Mike Kujanek SEMInterview with Mike Kujanek by Marina Koletis

Mike Kujanek (@MikeKujanek) is a Sr Director of Global Paid Media at Covario, the winner of the 2011 OMMA Agency of the Year award in Search Marketing. He is responsible for top-level paid media relationships between Covario and its clients, comprising its capabilities in paid search, social advertising, and display media. 

Q: What advice would you give to small businesses with limited SEM budgets?
– Should they invest in all major search engines including AOL, Bing, Yahoo! and or just focus on Google?

A: In the interests of market share, focus on Google and Bing. You’re going to get the most reach with these two networks—about 99% of the market that you need. Google’s network also consists of Ask, About.com, and many other search partners. Most marketers may not realize that there are many search engines that are powered by Google. Don’t limit yourself just to Google.com. The first thing you want to do is to assume ownership of your brand terms and understand how much traffic there is for these keywords. Always defend your brand in search engines.

Next, target longer tail keywords that are relevant to your business. For example, if you’re in the lighting industry, you’re not going to bid on “lights” or “lighting”—you’re not a Home Depot—you can’t afford it. Narrow it down. Take a trial and error approach to your campaigns. It’s a constant cycle of improvement. If you had additional budget to invest in SEM, you could extend your reach further with secondary networks, like Aol Search, or branch out to contextual media, like Google’s Display Network. But make sure you have an understanding as to whether these search networks will be profitable to your business or not.



Q: What are the most common pitfalls when conducting paid search campaigns? What are the best ways to avoid and/or overcome these mistakes?
A: The biggest fallacies I’ve encountered are the following:
  • Search marketers have a tendency to put too much faith into thinking they’re going to get it right the first time—the “set it and forget it” mentality in paid search does not work. It’s a very dangerous philosophy. Broad and phrase match keywords will not perform consistently. Negative keywords need to be updated and optimized constantly. You need to look at your search query reports and see how keywords are performing on a regular basis.
  •  Moreover, search marketers tend to use match types incorrectly. Set a purpose for the match types you’re using and understand how you’re going to optimize your keyword campaigns for each match type. Focus your efforts on building an efficient keyword base on exact match terms. Understand that single phrase match terms behave like broad match. Treat broad match terms as experiments. Use broad and phrase match terms to expand and find opportunities. Broad match may give you an idea of what people are interested in, and provide data to research new negative keywords and expend existing keywords.
  • Need for internal negatives—this is commonly ignored. Certain keywords may not serve their wholly intended purpose. For example, under broad or phrase match, a user may be searching for Audi A3, but because the CTR is higher on another ad, namely for Audi A5, Google may deem these relevant and serve the ad related to Audi A5. This results in a poor user experience often identified by higher bounce rates since the landing page relevance is low. Look for terms in your search query report that are not obvious outliers.
  •  Understand all metrics in reports. Don’t overlook share of voice, also known as impression share in your AdWords reports. This will give you a good sense if you’re missing out on unforeseen opportunity due to low budget, low bid and or ranking. If you’re working with strict budget constraints, aim to spend your money at times and days when conversion rates are highest. Most important in your analysis, understand conversion and your consumer’s behavior and ensure that your results are statistically significant.
Q: What are the key considerations companies should focus on when choosing a bid management tool?
A: When choosing a bid management tool, companies should focus on these key considerations:
  • It really depends on the scope of your digital marketing campaign. Are you just managing search? Is this your key focus? What are you looking to solve with a bid management tool?
  • If you were managing the integration of a digital program that involved display, email, etc., ensure that your platform is compatible and allows for multichannel marketing, and allows for easy keyword integration. You don’t want a tool in which it takes 45 steps just to add keywords. Also, you want the tool to easily integrate with secondary platforms such as DoubleClick, Atlas, etc.
  • What can you afford? Do you really need it? If the tool offers 20+ features but you only need 5, then it may not be worth your investment.
  • Consider what you must have—what you absolutely need. You want to make sure you have full insight to post click behavior. You want to be able to track keyword funnels and funnel behavior with ease. Ensure that there’s a high level of automation offered to allow for intelligent, real-time bid optimizers.
  • Ease of use. One thing senior managers make a mistake with is not providing a trial period for the tool to ensure it fits your needs and minimizes steps in implementation and reporting. Also, what resources does the tool offer you? Ease of training is another important factor.



