Marketing Insights
Marin Software's Official Blog

Archive for ‘Bid Optimization’

Google’s Expanded Text Ads – Things to Know and What to Do Now

By May 24th, 2016

Google has made a historic change to its creative format with the introduction of a mobile optimized format called “Expanded Text Ads” (ETA). In this post, we provide information to help you understand what’s changing, why it’s a positive thing, and how to automatically make your existing ads ETA-compatible. (Pro tip: Skip to the end of this article if that last point is what you’re after.)

What Are Expanded Text Ads?

Expanded Text Ads are a mobile-optimized ad-format designed to maximize an advertiser’s performance in mobile search results. This is accomplished by providing the advertiser significantly more ad copy to highlight their product or service. Expanded Text Ads also apply to desktop search results.

This change is a big deal because it’s a fundamental shift away from the legacy AdWords text ad format that’s existed for well over a decade. As such, this change will require every AdWords advertiser to rewrite their ads to be ETA-compatible. To learn how to automatically do this, skip ahead to the end of this post.

What’s Changing, Exactly?

Advertisers now have two headlines instead of one, and these headlines are joined with a hyphen. The good news – this copy expansion allows ads to occupy 50% more space on the search results page. Early results indicate that this increased presence improves CTR, which makes sense when you compare the old format (left) to the new format (right):

ETAs

Here are the nitty-gritty details:

  • Headline 1 and headline 2 are 30 characters each. This is a 240% increase over legacy text ads, which historically had just one headline and a 25-character maximum.
  • For the description line, the character count is also increasing. Instead of two 35-character description lines, there’s just one that’s 80 characters.
  • The display URL will now be automatically extracted from your destination URL. You can set up to two path fields like “golf” and “shoes” (e.g., www.powpowsports.com/golf/shoes).

As marketers, we’re excited by all of these updates, and think that the addition of a new headline is only going to help performance, especially in a mobile world.

A Positive Change, for Multiple Reasons

Why is this change a net-positive for advertisers?

  • You gain a new, second headline.
  • More characters for longer messaging increase the odds of connecting with your target audience.
  • We’re seeing better overall performance in our early results.

Why is Google Making This Change?

A couple of obvious questions are: Why is Google making this change? And why now?

The short answer: Consumers have shifted to mobile as their primary method of accessing the Internet. And, advertising dollars are following in rapid succession. eMarketer estimates that in 2016, over 60% of all digital advertising spend will go to mobile. It’s also expected that mobile will continue to gobble up market share through 2020.

Google is staying ahead of this trend by shifting to mobile-optimized ads, which is consistent with the elimination of right-hand ads back in February. In the next 12-24 months, we should see more mobile-centric changes from all major publishers, as they train their attention on perfecting mobile monetization.

How Can I Automatically Make My Ads ETA-Compatible?

Through an exclusive partnership with Boost Media, Marin Software has an automated tool that can rewrite your ads to be ETA-compatible. If you’d like to get up and running on ETA ads today, you can get started here.

Stay tuned for more details, insights, and data as we continue to report on Expanded Text Ads.

5 Ways to Drive More Customers in a Mobile-First World

By May 23rd, 2016

According to eMarketer, over 70% of U.S. paid search spend will be mobile by 2017. And yet, optimizing mobile advertising and seeing significant ROI on it remains a crucible for many in the digital advertising world.

We joined our technology partner DialogTech at the end of April for
a webinar about how search marketers can adopt new mobile-first optimization strategies to drive PPC conversions and customers.

One of Marin’s very own search marketing experts, Patrick Hutchison, teamed up with Kelley Schultz, Digital Marketing Lead at DialogTech, to share proven mobile optimization and attribution tactics digital marketers can use to drive more clicks, calls, and customers from Google AdWords, Yahoo, and Bing.

In order to achieve their mobile advertising goals, digital marketers need to understand the customer journey and all of the touch points prior to sale. To that end, here are five strategies for optimizing your mobile game plan that we learned from this webinar.

1. If your business gets mobile traffic, then you need to be      setting a bid adjustment

You want to get into a top (1-2) position for mobile devices to ensure visibility, so set up campaigns with an initial +25-30% bid modifier. You can adjust and optimize based on the types of conversions and traffic you see.

