Yes, Google Still Hates B2B Advertisers

Google’s annual big Adwords announcement conference call was held this past Tuesday. As usual, I held low expectations for any great news for B2B advertisers. And as usual, I was right – Google still hates B2B advertisers.

I’ve written about this before, in 2015 and in 2016. It’s getting to be an annual event, as here I am in 2017 still talking about the fact that Google still hates B2B advertisers.

As per usual, Google’s announcement focused on features that are great for large, B2C, ecommerce-focused advertisers, with little to nothing of use to B2B advertisers. One new feature I was interested in was Google Attribution, a machine-learning model for attribution. Attribution can be a bear for B2B lead gen advertisers with long sales cycles. It’s hard to decide which model to choose, because there are so many touches across multiple channels in the buyer journey. Machine learning could be helpful in answering the attribution question for B2B.

Problem is, there are huge minimum data standards to be able to use this feature. According to Marketing Land, “In order to use it, accounts must have at least 15,000 clicks and a conversion action with at least 600 conversions within 30 days.”

Wow. Many of our B2B clients, even those with high click volume, struggle to get 60 conversions in 30 days, much less 600. 600 conversions on 15,000 clicks is a 4% conversion rate. That’s really high for B2B, where search is often one of the first steps in a long journey towards making a big-ticket business purchase decision. And with CPCs in B2B approaching $10-20 or more, that’s a huge monthly budget – $150,000 at an average CPC of $10 per click.

In essence, all but the largest B2B advertisers with high conversion rates are priced out of machine learning attribution.

So many of the other announcements just don’t apply to B2B: measuring store visits is a non-starter, for instance. Google Surveys is an invitation to a customer service nightmare for B2B businesses that are often ill-equipped to handle online badmouthing.

AMP for Ads is a head-scratcher for me – not only are there documented issues with AMP, as Julie Friedman Bacchini describes in this post, but we’re still struggling to get several of our B2B clients to even think about mobile, much less dip their toes into AMP. I know it sounds crazy that in 2017, advertisers are still not equipped with mobile-friendly landing pages, but it’s a fact. We have more than one client who is opting out of mobile entirely until they can get mobile landing pages up and running. The thought of introducing AMP to them gives me a headache.

Buying through Google Assistant, or any other voice search technology, is laughable for B2B. No one is going to ask Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri: “Find me an enterprise level data management system, please.” These are large, considered purchases – you’re not ordering books or hair care products, you’re ordering multi-million dollar business systems, medical equipment, software, etc. While we do see voice searches in B2B, they’re early-stage queries that have little impact on immediate purchases.

Nor do most B2B advertisers care about in-store visits. Many don’t even have a store. Those that do have customer-facing locations are not equipped to handle large volumes of foot traffic or phone calls. While in-store traffic is great for retail and pizza, these features just don’t make sense for B2B.

The announcements weren’t all bad for B2B. Google Optimize is ok, although many B2B advertisers prefer to use a third party like Optimizely or Unbounce. Unique reach metrics are good for media-heavy advertisers who use the Google Display Network – I actually had a client ask me for this number last week, and I was unable to provide it. In-market audiences for search looks interesting, although I’d need to see what audiences are available. In the past, I’ve found few choices for B2B in in-market audiences in the GDN.

In short, Tuesday’s event left me feeling left out. Again. As I do every year. It’s clear that yes, Google still hates B2B advertisers.

What did you think of Tuesday’s announcements? Anything you’re excited about? Any B2B applications you saw that I didn’t think of? Share in the comments!

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Expanding Your Adwords Account with Remarketing and RLSA

I’ve written before about expanding your Adwords account with ad extensions. Using remarketing and RLSA is another effective way to market to people who’ve already visited your website.

Remarketing ads appear across the Google Display Network, “a collection of websites — including specific Google websites like Google Finance, Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube — that show AdWords ads. This network also includes mobile sites and apps. If you’ve ever seen an AdWords ad on your favorite news site or in your Gmail account, and wondered how it got there, now you know: websites like these are part of the Google Display Network.”

