This is a guest post from Ashley Aptt, Account Lead at 3Q Digital.
With an abundance of new features being introduced every week, it can be a challenge to keep up with all the available opportunities worth taking advantage of in your paid search accounts. And sometimes it can be easy to get so involved with all the new and exciting strategies that you forget about the tried-and-true tactics that are most valuable for improving account performance.
Here are three tactics to brush off and (re-)evaluate with your 2017 paid search strategy planning.
The Time Lag Report in AdWords is a great tool that provides the ability to evaluate how long it takes your customers to convert after first seeing or clicking your ad. Time lag can vary greatly client by client—higher-ticket items typically require more research from consumers and therefore result in longer conversion windows. But on the other hand, low-ticket or need-to-have-now items could yield a small conversion window.
It’s important to know how long your conversion window is, because it’ll give you a better sense of how long you should wait before truly analyzing recent performance. For instance, if you have a long conversion window but attempt to analyze recent performance, it could appear that this year’s performance is worse than it actually is because of the conversion delay.
Knowing your conversion time lag will also ensure that your conversion pixels are set up with the proper conversion window. If 15% of conversions happen after 30 days, then consider increasing your conversion window beyond the 30-day default to gain credit for those delayed conversions.
AdWords gives conversion credit to the keyword that received the last click before the conversion occurred. On the surface, it may seem pretty apparent which keywords are performing well. On further investigation of assisted conversions, however, you might discover that seemingly under-performing keywords play a large role in helping users down the conversion path.
In order to evaluate this data, you have the ability to assess click- or impression-assisted conversions. Both options can be a great resource to identify which keywords help drive the most conversions. This information is easily accessible directly in the keywords reporting tab (right beside other key data metrics) so that you can easily make informed bidding decisions and prevent optimization mistakes such as pausing “poor performing” keywords that are actually providing value.
For instance, you may consider pausing a certain non-brand keyword because of its high CPA. But, after analyzing the click and impression assists, you realize that the keyword is driving a large volume of assisted conversions. Despite the fact that the CPA is high, you decide not to pause this keyword since it’s driving valuable conversions to the account.
One thing you certainly want to avoid is having campaigns that regularly cap out on budget. Hitting campaign budget caps can falsely hurt performance because you miss out on clicks (and therefore conversions) from top-performing keywords, which ultimately ends up increasing the cost per conversion.
If you’re consistently hitting the budget cap on a particular campaign, you should consider increasing the budget (if it makes sense and you have the budget capacity to do so). However, when a budget increase isn’t an option, then the primary focus should be to reduce keyword bids. Ultimately, it’s important that budgets are controlled and managed via bid adjustments and not budget caps. This’ll allow you to generate stronger performance because you drive more click volume and conversions within your budget.
Monitoring lost impression share due to budget at the campaign level will help you stay on top of this and ensure you don’t end up paying more for less.
There are countless strategies to improve account performance and always new things to test. These are just three dependable tactics that are worth taking the time brush off and use in 2017. Take a look at this data in your account and make sure you’re ready for what the year has to offer!
If you’re already using Google AdWords to your advantage, there’s a good chance you’re using pizza to your advantage, too.
Not when it comes to PPC, but when it comes to being happy.
Pizza is part of a well-balanced marketer. And while you need balance in your diet, you also need balance in your AdWords account.
Perfectly sliced for easy (and delicious) consumption.
You’ve got your product feed set and sending to Merchant Center. You’ve created campaigns mapped from the attributes that make the most sense for your style of management. And, you’re pretty familiar with the set attributes you can use to define product groups:
|Item ID||Brand||Category||Product Type|
|Condition||Channel||Channel Exclusivity||Custom Labels|
What about those custom labels, though?
Google allows for up to five custom labels per feed. Here are some effective and creative ways you can use them.
One clever way to use a custom label is to group SKUs together under a Parent ID. Think of this as a “Parent” and “Child” relationship where we group the Child SKUs under a Parent label.
For example, suppose you offer a coffee mug in different colors. Each variety has its own unique Item ID. You could assign the same “Parent” identification number to each of the variations, and then set a product group to define the set of the products—as opposed to having to map these individually by Item ID.
Custom_Label 0: 1234
Custom_Label 0: 1111
Custom_Label 0: 1213
Another interesting way to apply a custom label is to group products by their price point, or average order value. For example, you could apply values of “High,” “Medium,” or “Low” to products based on where they belong in the overall product mix. In your campaign, you could then segment out Product Groups based on these values, and utilize these levers to bid more or less aggressively on products based on their anticipated return and volume.