2. Optimize for calls

Incorporate call conversion tracking to ensure you’re optimizing for all conversions. Without measuring call leads, you miss out on a significant piece of the puzzle when it comes to tracking and understanding the source of your leads.

3. Segment search query reports by device

When you perform search query reports, add a device segment. This will allow you to see what keywords are getting the most mobile conversions and traffic. Within your reports, sort by conversions and then adjust your bids for your highest performing keywords to ensure top position.

Next, sort your report by clicks that don’t drive conversions, and adjust bids or add negatives as necessary for these keywords that are driving up both clicks and spend.

4. Remember that mobile-targeted ad copy is key

Create mobile-preferred search ads with mobile ad extensions and CTAs. Remember to take advantage of call extensions, since as Google reports, 70% of mobile searchers use call extensions to call businesses.

5. Incorporate remarketing bidding strategies

Set up remarketing lists into your campaigns, so that you can adjust mobile bids for the top position.

Remember the importance of not only bidding up for mobile traffic, but also increasing bidding for your custom audience lists. If users showed interest once, capture them again on their next query with a different message in the top position.

Google’s New Ad Layout: Where Are We Now?

By May 16th, 2016

A few months ago, Google veered course from how it’s historically served desktop ads. Right-hand ads were removed, while a fourth ad slot was added above the organic search results. This change aligned mobile and desktop search results, and is regarded as Google’s acknowledgement that mobile search — not desktop — is key to the company’s continued growth and success.

Google’s Initial Response

Last month, Google’s new CEO, Sundar Pichai, penned Google’s annual Founders Letter. His opening two paragraphs reinforce the importance of mobile to Google’s mission:

“When Larry and Sergey founded Google in 1998, there were about 300 million people online. By and large, they were sitting in a chair, logging on to a desktop machine, typing searches on a big keyboard connected to a big, bulky monitor. Today, that number is around 3 billion people, many of them searching for information on tiny devices they carry with them wherever they go.

In many ways, the founding mission of Google back in ’98 — ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ — is even truer and more important to tackle today, in a world where people look to their devices to help organize their day, get them from one place to another, and keep in touch. The mobile phone really has become the remote control for our daily lives, and we’re communicating, consuming, educating, and entertaining ourselves, on our phones, in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.”

For a visual representation of this shift, Andressen Horowitz put together this great chart:

Horowitz Chart

Our Initial Reactions

When news of Google’s ad format change broke in mid-February, we offered our first reactions in a post titled, “Google’s New Ad Layout: Pros, Cons, Ins, Outs.” Our hypothesis used basic economic principles to argue that with tightened supply and constant demand, the average CPC could increase for some advertisers.

Secondly, we predicted that with fewer distractions (e.g., right-hand rail ads), advertisers with a strong product-market fit —typically in positions 1 through 3 —would have an easier time connecting with current and future customers.

What Does the Data Say About Google’s Ad Layout?

Now that some time has passed, we decided to take a look at our dataset — the Marin Global Online Advertising Index — to confirm or reject our early predictions. For this blog post, we compared performance immediately before, and immediately after, the changes went into effect.

The results were interesting. We’ll start by laying out the findings and then provide some closing thoughts.

Positions 1-3 saw little change in competition, as CPCs on these top positions declined marginally for the period. The slight dip in CPCs may be attributable to the increase in consumer propensity to click on these top positions without the distraction of ads on the right rail. This is consistent with our prediction that fewer distractions would yield better brand engagement.

Meanwhile, click-through rates (CTR) for positions 1 and 2 were largely flat, while CTR for 3 and 4 increased by +10% and +13%, respectively. Movements in positions 5 and 6 were particularly noteworthy. Position 5 had significant increases in CTR +10% and CPC +6%, while position 6 had material declines in CTR -20%, yet CPC increased marginally.

An Analysis of Our Predictions

So, how did our predictions stack up?

We were delighted to see economic theory in action (and our hypothesis confirmed) with observed CPCs increasing on tightened supply, and the revised layout of prime real estate favoring established brands.

In this new frontier, positions 4 to 5 appear to be the proving ground for new market entrants. Our secondary hypothesis — that less distraction would increase advertisers’ ability to connect with their (potential) customers — played out by the significantly higher engagement rate on top ad slots.

