Hello, interwebs! This month I’ll be busting 10 PPC Myths, so you can see I’ve fashioned myself a little baret and goatee a la Jamie Hyneman from Myth Busters. We are from the same town and went to the same college, so I thought I’d continue to follow in his footsteps for this presentation.
So, I hear all the time from people just starting out in PPC and some that have even been around for a bit that Analytics is intimidating because of how difficult it is to use. But, it’s really not hard to use at all, and the intimidation shouldn’t stop you from diving in and setting up stuff that can really help you manage your accounts, because you’ll see how easy it really is to navigate and use. To bust this myth, I’ll show you how to do what I hear people groaning about being too complicated the most: custom reports.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say Display is really expensive, or too expensive for an account manager to test in their accounts. I can understand this if your search campaigns are all limited by budget and they’re all totally killing your goals. Then, why bother since you’re already having to limit stellar performance in search? That’s fine, but more often I see lots of search campaigns that aren’t being limited or aren’t hitting goals and accounts with lots of budget that could be better spent. To give one example, I was running an account audit on an account that was having issues with super high cost per conversions. Their click costs were in the twenty dollar range. Their budget was unlimited as long as goals were being met, and they were being capped by bad performance in Search. When I asked, “well, what results have you seen with Display?” I got the myth I’m about to bust wide open: “It’s too expensive!”. I set up a test campaign in Display for this account, and we saw their click costs in Display were in the one dollar range. Saving $19 a click was HUGE for this account. Through advanced targeting, we were able to target a small, qualified audience in this account and see a much lower CPA compared to search. I’ll get more into how we did this exactly in the next Myth
So, this ties in with the last myth, but the myth that Display is terrible for direct response is silly. There are so many ways to target specific, highly qualified audience members with advanced targeting that it’s really all I can say about it—it’s a silly myth! Let’s look at some of these ways and some real life examples. First, where I normally like to start out: different layering of Interest Categories, Topics, and Contextual Marketing with different ad types with specific reach Display settings. My ideal situation is one where I can set up a campaign for each individual layering option. So, if I were selling different products for an ecommerce site, and one of these products happened to be puppies, I’d set up campaigns like “puppies, ICM, Puppies, ICM & Contextual, Puppies Topic, Puppies Topics & Contextual, Puppies ICM & Topics”, etc. I’d pick out all of the topics and interested categories that make sense for puppies like Pets & Animals, Pets & Animals > Pets, etc. Then I make keyword lists revolving around buying cycle, as I’ve found that normally gets different sites. So, I might do a keyword list that targets information about puppies. “Puppy breed information, puppy care information, what you need to know about owning a puppy, etc”. Another list could be about finding a breeder, so they’ve moved from finding information to finding a breeder. “Puppy breeders, Dog Breeder, Dog Breeder Information etc” and maybe one about adopting as well since that’s targeting a different kind of buyer in the same stage—someone who is more likely to adopt than buy a puppy. Still might be worth targeting, but I’d like to keep them separate because I expect the performance to be different. Then I’ll target keywords around actually looking to purchase a puppy. “Buy A puppy, Find A Puppy To Buy, Puppy for Sale, etc.”
After you’ve got all this research, you can rather easily, in the editor, apply the topics to the campaigns and ad groups you’ve intended to target. So, you’ll have a campaign that reads “Puppy Topics”. You’ll have an ad group for Puppy Pets & Animals Image ads, an ad group for puppy pets & animals text ads, an ad group for pets & animals > pets text and another for image. Your campaign for Puppy Topics & Contextual will have an ad group for each topic paired with each contextual keyword list for each ad type. Like I said, this is my ideal way to structure Display campaigns because it allows for advanced, segmented targeting while using automatic placements to cast a wide net on the web. Frequent placement reports to weed out terrible placements and monitoring performance so you can adjust bids and/or pause areas that don’t meet performance standards will allow you find the areas that do work really well for you. It might be that targeting people who are on sites that match our contextual keyword list for people researching puppy breeders on sites listed with the topic Animals & Pets – Pets turns out to be really profitable, but the contextual marketing keyword list by itself just places you on a lot of junk sites that make it difficult for you to keep up on the placement reports for.
