Hello Manchester! I’m Dave Karellen, Head of Paid Search at Click Consult. Today we’re going to be talking about the evolution of Paid Search, and what it takes to make your account a success in 2017. I’m going to touch on a number of new areas and perhaps fresh ways of looking at others, and hopefully give you some tips and techniques that you’ll be able to take home and use to take your accounts to the next level. Paid Search has come a very long way since the concept began, and the speed at which the landscape is changing is only increasing too. However, despite all this change there have always been core skills that have stayed at the heart of Paid Search.
Paid Search is unique in it’s ability to require a mix of left and right brain skills, which also makes recruiting the best staff a challenge. While the techniques have changed over time, these core skills have stayed as important as ever, and are roughly broken down into two skill areas: On the left side of the brain is Data - essentially how to look for the right data, how to interpret it and action it, and then knowing how to correctly test and refine as you optimise. On the right side of the brain is the Creativity skill- At the end of the day, this is advertising, and while we may overall be more ‘math men’ than ‘mad men’, a creative spark can have impacts on click through rate which no amount of data analysis can provide. So today, we’re going to be looking at how these two skills have remained absolutely crucial to PPC, despite the ways in which we leverage these skills having changed considerably.
So let’s dive right in and look first at data. There are two main focusses on data we’ll look at today, these are firstly finding the correct data to analyse, and then the subsequent testing. So, to look first at choosing which data to use and how to identify the correct trends so we can act on this accordingly. One of the actionable trends can be hourly performance changes, actionable due to day parting bid modifiers. But a lot of the time, the trends are not immediately apparent, and often the important trends lie just below the surface and you have to know where to look to find them.
<ad lib> As with all trends, they are pointless unless you can action them. Since tablet and desktop bid adjustments were introduced last year, you are able to effectively create device specific campaigns, which haven’t been possible since the days before enhanced campaigns. This is achieved by using -100% modifiers on tablet and mobile for a desktop only campaign, and so on.
<ad lib> Of course millennials will be more prepared to to use phones to complete a transaction than the older generations, it’s common sense! You see, many people think data analysis is all about being extremely technically minded, in fact it’s all about common sense. In this age of of big data, there are thousands of trends that can be examined, but it takes common sense to realise which of these will actually be useful, and which to analyse in detail. Of course people are going to use different devices differently, it’s very basic consumer behaviour. Data analysis is much more about tapping into the customer behaviour.
More common sense data analysis can arise when you look at leveraging audience segments in Google Analytics. These audience segments can be used to set RLSA bid adjustments in AdWords, again insights are only important if you can put them into action. So if we find an audience segment we don’t like the look of with a poor conversion rate, we can exclude or reduce our Paid Search competitiveness when these audiences return. Conversely, if there’s a high value audience we identify, then we can increase our competitiveness for these visitors. But there’s thousands of data segments in Google Analytics! How will you possibly know which ones to examine and prioritise? Many at this point would feel the only way forward is to place everything in the hands of fully automated enterprise level tools, but this isn’t possible for smaller advertisers. Instead, it again boils down to common sense, and realising that it’s consumer behaviour behind the numbers.
<ad lib> Not every advertiser can afford enterprise level bid automation software, and so these techniques help bridge the gap for these advertisers by ensuring that they optimise beyond keyword level bidding. So while the data landscape might have broadened, the core concept hasn’t changed, the challenge has always been knowing where to look for the overall trends, deciding how to act on them is the easy part. With thousands of factors to consider, it’s important to not become overwhelmed and instead focus on understanding the audience behind the numbers to decide where makes sense to look.
So once we’ve identified which data trends to act upon, the question has always been exactly how we act on them, whether it’s the keyword bids we’ve always had to deal with, or new audience segments. The truth is that there is never a universally correct answer, and the only way to find out is by testing.
A/B testing has always been the gold standard for Paid Search, and all advertisers worth their salt have been using this for years with ad copy and landing page testing. But until recently, it’s been difficult to achieve true A/B tests on scale for keyword bidding. You could set up an old style AdWords Experiment, but these were quite restrictive in scalability. You may have been able to easily set up the odd test of top keywords with two different bids in an A/B test to judge which worked best, but this was the furthest most would be prepared to take this. However, with the advent of draft and experiment campaigns, this has opened for the doors for testing en masse. Rather than just testing individual keywords with different bids, we should be thinking bigger.
