South Korea is one of the richest, most technologically advanced countries in the world. It has the highest internet and smart phone penetration in relative terms, high average income and a valuable target customer base for both B2C and B2B businesses.
Naver is the leading search engine in South Korea with 73% of searches and has developed its own PPC platform called ‘Searchad Naver’. Until January 2011, Naver PPC was part of the Overture’s advertising network. Due to its leading position in Korea, Naver decided to launch its own platform and replaced Overture’s PPC search platform.
Step 1: Opening a Naver PPC account
After contacting Naver via Li Xue (firstname.lastname@example.org), the necessary paperwork includes filling out different forms and documents. This will verify your agency with the necessary data upon which you will receive an account. You will also receive an advertiser center manual and ad copy guideline which will help you to set up the account. If any questions arise while filling out the forms, Naver can certainly assist. The next step is payment: as in Baidu, Naver PPC only accepts prepayments and no invoice-based billing. The currency is South Korean Won. Not only for language reasons, but also for budget reasons it makes sense to hire a native because $1 is about KRW 1,151. Understanding the value of the currency is essential to comparing Naver to Google or other countries. There is a minimum top-up amount of USD 1,500 and the payment process will take a few weeks to complete. Bear in mind that international bank fees will cut a portion out of media budget.
Step 2: Naver PPC Campaign Upload
Here you encounter the first important obstacle: there are no campaigns in Naver! “I beg your pardon?” Yes, it’s true, unfortunately. Your AdWords needs a major overhaul when being converted to Naver paid search. Let me run you through the most important differences.
- No Campaigns, only AdGroups: Naver PPC only offers the lower level of account structure, daily budgets and bids are set at the AdGroup level. Settings usually found on campaign level have to be set for the whole account and are rather basic, such as country, language, device and network settings. The best strategy is to concatenate “Campaign|Adgroup” as the new adgroup name. If necessary, you can still use text to columns for rollup reporting with Google.
- Character restrictions: Yes again, similar to Baidu and even stricter. Only 20 Characters! Your full “Campaign|AdGroup” can only have 20 characters in Naver PPC. This is tough given that the above dummy example already has 16. This restriction will force you to be creative with acronyms and ID mapping. It will be helpful to store an ID or acronym mapping table for this purpose.
- Ad Copy: opposed to AdWords, there is only one description line of max. 45 characters. The Naver headline is restricted to 15 characters, including space and comma. It must include the name of the company. There is no display URL Included in the ad copy.
- Keywords – Ad mapping: Different to Google we can’t just throw a list of keywords and ads into one Ad Group, we have to map keywords to ads. As keywords can only have one specific ad text, the first consequence is to reduce the number of ads per Ad Group to just 1. Then we map all keywords of the Ad Group to that one ad text. Keywords are restricted to a limit of 25 characters. Keywords are always set to exact match and there is no possibility of using different match type options. For misspellings in a user’s search query, however, Naver offers a “Did you mean…?” function in the search box.
The use of negative keywords is unfortunately not possible. Naver paid search does not offer keyword insertion as we know it from AdWords, so make sure to remove it from your headline. However, if you wish to have your keywords inserted in your headline contact your Naver rep and they will activate it for you by ticking a box next to your ads.
- Korean account interface: Unfortunately, the tabs of the Naver searchad interface are not HTML text, the names cannot be translated via Google translate. This has already been addressed to Naver, but it renders a Korean native necessary.
- Keyword Tracking Links: As with Baidu, make sure you use keyword-level tracking links to measure conversions in Naver. If you’re not using the API, the join process of click and conversion process will be manual.
Step 3: Naver PPC Campaign Optimization
Given the restrictions we face regarding paid search campaign structure, we can’t leverage the same level of insight in Naver. Overall spending in Naver paid search can be monitored quite easily. After logging in and selecting the 4th tab, you can see the account budget as well as yesterdays, last 7 days’, last month’s or this month’s performance data.
There are no search query reports to help evaluate actual searches. As mentioned above, there is the option to tie in the API, but there is no scheduled reports feature. Monthly reporting will involve either logging in and manually pulling data or having a Naver rep send a monthly keyword report to you. The latter works quite well for us, the report can be converted – reverting the concatenate step - into campaign format and keyword data can be rolled up to get all important report levels.
- Keyword Optimization can be conducted by joining conversion and click data to determine cost per conversion and other KPIs.
- AdGroup Budget Allocation: as there are no campaigns in Naver PPC, budget allocation happens on AdGroup-level. By aggregating keyword conversion and clicks data on AdGroup level, we get insight into where budgets should be reduced or increased on performance. Make sure your Adgroup default CPCs are lined up with any budget changes. Naver does not offer position metrics, so you will have to base your CPC decisions on CPCs, conversions and click volume.
- Ad Copy Optimization: Given the keyword-ad mapping constraint in Naver, we can’t simply add new ad texts but should focus on tweaking the existing ad text. Start looking at high volume AdGroups with low CTRs. Activating the keyword insertion function will already help improve CTR as the keyword will be highlighted in the ad copy and be more attractive to users.
While quantitative keyword optimization can be done by a non-Korean account manager using GoogleTranslate approximation to validate bid decisions, it goes without saying that ad copy changes require language skill of natives. If you’re running both Google and Naver search advertising, keep comparing performance and feeding approved Google search queries into Naver PPC.
We don’t claim to be Naver PPC wizards, this was just a basic PPC starter guide. Although our post may have highlighted the deficiencies of Naver in comparison to Google, we’ve found their customer service to be very good. Don’t feel discouraged because of the shortcomings. If South Korea is a core market for you or your client, take the initiative and explore. Also make sure you read Michael Bonfil’s excellent Naver guide on searchenginewatch. Below is our feature summary table, with Naver PPC data included.
In our next blog post, we will cover the key steps of setting up and running a Yandex PPC account. So stay tuned, we will reach out via FB, TW and G+!