But, I get it, this is a lot of work. If you aren’t looking to cast that wide of a net, automatic placements make you super nervous, or you only have a wee test budget for Display, it might make more sense for you to just approach with a managed placements strategy. You can do research to find a handful of sites you want to target through competitor research, good ‘ol Google searches, and/or Google’s Ad Planner. All three ways will help you find sites that you are sure people who are browsing it will be interested in whatever goods or services you’re slinging, and target just those sites. That will allow a much smaller scale Display test that’s still targeted to a qualified audience. So, I promised you a client example. One client of ours, a lead generation client, has one Display campaign that generated 40% of July’s leads for them at a CPL that was 11% lower than the account’s CPL as a whole. How’s that for great direct response metrics?!
So, this is a HUGE myth, because I hear it all the time and it’s just so unfounded. The biggest thing here for me is lower CPCs in AdCenter which leads to lower costs per acquisitions if the conversion rate is at least the same as Google. I’ve often found, however, that conversion rates are higher for Bing and Yahoo search properties only than in Google. This is due to my second bullet point here, that the audience is much different in AdCenter. You have to think of the type of people who would choose to use Bing or Yahoo over Google. The psychology there is different, which should make you want to write different ads, bid on different keywords, etc. than in your Google account. But, to make things super easy for you to set up your AdCenter account, they offer an import feature in the AdCenter desktop editor that allows you to input your Google AdWords account information and import whatever campaigns, ad groups, keywords, and ads you want from AdWords. You can even do a find and replace for the destination URLs if you’re using custom tagging to change the source. Of course, I’d suggest customizing the account for AdCenter over time for the special audience that Bings it, but the import function lets you set your structures and get everything uploaded quickly. And, if any of you read Sam Owen’s Blog Post “5 Ways AdCenter beats AdWords”, you’ll already be familiar with this bit, but there are several options that come with AdCenter that are better than their counterparts in Google. To touch on those quickly, AdCenter allows for more in depth Quality Score reporting by offering a historic, downloadable report that will show you a timeline when your Quality Score dropped so you can diagnose it. They also provide a readily available Negative Keywords Conflict Report so you can see when you have negative keywords that are blocking good traffic for you. They provide a Share of Voice report that show you the exact reasons for losing impressions, like budget, rank, bid, etc. This one is my total favorite: being able to target only search partners if you want to, and being able to download a report that shows specific search partner metrics AND you’re allowed to block certain search partners like Display Network placements. It’s super fabulous, and I love it. Lastly, you can set monthly budgets so you don’t have to come back and tweak daily budgets depending on the month and actual account spend to ensure you don’t go over your budgets. So, if you’re not convinced yet that you should get an AdCenter account STAT, here’s some metrics for one of our clients that run in both platforms: Month to date for August, we’ve got 73 sales in Google at $81.11 each. In AdCenter, we’ve got 19 sales at $47.74 each. That’s a $.78 CPC for Google and a $.29 CPC for AdCenter. So, while the volume is at 26% of Google’s, the CPA is 59% of the CPA in Google. I’ll take an additional 26% of the volume of Google, but 41% cheaper for just a little extra work all day long!!
I have to admit that I’m guilty of buying into this myth myself. I’m setting up a new campaign with super strict cost per acquisition goals, and I think “I just can’t afford to waste money on broad!” This might be a good strategy to begin with, but what happens when you’ve finished building your account, you’re hitting cost goals, but your volume is teeny tiny? This is where broad match comes in and saves the day. If you’re looking for expansion and you don’t have broad match keywords, this is your first stop, and if you’re starting a new account with volume as the key performance indicator, then this should be your first stop. Broad match should go into their own campaigns, because there’s a good chance they’ll have worse quality score, and you don’t want your campaign quality scores to bring down the rest of your keywords. You should also make sure to include all the phrase and exact match versions of your broad keywords as negatives to ensure you’re not getting a lot of cross traffic and dirtying up your data. Then, you want to do frequent search query reports immediately after implementing your broad matches. Well, maybe not immediately since it’ll probably take a bit for the search queries to actually show up, but as soon as they’re available! Use the SQRs to find converting keywords to add in and to find crappy keywords to block. By targeting synonyms and related searches, you could find a whole slew of keywords that you hadn’t thought of targeting before that work for your account. And, I should also note, modified broad match is a really lovely match type. If you haven’t got broad or modified broad keywords in your account and you just can’t get over the anxiety behind bidding on broad match keywords, I would highly suggest adding modified broad matches in first. They’ll have better metrics than broad, for sure, but you’re still losing those synonyms and related searches you’ll get with broad. But, it might get you used to the broad match waters enough to dive in. So, client example! Using a date range of June first to August 20th, I did a pivot table using keywords as the row label with sum of cost and sum of conversions, and then calculating the CPA. I found broad match keywords accounted for 51% of conversions in the account and had only a 16.73% higher CPA. So, ideally, I’d start cutting that % of conversions down by adding these keywords being triggered by broad match that are converting as exact or phrase matches in order to cut the overall CPA down, but I think these numbers show how much broad match keywords can increase your overall volume.
