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  • 1. Best Practices in PPC ReportingAdvanced Strategies to MaximizeEfficiency and ResultsA Search Marketing Now eBook
  • 2. E-BookIntroductionSuccess in paid search, or PPC advertising, depends largely on the ability to quickly and efficiently gather andanalyze data, then turn that data into actionable strategies that improve account performance. But as technology hasmade data gathering easier, online marketers have become overloaded -- with data and with data that has becomemeaningless without insightful analysis.Good PPC reporting is time consuming; daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly reports demand continuity andscalability in order to produce results and grow bottom lines. Because of the pressure to serve more clients withexisting staff, many agencies either don’t provide reports or provide reports that are long on data and short oninsight. After all, data in and of itself is not useful. Interpreting what data means so that brand marketers can makebetter business decisions is what creates value.Great reporting does the following: • Creates measurability. Digital marketing is trackable and accountable. • Tracks performance. Metrics and measurability show context and growth. • Enables Data Analysis. Data analysis is a point of connection with teams, peers, reports and clients. • Builds relationships. Skilled reporting opens the door to longer-term planning and increases the value of the agency to the lives of clients and their enterprises.This report is divided into three parts: Part I presents seven best practices in PPC reporting to help SEM agencyexecutives increase their analytic skills and reporting effectiveness; Part II offers some tips for improving your Excelskills, and Part III provides a case study of the Adwords Keyword Report that explains how to optimize report data toimprove client account performance.The following Search Engine Land and Search Marketing Now people made valuable contributions to this report:Kendall Allen, MKTG; Josh Dreller, Fuor Digital; Andrea Harris, marketing director, Embassy Suites; Brad Geddes,founder, bgTheory; Mona Elesseily, director of marketing strategy, Page Zero Media; and George Michie, co-founderand principal, Rimm-Kaufman Group. Thanks also to Matt Van Wagner, president, Find Me Faster and Karen Burka,for their editing of this report.1 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 3. E-Book Best Practices in PPC Reporting: Part IBest Practices in PPC Reporting #1: Even if you are operating shorthanded, a few adjustments to roles and team engagement models willEstablish Reporting Strategies Upfront encourage collaboration and help you better manage workload and flow. Exhausted analysis shows: its easierPerhaps the most critical factor in PPC reporting success is to keep your analysis and reporting fresh by enablingto have a plan that clearly defines the reporting strategy, creative thinking.format, frequency, tracking mechanisms, metrics,accountability and the communication chain of command. Regardless of role, motivate each staffer involved in the client engagement to think strategically and think big,The goal is to better align your team’s efforts with the particularly those who are scoping the opportunity,clients’ objectives. Create a timetable for each major setting the account framework, leading the analysis andaction item in your plan and associated task that is drafting the reports. Today’s SEM tool set is sophisticatedneeded. It’s important to think everything through before enough that you can worry less about having totalyou start since some tasks will influence others and you quant types on staff and opt for well-rounded thinkersdon’t want to create inefficiencies or redundancy. There who will ask what if and take things to the next level.are always going to be things you cannot plan for, buthaving a solid plan is a must. In addition to your own staff, talk with your strategic account representatives and vertical experts at theThe next step is to manage client expectations. Whether search engines and third-party tool providers. Theythis is a new account or one that you’ve won from typically can provide additional layers of value - fromanother agency, you are going to make changes that will industry contacts or recent market research -- that canaffect account performance. Be sure to let your client give you greater market context and boost the caliber ofcontact know what you’re doing every step of the way. your reporting.Strive for consistent but progressive quality, and set upthe account structure to give you enough levers tocontrol your success. Best Practices in PPC Reporting #3:Make sure everyone is in agreement on the strategy, Create Transparencytimetable, and action items involved. Dont overlooksome of the nitty-gritty details, from exactly who needs Having an “open-door policy” with clients fosters ato be included on client e-mails to whether there are culture of conversation where clients feel free to askpreferred templates or data formats. questions about your reporting and analysis and you feel more confident