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GOOGLE ADWORDS EXPERT & CONSULTANT

Category Archives: ROI

Are Google’s Expanded Text Ads Too Much?

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?

Test The Impact Of Changes To Your Campaigns with AdWords Campaign Drafts

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.

adwords_camapign_drafts

Click on the drop-down and choose to create a new draft.

create_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.

Happy Testing!

 

Target Parental Status Through Google AdWords

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.

parental_status

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.

parental_status

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.

Use Google’s Bid Simulator To Estimate The Impact of Bid Changes on AdWords Conversions

Are you considering changing your AdWords bids but are worried about making the wrong choice? Wondering what would happen if you increased your bid from, say $1 to $1.20, and what difference it would make?

Adjusting bids based on traffic and conversion patterns is essential to optimizing your PPC campaigns, and all successful advertisers modify their Max CPCs regularly to reach their goals. AdWords has for some time now provided data on the impact of bid changes on impressions and clicks, but what anyone tracking conversions really wants to know is what the impact will be on sales or leads. AdWords advertisers can now make some more educated guesses using Google’s updated bid simulator.

How The Bid Simulator Works

The bid simulator works with your Search campaigns only by analyzing data over the past 7 days, taking into account information like your competitors’ bids and traffic you received. It then estimates how results might have differed if you used a lower or a higher bid. For example, you can estimate how many more clicks and conversions you might have received if your bid was 10% higher. If you track conversion values, the tool will also include that metric.

If your campaigns are limited by budget, the tool will not be available and it will also not work with auto bidding or Conversion Optimizer (CPA Bidding).

How To Use The Bid Simulator

You can find the bid simulator at the ad group or at the keyword level. In your AdWords account, go to your Campaigns tab and navigate to an ad group. Hover over the Bid Simulator graph icon below your Max CPC bid and click on it to bring up the tool and explore the different bid options.

Google will provide some metrics based on a variety of Max CPCs you could choose, or you can enter a different Max CPC you are considering by clicking on Use a different bid.

bid_simulator

Compare the current bid metrics to what your results would look like if you used a different bid and decide if the change in bid makes sense for you. For example, if after increasing the bd, the cost would go up significantly without a high enough change in conversions or conversion value, you might want to leave the current bid as is.

Keep in mind that the estimates you are seeing are just estimates and future results will vary, as search patterns are constantly changing and do vary week over week. Your competition is likely changing their bids as well on an ongoing basis.

Make sure to explore the available data when considering changes to your campaigns. If you do adjust bids, continue to monitor your conversion numbers, especially budget and ad spend if you increased your bids significantly.

 

What You Need to Know About AdWords Enhanced Campaigns

AdWords announced today a major change called enhanced campaigns. This change will affect all advertisers and will impact ad serving. Below, I discuss the major changes, challenges, questions, and resources.

Key Changes

  1. Manage bids across devices, locations and time within a single campaign. Many advertisers split up campaigns by devices, so they can optimize bids and budgets and use different settings for desktops, mobile, and tablets. Moving forward, advertisers will be forced to use the same campaign for mobile, tablets, and desktops. You’ll be able to adjust bids for each device, but not budgets. This could be problematic for advertisers who have much smaller budgets for mobile, for example. One great new feature is the ability to adjust bids (by using bid multipliers) for regions/cities that are more profitable.
  2. Ads customized to user context. Showing the right creative, sitelink, app or extension based on user context and device capabilities. You’ll be able to set “preferences” within each campaign to show ads, apps, extensions or sitelinks depending on device. Ad copy management and optimization might get even more complicated.
  3. Advanced reporting. We’ll be able to track new conversion types such as calls, digital downloads, and cross device conversions.

Questions, Challenges & New Features

I was able to run some of my question by our Google rep and I am summarizing the highlights below.

  • Budgets. My first question was if we’ll be able to set different budgets by device and the answer is no. We will not be able to set different budgets for desktops, mobile, and tablets. In enhanced campaigns, budgets will continue to be managed at the campaign level via an individual campaign budget or a shared campaign budget. Similar to hybrid campaigns today, this budget may run across all devices, and advertisers will not be able to set device-specific budgets within an account or a campaign.
  • Bidding: For desktop/tablet bidding, you’ll set a dollar amount. Mobile will function as a % of desktop. It will not be possible to set individual keyword-level bids on mobile. This is definitely a concern, especially for advertisers tracking conversions closely and with strict CPA goals.
  • Opting out of mobile/tablets. The good news is that you can bid down mobile keywords 100% to opt out completely. The bad news is that tablets will always have the same bid as desktop, so you cannot opt out or adjust bids specifically for tablets.
  • Pausing ad groups/keywords by device. You can pause mobile at the campaign level only, by bidding down 100%. However, you won’t be able to do this the other way around because all bids will be pinned to the desktop/tablet bid. For example, you could set your desktop bids to $0.05 and then bid up on mobile by up to 300%, making an effective mobile bid of $0.15.
  • Reporting. One of the advantages of having separate campaigns for different devices is aggregate reporting. For example we can easily filter out all mobile campaigns and compare their performance against tablets or desktops. Having all devices lumped into one campaigns will make this much more difficult. AdWords is not planning any major reporting changes at this time. You will still be able to see reporting for mobile/tablet/desktop, using “Device” as a segment, but device numbers will need to then be multiplied across all campaigns to get your totals.
  • Mobile ads/URLs. Some of my clients use different URLs for mobile ads. Advertisers will still be able to create mobile preferred ads but there is no such thing as mobile only ads, which we could previously accomplish with separate mobile campaigns. However, mobile preferred ads will almost never show on other devices, unless your ads for other devices are missing or disapproved. On the side, universal ads will almost never show on mobile, unless you are missing mobile ads or they are disapproved. So, generally speaking, mobile URLs or mobile only ads should not be an issue if you set your ad preferences.
  • Automated rules. Automated rules will be compatible with enhanced campaigns. However, it does’t sounds like you’ll be able to set rules for tablet-only campaigns, since all tablet bids are shared by desktop. Again, this is not ideal, as it would be nice to automate bidding for tablets specifically based o tablet specific conversion data. AdWords does not yet support adjusting mobile bid modifiers via automated rules. It may be in the pipeline later this year.
  • Call forwarding: Google will no longer charge $1 for the call forwarding feature. Also, you’ll have the option to show your own phone number in ads on desktops and tablets, previously only available through call forwarding a number Google assigned you.

