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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Does PPC Work For All Businesses?

Matt Umbro started an interesting discussion last week with his post titled Why SMBs Should Not Run AdWords Accounts. He defines SMBs as advertisers with a budget of $500 per month or less, and says that’s not enough budget to compete and be successful.

Mark Kennedy wrote a detailed counterpoint on the topic called Paid Search Can Work for SMBs – Even the Little Guys! Both Matt and Mark’s posts were well thought out and made good arguments.

Believe it or not, I’ve been mulling this topic for some time, after I saw this question on Quora: Does Google AdWords work for all businesses? The answers to the question range from the ridiculous to the sublime, but one poster sums it up well:

“(Adwords) also only really works if you know what the hell you’re doing… It’s so easy to burn through budgets very quickly and pay for clicks from people who never had any intention of becoming a lead or purchasing anything from you.

All the clients I’ve had have attempted some form of PPC themselves, realised they thought it was simple but they’ve spent a whole load of money on something they don’t understand. I’ve then gone into the account, showed them the type of keywords people have entered which they have paid for – this tends to shock them because they thought they were bidding on exact match keywords. They also tend to lack conversion tracking (if there is no measure of what is success, how can you be successful?).”

I’ve written before about why inexperienced people should not attempt to DIY PPC. It’s too expensive and there are too many pitfalls, as the Quora poster says above. No matter what your budget, if you haven’t outlined clear goals and set up conversion tracking, Adwords or any other PPC program will not work for you.

But what about the small business question? Should small businesses use Adwords?

I’ve run small PPC campaigns a few times in my career. Some were agency clients, and some were side jobs I took on. I have to be honest: I haven’t found $500/month clients to be very profitable, for me or for them. In his post, Mark Kennedy offers several examples of small clients who used geotargeting and other tactics to their advantage.

That’s great, and it makes sense – but I’ve found that Facebook works much better in most of these instances. Clicks on Facebook are significantly cheaper than clicks on Adwords or even Bing, so your money goes a lot further. Even direct ecommerce or lead generation is more efficient on Facebook at small budgets, in my opinion. Matt Umbro also mentioned Facebook as a good alternative for small advertisers.

Mark Kennedy also talks about how to charge for small clients. This is where the problem lies, in my opinion. Mark says he charges about $75 per month for $500 clients. Even if you only charge $75 per hour for your time (which is low for this industry), that only gives you an hour per month to work on that client’s account. In his post, Mark says “Phone calls that are just a quick question turn into hour-long conversations. An email with one question turns into a trail of follow-ups.”

That’s been my experience as well – small clients are less sophisticated, and need more hand-holding. They often don’t understand basic marketing principles, much less the nuances of Adwords. They frequently have issues on their website that need troubleshooting – and lack an in-house developer to fix them, leaving me to answer web dev questions (which, trust me, is not a good use of their time based on my limited dev knowledge!).

So if you spend an hour on the phone answering quick questions, you’re done for the month – or you start losing money on a client that’s already paying you at the low end of the rate scale. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Now if you’re running a small PPC campaign part time as an in-house marketer, and you have some PPC knowledge, a $500 budget might work. But in my opinion, there are better uses of your $500.

It’s been interesting to watch the conversation on PPCChat on this topic. What’s your take? Share in the comments!

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The Only Consistent Thing in Marketing

Note From Melissa: You are going to love this epic marketing guest blog by Bryant Garvin of Bryant Garvin Consulting. Let’s jump right in!

It all started with a tweet.

Things were shaking up, and the whole entire universe –  well at least the online marketing universe – was thrown into complete and utter chaos. The number of hours (and combined brain power) wasted invested in speculation, and worry about the changes coming down from The OG (Google), could have easily figured out any number of national (or international) crises.

Google had done the unthinkable… they actually changed the layout of their desktop SERP and the position of ads. What the hell were they thinking? Didn’t they know this would upset the fragile balance (and sanity) of the online marketing ecosystem.

What would those who focused on organic results (read SEO) have to say about their search results being pushed even further down the page?

What did this mean to all of the precious bidding algorithms so many data scientists and PPC practitioners has slaved over for hours on end?

