Google Adwords is a Bad Parent

As many of you know, I’m the mom of twins. They’re 16 and about to start their junior year of high school. They’re great kids – smart, well-behaved, laid back – but at times they try my patience.

What does this have to do with PPC, you may ask? Stay with me – I’m getting there.

When they were younger, parents of older kids said, “Just wait till they’re teenagers. I thought I’d kill my kids when they were teens.” I was horrified to hear people saying this about their children.

But now, I understand. I don’t want to kill my teenagers, but there are days that I think to myself, “I can’t wait for them to go off to college.” The back-talking, arguing, and laying-about wears thin after a while. Not to mention the stress of having two inexperienced drivers in the household all of a sudden. I won’t even go there.

What keeps me sane is reminding myself that these behaviors are totally normal for teens. It’s part of growing up. Teens naturally challenge their parents on the road to independence – which parents ultimately want, right? We want our children to be ready to leave the nest when it’s time. Although we love having them around, we know that they must strike out on their own one day.

And I believe it works this way not only for the teenagers, but for their parents as well. The fact that they test us on a daily basis eases the blow of them leaving home. I felt the same way when they went to kindergarten. While the emotional part of me was sad that my kids were no longer babies, the rational part of me was tired of all-day daycare. The kids were past that and had gotten squirrely. I knew they were ready for the new challenges and opportunities that school would bring.

It’s the same thing with teens. They challenge parents as a way of teaching us that they’re ready for the next phase in life.

In the PPC world, Google is akin to a parent. They make the rules, and we PPC manager “children” must follow them or else. That’s fine. The absence of rules is chaos, and no one likes chaos.

But if Google makes the rules, why do they treat us like regressing toddlers? I’m sure you can guess that I’m talking about enhanced campaigns and the loss of control we’ve experienced as a result.

Search is a maturing industry. On the industry lifecycle scale, it’s still in growth mode, but it’s not a startup, either. PPC managers are becoming more and more sophisticated with campaign optimization.

So why has Google taken away our car keys?

Instead of truly enhancing things by offering bid multipliers for tablets and search partners, they’ve omitted search partner control (AGAIN) and taken away tablet bidding altogether. What a disaster. Just this week I lamented that one of my clients is paying $1.94 per click for desktop and $5.10 for tablets. Are you kidding me Google??? Why????

The complete lack of control over search partners continues to frustrate me, too. It feels like the times that I ask my children to do something over and over and over and over and they still don’t do it. But with my children, I can enact consequences for their disobedience. The only consequence I can impose on Google is to stop spending money there – which in most cases is cutting off my nose to spite my face. It makes no sense to stop advertising where all the traffic is.

So, I’m stuck with Google and its all-or-nothing setup. Either I advertise on all search partners, or none of them. I have no way to boost bids on high-performing partners and turn off low-performing partners. If search partners as a whole are doing better than Google search, I can’t increase my bids (and pay Google more money). And I’m stuck with tablets – either I accept the (frequently) poor performance or I turn off my campaigns altogether. Can anyone say Bing Ads?

And don’t get me started on the foolishness that is display placements on tablets. Google’s treating us like toddlers in this case. Sean Marshall did a great writeup over at PPC Associates on tablet display lunacy. His post is a must-read.

The kicker of all this is, Google already has Adwords Express for inexperienced advertisers. It’s pretty much a disaster as is, and I don’t recommend it, but if you’re looking to get started in PPC in a simple way, Google offers that. Why not put all the “basic” or “standard” features in Express, and then create an “advanced” version for the rest of us with all the levers and dials? Kind of like video games: there is a simple mode with just a few controls, and there is an advanced mode with lots of options. When I’m playing video games, I want to keep it simple; when I’m managing PPC, I want all the controls.

Google, please stop treating us like children. Many of us are PPC grownups. Please give us the control we’ve earned.

Are you as frustrated as I am with the lack of control in Adwords? Have a teenager that’s trying your patience? Just want to vent? Share in the comments!