Other useful takeaways from this analysis pertain to advertisers fighting for position in the lower ad slots. In particular, position 6 appears to be a questionable strategy given the significantly lower engagement rate, while position 4 and position 5 are clearly the most competitive positions for advertisers who don’t have the quality score or brand recognition to lock in the top positions.

The Bottom Line

These results provide a teaser of things to come. As mentioned, we’re looking at two small datasets to give you a quick pulse on the immediate before and after results. Check back for future follow-up posts, as we dig deeper into the Marin Software Online Advertising Index to understand the more nuanced effects of Google’s ad format change on particular industries and geographies.

The Continuing Adventures of Cross-Channel Marketing: The Latest Performance Data

By May 12th, 2016

When we looked at performance marketing data from the first quarter of 2016, one thing became clear: cross-channel, cross-device targeting remains the most powerful differentiator for profitable marketing strategies.

To create our quarterly benchmark reports, we sample the Marin Global Online Advertising Index, composed of advertisers who invest more than $7 billion in annualized ad spend on the Marin platform. We analyze data from around the world to create our report. For Q1 2016, key findings include:

  • All mobile, all the time. Advertisers and consumers are continuing to shift towards a more mobile ecosystem.
  • Cross-channel and cross device remain important. It’s important for marketers to adopt and maintain a more holistic and complete approach to digital marketing that targets across all channels and devices.
  • Every channel has its strengths and weaknesses. Not only should marketers become adept at recognizing each channel’s weaknesses, but even more importantly, they should start using all three channels and devices to their best strengths.

For detailed information on Q1 2016 search, social, and display mobile performance – including detailed data charts with YoY performance and up-to-date recommendations – download our Performance Marketer’s Benchmark Report Q2 2016 – Vital Search, Social, and Display Performance Data by Device.

How to Evaluate Programmatic Buying Transparency – Types and Tips

By April 21st, 2016

This is the first in a series of posts on transparency. In today’s post, we lay out the many ways transparency is elusive in digital marketing today. We also include some best practices for stamping out the fuzziness prevalent in the programmatic landscape.

Most marketers will admit transparency in media buys sounds like a good idea. So why don’t we have it all the time? Inertia, circumstances, or legacy business practices are the usual culprits. Knowing about the types of programmatic transparency is a good place to start.

The Problem with Buyer/Seller Blindness

You may have read about the recent survey on programmatic buying by Forrester and the ANA. Although we know intermediaries carve up a media dollar along the ad delivery path, a surprising 33 percent of survey respondents in this study have turned a blind eye while knowingly opting into an undisclosed programmatic model.

Not knowing the true value of your media obscures your true ROI. This buyer/seller blindness stands in the way of programmatic growth and success.

Let’s dive in and take a look at the three types of transparency: intermediaries, environmental, and data.

1. Intermediaries: What is the True Cost of the      Programmatic Supply Chain?

According to the ANA/Forrester study, 55 percent of marketers are concerned with the opaqueness of the intermediaries along the supply chain, up from 21 percent two years ago. No advertiser is immune to the supply chain realities, but seeing how the budget is allocated should be as natural as homebuyers scrutinizing loan origination fees from their mortgage broker.

There is a host of intermediaries in today’s programmatic supply chain including:

  • Data / Targeting
  • DMP technology
  • DSP technology
  • Ad serving (advertiser side, publisher side)
  • Exchanges
  • Publisher
  • Verification
  • Ad blocking
  • Managed services fees through an agency or media buying partner  

Not surprisingly, there are also several cost models:

  • CPM-based fees
  • Percent of media fees
  • Flat fees
  • Arbitrage

The advertiser pays most of the fees, while in some cases the publisher, or both the advertiser and publisher, pay them.

It’s common to have an agent buy media on the advertiser’s behalf, only revealing the final price of a campaign, total margin, and fees. Just as common is the masking of the closing or winning bid prices.

This lack of bidding transparency is precisely what’s needed for optimization. This practice is especially prevalent among black box vendors, as is straight-ahead arbitrage. Without transparent insights into what improves targeting and conversion, marketers are flying blind.

So, what’s the average take rate of each partner? It varies of course, depending mostly on targeting strategies and pricing/profit models. But asking your supply chain partners exactly what they’re charging you is the first step in achieving total transparency.  