Q: In terms of conversions and goals, what are the best metrics and KPIs to focus on?
A: It all depends on the business.
  • One thing that is overlooked in search is the value of impressions. More visual imagery, the value of the impression is a lot more. Don’t be afraid to include CPM in your metrics. In lieu of ROI and CPA metrics, CPM is one way of equally comparing search to display platforms. If you don’t have consistent metrics across your marketing channels to compare, say, search to display, the client won’t be able to clearly see the value in re-allocating budget from one program to another.
  • You want to make sure you set targets for yourself, whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, and understand when conversions are highest, such as during specific times of the day, or on certain days. Take the client targets and break them down to what serves you best. Understand their budget and how it’s being used. Without defined ROI or CPA goals, your ability to manage the client’s budget effectively is key.
Q: There is no silver bullet in SEM—what are some best practices you recommend for SEM?
A: These are the 4 main best practices I recommend when developing an SEM strategy:
  • Don’t ‘set it and forget it’. Understand how your campaign is performing and optimize it.
  • Proactively scout the landscape of your industry. Have Google Alerts set up, explore new keyword opportunities, apply negatives and test ad copy to ensure they are equally served and rotated.
  • Constantly test creatives. Get the root of your consumer’s interest and address the need and desire. What do you want consumers to hear about your message? If you find a message that sticks, tweak, and tweak again to maximize CTR and CVR.
  • Admittedly, additional dollars in paid search may not always make sense. Your dollars spent on generic keywords may perform worse than another digital channel. Know how your search channel compares to other channels. Narrowly bucket your investment and make sure budget is allocated to maximize the desired effect on your business. Define KPIs so that you can compare those channels equally.
Q: What role does SEM play in the multichannel landscape, especially with national television such as the Super Bowl?
– How does this further change the landscape for marketers?
A: Search is the core of all digital media. It’s where all digital marketers should start their campaign planning. Understand what the needs are, for example, for a Super Bowl campaign, and go from there. Build up your program from that point on and leverage historical data, Google Traffic Estimator, Microsoft Ad Intelligence, comScore, AdGooroo, to help understand the traffic you may get to set your expectations and provide the right guidance to your client. This will allow you to set a budget for search that is right. On top of this you have display advertising.


Digital marketers know that display has a contributive impact on search volume. They’re going to drive incremental search volume, so you want to understand how your channels interact. Be prepared to inflate your estimates on search to some extent to account for increases in spend on display and social media. You need to be prepared to be flexible. If your social media campaign takes on a viral nature, be prepared to respond with increased investment in your paid search campaigns.


Lastly, do not ignore SEO—it’s essential to your campaign in the long term. Your SEO team must be integrated with your paid media channels and be present at all stages of your campaign. Investment in SEO pays large dividends in the long-term. For large scale campaigns, ensure that SEO receives the funding needed to support your client’s site before committing large budgets to paid search. A suspended paid search campaign will yield no results, while suspended SEO efforts will continue to yield positive results for some time thereafter.


Mike Kujanek SEMInterview with Mike Kujanek by Marina Koletis
Mike Kujanek (@MikeKujanek) is a Sr Director of Global Paid Media at Covario, the winner of the 2011 OMMA Agency of the Year award in Search Marketing. He is responsible for top-level paid media relationships between Covario and its clients, comprising its capabilities in paid search, social advertising, and display media. 
3 replies
  1. Digital Marketing Agency
    Digital Marketing Agency says:

    Nice post. Your information is really good. Thank you for sharing…
    Digital marketing is the best way where you can drive all the traffic you wish, for this you must have a quality website but if you don’t have a quality website that converts your prospects, you are wasting time and money.

  2. Geoff Granfield
    Geoff Granfield says:

    Wow Mike, you’re CV does seem to precede you! There are so much advances now in SEO that affiliate program managers are kind of left in the background now in terms of gaining relevance and popularity for a website. But your tips here brought to light amazing developments that my company is willing to undertake in.


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