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Google Has Become Yahoo

Google Adwords has been in the headlines a lot lately, and not in a good way. For some time now, PPC advertisers have been complaining about Adwords reps, and the lack of good ones. I even got in on the action back in May, complaining about a rep who reached out to us, only to turn out to be a thinly veiled sales guy. In that post, I lamented the good old days, when we all had Google reps that cared about our business and were there when we needed help or had questions.

That post is the most-commented post on my blog to date. It clearly struck a chord, with many other PPCers chiming in with their own horror stories.

Well, this week it got worse. Search Engine Land covered a story recounted by Martin MacDonald, who posted the audio of a Google rep who thought he’d hung up on one of his client’s voice mail, but really was being recorded the whole time. The story has been dubbed GoogleGate by the SEM community.

The audio is pretty damning. In the SEL article, Google came out and admitted that they use outside contractors. As an agency PPCer, I’d be the last person to complain about outsourcing. But if you’re going to outsource, it helps to use competent and professional people. And the idea of using outsource reps is to supplement your service, not do away with it altogether as Google has seemed to do. True Google reps who are marketing partners have all but disappeared in favor of hard-sell shills.

Read the comments on both the SEL and Martin MacDonald’s posts. They’re rife with accounts of people who had no option but to call Adwords general support, only to have the Adwords Help files quoted to them. I’ve had this happen many times myself. It’s frustrating as a PPC professional to have to educate the Google staff, instead of the other way around. After all, I wouldn’t call if I already knew the answer!

Ever hear the saying “Everything old is new again”? That’s what it’s looking like in search these days. Yahoo took the #1 spot in search in July, for the first time since 2011. How retro.

But I’m not bringing that up to reminisce. I’m bringing it up because Google is starting to remind me of Yahoo back in the old Yahoo Search Marketing days.

Back in 2009, I wrote a rant about Yahoo’s “optimizations.” To summarize, they were making changes to accounts without permission, and (supposedly) telling us after the fact. It caused quite a stir in the PPC community. And we all know what happened to Yahoo not long after – can you say Bing-Yahoo Alliance?

Well, if you read the comments on the SEL and MacDonald post, a lot of people expressed concern over outsourced Google reps contacting them for “optimization” help, and then asking them to sign a list of T&Cs that, among other things, allows Google to make changes “on behalf of” the advertiser without advance notice. I had to read those comments twice, because it sounded so familiar.

Yes, Google has resorted to the same tactics that got Yahoo in hot water 4 years ago. I sincerely hope that they don’t have the same outcome that Yahoo did. I guess time will tell.

What’s your prediction? Is this just a bump in Google’s yellow brick road, or is it a sign of serious troubles ahead? Share in the comments!

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The Most Important Element of PPC Ad Copy

One of my favorite tasks is writing PPC ad copy. I love the challenge of squeezing as much goodness as I can into 90 characters. I guess it’s in my blood after all these years of writing short, concise ad copy.

Recently, I was asked, “What’s the most important element of PPC ad copy? Is it the headline, the first description line, or what?” Of course, my kneejerk response was “It depends,” which is really the answer to just about any question related to PPC.

Still, the question got me thinking. Is there one element of PPC ad copy that’s more important than others in most cases?

If I had to give only one answer, I’d say the headline. After all, it’s the only part of a PPC ad that’s underlined, and if you include keywords in your headline, they’ll be bolded:

headline

But as I look at the ads in that screen shot, I start to think that other elements might be equally important.

Sitelinks

Surprisingly, the first ad on the page above isn’t using sitelinks, but the other two are. The Amazon sitelinks are great – they’re all relevant to the category (Kitchen & Dining, Small Appliances, Kitchen Tools & Gadgets) and season (Off to College). Target falls down a bit by focusing entirely on college back to school. The Magic Bullet is a product I’d be interested in, but I’m long past the college dorm move-in days.

Still, the use of sitelinks takes up more screen real estate, so that’s an important element.