Resources

Timeline

This change will start rolling out slowly to all advertisers over the next few weeks but we will not be required to fully switch over to enhanced campaigns just yet. All advertisers will need to eventually migrate to enhanced campaigns by mid-2013. I recommend you start slow by migrating your lower volume campaigns while you learn the new features and capabilities.

Should You Use Shared Budgets in AdWords?

The new shared budgets feature in AdWords is great for those looking to streamline management and not stress out about going over their set ad spend amounts. You have the option to assign specific campaigns to your budget and AdWords will distribute spend across those campaigns. Another advantage of this feature is that if there is more traffic available via certain campaigns, AdWords will maximize ad visibility across campaigns you assign to shared budgets to increase your clicks.

You can find the tool via your AdWords campaign management page under the Shared Library section. Simply name your budget, assign campaigns you want included and set your daily budget amount.

While this is a good option for advertisers who do not have the time to manage their campaigns and adjust budgets frequently, I would not recommend it to more savvy advertisers with multiple campaigns, who are watching conversions closely. Your campaigns are likely converting very differently, and I recommend adjusting budgets based on conversion data, rather than traffic, which is what shared budgets will accomplish for you.

One creative way you could use shared budgets is to assign your top performing campaigns (that you already know tend to convert better for you) a higher percentage of your total available marketing dollars. For example, if you have a total budget of $100 per day, you could create a shared budget of $70 for your top converting campaigns, and a separate budget of $30 for your low performers.

Avoid Losing Traffic By Discovering Negative Keyword Conflicts in Google AdWords

If you’ve been wondering if any of the negative keywords you’ve been adding to your AdWords campaigns are preventing your actual keywords from showing up, you are in luck. AdWords just released a new tool that points out negative keyword conflicts as you navigate your campaign management page in AdWords. This is a great feature that can help prevent traffic losses if you happened to mistakenly negative out an important keyword.

If you do have negative keywords that are blocking your keywords, you’ll see a message such as this one:

If you click on the View link from within the message, you’ll get a full list of the offending negatives as well as the option to delete them. Of course, it’s possible that you added a negative keyword after finding out that a certain phrase did not work for you, in which case you might just want to delete the actual keyword from your campaign, rather than deleting the negative.

Bing Ads (previously adCenter) has had this feature for some time now, so it’s good to see that AdWords has added it too.

Remarket To YouTube Users Who Viewed Your Videos

AdWords remarketing now allows you to reach viewers who interacted with your YouTube videos, helping you strengthen your brand and relationship with your YouTube audience.

Remarketing can help you bring back those visitors who have navigated away from your pages and it can help you improve ROI. If you are new to remarketing, you can read more about what it is and other basics here.

The beauty of YouTube remarketing is that you can automatically create remarketing user lists and there’s no need to add any additional pixels to your website. You can choose to remarket to users who watched or liked specific videos, and subscribed or unsubscribed. You can even create custom audiences and combinations to further subdivide who sees what message. For example, you can remarket to anyone that’s viewed a video but did not yet convert through your site.

To get started, you’ll need to link your AdWords and YouTube accounts first, if you have not already. Next, go to All video campaigns in your AdWords campaign management tab and access the Video remarketing lists under the Shared library section. Click to create a new remarketing list and simply choose from one of the audiences, which AdWords automatically populates for you.

Once you’ve decided who you’d like to remarket to and have created your audience, you will want to set up a new remarketing campaign, adding the YouTube audiences you just created as your targets. You can read more about how to set-up remarketing campaigns and best practices in my previous post on this topic. Make sure to customize ad messaging for the audience you are reaching and include compelling offers and calls-to-action.

AdWords Releases Advanced Phrase and Exact Match

AdWords recently released improvements to their advanced matching options, slightly expanding phrase and exact match, so that users that are typing in misspellings and very close variations of your chosen keywords will still see your ads. This change will help boost traffic on phrase and exact keywords without bringing in irrelevant queries like broad match tends to generate.

A lot of advertisers have been vary of broad match, because of the sometimes irrelevant expansions by the system and have chosen to use phrase and exact match instead of broad match altogether.

If you’d like to opt out of this new feature, you can do so in your campaign settings page, where you will now see a new section Keywords matching options. There. you’ll be able to select your preferences to include or prevent close variants.

I still recommend checking your search query reports to ensure you are utilizing the match options effectively and excluding those irrelevant queries.

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