By taking a good look at query trends across devices, marketers have a better chance of delivering a good return on investment.
It’s been said that timing is everything. It is well understood that in the old world of TV advertising you have to be at the right channel at the right time to reach your target audience. This is also true in the world of search advertising, where determining the best time (morning, lunchtime, or evening) and channel (mobile, PC, or tablet) to advertise has usually been a guessing game. Successful search advertising ultimately means reaching your audience when they’re most receptive to your message. But this is much easier said than done, especially with the multitude of devices that demand the attention of customers.
The good news? With the plethora of data available from searches, it’s now possible to see when and where customers are at a given time. So Bing Ads researchers took a look at query trends to get a clearer sense of search behavior, and how it can affect conversions and return on investment (ROI).
Pinpoint Search Behavior, Increase ROI
User intent, and by extension, advertiser ROI, varies by device type, day of week, and time of day. By understanding and taking advantage of these variations, advertisers can maximize ROI and budget utilization.
Query volume fluctuations by time of day, for example, provide important insights. On weekdays, PC traffic peaks in the morning when most folks are starting their day at work in front of a computer, and tablet and mobile traffic peaks in the evening, once they are home from their work commute. Weekends have a later ramp-up, and mobile and tablet combined has higher contribution to total volume in the weekend compared to weekdays.
We took an even closer look, and created activity buckets for any given weekday (of course normalized for user time zone).
For Lower CPA, Later Is Better
When we look across the marketplace, cost per action (CPA) is low in the early morning, peaks during the morning work hours, and – regardless of device - decreases for the rest of the day.
This is yet another reason to never run out of budget early. If you do, you will miss out on the lower CPA clicks later in the day, and get a lower ROI than you would if you spread your budget throughout the day.
This data suggests that users are more research-oriented on mobile devices in the morning, and more prone to convert at night. However, the definition of "conversion" might differ from mobile to PC based on a given user’s specific intent, and last-click attribution doesn’t help much when it comes to understanding device performance. As a result, serving on portable devices may be undervalued. For Bing Ads, the recently launched Universal Event Tracking feature helps measure conversions on all devices through cross-device attribution. Over time, this approach will give us even deeper data to analyze.
We also looked at a metric called "good clicks per conversion" (GCPC). "Good clicks" are clicks our platform has identified as leading to high-quality engagement with the advertiser’s site based upon time spent on advertiser’s site and similar metrics. GCPC tells us how many "good clicks" are needed on average to get one conversion. When GCPC is high, a lot of quality clicks leads to few conversions. This is indicative of research behavior on the part of the user.
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