2. Environmental: Ad Viewability to Detect Fraudulent or      Unviewable Inventory

Certainly one of the hottest issues in ad tech today, environmental transparency of an ad is as important as the campaign’s message or who’s being targeted. There are more mysteries than answers focused on who sees your ad, how much was seen, how long they see it, and where the ad showed up, but help is on the way.

In the early days of RTB, fraudulent or unviewable inventory was a common problem. Although challenges remain, there is an increasing number of new tools available for advertisers, publishers, and ad servers to detect bot fraud, fraudulent inventory, or unviewable ads.

Still, there’s no consensus on how viewability is defined. Standard bodies like the IAB and MRC are driving clarity on this issue. Many new vendors are trying to monetize viewability. Large holding companies have their own standards as well.

Advertisers are increasingly demanding that publishers bear the burden of proof by complying with imposed measurement of viewability-centric campaigns. Viewability-tracking fees, brand safety-tracking fees, and brand lift study fees are paid by either side in an effort to run cleaner campaigns. Although far from being solved, the use of ad verification and brand safety tools goes a long way in solving environmental transparency.

3. Data: Data Transparency = True ROI

It seems logical that any data used in an ad campaign that you paid for would be accessible to you. But that isn’t always the case. Publishers could block the intent data or other data sets you would normally have access to with more transparent partners.

You may prefer to pay a black box provider because your only KPI is sales – this can work for some who don’t insist on understanding their true ROI. However, for data-driven marketing to work, seeing all your data for future learnings or to calculate your true ROI is essential.

Irresistible pricing models are as tempting as a timeshare in Tahiti. We get that. But regardless of whether you use a DSP or publisher tools for your programmatic buys, the more you know, the more you can improve outcomes – that is, if you want to know exactly how to improve outcomes rather than relying on your black box vendor to give you numbers devoid of margins or analysis.

Data are collected at every turn, every segment of the customer journey. CPC, CTR, and impressions are table stakes. For more intelligence, you need the eCPM and in-view impressions. Getting site-level reporting helps you blacklist/whitelist and improve targeting.

If you’re striving to get to your true ROI, knowing how the data points were calculated is certainly also part of the equation. Since we’re talking numbers, understanding the logic, math, and algorithms behind a bidding process is another must-have.

Guidelines for Getting Clarity on Transparency

You should be able to decide exactly what success looks like for your brand. This means choosing your own KPIs, publishers, and the data you want to bring, buy, optimize, or analyze. Here are some best practices for how to bring more transparency to your programmatic initiatives.

  • Insist on seeing the media cost on an impression-by-impression basis, as well as breakouts of all other costs contributing to the total price.
  • Pick the exact sites, formats, devices, and audiences you want.
  • Utilize business rules within your RTB programmatic buys and with your brand safety to ensure a URL is present or that it matches where your ad eventually runs – if you can’t prove your URL, your programmatic partner shouldn’t bid on the impression.
  • Request detailed campaign guidelines from your agency or DSP.
  • Use third-party verification tools to detect bot traffic and sourced traffic, as both of these contribute to fraud.
  • Evaluate and utilize tools from new fraud and viewability measurement partners.
  • Assign in-house team members to focus on media by having them dig into agency and tech partner contracts to determine fraud and viewability practices.
  • To make adding it all up easier, use IAB’s recently released Programmatic Fee Transparency Calculator.

Next time, we’ll dive deeper into the programmatic supply chain and how it affects cost.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Dynamic Search

By March 8th, 2016

This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
3Q Digital.

When you sign up to be a search account manager, you’re making the decision to test yourself to find new strategies for account growth. Whenever identifying growth opportunities becomes challenging, a strategy I rely on is launching Dynamic Search campaigns.

If you’re unfamiliar – Dynamic Search Ads match your ads to search queries based on the content of your website. This removes the need to manage lists of keywords or landing pages. AdWords automatically generates a headline most appropriate to the search query and sends traffic to relevant landing pages.

The benefits can be huge. Dynamic Search helps managers of mature and new accounts find new, profitable long tail keywords or new high volume terms.

The setup for this campaign type is simple, but it can really take some time to set up your dynamic targets to give you the optimum performance you’re looking for. To speed up the process, here are five optimization strategies to cut down on the trial and error and start things off on a high note.

