PPC Ad Test Settings: The Great Debate

PPC ad testing is a topic that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s one of the most fun aspects of managing PPC campaigns: learning what ad copy performs best. It’s always fun to try something wild and crazy and have it perform well, or to prove an insistent client right or wrong with test data.

Lately, there have been several opinions thrown around regarding which PPC ad test settings should be used for best results. It’s been interesting to watch the debate play out in blog posts and on Twitter. And to add confusion to the mix, Google recently announced that they were reducing the options available for ad rotation to two: optimize and rotate indefinitely. Google claims the change was rolling out in September, but I’m still seeing 4 options in my campaigns.

Anyway, there are a few PPC experts who have suggested that it’s better in the long run to use the Optimize settings, rather than Rotate Evenly. PPC Hero recommends running 3 or more ads per ad group, and letting Google choose the winner. This is also Google’s recommendation, incidentally. Their argument is based on a case study showing that clicks increased when they chose the Optimize setting and ran 3 or more ads.

If you’re optimizing for clicks, you probably have bigger problems than choosing ad rotation settings.

At HeroConf London, Marty Röttgerding gave a presentation on ad rotation. I wasn’t at the conference, but his deck is up on Slideshare. I strongly recommend you check it out – while paging through Slideshare isn’t the same as hearing the presentation in person, you can get the drift. He talks about statistical significance and essentially says it’s a red herring. He also points out that the search partner network, and its low CTRs, throws things off. So does ad position and the fact that quality score and other factors are determined at the time of the auction. Marty also advocates letting Google handle ad rotation.

I disagree.

Now before you dismiss me as a Luddite who wants to manually control all aspects of Adwords, let me remind you that I wrote a post not long ago advocating for using bid management tools. I’m a big fan of automation. Just not when it comes to ad copy testing.

I’ve tried using optimize for conversions, more than once. We’ve inherited accounts full of campaigns with that setting. And when we’ve evaluated results, we’ve always come to the same conclusion: Optimize for conversions is flawed.

It’s flawed for the same reason that Facebook ad “rotation” is flawed. Both systems pick winners too soon. (To be clear, I’m not talking about the brand new split testing feature that FB just announced here.)

I’ve seen Adwords choose a winning ad that’s had 10-20 clicks. That’s just not enough clicks to be significant at any level. I’m not looking for 99% confidence, but when an ad could get 5-10 additional clicks and show a totally different result, that’s not a winning ad in my mind. There isn’t enough data to confidently say that the ad Google deems a “loser” won’t actually perform better with more clicks.

I’m not a fan of the “run at least 3 ads” logic either. We inherited a client nearly 2 years ago that was running 5-10 ads in every ad group. Each ad had a handful of clicks. There was no way to see which ad was winning – and no tests would ever come close to statistical significance. Here’s what happened when we took over and started running systematic tests, 2 ads at a time:

Of course, we were doing other optimization here, but ad copy testing was a huge part of it.

Here’s the bottom line. I get that automation is great and helps us focus on strategic PPC management. But why hand all your automation over to Google? We all know Google has Google’s best interest at heart, not ours.

I prefer using third party tools. For bid management, I like Acquisio. For ad copy testing, I’m a huge fan of AdAlysis. AdAlysis tells you when you have statistically significant test results, and can even automate your ad testing. It’ll pause losing ads, based on the KPIs you choose:

You can also set up draft ads that will automatically start running when loser ads are paused:

You can test a whole new ad, or have AdAlysis pick up elements of the previous ad. In the example above, I’m testing descriptions, so I want to keep the headlines the same as before. Just check the box, and the tool will do that.

It takes some time and thought to set up the automation, but the same is true of setting up tests via Google. And Google won’t automatically pause losing ads, unless you run a script telling it do to so. AdAlysis has so many other features besides ad copy testing, but is worth it for the testing tools alone.

When it comes to PPC ad test settings, I like to choose Rotate Indefinitely and make my own decisions on winners and losers.

What do you think? Are you in the automation camp for PPC ad test settings? If so, do you let Google automate, or are you using a tool? Share in the comments!

