Optmyzr Blog

10 Digital Marketing Truths to Remember: PPC Town Hall 5

Ashwin Balakrishnan

Senior Marketing Manager



As PPC Town Hall turns a month old, we wanted to take a moment to thank all our guest speakers, attendees, and everyone who has embraced the idea. From the beginning, you’ve expressed your support and helped share news of the Town Hall with new parts of the global PPC community.

Thank you for being part of the journey so far!

We created a new page for PPC Town Hall to make it easy to sign up for the next one and find old episodes.

Joining Optmyzr CEO Fred Vallaeys this week for episode 5 in an all-new panel were:

  • Andrew McGarry, Owner & Founder, The McGarry Agency
  • Ginny Marvin, Editor-in-Chief, Third Door Media
  • Joe Martinez, Director of Client Strategy, Clix Marketing

Let’s take a look at some of the core takeaways from this week’s edition.

1. No business remains unaffected by the pandemic.

“It’s almost a ‘feast or famine’ situation across commerce and service, and there are challenges with both scenarios,” Ginny observed.

Whichever side your business or clients fall on, there’s plenty to do.

“You’re either trying to drum up interest where demand has sunk through the floor, or figuring out how to deal with a surge in demand when the supply chain isn’t ready or you don’t have the resources to manage that surge.”

Joe observed similar trends in the context of site traffic.

“In many instances, brands are changing spending habits and adapting messaging. But some are simply getting so much traffic that they either can’t keep up with inventory, or because people are looking for anything even slightly related to their product, a lot of that traffic is unqualified.”

2. People want brands to add value to their lives.

Our panelists also provided some advice on how PPC pros can provide added value to businesses and clients by shaping conversations that their brands are part of.

“Don’t sound like a used car salesman; be your customers’ partner in solving a problem,” Joe recommended. “People are nervous, bored, and anxious; reminding people of that doesn’t inspire them to fall in love with a brand. Shift that messaging to talk about how you’re going to help consumers come out of this.”

Andrew believes brands should continue to talk about more than just pandemic-related topics.

“No one wants to hear about you supplying hand sanitizer; we want to be reassured. We want someone to talk about the things that mattered to us before, because it matters even more now. We should still care about climate change, talk about sustainability, and promote and support local businesses.”

3. Google is looking out for its loyal advertisers.

It’s no surprise that small and medium businesses have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of them, online advertising budgets have either dropped sharply or stopped altogether.

Google took notice and announced $340 million in ad credits to help keep these SMBs active on the  Google Ads network.

“We’re going to start seeing these credits for SMBs in late May, which will be the first phase followed by a continuous rollout,” said Ginny. “These are designed to help SMBs and smaller accounts sustain ad spend in the future. The credit amount will vary based on your historical spend.”

“To be eligible, you need to have been advertising (had active campaigns) for 10 out of 12 months in 2019, and also have been advertising in January or February of this year.”

It’s worth noting that Google is not extending these ad credits to franchise businesses, even if they meet the SMB criteria.

4. Now’s the time to try new things.

The hallmark of COVID-19 for marketing professionals is the absence of a playbook or historical data that shows you how to solve current problems. Instead, two of this week’s guests recommend a more experimental, open-minded approach.

“With the exponential intelligence of what Google can do every quarter, we go back and often find out that what didn’t work so well six months ago is doing better now,” Andrew observed. “Go back and look at some of your Google Ads audiences; they may be capable of delivering things your Google Analytics audiences can’t, and vice versa.”

Joe, meanwhile, favors experimenting with channels you didn’t get to play around with earlier.

“Test those Instagram story ads, do some brand-building, build out new targeting options, stretch your budget with more affordable media like Facebook CPMs, and use YouTube to generate awareness. In time, when inventory stabilizes, you can double down on search and shopping ads to capitalize on that new intent.”

5. Google Shopping ads will soon be free (yes, free).

The announcement that advertisers can list Google Shopping ads at no cost is a game-changer, and Ginny explained how it will work in greater detail.

“Google is going to start showing free listings for shopping ads. It’s a really big change going from all-paid for the last eight years to primarily free, with paid ads at the top and bottom, just like a regular SERP.”

It’s a big shift for the Shopping tab of the search results pages, but it’s also part of a larger evolution over the past year.

“Google first opened up the Merchant Center to anyone to upload their feeds without needing to be an advertiser, and then opt in to services across Google,” Ginny elaborated. “The other thing Google announced is a new integration with PayPal so that you can connect that account to the Merchant Center to speed up data flow and merchant verification.”

