I am happy to announce that I am the guest speaker on the most recent episode of the Tiny Blue Sky podcast. We discuss the basics of Google’s advertising platform, how nonprofits can use Google Ads, and how to apply for $10,000/month in free advertising through Google Ad Grants. We also cover Google’s recent policy changes that impact nonprofits and how to remain compliant.
To listen to the podcast and access helpful resources, visit this page.
Bing’s strategy over the years has been to pretty much copy Google Ads features, so it’s always a surprise when they launch something unique to their platform. A couple of weeks ago, Action Extensions were released as a way to show a button with your text ads and encourage users to book, apply, contact, and more.
Action Extensions could be valuable to create a sense of urgency and let your customers know what to do once they click on your ads.
To set them up, go to your Campaigns tab. Decide if you’d like to add action extensions at the account, campaign, or ad group level. For most businesses, account level will make most sense. For example, retail advertisers will want to encourage users to buy across all campaigns. B2B on the other hand, may want to push a contact or register call-to-actions, depending on your offer and lead process.
Once you’ve decided the level at which you’ll add your action extensions, go to Ad Extensions and select Action Extensions from the drop down.
Click the Create ad extension button and +Add new Action Extension.
Select your language and choose from one of the many action text options most applicable to your business and goals.
The URL fields are optional and can be left blank, unless you’d like to take the user to a specific page that’s different from your ad URL, such as your contact page.
Ad scheduling is available but is not required. I can only think of it being applicable for action extensions that push messaging, where you want to ensure that this ad extension does not show outside of your business hours.
You can set-up and test multiple action extensions at once if several of the pre-set action text options are applicable.
As with any ad extension, these won’t show every time a user searches as Bing chooses what ad extension is most relevant to each query, taking into account location, device, and other signals. In the accounts I manage, the new Action Extensions are showing in about 20%-40% of all served ad impressions.
Google text ads have evolved over the years. We went from 1 headline and 2 description lines totaling 95 characters total to now having 270 characters to communicate our key messages. On top of that, Google has added new ad extensions over the years, and text ads now take up more real estate space on Google than ever before.
The most recent expansion to ad copy added a third headline and a second description line. However, some of my clients are still seeing better results from their old school, shorter legacy ads, and we are continuing to run them in select ad groups alongside expanded text ads as we test new headlines and descriptions.
There were some advantages of a compact ad. Fewer ad characters meant having to really think through what is most important and communicate that in a concise way. Many people, myself included, are in a hurry and not about to read every line of every search result we see.
Also, the extra ad copy space we now get does not mean that our customers will actually read every line. As a result of so much copy space + ad extensions, many ads can now look crowded and confusing, and our key points can get lost.
So how do we make sure we take advantage of every field Google gives us but not confuse our customers? Enter AD VARIATIONS. This is a much underutilized tool that can help you make sure whatever expansions or copy changes you are considering will have the desired effect. And if not, not to worry, you can just end your experiment and test different copy and hypothesis.
To get started, make sure you are in the All campaigns portion of your Google Ads account, From there, go to Drafts & experiments and select AD VARIATIONS.
Click on + NEW AD VARIATION to start creating an experiment.
On step 1, you will select your campaigns and filter ads. For example, you can test how an ad with just one specific description performs when you add a third headline and a second description.
On step 2, you’ll choose the type of variation you’d like to test. In our case, we’d like to test if adding extra headlines and descriptions will be beneficial, so we will choose the “Update text” option.
Now, we just need to come up with some extra copy. We won’t need to make changes to Headline 1 or Headline 2, so we will leave those blank and only fill in Headline 3 and Description 2 fields.
On step 3, you’ll choose your variation details, including a name for your test, run dates, and experiment split. How long you’ll want to run this experiment depends on how much traffic you get, but a good rule of thumb is at least 2 weeks.
Make sure to check in on your experiment at least once a week to see how it’s performing. In case you notice a significant negative impact right away, you might want to end your test early. If there is a blue star next to your data column, that means your data is statistically significant for that metric. If it is not statistically after a few weeks, you likely need more time and traffic, or you may want to test a different variation.
My experience with using ad variations is that at least 50% of ad copy expansions we consider do not produce better results compared to our original copy. Why not test and understand what the impact will be before flooding your account with more text?
Over the last few weeks, AdWords has been slowly rolling out campaign drafts and several of the accounts I manage now have that feature as an option. AdWords campaign drafts will enable you to test the impact of changes you are considering with a traffic split in experiment mode, so that you can easily view the impact on your data before fully committing to a change that could have a negative implication.
To locate drafts, click into one of your campaigns and you’ll see a new “Drafts” button next to the date range widget.
Click on the drop-down and choose to create a new draft.
Once you have named your draft, you’ll be taken to a mirror campaign mode, where you can make changes you’re looking to test just like you would in a regular campaign. For example, you may want to switch from manual bidding to Conversion Optimizer CPA bidding or you could test the impact of raising mobile bids.
