Five Ways Paid Search Influences the Zero Moment of Truth

By — 04.16.12

Last year Google published a report titled Winning in the Moment of Truth which analyzes consumer behavior. It’s no secret that shoppers today are making more informed product decisions; taking the time to scan the web, talk with friends and read product reviews before going down the purchase path. Google named this process the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). In addition to maintaining their presence at the store shelf, brands must now take part in the shopper’s research process.

Paid search has a huge impact on the ZMOT. Brands must be available at the moment a person is thinking about buying, and the message must be personal.

Here are a few tips to help you manage paid search for the Zero Moment of Truth:

1.  Branded and non-branded keywords

Branded campaigns are great to capture the shopper who is ready to make a purchase decision. They tend to have higher CTR’s, quality scores, conversion rates, ROAS, and lower CPC’s. Non-branded campaigns have lower performance but they convert more new customers. Your goals for these two should be different, so they should be managed separately. Want more details on how to manage these campaigns separately? Check out our post on brand keywords.

2.  Customer Lifetime Value

Oftentimes we pay for ads when a shopper is researching and not yet ready to buy. There is still value in this, but retailers should consider customer lifetime value (LTV) before deciding how much they’re willing to spend to acquire a new customer. A pet retailer, for example, may choose to pay more for a keyword for puppy food rather than one for senior dog food. LTV is difficult to measure but by integrating with retail databases, Adlucent is able to manage LTV at the keyword, brand, category, and retailer levels.

3.  Ratings & Reviews

We know that user generated content has a big impact on organic search, but it can also drive conversion for paid search. Adlucent conducted a study with a major online retailer that included approximately 67,000 conversions on 9,800 products with at least three reviews. Products with an average rating of 4.0 or more had an impressive 65% higher CVR than those with a rating of 1.9 or less.

Quick fact: 70% of Americans now say they look at product reviews before making a purchase₁

4.  Mobile strategy

Shoppers are using their smart phones to research products and read reviews like never before. It will be a while before you can fully tie together mobile research to in-store purchases, but you can get started by thinking about the metrics your business could use such as online-to-offline return on ad spend, online cost per retail store visit and online-to-offline conversion rate.  You can learn more about ways Google is tying offline to online here.

Quick fact: 79% of consumers now say they use a smart­phone to help with shopping₂

5.  Predicting consumer behavior

For every retailer, there are certain days of the week or times in the year that produce a dramatic shift in conversion rates as shoppers are ready to buy. These can be related to holidays, or as we’ve recently seen in the apparel industry, the shifting weather patterns. Predicting these changes and making tweaks when necessary becomes critical to driving the most revenue during these peak periods. Adlucent uses predictive technology to identify seasons for every product, predicting changes in AOV and CVR and adjusting CPC’s proactively.

Adlucent helps retailers engage with shoppers during the Zero Moment of Truth through a deep understanding of retail consumer behavior. Interested in learning more? Contact us now.

₁ “The New Info Shopper,” Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, 2009
₂ Google/Ipsos OTX MediaCT, “The Mobile Movement Study,” April 2011, N=5,000


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