Would the POTUS intervene and issue an executive order to stop the insanity? How could life go on if he didn’t?

I am sure many of these thoughts ran through the OCD laden minds of many search practitioners on Friday, February 19th, 2016. OK, so I am sure most except for the last two, although a variation of the last question may have still be silently whispered by many.

Why the hell am I bringing this up? Well because we need to stop the insanity. Every.

Freaking.

Time.

Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo or a host of other companies decide to make changes to day to day operations, or algorithms.

It’s time to wake up!

The one constant in marketing, (as well as life), is change! If you don’t agree with that statement, guess what? Change doesn’t give a damn whether you agree or not, it just keeps on doing it’s thing… changing… everything!

I Feel All Exposed - Gif - Puss In Boots

Now I will be the first to admit, I don’t always like some of the changes – or the rationale behind them (it’s for the users) – but it doesn’t change the fact that it is inevitable. Change is honestly a big part of the reason all of us ADHD ridden people are drawn to digital marketing. What was normal 2 years ago, is laughed at when suggested as a best practice today.

Guess what? That’s ok!

In just the last month these are just a few of the “changes” which have happened.

Google Allows Emojis in Shopping Ads
Google Stops Allowing Emojis in Shopping Ads
Google Is No Longer Showing Right Hand Side Ads
Yahoo is Pulling Back on Its Native Ad Units
Google Testing New Layout for Shopping Ads on Yahoo
Yahoo is Officially up For Sale
Microsoft has Quietly Put the Nail in the Yahoo|Bing Network Coffin
Facebook Said To Be Bringing Ads to Facebook Messenger
Facebook to Begin Auto-Captioning Video Advertising

The pace of changes…isn’t going to slow down

As the online ecosystem continues to “mature” don’t expect for changes to come less frequently. In fact if you don’t begin expecting for changes to happen, you will soon be left behind, much like the Alta Vistas of yesterday.

Mobile as a percentage of all online activities is going to increase. The IoT (internet of things), is going to drastically shake up how much data is at our disposal, and how we can advertise against it in the near future.

Google, Bing, Facebook and others will continue to push changes which increase their revenues. Organic traffic needs to be invested in, but with the understanding that what was “given freely”, can and will be easily taken away.

Remember all of these companies – we rely on daily to inform us and connect us with family, friends, clients & more – are for profit companies whose primary marching order is to increase value for share holders. Once again, that’s OK!

Again, I am not saying I love all of the changes that are happening or that will in the future occur. In all honesty some of them I absolutely hate, (I’m looking at you Google and your lack of Tablet Bid Modifiers).

However, I am saying that if you like your career, if you want to still be involved in this awesome digital marketing ecosystem 5 or even 10 years down the road, you need to learn to “roll with the punches.” You need to figure out new ways to work within the confines of the new “rules of engagement.”

Do you agree with me, or should we all just keep whining and complaining about things we can’t influence or change?

Bryant has nearly a decade of SEM experience under his belt, and his keen insight on harnessing the power of paid search have seen him tagged #PPCDictator amongst his peers. Bryant is Chief Consultant at Bryant Garvin Consulting – where he works with companies to improve ROI from their marketing activities. His focus on mobile user experience and conversion rate optimization makes him uniquely suited to help companies focus on the future.

When he isn’t helping companies improve their bottom-line he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, & watching awesome movies.

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Using Adwords Labels To Organize Your PPC Campaigns

Ah, the new year. Time for New Year’s resolutions. Yesterday, the gym was packed with people, many of whom sadly will not last past Groundhog Day. Losing weight is the #1 New Year’s resolution.

But I’m not going to talk about that (although I could). I’m going to talk about the #2 resolution: getting organized.

We all have that one room in our house that’s disorganized. Stuff is everywhere, with no rhyme or reason. People often joke about tax records that are thrown into a shoe box. Ever tried to do your taxes that way? Ever tried to find a file on a computer with no subfolders? It can be done, but it’s time consuming.

The same thing goes for PPC accounts. Account organization is crucial for efficient PPC management, no matter the size of the account. For large accounts, it’s imperative.