1. Segmentation

Proper segmentation is critical to getting the best possible performance from Dynamic Search. When creating a new ad group in a Dynamic Search campaign, you have three options for how to define targets. The least appealing option is to target the entire website. This is less than ideal because of the lack of control you have over where traffic is sent and what search queries the campaign picks up.

Dynamic_Targets

For example, if you run a luxury jewelry website, it makes sense for visitors to go to a page where they can view products and start the sales process. Sending them to a part of the website where traffic can’t start a sale, like the website’s blog, isn’t as ideal. Poor targeting can result in a high bounce rate and wasted ad spend.

I recommend targeting specific topics or webpages instead. By doing this, you narrow the type of search queries that can be matched to your website targets, resulting in more qualified traffic and less wasted spend.

2. Website Coverage

When starting a campaign from scratch or adding in a new Dynamic Search target, pay attention to the target’s estimated website coverage. Simply put, website coverage is the percentage of a website covered by an individual target.

If you’re having a problem with your Dynamic Search campaign not generating high traffic volume, the problem could be that you have too small of a target. Try expanding and see if that opens things up. Or if the opposite is true, switch to a target with a smaller website coverage to cut down on the junk clicks.

3. Exclusion Targets

Dynamic targets can be excluded from your campaign to prevent traffic from reaching pages you don’t want to be used for ads. Much like the different targeting options available, dynamic exclusions gives you control over when Dynamic Search ads appear and where they send traffic.

Exclusion_Targets

Exclusions can be made at the campaign or the ad group level. When creating dynamic targets, try applying existing targets as exclusions for other dynamic targets. Sticking with the luxury jewelry website, let’s say you have a target set up for watches, but you want to create another target for Rolex watches in particular.

After creating the new Rolex target, exclude that from the larger, general watch target. Proper segmenting and exclusions should work to create a structured Dynamic Search campaign where there is little, if any, overlap between targets.

4. Negative Keywords

If you aren’t using negative keywords in either a shared list or attached to your Dynamic Search campaign, you need to take action immediately. Negative keywords should be applied just like any other search campaign.

Depending on the dynamic targets, you could make the argument that negative keywords are more crucial for Dynamic Search campaigns because queries are matched to website content and not keywords. When first launching, check your search queries report frequently to make sure you’re not burning budget on irrelevant queries.

Negative_Keyword

5. Remarketing Lists

Like any other search campaign, remarketing lists can be attached to your dynamic search campaign with the option to just bid on these audiences or to target and bid. This is useful if you have a remarketing audience specifically interested in a dynamic target.

Let’s go back to our luxury jewelry example from earlier and imagine we have an audience of people that have previously purchased a Rolex watch. We can attach that Rolex audience to our Rolex dynamic target with a positive bid modifier to raise bids when members of this audience search Google for products we have in our inventory. This modifier will allow us to bid up, obtain better ad position, and ultimately put us in a better place to make a sale.

When applying remarketing lists, it’s important to remember the difference between settings. Bid Only allows you to apply a bid modifier only when members of our audience enter a query. It has no effect on bids for people not in the audience. Target and Bid finds members of that audience only. Non-audience member search queries will not be matched to your targets.

Dynamic Search campaigns have the ability to really blow the doors off performance by finding new, profitable search queries that you otherwise may have missed. But it’s important to regularly update and tweak targets and exclusions to get the most out of performance.

Also, don’t be afraid to step outside the box with your segmentation and test new things out. No matter the size or maturity of the account, Dynamic Search is an effective strategy that should bring success to whoever uses it.

Google’s New Ad Layout: Pros, Cons, Ins, and Outs

By February 23rd, 2016

When homebuyers bemoan the high prices commanded by desirable locations, real estate agents often reply, “location, location, location!” With Google’s recent confirmation that they’ll be serving fewer ads per desktop search result, we expect search marketers to become more acutely aware of “location, location, location.”

More Predictions

Less inventory and constant demand could create an uptick in average CPCs for high demand queries (if you’re curious about locking in top ad spots, check out PositionLock).

While this update (and our prediction) may be distressing for some advertisers, we anticipate this change will be net-positive for the industry.

From a user perspective, “less is more.” As we’ve observed with Google mobile ads, which this update emulates, a clean user experience free of distraction creates high click-through rates for top position ads.