RLSA ads appear within Google search results themselves.

Setting up remarketing and RLSA

To use remarketing and RLSA, you’ll need to tag your website. There are two ways to tag your site: with Google Analytics, or with the Adwords remarketing tag.

If you’re using Google Analytics, remarketing is included as part of the code. There is no further code setup needed.

If you’re not using Google Analytics, you can get a remarketing tag in your Adwords account. Navigate to the Shared Library and choose Audiences:

Once in the Audiences section, you’ll see a prompt for the tag at the upper right hand corner of your screen:

Click “Tag Details” to get the actual tag to place on your site.

Remarketing and RLSA use the same tag. Be sure to place the tag on every page of your website to provide the most opportunities to reach previous site visitors.

Setting up audiences

Once your site is tagged, you can start creating audiences. Audiences are groups of people with similar behaviors. For example, you might create an audience of converted visitors: people who completed a sale or reached the “thank you for signing up” page.

Think about your customers and what behaviors they engage in. Do people who purchase usually browse several pages on your site before buying? Do they spend a long time on your site? Are there key pages you want them to visit? Create audiences for each of these behaviors.

To create an audience, click “+Remarketing List” from the “Audiences” section in the shared library. You’ll see a dialog box like this:

If you want to create a list of users who visited your Products page, for instance, you’d specify that in the “People who visited a page with any of the following” section. You might put “/products”, for example; or use the full URL if you only have one products page.

Think carefully about your membership duration. This is how long a user stays in the remarketing audience, and the number of days should correspond with the length of your buying cycle. If users usually purchase within a week, you may want to set your membership duration to 7 days. If you have a longer buying cycle, you might want to go 90 days or even longer – the upper limit is 180 days.

Don’t keep people in your remarketing audience longer than necessary – you don’t want to annoy users by pushing products to them that they no longer need.

Using remarketing

Once your audiences are set up, you can use them as targeting criteria in your Adwords campaigns.

To use remarketing, which shows ads in the Google Display Network, create a Display Network Only campaign in Adwords.

Then create the ad groups you want to use for remarketing.

Navigate to your first ad group and go to the Display Network tab, and then choose “+Targeting / Interests & Remarketing.” From there, select the remarketing audience you want to target.

It’s important to think about ad messaging before you start a remarketing campaign. You don’t want to just show the user the same offer they’ve already seen. Think about user behavior and what makes sense: should you show them a special deal? A piece of content to help them make a purchase decision? An ad for a complementary product? Putting some thought into your ad strategy up front will help make remarketing successful.

Using RLSA

RLSA is similar to remarketing, except the ads show in the Google search results, rather than the GDN.

To set up a RLSA campaign, you can start by copying one of your search campaigns and adding a remarketing audience to it. Navigate to an ad group, and then to the Audiences tab to add an audience:

You’ll add an Interests & Remarketing audience for RLSA the same way you did for remarketing. As with remarketing, be sure to think about your ad copy and what makes sense. RLSA is your opportunity to show different search ad copy to previous visitors of your site – take advantage of it!

About Target and Bid vs. Bid Only

RLSA has 2 different bid settings: Target & Bid, and Bid Only.


Target and bid will restrict your ad delivery to those who are in your remarketing audience. No one else searching on the keywords in your RLSA campaigns will see your ads. Target and bid will be your most common setting for RLSA.

Bid Only is an interesting setting that enables you to set different bids for the users in your remarketing audience, while still showing ads to everyone searching on the keywords in the campaign. For example, you may want to use Bid Only for high purchase intent keywords, setting a higher bid for those who have already visited your website to help improve the position of your ad against competitors. Be aware, though, that Bid Only ads will serve to everyone who searches on the keywords, so use with caution.

