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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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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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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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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