Reviews

See how the review extension makes the Amazon ad stand out? Those nice red 4.5 stars are visually appealing to say the least. If you qualify for review extensions, they’re definitely important.

Call Extensions

2 of the 3 ads above include phone numbers. One of them is relatively local – although Jackson, MI is at least 30 minutes away from me, and there’s a Target within 10 miles. Still, the phone number can be another important element of a PPC ad, in addition to a great way to boost conversions.

Location Extensions

That Target ad also includes a location extension. While these make ads stand out on the page, I hesitate to say they’re the most important element because most advertisers cannot track in-store sales back to a PPC ad. And in the case of this ad, even if I decided to buy at Target, I wouldn’t drive half an hour to that Target – I’d go to the Target closer to me. Either way, location extensions do help ads to stand out.

All of these elements are great, but you have to be in a premium position to take advantage of most of them. What about when your ad ends up in the right rail, like some of the ads below?

right rail

When ads appear in the right rail, you have fewer options. And of course you don’t have control over whether your ad shows up on the top or the right. So you need to make your ad copy work no matter where on the page it happens to appear.

This is where basic ad copywriting comes into play. A good headline, ideally with the keyword included, is going to be critical. Including the keyword in the body of the ad is also important. But are other elements just as important?

Call to Action

A lot of advertisers forget to include a strong call to action at the end of the ad copy. That’s usually a mistake. It’s a good idea to tell searchers what you want them to do when they get to the landing page – and ideally it’ll be to convert: buy something, download a report, etc. So I’d have to say that the call to action is nearly as important, or maybe even more important, than the headline.

Copywriting Tips and Tricks

There are a few tricks that I’ve learned that work no matter where in the ad they appear. One is the word “free.” “Free” is the magic word when it comes to PPC. People absolutely love it, and ads with the word “free” are almost always going to get better results than ads without.

Another element is just a single character: the exclamation point. You’ll notice that ads across verticals, even in B2B verticals like the above example that tend to avoid marketing hype, use exclamations. There’s a good reason for that – it works.

I’ve run tests where the ads were identical except that one had an exclamation and one didn’t. The ad with an exclamation way outperformed the ad without.

So What’s The Answer?

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? The most important element of PPC ad copy is the element that drives the best results, of course!

What’s your take? Is the headline the end-all? The call to action? Something I didn’t list? Share in the comments!

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My Top 10 PPC Blogs

This summer has been crazy month for me. I was on vacation for 10 straight days in July – the first time in years I’ve taken that much consecutive time off – and then another few days off last week. Of course, now I’m swamped at work. Add to that my life as a mom of two busy teenagers, and I barely have a minute to myself.

Being so busy means it’s hard to keep up with the latest PPC news. We all need a go-to source or two for PPC news and info for those times when we can’t keep up with Twitter and the like. While “mainstream” search news sites like Search Engine Watch and Search Engine Land are awesome, sometimes I’m too busy to dig through all the posts to get at the PPC gems – especially if I’m looking for something specific. So, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 blogs that focus exclusively on PPC.

PPC Hero

These guys are prolific. With new posts nearly every day by a variety of authors, the PPC Hero team puts out great PPC content from beginner to advanced level.

Clix Marketing

The Clix Marketing blog has been off-again, on-again (haven’t we all?), but lately it’s been really “on.” They’re writing thought-provoking posts over there, so if you haven’t checked them out recently, go do it now!

PPC Chat

OK, technically this isn’t a blog, but you’ll find the weekly chat recaps here. If you’re like me and had weeks of meetings scheduled during PPC Chat time recently, don’t fret – you can read the screencaps here!

Certified Knowledge

With posts by Brad Geddes, a long-time PPC pro, you know you’ll find great content here. Brad doesn’t blog often, but when he does, you’ll want to bookmark it!

Inside Adwords

Yes, the Adwords blog puts that nice Google spin on their posts, but it’s still the place to learn about what’s new with Adwords. It’s also a good place to refer clients or bosses who want to learn more about PPC; their writers do a good job of explaining new features that advertisers might want to try.