Categorizing products by how (or whether or not) they sell according to time of year can be a wise consideration depending on the nature of your business. Indicating these designations in the product feed allows you to increase or decrease bids across a range of products classified by time of year.
So, in the final days of summer, you could increase bids across all seasonal products and then, right after, immediately bid down on those after the heat breaks.
Custom_Label 1: Winter
Custom_Label 1: Summer
Custom_Label 1: Fall
These are just a few ways to apply custom labels—and give your campaigns levers to bid and segment on—that are completely specific to your account. The main takeaway is to use them.
Brainstorm what makes sense to be able to dictate volume by (whether or not a product is in peak season, whether or not it brings a high yield per order, etc.), then apply the values in the feed and create the defined product group in AdWords. Custom labels are the most flexible of the attributes available, so test them out and see what helps shift the needle in your overall Shopping performance.
This is a guest post from Dionte Pounds, Account Manager at
A few months ago, Google unveiled a new tool that allows advertisers to interact directly with an audience across the search, Gmail, and YouTube networks. That tool was Customer Match (See my previous post about setup tips).
With this feature, advertisers could submit a list of email addresses from past customers or email subscribers directly into the AdWords interface. Then, advertisers could target individuals who’d already expressed interest in their products, across channels, as long as they were signed in to Google.
With this update, Google strengthened the ability of advertisers to leverage 1st-party data. The move echoed Facebook’s Custom Audiences, which has been in the market for years and proven very effective. While it provides Google-focused marketers a great way to use 1st-party data, Google’s added another feature that uses that data to find and target new customers.
That tool is Similar Audiences.
Similar Audiences are made up of groups of people who have characteristics with a remarketing audience you’ve previously created. For example, if you have a remarketing audience created for people who’ve visited your website via a paid ad click within the last 30 days, Google will automatically generate a new pool of prospects you can target if the starting audience is large enough.
Because paid ad traffic is cookied, Google tracks the browsing habits of that cookied traffic over the last 30 days and uses that to find shared interests and behaviors. For a new Similar Audience to be created, at least 500 cookies with enough similarities and characteristics must be active. In theory, a larger remarketing list should yield a better Similar Audience in terms of relevancy, because it’s pulling from a larger set of data being sent back for Google to use.
So, a Similar Audience taken from a Customer Match list should be an extremely relevant pool of new users that you can target to grow a business. However, there are some features that are disabled for a Similar to Customer Match audience that must be taken into consideration when planning new advertising strategy.
The first is that, like all Similar Audiences, you can’t target a Similar to Customer Match audience across the Search Network. Because Similar Audiences are based on the webpage browsing history of the cookied user, you’re limited to targeting on the Display Network and YouTube Network.
Speaking of the Display Network, you can only target Similar to Customer Match audiences on the Google Display Network and YouTube. This is where the use of 1st-party data is somewhat limiting in Google. Because the uploaded customer lists lack the cookies needed to track browsing behavior, Google can’t use that data to find an audience with related interests on the Display Network.
Still, you can utilize a similar audience across Gmail and YouTube ads, because these are networks entirely owned by Google where the user is signed in to the network (at least most of the time for YouTube). Because the data Google receives from these channels are different from Display Network, where 3rd-party groups simply opt in to the network, the way Google finds these users and tracks characteristics greatly varies.
Even with these limitations, I still highly recommend testing all similar audiences, but especially a similar audience built from Customer Match. It’s a great way to engage a new audience of individuals similar to that of your past customers.
This is a guest post from Sarah Burns, Content Manager
at Boost Media.
With the introduction of Google’s Expanded Text Ads (ETA), marketers have a more robust ad format that allows for more text, and Google has the ability to manipulate the layout to fit the appropriate screen for display. While this is a strong shift toward mobile-first that levels the playing fields between natural search (SEO) ads and AdWords, it doesn’t guarantee better performance.
Google reports that some advertisers could experience up to a 20% lift in CTR. The important word here is “some,” as it indicates that simply expanding ads with no plan is not a guarantee of success. What follows is a set of scenarios you should test that will help guarantee the best possible performance lift for your brand.
Be sure to focus on one thing at a time. If you mix descriptions, headline, and paths in one test, you may introduce a better overall ad, but one section may be causing the lift while the other changes are actually causing a drop. By focusing on one variable at a time, you stand a better chance of isolating what caused the lift and understanding the drivers behind what to do next. As you move toward complete optimization, many times you’ll gain insights that can be applied to other parts of the ad.
Simply put: make the time. If you don’t prepare for ETA and your competitors do, you can expect to see a drop in performance as the competition captures more of the impressions and clicks. Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, you don’t have to do this overnight. Set a steady pace and a strategy, and you’ll be on the way to performance increases.
