Two PPC Wins and a Fail

This week brought a flurry of PPC announcements from Google.  Of course, this isn’t unusual – PPC is known for being fast-moving and constantly innovating, with Google leading the way.  Like many of the PPC advances of the past, this week’s list brings both good and bad to the industry.

Win #1:  Adwords Account Labels

On Tuesday, Google rolled out a neat feature called Account Labels.  With Labels, you can organize account elements into custom groupings to facilitating the slicing and dicing of data.

This is basically pivot tables on steroids.  The example Google gives in their blog post is grouping products across geo-targeted campaigns.  Say you sell Nike sneakers, and you replicate campaigns across geographies.  Labels will enable you to group and summarize stats on Nike sneakers across your account so you can evaluate results on a larger set of data.

Labels are a pretty neat feature, and I’m already planning to implement them in one of our international client’s campaigns.

Win #2:  Quality Score Transparency

Ever since it was introduced in 2007, PPC managers have lived and died by quality score.  Countless hours and thousands of blog posts have been devoted to optimizing quality score.

And yet, quality score has been somewhat of a black box.  We all know that click-through rate is the most heavily-weighted factor in quality score, but there were also the ubiquitous “other factors” that Google didn’t specify. 

And furthermore, Google didn’t tell us a lot about what was wrong when we earned poor quality scores.  We were just told keyword relevance is “poor.”

Now, Google’s giving us more transparency into quality score factors.  They’re supplying more detail on what elements need improvement:  CTR, ad relevance, and/or landing page.

Pretty cool – more info is always better!

Fail:  Near Match

For years now, PPC’ers have complained about broad match gone wild.  Just yesterday I was reviewing some search queries for VoIP keywords, and apparently Google thinks that’s the same thing as “voice recognition apps” and “cheap prison telephone voice”. 

But, at least we have phrase and exact match to counteract the silly broad matching.  Right?

Wrong.

From Google’s Inside Adwords blog, “Starting in mid-May, phrase and exact match keywords will match close variants, including misspellings, singular/plural forms, stemmings, accents and abbreviations. Based on our research and testing, we believe these changes will be broadly beneficial for users and advertisers.”

Are they kidding?!?  What research are they doing?  Maybe they’re looking at their own search query reports and deciding the matches are close enough?

This move hasn’t exactly been popular with PPC pros.  An informal and unscientific poll of the PPC Chat group on LinkedIn reveals that 68% of PPC’ers are against the change (registration required).

While I do see the benefit of this change in certain situations, to me it’s yet another money grab by Google.  Like many other default settings in Adwords, this one will slip by the novice PPC managers and mom & pop folks trying to manage their own accounts, and they’ll wonder why they’re not getting the ROI they expected.

The good news is, there’s still time to opt out.  You’ll find the option under campaign settings in the Adwords UI.  The bad news is, there’s no bulk edit, so each campaign has to be opted out manually, one by one.  And there’s no option for this in Adwords Editor yet either.  Coincidence?  Maybe.

What do you think of the recent Adwords announcements?

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