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Kerin Foster

How to Use Historical Data to Find Holes in your Competitors' Ads

Kerin Foster
How to Use Historical Data to Find Holes in your Competitors' Ads

Along with every New Year comes the beginning of the planning of marketing strategies that will hopefully prove to be successful. In addition to moving forward into a new year, many of us may wish that we had the ability to go back in time for one reason or another, but it is not quite so easy… until now. Recently, SEMrush released a new feature that allows for the ability to look back on your competitors historical data for up to 6-months’ time. By searching for any competitor’s trends, you are able to view exactly where their advertising increased or dropped, and by looking back historically you can receive an even better awareness as to why that promotion may or may not have been altered.

What I’d like to do here today is presume that I am a small watch distributor who markets wholesale, discount watches. Below is a trend for the website ewatchwholesale.com, who would be a clear competitor.

Choose your Competitor… and Look at the Trends

First, I have decided that it is extremely helpful to look at the trends of the advertiser to see where their ads fluctuate, as this will allow me to decide what else to inspect. From looking at the chart I can see that in 2010 there was rather large spike in the ads for ewatchwholesale.com, and ads remained varying from month-to-month since then. But if I look beginning around June of this year, I can see that there has been a progressive drop from there until the present time and they had a huge descent over the last several months.

Go Back to the Appropriate Month(s) Based on the Trends!

After viewing the trends for the advertiser, I can decide which month(s) I would like to go back and analyze. By ‘going back in time’ with SEMrush historical data, I can compare the high-point of their advertising to the next two months and the eventual (and current) low point. I can take an in-depth look into what they lost, and utilize that to decipher why they discontinued advertising for specific keywords. The chart tells me that around June of 2012, AdWords for ewatcheswholesale.com were beginning to take a significant dive.

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At that time, ewatchwholesale was allocating approximately 28% of their budget to the keyword big face watches for men, which must be what their largest advertising push was back then. I can see that their ads traffic was at only 186 in comparison to August 2012 when it increased a bit to 397 and they were allocating 18.11% of costs to Geneva watches and 16.62% to big face watches (which apparently must be popular among women since they decided not to include that aspect of the keyword as they originally had).  I am also able to tell that in September, ads traffic once again went down to 226 while they were allocating approximately 11% of their costs to Dakota watch company and 6.45% to Geneva watches for women. It seems to me that this company delves into specifying gender-relative watches dependent upon the month and most likely what is “in style.”

By looking back to October, I can see that things were even a bit more peculiar with regards to their advertising habits:

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The historical data for October tells me that once again they dropped down to 191, but were distributing a very significant 31.5% of their budget to the keyword watch glass, which is very interesting seeing as how it can have a variety of definitions such as the lid of a flask or beaker, but of course are also the glass that cover the top of a watch which is most likely the definition that they were going for in bidding on this keyword so considerably.

Look at the Current Month and Compare!

After examining the previous data, I have now come to realize that it is most helpful to compare that to data and ads for the most current month, in this case November of 2012. If I am a company that sells discount watches, logically I would begin by looking for the keyword discount watches to see who else may be advertising. If I view the data for the current time, their Ads traffic has hit an all-time low of 140, and they are allocating almost 26% of their budget to the keyword discount watches, which provides approximately 204 million results, so it is obviously searched. It is also providing 19.27% of the traffic to their website. Other retailers are also bidding on it, such as worldofwatches.com, thewatchery.com, watchstation.com, and even relicbrand.com:

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Use SEMrush Historical Data to Your Advantage!

In the example that I provided for this article, there were plenty of gaps in the advertising of my competitor, and by scrutinizing historical data I was able to receive an idea of why those gaps may have occurred. I can now come to the conclusion that perhaps this company was not very successful with the AdWords in which they chose to invest, or maybe they were experimenting with different methods of promotion (seeing as how from month-to-month they never seemed to remain with the same keywords). Whether there are holes in the competition’s AdWords or not, taking the opportunity to probe into SEMrush’s historical data option permits the ability to go back in time and gain insight into your competitor’s ad past.

Comments

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Dr. David Sewell
Dr. David Sewell
Now that Google offers re-marketing adverts in search results, its important to realise that this data only applies to non-remarketing activity. As PPC is used more 'personally' in the coming months, what an advertiser is really doing will be hidden.
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