19 March 2006

Research in the age of AdWords

Talking to a research colleague the other day, he described the use of AdWords to evaluate the attractiveness of products and services at very low cost. The technique sounds useful, but my reservation relates to the difficulty of ensuring that the structure of the AdWord doesn't bias the outcome (see my earlier post on click-through rates). If changing a single word can alter click-through rates by 20%, and the transposition of two lines can change it by 15-25x then this is a research tool that needs to be handled with care.

If the Adword research indicates that there is no strong interest in the product or the service, are you absolutely confident that the Ad itself hasn't got something to do with the result? And, if you are comparing two separate offers, are you confident that the performance of both Ads has been optimised?

I can see how this type of research might be valuable in the sense of a crude go-no go decision on whether or not to proceed, but it lacks the subtlety of a focus group where you can explore the reactions of participants in more depth.

That said, it sounds like a useful additional tool to the marketeer's armoury.

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