Before pushing your RLSA campaign live, here are a couple tips to keep in mind:

•    Use broad match keywords. Since you’re only targeting users who’ve visited your website and taken a desired action, you don’t need to worry about driving untargeted traffic from broad match. Broad match in RLSA allows you to cast a wide net to reach your audience.
•    Use higher-funnel keywords. In regular PPC, you probably wouldn’t bid on single-word keywords like “ink” or “toner” because they’re just too broad and untargeted. With RLSA, you can afford to bid on these keywords, because the audience is smaller and is already pre-qualified by their previous visit to your website.

Negative audiences

When using remarketing and RLSA, keep in mind that you can use negative audiences as well as target audiences. Negative audiences are similar to negative keywords: they prevent your ads from showing to people in the audience.

If you’re targeting people who visited your site but didn’t convert, it’s a good idea to add “converted visitors” as a negative audience to make sure your remarketing ads don’t show to them. You also may want to consider creating negative audiences for people who bounced from your site, or who visited customer service pages, because these visitors are likely not qualified.

Remarketing and RLSA are highly effective ways to convert customers who’ve already visited your website. What’s your favorite way to use remarketing or RLSA? Share in the comments!

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A/B Testing Is Alive and Well

A/B testing is the bedrock of a good PPC campaign. It’s so important that I’ve written about it on this blog 46 times. Just last week, I wrote a review of AdAlysis, an A/B testing and multivariate testing tool. And just 2 years ago, I asked, can too many ads ruin PPC ad copy testing?

Spoiler: The answer is yes. Testing too many ads at once creates a myriad of issues, including taking forever to reach statistical significance in all but the highest-volume PPC accounts.

And yet, in their infinite wisdom, Google is now recommending that advertisers forgo A/B testing, and instead run at least 3 ads per ad group. In fact, Google representative Matt Lawson, in an article for Search Engine Land, this week went so far as to claim that using more than 2 ads per ad group is a “foolproof step to excellent Adwords ads.” In the article, he says, “I think the A/B approach to message testing is becoming outdated.”

Wow.

I think what he means is: “At Google, we’d really rather decide what ads are performing best for you. We want you to use the ‘optimize’ ad rotation settings and let us choose which ad to serve.”

That’s right. Google is telling us to forget ad copy testing and just let Google pick the winners.

To a novice PPC advertiser, I’m sure this is music to the ears. Small business owners and in-house marketers who are dipping their toes into Adwords management are probably thrilled to hear that they don’t have to worry about A/B testing ad copy. They can just throw a few random ads into their account, and let Google pick the winner.

Really?

How many successful business owners do you know who let their vendors tell them what products to stock in their stores? When pharmaceutical companies started paying big bucks to get doctors to prescribe their medication over others, the public lost its collective mind. “How dare they buy off the doctors?” If you walked into a clothing retailer who claims to carry multiple brands, and only found Calvin Klein, wouldn’t you wonder about the store owner’s sanity?

It’s called putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s not smart business. And it’s not smart advertising.

I get it. PPC is complicated. And hiring a professional PPC manager is expensive. That’s why many novice business owners and in-house marketers try to tackle PPC on their own. But it’s too complex. PPC is not something you can DIY. You wouldn’t try to fill a cavity yourself. Or replace the roof on your house. Or do your own business taxes. Or elect a president who stands to personally line his pockets using the office. (Wait, did I say that out loud?). The point is, you shouldn’t try to do PPC alone. Years ago, you could. Today, it’s just too complicated. And Google is out there trying to get you to turn the whole thing over to them.

Don’t fall for it. Hire a professional. Use A/B testing liberally. Make your own business decisions.

Julie Friedman Bacchini wrote a great post breaking down the fallacy of the Google article on SEL – go give it a read. And let me know what you think about the Google article. Do you see any merit in it? Are we really heading toward a world where we just let Google make all the decisions? Share in the comments!

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Google’s Going After Call Tracking

This week, Google made two important announcements that impact marketers who are trying to track calls from search, and/or control where the calls go.

The first change impacts those using location extensions. Effective January 19 – yes, in 2 weeks – Google “may” show the local phone number in your ad, instead of your desired number.

