We help small and medium sized businesses advertise online efficiently and effectively.


Background: An Introduction to Bid Rules

June 18, 2012
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Bid rules are automated rules that an advertiser can put in place to regulate the bidding on a particular keyword. For example, a bid rule could tell the search engine to pause a keyword whenever its ROI drops below $1.00 or to increase the bid on a keyword whenever the keyword falls below an average position of 2.

For advertisers with extensive keyword lists and/or extremely clear goals, bid rules can be a good tool to manage accounts. Even better, they are now available for free within the Google interface, and come standard on such third party platforms as Kenshoo. However, bid rules can also cause a lot of problems, and consequently should be used with caution.



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Background: The Four Different Types of Keywords

June 11, 2012
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Not only are there a variety of keyword match types, but there are also different types or categories of keywords that are commonly used to help classify the different keywords within an account. Understanding the four different types of keywords will make it much easier to understand and plan the strategy for an account.

The different types of keywords, their definitions, and examples are as follows:

Brand Keywords – Brand keywords are keywords that contain the advertisers brand name (or brand terms, such as a slogan or trademark).

ex. Digital4startups

Non-Brand or Generic Keywords – Non-Brand keywords, also known as Generic keywords, do not contain the company’s brand term in them, nor do they contain the brand name of any other companies. These are generally the higher volume keywords.

ex. Digital marketing, search marketing, learn digital marketing

Conquesting Keywords – Conquesting keywords are keywords that contain a competitors name, product number/model, slogan, or anything else that would be immediately identified as being a competitor’s. More information on conquesting keywords.

ex. Search Engine Land, Google Adwords

Long-Tail Keywords – Long-Tail keywords are keywords containing 3 or more words that are lower volume terms. However, if a user were to search for one of these queries, the content being provided would likely be relevant to them. Long-tail keywords can include keywords for a specific article, media mention, or product. Long-tail keywords can overlap with any of the other keyword types.

ex. different types of keywords, adwords keyword match types, how to learn digital marketing best practices

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Background: A Note on Conquesting Keywords

June 5, 2012
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Conquesting Keywords refer to keywords that are competitor’s brand names or terms. Advertising on competitor’s keywords is a very contentious topic in the industry, but here are some words of wisdom:

1. Do NOT expect strong performance from a conquesting campaign. You won’t get it. Quality scores will be low, CTRs will be low, and CPCs will be high.

2. Put conquesting keywords in a different campaign from the rest of your account. Otherwise their poor performance will hurt your campaign history (and account history) throughout the rest of your account. If you can put them in a separate account, do so.

3. Be sure to check the laws of the country that you are advertising in before advertising on any competitor’s keywords. In the EU especially, the laws are stricter than they are in the US, for example.

4. Regardless, be sure you are not misleading the users in your ads. It’s against the rules to  do so. Don’t pretend to be another company or product – it will backfire. Even if you’re somehow able to run the ads, they still won’t convert.

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Background: Formulas Every Digital Marketer Must Know

May 31, 2012
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There aren’t many formulas (this isn’t physics), but the key formulas in digital marketing are absolutely crucial. Here is a quick cheat sheet to five formulas everyone in digital marketing should know:

CPC (cost per click) = cost/clicks

CTR (click through rate) = clicks/impressions

CVR (conversion rate) = conversions/clicks

ROI (return on investment) = (gain from investment – cost of investment)/cost of investment   a.k.a. profit/cost

% Change = (old-new)/old


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Background: What It Means To Bid

May 22, 2012
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Google AdWords, MSN, and Facebook all operate on the same principle: they all take advantage of an auction system.

While the amount you bid per click is the maximum amount you are willing to pay, 95% of the time, you do not wind up paying your bid. You usually will wind up paying less or significantly less than your bid for each click.

Why is this?

Google uses a combination of your bid and quality score to determine the ad rank of your particular ad for the particular search conducted by the user.  To do this, a quality score is calculated for your ad for each search. That quality score is then multiplied by your bid to determine the ad rank of your ad. The higher the ad rank, the higher the position. You then pay the ad rank of the ad below you divided by your quality score.