Our next myth is about quality score. I think there are a lot of myths about quality score out there, because it’s sort of a mysterious algorithm that Google doesn’t readily share with us. But the one I hear most often is that click-through rate is what Quality Score is all about, and that’s the only thing you really need to focus on. And, this just isn’t true. You can click the little speech bubbles by your keywords to get more information about its quality score and what comprises it. You can see CTR plays a part, but so does ad relevance and landing page experience. Not on this little snapshot is the campaign and account quality scores as well as any quality score limitations set on your industry, all of which also influence a particular keyword’s quality score. Since this myth is based on people focusing on CTR to fix quality score, I won’t go into that, but ad relevance can be manipulated through using keywords in your ads and having super tightly themed ad groups. This allows you to write ads that all keywords in the ad group are highly relevant to. For instance, if you write an ad about purple coffee mugs, but you have keywords about purple coffee cups, that keywords isn’t super relevant to the ad anymore. Google might give it a lower quality score. The landing page experience looks at the site’s load time (which you can look into in Analytics), keywords found on the page through Google’s web crawling spiders, and bounce rates (which you can also look into in Analytics). You basically want to have a fast loading site that uses the keywords you’re bidding on and people seem to like. Having a lot of crappy quality score keywords in the same campaign will cause Google to lower your campaign quality score, which will make new keywords in that campaign start with lower quality scores. The same logic applies to the account as a whole. If you have loads of low quality score keywords in the account, the account wide quality score will look bad, so any new keyword, even if you break out to a new campaign in efforts to break out ad groups and increase quality scores, will start out crappy. And further more, some industries have been given a crappy quality score to start with. Google will be like “yeah, your industry is bad and you should feel bad”. I know that I have a client in pharmaceuticals and have spoken with others who have clients in that industry, and we’re all suffering from super low quality scores despite having all of our other quality score ducks in a row. So, you can see, there’s a LOT more than just CTR that goes into quality score, and you have to work on all of it to see increases in your quality scores.
So, I hear this all the time. You should split out mobile because of how different the user behavior and website experience is on the device, but tablet is the same as desktop so don’t worry about splitting it out. And of course, I can’t tell you that this is the case for every single account, but in my accounts I’ve seen a difference that warrants breaking it out to control bids on it separately. And to me, this makes a lot of sense because people use tablets in different ways than they use desktops and laptops. They’re more likely to be on the move and more casual, like at a restaurant, lounging on their couch or in bed. Desktops are used a lot for work purposes, so you might be targeting someone more likely to be on break at work.
So, since this is pretty much a put your money where your mouth is sort of myth bustin’, here’s the client example: Looking in Analytics, I’ve used segments to divide my mobile traffic and tablet traffic to compare to “all visits”. You can see, looking at the ecommerce conversion rates, that tablet has a significantly higher conversion rate than mobile and “all traffic” as a higher per visit value. It would be well worth my time to split tablet out to its own campaigns to bid up to higher positions since the higher conversion rate would allow that.
This is another one that I’ve been guilty of myself, thinking that Ads should be in the top 3 positions. When you log in and see ad positions in 4s and 5s or lower, you think “ack! I’m buried on the side or on page 2! No one can even see me!” But, in reality you should let the data tell you what the best ad position is. Sean Quadlin did a nice tutorial video blog on how to use pivot tables to find your account’s optimal average position. This method lets you use the data to tell you what’s best, not some dumb myth! So, I followed Sean’s tutorial for an account, and I came out with this screenshot here. You can see on the left is my avg. position, which is segmented over 90 days by week for one campaign in the account. While my CTR very much increased with avg. position, my conversion rate and cost/conv was most optimal in the range of position 5.2 to 6.2. You can add whatever you want to this, so maybe I want to factor in number of conversions as well if volume is more important than cost/conv. And maybe I want to do this by every half position to get more segmented. It’s up to you, but the point here is that top 3 isn’t always the best for your account, and you have to do some analysis to let the data do the decision making on what ad position you want to target.