For many businesses, this is probably ok. For example, if I want to know the business hours for my local Best Buy, it makes sense to call that store, rather than a central number. But for many other businesses, this is a disaster. Local insurance companies, security offices, financial planners, and the like often prefer callers to dial a centralized call center, where representatives are prepared to handle the calls as leads. Local offices are often not set up to handle the volume and type of callers they receive from search ads.

Not to mention the fact that businesses may want to track phone calls through a central number. If calls start going to the local offices, they’ve lost control of tracking. We have more than one client who will be opting out of this, simply because they want granular call tracking.

The second change affects anyone using call extensions. Starting February 6 – yes, in less than a month – Google is going to automatically add mobile call extensions to advertisers who “prominently feature a phone number” on their landing pages.

Again, it’s possible to opt out of this. And again, for many advertisers, this is a nightmare. Let’s say you’re a retailer who only takes calls from 8am to 8pm, but can take online orders any time. Instead of deciding yourself whether or not to use mobile call extensions, and scheduling them to meet your needs, Google is going to just go ahead and show the phone number, no matter what. Yes, you can opt out, but how many businesses aren’t going to know or understand how to do that? I’m hearing on Twitter that not everyone received the email Google sent out (although we did receive it for all our applicable clients). And some less-sophisticated advertisers aren’t going to understand it anyway.

My first thought was that this is a disaster for those using dynamic call tracking on their landing pages. It seems to have the potential to totally screw up dynamic tracking. Thankfully, according to the Search Engine Land article, Google will be able to detect landing pages using dynamic call tracking, and will not generate the automatic call extensions for these ads. I’ll believe this when I see it, but for now it’s reassuring.

Here’s the crux of the whole thing, though. Google has a history of going after third-party providers. They went after bid management companies with automated bidding. They went after reporting companies with their new reporting features. And now they’re going after call tracking providers with this latest announcement.

Is this a bad thing? Well, I haven’t seen any third party bid management, reporting, or call tracking companies going belly up yet, at least not any of the major ones. But it’s still early. We all know what happened to third party web analytics when Google bought Urchin way back when and turned it into Google Analytics. Plenty of analytics providers went belly up – it just took a couple years.

I’m confident that third parties are here to stay when it comes to bid management, reporting, and call tracking. For one thing, third parties can report on data beyond Google AdWords. And they’re easier to work with than Google. But it’s kind of annoying to have to opt out of these “features” and “enhancements” all the time.

What do you think? Is Google trying to rule the world and run out third party providers? Or are the features good for most advertisers? Share in the comments!

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Google Still Hates B2B Advertisers

Yesterday, Google launched a new website for Adwords advertisers to help them achieve their marketing goals. “Finally,” I thought, “an answer to my pleas!” Just last week, I showed where Facebook ads are beating Google – in helping advertisers achieve their objectives. I called Google to task for focusing more on the money.

Hey, maybe they listened to me.

But as I dug deeper, my disappointment grew. There is zero content on Google’s marketing goals site covering B2B advertising.

I know Google hates B2B advertisers – I wrote about that last year. But I was hoping for one measly section on lead generation or something B2B-ish. No such luck.

I’m not the only one who’s disappointed.

tweets-1

How hard would it have been to include a lead generation section? It can’t be that Google doesn’t have something to offer – plenty of advertisers are successfully investing significant funds into lead generation ads.

tweets-2

Couldn’t agree more with Julie here – I get that sales cycles for B2b are long, and quick case studies are hard to come by. And many B2B advertisers don’t want to do case studies because they don’t want to share their “trade secrets” with competitors. But we’ve had plenty of clients who were willing to share case studies publicly. If we can find a couple willing clients, surely Google could. It seems to me like they’re not trying. Kirk Williams seems to agree with me:

tweets-3

Could Google really be that lazy and short-sighted? And if so, does it open the door for someone else to sweep in and help B2B advertisers out?

tweets-4

This is a huge opportunity for Bing to create content showing why Bing Ads is great for B2B advertisers. Like Meg said, many B2B advertisers get more bang for their buck from Bing. For one of our clients, cost per conversion on Bing is 1/4 that of Google for the same set of keywords. It’s a home run.