Enter Adwords labels. Adwords labels help you organize your PPC account and quickly filter and view information in a number of different ways.

Campaign Organization

The traditional PPC account structure sometimes doesn’t go far enough to organize your account properly, especially for large accounts. You might have campaigns divided by network, country, language, product, and offer, for example. You can use campaign names for this: Search-US-English-WidgetA-FreeTrial, for instance. And this is exactly what I usually do. But what happens when you need to add even more dimensions to the mix? Super-long campaign names can get unwieldy. This is where labels come in. Add labels for the additional dimensions.

Results By Offer

Here’s another scenario. Let’s say that you’ve grouped campaigns by product line, and within each campaign you have multiple offers: purchase, trial, demo, and content download. And let’s say you want to see how each offer performs across the board. There are a number of ways to do this, of course, but one of the ways is to create a label for each offer. Then you can filter the data and view each offer’s stats individually.

Ad Test Groupings

One of my favorite ways to use Adwords labels is for ad copy tests across ad groups. If you’re running a pricing test across multiple products with different prices for each product, it’s nearly impossible to summarize that data in an Adwords report. But if you add labels to your ads, Price Point A, Price Point B, etc., summarizing the data is a cinch, especially if you throw it into a pivot table.

Remarketing List Organization

We all love remarketing. Large PPC accounts often have hundreds of remarketing lists. And Google doubles the number of lists by adding Similar Audiences – resulting in pages upon pages of lists to sort through. Adding labels to remarketing lists can help filter things down to a reasonable number. I label all Similar Audiences, just so I can filter them out when looking at my lists. I also create labels for lists specific to RLSA.

Other Uses

If you use any campaign automation, such as bid rules, you might want to label ad groups using them. Many advertisers use labels for locations, campaigns with bid adjustments, dayparting notations… the list is nearly endless.

Making use of Adwords labels will organize your account in a flash! Now, to get Bing to add them… How have you used Adwords labels to organize your PPC account? Share in the comments!

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All About Sitelinks and Callout Extensions

One of the most useful Adwords features is ad extensions. Available extensions include call extensions, review extensions, location extensions, sitelink extensions, and callout extensions. This post is all about sitelinks and callout extensions.

At first glance, sitelinks and callout extensions appear to be the same thing. They’re both text that might be added to your ad if you appear in one of the top spots on the page. So what’s the difference between the two and how are they used?

Sitelinks contain a link; callouts are just text.

Sitelinks and callouts may look the same, but the key difference is that sitelinks contain a link (hence the name), while callouts are just text.

callouts and sitelinks

As you might expect, sitelinks appear in blue, indicating a clickable link; while callouts look like regular gray ad text.

Sitelinks require a relevant destination URL that’s different from your ad’s destination URL.

Here’s where things get both fun and tricky. To use sitelinks, you must use a different link from your ad’s destination URL. If you’re selling women’s dresses in your ad, you might add sitelinks for slacks, blouses, or accessories. You might use sitelinks for deals, as EAS does in the screenshot above. Just make sure that the links make sense and that they add to, rather than take away from, your ad copy.

For B2B advertisers, sitelinks can be challenging. It’s common for B2B advertisers to only have one relevant landing page, so sometimes sitelinks are a worst practice for B2B.

Callouts, on the other hand, are just text. You can say pretty much whatever you want, although you should consider the callouts part of your ad copy. Make sure they’re relevant.

Which one should I use?

Think carefully about the sitelinks you use. While it may be interesting to send people to your “Careers” or “About Us” page, these pages are unlikely to generate conversions. Remember, you pay for every click, whether it’s on a sitelink or the ad itself. Don’t send traffic to pages that can’t convert for you. The sitelinks in the screen shot above are all good – they’re sales-focused pages that should contribute to conversions for the advertisers.

So why use callouts? Callouts are great for B2B advertisers who don’t have good sitelinks, or for text you want to include in your ad but not link to. Examples include:

•    Slogans
•    Additional info about your product/service: what it does, who it’s best for, etc.
•    Info about the company: years in business, etc.
•    Anything that doesn’t have a landing page

I like to put slogans in callouts. Clients get very attached to slogans and taglines, but slogans usually take valuable characters away from benefits and calls to action in ad copy. Putting slogans in callouts is a great way to please the client without taking up real estate.

