Adding Personalization to Search Improves Relevance
Personalization is an emerging marketing strategy that really works. A recent Adobe survey found that return on investment from personalization is more than seven to one, with 66 percent of respondents indicating they will be increasing investment in personalization strategies over the next five years. While many advertisers have used personalization on their website or email to create relevant content and offers, not many have thought about applying it to search.
Search has grown from a manual, analytics-based channel to a largely algorithm-based automated one. In this environment, many advertisers allow computers to do the decision making. However, it doesn’t have to be so black or white. Applying a layer of personalization over automated search strategies can help pack the one-two punch — good keyword search rankings with relevant messaging, too.
In fact, there are features within Google Ads that enable ad copy personalization. When used effectively, they can result in a significant increase to clickthrough rate and performance.
Rethink Keyword Copy With Location and Customizers
Typically, a search strategy involves creating very granular themes of keywords and ad groups. The text ad variations that are created and tested are tailored to the themes. Google AI has taken over some of the testing through its introduction of responsive search ads, but even when using the responsive or expanded text ad format, the copy is typically focused around the keyword. The next level in search copy creation is to think about both the keyword and the individual that will be seeing the copy. That requires a new approach to ad copy creation.
Google Ads actually has two different features that can help tailor the ad copy not just to the keyword, but to the individual as well: Geo and Audience Ad Customizers.
The Geo Ad Customizer can be used to become more relevant to an individual based on location. The feature allows an advertiser to dynamically insert copy into an ETA search ad based on either the searcher’s location or their location of interest.
This location-based personalization allows for advertisers to tailor copy based on different pricing, product availability or locations of their own stores, or to be more relevant to someone’s needs based on where they're searching from. For example, if someone searches for “pajamas” from Minnesota, the copy could be tailored to include “flannel pjs.” A retail chain could use someone’s location to populate their nearest location and share how far the drive is.
Advertisers can also use this concept based on the location someone is looking up. If someone searches for “hotels rooms in Las Vegas,” a hotel chain can share the lowest prices for rooms in its Las Vegas location, for example.
Google actually makes creating geo-customized ad copy relatively easy. Rather than having to create a separate campaign for each location with custom copy, advertisers can associate unique copy for each location with a feed and let Google do the work using a customizer. If executed well, geo-customized ad copy can provide a significant increase in performance.
If location isn’t available or useful, advertisers can create ad copy that's personalized using an audience customizer. This allows an advertiser to adjust its copy if the searcher falls within a particular audience group, such as a Remarketing or Customer Match Audience. This feature allows for very detailed ad copy personalization with creative tailored to a particular audience.
A customizer can be used to decide what type of promotion or discount to offer. For example, if a searcher falls into a group of people who are high-value prospects, they might be offered a bigger discount. Customizers can also be used to change the copy to appeal to different groups. For example, an amusement park can specify that one audience might prefer messages about its roller coaster, while another audience clicks on copy about its water park. Or a hotel brand could use customizers to feature its rewards program to searchers who are non-loyalty members while using a message about safety and well-being to other searchers.
With both personalization options, copy can be tested and improved upon based on clickthrough rate and, ultimately, conversion. Just like any other element of a search strategy, the elements that are personalized are part of the entire customer journey, from research to purchase. Testing a variety of versions and using different data inputs to segment users can help advertisers find the right approach that makes personalization a positive addition not only for the searcher, but for the bottom line as well.
Randy Stark is SEM sales engineer at ADARA, the word's leading permissioned data and digital identity solution.