In November 2013, Google announced a new campaign type “Search Network with Display Select”. These are primarily search campaigns but include highly relevant keyword/contextual targeted (more stringently targeted than regular keyword/contextual targeting) impressions on GDN.
Small advertisers have seen some promising results with the campaign type, but adoption in enterprise level accounts, where splitting search and GDN spend is critical to tracking, is low. Even Google suggested that if you use “Search Only” and “Display Only”, that you keep your campaigns as they are.
Display Select Only is Coming
Starting in late July, Google began rolling out “Display Select” only campaigns to a small number of accounts. Eventually, this campaign type will be available in all accounts. This will allow larger advertisers to test the new targeting without muddying their search campaigns with GDN data. In fact, some larger advertisers may already be unknowingly testing this campaign type.
Are You Using Search Companion Marketing Campaigns?
While larger advertisers had low adoption of “Search with Display Select” campaigns, they have had high adoption of Search Companion (SCM) campaigns. The Search Companion campaign type was one of those eternal not-so-secret Adwords betas. Info has been posted on the Adwords community forum as well as on multiple highly-regarded industry blogs. Because of the beta status, implementation has required a Google rep to “flip the switch” so this campaign type is largely used by larger spenders with dedicated reps.
SCM = Display Select Only
So what’s the connection? When the Search Companion beta was released in 2012, the targeting was analogous to “search retargeting” in the traditional display world. A user searches on google.com (or another property where Google was able to capture the search via url parameters) for “mortgage loans”, you use the keyword “mortgage loans” in your SCM campaigns and you are able to target the user on GDN with text and image display ads, after their search, knowing that they are “in market” for a mortgage loan.
That is no longer true. In fact, Search Companion campaigns have not actually been using “search retargeting” for 11 months. Instead, Search Companion beta campaigns, since September of 2013, have been targeting the more stringent adherence to keyword/contextual targeting that is now known as “Display Select” (standalone without the “Search Network” ) and soon will be available in all accounts as a new campaign type.
Surprised? I was too but then I gave it some thought and it all makes sense.
First, I did notice that over the last year, my Search Companion campaign’s placement reports were full of suspiciously topical sites. I found it odd that so many people were consumed with “auto insurance” and “ecommerce software” to the degree that they recently searched for it AND almost exclusively consume GDN content on the same topic.
Also, I asked a Google rep when this shift was made and they pointed me to the September change to secure searching for all users. If search queries are not being passed via urls, even within Google’s own ecosystem, how could Search Companion campaigns be targeting recent searches?
It’s The Performance That Counts
So, if you wish you could test Display Select but couldn’t combine search and GDN budgets, you will now be able to test this campaign type. However, if you’ve been running Search Companion campaigns over the last 11 months, then you already tested Display Select only campaigns. I am one of those that have been using Search Companion quite a bit over the last year. I feel a bit bristled at not being told that they were not in fact “search companion” campaigns for some time, but ultimately it’s the data that matters, and the data is pretty great. Here’s some data from one of my accounts:
With CTRs 3x+ normal keyword contextual targeting and conversion rates 4x, I have to welcome the fact that we will be able to create this type of campaign (whether it’s called Search Companion or Display Select) on the fly, in any account, large or small.
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