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Expanding Your Adwords Account With The Google Display Network

When you want to expand your Adwords account, and you’ve exhausted your options in Google Search and remarketing/RLSA, you may want to consider the Google Display Network. The Google Display Network, or GDN for short, can be a great way to generate incremental traffic and sales.

Approach the GDN carefully, though. Ads in the GDN are not search. They’re shown based on the relevance of advertisers’ ads to the content on the website. Users viewing the ads are reading content, not actively asking questions.

That said, the GDN offers high impression volume and incremental exposure for your business.

Targeting on the GDN.

To target your ads on the GDN, you can use keywords, placements, topics, interests and remarketing, or demographics; or any combination of these.

Keyword targeting.

Keyword targeting sounds just like keyword targeting in search. It’s similar, but not exactly the same. Keyword targeting in the GDN enables advertisers to tell Google what keywords represent the topics and interests they’d like to reach. For example, if you sell cookware, you may choose keywords like:

• Gourmet cooking
• Recipes
• Cookware
• Food network

This list of terms seems random, but it’s not. Websites with this type of content will be relevant to your target audience. Remember, users aren’t searching on these keywords – they’re used directionally by Google to help match your ads to site content.

Placements.

Targeting by placements allows advertisers to choose the websites or placements on which they’d like their ads to appear. In the cookware example above, you might choose placements like:

• Foodnetwork.com
• Cookingchannel.com
• Epicurious.com
• Gourmetmagazine.com

Remember that high-traffic, well-known placements will have significant competition for ad space. If you choose popular websites for placement targeting, be prepared to bid quite high to be able to generate impressions. Still, for advertisers who know where their target audience hangs out, placement targeting can be an efficient way to target on the GDN.

Topics.

Instead of choosing keywords or placements, you can target ads in the GDN by topic. Here are some of the food-related topics for our cookware example:

You can select as many topics as you’d like. Make sure they’re relevant, of course.

Interests & remarketing.

In addition to remarketing, the GDN also offers interest targeting, based on either affinity audiences or in-market segments.

Affinity audiences are developed by Google, based on long-term behavior of users. For example, the food-related affinity audience is made up of people who frequently visited food and cooking-related sites over time. Here are some examples of affinity audiences:

In-market audiences, on the other hand, are users who Google has determined are actively shopping for a particular product or service. Affinity audiences tend to be focused around high-ticket, high-consideration items like autos and finance:

If you are an auto dealer, think how valuable it would be to serve ads to people who are actively looking to buy a car!

Demographics.

If you took marketing courses in college, you probably studied demographic targeting. Advertisers can target GDN ads by gender, age, and parental status.

You can also exclude demographics; for example, an advertiser targeting business owners might exclude users in the 18-24 and 65+ age groups, as these ages are less likely to be business owners.

Using multiple targeting methods.

If you find that you’re getting too much untargeted GDN traffic, you can combine multiple targeting methods to narrow down your audience. In the cookware example, you could target by placement, and then add keywords to cover the items you sell: cast-iron skillets, saucepans, utensils, etc. This will help prevent your ads from showing on pages that aren’t relevant to what you sell. Combining keywords and placements works particularly well on large sites that cover a lot of topics, such as CNN and YouTube. Adding keywords helps your ads to show only on relevant content.

Be aware that layering multiple targeting options will greatly reduce the number of impressions you’ll receive in the GDN. Try to strike a balance between quantity (impressions) and quality (targeting).

Watch your performance and adjust.

The GDN drives much high impression volume and lower click-through rates than those seen in Google search. CPCs are usually lower than search, as well. But it’s important to monitor performance and exclude any targeting options that are not driving converting traffic. While this is true in any search campaign, because ads in the GDN lack the intent of a searched keyword, it’s crucial to keep a close eye on GDN campaigns to avoid wasting money.

Many search pros avoid the GDN, but I’ve found it to be a valuable add-on for many clients. When targeted correctly, the GDN is an effective way to expand your Adwords account.