In the end, does it matter that Google hates B2B advertisers?

tweets-5

I see Brian’s point – giving everyone the same options leads to commoditization and same-ness in a game where it pays to be different. I still take pride in the fact that I was able to beat Amazon when I was doing in-house PPC back in the early days. Amazon was running cookie-cutter ads, even worse than the ones they run now, and we ate their lunch in our category by being different.

The problem, though, goes back to what Julie Bacchini said: Google’s leaving B2B out of the mix gives advertisers the idea that PPC won’t work for them. Just this week, I dealt with client questions around this very topic. I had pulled some information from Think with Google that was as close as I could get to B2B. The client said, “Isn’t there anything closer to our business?” I had to say no – and it caused them to question why they were doing PPC anyway, even though their PPC program is crushing every other marketing effort in terms of efficiency and lead generation.

C’mon Google – help us out here! At least pretend you have a few B2B advertisers.

What do you think? Does this latest move show that Google still hates B2B advertisers? Or is it a non-issue? Share in the comments!

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Expanding Your PPC Account with Ad Extensions

If you have a PPC account that’s doing well, chances are you’ll want to expand it at some point. One way to give yourself a better chance for more clicks is by using ad extensions.

Ad extensions are a great way to help make your ad stand out on the search results page. Ad extensions usually help your ads get a better click-through rate, which can increase traffic and conversions.

To have ad extensions display, ads must appear in the top 1-3 positions, above the search results.

Sitelink extensions.

Sitelink extensions are additional links that display below your ad, leading to pages on your website other than your ad’s final URL. Sitelinks are commonly used to show complementary products, FAQ pages, reviews, and other pages that you wouldn’t want to use for your main landing page, but may provide additional information to help the searcher buy. In the image below, sitelinks are highlighted in red.

sitelink-extensions

Each sitelink must have a different URL from your ad’s final URL.

Callout extensions.

Callout extensions are similar to sitelinks in that they offer the opportunity to display additional text. However, callout extensions aren’t links. Instead, think of callout extensions as a way to give more information about your company. Using descriptive text such as “free shipping,” “24-hour service,” and other features that you want to share with the searcher is a good way to use callout extensions. Slogans also work well in callout extensions, especially if your slogan is well known.

Callout extensions are highlighted in red in the example below.

callout-extensions

App extensions.

If you offer a mobile app, you can drive downloads via app extensions.

app-extensions

For e-commerce advertisers who offer a shopping app, encouraging searchers to download and use your app instead of buying on your website can help make shopping easier for the user, therefore potentially increasing your sales.

Call extensions.

Many businesses depend on phone calls to drive telephone sales or foot traffic to their store. Using call extensions allows you to include your phone number as an extension next to your ad. Here’s what call extensions look like on desktop:

call-extensions

Call extensions are particularly helpful for users searching on a mobile device. These searchers often have an immediate need, so making it easy to call your business will help generate calls:

call-extensions-mobile

All the user has to do is tap the “Call” icon, and a call is placed to your business. Advertisers pay a per-click fee for each call tap, just as you would for a click to your website.

Location extensions.

Location extensions allow advertisers to include their business address, directions to their business, a phone number, and a pin on Google Maps.

location-extensions

To use location extensions, you’ll need to set up a Google My Business account and link it to your Adwords account. Once the accounts are linked, just select Location Extensions from the Extensions menu:

location-extensions-in-adwords

The default is to add all business locations to your account. Location extensions can help drive both online and in-store traffic for your business.

What’s your favorite ad extension? Do you use extensions for all your clients without fail? Share your experiences in the comments!

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PPC: Not For Kids

Yesterday there was an article published on BBC entitled Boy racks up 100,000 euro bill advertising his brass band. Unbelievable – some 12 year old kid in Spain opened an Adwords account and racked up 100,000 euro (about $111,000 in US dollars) on PPC ads.

Here’s the kicker: “he was under the impression people clicking on the adverts would earn him money.”

Oh my.