about your answers. In the initial stages of a PPC client relationship, you’llBest Practices in PPC Reporting #2: need to convince new clients that you are equipped toOrganize Staff for Success significantly improve account performance. Try to secure some minor wins quickly. For example, tweak ad copy toAn honest assessment of skill sets will allow you to more show meaningful account improvements thatclearly define responsibilities around planning, campaign demonstrates your expertise. Frequent contact is alsomanagement, data compilation, report assembly and important; aim for at least one monthly face-to-facemore. meeting or conference call.2 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 4. E-BookAs time goes on, you want to show additional and client with valuable insight into consumer demand thatconsistent improvements in both reporting and can guide their strategic merchandising decisions andperformance. This includes accounting for your work on more.a regular basis with insightful reporting, interimcommentary and asking the right questions to get more Provide context to the narrative within a report, whetherfeedback that you need to improve the campaigns. Client its an historic perspective, an emergent trend, ortrust increases through demonstrated expertise, clear industry benchmark. Dont make the mistake ofand open communication, and tangible, bottom-line assuming that the report or dataset will speak for itself.results. When in doubt, point it out.Use your project management skills to further solidify Get Your Hands Dirtytrust and gain buy-in for your account plans. It may be Don’t ever consider yourself above data analysis. Even ifhelpful to roll out PPC initiatives in stages to allow you to you rely on other teams or colleagues to provide certaintweak often and add new ad groups and campaigns as data, putting together reports and doing the analysisneeded. yourself will help you better understand the data. It’s hard not to know the numbers when you’re the oneRemember that the relationship is two-way. Dont be putting them together. Based on your knowledge ofafraid to ask for feedback from the client or suggest search, you also may be better positioned to see certaintesting new variable if you think it will improve the trends in the data.overall campaign. As a bonus, doing your own analysis will give you a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses,Best Practices in PPC Reporting #4: power and limitations of your reporting tools and enable you to provide even deeper insights into the usefulnessStop Presenting Data; Start Analyzing It of your reports.Too many SEM professionals mistake Excel keyworddumps for data, data for analysis and rote analysis forbrilliant insight. Best Practices in PPC Reporting #5: Go Granular; Dig DeepReporting on traffic volume, for example, is not a metricunless you have previously set certain expectations, or Give a PPC campaign room and time to perform and youwere running a test, or evaluating a particular shift. will have more data available to analyze. In fact, the moreSimilarly, raw budget figures are not helpful unless granular your approach, the better. Look at budgetpresented as a comparison, or in response to certain distribution; compare KPIs for every search engine ingoals or expectations, or as an allocation over time. Look which you’re advertising; contrast content vs. search vs.for trends and variations in the data that will provide a site placement; examine the co-variation of two metrics;meaningful narrative for your report. analyze performance by time of day and day of the week; and create summary tables for various time periods. AddAnalysis is critical for reporting performance, identifying one enhancement to your report each time to show atrouble spots and finding your next great opportunity. In deepening of the data used in your analysis.fact, we’d expect SEM professionals to spend 20 percentor more of their time reporting and analyzing data. If In cases where you’ve won an existing PPC account,you’re spending less than 20 percent of your time going granular means pulling up historical data such as:reporting and analyzing search data, you are probablymissing key information about your accounts. • The age of the account. • Average daily, weekly and monthly spending levels.Data analysis doesn’t have to be complicated and • Top, high-volume keywords.unintelligible. Use plain English to analyze data and • Top campaigns and ad groups.initiate a conversation with your clients. One of the most • CPCs and average positions of the top accountmeaningful areas of analysis is the relationship between elements.the website, keywords and ad-creatives. Your narrative • Past use of conversion tracking, Google Analytics,on how these elements are interacting can provide your cost per conversion settings or position rules.3 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 5. E-BookBest Practices in PPC Reporting #6: creating more opportunities for conversation and in so doing, building and strengthening your relationships.Establish the Right Report Frequency This is something that will vary from one client