Google Insights vs. Competitive Intelligence Solutions

Lorna Gill Posted by Lorna Gill

Here we compare Google’s Auction Insights reports with Adthena’s competitive intelligence solutions

With ever-increasing volumes of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) data made available to the public and an extensive range of purpose-built tools designed to assist you in making informed strategic decisions, there are now more opportunities than ever to get that all-important edge on the competition.

The world of SEM is evolving at an exciting rate. With so many tools available, it’s hard to know which will give you the most definitive results. Essentially, you want to know that you are at least holding your own – if not excelling in comparison to your major competitors.

Google Auction Insights

Google’s Auction Insight report tool launched in 2012 with the intention of revolutionising the world of ad impressions and signalling a new age in technology and business. However, the product itself has failed to live up to Google’s own high standards.

As Andrew Young of Core and More Technologies notes, Auction Insight is a reliable and accurate gauge simply “by virtue of what Google is.” What it is is the undisputed global head honcho of internet search, connecting businesses and consumers more effectively than any other service provider in history.

As you are no doubt aware, when someone searches for something specific on Google, the Adwords system displays all ads with keywords matching that search, displaying those with a sufficiently high Ad Rank while ignoring those deemed ineligible.

Your Ad Rank is based on a combination of factors, including the size of your bid and the quality of the ad. It’s still possible for your ad to win a higher position on the search results page than that of your competitor, even at a lower price – all it takes is a combination of highly relevant keywords,the right ad copy and, last but not least, a strong quality score.

But how do you know if you are outperforming your competitors?

Enter Auction Insights

Google Auction Insights allows you to recognise and analyse your competition on a per-auction basis. It provides valuable information about your ads compared to the ads of those competing in the same auction.

This information includes the average position of your Adwords advertisements across search result pages, the percentage share of total possible impressions you are receiving, how often your ad appears at the top of the page, how often the ads of other participants are ranking above yours, and how often you are receiving the same impressions as your competition.

Such information is available at the keyword, ad group, and campaign levels. By collecting, analysing, and reacting to this data, you have the potential to make informed decisions concerning your bids, budgets, and keyword choices. Users can also look at multiple keywords individually or in groups in order to obtain a more comprehensive overview of the competition.

There is, however, a limit on what can be learned. The report will not reveal the value of specific keywords you are using to your competition, nor will it give you this information about others, let alone their full keyword set, campaign structures or ad copy strategy.

It’s understandable: due to Google’s inherent requirement to be a neutral player on its own auction platform, Auction Insights is not designed to arm you with the killer insight that gives you a decisive advantage over your competitors.

So whilst the tool is definitely useful, the product’s scope is not exhaustive. There are certain areas which call for more specialised competitive intelligence solutions specifically designed to help you respond to activity within your own markets.

Competitive Intelligence Tools

At first glance, the number of competitive intelligence options on the market might seem overwhelming. Bearing this in mind, make sure you pick the right tool for the job. Different businesses should use different tools.

According to Search Marketing expert Jacob Hagemann, it is important for businesses to focus on the sources of traffic that work best for them. This could mean search, email marketing, social media, or something else altogether. As Hagemann says on Search Engine Journal, “a good competitive intelligence tool should focus 100% on one channel.”

Competitive intelligence tools are excellent at highlighting the actions of SEM competitors, as well as which of these competitors are providing similar products and services. They can also help you assess the competitiveness of the market while revealing which competitors and keywords are performing best.

Services like Adthena use different aspects of search marketing metrics like share of voice, ad copy, and keyword analysis to provide a comprehensive insight of your business as it relates to its relevant competitors.

By providing detailed, up-to-date information relating to the keyword landscape, Adthena and other competitive intelligence services help you gain, develop and secure your market share, while remaining unbiased about how you decide to spend.

Perhaps most significantly, these tools make financial sense. The detail they provide can help you see where you are under or overspending, allowing you to maximise your return on investment and ultimately acquire more customers.

One Australian insurance company was able to save around $500,000 per year after Adthena noted that one of its major competitors was pausing PPC campaigns over the weekend. Instead of benefitting from increased traffic for a lower CPC, the company was actually paying more per click to fill the void.

By following suit and opting out of weekends, Adthena’s client was able to devote more of its budget to more profitable weekdays, thus yielding the best possible return on its spending.

Not only can companies save money on their spend by being more efficient, they can also save time, with easily accessible intelligence they need to make informed decisions at their fingertips.

The question then becomes: Auction Insight or competitive intelligence tools? A good Competitive Intelligence for Search tool can do everything Auction Insights offers and goes above and beyond that. It’s perfect to cover all bases and ensure you’re set up to excel without using a half-hearted biased solution like Auction Insights.

Auction Insights is great when you are a small advertiser (such as the pizza store around the corner etc) with less than £5k spend on PPC per month, you are likely to see a uplift in visibility, but competitive intelligence solutions like Adthena should be a toolkit essential for everyone who seriously spends in PPC and for whom PPC is an important channel.

You want to remain competitive in your industry and possess the scope to identify opportunities before your competitors can discover them. Harnessed correctly, Adthena can give you valuable insights into what your competitors are doing and ensure that you are getting good ROI on your SEM spending.

Whichever tools you do use, ensure that you check up on and update your practice frequently. Allow competitive intelligence to inform your decisions, help you plan budgets, and track your performance as your company grows and develops.

(Main image credit: SEO/Flickr)

About the author

Lorna Gill
Lorna Gill
Lorna is responsible for acquisition marketing at Adthena, communicating their award-winning product and generating demand. She has developed her career in fast-paced, start-up environments, including two tech track 100 companies and is passionate about translating technical information into stories that excite and delight.