6. There’s an opportunity to beat Amazon at its own game.

With non-essential deliveries shut off and two-day shipping a pipe dream at this stage, Amazon suddenly finds itself unable to deliver what it’s conditioned the marketplace to expect.

Businesses that can help consumers get what they need and want with minimal delay have an opportunity to capitalize on that, and possibly retain a significant chunk of business even after the crisis abates.

“If I still need a new pair of running shoes, and I can’t walk into a store and get them, I’m going to wherever I can get them soon,” Joe explained. “I’ve got more time to go for a run or a walk, and I’m not waiting for Amazon. So it’s about diversifying your marketing and finding where your users are, because they still want those products now.”

7. There’s more than one way to stretch a budget.

Despite knowing that investing in advertising is paramount, smaller businesses are having a tough time finding marketing dollars. But even with lower-than-ever Facebook CPMs, media on leading platforms isn’t within reach for every business.

Joe provided some advice for restaurants looking to make their budgets go further.

“If you’ve lost budget and you still want to run ads, look at different channels than the ones you’re used to. Waze local and Quora can help take your budget further than Facebook, for example. It’s a good time to test new things and see what works.”

8. COVID-19 is creating a new breed of agile businesses.

With supply chains unsteady and normal processes interrupted, businesses have to stay on their feet to survive. The result is a great deal more creativity not just in PPC, but across the marketing spectrum.

Ginny spoke about one Amazon seller she knows. “Her products are made in the US, but she was worried the manufacturing plant might shut down for health reasons. So she ordered thousands of dollars in new inventory, but then Amazon shut off non-essential shipments.”

“She was stuck, so she explored her network and found a new way to fulfil those orders. We’re seeing businesses adapt and pivot quickly.”

More specific to PPC strategy, Andrew noted that changes further back than COVID-19 have compounded the challenges paid search pros face in the current environment.

“The ad-tech industry has gone through a lot in the last 6-9 months due to ITP and how cookies work now. Marketers need to realize that betting the house on last-click, bottom-of-funnel tactics is not a sustainable approach.”

9. The worst consumer is a disappointed one.

With the supply chain disrupted, consumers no longer know where exactly to go to make certain purchases. They’re relying more than ever on search to guide them to a marketplace that has what they need.

So what happens if a consumer finds it on your site, only to later discover that the product is actually unavailable? Andrew believes it’s a real problem that needs immediate attention.

“The big danger is advertising products that are out of stock or have low stock, and disappointing users when they land on the page. As an industry we need to do better because it’s a common complaint I keep seeing.”

“Low stock and a product feed’s ability to easily adjust to that remains a major area where things can fall down for SMBs. Either in-house teams lack the setup skills, or SMBs on low-cost PPC packages don’t get the attention they need to react to demand peaks,” he added.

The Optmyzr Rule Engine’s ability to integrate with business data, as well as the Optmyzr Campaign Automator can be used to address the issue of advertising only products that have adequate inventory or that have margins that support a profitable ad buy. Contact the Optmyzr team if you’d like to learn more.

10. Marketers miss connecting in person.

The ongoing crisis has made it difficult for people to see their loved ones and close friends, causing some of us to feel powerless and lonely.

A less impactful effect is that it’s also isolated professionals from their community networks.

While we still have the power of technology to stay connected and learn from one another, the PPC industry is still dealing with the absence of events. HeroConf Austin, for example, was canceled due to COVID-19, impacting the learning and development of hundreds of marketing teams.

Crushing his workout in the morning and building scripts in the evening! Get Fred’s COVID-19 script here!

“Events such as HeroConf provide genuine insight into what industry leaders are seeing and experiencing every day, and we all can learn from their insights,” Andrew noted. “So maintaining that is absolutely necessary from an education perspective. Virtual events can help, and I really hope they happen.”

Fortunately, the Paid Search Association is hosting their annual conference as a virtual event. You can learn more about PSAC 2020 and register for the conference here (seats are limited).


We love hearing from our attendees about the PPC Town Hall helping them see new ways of thinking, or reassuring them that they’re not the only ones experiencing challenges at this time. It’s why we do what we do!

We especially love this LinkedIn video recap from Moe McLeod of Digitopia, a PPC Town Hall regular and one of its most vocal supporters.

We hope you’ll join us again next week for another discussion on how we can overcome the present challenges together!