Sarah manages Content Marketing at Boost Media and leads a team of marketing professionals to drive revenue through complex B2B marketing campaigns in the ad tech industry. Prior to joining Boost, Sarah developed marketing and sales strategy at BNY Mellon, a top 10 private wealth management firm. In a former life, Sarah worked in journalism writing for magazines including Boston Magazine, The Improper Bostonian, and Luxury Travel. When she’s not writing engaging content, Sarah enjoys cooking, running, and yoga.
Boost Media increases advertiser profitability by using a combination of humans and a proprietary software platform to drive increased ad relevance at scale. The Boost marketplace comprises over 1,000 expert copywriters and image optimizers who compete to provide a diverse array of perspectives. Boost’s proprietary software identifies opportunities for creative optimization and drives performance using a combination of workflow tools and algorithms. Headquartered in San Francisco, the Boost Media optimization platform provides fresh, performance-driven creative in 12 localized languages worldwide.
Google AdWords now lets you upload both Identifiers for Advertising (IDFAs) and advertising IDs in bulk so that you can target your mobile app users using the Google Display Network. Although you can use this feature to solicit new users under the right circumstances, its chief use is re-engaging your mobile app users.
After all, your current mobile app users are your easiest source of IDFAs and advertising IDs, meaning you’re going to struggle making the most of this feature if you don’t already have a user base.
Regardless, you shouldn’t see this as a limitation but rather a reminder of the importance of re-engaging your mobile app users.
This is mainly because re-engaging your mobile app users can boost the success rates of your mobile advertising – though it’s important to note that there are a number of reasons why Google AdWords is now particularly useful for this purpose. And, successfully re-engaging those users will contribute to creating a “consumable experience” that makes them want to keep coming back for more.
Generally speaking, you can convince your existing users with much greater ease than your potential users. In part, this is because you’ve accumulated goodwill with your existing users, meaning you’ll have a much easier time convincing them you’re trustworthy, likable, and reliable.
However, it’s also important to note that you have existing data on their purchasing patterns, meaning you can tailor your mobile advertising for the best results. Summed up, you should focus on existing rather than potential users because it costs you less time, effort, and other resources to convince them on average.
Re-engagement can be useful throughout an app’s lifecycle, meaning that the resources spent on such mobile advertising can prove useful longer than otherwise possible.
For example, you can use it to solicit new users for a similar app, build loyalty in existing users by making them more invested in an app they’re already using, and even bring back past users by reminding them of the app’s existence at an opportune time.
Simply put, re-engagement is so versatile that it can be used for all stages of an app’s promotion.
Finally, mobile advertising has become more important, with no signs of stopping in the foreseeable future. This is because the number of mobile app users is continuing to rise as mobile devices become more convenient and more powerful. As a result, you can expect a better rate of return by spending your dollars on mobile advertising rather than the other options out there.
With that said, just because you can count on this latest Google AdWords feature to be useful, it doesn’t mean you can slack off when it comes to creating your mobile advertising for re-engaging your mobile app users.
As always, if you want to convince your mobile app users to pay attention – and consider your brand a consumable experience – your advertising needs to show your app as useful and interesting. Furthermore, you need to use your existing data to figure out what will appeal the most to them before sending it out at the right times, which is where the rest of Google AdWords features will prove to be beneficial.
This is a guest post from Jonathan Levey, Digital Marketing Manager at OneSky.
Google AdWords location ad customizers represent a pay-per-click (PPC) way to target a specific audience in a specific location. With location ad customizers, you can change details in your PPC ads dynamically, whether it’s color details, price, size, dimensions, countdowns, sales events, or seasonal sales. If, for instance, you’re managing a large number of ad campaigns, the ad customizers let you make quick changes to a central spreadsheet.
After making these quick changes, you can upload the spreadsheet changes to Google AdWords and watch as all the updates are incorporated across your various campaigns. This makes the customizers completely automated, since after updating your central spreadsheet, the other updates are instantly propagated. (Yay, no time-consuming changes by hand!)
Precision is a great marketing strategy. Location ad customizers allow you to target your audience in a minute, specific location.
There are many ways you can make use of AdWords location ad customizers to achieve superior results. If a user meets the criteria you’ve specified on your array of ad campaigns, your ad text can be updated accordingly. Based on location, here’s how you can use AdWords location ad customizers to do this and more.
AdWords location ad customizers include shipping times; so, if your ad shows that your shipping time is less than your competitors’, then you’ll gain more customers. With location ad customizers, you can include the places you deliver your products to in your ad text. This can be very enticing to potential customers who reside in the locations that you specify in your ad campaigns.