to the next.For paid search campaigns, we recommend reportingkey metrics at least weekly for each search engine inwhich you advertise. PPC metrics can change quickly asa result of changes in the search engine networks, your Best Practices in PPC Reporting #7:competitors’ ad strategies and a host of other factors. Customize For Every ClientWhen there’s a sudden change in PPC cost and/or ROI, itneeds to be addressed quickly. Nothing is more obvious – and annoying – to a client than a canned set of metrics and reports that areDaily reporting makes sense if the numbers that you’re transferred and used from one client to the next. Thisreporting are very large. Daily analysis can also help you type of one size fits all reporting approach casts aunderstand search traffic patterns by day of the week. negative light on your firm’s analytical abilities andFor example, do you know what changes to expect in immediately arouses suspicion for traffic over holidays? Daily analysis over theholidays can give you this insight. However, in some Every client calls for unique metrics and reporting thatcases, campaign data simply doesn’t change significantly include a variety of tables and graphs that are carefullyenough on a daily basis to warrant reporting every day. analyzed. To provide this, you must first focus on data that changes or stands out, not on data that remains theWe also suggest tracking total affiliate traffic and/or same week after week or month after month.conversions every day. It will help you pinpointunexpected problems with affiliate reporting or Reporting needs to be consistent from one period to themarketing strategy shifts by your top affiliates. It could next, highlighting the highs and lows for the period intake less than ten minutes per day to pull the data and question. Some data will be generated using automatedconfirm that things are on track. On top of that, a more tools, but report itself will be a mix of automated datain-depth weekly or monthly report enables you to and custom, actionable insight. Ianalyze trends by affiliate category.Increasing the frequency of your PPC reports cansometimes be beneficial for you and your clients, by4 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 6. E-Book Best Practices in PPC Reporting: Part II Excel Tips to Improve Efficiency sing a paid search management platform can save When using any Microsoft Office product such as Excel,U time and money, and also automate the reporting process. But if you are not using paid searchmanagement software and are using Excel, there are you should have one hand on the keyboard’s left side and one hand on the mouse. The reason why the left side is so important is that by using your pinky on CTRL,certain ways to increase your efficiency in analyzing and your other fingers can reach about 75% of the mostreporting data. Here are some general suggestions when important keyboard shortcuts you will use all of the time.using Excel: For example, CTRL + Z is undo, CTRL + X is Cut, CTRL + B is Bold, CTRL + A is Select All, etc. This is not only • Use keyboard shortcuts. They are a huge time saver. important for Excel, but for Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, At the end of this post is a printable cheat sheet of the etc. Master the left keyboard zone and you will be flying best ones. through every Office product like a pro. • Constantly save your work. This is a good idea for working with any software, but Excel can sometimes A comprehensive list of Excel keyboard shortcuts is freeze up with larger documents–especially if you’re available at using an older computer or working on many spreadsheets at the same time. free-excel-cheat-sheet/ • Freeze panes. Use the Freeze Panes feature to keep important column or row headers on the screen In addition to the keyboard shortcuts, weve included two when you scroll down or right. advanced Excel tools that are commonly used in PPC • Hide anything you don’t need. If you’re just working reporting: Pivot Tables and Secondary Chart Axes. on a few columns, go ahead and hide the rest of the data. It keeps the clutter down and you can work more streamlined this way. Pivot Tables • Format your document at the end. Don’t waste time stopping in the middle of a spreadsheet to get your fonts and colors set. You may end up changing them later and then you have double the work. • Use templates when possible. If you are constantly creating the same kind of report on a reoccurring basis, try building a “blank version” of it and saving it as one of your custom templates. That way, instead of starting from scratch, you already have the format ready to go.Excel cheat sheet: keyboard shortcutsKeyboard Shortcuts are absolutely crucial to beingproficient and efficient with Microsoft Excel From flippingthrough worksheets to inserting columns or even spellchecking, the seconds gained from using shortcuts notonly adds up to hours over the course of the year, butalso doesn’t wear you out on things you can be doing inhalf the time.5 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 7. E-BookSuppose youre starting with the Google Adwords Five