First off – parents, don’t let your 12 year olds sign up for Adwords. Monitor their internet usage, for Pete’s sake.

OK. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, here is where I think this kid went wrong. Here’s the Adwords home page (and yes, I realize this is the US, English version, but I have to believe the Spanish one says the same thing.)

adwords-home-page

It seems clear to me that you’ll pay when someone clicks, but read that sentence carefully: “And only pay when they click to visit your website or call.” I can see how an uninitiated user, especially a child, could think it means “And Google only pays you when they click to visit your website.” It’s a stretch, but I can see it.

Google, in their attempt to make the Adwords barrier to entry very low, has oversimplified things. I’ve written about this before. There’s no shortage of stories about people who have wasted thousands of dollars, or more, on ill-advised Adwords ads. There’s the small business owner who didn’t keep up with his campaigns and competitors. Once upon a time, 10 or more years ago, it was possible for novices to run a fairly successful Adwords campaign. Those days are long gone, just like the days of fixing your own car are long gone. Nowadays, you need a good mechanic for your car, and a PPC professional to run your Adwords campaigns.

And yet, there’s obviously still a lot of waste in PPC. I see it every time I do an audit. Surprisingly, many people running PPC campaigns still don’t follow best practices. A simple Google search gives me an idea of the scope of the problem:

wasted-adwords

755,000 results for a long-tail search about wasting money on Adwords, and a ton of blog posts in the top 10 results. Clearly it’s not just this poor Spanish kid, who luckily got Google to credit him back (or I think his mother did – go Mom).

Does this mean no one should ever try to run their own PPC campaigns? I’d say no, but I hesitate in giving that answer. With all the complexities in PPC these days, it’s wise for small business owners or individuals to at least have a professional look at their account. It’s worth paying someone a couple hundred bucks to avoid losing thousands, in my opinion. Or, consider hiring a PPC professional to run your account. I know plenty of PPC pros who take small side jobs, or who will perform audits for a nominal fee. It’s worth it.

I also take issue with Google making it seem so easy. It shouldn’t be so simple for a 12 year old to open an account:

netmeg

I’m not sure what that something would be, and it’s probably easy to game. I know plenty of kids who signed up for Facebook well before their 13th birthday, simply by lying about their age. At least with Facebook, there’s no money at stake (although there are plenty of other things at stake, like privacy, self-esteem, cyber-bullying, and general tween-age shenanigans – but I won’t get into that here). The point is, situations like the one with the 12 year old simply shouldn’t happen. There should be some warning button that outlines the risks or at least says “Are you sure? Your credit card/bank account/whatever will be charged every time someone clicks on your ad.”

What do you think? Should Google somehow “gate” Adwords to keep the kids out? Or is it ok the way it is? Share in the comments!

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PPC Book Review: PPC SEM An Hour A Day

ppc an hour a dayOne of my favorite books for new PPC pros is Pay Per Click Search Engine Marketing An Hour a Day by two of my favorite PPC people, David Szetela and Joe Kerschbaum. The format of the book literally takes the reader on a 9-month journey to learn all the ins and outs of PPC – in just one hour per day.

Published in 2010, you may think the book is totally outdated by now. And if you look at it on the surface, it is. But I still recommend PPC An Hour A Day to novice PPC’ers, because the fundamentals haven’t changed in the 14 years I’ve been doing PPC. Keyword research is still keyword research. Good ad copy is still good ad copy. Good landing pages are still good landing pages. Sure, the screen shots may not look like what you’re seeing, but if you look past that, you’ll learn how to do PPC the right way by reading this book.

The first three chapters of the book cover PPC fundamentals: the art and science of PPC, how PPC works, and core PPC skills and objectives. These chapters are a sort of “required reading” prerequisite for the meat of the book, which is the “hour a day part.” Readers will need to devote the time to read about 50 pages before they jump into any real PPC work. And that’s a good thing – PPC is so complex these days that it’s risky to just start running campaigns without any background knowledge.

