Three Paid Search Lessons Learned from Topeka Tourism Board

This morning I read a blog post titled “How Topeka Capitalized On Google’s April Fools’ Joke”. In my opinion the only company that capitalized on this was Google not Topeka Tourism Board. There were three big mistakes Topeka made in trying to cash in on the Google’s April fools prank.

Hopefully, they did not lose a lot of money on this campaign and generated some awareness of Topeka. At least they got free placement on my blog.

There are three lessons to be learned from their mistakes:

  1. Determine the goals of your paid search – What is the purpose of your Paid Search Campaign? Make sure you are not attracting a lot of unqualified clicks. In this case the purpose of buying paid search was not clear. Just because a high volume on a keyword was happening does not mean all that traffic is qualified for your business.
  2. Define KPIs before you start spending money – Figure out how you will measure success. In this case they did not have any way to measure success. They listed number of impressions and clicks. So they paid for clicks but don’t know how many of them generated into anything of value? To me it seemed like that the visitors were tricked into clicking something but had no intention of visiting Topeka site. In other words they got a lot of unqualified visitors. I bet you that the bounce rate is huge (see my next point).
  3. Make sure your analytics setup is correct“Google” Mike, an Implementation Analyst on my team verified that the Google Analytics on their site is broken. One of the most glaring issues he found was the home page fires 2 page views per page view (i.e. it fires twice) so the reported bounce rate is lower than the actual bounce rate, which means it is wrong. In this case they are not getting the correct stats. Wrong web analytics implementation leads to wrong data and that leads to wrong decisions.

Comments? Questions?

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One Reply to “Three Paid Search Lessons Learned from Topeka Tourism Board”

  1. Anil –

    Hello, I’m Alissa Sheley the Director of Social Media at jones huyett Partners, Visit Topeka’s agency of record. I’m responsible for managing their pay-per-click campaign, and I provide consultation on their overall digital/social marketing presence. Thank you for reading the MediaPost article. I appreciate your insights, but I feel inclined to respond.

    I completely agree that goals are necessary for paid search campaigns, and I’m sorry ours didn’t come across more clearly in the article. Ours was to capitalize on the Google spotlight shining on Topeka by increasing brand awareness of our community and the tourism opportunities available here. This unique April Fool’s situation offered additional international exposure and an overflow of local community pride. Specifically, our campaign was about putting Topeka ads in front of thousands of people that potentially had never heard of the city before to drive them to the website to learn more about our city and increase overall awareness. We accomplished this goal.

    I also agree that measuring success is important, however it’s tricky to do in the tourism/destination marketing industry. Research shows that people turn to the internet to plan their vacations and have many encounters with a website before finalizing plans. How can you track the success of an ad click if the sales cycle spans multiple website visits?

    You were correct about the code duplication. I appreciate that you brought it to our attention. I’ve alerted our web team and it will be removed immediately. Luckily we don’t solely rely on Google Analytics to track statistics for the site.

    Again, Anil, thanks, I appreciated reading your post.

    Kind regards,
    jones huyett Partners

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