Anticipated changes in paid search performance, such as increases in RPC or decreases in conversion rate, create a common challenge that all bidding strategies must address—seasonality. To account for seasonal changes in performance, like the holiday shopping season, search marketers must constantly analyze year-over-year performance and adjust bids according to identifiable trends. Whether you’re driving clicks, increasing conversions, or maximizing revenue, accounting for these types of fluctuations in performance is critical to success in highly dynamic and competitive bidding environments. By deploying boost schedules, where bids are increased or decreased over specified time periods, search marketers can optimize their campaigns ahead of expected fluctuations in RPC or conversion rate. For example, a marketer might bid aggressively or dampen bids for in-season and off-season products, respectively. A bidding strategy that doesn't adjust bids for seasonality will fail to capitalize on critical revenue opportunities throughout the year, enabling competitors to capitalize instead.
For more information on how to determine an optimal boost during seasonal periods, please see our tutorial on adjusting bids for seasonality.
Cyclical, as opposed to seasonal, shifts in RPC or conversion rate can last for time periods shorter or longer than a calendar year. In paid search, these trends are typically observed as day-of-week or time-of-day fluctuations in performance. For example, an increase in mobile conversion rate during afternoons and evenings, or a decrease in desktop RPC during weekends. To account for cyclical trends, search marketers must analyze campaign performance across multiple weeks, identifying day-to-day changes in RPC or conversion rate; and in more sophisticated bidding strategies, analyze hourly changes in performance. Once these trends have been identifying, search marketers can implement dayparting strategies unique to each campaign, where keyword bids are boosted or dampened by day or by hour to maximize paid search performance.
Addressing Seasonal and Cyclical Data
Accounting for shifts in consumer behavior, whether it’s seasonal or cyclical is critical to a sound paid search bidding strategy. However, increases and decreases in RPC and conversion rate often results in periods of irregular performance. Consequently, bidding solutions and tools that don’t exclude this data may calculate suboptimal bids. So how do search marketers account for periods of incomplete or irregular data? Next time, we’ll take a closer look at addressing conversion latency and the importance of excluding abnormal search data from bid calculations.