Once you’ve edited your draft campaign, click on the “Apply” button on the top right of the screen next to the dates and choose the run this as an experiment.
Choose your experiment settings, including experiment split, which is the percentage of your campaign’s budget that’s allocated to your experiment.
You’ll be able to check in on this experiment and how it’s performing in your campaign management page by clicking on “All experiments” just above the shared library link on the bottom left.
Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like when you have an experiment in progress.
Not only can you see the differences between performances in your original campaign and experiment mode (indicated with up or down arrows), but Google also shows you if a difference is statistically significant or likely not due to chance.
If the changes you have been testing are having a positive impact, you can apply them and choose to either update your original campaign or create a new campaign.
Text ads have come a long way from the 3 lines of text you used to have to communicate what makes your business stand apart. Ad extensions have been a feature savvy advertisers take advantage of to showcase additional information, such as their business location, phone number, or links to additional pages of their website. The most recent ad extension Google added to their portfolio of extensions are “Callout extensions,” which allow you to highlight your unique features and selling points through an extra line of text.
This extension, like some other extensions, may not always appear and will only show in top ranked ads. However, when callouts do show, they instantly give you more ad real estate and make your ad pop.
To set up callout extensions, go to the Campaigns tab in your AdWords account, navigate to Ad extensions, and select Callout extensions from the drop down menu.
Click on +EXTENSION and then select + New callout and write your new callout text. Click Save once you have written a new callout.
The character limit is 25, so choose short, compelling messages. You have to be careful to not duplicate text you have in your text ads already, as that is against policy. Here are some ideas:
– Lowest Price Guarantee
– Serving NYC Since 1982
– 24/7 Service
– Free Estimate
– Same Day Shipping
If you want a specific callout to be given preference on mobile devices, you can check the mobile device preference box as you create each callout.
You can even schedule your callouts to only show during certain days or hours. This feature could be useful for special promotions that run only during a specific date range. Or, if you are planning to run a “Call for a free estimate” callout, you may not want to show it in the evenings, when you don’t have customer support available.
You can have multiple callouts, but typically only 2-3 will show. If you only have 1 callout, the extension will likely not show.
As with any copy, plan to test and refine. Experiment with campaign and ad group specific callouts to make sure your callouts as relevant as possible to your different sets of keywords and ads. Create several callouts, then analyze performance after a couple of weeks, and refine the callouts with lower CTR and conversion rates.
There is a new “Parental status” target option that rolled out in AdWords, which helps you target parents versus those who are not. This is a useful feature for advertisers who have demographic data on their customers and already know that their audience falls into a clear bucket. For example, those selling baby products or children’s clothes would benefit from it, as the majority of their customers are parents.
Google determines parental status by monitoring browsing activity of sites you visit as as well as demographic data you may have shared in your Google profile or with similar sites. For example, if you browse mommy blog posts and read child development articles, Google may classify you in the “Parent” group.
To see this option, navigate to your Display Network tab and select the Parental status sub-tab. Parental status is only available in display campaigns, and of course for a good number of users the information will be unknown.
One way you can use this option is to exclude non-parents, for example. Be careful to review your performance metrics first before completely excluding an entire subset of your visitors. Because parental status is unknown for a large number of visitors, you may be excluding some valuable traffic.
Another way to utilize this feature is with bid adjustments to increase or decrease bids. For example, if you already know that a good number of your converting customers are parents, bid more on that group, and decrease your bids on non-parents.
Parental status started by being rolled out to US advertisers, and it may not be available in all countries just yet.
A lot of my clients who get great results from their AdWords PPC campaigns ask me how they can increase AdWords traffic and get more of these quality clicks. This is a great question to get, however the solution to getting the same high quality traffic may not be as simple as simply turning up the dials.
As you make changes to your campaigns, especially if you add new products and services, your results might change as well, and the ROI you were previously getting might start to look very different with a new, more broad set of keywords for example.
There are many ways and strategies to boost clicks and traffic, but this blog post will focus on 4 quick tips that help ensure that the profitable campaigns you are running already are showing as much as possible.
Check if your profitable campaigns are restricted by budget. Review lost impression share data and see if you are losing impressions due to limited funds. Customize your data columns in your AdWords campaign management page to see Search Lost IS (budget) and Display Lost IS (budget) metrics in your reports. Sort by one of those metrics to see campaigns that are losing impression share due to limited budget and consider increasing your budgets. Review your daily spend for the past couple of weeks and see if you are coming close to reaching your max budget each day. If that’s the case, even if you make no other changes to your campaigns, increasing the budget can help you bring more of the same quality clicks and conversions.
The default ad delivery method when you create a campaign is “Standard” which means that Google will distribute when your ads are showing throughout the day in order to not go over your budget. This also means that your ads may not show every time a user is searching. Change the delivery method in your campaign settings page to “Accelerated” to make sure your ads show as soon as possible.