Quality Score x Max Bid = Ad Rank

Cost Per Click = Ad Rank of Ad in Position(a-1) / Quality Score, where a is the position of your ad

As a result, the cost per click of your ad will usually be less than what you bid for it.



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Background: The Most Important Digital Marketing Terminology

May 17, 2012
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There are a few basic abbreviations that everyone involved in digital marketing should know. Even if you do not run a digital marketing campaign yourself, it is still important to understand this terminology so that you can communicate with those who are running the campaigns.

Impression – A single instance of an ad appearing to a user

Click – When a user clicks on the ad

Conversion – A single instance of the completion of whatever action the advertiser wants the user to take; examples include purchases, sign-ups or leads

CPC – Cost per click – the amount the advertiser pays per click on the ad; is equivalent to cost/clicks

CTR – Click Through Rate – the percentage of users who see an ad that click on it; is equivalent to clicks/impressions

CVR – Conversion Rate – generally defined as the percentage of users who click on the ad who then complete a conversion; is equivalent to conversions/clicks; May also be defined as the percentage of users who see the ad who then complete a conversion, which would be equivalent to conversions/impressions

CPA – Cost Per Acquisition – the cost to acquire a customer; is equivalent to cost/acquisitions

Cost Per Conversion – the cost per conversion; is equivalent to cost/conversions

CPM – Cost Per Thousand Impressions – the cost per thousand impressions of an ad; a common metric and pricing system for non-CPC digital advertising, such as display advertising

ROI – Return on Investment – How much received per dollar spent; is equivalent to revenue/cost

Position – The position on the page the ad shows up in; A position of 1 indicates an ad is in the top position on the page. A position of 10 or lower will not show up on the first page. A position of 4 or lower will not show up above the organic results.


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Background: Networks: The Wide World of Facebook

May 16, 2012
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Facebook is not a search network. Unlike Google and MSN, it does not have a search component, nor does it have a network of sites on which it shows its ads (content network). Rather, Facebook only shows its ads on, and those ads are targeted based on users demographic and behavioral preferences. In other words, Facebook is another example of “pull advertising.” Users are NOT looking for an advertiser’s ad when they are on Facebook. As a result, it is up to the advertiser to a) get the user’s attention and b) (if linking to a non-facebook page) to give the user a reason to stop browsing facebook and go to their site.

Because Facebook is a pull advertising vehicle, I have not found it to be nearly as effective in driving off-site direct response as advertising on a push search network has been. Due to the fact that Facebook targets based on the information a user has in their profile or who they know versus the content of the page they are on when they see the ad, I have also found that Facebook is not nearly as effective in driving off-site direct response as the Google Display Network. However, Facebook is a wonderful branding play and is great at driving traffic and awareness. Had a good experience with Facebook ads driving off-site direct response? Please include your experience in the comments.

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Background: Networks: Google Display Network & Yahoo Display Network

May 15, 2012
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When it comes to cost-per-click (CPC) display advertising, the two main display networks are the Google Display Network (GDN) and the Yahoo Display Network. When we discussed the two main search networks, Google & MSN, we mentioned that MSN & Yahoo merged in 2010. As part of that merger, MSN took over the search advertising, while Yahoo took over MSN’s display network. As a result, MSN’s display network is now Yahoo’s display network — the other big player against Google in the CPC display network space.

The Google Display Network and the Yahoo Display network are both further examples of pull advertising – the user is NOT looking for your product or service, and your ads are merely showing up on related sites. While you can conduct traditional display media buys through both networks (either on CPC, CPM, or flat fee basis), when it comes to using Google AdWords or MSN AdCenter to run display ads the following holds true:

1. You can run text, image, and/or video ads on either network through the same interface. Some sites will only show image ads. Others will only show text ads. But the ability to create and run both through the same system is an asset of Google and Microsoft.