Furthermore, if higher CPCs do come to pass, it could stomp out competitors bidding in auctions where they’ve historically had weak product-market fit. With fewer distractions, we expect advertisers will have an easier time connecting with current and future customers.  We’ll be keeping a watchful eye on the performance and user experience.  

Shopping Ads

We anticipate this update to be the most meaningful for ecommerce advertisers. Since Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are exempt from the right-rail exclusion, retail advertisers will be the only tenants on this coveted real estate which moves PLAs into Park Place territory.

If you’re an ecommerce advertiser, it’s paramount that your feed be optimized and that your bids are on target (if you need help, check out Marin Shopping). As both users and marketers on Google, we’re excited for this change – we’re happy to speak with any marketers seeking bidding, PLA, or general best practice advice.

How to Optimize Impression Share to Increase Brand Awareness

By February 16th, 2016

Impression share (IS) is one of the most misunderstood data points used in search. Metrics used to maximize revenue or conversion volume are pretty straightforward to understand, since the numbers speak for themselves.

You should periodically revisit the question, “What metrics should I maximize to increase brand awareness on my search campaigns?”

What’s IS, Anyway?

You can be forgiven for thinking that the most important metric to increase brand awareness is IS. In theory, the higher the IS, the more times your ads are served, potentially providing greater exposure.

In fact, IS is simply a measurement of how frequently your keywords appear in auctions for which they’re eligible. It’s easier to achieve a high IS when you target smaller audiences with little competition. The larger your target audience, the greater the competition, making it harder to achieve the desired 100% IS.

The IS Formula

IS is calculated by dividing served impressions by the estimated number of impressions that you’re eligible to receive. Google uses several factors to calculate which keywords should win an auction:

  • Targeting settings
  • Approval status
  • Bids
  • Daily budgets
  • Quality Score

Increasing IS doesn’t always mean you’ll increase the amount of people who’ll see and interact with your brand. It should be used to monitor the frequency of your keywords appearing in auctions for which they’re eligible. It’s a brilliant metric for identifying keywords that aren’t performing as well as they could.

If your keywords are eligible to receive the maximum impressions targeting your specified audience, a 100% IS means you’ve reached this limit. However, this can come at a cost, overinflating daily budgets. Achieving a 100% IS means your keywords will be entered into all eligible auctions regardless of the cost.

Optimize to Improve Clicks and Impressions

Optimizing a campaign for clicks disregarding IS can improve both the click and impression volumes while maintaining or reducing spend. This method involves bidding down on keywords with low-click volume that have high CPCs while increasing bids for keywords with high-click volume and low CPCs.

ClickVolume

It’s important to understand the relationship between aggregate IS and impression volume. Aggregate IS is weighted impressions, so there could be a scenario where there’s lower aggregate IS but higher impression volume. However, click volume, impression volume, and aggregate IS tend to be positively correlated, so maximizing clicks should be a sound strategy in most cases.

How are you using IS? Are you using it to monitor brand awareness, share of voice, or impression frequency? Whatever your optimization objective, it’s important to use the correct KPIs to monitor performance.

How to Segment Remarketing Audience
by Last Interaction

By February 9th, 2016

This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
3Q Digital.

When building out a fully functional PPC account, it’s important to utilize remarketing lists in addition to your standard campaigns. Remarketing lists allow you to target individuals with ads that are already familiar with your brand because of a past interaction, generally an ad click leading to a visit.

These visitors are valuable because they’re usually further down the sales funnel. Remarketing is a great way to retain these past visitors, capture incremental volume, and shorten the gap between time of click and time of purchase.

If you’re advertising on a pay-per-click network (Google, Bing, Facebook, etc.), you’ve more than likely utilized remarketing lists to improve account performance. You can also improve your remarketing lists, specifically your Google and Bing lists, by segmenting your audience based on time of last interaction.

Why Segment by Time?

There are a few benefits to segmenting your audience by time. The first is that it breaks apart a very large audience into multiple audiences of very manageable sizes. This then allows you to bid more or less aggressively depending on the audience.

For example, you may want to bid very aggressively to get an audience of users that last interacted with your website one to three days ago back to the website. You may not want to bid as high for the people that last touched the site 25-30 days ago.