These kinds of ad campaigns enable you to have a targeted conversation with your prospective customers, since they’re drawn in by the fact that you have the exact shipping time for their specific location. This aspect of your ad will appeal to audiences who end up purchasing your products due to the confidence that they’ll be delivered on time.
Users often include their desired locations when they search for products and services. So, if you include the users’ locations dynamically in your ad text, they’re more likely to click your ad. Not only does the dynamic inclusion of location into your ad text campaign save you a lot of time – with good content in your ad text, your conversion rate is set to increase exponentially.
The time you save by auto-including location would’ve otherwise been used to create distinct campaigns geo-targeted to each of the areas where you deliver your products. In addition to time savings, location ad customizers maintain all of the key information of your ad campaign, despite generating different text for the specified, unique locations.
Suppose you’re wildly successful with your location extensions. In this case, you can increase the effectiveness of your ad even more, by including address and working hours of the location that’s nearest to your user in your ad text. And, to appeal to more potential customers and beat your competition, you can add offers and discounts that are specific to those nearby locations.
The ad customizers allow you to update your closing and opening times or offers depending on the day of the week. This kind of ad campaign guarantees an increase in the number of people who’ll show intent to purchase your products and services.
Finally, location ad customizers can also include different pricing for different regions. Price is an important factor whenever sale of items and services is involved – every buyer considers the price of your product. Make sure that you include the most competitive prices for your products in your ad campaign. Delivery of top quality products at affordable prices will enable your Google AdWords marketing campaign to be the most successful.
You can include dynamic pricing in your text ads. These prices should match your users’ spending capacities to make sure that you have a large return on investment and a reliable conversion rate to drive your sales exponentially. Inclusion of prices in your location ad customizers will increase the percentage of pre-qualification of your clicks.
Follow these fundamental methods when you use AdWords location ad customizers, and watch your PPC marketing campaign benefit as a result.
Yesterday morning at Google’s AdWords Livestream 2015, the AdWords team announced several exciting new features. The features they’ll be launching fall into three broad categories: ad experiences, automation, and measurement. Here’s a run-down of each:
For Automobile Ads, Hotel Ads, Shopping Ads, and Comparison Ads the big theme across all is an emphasis on interactive. Google is releasing a number of enhancements to the creative formats for different verticals by making them more interactive, with a greater emphasis on images and integration with mobile apps. With these enhancements, Google is looking to move advertising beyond just text ads, which are the most common ad format today. This is an understandable move, as ads containing images are proven to drive higher levels of user engagement, according to eMarketer, with a 28% growth in clicks for image-based ads versus just 4% for text ads in Q2 of 2014.
In today’s world, advertisers need to manually create campaigns and set bids for Dynamic Search Ads. Google acknowledges that this can be a cumbersome task that is difficult to scale for advertisers with expansive keyword sets. With the launch of the new Dynamic Search Ads, an improved workflow will allow advertisers to simply type in a URL and view recommended CPCs provided for their categories. Additionally, the introduction of automation into the DSA workflow demonstrates Google’s intentions of moving away from keywords and towards more macro targeting. Google has also announced auto-resizing of GDN ads to help advertisers save time and make it easier for them to reach their audience through Display. For bidding, Google is launching a CPA bid simulation report that will allow advertisers to simulate bids for target CPAs on search and display, as well as an enhanced bid strategy dashboard in the Shared library that will allow advertisers to review the status of their bid strategies over time.
To provide advertisers with the full value of digital and insight into their advertising performance across devices, Google is enhancing their analytics and reporting capabilities. These new capabilities will allow for better conversion and attribution tracking across devices. The first step in this process will be the integration of Estimated Total Conversions (ETC) to bidding to help inform better bidding and budgeting decisions. Later this year, advertisers will be able to take action on cross-device conversions for automated bidding and to include cross-device conversions as part of the conversions column in AdWords. The goal is to provide advertisers with the ability to track cross-device conversions that started on the web and finished on the app, regardless of device type. Attribution was also discussed, with the integration of data driven attribution into AdWords to make attribution actionable for Search. This integration will allow you to break down the customer journey and measure every moment using your own conversion data to value attribution. This will allow Google to calculate the actual contribution of every keyword in your account and optimize for the best performing keywords across the conversion path. Coupling this new feature with automated bidding will allow you to optimize keyword bids based on the actual value of your Search ads.
All these new enhancements are planned to roll out over the course of the next few months so stayed tuned to Marketing Insights for more updates as we provide all the details you need to you know as they launch.
Paid search is best known for its ability to leverage search intent to drive highly measurable direct response marketing. Paid search, however, transmits a number of extra benefits that not all marketers take into account.