Bing Ads Blog

Not to be outdone, Bing has a nice blog of their own. And the posts are written by real people, many of whom I’ve met so I know they actually exist. Bing also does nice analyses of data, along with real-world tips to optimize your Bing campaigns.

PPC Associates

While similar to PPC Hero, PPC Associates puts their unique stamp on PPC news and views. They also have a Facebook PPC blog that’s really good.

Get Found First

The Get Found First blog is another up-and-comer. When you see a new post here, you’ll want to drop everything and start reading. Their post this week on Google’s fishy cost per action metric is thought-provoking to say the least.

RKG Blog

RKG is the ultimate PPC geek’s haven. There are posts over there that I’ve read over and over and still can’t understand them. These guys are among the smartest people in PPC.

Acquisio

Acquisio is a PPC tool vendor, so you might think that their blog would try to sell you. Not so. They use a variety of guest bloggers in addition to their own super-smart staff to write about geeky PPC goodness.

There you have it – my top 10 PPC blogs. Of course, there are many other good blogs out there that I didn’t mention. What’s your favorite PPC blog? Share in the comments!

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The Good, The Bad, and the Enhanced

Well, PPC friends, the day we’ve all been dreading is upon us: the date we’ll be forced to convert to Enhanced Campaigns. Yes, Monday is the day that Google will “upgrade” our campaigns if we haven’t already done so ourselves.

Enhanced Campaigns have been talked to death in the PPC community. I’ve written about them myself. Since we now have no choice in the matter, I won’t resort to complaining. Well, not too much.

Many people have written about the good parts of enhanced campaigns. There are several features that you should be embracing if you’re not already:

The list goes on, but these are my favorites. Enhanced sitelinks take up even more screen real estate than “regular” sitelinks, so it’s worth it to convert to enhanced campaigns for this alone. Geo bid modifiers are great for advertisers with relatively uncomplicated campaigns. The display network is truly enhanced. And mobile-preferred ads are helpful for local advertisers or for those who may want to have different calls to action for mobile vs. desktop.

And yet, there is still so much bad with enhanced campaigns. The most egregious is the lack of tablet bidding. I continue to maintain that tablets are not the same as desktop. They just aren’t the same. It’s frustrating.

We’re also seeing noticeably higher CPCs on campaigns that have been moved to Enhanced and are opted in to mobile. A lot of our clients don’t use mobile at all, so those campaigns are all fine and we haven’t noticed any differences in performance. But the campaigns that are in mobile and desktop have seen CPC spikes of 20-30% or more. While some in the industry deny that this is going on, in our case I’ve seen the data, and the data doesn’t lie. It’s frustrating, because even playing with mobile bid modifiers is limited – because it’s all at the campaign level. It’s too macro. We PPC’ers want micro control.

I won’t even go into the fact that we can no longer have mobile-only campaigns. Argh.

While we’re at it, let me grumble about the lack of separate bids for search partners. If Google really wanted to enhance things, they’d let us set separate bids for search partners, and would let us easily exclude certain search partners. Why they haven’t done this is beyond me. I’m starting to think that this is a wish that will never be fulfilled.

Alas, none of these lamentations matter. At this point we’re stuck with it. So I spent a chunk of time this week porting over my remaining campaigns to enhanced, lest Google do it for me (heaven forbid).

How about you? What are your good and bad experiences with Enhanced Campaigns?

Note: Huge credit goes to Lisa Sanner for the title of this post. If you’re looking for a fun meme, check out this Facebook post by Clix Marketing. There’s also a good post, complete with photo memes, over at Search Engine Land. Better to laugh about enhanced campaigns than cry.

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How Big Is Your PPC Data Set?

Big data is all the rage these days. I’ve written about big data in PPC before. This isn’t a post on big data per se – but this week I’ve felt the need to talk about how much data is needed to make good decisions in PPC.

Let’s start on the micro side. A couple years ago, I wrote a post on PPC testing and why days are not data. I stole that phrase from my friend Andrew Goodman, but it’s so good that I find myself using it frequently, including every day this week.

