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Lesson #29: Don’t Only Run On Exact Match

February 4, 2016
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We’ve talked about not running too many keywords (if any) on broad match, but recently we’ve seen a lot of cases of the inverse – people wanting to run only on exact match. Don’t do this either! If you run too many keywords on exact match, you won’t be able to gain any query information — if users don’t type in the exact keywords you put in (and only those) the ads won’t show up. You’ll miss out on potential customers and potential learnings. Phrase match should be your keyword match type of choice – and the match type of the majority of the keywords in your AdWords account.

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Lesson #28: Don’t Turn On Conversion Optimization Too Soon

February 3, 2016
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When setting up an AdWords campaign, it is very tempting to check the box to optimize based on conversion data immediately. While you usually can’t choose CPA bidding when you start, you can check the box that says eCPC, and we see that many clients do this. However, don’t! Google’s conversion optimization algorithms need at least 15 conversions in a campaign in a 30 day period to work for that campaign. If you turn them on too early, they won’t work and can actually hurt your performance as they try to optimize on not enough data. Wait until you have at least 15 conversions in a campaign in the first 30 days to turn on eCPC or CPA bidding.

(And by conversions, I mean conversions that are registering in Google AdWords – if you have conversions from another system, Google AdWords won’t be able to see them and optimize to them, so no matter how many conversions you have, the algorithms will still be off).

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Update: New-ish Option Changes Google Match Types

July 30, 2012
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Over the last few months, Google has released a new feature that affects the way keyword match types (and therefore the strategy of using match types to organize a campaign) works.

In the setting option under each campaign, users can now find a drop down for “Keyword matching options.” When selected, the following option appears:

If you remember, the following had previously held true for the phrase and exact match types on Google:

1. Plurals were considered separate keywords and needed to be listed as such. Before, if “shoe” was in a campaign, but not “shoes,” then a search for “shoes” would not yield the ad.

2. The only way for an ad to show for a misspelled keyword was to run on broad match or broad match modifier. Ads on the phrase match keyword “shoe” would not show up for “sheo”.

3. If an advertiser wanted to show for close variations of a keyword (i.e. heels instead of shoes or pony instead of horse), the advertiser had to advertise the word on broad match or broad match modifier.

Now, however, if the selected box is checked (as is now the default), the above no longer applies to phrase or exact match.

What It Means (In My Humble Opinion)

Having the box checked is better for Google because it enables them to show ads for more search queries. Since advertisers only pay on a pay per click basis, Google makes money the more competitive a pay per click auction is.

From an advertiser’s perspective, the change is better and worse. While it makes it less likely that an advertiser won’t show up on a crucial keyword, it also serves to help eliminate query control. It used to be that if an advertiser wanted to advertise on a very specific keyword, an advertiser could put all their budget into that specific keyword (by putting the keyword in its own campaign and placing the keyword on exact match). With the box checked, this would no longer be the case, as exact match essentially would be the same as broad match modifier used to be.

For those traditionalists, I recommend not checking the box. If an advertiser wants to be absolutely sure they show up on everything, checking the box might be ok, but be sure to keep an eye on search query reports to make sure that the queries remain as targeted and relevant as desired.


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Google Releases Mobile App Extensions

June 20, 2012
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We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a really exciting announcement from Google. Google has now fully released mobile app extensions as an ad extension option for its mobile ads.

Ad extensions are an extra line/feature of a text ad that Google appends to the ad. Some other current ad extensions include phone number, address, and products.

With mobile app extensions, users will now finally be able to send users to the respective Android and iTunes stores to download their mobile apps. Previously, advertisers could only send users to urls they controlled/within their domain, which was generally the landing page from which the user could click and go to the store to download the app. Eliminating this intermediate step is a huge advantage for both the user and the advertiser, making mobile app extensions a big deal for those companies seeking to promote downloads and/or sales of their mobile applications.


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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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Lesson #15: Rotate Ads Evenly (Or Auto-Optimize Ad Rotation)

June 6, 2012
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Earlier we discussed how important it is for an advertiser to run more than one ad at a time. But if an advertiser is running 3-5 ads per campaign at a time, how can they be sure which ad is performing the best?