Use sitelinks and callouts correctly.

Let’s look at the screen shot again:

callouts and sitelinks
As I mentioned before, the sitelinks are all great. But the callouts in the EAS ad don’t make sense. “Join Team EAS”? How do I join? There’s no link to the page. Nor is there a link to the custom workout plans or coupons mentioned in the callouts. This is basically copy that makes a promise that can’t be delivered, and is a poor user experience.

GNC, on the other hand, is using callouts correctly and even creatively. Callouts are limited to 25 characters, so GNC split their “Quality Life-Quality Products” slogan into 2 callouts. This tactic may not work every time, but it’s clever and smart.

What are your favorite ways to use sitelinks and callouts? Share in the comments!

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Call-Only Ads Are Ruining Mobile Results

Adwords call extensions are an invaluable feature for PPC advertisers who want to drive phone calls to their business. Up until a few weeks ago, you could choose how call extensions appeared on mobile devices. The ad could be clickable, driving visitors to your website; or it could be set up as call-only, where the only thing the user could do is place a call to your business from their device.

A few weeks ago, Google rolled out call-only ads and took away the option to have call-only call extensions. Those of us who were successfully using that option were forced to create brand new campaigns, called call-only campaigns, for these extensions.

We have a client whose primary goal is to drive phone calls. They do have responsive landing pages with a lead form, but they’d really prefer that prospects call them. So we were using call-only extensions for mobile, and getting great results from them. When the mandate for Google call-only ads & campaigns came, we created new call-only campaigns for this client. I figured call-only campaigns would be a boon for us, as in many ways we’d now have control over mobile budgets again.

So, we launched our new call-only ads and campaigns – and watched them get virtually no impressions.

mobile impressions 1
It’s clear from the data that most of the mobile impressions were still going to the main campaign, not the call-only campaign. So, on June 30, we excluded mobile from the main campaign with a -100% bid modifier, in an effort to force traffic over to the call-only campaign. You can see in the table that impressions for the week of 6/29 decreased by about 2/3 – and the call-only campaign decreased too, which was the opposite of what I expected.

Well, the week of 6/29 included July 4 and a nice 3-day weekend. We didn’t take action right away, knowing the holiday likely affected search volume. Indeed, impressions were down across the board for the week of 6/29.

But what happened last week, the week of 7/6?

mobile impressions 2
Yikes. Impressions rebounded for the call-only campaign, to their highest point yet. But they’re still nowhere near the levels they were before, when mobile was turned on in the main campaign.

Even worse, conversions are way down:

mobile conversions
This really tells the story. While conversions have steadily increased on the call-only campaign, they’re not coming close to replacing the conversions we were getting from mobile in the main campaign prior to call-only campaigns launching. And impressions are down 70%.

Yikes.

Now, I realize that call-only ads only show on devices that are capable of making calls, and this wasn’t the case before. But you can’t tell me that less than 2/3 of mobile devices aren’t call-capable.

I’m at a loss to explain what’s happening here. It seems like we can’t win: either we turn mobile back on for the main campaign, and then have people clicking through to the website from mobile, which the client doesn’t want; or we lose 70% of our impressions and a bunch of conversions.

Some people are raving about call-only campaigns, but I’m left feeling super frustrated. And I know there’s confusion in the marketplace about exactly how these ads work.

What’s your experience been with call-only campaigns? What am I doing wrong here? I’m open to suggestions – bring it!

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Why The New Adwords Editor Sucks

Recently, Google released Adwords Editor version 11 and sunsetted version 10. Much has been said about how great the new Editor is. It does have many features that the old version lacked, such as support for labels, shared library, and other features.

I think it sucks.

Now, part of the reason I don’t like the new Adwords Editor is because I’m not a fan of forced change. We all get used to a certain workflow, and it’s disruptive and frustrating to change it. But the new Editor has several huge flaws.

It’s crash-prone.

