Paid Search winner: Resolution Agency

In the face of reduced budgets, the search strategy for Mercedes-Benz moved from traditional bids on keywords to intent-based targeting. It paid off – with on site actions up and cost per acquisition driven down.

Resolution Agency Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has traditionally bid on certain keywords to appear in search results, but these ads didn’t consider which users were in the purchase funnel meaning that the same ads would go in front of all users. The automotive giant had also narrowed its paid search budgets in 2021 to focus on dealership and national campaigns.

So Resolution Agency had a challenge: optimize paid search in these areas to reach interested consumers more effectively. Essentially, reduce the average cost per action on Mercedes-Benz’ core US website while simultaneously increasing purchase intent when they arrived.

The solution was to move from targeting by keywords to targeting based on intent. Resolution Agency used a combination of first-party data and third-party datasets. The first-party data included user intent signals, and Resolution Agency tracked:

  • Consideration Actions: the lands on site pages beyond the homepage;
  • Interest Actions: user interactions with website content that showcased deeper engagement; and
  • Purchase Intent Actions: lead form submissions.

Two searcher types were identified to serve ads relevant to where they were in the purchase funnel. ‘Upper Funnel Searchers’ were less familiar with the brand and the response was to increase awareness by serving educational calls to action, and directing to web pages with content about different models and the brand itself. ‘Lower Funnel Searchers’ on the other hand had already interacted with the brand, so ads had more urgent calls to action and details about features and pricing. 

To drive performance further, the agency segmented more than 250 audiences from Mercedes-Benz’s website, and shared this with Google to help make bidding adjustments with intent signals. Third-party data helped find users with similar search habits, and these alongside website customer lists created lookalike audiences for retargeting.

The shift from targeting keywords to intent paid off – with more clicks at a much lower cost. Achievements included 2021 on-site actions rising by 18% year-on-year and by 46% compared to 2019’s keyword-only approach. And in the face of reduced spend, cost per acquisition was driven down even further.

Judges’ comments

Kyle Jackson, EVP, Precision & Performance Marketing for Publicis Media, “loved the move from keywords to intent” and said the campaign showed “strong performance marketing strategy that enables messaging to consumers in a more personal way”. 

Kris Tait, US Managing Director at Croud, said the campaign represented “the power of search in today’s environment” and was an example of “smart use of both consumer and first party data to change messaging” and Dalbir Gill, VP Corporate Partnerships at Seedtag said the campaign showed “a good use of data which drove down costs overall and improved ROI” and “strong results with an original change in strategy”.