For more on the GDN, check out these posts:

3 Ways To Profit From The Google Display Network
Yes, The Google Display Network Can Drive PPC Conversions!

How have you used the GDN successfully? Share in the comments!

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Learning Adwords Scripts

Adwords Scripts have been around for several years. Scripts are basically a little snippet of code that you add to your Adwords account, and they do several things, including:

• Run reports and email them to you or output into a Google Sheet
• Notify you of changes to your account performance
• Make changes to bids, ads, campaigns, etc.

Scripts are a type of account automation, and can be highly useful.

I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t ever set up a single script.

I have a couple PPC accounts using scripts that other people set up, but I’ve never done one myself. I know from conversations in PPC Chat that I’m not alone, either. So, let’s learn Adwords Scripts together.

Finding a Script

Thankfully, there are several resources where you can find free Adwords Scripts without having to write your own. (If I have to write my own, I’m done, right now.) Here are a few resources I’m aware of; I’m sure there are more.

Free Adwords Scripts. There are a bunch of free scripts on this site. We’ve used a few of them, including the ad test significance script. It’s not perfect, and I like AdAlysis better for this task, but it’s better than cranking ad copy test data by hand.

Optmyzr. Frederick Vallaeys, a former Google employee, has some free scripts on his site you can use. If you’re an Optmyzr customer, there are many more scripts available. There’s also a how-to on installing scripts.

The Adwords interface. Adwords has a whole library of free scripts, helpfully organized by task.

Koozai’s big list. A list of 100 free scripts.

Using a Script

OK, finding a script is pretty easy. Implementing it is what scares me. I’m going to walk through the steps here, so we can learn together.

I’ve decided to try the Declining Ad Groups Report from the Adwords script library. It seems like a helpful script, and it doesn’t make any changes to your account – it just outputs the results into a Google Doc that you can review.

The instructions are all at the script URL, so I won’t re-copy them in detail here. The first step is to copy the Google Sheets template, and save it:

OK, that was easy enough. Now, we go to Scripts in Adwords to create a new script. It’s in the Bulk Operations menu in the left nav.

Click the +Script button, give the script a name, authorize it, and save it.

Then, paste in the code for the script from the Adwords site:

For this script, I also had to make one change to the code to paste the URL of my Google Sheet in the designated spot. It was easy to do, based on Google’s directions. Click save, and then Preview to preview your script results.

The results will populate in the Google Sheet:

OK, this is cool. I now have a list of ad groups whose performance has been declining over the past 3 weeks. The account to which I added this script is large, and also fairly new to us, so we’re still getting the feel of it. This script will help me pinpoint ad groups that need attention.

I scheduled the script to run once a week:

I set it for Sunday so it will be ready for me every Monday morning. The script sends an email to me every time it runs, so I don’t have to remember to go check the Google Sheet for updates. You can also click the “Run” button to run the script immediately.

So, How Was It?

As I said, until now I’d never set up a script before. I have to say, this was a lot easier than I expected! I thought there would be complicated changes to the script language that I’d have to make, but there was only one, and it was easy:

I just had to replace “YOUR_SPREADSHEET_URL” with the URL of my Google Sheet. Easy! If you’re used to looking at website source code, simple changes like this are no big deal.

Of course, I immediately started to wonder if I could add metrics to this script. For example, I’d love to add conversions, cost per conversion, and conversion rate to the metrics, in addition to cost and CTR. I have no idea how to do that. I suppose I could copy the part of the code for CTR and change it to conversion rate, but I don’t know if that will work. For now, CTR and cost are fine – for this client, these are important metrics, so I can live with that for now. But for other clients, the only metrics I’d care about would be conversions and cost per conversion. I’d love to know how to modify the script to include those, or swap them for CTR and cost. Anybody know how?

I’m pleasantly surprised at how easy this was. Here I’d been scared to try scripts! So if you’ve been putting off trying out Adwords Scripts, stop waiting and give them a try.

What are your favorite Adwords Scripts? And seriously, if you know how I can add conversions and cost per conversion, share in the comments!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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?

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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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