I noticed a few crashes when I first downloaded Editor 11, but others are still having issues.

adwords editor crashing

Yep, 6 hours of work lost due to this thing crashing. I probably would have jumped out the window in frustration. Or at least written a few nasty tweets to Adwords. And note that Theresa said it took 6 hours to do something that would have taken 5 minutes in the old Editor. Wow.

The navigation is all messed up.

The old Adwords Editor had tabs across the top for Campaigns, Ads, Ad Groups, and Keywords, just like the online UI does.

old AWE tabs
The new one moved all that stuff down to the lower left hand corner, below the tree view.

new AWE tabs
Not only has it moved to a totally different location on the page, but it’s now in text only, rather than a picture-like graphic layout. It’s easier to find what you’re looking for in a graphic square, like the old Editor, rather than in a long list of text, like the new one.

The font is dinky.

Speaking of finding stuff, the font in the new Editor is tiny and hard to read. I realize it may be more Google-ish-looking, but it’s so small that my old eyes have trouble, especially when I’m working in Editor all day. I think part of the problem is the font itself – there’s less kerning between the letters – and part is the fact that nothing is graphic, so the eye isn’t drawn to anything.

Menu navigation requires extra clicks.

Used to be, you’d click on the Ads tab, for instance, and see all the ads for whatever you’d selected in the tree – entire account, campaign, or ad group. Now, the tree is nearly useless. You select a campaign in the tree, then you click the Ads section in the lower left, and sometimes you see ads and sometimes you don’t. Look at this example for a call-only campaign:

call only ads
Clicking on “ads and extensions” doesn’t show all your ads and extensions. It defaults to “Text Ads.” It took me several tries to figure out that I had to then click AGAIN on “Call-Only ads” to see my ads. This is 2-3 extra clicks beyond what was needed in the old Editor.

Now, I’m sure I’ll get used to these lovely new features, just like I got used to Enhanced Campaigns. But right now, I’m not a fan. Especially when the workflow takes so many extra clicks. Even an extra 2-3 clicks adds up when you’re working with hundreds of ad groups.

I do like being able to open multiple accounts at once, among other things about the new Editor. But it leaves a lot to be desired.

What do you think? Is Adwords Editor 11 a godsend, or has it killed your workflow mojo? Share in the comments!

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3 Google Shopping Options You Need To Consider

Note from Melissa: I’m so pleased to bring you the first guest post on my blog, written by none other than Matt Umbro, founder of PPCChat! And it’s a good one, so read on…

As someone who primarily works with ecommerce PPC accounts, I’ve found Google Shopping to be the best feature AdWords has ever created. This statement may sound over the top, but time and again I’ve seen Shopping produce case study worthy results. I’ve even gone on record saying that Shopping campaigns need to be the number one priority in ecommerce accounts.

As Google Shopping campaigns have evolved, so have the options available to advertisers. Today I’m going to cover three areas that advertisers should consider in order to further boost performance. These areas include:

•    Google Trusted Stores
•    Merchant Promotions
•    Product Ratings

All of these options take time to implement, but will help to improve merchant credibility and ad click-thru-rate (CTR).

Google Trusted Stores

Google recently ended the policy requiring merchants to submit shipping and order cancellation feeds as part of the Trusted Stores program. This program gives a “Google approved” endorsement in the form of a site badge to merchants who meet quality thresholds. This badge tells users that the website can be trusted to provide a quality shopping experience from browsing to product purchase confirmation.

Along with the onsite badge, a Trusted Stores checkmark shows in the ads.

trusted stores checkmark

Of the eight ads above, two have the Trusted Stores checkmark. Shopping ads are generally more eye catching than standard text ads anyway, but the checkmark further allows these two merchants to stand out.

Merchant Promotions

Shopping ads allow for promotional text, but it’s rarely seen. Only when the searcher hovers over the ad unit does it appear (if the advertiser has included this text at all).

promotional text

Even when the promotion shows, it isn’t emphasized as it looks like another line of text.

Over the last year Google has refined feature called Merchant Promotions that includes a “Special Offer” link directly in the ad. When clicked, this link shows the searcher the offer as well as the rebate code and when the promotion ends.

merchant promotions

In the image above, CafePress.com stands out from the four other advertisers by utilizing the special offer. The “Free Shipping with $49 Purchase” messaging is highlighted with a “Shop” button right there. Additionally, this message doesn’t appear to be time sensitive (saying that it expires in 132 days) and is most likely a site wide promotion. Even if the offer isn’t great or unique, it still helps to emphasize value adds against the competition.