Teaching people and clients about PPC is a passion of mine. I love to help others learn about the career that I love. Sometimes, though, the great aspects of PPC such as quick launches, instant data, and cool reporting get overstated. Suddenly you have a client or boss who wants a daily detailed report on his or her PPC campaign progress.

I don’t advocate that. I talk about that at length in my Days are not Data post, but in a nutshell, a one-day snapshot is full of too many normal fluctuations to be meaningful. Those unfamiliar with the ebb and flow of PPC get too bogged down with the daily deluge, causing unnecessary worry and alarm.

I try to remind these folks that they hired a PPC pro for a reason. We DO watch the data on a daily basis and adjust as needed. We just don’t make pass-or-fail judgments on one day’s worth of stats.

Now let’s look at the big data set of the coin. I wrote a post for Search Engine Watch this week called Do the PPC Engines Reward the Right Behaviors? It was a fun post to write – I’d been mulling it over in my head for literally a year, and finally the time was right to write the post.

In the post, I stated that Enhanced Campaigns are a case of Google rewarding for A while hoping for B – rewarding advertisers with lots of levers, while hoping they’ll create fewer campaigns.

While the number of comments and feedback on the post weren’t overwhelming, they were definitely interesting. Most people agreed that Google made things worse for advertisers and themselves with Enhanced Campaigns.

But Larry Kim disagreed with me. He has been out there trumpeting the nirvana of Enhanced Campaigns ever since they were in beta. Therefore, I wasn’t at all surprised with his stance.

I have a ton of respect for Larry and have no problem with what he said. But I still disagree.

Enhanced campaigns are fine for smaller advertisers with simple settings and campaigns. They’re good for local advertisers who previously had trouble hyper-targeting their PPC.

But for those of us running complex campaigns with diverse goals and objectives, Enhanced Campaigns are a nightmare. Several large PPC companies have written about their tribulations with Enhanced Campaigns, including higher CPCs and worsening performance across millions of dollars of spend. Matt Van Wagner is moving budget to Bing because of them. We’re seeing weirdness with our clients who’ve transitioned, including the same CPC spikes that others are claiming.

I’m not questioning the veracity of Larry’s data. I’m sure it’s accurate for his client set. But for most of us, the PPC big data says that Enhanced Campaigns are bad news.

What do you think about PPC data? When is enough enough? Share in the comments!

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3 Big PPC Mistakes Even Pros Make

Everyone makes mistakes. You’ve heard that saying a thousand times, and yet it still rings true.

Even seasoned professionals make mistakes; and usually mistakes are the best way to learn.

Still, especially when you’re new at something, it’s encouraging to know that even the pros mess up at times. Every golfer loves it when Tiger Woods shanks a drive, for example.

I asked PPC pros to share their biggest PPC mistakes (anonymously, of course). One long-time PPC manager sent me three mistakes and said they’d made all of them in the last year! I know I’ve made my share over the years, too.

With that, here are the mistakes people made, and how to avoid them.

1. Budget Mistakes

“One of my team members uploaded a new campaign with a budget of $5,000/day, not $500/day. Campaign went live over a weekend and spent a ton.”

“PPC mistakes I have made: spending budgets too fast and forgetting to add new budget for the start of a new month (using Manager Defined Spend).”

One of the great things about PPC is that you can decide how much you want to spend. As an advertiser, you can decide to spend $5 per day or $50,000 per day – and you control the budget limits.

The problems arise when simple typos are made in budgets, or when an agency manager forgets to add new budget to their MDS (which I have done myself).

How to avoid budget mistakes: Have someone else double-check your entries, and put a reminder on your calendar for the last Friday of each month to reset your MDS budgets.

2. Bidding Mistakes

“My biggest PPC mistake: late one night I accidentally increased bids on two keywords… I meant to type 11 cents, but I typed 11 dollars. By the next day the account had racked up $7,000 in unwanted charges!”

