Posted by James McGinn, Account Manager This POV highlights the usefulness and drawbacks of aggregations site partners, and explains how they impact program performance. Why Use Aggregation Partners? Many marketers know the importance of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) through Google and Bing. SEM can bring highly qualified traffic to a site, at a very reasonable cost, making it one of the most successful marketing channels available (from an ROI perspective). However, many of those same marketers never venture beyond the basics of AdWords and BingAds to see if there are any other successful engines available. According to Online Media Daily, “…alternative engines will play a major role in connecting with consumers outside of Bing, Google, and Yahoo search engines on smaller Web properties.” Performics has found that these ‘smaller Web properties’ can be successful, especially in highly competitive verticals like Insurance, Education, and Finance. Paid Search marketing in the insurance space has become highly competitive over the last few years. Many of the major insurance carriers have allocated large sums of money to capture traffic on the few keywords that have a high volume of queries. This has led to increasingly high CPCs for everyone involved. These CPCs have become so high that it often requires a very high conversion rate on every click to meet cost per conversion goals. This is where aggregation sites come into play and help defray some of these high click costs. Many of these sites are willing to pay the high cost for one click, because they can resell the traffic to individual carriers, and sometimes to multiple carriers. Additionally, many of these sites offer other avenues for traffic diversification, such as display, email, and phone call programs. These channels allow users to connect with brands in the manner that suits them best, and often at a very successful rate. Sample aggregation site screen shot: Why it works? Aggregation sites offer an opportunity to capture incremental traffic beyond the traditional search program. The chart below shows the comparisons of the two programs. The 6 week averages show that while aggregator sites can be slightly more expensive than search as a whole, they have converted at a slightly better rate, with a more efficient cost as well. The data shows how complimentary the programs can be in driving successfully converting traffic to insurance carriers. The aggregator sites are most likely converting traffic more efficiently because they engage participants at different stages in their consideration set. Searchers who connect to brands on generic terms are most likely higher in the sales funnel, and are still in the informational research portion of their participant journey. Users of aggregator sites, while still in the upper to mid-levels of the sales funnel, are most likely in the “research with intent to purchase” phase of their journey. The user experience (UX) on these sites may also promote more conversions. Many of the sites ask the users to fill out personal information. The site then can pass on that information to the carrier(s) to speed up the quoting process on their own site which turns the aggregator site into a “one stop shop” to find the best rates for the users’ needs. If the site does pass the participant’s information to the carrier’s page, it can be a very successful UX with higher conversion rates. If the site does not pass the user’s information, it can make for a very poor UX, as the shopper would have to type all of their information again, possibly souring them from completing the conversion process. Performics has found that passing the user information to the final site can lead to a 25% increase in conversion rates compared to those sites that do not. Aggregation Site Drawbacks There are several factors to consider when running a program with aggregation sites. Many of the aggregators have large networks of partner sites (beyond the ones they own and operate), making it difficult to completely control traffic acquisition methods. Most major sites have great policies in place with their partners to control the use of brand name and how to generate traffic, but some rogue sites may choose to ignore those policies. This then, can cause increased brand competition and inflated costs in traditional search programs. Continuous brand trademark monitoring then becomes very important to catch these violators, and to help aggregators eliminate the offending sources from their networks. Another main drawback to aggregation sites is the limited front end visibility into traffic sources. This can occasionally lead to poor quality traffic and leads being sold to the carrier. For their own continued successes, many of the top sites try to be as transparent as possible, but they usually limit viewing the performance by source name for proprietary purposes. However, many of these aggregators do have source performance data available on the back end and can make optimizations — and even block listings — based on the source, on behalf of a brand. Thus, working closely with aggregator engine reps is highly recommended to help mitigate poor performance of sources due to lack of visibility. Have questions about this POV? Contact your Performics’ expert.