Instead, start thinking about A/B testing your entire strategies to see which works best. Say you’re torn between two different bid strategies, one which tries to set bids based on focussing on the conversion rate, and calculating what the max CPC should be to result in the target CPA being satisfied at current conversion rate, and another which looks at the deviation between current CPA and target CPA, and makes adjustments to the bid based on the size of the discrepancy. You can perform the two different bid optimisations upon the campaigns, and then with the two new sets of bids, set them up against each other as an experiment to judge which one best improves the bottom line. One of the biggest issues with testing single keywords is that the bigger picture doesn’t get considered, traffic could simply migrate to other keywords if bids are too low, however, large scale tests can pave the way for ambitious changes to your account that previously advertisers have been too scared to attempt.
This also allows us to put to the test some of the more interesting questions, such as should I rely on my manual bidding strategies, or instead make the move to an automated bid strategy, be that built into Google’s bid strategies in AdWords, or even enterprise level bid management software. <ad lib on ‘it’s what makes sense for YOUR account’>
Now, let’s move from data to the right brain skill- creativity. Now creativity has always been at the heart of Paid Search. You can analyse trends forever, but if you don’t have a compelling ad copy to attract customers then you will only fail. For PPC, creativity is all about the art of catching people’s eye.
In the old days, you had to make do with very little ad space to get your message across, and as relevancy has to be satisfied above all else, there left very little room for any creative tests. Today, we don’t have any problems with a lack of ad space, instead, we are faced with more ad space characters than most know what to do with. Expanded text ads coupled with the wide array of ad extensions are the greatest gifts online advertisers have been afforded in recent years, but rather than embrace the change, the majority are paralysed by the choices available after spending so long making do with a limiting space. The answer for me at least is simple, this extra space is the perfect platform to give creativity in ads the centre stage it’s always deserved. Relevancy, call to actions, and descriptive text can all easily be satisfied within the ad space with enough left over for more than a sprinkle of creativity. Then the question, is why so many advertisers have still neglected this fundamental ingredient to PPC. The only acceptable answer would be a lack of quick scalability.
The solution to this scalability problem is to leverage one of what is in my opinion, the most undervalued update in Google’s recent releases. These are the ad customisers within the business data section of AdWords. These allow you to leverage signals such as time of day, audience, device, and location to dynamically insert elements into your ad copy, without having to create multiple ads and diluting your data. <ad lib>
Many advertisers instead focussed on the coinciding release of the IF statements. <ad lib>
Creativity turns relevancy into personalisation without crossing that boundary into consumer’s feelings of privacy invasion. None of these examples are saying “hello John, 34, why not buy some jewellery for your wife Janine, 32 today?” It is simply acknowledging the different factors, even if a user were to think to themselves, ‘hey maybe this ad has been personalised based on the fact it’s late at night”, that doesn’t make them feel as though their privacy has been invaded, it isn’t designed to increase feelings of being personally followed on the web.
Personalisation is the new playground for creativity, and leveraging this is key to ongoing success. While creativity has always been a core skill of PPC, it is only today that we can really harness it effectively. Personalisation allows us to mass produce creativity and overcome the scalability issues.
So, to sum up, while the specific techniques used will constantly evolve with time, if you maintain those two skills sets around data analysis and creativity and keep thinking about how best to adapt them to the changing landscape, that should set you all up for anything the future of Paid Search throws at you.
Thank you everyone, I hope you’ve found this useful above all else. I’m looking forward to seeing your tweets on creative joke book ads, and I’d love to hear any questions you may have. Thank you.
Data and Creativity in Paid Search
Data and Creativity in Paid Search
Dave Karellen Head of Paid Search
“Paid Search is the unique mix of left and right brain skills”
The Future Of Ad Customisers
Demographic personalisation seems the next obvious step
Personalisation allows us to mass produce creativity
Honing these skills is the best way to future proof your Paid Search campaigns
1. Apply common sense to find actionable trends
2. Split campaigns by device to leverage different trends
3. Add in Google Analytics data segments as RLSA audiences
4. Test big with AdWords Experiments- test strategies, not keywords.
5. Be creative whenever possible in ad copy to stand out
6. Use data feeds to create ad customisers rather than focussing on IF statements for scalability
7. Personalise ads with signals from location, time, device, and audience
8. Make use of your own business data to help personalise ad copy
9. Keep looking for new ways to apply data analysis and creativity skills to the changing Paid Search landscape.
Dave Karellen Head of Paid Search