More EssentialPlacement/Keywords Performance report above. Amongthe many questions you have, youd like to know which AdWords Reportskeywords got the most impressions. In addition to the AdWords Keyword Report, we’vePivot tables allow you to quickly extract meaningful identified the following five AdWords reports thatinformation by easily changing columns, rows and filters when used effectively, can provide the majority of in-to get useful insights. To convert a regular data table into sight necessary to analyze your accounts on a day-to-a pivot table, highlight your table then go to the “Insert” day basis.ribbon and choose “Pivot Table.” A “Create Pivot Table”dialogue box will open to confirm your data source and 1. The Search Query Reportwhere you want the pivot table generated. The default This report shows you the query that was actuallyoption is in a new worksheet, but you can choose typed into a search engine that led to your ad being“Existing Worksheet” and pick a cell to begin the displayed. You should use the Search Query Report toinsertion. From there, you have to choose your columns, find words that are not converting, yet are consumingrows and values from the “Field List.” You now also your ad-spend dollars. When you find such words, addhave two extra ribbons for Pivot Table Tools, Options and them as negative keywords. Then use the report toDesign. find words that are converting, yet are not keywords in your account. Add these words as keywords so thatFor our example above, heres how youd build the pivot you can bid on these words based upon their actualtable: returns. Remember, your broad match keywords willDrag the Placement/Keyword field into the Row Labels never convert higher than your exact match and the Impressions field into the Values box. Then, We recommend running this report every other Tues-drag the Ad Distribution field into the Report Filter box. day to conduct additional keyword and negative key-The pivot table is built. The last thing to do is to choose word research.Search Only from the report filter (so you see keywords,not placements) and click on the first impression value 2. The Placement Performance Reportlisted and click the ZA down arrow to sort from largest to This report shows you the sites and individual URLssmallest. where your content ads have been placed and is only useful if you’re advertising on the content network. The first time you run this report, include the actual URLs where your ad has been shown then click on the URLs and look at the actual pages where your ads have been shown. If your ad is not being placed on the correct types of pages, then you should examine the keywords triggering your content ads. We recommend running this report every Wednesday to examine changes in cost per conversion, conversion rate and total conversions for bid changes purposes. Every other Wednesday, ex- amine sites you wish to block or add as placements. 3. The Ad Text Report This report shows you all the ads that you are using along with associated metrics such as CTR or cost per conversion. Use this report when running any ad copyWhat if you wanted to find out which ad groups had the tests. In addition, run this report occasionally to findmost impressions? An account with even just 10-30 ads that are performing below the averages for yourcampaigns might easily have 100-200 ad groups. You account. Then go to those ad groups and write newcould go back to Adwords and pull an ad group report ads to test which ones perform better. You can alsoand then filter and sort. But that would take time. With use the Ad Text Report to see metrics for other adthe current pivot table, just drag the Ad Group field into types, such as video or image ads. If you are runningthe Row Labels box and you have the data you need. video ads, upload multiple static images (with the same video) to see which opening image has a higher6 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 8. E-Book play rate, CTR and cost per conversion. We recom-When it comes to pivot tables, it’s important to use the mend running this report every Thursday to finalizemost granular data you have available because pivot tests or create new text ads and every Friday to final-tables will aggregate values if there’s a common ize landing page tests, create new landing pages andconnection between the data you’re looking at. For create new landing page tests.example, a pivot table will know that you have 100keywords in the “Branded Terms” ad group because 4. The Geographic Performance Reporteven though the source table is at the keyword level, This report provides data about where your ads are beingthey all have “Branded Terms” listed as the ad group. shown and the associated metrics by geography. Even ifThe pivot table will recognize that and aggregate them you are a national advertiser, it can be beneficial to writetogether. Therefore, a best practice is always to get the ads for specific local areas. For example, one of Google’smost granular data into a pivot table as it will be able to Quality Score metrics is CTR by geographic region. Ifcalculate the higher level groups as long as