For my last PPC myth, I’m going to bust the myth that Remarketing Images should follow the same best practices as regular Display images. People just clump these together. Images ads are image ads, right? Wrong! The difference is in who you’re targeting. For standard Display image ads, you’re targeting people who you’re hoping at interested in your goods or services, but probably have never been to your site. But with remarketing, you’re targeting people who have been to your site and therefore have some degree of familiarity with your product. For the most part, they’re people who didn’t convert or at least people you think need to convert again, like a subscription based service around the time their subscription is about to expire. Building images that are super brand heavy will, subconsciously or consciously, begin to build brand recognition with that person. They’ll think about your service more, and that will lead to more conversions. You do this by building remarketing ads that match your site. Same colors, same design element, and heavy on your branded logo. We recently had a client that decided to test some standard Display ads for remarketing. They had very branded ads that were performing well, but they wanted to test some other ads that had their logo much smaller and didn’t match the site at all. The performance tanked with the new ads, so we talked them into letting us make new ads, but ones that were more brand heavy. We saw a conversion rate on the regular Display ads of .90% and a cost/conversion of $109.38. With the new branded ads, we saw a conversion rate of 1.62% with a $52.47 cost/conversion. The new branded ads also brought 40% more conversion than the regular Display ads. The data speaks for itself, but I’ve seen similar results with branded vs. regular display best practices ads in other accounts as well!
Alright, so we’re all myth busted out. Here is your list of resources for going back and busting these myths yourself in your own accounts. Feel free tophotoshop yourself as Jamie or Adam Savage for motivation.
And here’s the information we have so far on next month’s webinar. Sean Quadlin will host jointly with wordstream on a topic to be announced on September 13th.
1. Analytics Is Complicated To Use• Intimidation from a lack of use• Lots of data doesn’t always = hard to navigate• Myth Bustin’!; Custom Reports Live Demo
2. Display Is Really Expensive• This myth only holds true if your account is totally killing goals and limited by budget without Display.• Click costs can be way lower than Search• Advanced targeting allows reaching out to a smaller, more qualified audience.
3. Display is Terrible For Direct Response• Topics, ICM, Contextual, & Ad Type layering: Specific Reach – Select Topics & Interest Categories that are applicable – Make keyword theme lists around stages in the buying cycle
3. Display is Terrible For Direct Response Campaign Puppy – Topics & Contextual Pets & Animals – Ad Groups Pets & Animals – Breeder Research Adoption – Image Research – Text Pets & Animals – Pets & Animals – Breeder ResearchPets & Animals – Puppy Research – – TextBreeder Research Image Pets & Animals –– Text Buy Stage– Image Pets & Animals – Pets & Animals – Adoption Breeder Research Pets & Animals – Research – Image – Image Buy Stage – Text
3. Display is Terrible For Direct Response • Managed Placement Approach – Perfect for small budgets – Small, targeted audience – Possible research avenues: competitors, Google, and Google Ad Planner
4. adCenter Isn’t Worth My Time• Lower CPCs from less competition• A different type of audience• Import feature in editor• Some features that are BETTER than Google’s (See Sam Owen’s “5 Ways adCenter Beats AdWords” Blog Post)• Client example!
6. Quality Score Is All About CTR• Speech Bubbles!• Ad Relevance = tightly themed ad groups & keyword use in the ads• Landing Page Experience = fast load times, keywords on the page, low bounce rates• Campaign, Account, and Industry quality scores
7. Tablet Performs Like Desktop• Different user behaviors, just like the difference between mobile and desktop. – Breaking out allows different bidding and budget control• Client Example!
9. Ads Should Always Be In The Top 3 • Use a pivot table, a la Sean Quadlin, to find your account’s optimal average position
10. Remarketing Images & Display Images Should Follow The Same Best Practices• Change in targeting from stranger to the site to a previous visitor• Begin building (conscious or subconscious) brand recognition• Client Example!
Resources!• Sam Owen’s “5 Ways adCenter Beats AdWords”:http://www.ppchero.com/5-ways-adcenter- beats-adwords/• Sean Quadlin’s “Find Your PPC Account’s Optimal Average Position With Pivot Tables!”: http://www.ppchero.com/find-your-ppc-accounts- optimal-ad-position-with-pivot-tables/• The Ultimate Guide To Google AdWords Quality Score: http://www.ppchero.com/ultimate-guide-to-adwords- quality-score/
Next Webinar! September 13th Sean Quadlin Hosts with Wordstream More Info TBA