Mobile Commerce Daily is now Retail Dive: Mobile Commerce! Click here to learn more! exec says mobile deserves starring role in SEM, product searches

PALM DESERT, CA – A executive at eTail West 2015 discussed the importance of attribution in search engine marketing and stressed the need for mobile bidding as the mcommerce sector grows larger, suggesting that cross-device attribution should be at the forefront of retailers’ minds.

An executive at the “Display and Search Summit: Keynote: This Is How To Run an Efficient SEM Program” and “PLA Keynote Panel Discussion: What Works Today And What Doesn’t” sessions at eTail West 2015 pointed out optimal strategies for brands to use to maximize their SEM efforts and increase revenue. He tapped mobile as the dark horse in the race, advising retailers to use their ad groups to focus on mobile bidding and ensure that consumers have a cohesive search experience across all digital platforms.

“Mobile has come in bigger and stronger than anyone expected,” said Nicholas Gadacz, director of SEM, Walmart Labs,, Mountain View, CA. “Wherever you are on the buying funnel, mobile is affecting you.

“On, mobile traffic hit about 50 percent during the holidays.”

Cross device attribution
Mr. Gadacz highlighted how paramount it is for retailers to have SEM efforts that stretch across each digital channel, from mobile to tablet to desktop.

“The user starts a search on their mobile phone and later that night, they jump over to desktop and convert,” Mr. Gadacz said. “You have to be able to make that jump.”

Therefore, having a sound attribution model is an optimal strategy for augmenting brand sales.

“Attribution is the foundation of everything,” he said. “If you don’t have the correct attribution, you will have so many problems down the road.”

The key to having a good attribution model is working in conjunction with the brand’s financial department and displaying suggestions for increased budgeting, such as creating a forecast, moving to monthly or quarterly budgets, and educating executives on where the brand falls on the efficiency curve.

“The attribution model should not be created inside of your search department,” Mr. Gadacz said.

Mobile bidding should also be at the forefront of retailers’ minds, although A/B testing is also paramount.

“Before, your ad group was used to write ads,” Mr. Gadacz said. “Now, your ad group is all about mobile bidding.

“Mobile is so big that it really does matter, and to be able to control your efficiencies, this is an absolute must.”

PLA versus search
The rapidly rising growth of product listing ads also points to shoppers’ tendencies to search for products on mobile devices, prompting brands to allocate some of their marketing and financial budgets to them.

“The biggest difference between search and PLAs is control,” said Ian MacDonald, head of ecommerce at Silver Star Brands, Appleton, WI. “There is a huge loss of control that could be a real challenge.

“For us, we want everything. We’re in the Walmart marketplace, we’re in the Amazon marketplace.

“We just want to be there and knock a competitor to page two,” he said.

Product listing ads have also been tricky for, as the brand maintains a massive catalog of items, and wants to ensure that a good amount of those products are receiving active impressions and clicks. Mr. Gadacz revealed that less than 60 percent are at that level, although it is mostly due to Google’s tendency to select and display one of thousands of options that users have gravitated towards.

Therefore, the brand prefers to keep an experimental script for new items to determine what the appropriate bid should be.

Retailers should also focus on image optimization, as shoppers are likely to be enticed by a tiny thumbnail of a product.

Ultimately, brands must analyze their SEM strategies and place a higher focus on mobile bidding to compete with the crowded space.

“Attribution is the foundation of everything,” Mr. Gadacz said. “You should definitely know where you are on the efficiency curve.

“SEM is so accountable, so you want to align your SEM department with finance rather than align your SEM department with marketing.

“Mobile bidding is a huge part of it,” he said. “No matter what tool you’re using out there, the data algorithm is only as good as the data you’re feeding into it.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York