Pat Stroh-Search Engine Optimization Guru from Impaqt.com
1. What prompted you personally to join this field ?
Ans –First and foremost, I joined the search engine marketing field because it was experiencing tremendous growth and technological / analytical innovation. I felt that my background in database marketing, predictive analytics, and interfacing between technical and non-technical marketing audiences positioned me very well to contribute to the success of IMPAQT. In the field, there were no “out of the box” solutions. Instead, we would be developing new analytical solutions ourselves. That challenge and intellectual reward is what really put me at IMPAQT studying online, search engine marketing.
2. Hows life working at IMPAQT . Is there innovation you would like to share?
Ans-The search engine marketing industry continues to evolve very quickly. Every day there is a new development, in terms of either market structure (partnerships, take-overs, venture fundings, etc.) and technology (from Google or smaller players). Additionally, the broader marketing enterprise is shifting from traditional media to online media. Will that shift inherit many of the characteristics of the paid search / auction model of ad purchasing? So, you not only have to stay on top of the “here and now,” but also think nimbly about how the marketing enterprise is shifting. That makes working at IMPAQT a very high energy place. Consequently, here at IMPAQT we’ve developed SAS
forecasting and modeling programs that are continually refreshed and fine-tuned to react to marketplace dynamics. Our Adaptive Bidding program, for example, forecasts alternative keyword bid scenarios for many thousands of keywords daily, which then get entered into an optimization algorithm that picks the best bid to accomplish specified goals. Those bid/forecast scenarios are updated constantly in reaction to the changing auction marketplace for ads. Of course, those predictive models must be very robust across many different campaigns, keywords, conversion (sales) types, etc. We often laugh about the “traditional” forecast and modeling efforts, which often span months. Our models are prototyped and tested very quickly for different clients, because speed to production is just as important as accuracy. (This lays bare the old axiom that the marginal gain in predictive model accuracy often declines with effort. The key is finding a model that is “accurate enough” without sacrificing speed to production/market.)
3. How do you think the slowdown will affect the online community and industries? Which industries do you see rising, or slowing down?
Ans – The economic slowdown will not dampen the overall movement toward online advertising. In fact, some studies suggest that in certain markets, it might actually accelerate the move toward online as consumers look for bargains online and try to minimize gas consumption via online shopping. Of course, some industries may be impacted differently; some will grow faster than others. But same site sales, year over year, will continue to grow. And even if overall marketing budgets shrink, those in the online arena will continue to grow. We have seen that across the board for our clients, from specialty retailers and CPG companies to even financial firms. Furthermore, as a greater percentage of the overall marketing enterprise moves online for at least the next several years, companies like IMPAQT that specialize in online, auction-based marketing are well-positioned to continuing growing as well. So, despite the economic slowdown, we continue to be excited by what’s just around the corner.
4. What would your advice be to a fresh college graduate or a high school student interested in this field ?
Ans-To be successful in search engine marketing (and its progeny just around the corner), it is very important to have a strong grasp of the underlying technologies that form the backbone of online marketing, including how websites function, database management, and statistics. That’s a tall order, and it’s not necessary to “hit the ground running” in all respects. But students should have a firm foundation for taking that leap into those technical arenas. Mathematics and computer programming, of course, would be at the top of my list for the “engineers behind the scenes.” Additionally, for those with a more managerial focus, I think economics and psychology are very important. What students will find as they take marketing courses too is that technology and social sciences (how people think/decide) are entirely synergistic, and increasingly so as the online experience becomes the dominant marketing platform.
5. Name One Case study where Impaqt.com created massive impact by leveraging its techniques for a client.
Ans- There are several areas where IMPAQT is at the cutting edge of the search engine marketing revolution. First, our Adaptive Bidding platform (which largely rests on SAS technology) has certainly proven that “bulk” keyword-bid management can be improved through a reliance on forecasting and optimization. Daily adjustments in bids according to the current marketplace using sophisticated forecasting algorithms can increase conversions (sales) while also decreasing costs. We are seeing improvements of at least 10% (on both the volume and cost side) for our financial clients (even in a challenging economic situation), as well as greater improvements for specialty retailers and consumer communications companies. That 10%+ improvement in volume at a lower cost, of course, translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars for those national clients. When that happens, we also see a movement toward higher budgets (overall spending) to take advantage of the higher ROI. Another area where we see improved performance is by reaching beyond online metrics like impressions, clicks, and online conversions into the incorporation of traditional media as a predictor in online performance, as well as the measurement of offline/brick and mortar sales that are influenced by search engine marketing. This gives us a clearer picture in terms of our forecasts (given the media environment) as well as the overall (not just online) ROI. At this time, we are still working the myriad complexities of scalability (across industries and clients). But preliminary, one-time studies are showing considerable enhancements in search metric predictability. That, in turn, will cascade down through the Adaptive Bidding algorithms, and further boost bid management. Both of these developments – Adaptive Bidding and Adaptive Bidding w/Media Mix – represent intensive, SAS-based analytical projects that directly connect analytical models to immediate marketing decisions.