LOCATION AND LANGUAGE TARGETING
Check your location and language targets and consider broadening them. For example, if you are currently only targeting English speakers in the United States, you might want to consider targeting the Spanish language as well.
Raise bids on ad groups that are losing impressions share due to low ad rank. Focus on ad groups and keywords that are converting within your targets already. This will help you get a better ad rank, more competitive ad position, and more clicks.
Google’s new campaign type Search Network with Display Select is a new hybrid campaign format that aims to make display more effective. The idea is that changing your campaign type from just search to this new option could help you get more traffic from users browsing relevant content online, even if you don’t have the know-how to manage display.
Search continues to outperform display for most direct response advertisers, and display campaigns typically need to be managed separately with their own budgets, bids, targets, ads, and other custom settings for optimal performance. This is why many advertisers still choose not to run display campaigns, and Google might be looking to ease the entry into display for such advertisers as well as boost display revenues.
Search Network with Display Select uses Google’s new and improved algorithm that aims to drive results similar to search. It uses current performance metrics to find similar results on the Google Display Network. For example, if you’re getting search conversions at a profitable cost per conversion, upgrading to the new hybrid format should get you more such conversions from display.
Upgrading is extremely simple. In your campaign settings page, just change your campaign type to Search Network with Display Select. If you have image ads, add those to your ad groups as well.
One of my clients was interested in testing this new campaign type, and we decided to try it with a smaller campaign that was running on just search. We ran the test for 2 weeks and saw conversion decrease 75%, while cost to convert increased over 200%. I would have expected clicks to go up with opting into a new network, but even clicks decreased 18%.
Obviously, each industry, campaign, and website is different, so your results will vary. However, while Search Network with Display Select sounds compelling, I recommend doing a trial first, perhaps with one of your smaller campaigns. If you are considering switching, proceed cautiously with a lower priority campaign, and make sure you review performance before and after the switch.
Imagine you’re selling a fitness product that helps people lose weight and be healthy. Your target customers are probably already looking into fitness solutions and programs. Many of them are using mobile apps to log their calories or track daily activity, or apps that help with nutrition. Now imagine being able to promote your product to someone who’s logging their daily food intake on their mobile app. You can do that easily through Google AdWords with a “Mobile apps” campaign type.
Mobile apps is a strategy that allows you to show text and image ads on the Display Network to mobile device users. Your ads show within an app as potential customers use apps on their mobile devices. You can select app categories to show ads on, or you can research and choose specific apps that you already have in mind.
Mobile Apps Campaign Set-Up
To get started, create a new campaign, choosing “Display Network only” as your campaign type.
Choose your target countries, languages, set a budget, bids, and customize your other campaign settings.
Next, you’ll get to choose your targeting. You’ll have the option to select specific “Mobile app categories” or “Search all apps” to choose specific apps.
You can narrow your targeting further by age or gender to only show ads to specific age groups or only to women, for example, if that is your target audience.
Or, you can refine targeting with interests and remarketing categories. For example, you can show ads to customers using apps that have been to your website before but did not convert.
Once you have chosen your targets, create ads and your campaign is ready to run!
If you’re running display campaigns through your Google AdWords account, you may have noticed a new targeting option called Display- In-market Buyers (ROI) in your interest categories section.
In-market segmentation is a new audience targeting method that allows advertisers to target users who are actively looking to buy certain products or services in the near future or have high propensity to buy if they find the right product or offer.
Google classifies users being in-market by:
– Identifying content that indicates user-intent to purchase an item. For example, someone browsing consumer reviews and price comparison sites.
– Considering how often and how recently a user visited these pages.
– Identifying contexts where users have previously clicked on ads related to the product or service of interest and have converted.
– Considering common search keywords that led users to the page.
– Looking at display impression data or 3rd party data or both.
Display In-Market Buyers Best Practices
The set it up, I recommend creating a separate display only campaign dedicated to this targeting method, so you can use a different budget for this test. You’ll find Display In-Market Buyers in your Interests & remarketing section as you create an ad group and choose how to target ads.
The current available targets include categories such as “Autos & Vehicles” and “Education” and many others, as well as sub-categories if you’d like to make your audience more specific. If you do not see a category that’s relevant to you, make sure to check back as Google has been adding new categories since the launch of this feature.
I suggest keeping the bids more conservative than search, since you’ll be reaching a much more wide pool of users.
Make sure that you add image ads, and if you’re planning on using text ads, create separate ad groups for the text and banners, so you can use different bids.
As with any campaigns, check in on this campaign to make sure it’s bringing you the right types of visitors, and optimize by adjusting bids, excluding placements, and trying different ads.
So far, I am seeing a large amount of traffic from this strategy, but conversions have not been even close to search. It will likely convert worse than your remarketing campaigns, but could be a nice source of additional traffic for those who are looking to brand or reach new pools of users.