by D&E Staff

December 8, 2020

This is part four in our four-part series about planning your 2021 marketing communications initiatives. Click here to read more.

The last blog in this series will focus on some of our favorite tools that allow us to conduct quick and dirty research on our clients and their competition. We’re spilling the beans, and while these tools require a little time and savvy to bring value to your workflow, they are free to use. Think of them as benchmarking tools to get a glimpse your competition’s digital advertising efforts, as well as find easy ways to figure out how you can catch up (or increase your lead) in 2021.

We’ll start with one of our personal favorites, Ghostery.

Ghostery is a freemium browser extension that:

  • Shows you the number and type of 3rd party software living on a website.
  • Lists your competitor’s roster of digital advertising partners, if and what they’re using for CRM functions, if they’re leveraging their on-site data for social media advertising, and any other data collection software they might be using.
  • Alerts you if software is slowing your own site down, so don’t forget to check your own homepages and key landing pages.

Below is a screenshot of what the browser extension looks like in a live environment. As you can see this advertiser (Walmart, in this example) is using a lot of software (25 trackers, to be exact) and has implemented it in a way that doesn’t slow down the site (2.38 second page load time!) – kudos

Next up is another freemium browser extension called Keywords Everywhere.

This tool weaves together Google Keyword Planner data with Clickstream data to allow SEO and paid search planners to:

  • See Related keywords on Google & Bing, People Also Search For (PASF) keywords on Google (no volume data).
  • Examine Trend charts in Google & YouTube (no historical volume data, though, that’s a paid function).
  • Peek into YouTube insights & YouTube Tags (no volume data again, here).
  • View monthly traffic estimates and the top 500 keywords that any URL ranks for.
  • Analyze any URL to get the list of keywords in the content of the page, and the density of those

CAVEAT: If you want to see search volume, cost-per-click and competition data for any of the above, you have to pay for it; however, the folks at Keywords Everywhere are nice enough to show you how to be intentional and frugal with whatever research budget you have.

The last tool we’ll talk about today, MOAT, requires a bit of nuance and willingness to accept inferences in order to be helpful. In one sentence, MOAT is a measurement platform with a wide array of advertising solutions. The tool we use most is MOAT Ad Search, which allows you to see any advertisers in-market display banners—provided there’s enough volume for MOAT to detect them.

  • There are a few telltale signs that can tip you off as to how your competition is advertising in the display banner space. For instance:
    • When you search an organization’s name and lots of different ad sizes quickly populate, almost like a “wall” of advertising, it can mean a few things:
      • The organization’s ads are easy to find on the exchanges due to high volume, which means it’s spending a lot.
      • The organization is committed to creating and running as many ad sizes as possible.
      • It took the time to ensure a cohesive look and feel between all ad sizes.
    • When you search and nothing shows up, or only a few sizes pop up on that same “wall,” it can mean:
      • The advertiser is using strict geo-targeting on their campaigns and you’re not in that geo.
      • The organization isn’t running enough volume, so MOAT can’t detect it.

Keeping with Walmart for our example, you can see below its “wall” of advertising, evidence of cohesive messaging and high volume.

Hopefully, these tools help your organization’s marketing teams feel out your competition’s contours and paid search on the web. Using these tools directionally is a great start to getting the upper hand in a time when every bit counts. While it will take some practice and intuition to use them effectively, the effort is always worth it. Good luck, and we’re always around if you want to bend our ear on how we use these very same tools and techniques for our clients!