these your ads do well in San Francisco but poorly in New Yorkconnections exist. You can even pull the source data at City, then your ad will be shown more in San Franciscothe day level and group them into weeks, months and and less in New York City. However, the New York Cityyears so you can see that information quickly in your metro area makes up more than 10 percent of the entirepivot table. U.S. population. Therefore, a lack of exposure in that ge- ography can significantly lower your total consumerSecondary Chart Axes base. We recommend running this report monthly, al-Have you ever been confused by an Excel chart with two though if you are a regional business, then weekly isdata sets yet only one vertical axis? Here’s how you can more appropriate.implement a secondary axis on the chart for the seconddata set. First, select the data on the chart you want to 5. The Impression Share Reportplot to see the “Chart Tools” tabs at the top of Excel. Onthe “Format” tab in the “Current Selection” group, click“Format Selection.” Then look for the “Series Options”tab and under “Plot Series On” click “Secondary Axis”and then click “Close.” To find impression share data, you must run a cam- paign report and select the following reporting options: impression share (IS); lost IS (rank); lost IS (budget); and exact match (IS). Once you’ve generated the report, you will see how many impressions you are losing and why you are losing them. For example, if you are losing impression due to budget, then you can easily deter- mine how many more impressions you would receive ifOn the left chart, it’s hard to really know the values of the you increased your budget. This is very useful for deter-blue line (Dollar). On the right chart, now that the mining what your account could spend based on thesecondary axis has been enabled, the values are easy to current keywords in your account. We recommend run-see. I ning this report monthly to guide your next month’s ac- count performance improvement strategy. Note: While these five reports are easy to run, they are most effective when combined with the AdWords con- version tracking script. This is a different feature than what you find in Google Analytics. The conversion tracking script sends data from your website back to AdWords so that you can see conversion information in your AdWords reports.7 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 9. E-Book Best Practices in PPC Reporting: Part III Case Study The AdWords Keyword Report oogle offers numerous AdWords reports that You should remember however, that just because aG allow you to view more data than most people have time to analyze. The AdWords KeywordReport should be your starting place for analyzing keyword is not on page one doesn’t necessarily mean that you should raise your bid to get it there. If you cannot be profitable on page one then you need tokeyword data and shows metrics by individual keywords decide if the keyword is effective on page two. If not, youwithin your account. The main data points to examine need to optimize the landing page, ad text or otherwhen reviewing information by keyword are: factors for this keyword before you raise your bid to be on page one. The following section provides an in-depth • Impressions look at each of these three functions. • Clicks • CTR (clickthrough) Setting Maximum CPC • Conversions • Cost per conversion (CPA) If you use the AdWords conversion tracker, you can see • Conversion rate your conversion metrics such as cost per conversion, • Value per click ROI and total conversions for every keyword. This is the data that you will use to set maximum CPCs for everyEach keyword in your account should help you reach keyword in your account. As such, perhaps the mostyour marketing goals. It is essential to understand how useful column in the Keyword Report is “Value/Click”,each keyword performs, converts and helps you achieve which shows the total revenue that a keyword brought toyour goals. When you want to know detailed information your company divided by the number of clicks that theabout any keyword, the Keyword Report should be the keyword received. Essentially, it’s your breakeven CPC. Iffirst place you look to see the appropriate metrics. you bid based upon ROI, then the formula for setting a bid is:You can have this report automatically created andemailed to you as a reminder it’s time to examine Max CPC = (value/click)/desired ROIkeyword level data. You should regularly examine yourQuality Scores, first page bids, and maximum CPCs to For example, if your value per click is $2.00 and you wantlearn from your account and make adjustments as a 200 percent ROI on your account, then the formula is:necessary so that you can extract the most value fromyour AdWords account. $1.00 = ($2.00 /2)There are three ways to use the Keyword Report: If you have a hard cost of goods, then you need to take margins into account before you see your true value per • Set bids based upon cost per conversion or other click. If you are a profit-based bidder, you will use metrics within your established bid methodology. different formulas for determining