Once you finish the first 3 chapters, then the “hour a day” work begins. I love the progression of the book: it starts with keywords, ad copy, and landing pages, which are the building blocks of a successful PPC campaign. From there, it moves into optimization, Microsoft, and Adwords Editor.

The book is Adwords-first, meaning it teaches you the concepts in Adwords, and then moves to other engines. This approach makes sense, since Adwords is the standard-bearer for the PPC industry. It’s often easier to launch campaigns in Adwords, and then import them to Bing Ads.

Probably the only section of the book that’s truly outdated is the chapter on Microsoft’s Bing Ads. It wasn’t even called Bing Ads when the book was written – it was still Microsoft adCenter. Most of the differences between the old adCenter and Adwords mentioned in the book have been brought to parity by the Bing Ads engineering team, so you’ll have fewer gyrations to go through when importing your campaigns.

The book also covers YSM, which doesn’t exist anymore. Sure, there is Yahoo Gemini, but it’s quite different from the old YSM, and not as widely used. I still recommend reviewing these chapters, as there is a lot you can get out of the Microsoft chapter in particular.

All in all, PPC SEM An Hour a Day is a book that stands up over time. The fundamentals are there, broken out into digestible chunks that anyone can master. And if you’re working through the book and have questions, remember there’s always PPCChat on Twitter. ! Come ask us about anything you read that’s confusing – we’re here to help!

You can find PPC SEM An Hour a Day on Amazon. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Yes, The Google Display Network Can Drive PPC Conversions!

I remember when Google launched the Google Display Network. It was called the Content Network back then, and it was part of search campaigns. In the beginning, not only were you stuck with the same bids for search as for display, but you couldn’t opt out of the content network at all!

Thankfully, Google saw the light and fixed things pretty quickly: first, allowing an opt-out, and second, allowing separate bids. Then, finally, Google gave us the ability to create distinct GDN campaigns.

I often hear people say to avoid the GDN like the plague, claiming poor conversion rates and low-quality traffic. And that’s what you’ll find if you merely copy your search campaigns to display (or worse, run display in combination with search). But a carefully crafted GDN campaign can drive conversions at a low cost.

In fact, I’ve written about how to profit from the Google Display Network. Let’s revisit some of those tactics, and talk about some new ones as well.

Generate awareness.

OK, awareness doesn’t always lead to conversions. But if you have a new product that people aren’t searching for, or if you’re targeting a niche audience, the GDN is a great way to reach people who may not be aware of your product. Impressions are usually high in the GDN, meaning lots of exposure for your ads. With a carefully crafted campaign and strategy, you can generate not only awareness, but conversions for a product that people may not be searching for.

Also, if you’re using rich media image ads, you can drive a lot of awareness without anyone even clicking on your ad! Remember, you don’t pay for impressions in the GDN, so engaging or interesting ads can capture attention without costing a lot in clicks.

Create remarketing lists.

Sure, you can do remarketing on the GDN, but you can also use GDN traffic to create remarketing or RLSA lists. This works especially well for new or niche products as mentioned in the example above. With the right targeting, you can drive people to your website from the GDN at a low cost, and then use RLSA or remarketing to get them to convert.

Launch in a new region.

A geotargeted GDN campaign can be a great way to create awareness of your company in a new geographic region. Let’s say you’re well-established in the US, and just recently launched in Canada. Or, you opened a new location in a new city within the US. Create a geotargeted GDN campaign to generate awareness of your business – again, at a lower CPC than you’d find with search. (Hat tip to Timothy Jensen for this idea!)

Get your ads on YouTube and other high-traffic sites.

Yes, YouTube is part of the GDN, as are other high-profile sites that you may not be able to afford otherwise. We frequently see our clients’ GDN ads on YouTube, even as in-stream ads showing over videos. This is great exposure for clients who may not otherwise have the assets (such as videos) to run on YouTube.

In my 2014 article, I talked about getting on to LinkedIn via the GDN. I’m not sure that’s still possible. That said, Microsoft’s recent purchase of LinkedIn could lead to an entirely new way to serve ads on LinkedIn – albeit not through the GDN.