“I tried changing bids only to remember that the client has automated bidding for those keywords – after spending time setting up all the new bids.”

“Biggest mistake: Forgetting a decimal point on a bid. Fortunately, it wasn’t for a client account. Unfortunately, it was for me. Ka-Ching.”

“Someone I worked with once put a popular head term on broad match with a £80 bid instead of a £0.80 bid.”

I’d be willing to bet that every PPC manager has made a bidding mistake at least once. It’s easy to type $30 when you really meant $0.30 – or vice versa – and the results can be disastrous in a short period of time.

I once set up a bunch of new keywords for a client in a very competitive vertical, and couldn’t figure out why they weren’t getting any traffic. Turns out I’d set the bids at $0.50 instead of $50!

How to avoid bidding mistakes: It’s hard to completely avoid them, but using an offline editor like AdWords Editor or Bing Ads Editor helps, because you can check your work before the changes go live. Also, make sure to check your campaigns the next day – you’ll easily spot anomalies before they get too far out of control.

3. Network Targeting Mistakes

“Not turning off content network for a new campaign, set to single word broad match. Not always a mistake, but this time it was.”

“With all the teams I’ve managed, the favorite rookie mistake has always been content network =on. Have seen £00s wasted on that.”

Google doesn’t do novice PPC marketers any favors with their campaign defaults. PPC best practices such as separating search and content (display) and proper geo-targeting are overridden by Google’s default settings, which target “All Countries and Languages” and “All Networks.”

google network default

How to avoid network targeting mistakes: Make sure all new hires are trained in best practices for PPC settings, and be sure to check their work early on. Using a desktop editor makes it easier to double-check all campaign settings before pushing campaigns live. After the changes are live, check the settings again in the online interface to make sure everything is the way it should be. Schedule a report, segmented by network and campaign, to be sent to your email the day after the campaign goes live. If you’re seeing traffic in the wrong place, you’ll know what to fix.

Summary

Hopefully this post has taught you two things: that even the most experienced PPC managers make mistakes, and how to avoid those pitfalls!

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at Search Engine Watch on February 5, 2013.

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Top 3 Takeaways from SMX Advanced 2013

This year was my 7th trip to SMX Advanced in Seattle. As always, it felt like homecoming for SEMs – I saw so many friends, it’s hard to keep track! I especially enjoyed hanging out with fellow members of PPC Chat, sharing knowledge and thoughts about the conference.

A search conference is no good without takeaways that you can apply to your day to day work. Here are my top 3 takeaways from this year’s SMX Advanced.

Enhanced campaigns are a nightmare.

As expected, there was an entire session dedicated to Enhanced Campaigns. Each and every presenter on the panel was pessimistic about what they’ve seen so far. The consensus was that it’s nearly impossible to control and isolate mobile traffic to optimize for ROI. This is a huge issue that I’ve written about before, and so far Google has made no moves to fix it. We’re stuck with convoluted workarounds and complicated bid modifiers that complicate campaign structure and management, rather than simplify it as Google claims is the intent of Enhanced Campaigns.

Furthermore, Enhanced Campaigns don’t play well with some Adwords features, namely Conversion Optimizer. If you’re using Conversion Optimizer, be aware that you can’t use bid modifiers with it. Crazy.

And finally, Enhanced Campaigns are killing ROI. Jeff Allen from PPC Hero presented a case study showing that CPAs went way up with Enhanced Campaigns – specifically, mobile CPAs increased by 40%. Mobile spend also increased dramatically, due to the lack of control.

We can only hope that Google fixes these issues before the forced migration in July.

Bing is doing some cool stuff.

I had the huge honor of visiting the Bing Ads offices in Bellevue with my good friend Ping Jen. I met with several of their development teams, including the Desktop team, the keyword relevance team, and the Ad Intelligence team. While I can’t share specifics about our conversations, what I can say is that there are some very interesting and useful tools and improvements on the near horizon that will really take your Bing Ads campaigns to the next level. Bing is dedicated to succeeding in the search space, and they’re allotting significant brain power to making things work.