Promotions can be setup and scheduled directly in Google Merchant Center. Along with the actual promotion and rebate code, you’ll need to provide the dates for when the offer will run.

Product Ratings

When I’m shopping and see products with four or more stars I tend to look at these first. Not only do the stars stand out, but also they tell me that consumers have positively reviewed the product. Text ads utilize these stars via the Seller Ratings extension.

product ratings

Now, advertisers have the ability to add product ratings to their Shopping ads and show review stars. In order to setup product ratings, these requirements must be met:

•    The reviews have to come from approved aggregators
•    Reviews have to be shared with Google
•    This form has to be completed

Here’s an example of product ratings in Shopping ads.

product ratings

 

Six of the eight ads utilize the product ratings. Similar to the Seller Ratings extension, more merchants are utilizing these stars. One might argue that not having the product ratings is a detriment to advertisers.

Final Thoughts

Shopping campaigns have come a long way in a short time and continue to evolve. Make sure you are utilizing the newest options in order to continue showing success from this great channel.

Matt Umbro is a Senior Account Manager in charge of Community at Hanapin Marketing. He specializes in eCommerce PPC and client relations, while also overseeing content production for PPC Hero. He is also the founder of PPCChat, a weekly Twitter chat where industry specialists discuss, analyze and debate various PPC topics using the hashtag #PPCChat.

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3 Signs That Google Hates B2B Advertisers

As you probably know, I work for an agency that deals strictly with B2B clients. B2B offers unique challenges for PPC, including lead tracking and pricey CPCs due to competition.

For years, Google Adwords has been our bread and butter. Their sheer market share makes them a must-use for B2B advertisers. But I’ve started to think that Google hates B2B advertisers. Here’s why.

Sitelinks Don’t Always Apply

I’ve written before about why sitelinks can be a worst practice, especially for B2B clients. In mid-2014, Google launched Dynamic Sitelinks – an even bigger nightmare for B2B advertisers than regular sitelinks. At least with regular sitelinks, we could just not add them. But now, it seems we’re stuck with them whether we want them or not.

Granted, Bing Ads also has dynamic sitelinks. I don’t like those any better than Google’s. But I wonder if Bing would have launched them if Google didn’t do it first.

Keyword Planner Suggestions Are B2C-Focused

I’ve long been frustrated with Google’s keyword planner and the crazy suggestions it offers. That’s the case whether you’re B2B or B2C. But what’s even more frustrating to me is that the keywords it suggests tend to be very consumer-focused. Even with something that’s obviously B2B like “business management systems,” it’ll come back with things like “what is a business management system” – not the type of queries an enterprise-level person researching a solution would use.

The Opportunities tab suggestions are even worse. Earlier this week I was reviewing Google’s “optimization” ideas for a client that offers a solution for businesses to sell gift cards to customers. Here are some of the “opportunities” Google wanted us to add to our campaign:

sell unwanted gift cards for cash
sell your gift card for cash
where can i cash gift cards
how to trade gift cards for cash
can i buy gift cards with a gift card
getting cash for gift cards
sell back giftcards for cash

These queries are clearly ones that would be used by consumers looking to offload unwanted gift cards – the exact opposite of what we’d want to bid on!

The only good part about this awful list is I used them for negative keywords instead. I’m sure that’s not what Google had in mind as an “opportunity,” but I took it nonetheless.

 Display Interest Targeting Is All B2C

Google has announced that starting next week, they’re retiring the Other Interests targeting option for Display campaigns. Doesn’t sound like a big deal – unless you’re a B2B advertiser.

Nearly all the B2B-focused targeting options are in the Other Interests category:

other interests
We’re left with affinity audiences, or in-market segments. Check out the fine selection of options in affinity audiences:

affinity audiences
See anything that looks remotely B2B-focused? Me neither.