Using this method, you can place a bid on each audience that’s most appropriate. However, be conscious of the size of the main audience you’re trying to split. This practice is usually a better fit for more general touchpoints that generate larger audience lists. It isn’t always the best to break apart a very small audience pool because at that point, the lists can become too small to employ.

How to Create Your Audiences

1. Create a new remarketing list

2. Select who to add to your list

Generally, I select page visitors. But there are options to select page visitors who did/did not visit another page, visitors of a page during specific dates, and visitors of a page with a specific tag.

If you’re more advanced, definitely utilize the custom combination option. I’ve used this capability to refine my segmented lists even further in the past and to block past converters from my lists.

3. Set the rule

Enter the page URL that you want to build your audience around.

4. Set the membership duration

Here’s where you can get creative. Go to the Tools drop down, then select Conversions and take a look at your attribution data. How long is the time lag from click to conversion? Use this information to set your membership duration for your audiences.

If you’re unsure, just use common sense to create reasonable durations. For this example, let’s assign the first audience a five-day membership duration. 

5. Repeat

After creating the first audience, repeat the process and extend the membership duration with each additional audience. Using the five-day example above as a starting reference, we can create three more audiences with membership durations of 10, 20, and 30 days.

In the end, instead of one very large audience, we have one broken up into chunks based on the account’s specific conversion history, which gives us more control over bidding and ultimately better performance. Using this method, we don’t bid the same amount for someone that last interacted with the website 30 days ago as a person who last interacted with the website one day ago. Try it out and see how it performs!

Why PPC Granularity Will Be Your Best Friend

By January 7th, 2016

This is a guest post from Johnathan Dane, Founder of KlientBoost.

Have you ever thought your Google advertising account should be performing better?

You may be following the advice of many that say that the more time you spend in your account, the better.

But what if it’s all backwards?

What if it only takes you 10 minutes a week to improve your Google advertising performance?

If your Google campaign performance hasn’t been improving month over month like the table below, then keep reading.

01-GoogleCampaignImprovement

It’s about to get interesting. Let’s get started.

Automatic Placement Extraction

If you’re running any type of display or remarketing campaign, you might find that your display ads are showing up on websites, apps, or even video overlays that aren’t performing well.

Overall though, you might be decently happy with your display performance, but always wondered if it could do better.

02-DisplayPerformance

Take a look at your Automatic placements under your Dimensions tab

To start the “performance pruning”, see which Automatic placements either have a cost per conversion that’s too high, or better yet, which placements are actually bringing in sales (not just conversions) by equipping your Google advertising Final URLs with ValueTrack parameters.

This will then help you get more conversion volume out of those specific placements when you extract and target them exclusively through a new campaign.

Search Term Extraction

Search term reports are such an important part of regular Google advertising maintenance that it’s not uncommon that some people do this more frequently than brushing their teeth.

When looking at your search term report, get as close as possible to making sure your search terms and keywords have no discrepancies between them.

In other words, your Added / Excluded column from your search term report should have the green “Added” label going down the list for as long as possible, just like this:

03-SearchTermExtraction

This gives you a much stronger control of what you’re paying for

When that happens, you can make your ads specific to not your keywords, but your search terms and see higher click-through-rates from your efforts.

Let’s say you look at your search term report and find your search terms and keywords don’t match. The first thing you should do is extract your search terms with the most impressions and create what are called Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs).

Just like the name implies, SKAGs are ad groups that only allow one keyword per ad group, that then have corresponding ads that are extremely specific to that keyword.

Time Lag and Attribution Reports

Did you know that the last keyword and/or ad clicked always gets to lionshare of conversion credit?

What if there were seven other touchpoints (impression and ad clicks) that happened before the final conversion? Wouldn’t you want to know what helped assist that conversion?

I know I would.

If you don’t care, there’s a good chance you’ll pause keywords and placements that don’t get the conversion credit. But, when you do, you’re strangling your account at the same time, without even knowing it.

Let’s take a look at your Google advertising attribution.

Inside your account, go to the top of your Google advertising interface and click Tools > Attribution.

Once you’re there, take a look at the Time Lag report on the left side. Here, you can see how long it takes people to convert from either first impression, first click, or last click.

04-ImpressionConversionDelay

Here’s a look at first impression conversion delay of 6.19 days

This will help you make your nurture and/or retargeting campaigns more of a priority to test.

