Since margins are so thin, ad directors who sell AdWords successfully insist  long contracts with credit card payment.

There is another key reason. Unlike display ads, paid search, like organic search,  often takes time to  "mature" often after a couple rounds of optimization. Better quality scores dependent in part on history of the account, which rewards longevity. 

Finally, keeping AdWords "always turned on"  keeps the relationship with the customer going  after large seasonal buys have gone dark. 

Tactic 7 – Sell product listing ads 

Product ads show up between top ads and the organic listings, and have many benefits: Lower CPC, double and triple the CTR, ease of management, and, used with AdWords or organic listings, allow for double exposure. 

Use product adsfor any kind of e-commerce oriented business, including automotive, local boutiques and the appliance/electronics, furniture and outdoors. 

Google shopping is an additional product; these "products" appear on the top right corner, and link  to Google merchant center. The reseller services is helping merchants put put items into the merchant center, which has its own site and search network.  

Tactic 8 -  Get out the vote in 2014 

Google AdWords provides another layer for selling political ads in 2014.  Stein suggests capitalizing on the ability to target by congressional district and retarget voter registration searches.

Tactic 9 - Sell Google Grants to non-profits

While Google Grants are currently not accepting applications, when they do, they provide credit for $10,000 a month in search network campaigns for non-profits with 501c(3) status. 

On average approved non-profits spend only $331 a month of the $10,000 allowed, mostly because they don’t have the professional campaign management required.  

Tactic 9 - Become an educator

Stein  advises hosting  "Clicks n coffee" events for business segments in the community, during which a trainer makes a 60 minute search presentation and the sales team is on hand for follow-up calls. 

Tip: Use direct mail to market these events; email is cheap but SMB's  are often on email overload. 

Tactic 10 - Do it better: Train your trainer and/or hire a third party

Expertise provided by the media’s inhouse agency is a key differentiator; Google is constantly tweaking it’s products and algorhythms so bringing expertise to merchants is part of the value proposition.

One way to develop internal expertise is to train digital reps to pass the  Google AdWords certification. Even if you use a third party buyer, training in AdWords is basic training on Internet marketing in general, since it covers so much territory . 

Onsite training prices very, but run around $349  per individual using Local Media Association’s certification program. This group also offer online training, as does  Google’s learning center, but the exams are increasingly difficult. 

Find top third party AdWords managers who offer  white label partnerships at MediaExecsTech.com.

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

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