And really, if ever there was a good time for this, it’s now. Bing has a window of opportunity to eclipse Google in several areas, including innovation, control, relevance, and customer service. Google really ticked off the SEM community with Enhanced Campaigns, and we’re looking for alternatives. Bing is poised to be a viable alternative, folks.

Wednesday’s keynote speaker at SMX Advanced was Gurdeep Singh Pall from Bing. I normally take keynotes with a grain of salt – they’re usually very high-level and theoretical with few takeaways. But this keynote really got me thinking. Gurdeep talked a lot about the future of search and the way Xbox has changed the landscape. Voice search and even search with gestures is the wave of the future – and people don’t talk the way they type.

The implications for PPC’ers are huge. Not only will we have to rethink our keyword and ad copy strategy in view of voice search, we’ll have to figure out how to target searches by gesture. It’s almost mind-boggling, but the bottom line is, in 5 years our jobs will look very different than they do now. Star Trek is here, folks.

star trek

Opt-Out geotargeting works better.

The very last presentation of the conference in the PPC track was by Marta Turek of Mediative. She presented a geotargeting case study that changed the way I think about geotargeting.

In a nutshell, she and her team noticed that geotargeted campaigns didn’t seem to perform as well as they should. CPCs were significantly higher on their geo campaigns than on their national campaigns, and over time, they saw attrition of search volume & traffic.

So they tried an experiment. They’d been targeting Denver, CO. They replicated the campaign and instead of targeting the Denver DMA, they targeted the entire state of Colorado – and excluded every DMA except Denver.

The result? Significantly higher volume, and CPCs that were about 30% lower than on the geotargeted campaign – and, of course, way better ROI.

Just to make sure this wasn’t a fluke, they tried the same tactic on another campaign targeting a couple of DMAs in North Carolina. They saw the same results – more volume and better ROI. Marta called the tactic “opt-out geotargeting.”

She admitted that these weren’t perfect tests. Both tests were sequential, rather than simultaneous – they ran an opt-in campaign first, and then recreated it as an opt-out campaign. There were seasonal factors at play, in addition to campaign optimizations such as ad copy testing that could have skewed the results. Still, it was surprising enough to be worth sharing.

As I looked around the room during this session, I could see people furiously taking notes. You could almost hear the wheels turning in the collective heads in the room.

At the end of the session, moderator Matt Van Wagner made a promise to the room: If anyone else tested this technique side by side and got valid results, Matt would write it up for Search Engine Land and guarantee them a speaking slot at next year’s SMX Advanced. Wow.

All in all, it was yet another great SMX Advanced. Did you attend the conference? What did you think? Didn’t attend and have questions? Share in the comments!

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International PPC: How to Go Global

This week, I had the enormous pleasure of hosting PPC Chat. It was my first time hosting, and I had a blast! Credit goes to Matt Umbro for helping me prepare ahead of time – Matt, you made my job easy!

Anyway, we talked about International PPC and I learned a ton. I’ve managed international PPC campaigns before, but have always felt like I could be doing it better than I was. And as we all know, the world is getting smaller and more and more companies are going global, so it’s time to get on the international PPC bandwagon.

Here are my key takeaways from the chat.

Enlist the help of native speakers for ad copy & keyword creation and optimization.

Sure, you can use Google Translate for this, but that’s probably worse than running ads in just English. Not only will the ads read awkwardly, but you might inadvertently make cultural faux pas. We’ve all heard the legend about the Chevy Nova selling poorly in Latin America. Don’t be that advertiser. Either use client resources to vet your ad copy, or hire an international contractor to help you.

International PPC rollout strategies vary.

Answers to the question “When you launch internationally, do you start with an entire account, or one campaign at a time?” were widely varied. The majority of chatters said they launched gradually, one campaign at a time, to control spend and results. James Svoboda said it best: “Campaign at a time. Too many ‘WTF is happening to conversion rates’ scenarios can happen.” Indeed.