As with any PPC campaign, driving conversions through the GDN requires attention and optimization. You’ll need to monitor your placement reports and remove any poor-performing sites. Test ad copy and ad variations like crazy. Try different targeting options: placement, keyword, interest, and combinations of these. Just be careful not to restrict your audience to the point that you don’t get any traffic.

With careful planning and monitoring, you can generate conversions from the GDN!

What are your favorite ways to use the GDN? Share in the comments!

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5 Challenges for PPC Lead Generation In 2016

In 2015, I wrote a post detailing 5 challenges for PPC lead generation. Lead generation in PPC, especially in Google, continues to be a struggle for many B2B advertisers. Here’s why the reasons outlined in my 2015 post are still true this year.

Nothing is sold.

Google loves to talk about all the great ways to sell products via AdWords. You can set up a shopping feed, which has been enhanced recently; you can use mobile ads to direct shoppers to your local store, and you can even track store visits to measure foot traffic from PPC ads.

All of this is great for ecommerce advertisers – and useless for most B2B advertisers who use PPC. Lead generation advertisers don’t sell products through a shopping cart or a brick-and-mortar storefront. These advertisers are national or even international companies who, at best, have a local sales force that calls on businesses. No one is going to buy a $1,000,000 enterprise software package through an online shopping cart with a credit card. So none of these lovely features apply to B2B.

Lead generation advertisers can’t use Shopping feeds.

As mentioned above, Shopping is a non-event for B2B. And in February, Google removed all the ads in the right rail, relegating them to the top and bottom of the SERPs. The only thing that appears in the right rail now is shopping ads. Lead generation advertisers can’t use shopping. So we’re locked out of that prime real estate.

Landing pages can be a challenge.

Yes, even in the 2016 world of PPC, lead generation landing pages can be a challenge. Testing landing pages is an even bigger challenge.

Lately, Google has been pushing dynamic features like dynamic search ads and dynamic sitelinks. These features are a big timesaver for ecommerce advertisers who are selling hundreds of products – I wish we’d had them when I was doing in-house ecommerce PPC!

But for lead generation advertisers, dynamic ads and extensions are a nightmare. Frequently, we have a few specific pages we want to send search visitors to, and they’re often built on a CMS like Marketo or Eloqua. The main client site usually isn’t optimized for lead gen, so we don’t want to send people there. We don’t want Google crawling the site and creating dynamic stuff out of it. So we don’t use dynamic search ads, and we opt out of dynamic sitelinks.

Only initial responses are visible in the PPC accounts.

This is generally still true and is still a problem. It’s very difficult to mash together CRM data and initial conversion data and optimize based on it. Even phone call conversion data, if you’re using 3rd party call tracking, is hard to match up with PPC data, unless you’re using a bid management platform like Acquisio.

That said, there are a few companies out there who’ve created CRM integration with AdWords. And AdWords just launched a Salesforce import of AdWords data – one of the first innovations strictly for PPC lead generation that I can remember.

PPC tools and features are often at odds with lead generation.

A while ago, I wrote a post titled 3 Signs That Google Hates B2B Advertisers. It’s still true, and Julie Friedman Bacchini did a good job of outlining how Google ignored B2B in their recent set of announcements.

I’m thrilled with the fact that we will be able to bid separately for tablets again. Tablets perform universally badly for lead generation. And expanded text ads will be a boon to lead generation advertisers. Just this week, I struggled with describing B2B services, many of which use long words, in only 70 characters.

All that said, I’m particularly frustrated by the focus on local and mobile. I get that mobile is huge and can’t be ignored. Even our B2B clients see a lot of mobile traffic. But voice search continues to pose problems. And none of our clients have physical locations that customers can visit. People aren’t searching for “enterprise software sellers near me.” All the focus on “near me” is, frankly, annoying.

I still hold out hope that Google will finally show some love to PPC lead generation advertisers. But I’m not holding my breath.

What do you think? Will Google ever consider lead gen? Or will they continue to focus on pizza parlors? Share in the comments!

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