In-market audiences are a little better, but not much. Here’s a view of the Business Services options:

in market audiences
Not awful – but we have clients who don’t fit into any of these categories. For those clients, we’ll be relegated to keyword or placement targeting, which doesn’t always perform as well. Clearly, Google has a bias toward B2C for display campaigns.

I’m sure there is a reason for this, probably because most of Google’s advertisers are B2C. But B2B advertisers have big bucks to spend. Many of their products and services are big-ticket items, and companies are willing to pay very high CPCs to advertise them. I rarely see CPCs below $20 in search for my clients. You’d think Google would want this money, but maybe not.

What do you think? Have your B2B clients struggled with Google’s B2C bias? Found any workarounds? Share in the comments!

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3 PPC Features That Aren’t Ready For Prime Time

There’s an old adage in the car-buying world that advises people never to buy a new model car in its first year. Why? The manufacturer hasn’t worked all of the bugs out yet, so you’re likely to encounter down time while the car is in the shop.

The same thing is true of technology: look at the iPhone 6 and all the gaffes it experienced early on. And Windows 8 is universally hated, to the point that Microsoft skipped Windows 9 and went right on to making Windows 10.

In PPC, we also come across new features that aren’t ready for prime time. Here are the top 3 PPC features that might have benefited from a bit more beta testing.

The New Adwords Editor

Last month, Adwords held yet another “announcement” event. One of the highlights, in addition to one of the speaker’s sweaters, was the rollout of a new Adwords Editor.

The current editor, while a must-have tool for PPC managers, has limitations. It doesn’t support shopping campaigns well. It doesn’t allow copying across accounts. It doesn’t have an “undo” button.

The new Adwords Editor v.11 has all of those features, and more. But it’s missing some key elements, too. And it’s buggy. Here are just some of the issues that PPC Chat users have reported:

•    Won’t load/ freezes
•    Error messages
•    Missing metrics
•    No callout extensions
•    Keyword planner is gone
•    No click data for sitelinks

I was all set to download the new Adwords Editor, and then I started seeing these reports. I decided to hold off. Perhaps Adwords is using the PPC community as one big beta test?

Bing Ads Universal Event Tracking (UET)

I was excited to get started with this much-ballyhooed tracking tool from Bing Ads. It’s called “universal” because it was supposed to be one tracking code for all accounts across an agency: “In Bing Ads, tags are defined at the customer level. This means that you can use the same tag to define and track goals across all your accounts and campaigns. This flexibility allows you to instrument your site just once (when you create your first goal) and keep defining new goals to measure without ever needing to add another tag to your site.”

In reality, while that is technically true, in practice it’s not that simple. First of all, you’ll find the tracking code in different places, depending on whether your client’s account is a “built in” account or a “linked” account.

I’m not even sure what that means, except it means I can’t see the UET code for all my clients when logged in to our agency Bing Ads account. Apparently, for some accounts, I have to log in to the child account. Which I didn’t even know existed for Bing Ads. And I certainly don’t have logins for any of these child accounts.

To make it even more interesting, Bing is retiring the old conversion tracking scripts effective in April. So we’ve all got less than 3 months to figure this out. I’m a little scared.

LinkedIn Ads

I wrote about LinkedIn back in November 2013 and the fact that they didn’t want my money. Merry Morud wrote about their terrible interface back in July 2013.

Here we are 18 months later, and the only thing that’s changed is their timeout – it takes a little longer than 5 minutes now to time out, and it doesn’t log you out when you’re actively working in the interface.

Every other complaint that Merry made about their interface still exists. It’s crazy that LinkedIn, with its $8-10 CPCs, hasn’t done a single thing in a year and a half to improve their UI. Twitter and Facebook have made huge leaps ahead, while LinkedIn sits and languishes with its awful UI and expensive clicks.

One thing that really bugs me about LinkedIn Ads is that there is no way to keep sponsored posts from displaying to people who already follow you, nor from your own employees. We’ve had clients who’ve ended up paying (at $8-10 a crack) for their own employees to “like” their sponsored posts. Crazy. The LinkedIn Ads UI is definitely not ready for prime time.

Found any other PPC features that aren’t ready for prime time? Share in the comments!

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