2. Unless you specifically choose the sites you would like to run on, Google’s Display Network and the Yahoo Display Network will both choose where to show your ads based on the keyword list you set up for them. Someone looking to show their ad for a hip hop artist might run on keywords such as “hip hop music,” “hip hop artist,” “hip hop,” “hip hop clubs.” These words teach the engine’s algorithm that the advertiser is looking to show up on sites about hip hop – and the system will show ads accordingly.

3. Remember that the display network, also known as the content network, is a form of pull advertising. Make sure to catch the user’s attention and convince them to come to your site. At the same time, it helps to accurately represent your site, so that you do not wind up paying for a lot of clicks that do not convert. Showing scantily clad women may be a great way to get men to a website, but it does not necessarily mean they will convert on the site if  the site is not about scantily clad women, for example.

For more on the difference between the search and display networks, please see:

Background: The Difference Between the Search and Display Networks


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Background: Search Networks: Google & MSN

May 14, 2012
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The two biggest search networks are Google and Microsoft Bing (MSN). There used to be a third big search network, Yahoo, but in 2010, Yahoo and MSN combined their networks, and now, advertising through MSN is the same as advertising through Yahoo and vice versa.

According to Comscore, Google sites were responsible for 66.4% of the searches in the US in March 2012. MSN sites were responsible for 15.3%, and Yahoo sites were responsible for 13.7% of all searches. This means that 95.4% of all searches in the US in March 2012 occurred through one of three networks, and 2/3 of the searches occurred through Google.

Source: Comscore

As a result, when it comes to search marketing, Google is the biggest search network, and Google Adwords is the biggest place to advertise. Advertising through Google AdWords gives advertisers access to more than 2/3 of the searches that occur in the country in a given month.  However, advertising on MSN’s network is also a choice many advertisers make. While MSN receives less traffic than Google, traffic on the MSN network often converts at a higher rate than traffic on Google’s network, and is also usually a little bit cheaper. As a result, many advertisers advertise on both networks.

The rules for ads on Google’s network are a little different than the rules on MSN’s network, though as Google continues to be the market leader, MSN’s rules have become similar to Google’s. Due to its market share, this blog will primarily focus on Google. Most of the information will apply to MSN too, however. We’ll do our best to point out where something is different across the engines, and please ask in the comments section if you have any questions on this point.

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Background: Negative Keywords & Negative Keyword Match Types

May 9, 2012
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Negative Keywords allow advertisers to keep their ads from showing up for certain search queries. Like normal “positive” keywords, negative keywords also utilize the same keyword match types. It’s possible to have broad match negative keywords, phrase match negative keywords, and exact match negative keywords, and it’s important to use the match types properly to be sure that the only queries being excluded are the ones you intended to exclude.

To add a negative keyword, simply put a – sign in front of the keyword. By combining the – sign with the other notation covered in Background: Google’s Keyword Match Types, we can create negative keywords of the various match types.

Like their broad match equivalents, broad match negative keywords exclude all versions of the excluded words, and anything related Google thinks to add. For example,  -shoe would exclude queries that include the words “shoe,” “shoes,” and “shoed,” regardless of the other keywords in the query.

Phrase match negative keywords mean the entire phrase in the quotation marks must be included in the search query for ads not to show for that query. For example, if -“red shoe” were the phrase match negative keyword, the ad would not show for queries including the word “red shoe” and “red shoes,” but would show up for “blue shoe” and “black shoe” and “buy shoes.”

Exact match negative keywords will only not show ads if the exact phrase between the brackets is the query in its entirety. For example, if a body shop did not want to show up when searchers look for “The Body Shop,” it might be wise for them to exclude -[the body shop]. While their ads would show for queries containing “body shop” and “find body shop,” it would not show up when users search “The Body Shop.”

Like with “positive” additive keywords, be sure to use the appropriate match types on negative keywords as well. Otherwise users could not see your ad despite inputting relevant search terms.

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