In this post, I explore three areas where paid search can drive value, even if your main goal marketing goal for this channel is driving direct response.
Research shows that over 88% of shopper’s do research online before making a purchase. With only 9% of all purchases being made online, it’s clear that digital media is driving offline transactions.
The Store Visits metric in AdWords estimates the uplift paid search has on visits to retailer’s stores. This metric is calculated based on aggregated, anonymised data from a sample set of users that have turned on Location History. The data is then extrapolated to represent the broader population and only reported if it reaches a strict confidence level. Google claims that retailers are seeing, on average, that paid search drives four store visits for every one online conversion .
Building trust online is extremely valuable. All things being equal trusted advertisers will see more traffic and higher conversion rates then their competitors. Paid search ads offer a number of features that are designed to help build user confidence in the advertiser, such as these:
Review extensions allow advertisers to share positive write-ups, awards, or third-party rankings with potential customers in an additional line of text beneath your ads. The more respected the website, journal, or publication the higher value this extension is likely to bring.
Consumer ratings highlight industry-specific ratings based on consumer surveys. One or more of your best ratings will be presented below the text of your search ads together with a link to additional ratings. These ad extensions help increase trust with the power of consumer opinion.
Seller ratings are an automated extension that lets people know which advertisers are highly rated for quality service. Seller ratings are gathered from reputable sources that aggregate business reviews. Good seller ratings help build trust for your brand.
Search advertising will have an incremental effect on an advertisers branding. Seeing a brand at the top of the search results page (SERP) can have a sizable uplift in top-of-mind awareness. Paid search is also well placed to increase brand awareness amongst consumers showing high intent to purchase.
Studies have shown that on average search ads seen in position 1 will have an 80% lift in consumers top-of-mind awareness. Although paid search is not seen as a branding channel, appearing at the top of a Google or Bing SERP will transmit branding value.
Paid search may be known best for driving direct response but there is little doubt it affects other areas in the marketing ecosystem as well. Being able to measure and optimise beyond direct response will allow markers to credit paid search with more than just the direct response it drives.
One of the most overlooked settings in search marketing that produces wasted spend is geographic targeting. There’s a good chance that your paid search ads are not relevant worldwide, so why spend to show ads in irrelevant locations that do not apply to your business?
If you’re getting started with AdWords, geo-targeting will become your best friend. So, let’s get to know it a little better, understand the capabilities, and discuss some tips on how you can use it for your marketing needs.
WHO: Businesses that have location specific needs such as shipping, physical stores, or services. Or even worldwide businesses with poor campaign performances in specific geo locations. Example: If I’m a food truck that only provides service around the Financial District of San Francisco, I’d want to target ads to customers located walking distance or 2 mi away from my location during certain times of the day.
WHY: By using proper geo-targeting settings that go hand in hand with your advertising goals, you will have better control over your spend and campaigns to serve ads to relevant customers. Geo-targeting helps you reel in the right customers to your business. When you target ads in areas where your customers are, it will likely increase your ROI.
HOW: You can easily target your ads to appear in select locations such as countries, cities, or by radius. Start by logging into your AdWords account and navigating over to the campaigns tab. Then choose the campaign you want to edit and go into the settings tab. Scroll to the locations section and click on edit.
The magic begins here. Let’s dive into a quick breakdown of geo-targeting capabilities.
The most basic level is to type in the locations (country, city, state, zip, DMA) you want and then select “Add.” You can repeat this process for multiple locations.
For advanced needs such as location radius, places of interest or bulk locations, click on “Advanced search” on the settings tab.
It will open up a map with targeting options to choose from at the very top: search, radius targeting, location groups, and bulk locations.
For radius targeting, you can hone into locations within a target by mi or km:
In the location groups targeting section, there are three sections to take into consideration.
1) You can target all airports, commercial areas, and universities:
3) Lastly, you can target using your location extensions that are enabled in your campaigns by radius:
LOCATION EXCLUSION: Be sure to exclude the areas that are irrelevant within your targeting. You can do this by clicking on “Exclude” in the steps above instead of “Add.” For example, if you decide to target your ads in United States but do not service in California, be sure to exclude that location so that California searchers do not see your ads.
But wait – there’s more! Finally, you may want to click and expand the location options (advanced) box within the campaign settings tab to prevent your ads from displaying for people searching about your target location:
Edit the options below to make sure it fits your business needs.
In short, location matters – a lot! Your ad could be award-winning, but if you’re not serving it to the right audience then it may not perform successfully. This is a great tool that can help target and exclude locations, as well as help optimize campaigns.