Competitive Intelligence Insights from AdGooroo CEO Richard Stokes

Competitive intelligence is a powerful source of insights that enables your company to adjust your approach, differentiate your messaging and drive growth. To that end, as part of Catalyst’s Digital Tech Innovation Series, we interviewed Richard Stokes, Founder and CEO of AdGooroo and authority on digital advertising insights. Richard is a regular speaker at industry events and the author of two books, “The Ultimate Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising” (Second Edition) and “Mastering Search Advertising – How the Top 3% of Search Advertisers Dominate Google AdWords.”

You can find Catalyst’s interview of Richard below, uncovering his insights into the strategies to get the most out of competitive intelligence for your brand. Enjoy!

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What do you see as the most important keys to competitive intelligence gathering with regards to Paid and Organic Search?

You should decide up front what you are trying to accomplish with the data so that you spend your time wisely and monitor the metrics that are going to be most relevant to your goal. Also, you need to make sure you have done the homework up front and are monitoring all relevant keywords, not just the ones you are doing well on. Most paid search managers are heavily biased by what they see in their AdWords reports.

A key to ensuring accurate insights is gathering data locally—with servers on the ground in the geographic area you are monitoring. Remote monitoring no longer works well.

Lastly, it’s important to understand the strengths and limitations of competitive intelligence. For instance, it is not possible to get competitor spends down to the penny, either in whole or in aggregate.

What are the unique aspects of competitive intelligence gathering specific to mobile?

Limited screen space. For instance, paid search matters a lot more than natural search, given the limited screen space of a mobile device. Most people don’t scroll down to the bottom of the page or even to the natural results. Also, there are usually only 2 ads shown (sometimes 3) and these get most of the traffic. If you don’t appear in the Top 2, chances are nobody will see you.

How has digital advertising evolved in the last five years, and what changes do you see down the road?

There is a lot of buzz around Social, Video, and Mobile, mostly because they are seen as “sexy” and agencies are pushing them to get business, not necessarily because they work. They do matter more than they used to, especially interaction with social matters for traditional brands. However, search is still the single most important channel for engaging and influencing in-market consumers while they’re making purchase decisions. Ignore it at your own peril.

With regard to changes in search, there is a huge amount of undetected competitive scalping of traffic. For instance, Chevrolet runs ads on nearly every US car make and model, not just their own.

In your experience, what are the most underutilized aspects of online market research?

Identifying missed opportunities. For instance, a major European automotive company had built their UK strategy around hybrid vehicles but failed to notice that they weren’t appearing for 75% of hybrid-related search terms. Other important but underutilized aspects are identifying new entrants, detecting new product launches as they unfold, determining what messages people are responding to, and aligning search ad copy and offers with other channels, especially television.

Can you give us examples of competitive advertising insights that vary by industry?

One example is the Consumer Packaged Goods industry. Unlike most advertisers who use paid search to sell a product or service on their site, CPG manufacturers use paid search for branding purposes, that is, to build brand relationships with consumers by offering recipes and other content.

Another example is the Luxury category. Luxury brands do not market based on price but rather on the quality of their product and shopping experience for consumers. However, in paid search Luxury brands are often competing with discount and resale sites that are marketing solely on price.

What are the most interesting trends that you are currently seeing with Paid Search?

Product Listing Ads have radically changed paid search for retailers. Showing an image and price is especially compelling for shoppers.

How do your clients create global search strategies using your software?

They start by building out important keyword categories in each market. Then we perform a SWOT analysis for each of these, sometimes using automatic heuristics to quickly distill insights. This is translated into tactics which generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Keyword Expansion/Opportunities
  • Bid Management
  • Ad Copy Optimization

These findings then have to be communicated to the team managing the product. It’s important that they are trained on how to monitor their progress in real time.

What exciting things are coming down the road from AdGooroo?​

We have been monitoring and reporting on Product Listing Ads for more than a year now but will be formally incorporating PLAs into our platform, including spend estimates, later this year. Local Market Data is another data type that’s in the works. On the data delivery side, we have a new Brand Snapshot report that we send each month to clients via email, and we are developing new Dashboards and Alerts that give clients additional options to view their data.

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