Google AdWords currently provides the advertiser with three options when it comes to ad rotation. They are:

  1. Optimize for clicks: Show ads expected to provide more clicks
  2. Optimize for conversions: Show ads expected to provide more conversions
  3. Rotate evenly: Show ads more evenly for 30 days, then optimize for clicks

Generally, when A/B testing ads, it is advisable to choose the 3rd option, rotating the ads more evenly for 30 days (before optimizing for clicks). It should only take 14-28 days for ads in a medium to high volume ad group to generate statistically significant results, enabling the advertiser to pause the poor-performing ads and rotate in new copy based on the learnings of the experiment before the 30 days are up.

Why should advertisers rotate the ads evenly when Google volunteers to auto-optimize for them?  Rotating the ads evenly enables the advertiser to gain statistically significant results before making an optimization. It also controls better for quality score and ad history, meaning that a control ad is less likely to outperform the test ad merely because it has been in the account longer (The longer something has been live in an account and performed well, the higher it’s history score, improving its quality score).

Even if advertisers choose to select the auto-optimization option, it is important for them to be aware which setting they have selected. Should business interests change, and conversions or clicks become more important, advertisers should be sure to change the settings appropriately. In addition, advertisers may have access to information Google does not have access to (bounce rate, conversion type, time on site) that would enable the user to make a more educated decision about which ad is really performing better. Again, be sure to use the full compliment of information available before judging an ad, and be sure the results are statistically significant before acting.

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Google Product Search To Become Google Shopping

June 4, 2012
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In the eCommerce space? A big search development almost went under the radar on Thursday when Google announced that it would discontinue Google Product Search (formerly Froogle) and turn it into Google Shopping. The new Google Shopping will be a paid inclusion engine, also known as pay-to-play.

What is paid inclusion? Paid inclusion is when companies must pay to be listed in the search results for a particular directory. As a result, all users searching for products in Google Shopping will only see products that companies are paying to promote.

In addition, when a user conducts a search for a product as part of a Google Search, Google Product Listing ads will show up in the right rail of the search results or at the top of the page above the organic results.

This development, while leading to more money for Google, is also likely to favor larger advertisers in the eCommerce space who have more money to spend on paid listings at the expense of smaller advertisers.

For more information on this development, please see the following article.

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Lesson #12: Ad Position is a Tool. Use It.

May 25, 2012
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Ad Position refers to where exactly your ad shows up in the search results. Generally speaking, in Google there are usually three ads above the organic results, (ad positions 1-3), and then 6 ads or so along the right sidebar (positions 4-10). As you go to additional pages in the search results, you may see different ads (positions 11+).

Ad position is calculated for each query based on the auction system we discussed earlier. As a result, the “average position” metric in both Google and MSN is the average of all of the instances ads have shown up for a particular keyword.

Ad Position is a tool. Some ad positions perform better than others. Are you noticing your ad is not receiving many impressions or is receiving a lot of impressions but not receiving any clicks? Check its position – if it has a low position (4+), it’s position may be the reason why. As with organic results, users are most likely to click on ads in positions 1-3. If your ad is in a lower position, its poor performance may be due to its ad position. Increasing the keyword bid should increase the position of the ad, which will likely increase its performance.

Sometimes advertisers will find that an ad performs better in a lower position (e.g. position 4 does better than position 1). Other times advertisers will not want to pay what is sometimes a premium to be in position 1, especially for a competitive term, and it is unlikely an advertiser will ever be in position 1 for a brand keyword that is not their own. Regardless of how you use it, it is important to be aware of the position of your ad. Figure out what ad positions work best for your company, and have a goal to stay there.

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Lesson #10: Don’t Autobid

May 23, 2012
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Google has several automated bidding options, in which an advertiser can chose to allow AdWords to automatically choose keyword bids in order to maximize clicks or conversions. However, it is advisable not to use autobid, especially when starting out.

There are many reasons for this advice, but the three biggest are as follows:

1. Autobidding means advertisers lose control over where the ads appear on the page (position) and how much they are paying for them (CPC). These two factors are two of the most important levers that can be adjusted when optimizing for performance.

2. Advertisers only pay Google when a user clicks on an advertiser’s ad (or, if advertisers are using a CPA bid, per acquisition). As a result, it is in Google’s best interest to ensure advertisers receive a lot of clicks and/or conversions. But that does not mean they will all be quality clicks or quality conversions.

3. By using match types and adjusting bids depending on the match type and keyword type, as we will continue to discuss, advertisers can save their businesses thousands of dollars by adjusting bids for each ad group and keyword. However, they lose control over this ability if they use autobidding.


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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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