your bids; however, • Identify low Quality Score keywords with the starting data is the exact same as ROI bidding. disproportionately high spends and use that data to better optimize your Quality Scores. • Find keywords that are not appearing on page one of Understanding your Quality Score searches. There are many times it is more profitable—and8 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 10. E-Booksmarter—to work on raising your quality score over Next, look for ad groups with low Quality Scores andraising your bids. If your quality score is under 5, then high spends. When you find them, examine the Qualityyou shouldn’t even be worrying about your bids. If your Score factors to see which ones you can improve.quality score is five to seven, then you should beworking on both. If your quality score is seven or higher, Now, look for ad groups with low quality scores and highthen you will have to make most of your rank changes spends. In the above example, you would make muchbased upon changing your max CPCs; however, you better use of your time working on the ad group that hasshould also be testing ad copy for both quality score and spent $20,874 with a quality score of 5 than ad group 1conversion purposes. which has spend of just $25 or ad group 12 that has an average quality score of 7.12.Quality Score is kept at the keyword level for search. Ifyou have a large account, it can be difficult to find the When you find ad groups that have high spends and lowbest places to start working on Quality Score. This is quality scores, examine the quality score factors to seewhere pivot tables can help. Run a keyword report and which ones you can improve.include a minimum of keyword, quality score,impressions, and spend. Next, put the data into a pivot First Page Bidstable so that you can see the average of quality scoreand the sum of cost for each ad group: The first page bid estimates how much you need to bid for your keywords to appear on page one in all the geographies your ad appears. If you are advertising to a small region, then the first page bid is fairly accurate. The larger your geography, the less accurate the first page bid becomes. For example, if your first page bid is $1.00 in Fargo, ND, but $3.00 in Chicago and you only bid $1.25, your ad will be on page one in Fargo but below page one in Chicago. Unfortunately, you cannot see first page bids broken down by geography – Google only provides a single number per keyword. In the previous example, Google would display $3.00 as the first page bid since it is the highest amount across all geographies even though a lower bid gets your ad on page one in less competitiveNote that this provides an average of all the keywords geographies (such as Fargo, ND). You can usewithin an ad group. If your keywords have very different conditional formatting in Excel to easily see whatimpression rates in an ad group, rather than using the keywords are not on page one.average of all the keyword Quality Scores, add a column toyour Keyword Report that is called “Real Quality Score” While you should set bids based on performance data,that is calculated by the formula Quality there may be cases when your keywords never getScore*Impressions. Then in the pivot table, divide enough page one exposure for you to know if thoseimpressions by Real Quality Score. This will give you the keywords would perform well there. Use the Keywordaverage Quality Score for your ad groups normalized by Report to look for places where your first page bid is below your max CPC. Iimpressions.9 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350
  • 11. E-BookAcquisio is the worlds leading provider of performance marketing solutions for agencies. Its flagship product,Acquisio SEARCH, helps marketers manage, optimize and automate all their paid search activities across all searchengines. The platform also automates the production of slick and engaging client-ready reports, saving agenciessignificant amounts of time each month on their reporting activities. Other solutions include landing page creationand testing platform Acquisio PAGES, and Acquisio Managed Services. Acquisios suite of solutions empowers over300 interactive agencies around the world, providing them with increased productivity, efficiency and ROI. Learnmore at www.acquisio.com465 Victoria, Suite 300Saint Lambert, QCCanadaJ4P 2J2toll-free: +1.866.493.9070direct: +1.450.465.2631fax: +1.450.465.2841 Search Marketing Now webcasts and white papers provide authoritative and actionable education about search engine marketing issues. Register today for one of our free webcasts covering topics about search engine optimiza- tion, paid search advertising and search marketing in general. Search Marketing Now is a division of Third Door Media, which publishes web sites, and produces in-person events and webcasts. Each of the four brands - Search Engine Land, Search Marketing Expo, Search Marketing Now, and Sphinn - fosters continuing education, evolution and engagement for the community we serve.10 © 2009 Third Door Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved • Email: • (203) 664-1350