Geographic Granularity

Are you a local, statewide, nationwide, or even an international advertiser?

No matter how big an area you’re targeting, every geographic hill, slope, mountain, and valley performs differently. The same thing goes for individual states and cities.

And, because you can’t target people who live on just a hill (yet), the next best thing is to understand the performance of each state or city that sees your ads.

05-GeographicGranularity

To see this report, go to your Dimensions tab, then View -> User locations

As you can see above, the state of New York may be costing more per conversion than others. So, you may want to add in negative bid modifiers at the state level, like this screenshot shows.

06-States

You can then drill even deeper and create new campaigns with state level campaign targeting, and give bid modifiers to individual cities within that specific state to get your closer to your cost per conversion goals.

You can take it even further and start utilizing city specific ad copy and landing pages with area code specific phone numbers, to appear more local to visitors and increase your conversion rates.

Device Targeting

As I’m sure you’re already aware of, Google advertising doesn’t allow you to separate devices in their own campaigns like they used to.

These days, you have to group desktop and tablets together in the same campaign. And while Google may say that both those devices perform similarly, there are thousands of Google advertising accounts out there that say something completely different.

Here’s the truth: Desktops and tablets will never perform the same way.

I’m not just speaking from a conversion rate standpoint, but also from a sales standpoint.

When Google told the world that devices don’t matter, but user context does, they certainly never thought of every single industry, but more so of a blanket band-aid that would apply to “most advertisers”.

Believe it or not, there are some workarounds you can use to get desktop, tablet, and mobile campaigns in their own campaigns and still target the search and/or display network.

But first, let’s look at how we find current device performance differences within your account.

07-PerformanceDifferences

Here’s how you find that info

First, go to Segment then Device in the dropdown.

08-SegmentDevice

This will expand your view with three extra rows

As you can see in the screenshot above, our mobile devices are giving us the lowest cost per conversion while tablets are sucking it up and being the most expensive.

Now let’s say for a minute that your tablet performance is just as good as your desktop performance (like Google says it is), but your mobile performance sucks.

You can quickly add in what’s called a negative bid modifier between 1 and 100%.

09-NegativeBidModifier

Go to Settings -> Devices and increase or decrease in the red square

If you never want to target mobile devices, then you can set a negative bid modifier of 100%.

Day of Week Targeting

Just like keywords, ads, and landing pages perform differently, so does Monday compared to Thursday, and Saturday compared to Wednesday.

Inside your Google advertising account, you can see this day of the week granularity in a snap. Just head over to Dimensions -> View: Day of the week.

10-DayOfWeek

In this case, Saturdays and Sundays are doing really well

Having these kinds of numbers doesn’t mean that you should stop advertising on Thursdays (because it has the highest cost per conversions). But, it could mean that you should start considering “day of the week” bid modifiers like we did for our devices earlier.

Some industries tend to be very predictable in their weekly trends. If your company falls into a category like that, then take advantage of the control you have and get more aggressive with your bids on great performing days, and taper back on the not so great-performing ones.

Time of Day Targeting

Just like we saw how your days perform differently during the week, so do your hours within the day.

11-TimeOfDay

And, just as we can create bid modifiers for 24-hour day targeting, we can also take advantage of the same thing with bidding blocks of hours within a certain day of the week, to break it down even further.

12-BiddingBlocks

In this screenshot, late mornings and afternoons tend to perform better than mornings

If you already have the data and insight that allow you to use this type of granular bidding, then definitely do so.

You might even find that Google or other bidding platforms are restricting how many bid modifications you can make on a daily basis. If that’s the case, I suggest you try using Brainlab’s 24 hour bidding script that allows you to take it one step further, and then some.

In Closing

Now before I let you go, please keep this in mind:

“With great control, comes great responsibility.”

Having access to all of this data is great, but only if you can be actionable with it to improve your performance.

I see time and time again that people spend countless hours trying to tweak and prune things with modifiers, rules, and even scripts that change bids depending on the weather.

While all of this is great, most of it becomes entirely obsolete as soon as you have a landing page test that improves your conversion rates by 50%. When that happens, all the things you’ve put into place need to be redone.

One thing that will always help you out, no matter your goals, is to extract and target things in a granular fashion that makes sense.

Use the dimensions tab and its reports to your advantage and keep on making progress :)

Resources