While many chatters agreed with James, Jessica Fisher had a different strategy: “I just roll them all out with low budgets and conservative settings. Takes less time & you never know what will/will not convert.” This also made a lot of sense to me: the low budget minimizes risk, and you’ll learn faster.

My advice? Work with your client or boss and decide which approach you’re most comfortable with. Depending on your goals and objectives, either strategy could work for you.

You must support the languages in which you’re advertising.

The “quote of the chat” came from my friend Carrie Hill: “If you cannot support the conversion in another language – why are you targeting it w/ PPC?” This is something that we’ve struggled with. Advertisers want to create ad copy in native languages, which makes a lot of sense – but their website is in English only, and they don’t have customer service reps who speak other languages!

Think about that for a second. You’re running ads in the Netherlands, in Dutch. Your keywords are also Dutch. So a Dutch-speaking person searches, sees your ad, clicks on it – and ends up on an English-language site. Strike one – you’ve already alienated him. Then Mr. Van Customer calls your international 800 number in hopes he can reach another Dutch speaker. Strike two – your CS reps don’t speak Dutch, either. If he’s really persistent, he might go back to your site and find a contact link, and he sends you an email – in Dutch, which no one can read or respond to. Strike three.

Sure, we can all use Google Translate, and it’s better than nothing. But we’ve all seen those awkward translations it spits back, too. The point is, you must support the language!

If you can’t, you’re better off running ads in English. That way you can still reach English-speaking customers in other countries, without alienating others.

If you missed Tuesday’s chat, you can check out the streamcap. Did you participate in the International PPC chat? What are your best international PPC tips? Share in the comments!

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PPC News Around the Web, Summer Reading Edition

Well, it’s the last day of May already. If you’re anything like me, your thoughts are fast turning to summer: warm weather, vacations, barbecues, beaches, or whatever you like to do in the summer. Me, I like to read – I read year-round, but there’s something cool and comforting about curling up with a great read in a lounge chair pool or beach side.

With that, here’s my reading list from the many great blog posts that were published in May.

Long Term PPC Keyword Expansion: Moving Beyond the Obvious from John Lee at Clix Marketing. OK, so John gave me some nice props in this post, but he’s also outlined some fantastic and little-used keyword research techniques that you should try.

5 Excel Skills Every Marketer Should Know by Annie Cushing over at Search Engine Land. I’ve found myself bookmarking every post that Annie writes, because they’re (a) so informative and (b) so geeked-out that I need to read them multiple times. While this post isn’t as geeky as some of her others, it’s still a great how-to on much-needed Excel skills.

Getting Away From Our PPC Campaigns This Summer also at Search Engine Land, this one by my good friend Matt Van Wagner. Matt’s found some great hacks that will save time and aggravation. This one is a must-read.

How to Exclude Mobile Apps on the Google Display Network by Bryant Garvin at Get Found First. This was spurred by a Twitter discussion amongst some of us frustrated Display advertisers who were seeing placements like this:

tablet display site fails

Bryant has an easy and yet not-so-obvious way to eliminate this garbage traffic. Thanks, Bryant!

Market Research for International PPC Success by Heather Cooan at Search Engine Journal. International PPC is a whole new ballgame for those of us who’ve been stuck stateside. This post covers key differences that international advertisers need to be aware of.

Speaking of international PPC, I’ll be hosting this week’s PPC Chat where we’ll be talking about International PPC! Hop on over to Twitter at noon Eastern time on Tuesday, June 4 and join the conversation!

Adwords Support Sinks To A New Low by me. This was really a frustration rant on my part, but it ended up being my most-read and most-commented post ever. Clearly I struck a chord. In case you missed this one, go take a look and be sure to read all the comments.

PPC Books I Recommend. I regularly get asked about PPC books and which ones I recommend. I finally decided to compile a list someplace for easy reference. I have read all of these books and refer to them often. If you’re new to PPC, or if you just want to learn more, bookmark this page as your starting point.

Enjoy your summer reading!

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